Day Two At The IBC

 Jim Shaneberger Band, Hunt & Gator Nail Their Second Sets; Awaiting Word From The Judges

Notes from Ralph Yingling, KVBA President, in attendance at the IBC:  ”The vibe down here this year is a lot better than last, which can primarily be attributed to the weather.”  (For those of you who don’t remember, last year’s IBC  was a real challenge of freezing temps and icy winds, pretty much wiping out the usual street scene.)  ”Last year’s polar vortex halted much of the spontaneity that is a hallmark of the IBC.  Lots more action this year on the part of attendees, folks in the streets, smiles, and so forth.  There continues to be an abundance of talents, varied styles, and the contributions from all quarters, young and old.  The blues really is alive for at least four more days!”

At this writing, we are awaiting word on whether any of our west Michigan bands have advanced to the semi-finals.  Preliminary reports are that no matter the decision of the judges, we can be justifiably proud of our musicians!

A few more photos from the scene:

West Michigan Hits The Stages At The IBC!

Tonight is the first night of competition at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis.  Ralph Yingling, KVBA president, is on the scene with Dennis Massingill of the KVBA Board of Directors, to watch as the KVBA contestants start their run for blues glory.  Hunt & Gator (Dave Hunt and Dave Allemang) are competing in the solo-duo category, while the Jim Shaneberger band is representing the KVBA in the band category.  Another Kalamazoo area band, Big Boss Blues, is also in town, sponsored by the Capital Area Blues Society (CABS) of Lansing.  Here are a few photos of places and events from the IBC!

“We’re Looking Forward To The Music”: Hunt & Gator Head To The IBC

The 31st Annual International Blues Challenge (IBC) kicks off this Tuesday in Memphis, Tennessee, and by the time the stage lights go down for the last time on Saturday, 250 blues acts from all over the world will have taken their best shots at winning the top honors at the largest gathering of blues musicians in the world.  This fantastic gathering of performers has to be seen to be believed, as anyone who’s ever made the trek—fans and musicians alike—to the IBC can attest.

Hunt & Gator and Jim Shaneberger Band

Beginning in 2002, the competition was split into two different categories, separating solo-duo acts from full bands.  This year, for the second time in its fifteen-year history of sending competitors to the IBC, the KVBA is sponsoring a solo-duo act along with a band.  Hunt & Gator, an acoustic harp and guitar duo formed by Dave Hunt of Seventh Son and Dave Allemang of Crossroads, will join the Jim Shaneberger Band as representatives for the KVBA on the IBC stages.

Dave and Dave, who have approximately sixty years of history between them playing in blues bands around the region, got together about nine months ago to expand their musical visions and explore new directions for performing.  Dave Hunt, as the front man, lead singer, and harmonica player for Kalamazoo’s longest continually-performing blues band Seventh Son, had been interested for some time in branching out into a more intimate approach to performing, and he and Dave Allemang, lead guitar player for another Kalamazoo veteran band, Crossroads, proved to be an ideal fit.

Both Hunt & Gator have extensive histories of prior performances at the IBC with their bands, with Seventh Son appearing twice and Crossroads competing no less than five times.  Both have very fond memories of their experiences at the competition, and Dave Hunt cites the good time he had in Memphis last year as his inspiration for pressing ahead with the idea to form a duo act.

“I had so much fun last year (when Seventh Son competed for the second time),” says Hunt, “that I came back with the goal of going again as soon as possible.”  To do that, he needed to enter the KVBA Blues Challenge with a different group, and so the idea for Hunt & Gator was born.

Dave Allemang of Hunt & Gator

“I’ve been playing acoustically for years,” says Allemang, “and this project gives me a chance to take that further.”  He has good memories of playing in a duo approximately ten years ago with well-known local songstress Annette Taborn at the now-closed Wonderful’s Funky Basement.  Allemang, who also contributes vocals to the Hunt & Gator duo, is eager to see where this new format can take them.

“This isn’t strictly a blues act,” Dave Hunt notes, explaining that, while their IBC set will be firmly rooted in the blues, he and Dave Allemang are working up a repertoire consisting of a wide variety of other musical styles, including folk, country, jazz, and classic rock.

“It’s a lot of fun exploring what’s out there,” says Dave Allemang.  “We’re developing an eclectic song list, including originals.  Some of the most enjoyable songs for us to work on are turning out to be country numbers, because the harmonies are so rewarding.”

Dave Hunt of Hunt & Gator

Hunt & Gator do have a secret weapon, something that may well make them unique among the acts at this week’s IBC.  Dave Hunt, an experienced harmonica player with a large collection of harps of all types, has been playing for some time with a rare bass harmonica, which was given to him by his wife Barb Hunt, a well-known blues supporter who passed away in 2011.  “It’s kind of a gimmick instrument,” says Dave, and not something that’s usually seen in performance.  “I’m using it to give some of our songs a special sound, and I think it’s going to help us stand out in the crowd.”

The KVBA has sponsored a solo act at the IBC on two previous occasions, and interestingly enough, the same performer—Doug Beckman—was the winner both times.  Beckman won the KVBA competition in 2001, the last year that groups competed in a single category, and represented the KVBA in Memphis in 2002.  He traveled to the IBC again in 2010 and took the stage in the solo-duo category.

And in a related development (as they say on the news), a third Kalamazoo-area band is heading to Memphis this week as well.  Big Boss Blues will be representing the Capitol Area Blues Society in the search for adventure, blues glory, and just plain fun.

Charles Schantz and Bill LaValley of Big Boss Blues

The list of performers at the IBC is long, the talent level high, and the competition is fierce, but the experience is an exciting and rewarding one for all concerned.  Be sure to keep your eyes on this space in the upcoming days, as well as on the KVBA Facebook page and the Blues Foundation site, for updates on the IBC and on both Hunt & Gator and the Jim Shaneberger Band as they make their way through the week.  We wish them all the best!


First Show in Second Sunday Blues Series Delights!

Second show scheduled for Sunday, January 11, with Gator Blues and Big Boss Blues Band.

by Lynn Headapohl

On a sunny afternoon in December, the Barrelhouse Catts brought their rich co-mingling of R&B, rock &  blues to Shakespeare’s Pub in Kalamazoo to open the new season of the Second Sunday Blues Series, a fundraiser for the KVBA. Led by songstress Ms. Donna, accompanied by Clark Whitemyer on guitar, Russell “Tazz” Bullen on 5 string bass, Patrick Mohr on harmonicas and vocals, and powered by Kevin “Chief” Griffin on drums, this group truly pleased this afternoon’s crowd.

The Barrelhouse Catts

The band, which has been together for approximately 4 years, recently added Whitemyer on guitar and Griffin on drums. Ms. Donna opened the set, showcasing her powerhouse vocals on the tune “Evil”. Next, Patrick demonstrated his skillful chops on harp and sang “You Don’t Have to Go”. Ms. Donna followed with her version of the Etta James classic, “Damn Your Eyes”, while both Clark on guitar and Tazz on bass delivered tasteful solos to augment her exquisite vocal. They didn’t stop there. The band went on to deliver choice renderings of Dinah Washington’s “Blowtop Blues”, upbeat “My Babe” and a tremendous performance of Eric Clapton’s “Old Love”. The “Chief” on the drums, emulating the beating of a broken heart, accentuated the moving guitar solo performed by Clark on his Gibson standard to support the soulful lyrics. This performance can be seen on YouTube. Turn it up!! They closed the set with the hard driving hit, “May I Have a Talk with You”, and they weren’t done yet.

Second time around is always so sweet. The group started with harp player Patrick delivering a scorching version of Jonnie Lange’s “Déjà Voo Doo”. Then, they hit that hard drop-down barrelhouse sound on “My Babe’s Been Steppin’” with Ms. Donna’s vocal dipping down low and soaring up to her masterful solid highs. Her insightful delivery of the beautiful “Did I Forget To Say I Love You” brought a tear to the eye. Tazz provided a solo befitting this sensual tune on his 5 string Yamaha BB Bass. Next, after a tasteful trip with Rockin’ Blue  “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, Ms. Donna took us on a smooth ride with “Storm Monday” before Patrick partnered with Clark playing slide on his Gibson flying V and tore it up with “Had Enough of the Blues” before moving to “Ain’t No Midnight Train”.  They closed with a high energy blues jam and finally concluded with a rousing original by Tazz entitled “Zilch”. All and all, a great note to leave this happy blues crowd on.

Kev Nichols and Blue Tuesday

The second half of the afternoon was not to disappoint with crowd favorite Kevin Nichols and Blue Tuesday. Unfortunately for Kevin, his fellow guitarist, Tony Riske, had endured a home fire the previous night and was not able to perform. Even without the layering of the exquisite trade between solos, Kevin managed to entertain the blues crowd with his hard-driving, albeit sensitive, renderings of many of his blues classics with his Fender Telecaster.

Backed by Heather Cryderman Kulaga on 6 string bass and Rex Hambone holding down the groove on tubs, Kevin brought us the blues with tunes like “Bringin’ Home the Blues”, “On the Stage” and “Preaching ‘Bout The Blues”. Once again, he made us believers with “No Kind of Angel” and “Shame Shame”. He brought us “Blues in Technicolor”, with his sensitive blues proclaiming his love for his wife, accentuated by the Jaco Pastorius style in the growl of Heather’s 6 string bass. He took us travelin’ with “Going Down To Memphis” and rounded out his offerings with a tribute to Bob Dylan, serving up a crazy version of “All Along the Watchtower”. After treating us with the southern blues rock tune “Whipping Post”, he closed the day with a righteous version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. It was a great close to a beautiful Sunday of soul-stirring blues.

Thank you for your continued support to all those that attended this great event.  If you are anything like this writer, I can’t wait for the next show in the Second Sunday Blues Series, scheduled for this Sunday, January 11, from 3:00–8:00 pm. We are looking forward to bringing some hot blues to heat up this January cold with The Gator Blues Trio and The Big Boss Blues Band. It should be a great time! Hope to see you there, dancing up a storm and beating the winter cold.

For more info on the Barrelhouse Catts, you can find them on Facebook.

For more info on Kevin Nichols and Blue Tuesday,  go to

Jim Shaneberger Band Delivers The Goods; To Appear At The Union Jan. 9

by Lynn Headapohl

The November 22 Jim Shaneberger Band show at Bennucci’s Chicago Oven and Grill in Kalamazoo proved why this versatile, dynamic, three piece band became the winner that will represent Kalamazoo in Memphis for the 2015 International Blues Challenge.  (See related article.)  This truly entertaining outfit brought out Kalamazoo’s many blues supporters hungry for a rollicking night of blues, dancing, and out-and-out fun. I don’t think they were disappointed. The crowd was entertained with two long rousing sets that brought the house down.

The KVBA award for winning the 2014 Blues Challenge was presented at Bennucci’s.

Jim Shaneberger at Bennucci’s

This powerful trio led by Jim Shaneberger on Franken Fender guitar and vocals opened up with the funky jump beat blues tune “One More Chance” from their recent CD “Work In Progress”. That was followed by 3 more, each one bringing out a different shade of Jim’s fine vocals. With the rhythmic moves of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jim used his guitar talent tastefully and skillfully, never over- or under-playing. On the title tune of the new CD, his virtuosity shone through with strong leads accented by lightning-fast licks that could be likened to the butterfly flutter of Carlos Santana.  From the funky groove of “You Belong To Me”, to the soft expressive leads of “You Better Leave My Girl Alone”, this group demonstrated how its gigging experience has sharpened its performance to next level.

The smooth growl of Robert Pace’s five-stringed Warwick Dolphin and the measured, hard-hitting licks of drummer Karl Schantz provided a steady backbeat that enhanced this power trio’s full sound throughout the night. The group showed its versatility with full renditions of timeless soul music, from the Temptations to Teddy Pendergrass.  Bassist Pace showcased his beautifully soulful vocals on Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me”. The crowd was also treated to a crazy medley mix of dance tunes that smoothly moved from blues to R&B to rock and back to R&B that kept the dance floor jumping throughout the evening.  In the various R & B offerings, Pace and Drummer Schantz augmented the sound of the trio by providing smooth dynamic vocal backups, giving the band the full sound of a unit twice the size.

The high point of the night for this writer was Shaneberger‘s lyrical slide work on “If the River was Whiskey” and on the original song, “Drinkin’ Muddy Water”. This was true roots blues at its finest. At the heart of this evening of performance, we were given a modern look into a rocking, bluesy soulful unit that wants to take the roots of this music and bring it into the future, creating original songs that blend this heritage to move into the future.

Throughout the night, whether they were performing originals from their CD or covers like “Little Wing” and “Purple Rain”, they were totally committed to entertaining the folks who came to see them and have a great time.  Try and get out and support them. You won’t be disappointed. They will be back in the area Friday, January 9th at  the Union Cabaret and Grille in downtown Kalamazoo before they leave for the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this January. They are very excited to represent Kalamazoo at the International Blues Challenge and to quote their manager, “We WILL win!”

Well, guys, know that the Kalamazoo Blues Community will support you!

For more information on the band go to its website:


Gator Blues, Big Boss Band,To Appear At Shakespeare’s Pub Sunday, Jan. 11

Don’t Miss the Second of the Second Sunday Series Shows!

Mark your calendars for the afternoon of Sunday, January 11, and plan to brave the cold and snow by heading out to Shakespeare’s Pub, lower level, to hear two great local blues bands and support the 22nd Annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival at the same time!

Gator Blues Band

The KVBA’s popular fundraising series continues this Sunday, with doors opening at 3:00 pm and music starting at 4:00.  Cost at the door is $6:00, and all door charges go towards supporting the 2015 Kalamazoo Blues Festival, taking place at the Arcadia Festival Site in downtown Kalamazoo on July 9-11.

The Gator Blues Trio, hailing from Battle Creek, is 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 over the years.  Jim Klein’s bio cites “49 years playing guitar”, literally all over the world. Jim spent 15 of those years with the Jim Cummings Band, and also headed his own group, the Jim Klein Band.  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. 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. Together, these three musical virtuosos have performed together as Gator Blues for several years, and are looking forward to bringing their signature approach to blues and jazz to the stage at Shakespeare’s this Sunday.

Big Boss Blues Band, consisting of Bill LaValley (bass); Joe Ferguson (vocals/harmonica); Charlie Schantz (vocals/guitar); and Eric Busch (drums), was launched on January 1, 2012.  These four men —  who between them have nearly a century of blues performance history in a wide variety of bands— play blues, soul and R&B covers and original music, paying tribute to a musical era made famous by blues greats like Freddie King, Albert King, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter.   They have a passion for powerhouse rhythm and blues music that transports their listeners to some steamy club, where the smoke is blue, the atmosphere is alive, and the music is gut-wrenchingly powerful. The band is winner of the 2014 Capital Area Blues Society (CABS) “Blues Brawl” and will head to Memphis at the end of this month to represent CABS at the 2015 International Blues Challenge (IBC).

Big Boss Blues Band

This is a unique opportunity to hear these two bands on the same stage, enjoy an afternoon of great music, good food and drink, and good friendship, and support your local blues festival!  This Sunday!  Shakespeare’s!  See you there!


Blues Fans: Don’t Miss The Second Sunday Series!

Jim Shaneberger Band, Hunt & Gator, Headed For The IBC!

We Want To Dazzle You: The State Theater Heads Into the Future

My guess is that many of you reading this article have been to the State Theater, the downtown Kalamazoo landmark that began life in 1927 as one of hundreds of dramatic “movie palaces” across the country designed by architect John Eberson.  Perhaps you’re a long-time Kalamazoo resident with fond memories of attending movies in the ornate theater with the Spanish ambience and the clouds that moved overhead across the star-studded sky.  Or maybe you’re one of the thousands who’ve had the good fortune to be in the seats when, in its second incarnation as a music and entertainment venue, the State hosted some of the top performers of the day, including Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt, B. B. King, and countless other musical acts, comedians, stage performances, and special events.  And if you’re reading this as a KVBA member, then I just KNOW that you’ve been to at least SOME of the outstanding blues shows that filled the State during the years that it hosted the Bud/WRKR Blues Series.  All the best-known names in classic and contemporary blues, from Koko Taylor to Tab Benoit to Samantha Fish (to name only a very few) have played the State Theater stage, a record few venues anywhere can match.

The new look for the State Theater

So, I know you know about the State.  But how much do you really know about this historic building (now the only still-operating Eberson-designed movie theater left in Michigan; a second, the Capitol Theater, still exists in Flint), and about the plans afoot for making the Kalamazoo State Theater a destination for top-of-the line performances with “New York style” sound and presentation?  Owner Roger Hinman, new executive director Stephanie Hinman, talent buyer and production manager Jacob Wargo, and venue manager Tom Kiebach have big and exciting plans for taking the State to the next level and beyond.

The last regularly scheduled film played on the State’s silver screen in 1982, and the landmark building was headed for destruction when Roger Hinman, president and CEO of the Hinman Company, purchased it in 1985.  Determined to save the beautiful space, Hinman explored a number of avenues for preserving the theater and giving it new life.  An initial plan to continue screening movies with upgraded projection equipment proved unsuccessful, and the State began its life as a performance venue.  Over the years, acts as diverse as comedians George Carlin and Jeff Dunham; bands including The Violent Femmes, the Tubes, and Deep Purple; singers like KD Lang, Joan Armatrading, Todd Rundgren, and Tom Waits; and the aforementioned endless list of blues performers have taken the stage at the State.  It’s an amazing wealth of riches for a town the size of Kalamazoo; and yet, the State has struggled, and continues to struggle to stay in existence.  Making ends meet has always been the bottom line, and that’s where Stephanie Hinman, Jacob Wargo, and Tom Kiebach intend to turn things around.

Jacob Wargo, Tom Kiebach, and Stephanie Hinman

When taking a tour of the State Theater recently, one of the first things one notices is the new look in the auditorium itself.  The production area that used to occupy a block of seats square in the middle of the main floor has been redesigned and moved to the back of the room.  This not only opens up new seating, including expanded seating area for guests in wheelchairs and mobility assistance devices, but is part of a dramatic upgrade in sound quality.  “We laser-scoped the entire theater to measure and evaluate the sound,” says Jacob Wargo.  “Then we ran the results through a computer program that allows us to design the ideal sound effects for every seat in the house.  We are using a whole new sound system, including all new speakers.  We’re working with the science of sound, with the goal of creating the best possible experience for our audience.”

State Theater interior

Wargo, who hails from Cleveland and has toured around the world working with audio and stage crews for top-flight musicians and bands such as Ann Margret, Widespread Panic, and Maroon 5, originally came to Kalamazoo as a sound engineer for Green Sky Bluegrass.  “I met a girl, and I stayed,” says Wargo, who joined the State Theater team in June of 2014.  He’s clearly excited about the new direction the theater is taking.  “It’s going to be a multi-level experience,” he says of upcoming shows at the State.  “We want to dazzle you.  With the new sound and lighting, the upgraded amenities, and the intensive staging, we’re going to be presenting a bigger, fuller performance.  We want people leaving the shows filled with excitement and enthusiasm.”

One thing that’s a given in a building that’s been around as long as the State is the constant need for maintenance, and recent months have seen a lot of time, effort and money put into sprucing up the grand old structure.  The “green rooms” on the upper and lower levels have received new paint, carpet, and furniture; long-standing damage to walls and ceilings has been repaired; intensive cleaning has taken place; and—oh yeah—the clouds will soon be floating by above again.  When the State Theater was designed in the 1920’s, it was intended to be an immersive experience just to walk into the building, and the goal is to return to as much as possible of that former glory.

State Theater interior

Regular attendees at the WRKR/Bud Blues Series will notice a couple of other changes in future shows at the State.  The large open area in front of the stage, which used to accommodate music fans who wanted to dance or just get down front close to the music, is now dedicated to regular seating.  Stephanie Hinman explains that the change was necessary to comply with fire safety rules, and that while some patrons may be disappointed at losing the open area, “We have to listen to the fire marshal,” if shows are to continue.

Another change is the switch from open, or festival, seating, to reserved seating for upcoming shows.  “We’re rewarding the folks who get their tickets early,” says Wargo.  “It’s an incentive for people to make their plans to attend a show, and plan an evening around it.”

That last comment speaks to another of the State Theater’s crew’s visions for the theater, which is for it to become a vital presence in the community.  “This is a real treasure we have here,” Stephanie Hinman says.  “It can draw people not only from around Michigan but from surrounding states as well to attend the kind of shows we’re having, and they’ll bring their dollars with them.  Not only will theater-goers be spending money in our community, but they’ll be spreading awareness of the area and all we have to offer.”

The Out Of Favor Boys

A quick look at the State Theater’s website gives an idea of the kind of events that the Hinmans, Wargo, Keibach and the rest of the team hope will bring in the crowds and spread the excitement.  Mike Love and The Beach Boys are scheduled for December 17, while hometown boy turned country star Frankie Ballard will bring his annual Christmas concert to town on December 20.  The Bob and Tom Show will delight comedy fans on December 31, Jason Isbell with special guest Damien Jurado will appear February 13, to be followed by the popular Beatles’ tribute show 1964 the next day.

And big news for all you blues fans out there:  perennial favorite Tab Benoit will share a bill with Samantha Fish and Mike Zito on March 6.  Even better, the Out of Favor Boys, who have a long and fun-filled history with Tab, will be opening the show.  A lot of blues lovers have already purchased their tickets for this show, so don’t wait too late to get yours, or you may be out of luck!

The Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association and the State Theater have a history going back several years, with the State being one of the primary venues for live blues in the area, as well as a sponsor for the annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival ( the 22nd is scheduled for July 9, 10 and 11, 2015).  Be sure to follow the developments as the State heads into the future!


Old Dog Tavern Features Sunday Night Blues, and Music Throughout The Week.

Great Food and Fine Drink On Tap As Well

“We want to create a space that’s warm in winter, cool in the summer, clean and comfortable at all times, and welcoming all year round.”  Sound like any place you know?

Satch Huizenga and Sean Smith of the Old Dog

That’s Sean Smith, co-owner (with wife Amy Smith) of the Old Dog Tavern, describing the couple’s vision for the popular Kalamazoo gathering spot that opened in 2010 in the old Star Paper Building at 402 E. Kalamazoo Avenue.  Sean and Amy, with the help of general manager Satch Huizenga, who joined the staff late last summer, have big plans for the space that originally housed one of many manufacturing businesses connected to the once-thriving paper industry in the area.

“We’re in a new phase,” says Satch.  “We’re ready to take a growth step, building on the basic restaurant and bar format and moving into a full-blown music venue and entertainment destination.  We’re working out the complex logistics, but we’re making sure we get it right.  We’d rather do one thing well than a whole lot of things halfway.”

From renovating the 100+ -year-old building and expanding the food and drink offerings, to creating a large outdoor beer garden space featuring a stage, covered deck, and lots of room to mill about and dance, Satch and the Smiths are a team that is clearly excited about the future of the Old Dog.

Sunday Night Blues Jam with 7th Son at the Old Dog

For Star Paper, a paper-distribution company, location was everything, and the building was built in the late 19th century around the trains.  To this day, trains still occasionally rumble down the tracks right beside the building, temporarily interrupting music and conversation and adding an undeniable ambience to the scene.  The interior of the building still retains features of its days as an industrial site, including an enormous pulley mounted on the ceiling and, secreted behind a wall, the first working elevator in Kalamazoo.

Long-term area residents will remember the spot at 402 Kalamazoo Avenue as the Kraftbrau, a local brewpub that closed its doors in November, 2007.  The closing of the Kraftbrau, which featured specialty beers and eclectic music offerings, left a hole in the local scene that the Smiths stepped in to fill in 2010.  They began by continuing the basic theme of live music and refreshments, taking it further by adding a full bar and menu.

With popular offerings like the Sunday night Bloody Mary bar, a roster of unique drinks such as the ”I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” cocktail, and tasty food selections created by local chef Eric Boodt (formerly of the Oakwood Bistro), the Old Dog quickly developed a reputation for its food and drink.  The regular menu that offers items like three variations on the standard Michigan pasty, pizzas, and sandwiches is supplemented by daily specials such as creative versions of risotto and mac-and-cheese as well as items like maple-glazed salmon.

Sunday Night Blues Jam

Fans of live music can nearly always find something to enjoy at the Old Dog, which features music nearly every night of the week.  You can start the week with the Sunday night blues jam, hosted by a different local blues band each week.  Bands like Seventh Son, The Cats in the Dog, Crossroads the Resurrection, and Gator Blues start the night out with a full set of the best of the blues, and then invite visiting artists to the stage to create an evening of sound and adventure.  With the recent closing of the 411 Club, ending the eight-year run of its widely attended Thursday night blues jam, the Sunday night jam at the Old Dog is becoming ever more popular with musicians and fans alike.

Follow up the Sunday blues with Happy Hour Monday (happy hour prices all day!), and then on Tuesday check out boogie-woogie piano favorite Tom Duffield at 5:00 pm, followed by Open Mic Night with Branden Mann.  Wednesday promises late-night happy hour, and the live music is back on Thursday and continues right through the weekend.  A wonderful variety of performers is listed every week, including local singer-songwriters, duo acts like the Duffield-Caron Project (Tom Duffield appearing every Saturday with singer Lorraine Caron), musical educators BenJammin’ and AnaLisa, and bands whose styles cover the waterfront from the sweet, old-time roots-music songs of the Hired Hands to the flat-out uproarious swing sound of the Real Fantastics.  And this doesn’t begin to include the special events such as Frank Zappa’s birthday party scheduled for December 21 or the GLAMA (Great Lakes Acoustic Music Association) open jam session on December 29.  You need to keep an eye on the Old Dog’s event calendar to keep up with the every-changing list of entertainment, or you’ll miss something!

Beer Garden and Outdoor Stage at the Old Dog

One thing you notice when you enter the Old Dog is its eye-catching decor, which includes a variety of works by local artists, historical items and unusual features like the moose head on the wall, and artifacts and signs from vanished venues like Club Soda, the Whistle Stop, and the Kraftbrau.  What you don’t notice on the front of the building is a sign for the Old Dog, but plans are in the works, not just for a physical sign out front, but for the continuing development of a musical signature for the entire complex.  “We’re putting improvements into the sound system, listening to our patrons, and looking at who we book for upcoming musical events,” says Satch.  “We’re going for a broad-based appeal that is always offering something new and exciting.  It’s work, but it’s worth it—we’re on our way!”





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