Performances and extensive interviews with the artists are recorded on video at our annual Blues and Boogie Woogie Festivals. Excerpted footage is used to produce programs for public television and associated DVDs. The complete raw footage remains in our archives.
We are also engaged in an active quest to record the stories of the elder masters of American music, many of whom are no longer performing.
Alberta Adams, Detroit's "Queen of the Blues," got her start in Paradise Valley in the 40's. She toured extensively with Louis Jordon and Duke Ellington among others, and her repertoire today consists primarily of "jump" style blues. Alberta performed at the 8th Annual Motor City Blues & Boogie Woogie Festival in 2006.
Born in Chicago, Bernard is the son of legendary blues guitarist Luther Allison, and he performed on "Gen-2" blues night at our 7th annual festival in 2005. Bernard made his recording debut at age 13 with his father, and later performed with Koko Taylor and Willie Dixon, learning technique from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter.
Pianist, vocalist and songwriter long, tall Marcia Ball is the reigning Queen of Bayou boogie woogie from the Texas-Louisiana border. She is the winner of five W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards, including three in a row for best pianist in 2005, 2006, and 2007. She has also received two Grammy nominations. Marcia performed at the 9th Annual Motor City Blues & Boogie Woogie Festival in 2007.
Johnnie is one of the best known and loved blues guitarists in Detroit. He cofounded the Blue Notes with Joe Weaver right out of high school, which became the house band for Fortune Records. Johnnie has recorded numerous albums, received eight W.C. Handy Blues Music nominations and received 11 Detroit Music Awards.
David is an authentic prodigy who began playing clarinet at the age of 10 in 1994, learning Benny Goodman songs by ear. At 17 David won a high school competition that gave him the opportunity in perform as a guest soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra. Now in his 20's, David tours nationally with his Benny Goodman Tribute and performs regularly in venues throughout the midwest. David played with Bob Seeley and the Paul Keller Orchestra at the 8th Annual Motor City Blues & Boogie Woogie Festival in 2006.
Leon Blue may just be the finest blues piano man you've never heard, but only because he has spent most of his career as a sideman, including lengthy spells with The Ike & Tina Turner Review, Lowell Fulsom, and Albert Collins to name but a few. Born in Texas in 1931, Leon was inspired by the boogie woogie recordings of Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons in 1940. Leon continues to do session work and tours regularly throughout the U.S. and overseas. Leon performed at the 9th Annual Motor City Blues & Boogie Woogie Festival at the Music Hall in Dowtown Detroit in 2007.
The Maryland-based blues and boogie pianist / saxophonist combines the energy of 1930's style boogie piano blues with contemporary blues sounds emanating from places like New Orleans, Chicago and Memphis. "The goal when we play live," says Bogart, "is to create a fusion of all these different musical styles with the blues and boogie genuinely at the core." Deanna performed at the 9th Annual Motor City Blues & Boogie Woogie Festival in 2007.
Charles Boles is one of Detroit's great jazz pianists, comfortable with styles ranging from blues to boogie woogie to bebop. He first heard boogie woogie as a young child at rent parties in Detroit's "Black Bottom." His mother was related by marriage to Fats Waller, who convinced her that Charles should take piano lessons. Charles' family moved to Detroit's North End, where he participated in legendary jam sessions during Northern High's "7th Hour" with the likes of Donald Byrd and Paul Chambers, and was mentored by the legendary Barry Harris, "the father of us all" in the evolution of the Detroit jazz scene. Charles performed in our "Big Band Boogie Woogie" program in 2006 and continues to play regularly in Detroit.
Charlie grew up listening to country music in the tiny sawmill town of Flora, Louisiana. He discovered swing, jazz, and boogie woogie on the radio in the '30s. His boogie career began in 1943 when he was still in high school. Charlie has performed for us three times, and was an annual guest at our festivals.
Mark Lincoln Braun (a.k.a. Mr. B) was born in Flint Michigan, and gravitated to Ann Arbor in the 70's. He is a rare living link to the first generation of blues and boogie pianists, having learned his craft directly from the likes of Little Brother Montgomery, Boogie Woogie Red, and Blind John Davis. Mr. B performed during our first and third festivals in 1999 and 2001.
Eddie grew up in the Mississippi delta where his grandfather ran the local juke joint. He began playing harmonica and picked up the guitar after settling Detroit in 1948. Burns worked as a member of John Lee Hooker's band and backed him on the legendary recording, "Real Folk Blues." He has been a fixture in the Detroit Blues scene ever since, with numerous recordings and international tours to his credit.
New Orleans' native Henry Butler performed in the 2003 Motor City Blues and Boogie Woogie Festival, which can be seen on public television stations around the country. He started singing at age seven in the boy's glee club at the Louisiana School for the Blind. After completing his master's degree in music at Michigan State, Henry lived and performed in L.A. from 1980-87 while recording two albums for the MCA/Impulse label, working in radio, and as a music consultant for Motown and the Stevie Wonder organization.
The Tommy Castro Band is simply is one of the most exciting live blues bands on the circuit today. Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, Tommy picked up the guitar at age 10 and was inspired by contemporary players like Mike Bloomfield, Eric Clapton and Elvin Bishop before reaching back to discover B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Elmore James. Castro was voted 2006 Blues Artist of the Year by readers of BluesWax, the largest subscribed blues publication in the country. The Tommy Castro Band performed during the 9th nnual Motor City Blues & Boogie Woogie Festival in 2007.
Otis is one of the premier deep soul and gospel singers working today. Born in Mississippi, Clay began performing with such legendary gospel groups as the Pilgrim Harmonizers and the Sensational Nightingales. He moved to Chicago and launched a solo career as a deep soul singer with a series of hit singles in the mid-60's. His raw, fiery vocals drive an energetic and danceable blend of soul, R&B, and Blues.
Calvin was one of the most influential musicians in the House of God, Keith Dominion, an African American Holiness-Pentecostal church in which the electric steel guitar has been an important part of worship services since the late 1930's. For more than three decades Calvin served as the principal steel guitarist at the church's annual 10-day national General Assembly in Nashville.The music has deep roots in the blues - Calvin in particular brought boogie rhythms to the tradition - but evolved outside of the secular blues tradition. Indeed, the music had never been heard outside of the church until popularized by Calvin's protege Robert Randolph in the mid-90's. Calvin performed in 2006 at the 8th Annual Motor City Blues & Boogie Woogie Festival.