If you’ve been following Mark “Mr. B” Braun for the past 43 years, you will find him once again playing piano at the Ann Arbor Art Fair this coming week, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, (July 21, 22, 23) from morning until night, all three days.
With the exception of the Covid years, Mark has had this gig for more than four decades, and has had some stellar performers sit in with him during those years such as George Bedard, Jim Dapogny, Aron Kaufman, Paul Keller, Steve Nardella, Madcat Ruth, Bob Seeley, Pete Siers, Tad Weed, and so on.
Perched on his piano stool on N. University between Hill Auditorium and the Michigan League, Mr. B will be playing the piano gifted to him recently by the folks at WEMU Public Radio, and hoping some of his musician friends will come sit in with him. He also invites all his fans to show up with that extra energy that makes this gig a unique experience. Tip jar included.
Another tradition that is near and dear to Mr. B is his annual Ark Blues & Boogie Piano Celebration founded 25 years ago this past April. (His events were interrupted by Covid, so please don’t reach for your calculators). But Covid brought out what looks like another Mr. B tradition, Friday evenings at the corner of Detroit & Catherine Streets, next to the Kerrytown Farmers Market and across from the Detroit Street Filling Station, a bustling vegan restaurant for takeout to enjoy while listening to the music.
When Covid struck, musicians were among the many people devastated by the lockdowns. In 2020, once the nice weather arrived, Mark arrived with the Joybox Express at the street corner and for the last three summers has built quite the loyal fan base, rain or shine (Rain: Under the overhang at Farmer’s Market). Here again, he has had some top musicians accompany him such as Luca Filastro, Paul Keller, Kurt Krahnke, Pat Prouty, Pete Siers, Chris Tabaczynski, Julian VanSlyke. And you never know what musician will be stopping by the street corner on any Friday evening to sit in. These have included William Marshall Bennett, Rich Dishman, Rick Roe, Madcat Ruth, etc. The tip jar sits prominently (and sometimes precariously) atop the piano, shaking and jiving along with the person, the piano, the beverage, and the bike.
Mr. B will be cutting short his summer season at the street corner because he is going in for hip replacement surgery in early August. So let’s give him a huge sendoff by attending his last outdoor gig for this summer on Friday evening, Aug. 5th at 6:00pm, corner of Detroit & Catherine Streets, Kerrytown.
No doubt he will be back in no time, hipper than ever.
For more information on Mr. B, visit his website at www.mrbpiano.com.