It’s Member Voting Time for 2016
CANDIDATES FOR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Only Members May Vote - JOIN TODAY!
Chairman of the Board - RJ Spangler
Drummer/bandleader & artist manager RJ Spangler has been on the Detroit music seen for many years; in fact he earned his first Motor City Music Award in 1982 with a band he co-founded called the Sun Messengers. After 15 years as a Messenger, RJ went on to running the band for Detroit blues guitar master Johnnie Bassett. Over the years RJ has played gigs with Harmonica Shah, Catfish Hodge, Earl King, Larry McCray, Johnny Adams, Eddie Bo, Andre Williams, Robert Penn, both Eddie & Jimmy Burns, Martha & the Vandellas, Garfield Angove, Kim Massey, The Drifters, Pinetop Perkins, Yard Dog Jones, Erich Goebel, Shirley King, Nathaniel Mayer, Ron Levy, Bob Seely, James Carter and many more. Today he is a WC Handy Award nominated drummer, a record producer and manager/drummer for Alberta Adams & Cee Cee Collins, in addition to leading his own blues band (RJ's Rhythm Rockers), the Planet D Nonet and the RJ Spangler Trio/Quartet. He is well known for his work with Joe Weaver, the Motor City R&B Pioneers and the Odessa Harris Group. He appears on over 60 nationally available CDs. In addition to his work as a music business professional, RJ served as Chairman of the Detroit Blues Society for over a decade. Spangler is a co-founder of the Anti-Freeze Blues Festival at the Magic Bag Theater in Ferndale, MI. For years, The Anti-Freeze has been the largest single fundraising event for the Detroit Blues Society. He continues as co-artistic Director to this day. He also co-founded Big City Blues Magazine and is Artistic Director for
the Jazzin' On Jefferson Festival & books Soul Jazz Sunday at the Cadieux Café in Detroit. His latest project is the Planet D Nonet, a swing/jump blues band.
President – Steve Soviak
I would consider my first year as president of DBS a huge success. 8 out of 10 of my targeted projects were completed and they were all successful. Here are a few examples:
- I over saw the development of our new newsletter format
- We celebrated our 30 year anniversary
- I directed the expansion of DBS territory north, east and west
- DBS conducted 6 Blues Challenge events and are supporting a youth band, solo act and band to compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2016
- I worked with fellow board members to crown a new Queen of the Blues and to arrange for Rev. Robert Jones to become involved in our Blues in the Schools program
- I recruited new volunteers to manage the merchandise table at DBS events to ensure a revenue stream for the society
That being said... I will continue my efforts ...and look forward to your support...to continue as the President of the Detroit Blues Society
Vice President – Tom McNab
This past year I have served as an at-large member of DBS. I have attended monthly DBS board meetings and volunteered to support several DBS events. Also, I worked with Laurie Frick, K-12 Music Facilitator Birmingham Schools, to engage Robert Jones, Jr. to facilitate (11) Blues-In-The-Schools workshops in the Birmingham School District for the upcoming school year. Most of all I’m a fan of Blues music and want to make sure that the blues continues to thrive in southeast Michigan.
Secretary – William Toll a.k.a Sweet Willie Tea
I began playing guitar as a teenager and in the 1980's released one record with the punk rock band "Toll". In the 90's I was front man for the blues/rock show band "Cidy Zoo". Our "Something for Everyone" release, included the single "Talk Louder", the classical crossover instrumental "25 Strings", and the popular "Buick City Blues". All three received airplay with "Talk Louder" eventually charting at #15 on the AAA charts. I have recently released two albums as Sweet Willie Tea. An electric blues collection with my band, The Tea Bones titled "Down On The Floor" and a solo one-man-band effort in the tradition of Dr. Ross the Harmonica Boss titled “Unsweetened”.
I won the Canada South Blues Challenge and was a semi-finalist in Memphis at The 2011 International Blues Challenge, and I have won the Detroit Blues Society Blues Challenge twice and was a semi-finalist in Memphis at The 2013 International Blues Challenge. I have shared the stage with acts as diverse as Styx, Ten Years After, Canned Heat, Roger Miller, Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Larry McCray, Steven Page (Bare Naked Ladies), and many more in clubs and at festivals. I currently perform nearly 200 shows yearly and have been a regular feature at the legendary Bert's in Detroit's Eastern Market.
In 1986 I founded Fine Line Design, a commercial advertising and design firm that grew to employ five staffers and specialized in retail center (shopping mall) marketing with clients in four states. In recent years as music has dominated my time, I have "downsized" the company and now work primarily as a graphic and web design consultant under that same name.
I served as President of the Board of Directors of Buckham Alley Theatre, an eighty seat non-profit theatre in Flint, MI for nearly twenty years and oversaw all aspects of the theatre's business including; advertising, grants, membership, and sound and lighting design. I have been fortunate to have been trained in the Second City method of improvisational comedy by SC alumnus Jonathon Round and to have served as Director of the Back Alley Players Comedy Improv Troupe during the years that followed.
I am currently a member of the Detroit Blues Society and look forward to assisting the mission of the Society in any way that I may.
Treasurer – Mike Rembor
I have been a member of the Detroit Blues society since 1993. I served on the Board as Secretary for 1999 and 2000, as Treasurer for the past 12 years, Vice president from 2002 - 2004 and Chairman of the Board for 10 terms. This year I am running for only the Treasurer position so I can focus on being an effective steward of DBS revenue and expenses. My goal for the upcoming year is to be an active Board officer focused on expanding the support and benefits DBS offers Detroit musicians through CD reviews, newsletter articles and membership benefits resulting in a better general membership experience at DBS sponsored events featuring members.
Member at Large - Jane Cassisi
I have been the editor of the DBS Blue Notes since March of this year (2015) and also take photographs around town and sometimes the state. I have a BA in Graphic and Commercial Art and 30 years’ experience in that field, most with the Department of Defense, US Army (I am one of the few that can say they love their job). I have also taught courses in computer graphics at MCC and helped set the curriculum for that course of study since the 1990s. Oh yes, I am also a licensed Drivers Training Instructor. Joining the Detroit Blue Society, I am going to say a little over 2 years ago, has been quite a journey for me. I have had the opportunity to meet (IMHO) the most talented Blues musicians in the state and am honored that many of them call me their friend. The Detroit Blues Society has a lot to offer to our Blues community and we are just getting started, because, as you know, “It’s all about the Blues”.
Member at Large – Nikki James
I have been a DBS member on and off for over twenty years. During this time I have been an active participant in upholding the DBS mission statement of "keeping the blues alive" through performance, recording, booking, management and production. In my two years of being a member "At Large" and Volunteer Chair and I have produced several events and participated
actively in pursuing volunteers to support the DBS. It was I that recruited our current editor Jane Cassisi. I produced a monthly series - Steak & Blues. I produced To Alberta With Love, Blues Girls Of Summer 2014 & 15, The Crowning of Thornetta Davis & I initiated PA Donation's, The Alberta Adams Fund and a physical address at The Hasting Street Ballroom. I have been honored with three tribute certificates for my production contributions to the DBS from the city of Detroit. the county of Wayne and the State Of Michigan. In the future I would like to participate in the organization of a Detroit Blues Festival, a Detroit Blues Awards show, produce a 2016 Blues Girls Of Summer fundraiser, create more daytime events such as and continue to encourage the DBS to take a more active role in obtaining Grant Monies and Sponsorship.
Member at Large – Luther “Badman” Keith
Luther, a former newspaper editor, currently is at the helm of the charitable non-profit, Arise Detroit. He is also a professional musician and has been a member of the DBS Board for the last five years.
Member at Large – Dale Robertson
Dale Robertson has a BS in Computer Technology from Eastern Michigan University, as well as, an Associate’s Degree in Robotics Technology from Washtenaw Community College. In addition to this, Dale has been playing the harmonica for over forty years. He has been active in the Detroit blues music scene for approximately twenty years. He has also been the Volunteer Chairperson for the Detroit Blues Society for the past year. Dale has played all over the world. Having played from street bands in Munich and Paris, to playing clubs in Italy, The Philippines, and across the US. Dale hopes he can be elected as the Member at Large.
Member at Large – George Seedorff
George Seedorff joined the Detroit Blues Society in 1990. He served as president from 1991 until 1997. His accomplishments included the introduction of a name change, for marketing purposes, from the “Detroit Classic & Country Blues Society” to the “Detroit Blues Society.” The old name was retained for legal purposes. He established the DBS Lifetime Achievement and Blues Horizon awards. He created the Office of Chairman, and named R.J. Spangler as the society’s very first Chairman of the Board. As a former PR executive, George expanded the society’s membership by using an external PR methodology. He also oversaw the creation of a revamped DBS quarterly through a bidding process with three publishing teams competing. The publication was then spun off as an independent magazine at his direction. As president George preserved the Sunday afternoon monthly jams as equal parts “circle jam,” acoustic showcase, electric jam and electric showcase, and he began featuring an electric host band every month. At that time the meetings took place from 1:00 p.m. until as late as 10:00 p.m. on Sundays, depending upon the crowd, at a succession of venues including Sully’s, Alvin’s and the Attic Bar. George is now retired from teaching high school English and is ready to once again serve the Society.
The candidates submitted all information.
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2016 LIVING LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT CANDIDATES
Music began for me around the age of five. My mother a vocalist during the big band sound, sang with the likes of Eubie Blake, Gene Kruppa, Hazel Scott and Sissle. Singing and harmony was a part of my daily living as well as Sundays in the Church choir. I sang in school on every level from elementary thru high school. During my high school years I sang with an all female group called the Passions, we were often backed up by Leonard King and the Soul Messengers. I also appeared on the TV show called Pride Television with Norma Jean Bell and Ortheia Barnes. I have been the lead vocalist in numerous bands usually funk and R&B groups. In the 70"s I did background vocals for Ben E. Kings keyboardist Bob Wilson. My sister and I did background vocals for Cash McCall at the old Ethels Lounge. I also fronted an 11-piece R&B band named Radiation that, was managed by my father, later in the latter 80"s, I began singing the Blues with a little nudging from The Butler Twins. I shared the stage with the likes of The Butler Twins, Johnny Yard Dog Jones, Mississippi Al, Joe Acoff, Rob Noll, Jeff Grand and a host of others. I later started an ongoing Blues Jam Session at the Attic Bar for numerous years. During my years, musicians honed their skills or came and were schooled on the Blues like Curtis Sumter, Motor City Josh Ford, Skeeto Valdez, Paul Randolph, Tony Valentino, Paul Big Daddy Baker, Sweet Claudette, James Cloyd, James Glass, Chris Leigh, Wildman Steve, Lonesome Po Boy Slim, and a host of others. Other successful Jams that I hosted and showcased talent were, Chrissy's Lounge, The New Way lounge, The Blue Goose Inn, Comerica Park, and Nancy Whiskey. Some of the greatest, and talented musicians dropped by weekly, monthly, yearly. Many friendships and partnerships were formed. The groups that I am most proud of are The Sumter Project and The Soul Searchers, cream of the crop musicians, undeniable chemistry, loyalty and love made up these groups. I have recorded for Mike Boulan at No Cover Productions with The Sumter Project, Motor City Josh Ford, Tony Valentino and Chris Leigh. I also recorded my solo compilation there. I am the co-founder of the Headstone Project for musicians buried without them. I have put on numerous benefits for musicians in need. My health has been my sideline, an early bout of throat cancer with surgery, a bout with ovarian cancer with surgery, and another throat surgery this year. I don't know where this surgery has left me, but I hope that my life and career has been as enjoyable to everyone as it has been to me over, 50 years in music. "Maybe I didn't get where I wanted to be, but I'm where God intended me to be.
Born in Detroit on September 29th, Verdell “Cash” McCall. The early seventies are when he had his first breakthrough with his music career with Dick Scott’s recording. He also worked with the Enchantments, and the Jones Girls. He later became a member of the Contours in the early seventies, later becoming a member of the Detroit Emeralds, as a baritone singer of Westbound Recording Company. In 1984 Cash signed with Chocker Campbell, President OF Compo Records. He released his first solo album entitled Detroit Hands You The Blues. Cash has performed at some of the Class-A nightclubs, such as Dummy George’s, Ben Hi Chaparral, The Twenty Grand. Cash has also done some Theatrical work with Kim Weston of Motown Records. Cash enjoys working with children and fishing during the summer. Cash has his own band called The Cash Money Band. Presently he is with Snowball Record Company and his newest CD release is called Blues in the Sunset. Cash is also a regular at the outdoor Blues Jam at John’s Carpet House every Sunday.
In the mid-90s Detroit blues guitarist and songwriter Kenny Parker released his debut album for the London-based JSP Records, Raise the Dead. Parker’s blues education began with the Beatles in the early 1960’s but it wasn’t long before he discovered the roots of their music. Parker grew up in Albion, Michigan and began playing in his first band, The Esquires, at 14. He began listening to Albert King and B.B. King in high school via the local record store and took inspiration from them. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1976 and a job in a Cadillac factory while looking around for the right opportunities to play blues at night. He began working with a paragon of the Detroit scene, Mr. Bo (Louis Bo Collins) and later joined the Butler Twins. While Parker toured Europe with the Butler Twins, JSP founder John Stedman heard him and decided to sign him up for his own recording. On his debut album Raise The Dead, the Butler Twins as well as Darrell Nulisch (best known for his work with Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets) accompany Parker as he doesn’t consider himself a singer and his guitar playing takes center stage. - Richard Skelly, All Music Guide
Robert Penn was born in Riverside California to a mother from Mississippi and a father from West Virginia. He took a strong liking to Blues music because of the influence from his Mississippi heritage. His father was also a blues lover but growing up in the Detroit area his father exposed him to the music of Motown as well as material from the big band era. From ages 10-13 he studied piano but his heart was always with the guitar melodies that stirred him. Starting with a guitar left at his home by his uncle, Penn began to apply his passion for the instrument. His first band was The Interpretations. Over the years he developed a powerful and resonant vocal style. He toured in Canada and overseas as conductor and arranger for David Ruffin and for The Contours. In 1983 he worked with drummer Sonny Freeman to set up a band and arrangements for a B.B. King concert in Detroit. His excellent album on CD titled Live and Mighty is a combination of an earlier LP and more recent recordings. Penn has a love for conducting and would love to expand in that direction.
Emanuel Young was born on November 9, 1938 in Birmingham, Alabama. He picked up the guitar in the late 50’s. He is known for his guitar leads and his authentic old school blues vocals. He is one of the few remaining real deal post war blues men in Detroit. He played for a long time in Detroit at Cooley’s Lounge and Sundays for about ten years at Al’s New Olympia. Young has worked many of the historic blues venues around Detroit including The Apex Lounge, The Dynamic Lounge, Sugar Hill and others. He has performed with notable Detroit blues heroes such as Jimmy Reed, Albert King, Bo Bo Jenkins, Mr. Bo Collins, Little Junior Cannaday, John Lee Hooker, Eddie Kirkland, Duke Dawson and Harmonica Shah. In January 2008 Emanuel Young and Howard Glazer went to the United Kingdom to perform. This came about after a promoter in the UK read an interview Glazer did with him published in Big City Blues magazine. Young has contributed to tracks on the albums Hastings Street Grease Volumes I & II released by Blue Suit Records as well as the Howard Glazer & the EL34s Album Wired For Sound. He has his own album titled Live In Detroit recorded at The Halligan Bar and released on Random Chance Records in New York. – Howard Glazer
2016 POSTHUMOUS LIFETIME ACHEVEMENT CANDIDATES
Alford Odsie Harrell, Sr. “Chicago Pete”
Born in 1931 in rural Tennesee, Alford Harrell (better known as Chicago Pete) has the history of the archetypal bluesman right up to the point of actually having learned to sing on the cotton field and in the church. Raised up in a religious home, gospel and spirituals were Pete's roots. Deep roots indeed, as Pete has been singing from his soul for as long as he can remember. His mother was a "sweet singer" who taught the kids all kinds of music. "There were no labels back then - just music," says Pete. And young Alford was brought up with his mother's encouragement to reap the full potential of his talents.
Knowing well himself what his talent was, Pete's early years were spent singing in groups like his uncle's Heavenly Harmonizers. After serving in the Korean War, Pete found himself in Detroit. From '54 until he moved to Chicago in'59 he performed in gospel vocal groups The Songs of Zion and The Golden Harmoneers. That same year he took up guitar briefly before settling on the bass, under the tutelage of a musician named Robert Bester. "The Fender bass was real popular," says Pete. It was a fine time to start into the blues, as Chicago through the fifties and sixties was rife with clubs and musicians, and as time wore on, Pete got in there like a dirty shirt.
By the late sixties, Pete had played with many of the hallmark names of Chicago blues of that era - Earl Hooker, Willie Mabon, Junior Wells, and many others - but he got especially close to Jimmy Dawkins, working much of the time with him. They played a lot at a little after hours club called the Squeeze. Appropriately named for its size, The Squeeze was a popular spot among musicians, and surely many graced the small stage. Other memorable gigs were at the Peacock, where Pete was a member of the house band; and a place called the Bossa Nova Club. The proprietor there told Pete "As long as you can keep up with that juke-box, the stage is yours", and so Pete with his own group, the Live Wires, covered all the popular styles, and subsequently held down a second house gig. Pete left the band and the Bossa Nova behind when he hooked up with Junior Parker, the man who was perhaps Pete's single biggest influence. He worked with Junior on the road all over the country for three or four years until just before Parker's death in '71.
Pete moved back up to Detroit in the early seventies and soon fell in love with the scene there which included people like Little Mack Collins, Alberta Adams, Little Sonny, and Mr. Bo. On a friend's advice that since he spent all those years in Chicago, he should start calling himself CHICAGO PETE, and his new band "The Detroiters," Pete picked up a new handle and a hot new band. The Detroiters were an eight-piece band (or more) outfit with a four-piece horn section, and the big band for nearly the next twenty years was what you could expect to see when you heard the name Chicago Pete. He always had heavy players in the section, and the Detroiters could swing hard. The band covered a number of styles: primarily uptown blues a la Little Milton, and including interpretations of R&B and Motown standards. True to his roots, Pete clearly wasn't limited to musical boundaries. He'd throw in all these different ingredients and just COOK. Combining egual parts intensity, charm and showmanship, the unifying flavor was Pete's powerful gospel drenched voice. When Pete eventually relinquished the bass chair to move up front, he'd get way up front - out into the audience and preach to the crowd. His shows could be likened to revival meetings, with rooms of people standing there, shaking and waving their hands in the air, with Pete all up in the middle testifying and shouting "Blues Power!" "Do you feel alright?" Needles to say, Chicago Pete and the Detroiters were a popular regional act: their longevity alone is testament to that. They worked in their own backyard, forgoing national recognition, and released only two recordings: THE GIFT recorded in Lansing Michigan, MI in '84 on the Stormy Monday Label; and a 45, I'm Begging You from near the same time on Pete's wife Valerie Records. In his last years, Pete got together with some of the Detroiters on occasion, he mostly did the single thing, appearing as featured vocalist with a number of area groups. He as a welcome attraction in Detroit and neighboring cities, through Windsor and all the stops on the 401 up to Toronto, working a fair bit with the house band from one of the clubs in London, Ontario.
William Paden Hensley “Washboard Willie”
Born William Paden Hensley in Columbus, Georgia, Washboard Willie, as he became known, did not take up music until his thirties. By 1948 he had relocated to Detroit, and in 1952, he watched Eddie "Guitar" Burns performing and played along with Burns' backing group. He impressed the proprietor and ended up with a three-year residency with the band.
Working full-time washing cars for a living, he decided to name his own musical ensemble, Washboard Willie and the Super Suds of Rhythm, working off of the name of a once-popular laundry detergent. He graduated from just playing the washboard to incorporate a bass drum and snare and, in 1955, gave Little Sonny his first booking. In 1956, Hensley made his own debut recording of "Cherry Red Blues," with "Washboard Shuffle;" and then "Washboard Blues Pt. 1 & 2. His recording career continued until 1962 utilizing Boogie Woogie Red on piano accompaniment. The recordings were not issued until 1969 on Barrelhouse Records. However, in 1966, Willie did release a single with the tracks "Natural Born Lover," and "Wee Baby Blues." His band remained in demand playing nightly in both Detroit and Ann Arbor.
In 1973, he toured Europe with Lightnin' Slim, Whispering Smith, Snooky Pryor, Homesick James and Boogie Woogie Red; he also played at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival that year on the Saturday afternoon "Detroit Blues" show. A compilation album, American Blues Legends '73 was issued on Big Bear Records with Willie contributing the tracks, "I Feel So Fine" and "Kansas City." Six years later he stopped playing professionally. He died in Detroit in August 1991, at the age of 82.
Charles Isaiah “Dr.” Ross
Charles Isaiah Ross was born in 1925 in Tunica, Mississippi, one of eleven children. Living in the Delta he learned blues harmonica before age ten. While in his teens he was skilled enough to perform with blues man Willie Love in clubs and on radio. His career was interrupted when he was called to serve in the armed forces during WWII. Following that he resumed performing on the radio. The Korean conflict caused him to return to active duty and then back to radio work. Sam Phillips was impressed by those broadcasts and in 1951 brought him to Sun Studios for his first recordings. Ross was well into his one-man show at this time. He moved to Detroit, Michigan and in the late 50’s released a single on his own DIR label. During the resurgence of country blues in the 60’s Ross did the majority of his recording work and commenced touring the US and Europe. His heavy percussive style was his trademark. It is said that his harmonica bag resembled one that doctor would carry thus his nickname was born. He is known as one of the few one-man blues bands able to garner broad recognition. His performances included guitar, harmonica, drums, percussion and vocals. Doctor Ross, The Harmonica Boss, died in 1993 and was buried in Flint, Michigan. – Fred Reif
Steve started out playing harp and drums in the mid 60's and moved into a new arena when he switched to guitar in his 20's. This would be Steve's true calling. Steve was an avid student of all thing's R&B / blues. He studied all aspects of the culture and became what most people would consider a historian. He never listened any music other than Blues. Steve's whole life was wrapped in R&B and Blues. Mostly the Chicago forefathers influenced Steve’s playing. Steve also became a master slide player, preferring to work mostly in open E and G. Steve was a proud Detroit musician. He was very open about his pride in being from a city with such deep Blues roots. Many times on the road he would sit and talk to local folks about the Detroit scene and his association with it. Steve was a deeply caring and generous man. He was always the first in line to volunteer to help raise money for some cause or another. When Steve joined The Alligators he was the component that caused the whole sound to gel. With Steve the band recorded 5 nationally released albums and a number of songs for many compilations. He spent 21 years playing with The Alligators before his untimely passing. Steve was best known for being an emotional guitar player, a master slide player, for his deep love and knowledge for his craft and his uncanny ability to jump into a situation and take control and smooth out any ruffles. When he passed, he had just again found happiness with his recent marriage to Joyce. He was a loving Father and grandfather. He was a loyal friend and band mate.
Detroit Blues Society BONUS FUNDRAISER
For a one-time donation of $20, you will get a raffle ticket, as a bonus, for this autographed guitar featuring:
• Robert Noll
• Motor City Josh
• Rusty Wright
• Calvin Cooke
• Walter Wolfman Washington
• Jeff Grand
• Paul Carey
• Dirty Dozen Brass Band
• Sugarcane Collins
• Rev. Robert Jones
• Doug Deming
• Lonesome Dave Paul
• Billy Davis
• Pete Bigdog Fetters
• Wailin Dale
• Super Chickan
• Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
• Guitar Shorty
• And Many More
The tickets will be limited to a total of 52 (deck of cards) so you will have a 1 in 52 chance of winning.
It is the Detroit Blues Society’s Birthday and YOU Get the Gift!
Click on the Cake to Get Your Special Offer.
"......thanks for all you do for keeping the Blues growing."
Bill Wax, Proprietor of Low-Fi's Bar and Pool Hall on XM Radio Channel 74
Submit your gigs (within a 70-mile radius of Metro-Detroit) for the web calendar in the following format:
Date - ABC Band at Club 1234 (9pm) Club Address, Club City, Club Phone
Email the Webmaster.
The Detroit Blues Society (DBS) is a registered federal 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, education, and advancement of the blues tradition, as it relates to the Metro-Detroit area. It has as its primary goals, to promote a wider appreciation for the Blues by the general public and to serve the members of the Society.
A group of people interested in acoustic blues music joined together to form an informal association. The first meeting was held on March 14, 1985. The name selected for the group was The Detroit Country and Classic Blues Society. Individuals had varied reasons to gather but shared a common love of acoustic blues music. Robert B. Jones, host of the WDET radio show “Blues from the Lowlands”, commented that he and others enjoyed touring musicians and wanted to have a place to jam with them during their Detroit visits.
The Society was formed and met in the First Unitarian-Universalist Church in Detroit. Electric instruments were not allowed at the early Society meetings as they would have been too loud for the people hosting them. The Detroit Blues Club, a group formed by local blues musicians, was still in existence at that time but was fading fast as key member Bobo Jenkins had passed away. By 1988 the format began to include electric instruments and the Society met at various locations. Included among these were Sully’s, Alvin’s, The Sunset Grill, The Soup Kitchen and the Attic Bar. During the 1985 to 1990 period the membership numbered around fifty. By 1990 the number of members were falling and the Society was in danger of ceasing to exist. It was saved by the efforts of a small group of dedicated members who began to reorganize the Society.
In January 1992 the name was changed to The Detroit Blues Society (DBS) and a new Board of Directors was established. The primary goal at that time was to increase public interest in the Society. Large-scale events included a number of indoor and outdoor concerts and school workshops. Increased membership and a more organized approach allowed the Society to embark on special projects. Educational programs became more formalized and in 1996 the Scarab Club Educational/Blues Heritage Series began. Each event featured a theme based on some aspect of the Detroit blues tradition.
In 1997 the Society completed a project to place a memorial stone in Mt. Hazel Cemetery to honor the late Eddie James “Son” House. Another project was initiated to preserve on video the contributions of Uncle Jesse White. The DBS has also placed stones on the graves of the Butler Twins in June of 2007 and on the grave of Calvin Frazier in November of 2009. Others are planned in the future.
The Detroit Blues Society (DBS) is a registered federal 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, education, and advancement of the blues tradition, as it relates to the Metro-Detroit area. It has as its primary goals to promote a wider appreciation for the blues by the general public and to serve the members of the Society. DBS provides members with the monthly newsletter Blues Notes. This serves to inform members and the general public regarding relevant news, schedules of upcoming events and profiles on our members. DBS schedules free blues jam sessions, usually on the second Saturday of each month (January-May and September-December), arranges discounts on merchant sponsored merchandize, discounted event tickets and administers an educational program.
Members are encouraged to support the Society in its many activities and are welcome to attend DBS Board meetings. DBS welcomes personal donations and corporate sponsorship. Please refer to the application form for details. Merchants offering a discount to DBS members will be so recognized in the Blues Notes.
Have questions? Need information? Have interest in joining one of the volunteer activities? Have comments, suggestion, additions or corrections to the web information? Please let us hear from you.
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2006 Recipient for Best Blues Society