The fifth in the six-show series of popular fundraising events to benefit the Kalamazoo Blues Festival will take place this Sunday, March 24, at the 411 Club. Doors will open at 3:00, and the Marci Linn band will take the stage at 4:00. Bryan Michael Fischer will follow at 6:00 pm.
The cost is $6.00 at the door, and all proceeds go to help stage the 20th Annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival, a three-day tradition of amazing blues performances, workshops, history, and fun that will hit the Arcadia Festival Site from Thursday, July 11 through Saturday, July 13.
Come on down to the club this Sunday and forget the cold and the snow by enjoying some hot blues! Party with friends and enjoy the great food and drink and awesome service at the 411, and help support the Blues Festival: what could be better than that?
50% of every PPV ticket sold goes directly to the Blues Foundation’s Raise the Roof! Campaign for the Blues Hall Of Fame! So get your ticket now and make your donation at http://bit.ly/V28cxD
When: Sunday March 24th at 1 pm PST, 4 pm EST
How: Sign up now for the ppv at http://bit.ly/V28cxD
Dave Thomas, Paul Eagle Facing Health Challenges
Dave Thomas, an early member of the KVBA Board of Directors and an ardent supporter of the blues, was one of the driving forces that kept the organization and the Festival alive and solvent in those early days. So many times when it seemed as if we were facing unsolvable problems, Dave would step up and find a way to make things happen. In addition, his warmth and humor, his generosity, and his overall kindness made a lasting impression on all who have known him.
Current Board president Ralph Yingling passes on this message: ”We hear that our good friend, and former board member, David Thomas, could use some good thoughts/prayers sent his way. His caregivers are asking that inquiries and well wishes not be done via telephone as the doctors feel ringing phones are just adding to the stress of the situation. If you want to send a card, you can send it to the KVBA – Attn: Dave Thomas – PO Box 2413 – Kalamazoo MI 49003-2413 and we’ll be sure he gets it.”
Paul Eagle, another former Board member and a vital presence in the Blues Festival during the 1990′s, has also been struggling with health problems for some time. He’s currently looking at shoulder surgery, and the prospect of being unable to use his arm for some months.
So when you have a moment in the days ahead, stop and think of Dave and Paul, and send good wishes their way. Prayers, positive energy, healing thoughts, or any way that you can to invoke strength and healing for our two good friends.
On March 12, 2010, Bob Peters got the chance to meet one of his musical heroes, Pinetop Perkins. And just a few hours later (early March 13) the Kalamazoo blues community lost Bob, one of our own musical heroes.
After his funeral, The 411 Club hosted a blues jam in Bob’s honor. Since then, one of the mid-March Thursday Blues Jams has been dedicated to the memory of Boogie Woogie Bob.
This year’s Boogie Woogie Bob Peters Memorial Jam will be held at The 411 Club on March 14. A little different than years past, this year’s jam is going be a benefit to raise money for the KVBA Boogie Woogie Bob Peters Music Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to an area high school student at the 20th Annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival on July 13, 2013.
- 3rd Annual Memorial Blues Jam (hosted by Out of Favor Boys)
- Silent Auction of many of Bob’s personal items (photos, sketches, clothing, cheetah print items, etc.)
- Art Raffle
- KVBA will accept other contributions to the scholarship fund
Nick Moss and the Flip Tops To Honor Blues Legend at WRKR Blues Series Show
“Blues, R&B, soul, and a little bit of rock & roll,” is how Chicago band Nick Moss & The Flip Tops describe their sound on their website. Come join these high-energy performers at Kalamazoo’s State Theater as we pay tribute to the recently departed legendary Magic Slim. Magic Slim & The Teardrops were scheduled to perform during the 2013 WRKR Blues Series on Friday, March 1. In honor of him, we’ll have one heck of a blues party this Friday to celebrate his life and music!
Kalamazoo’s longest continually performing blues band, Seventh Son, will take the stage at 8 pm, to bring its unique sound, formulated over 26 years of playing area venues, to open the show.
Tickets are $14 the day of the show, $13 in advance, and $11 with a State VIP or WRKR card. Come on down and help to celebrate the life of one of the great legends of the blues!
By Michael Gee
photographs by Dennis Tuttle
Magic Slim was born Morris Holt on August 7th, 1937, in Torrence, Mississippi. Being from a family of sharecroppers, Slim’s story begins with experiences very similar to a countless number of his mentors and peers.
In the beginning Morris was a piano player but was forced to give up playing the piano when he lost his little finger in a cotton gin mishap.
He first came to Chicago in 1955 with his friend and mentor Magic Sam. The elder Magic Sam let the younger Slim play bass with his band, and gave him his nickname. At first Slim was not regarded highly by his peers and decided to return to Mississippi. By 1965 he was back in Chicago, this time playing guitar, and in 1970 his brother Nick joined him in his group, the Teardrops.
Slim’s recording career began in 1966 with the song “Scufflin’”, followed by a number of singles spanning into the mid-1970’s. He recorded his first album in 1977, Born Under A Bad Sign, for the French MCM label. During the 1980s Slim released titles on Alligator, Rooster Blues and Wolf Records, and won his first W.C. Handy Award in 1980 when he recorded his cover version of “Mustang Sally”.
In 1982 guitarist John Primer joined The Teardrops and stayed for 13 years. Releases include “Spider in My Stew” and a re-release of the song “Scufflin”. In 1994, Slim moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. Magic Slim was frequently accompanied by his son, guitarist and singer “Lil’ Slim” Holt.
In 2003, Magic Slim and The Teardrops won the W.C. Handy Award for the sixth time, and in 2005 released a live performance on CD and DVD called “Anything Can Happen”.
A long-time favorite in Kalamazoo, Magic Slim was a popular performer at Wonderful’s Funky Basement, and helped inaugurate the newly opened 411 Club on August 31, 2008. A second show at the 411 Club followed on February 20, 2009. He was scheduled to take the stage at the State Theater for the second time, having previously appeared on February 15, 2008, on March 1 as part of the WRKR Blues Series; that show has been rescheduled with Chicago blues/rock band Nick Moss and the Fliptops.
New York Times: “Magic Slim, a singer and guitarist acclaimed as a keeper of the flame of electrified Chicago blues, died on Thursday in Philadelphia. He was 75. His death was announced by Blind Pig Records, the label for which he had recorded since 1990. No cause was given, but he was known to have been dealing with a variety of health problems and had been hospitalized a few weeks ago while on tour.”
The passing of a legend is always a sad moment. As we take a moment to look at Magic Slim’s life and reflect on everything he and so many others have given us, one must take a look at the blues, largely regarded as the only truly American art-form. Born of one of the darkest periods in our history, the blues has been passed from one generation to the next, each one picking it up, allowing it to enlighten and inspire them, placing their own mark on the music and then putting it down again for another generation to do the same.
You have given us so much… Your voice, your thoughts, your feelings and your soul… Made many smile and others cry… Your touch has kept the blues alive and left your impression forever… And now to another…
Rest in Peace, my Friend.
A few months ago I wrote a piece on the blues and what it means to me. It is more than a riff or a wailing harp. The blues is the human spirit rising in triumph and shouting “I will not be held down!”
I think some people may have missed that point! While I was reporting on the Blues in the Schools program at the February 7 KVBA Blues Community Meeting, someone actually questioned whether Doug Beckman and I could be good presenters for the program, as we are both white men. (This article is only my opinion. I don’t speak for Doug.) I am really at a loss for words, but the terms “shocked” and “appalled” really come to mind. In this age I thought blues fans really did not think this way any more. How long are we going to let the issue of race be a roadblock to a better world?
I would like to quote some masters on this issue for you:
“There was a white man who had the blues; he laid down in bed and tossed side to side. What’s the matter, the blues got you?” Leadbelly
“The color of your skin don’t matter, my brother. I see the blues in Technicolor.” Anthony Gomes.
“Little baby in its crib crying for its bottle, it’s got the blues.” Albert King
The blues is a way to cope with life and the hard times and troubles it sends. It is a human thing. It is life itself! I suggest that anybody who feels race is an issue of authenticity in the blues look deep inside and try to find their soul, because it has a hole and part of it has leaked out!
I will end my soapbox with the words of John Lee Hooker:
“The Blues, when Adam saw Eve, that’s when the Blues began. You can say what you want, but it all comes down to the same thing: a man, a woman, a broken heart and a broken home.”
By Michael Gee
As I sat backstage on the corner of North Grand River and Turner, taking a moment to relax before going on the stage at Lansing’s MICA Old Town Blues Festival, I thought back to May, and the Capital Area Blues Society’s 2012 Blues Brawl. Held just a couple dozen blocks away, this was where the Bosco-Gee Blues Band grabbed the runner-up honors behind Lansing’s Big Willy by what had to be a pretty slim margin.
It was September 21st. The skies had been clouding up and clearing intermittently all day with an occasional short burst of light rain. My brain turned forward again to the upcoming day and our fourth consecutive entry in the KVBA Blues Challenge. In what seemed like just a moment, the Old Town show was over, and I found myself sitting on the patio at the 411 Club in Kalamazoo in the hours after our 3:30 slot in the competition. I remember listening to the Out of Favor Boys, this year’s Blues Challenge runners-up, nailing down the final seconds of a spectacular closing set that timed at 30 minutes on the nose. And about an hour later, the Bosco-Gee Blues Band was bound for Memphis and the 2013 International Blues Challenge.
My message in this article has dual purposes: primarily, to share the experience with the folks at home, but also to share and document the lessons learned for possible future contestants, myself included.
Let’s start with the whole “Beale Street” experience. From the moment you step onto the street you can feel the spirit of the blues, past and present, breathing into your pores. It’s an amazing feeling. When the sun is replaced by Beale Street neon, it takes your breath away. This is where it all happens: two competitions, four months of fundraising, grueling and repetitious rehearsals all dedicated to four songs: it all comes down to here & now.
Before you hear a single note played, you can feel the music pulsing through your veins. Next thing you know, you are sitting on the patio at the Rum Boogie on a beautiful 70 degree evening, eating gator gumbo with the Barkers. This is all the day before the competition starts. On your second day in town, you check your band in and pick up your credentials, venue assignments and time slots. Then it’s down to the IBC store to get some CDs up for sale and sit through the act orientation at 2:30, which is basically a reading of the email you have already seen twelve times, and a few extra announcements.
Then, the moment is upon you. You are standing on a stage which has been graced with the presence of countless blues legends. Before the stage lights come up you glance around the crowd, and you can just feel the tension and anticipation. The excitement peaks, the venue coordinator announces your name, the clock starts and you are in the hands of the judges. Let’s talk about that for a minute…
The Blues Foundation makes it very clear to you at the act orientation that you are competing with a score sheet, not with the other acts. For the most part, for the entire week, everybody acts as such. You meet many of the other acts, all good people, all pros, and you even build bonds with some of them.
The scoresheet criteria includes Blues Content, Vocal Talent, Overall Talent (Instrumental Skills), Stage Presence and Originality. These categories are weighted as follows: Blues Content (4); Talent (3); Vocals (3); and Stage Presence and Originality, both (2). One might consider that with “Blues Content” being the single most important factor, subject to a particular judge’s opinion of what is and is not the Blues, it might actually roll both the Blues Content and Originality Categories into one big grey area.
My own observation throughout the week, in my opinion, was that perhaps the “Blues Content” category (which might more aptly be renamed “Traditional Blues Content”) was even more heavily weighted than the criteria suggests, leaving one with the idea that perhaps neither Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Bonamassa, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton nor Dr. John could have ever won one of these competitions. So as the players put the week behind them in perspective, it might be good for us all to remember that “the experience” is the real prize attached to the IBC.
For the months prior to the trip, I had my fingers crossed for us to be assigned to B.B. King’s, which most past participants referred to as the best venue on the street. It’s also one of the two most common for placement of “Big Bands”. But it was not to be. We drew the New Daisy Theatre, and were given great time slots, 9:40 on opening night and 6:45 on day two.
I was actually quite surprised that we had a better crowd at 6:45 on Thursday than the later slot the opening night. After the Thursday show we visited Vinny Marini upstairs at the Rum Boogie for a live webcast interview on “Music on the Couch”. You can listen to it at http://motc-2013ibc.blogspot.com/2013/01/013113-ibc-show-5.html
As I’m sure all the Kalamazoo blues faithfuls on hand for both shows will attest, the Bosco-Gee Band left everything on the stage. As a performer, I could feel the Memphis mojo bringing out the “A” game in all of us.
On Thursday night, I nearly blew out my voice in two songs of a 23-minute set. Bob Hunt’s solo in “Don’t Walk Away”, from our new CD, nearly made me cry. Jerry Paterson lit up his Heritage H-150, which we laughingly refer to as “The Green Thang”, & played his signature “Mud Slide” like I have never heard him do before. Hoot & Jimi locked down that Bosco-Gee groove like a clock, and Bosco sucked the reeds right out of his harp on “Black Drawers”.
If there is anything else we could have done, I don’t know what it is. Nonetheless, in spite of my confidence after the second show, we did not advance to the semi- finals, nor did our Lansing counterparts, Big Willy. From our venue, Detroit’s “Lady Sunshine” did advance to the semi-finals, but sadly, it ended there for them as well. I will say that in The New Daisy Theatre and The Flying Saucer, Michigan was very well represented!
Taking this home, I would like to thank the KVBA and all of the Kalamazoo blues community for their relentless support. And for those of you who actually made it to Memphis, thank you so much for sharing the experience with us!
Also, thanks to all of the people who helped out with our fundraisers, to the cash contributors, and to blues lovers all over Southwest Michigan. Let’s not leave out the Blues Foundation, the Beale Street venues, judges, sponsors and IBC Volunteers and all their hard work. Last but not least: huge congrats to Selwyn Birchwood and his band, winners of the 2013 IBC!!!! Great player and just a wonderful guy!!!
I might just have one more of these left in me… ???? What a Ride!!!
The Bosco-Gee Blues Band, featuring the lovely Martila Sanders, is stoked, primed and ready for its upcoming Memphis run! In preparation for taking the stage at the 29th Annual International Blues Challenge, the KVBA’s representative at the “largest gathering of blues bands in the world” has been fine-tuning its presentation for maximum impact.
Rehearsals have been grueling and repetitious, focused on perfecting a tight set of four songs. This will be just enough to fill the 25-minute set in the opening round of the IBC, with a carefully chosen closing tune to allow some flexibility for purposes of playing “beat the clock”. The set has been honed to 23 minutes with a simple toggle in place to stretch it out to 27 for later rounds.
Having selected three original tunes from the band’s new CD “The Rain Falls Anyway”, and just one blues standard, also from the CD, the band is confident with its choice of material. Band co-founder Michael Gee said, “Although I will always value the experience no matter the outcome, and will be happy just to have been there, that is not why we are going. Getting blown out in the first round is not even on my mind.” The band’s sax player, Bob Hunt, added, “There will be a lot of talent in Memphis, but we are just going to do what we do. That is what got us here, and it will end up how it ends up.”
Jeff (Bosco) Bobrofsky added, “We are truly humbled by all the support we have received from the Blues Community. The band has members spread across 50 miles of the I-94 corridor, fromKalamazoo to Albion, and has held fundraising events in Albion, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, always with the undying support and assistance of the KVBA.”
Fundraising efforts have been fruitful, and the band has only one remaining fundraiser, to be held at The Union Cabaret and Grill, at 125 S. Kalamazoo Mall on Sunday, January 20th. Doors open at 3:30 PM with a $5.00 minimum donation requested at the door. The Union will have a limited menu of GREAT FOOD available, and the Bosco-Gee Blues Band will perform three sets starting at 4:00 PM, with a “sneak peak” of the IBC set at the beginning of set two.
Advice and pointers have been flying at the band from every direction since winning the KVBA Blues Challenge in September. Good friends and peers such as Tom Duffield, Eddie Blue Lester, and Capital Area Blues Society President Mike Skory, all of whom have been in the same shoes, streamlined the message down to “Be Yourself”. In speaking with Gee and long time friend, associate and slide guitar-master Jerry Patterson, both simply replied, “That is the plan. We are going to put down what we do and hand our fate to our ‘secret weapon’. Because, wherever we go, whether it is Memphis or Marshall, Martila is NOT just another singer.”
We at the KVBA would like to remind everybody that although the Association presented Bosco-Gee with an up-front award of $1000 to help defray its costs, getting a seven-piece band to Memphis and funding all the expenses associated with the competition is far from cheap. We urge you all to make the trip to the Union on Sunday for the final “Beale Street Bound” Blues Bash and kick in what you can to help the Bosco-Gee Blues Band represent us in Memphis!!
MEMPHIS BOUND, BABY!