After three years of performing in the Gator Lounge at Pasche’s Seafood Kitchen in Battle Creek, as well as hosting the Tuesday night jam at the H2O Waterfront Restaurant in the same town, Gator Blues is making its way into the Kalamazoo music scene. After a well-received performance in the lounge at Webster’s Prime in the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo on November 15, Gator Blues is set to bring its signature brand of uptown, jazz-influenced blues to the 411 Club on Friday, December 6. The following weekend they’ll open at the Old Dog Tavern for Chicago keyboard virtuoso Johnny Iguana on December 13.
The Gator Blues Trio consists of Jim Klein on guitar, Tom Elliott on bass, and Bryon Taber on drums, all three of whom have seen their share of performing in a multitude of bands. Jim Klein’s bio cites “49 years playing guitar”, literally all over the world, 15 of which were spent with the Jim Cummings Band. He’s also headed his own group, the Jim Klein Band, but at present is committed to Gator Blues. Klein, who also builds custom flintlock guns, says: “Playing with the Gator Blues Trio is very rewarding for me as a guitar player. The trio format is like being a trapeze artist without a net. I love it.”
Bryon Taber, also recently heard with the Wonder Boys and ReStrung, has loved being behind a drum kit since his next-door neighbor turned him on to it in 6th grade. Bryon played for several years before putting down his sticks in 1978 for family and other responsibilities. He picked them up again in 1998, and has never looked back.
Tom Elliott, who also appears with the Wonder Boys, first picked up a guitar at the age of 5, after seeing Elvis on TV, and played bass with the popular “Buzz Brothers Boogie Band” for 6 years. He subsequently formed “Legend” with a number of other southwest Michigan players, and developed his musical talents through 21 years with the band. After taking a year off to study blues and Motown, he began appearing on the local blues circuit and making his presence felt.
Gator Blues will be appearing this weekend, November 29 and 30, at the On Deck Sports Bar and Grill in downtown Battle Creek. Their complete December schedule appears below. Give the guys a try—you’ll like it!
Dec. 6 @ The 411 Club
Dec. 7 @ Pasches Seafood kitchen
Dec. 13 @ Old Dog Tavern, opening for Johnny Iguana
Dec. 14 & 21 @ Pasches Seafood Kitchen
Dec. 27 & 28 @ On Deck Sports Bar and Grill
Dec. 31 @ Pasches
by Nick Hatzinikolis
Kelly Richey and her band played at the 411 Club in Kalamazoo on Friday Nov 8th. What an experience! Kelly is one of the most dynamic and skilled musicians around, male or female! Kelly played her guitar both smoothly, as on her fan-favorite signature cover of Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”, and, when needed, very forcefully. When she played her guitar behind her back, the crowd was absolutely ecstatic! Many of us looked at each other during the trick riff asking each other, “How does she do that?”
Kelly and her band are true professionals and very entertaining to watch on stage. She was backed up by her newest line-up, including bassist Chris Sherman (aka “Freekbass”), and he does live up to the name! Drummer Robby Cosenza is known as “Bam Bam”, and again, the nickname works.
These guys had their own turn doing solos, which again brought the crowd to its feet in appreciation. This current line-up works well together and adds serious muscle, funk and groove to Richey’s riff-laden songs . At the end of the night, you got your money’s worth, and you knew you were experienced by the KRB band!
Weather? What weather? Never mind the enormous autumn wind/rain/thunderstorm that swept through southwest Michigan during the afternoon of Sunday, November 17! It couldn’t stop Lansing favorites Stan Budzynski and 3rd Degree, and KVBA 2012 contestant at the International Blues Challenge, Crossroads the Resurrection, from kicking off the first in the 2013-14 Sunday Series of fundraising concerts to benefit the 2014 Kalamazoo Blues Festival. For the intrepid folks who trekked through the driving rain and howling wind to Kalamazoo’s 411 Club, the reward was an afternoon of rockin’ blues provided by two of our great local bands.
For those of you coming late to the scene, the Sunday Series has been a fixture on the local music scene for several years. Hosted by the 411 Club, the series features bands from southwest Michigan who donate their time to help promote the next year’s Kalamazoo Blues Festival. The cost is only $6.00 at the door, and it all goes to benefit the Blues Fest. Season tickets are available for a discounted price. Doors open at 3:00, and music starts at 4:00.
Mark your calendars now to be sure you don’t miss the remaining three shows in the series! See you December 15!
|Dec. 15, 2013
4-6PM BIG TROUBLE
6-8PM OUT OF FAVOR BOYS
Feb. 16, 2014
March 2, 2014
Review by Ralph Yingling
Jonny has bounced around between styles & message. I think he will always have a tinge of blues in his stuff, but I am not gonna be beguiled into believing that was a blues show (especially with whatever it was that the opening band was doing). Lang clearly has his fans. And I really cannot knock the blues/rock blues/gospel genre…but there was other stuff in there that I don’t what it was. He is still a national act, but right now I cannot say that I would be able to categorize what he does. I never got a single spine tingle…never. Although his acoustic opening during the encore performance of “Lie to Me” was touching, it seemed like most of his performance was simply going through the motions.
I also expected more of a commanding presence on stage – yeah, he talked, and said the right things at the right time, but very little seemed genuine–perhaps too well rehearsed. The people loved it when he hung out on the edge of the stage, but he made absolutely NO eye contact all night when he was performing (he did when he was talking, but that doesn’t count). There was a heavy amount of performance, but not a lot of entertainment for my tastes. I clearly get it that he has fans and in their eyes he will do no wrong; but simply said, I’ve seen and heard better. However, I did stay until the end.
The Out of Favor Boys, who came into existence in 2003, have been a perennial favorite on the Kalamazoo blues scene over the past decade, hosting epic jam sessions at Wonderful’s and the 411 Club along with the Gumbo Cook-Off fundraisers, kicking off the Kalamazoo Bud Series Blues Jams, and being general all-around fun and good guys. Oh, and did I mention they’ve represented the KVBA at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, and that it goes without saying that they play smokin’ blues?
This party is going to be one you don’t want to miss! The show starts at 9 p.m., but doors open long before that. See you there!
Kelly Richey is a master Blues guitarist, who has been touring as a pro nationally and internationally since her teens. Richey is one of the hardest-working musicians out there, to date, logging an astounding 800,000 miles and 3,700 shows in her career. She fronts her blistering power trio The Kelly Richey Band, featuring Freekbass and Big Bamn, with a rock-solid poise and assurance that is unmistakable. Her fret board prowess and muscular guitar chops showcase the blood, sweat, and tears of Richey’s unremitting 35-year career.
The Kelly Richey band can be seen this coming Friday, Nov. 8 at The 411 Club. Show starts at 9pm – 18 and over. Pre-sale tickets $10, $12 day of show. This is gonna be a house rockin’ experience.
Vintage Guitar Magazine
“Guitarist/singer Kelly Richey has been described as “Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman’s body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out.” That makes a helluva picture, but it’s as close as words come to describing the talent of this native of Lexington, KY….On these nine original cuts, the Strat-wielding guitarist interprets and expands on the great sounds of the masters, but with many original touches.” – ECS
Jonny Lang found incredible success with the release of his major label debut album “Lie To Me.” Fame does not seem to have impacted him from being the same country farm boy from Fargo, ND who got his start in the local clubs of Minneapolis. He survived the passage of youth to adulthood, fell in love, began a family, and in the process passed through the life lessons we all endure. He has a keen sense of what he aims to achieve creatively, what music means to him, and is focused on the impact that his songs bring to the lives of those that encounter his repertoire. For Lang, with the September release of “Fight For My Soul,” he is entering a chapter wherein he has found his true voice.
Throughout his career he has shared the stage with The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Aerosmith, Sting, and Buddy Guy, who he continues to tour with today. As a 12-year-old, he began a journey in Fargo, ND that has brought him to points across the globe, and as he looks on the upcoming near-term future, he shares, “With this album, I really look forward to bringing our music to people in places where I’ve never been before. Music is one of the greatest conveyers of ideas and emotions, and in a sense that doesn’t have as much to do with the individual performing, but the power of the connection. One of my goals is the music can be a blessing to the people listening to it in some way. And if ‘Fight For My Soul’ can help somebody by making them feel better or that they’re not alone, that’s my idea of success for this album.”
Jonny Lang passes through Kalamazoo with a stop at the State Theatre, Nov 9…doors open at 7pm…show begins at 8pm. Reserved seating – $50/$35 admission.
The KVBA will once again be sponsoring a Sunday Blues Series this winter at The 411 Club. All shows will feature two of Kalamazoo’s fantastic blues bands. For all shows, admission is only $6. Doors open at 3 p.m. and music starts at 4 p.m.
Season passes will be available at the door for a discounted price.
Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree
Crossroads, the Resurrection
Out of Favor Boys
Big Boss Blues Band
Gee Daddy’s Big Blues Review
Steve Hilger Band
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 269-381-6514.
Memphis, baby! For the second time (their first appearance was in 2006), the members of Kalamazoo’s oldest (as in longest continously-performing) blues band will take to the competition stages at the IBC. Seventh Son, which first performed in 1986, has entertained audiences over the years with a consistently eclectic mix of blues standards, r & b and swing favorites, and original tunes. Founding members Dave Hunt (harmonica and lead vocals) and Steve Kovach (drums and vocals), along with Scott Matteson (lead guitar), Dave Cleveland (keyboard and vocals), Bill Hughes (bass), and John Blissard and Todd Jones (horns) will seek one of the blues world’s most prestigious awards at the 30th Annual International Blues Challenge, hosted by the Blues Foundation from January 21-25, 2014, in Memphis Tennessee.
Lansing’s Kathleen and the Bridge Street Band took runner-up honors at the Kalamazoo Blues Challenge held at the 411 Club on Sunday, September 29, and Big Boss Band of Kalamazoo and Barrelhouse Catts of Grand Rapids delivered stellar performances. All in all, it was a day to remember.
Watch this space for further stories about Seventh Son’s adventures as they prepare for the trip to Memphis, and to learn about ways you can support them in the endeavor. The KVBA presents the winner of its challenge with a $1000 award to help defray costs, but that doesn’t go far when you’re taking a seven-piece band to an out-of-state event for several days. In the months ahead we’ll make announcements about opportunities to hear Seventh Son play, and ways to help raise the funds to send your KVBA contestant to the IBC!
Keepin’ the Blues Alive!
By Mike Irelan
We took the ride over to Marshall, MI to the Franke Center For The Arts on Saturday, September 28 to see a blast from the past: one of the best British blues/rock bands of the 60′s/70′s, Savoy Brown.
It was worth the ride! Kim Simmonds (founder of Savoy Brown, and the only original member of the band) and his bandmates were great. Opening with “A Hard Way To Go” from the Raw Sienna LP, the trio featured a lot of music from the new release due out in February. As they released their last LP (number 30!) in 2006, this will be another treat for long time fans. They also played their big American radio hit “Tell Mama” . It was a good show. I would have liked more of the old stuff but understand they are touring in support of the new release.
On 11-22-13 they will be at the Magic Bag over in Ferndale MI, right on Woodward Ave.
The crowd received a real treat in the basement before the show, when Doug Beckman opened the evening. Playing slide on his Gibson SG Custom, he was on from the first song. The crowd was into it, and he was well received! To finish out his set he slid over to the piano and lit it up for 3 or 4 songs.
Folks will realize these days he is a master on the keys as well as a standout for his solo slide work, as he is currently appearing on the keyboard in Big Trouble. He also played keys as a founding member of Seventh Son and with the Mike Espy band in the past.
He was followed by local slide player Alvin Lautzenheiser.
The shows in Marshall are a nice outing when paired with dinner at Win Schuller’s, a little shopping and sight seeing!
The competition to select the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association’s contestant for the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis will take place this Sunday, September 29, at the 411 Club in Kalamazoo. Five area bands will submit their best thirty-minute set for a panel of four judges, who, guided by the criteria defined by the Blues Foundation, will pick a winner to represent the KVBA at the IBC.
As many of you are aware, the International Blues Challenge is the largest gathering of blues musicians in the world. The upcoming competition is number 30, which means that for the previous 29 years, blues performers from all over the world have gathered in Memphis to meet one another, hear each other’s music, put on their best performances, and vie for the opportunity to win one of the most prestigious awards in the music world. And each year the KVBA invites local bands to enter the Kalamazoo Blues Challenge, and sponsors the winner at the next IBC. The winning band is awarded a $1000 cash prize from the KVBA and gains the invaluable experience of participating in the amazing IBC experience.
There is a long illustrious list of previous KVBA entrants to the IBC, including Bosco-Gee (2013), Crossroads Resurrections (2012), Bryan Michael Fischer (2011), Chris Canas (2010), Marble Garden (2009), TC and the Roadmasters (2008), Vincent Hayes Project (2007), and Seventh Son (2006). The list goes back before that, but you get the idea–some of the best of the local bands head to Memphis each year to represent the KVBA.
The line-up for this year’s Kalamazoo Blues Challenge is:
1 3:00 – 3:30 Blue Heaven
2 3:45 – 4:15 Big Boss Blues Band
3 4:30 – 5:00 Seventh Son
4 5:15 – 5:45 Barrelhouse Catts
5 6:00 – 6:30 Kathleen & the Bridge St. Band
The 411 Club is hosting the competition as it has in years past, and will be ready with the best of food, drink, and hospitality. Doors open at 2:00 This is going to be an exciting and historic event, so mark your calendars now to be at the 411 Club on Sunday.
We’ll see you there!