perspective: blues

. October 23, 2012.

The blues is a current. In its purer form the blues won’t be found in the mainstream of popular music, but it is a foundation and underlying force upon which much of contemporary music is built. In spite of its rigid 1-4-5 chord structure, the blues is very fluid in its delivery and keeps the listener moving. Since its acoustic, African-American origins, the blues has become and is as electrifying as anything plugged in. Keep yourself current and check out some of the great blues found at our local clubs.

Bettye Levette returns to The Ark for a soul-stirring performance on the 7th. The Detroit native who is celebrating her  50th year as a professional performer has never lost her touch for telling the story the way it is, heart and soul. As a teenage singer whose impassioned efforts of hit singles ended with diminished results at the hands of exploitive managers and promoters, she has since struggled, bounced, and grabbed life by the horns to establish herself as a leading female figure in the music world. Among her recent accolades are performances and recognition from rock music heavyweights and a stirring rendition of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come at Barak Obama’s 2008 Inauguration. Packing a new CD Thankful N’ Thoughtful, and a biography, A Woman Like Me, she will move you when she sings her story.

Slide guitarist Sonny Landreth will electrify your evening with a pyrotechnic display of rockin’ Louisiana swamp blues on the 11th. His mastery of the open -tuned slide guitar is elevated by a unique fingering-picking ability that drives audiences wild. His mesmerizing guitar work starts with the bent notes of raw Delta blues that are transformed into driving rhythms and end up as stratospheric riffs screaming the blues. He brings with him his latest CD, an all-instrumental effort, Elemental Journey.

Mr. B serves up some of his finest blues, jazz, and boogie woogie for a Thanksgiving weekend roots piano feast at the Ark on the 24th. Ann Arbor’s director of blues, boogie-woogie and jazz piano traditions, Mr. B has always delighted crowds whether it’s at the Art Fair, Top of the Park, or joining long-time local blues and roots rock journeymen for a gig.

Look for Bill Kirchen and Delbert McClinton coming to the Ark on December 4 and 20, respectively.

Guy O’Hollerin’s Local Blues & Brews  at the Holiday Inn near U of M’s Campus keeps you on course with a Saturday night line up of great local blues and roots music bands in a spacious dance-oriented atmosphere. Bobby Murray Band brings home big time urban jump blues on the 3rd. Murray’s guitar work with Etta James in the 1990’s earned him national attention as well as recognition from BB King and long-time friend Robert Cray. Don’t miss this Motor City guitar maestro. Chris Canas Blues Revolution on the 10th features funk and gospel fused blues highlighted by Canas’ searing guitar work. Jerry Mack and The Terraplanes  drive home house- rockin’ blues and roots rock on the 17th. Steve Nardella, long time Michigan roots rocker, plays jump blues and swing standards on the 24th.

Happy Hour At Live every Friday from 6:00 to 9:00PM continues to be the happening event to jumpstart your weekend. FUBAR resonates with pop and R&B renditions and originals on the 2nd. Drivin’ Sideways invites you in for a rockin’ urban honky tonk party on the 9th & 30th. The Vibratrons open the doors of your musical experience with state of the art vintage rock on the 16th. Guitarist songwriter Khalid Hanafi whose musical incarnations include Map Of the World, the Maypops and Kiss Me Screaming hosts a CD release party on the 23rd with special guests.

Conor O’Neill’s keeps Main St  jumpin’ with a solid mix of house rockin’ blues from The Terraplanes on the 3rd and traditional jump blues standards and rockabilly from Michael May & the Messarounds on the 15th and the Shelter Dogs on the 24th.

Check out Laith al-Saadi’s powerful, pyrotechnic guitar and vocals covering a wide range of pop, rock, soul, blues and jazz standards and originals. He plays The Black Pearl on Tuesdays;  Bar Louie on Wednesdays; The Blue Tractor on Thursdays.

The Detroit Blues Society keeps the blues alive in the Motor City. Check out the website for event updates, information on area bands, monthly meeting schedules and membership opportunities at .


Laith Al-Saadi & Friends – Annual Birthday Bash

It goes without saying that Laith Al-Saadi is a treasure of the Ann Arbor music community. But if you haven’t yet experienced this bipedal force of nature with his signature beard, shredding guitar, and astonishing singing voice, then clear your schedule next Saturday… Laith Al-Saadi’s Annual Birthday Bash Sept 29 The Michigan Theater 8pm INFO

Grove Studios Grand Opening

If you’ve been following the pages (printed or online) of Current this past year, then you’ve probably heard a bit about Grove Studios already. Grove is a grassroots effort to provide musicians and artists from all around the Detroit metro area and western Washtenaw County a rehearsal and creative space for their work and development.

Audiotree Music Festival (Kalamazoo) – Sept 22/23

The Audiotree Music Festival returns to Kalamazoo’s Arcadia Creek Festival Place next Saturday and Sunday. The lineup features more than 20 artists, including Father John Misty, Khruangbin, Chicano Batman, Diet Cig, and many more! While the names we dropped in the previous paragraph are nationally renowned artists signed on to notable labels like Sub Pop or

saajtak featured among a genre defying lineup at blind pig – sept 13

  Genres are irrelevant. No one proves that assertion better than Detroit’s saajtak. Formed five years ago at U-M’s School of Music, saajtak’s made quite an impression with their stormy fusion of free jazz, noise experimentation, electronica, space-rock and opera. Their newest EP, Hectic, came out earlier this summer. Hectic EP by saajtak Thurs, Sept 13 saajtak