Thursday, March 26, 2009

This week's featured artist was Dan Wright

Dan Wright graciously stepped up to the stage to lead our Jams earlier this year, bringing new energy and structure to the event, not to mention musical talent and charisma, Detroit-style. He's not just a Jam Master, though, Wright plays in three different bands right now. Two out of three will be playing at the Dough soon: this Friday, March 27th, The Energy Company, will play; it is made up of Wright and two other Tuesday stars--bassist Dave Jones and drummer Greg "the Motor" Levkus. On May 1, Tinfunk will play.

Wright describes the Energy Company as "a fun project that came out of Tuesdays at the Dough. I try to play as much as I can because there’s always something to learn." And Tinfunk? "Tin Funk is a funk jam band; I play guitar. Tim Hodson, the vocalist and lead guitarist, is a really good musician. The band, especially Tim and I, are on the same page musically. It’s really incredible when you realize that the other guys are hearing and feeling the same thing that you are. Learning how to be part of a jam, turn it into something that people can identify with, get into is a lot harder than it seems. It’s a great feeling to get into a jam, just let it go, and know that the guys will be right there when it comes back."

Did anyone influence you to start playing music? "I can’t say one artist got me really excited about playing music. It's always been my thing since l started playing at 6, and I haven’t really wanted to do anything else. My cousin played drums and, to me, that was the greatest thing ever. My parents bought me a blue sparkle drum set. I played drums in junior high and high school. My dad took me to tons of shows: Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck, Average White Band, B.B King, Robert Cray, Bob Dylan, the Allman Brothers, James Cotton, Johnny Winter, Scott Holt, everybody. When I was 16, he took me to play in bars. I played in several bands and I started doing blues gigs at 17. My first one was at the Elbow Room Lounge (Ypsilanti) with Shed Davis. He was certifiably crazy, telling me my horoscope within the first five minutes of our conversation. There was a brawl later that night, the cops showed up, a lady kept trying to buy me drinks. I switched to guitar about a year later, I started going to blues jams like the Tap Room (Ypsi), found some guys to play with. These gigs weren’t glamorous, but I learned a lot about life and met a lot of interesting people."

Did you have a favorite musician back home? "Laith al Saadi was an unofficial (and often reluctant) mentor to me when I was younger, a lot the way that I play guitar comes from him. Laith has the level of (continued on page 2) (continued from page 1) musicianship that I’ll never have. He’s also a fantastic singer/songwriter, and probably the best guitar player that I’ve ever seen. Earlier this decade, Laith played every Thursday night at Goodnight Gracie’s in Ann Arbor. Al Hill--another Ann Arbor phenom--was a world-class piano player and singer, he was the keyboard player. That band was just unreal! I remember thinking how lucky I was to see these guys for free every Thursday night. "

Do you write? "I do write songs, but you’ll never hear them. I’m hypercritical and impatient, it isn’t a good formula for writing songs. I’ve found that I’m a lot more comfortable just being a guitar player. Even from the beginning I’ve always played in bands that improvise most of the shows, so writing parts and stuff is kind of difficult for me. No real plans to record anything soon."

What inspired your move to Charleston? "I discovered Charleston on tour with Detroit's Gordon Bennett band, I was a sideman. The tour was designed to generate interest in the Southeast and prove to the management companies (and potential record companies) that we could live in a van and not kill each other (we almost did).We’d finished recording two songs with producer Chuck Alkazian at a Novi, Michigan studio. We’d played in Ohio, Atlanta, and two nights in Wilmington, NC. I met a girl there from Charleston I was immediately crazy about. We got back to Michigan and learned our manager (at Denver, CO Clear Channel) didn’t like the demo and wasn't going to promote it. The band fired him, and planned a tour from LA to New York. I faced a choice to join them, or finish college. I graduated from Eastern, packed my stuff and came here."

How is Detroit different from Charleston? "There are venues dedicated to music up there: Baker’s (on 8 mile) is an old school jazz club, Firefly (Ann Arbor) is a blues club, the Magic Stick (Detroit) is a rock club. In Charleston, the scene is really heavy on duos, trios and cover bands because it’s a tourist destination. Seems like in Detroit, people will go to a venue specifically to hear original music."

Who would you really like to play with? "Marc Broussard. I’d love a chance to play with him. That’s pretty much my dream band. Put in a good word for me."

Wright's other project, Soul Captive, will be recording a live CD at the IOP's Windjammer on April 16th. The band wants to fill the place up for a good audience vibe. The first 15 in the door will get a free copy of the CD when it is pressed.

kwehle March 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sneak Preview of Kings of Thieves!

Our next jam on Tuesday the 24th will be a bit different from the usual plan. Our own Hollywood Rob Lowe will do a short show with his new band Kings of Thieves, which includes blues club favorites Sammy Derrick and John Shafer, starting at 7:45 -- So get there early to get a sneak peek at this very new band!

Remember that there's music on Wednesday evenings at Awendaw Green.

And it's not too early to plan your weekend. Friday the 27th has too many good choices: Tommy Thunderfoot in Summerville, Kings of Thieves at the Oasis in West Ashley, The Energy Company with Dan Wright at A Dough Re Mi -- so don't stay home! And on Saturday night Cole Train competes in the Semi-finals of the Battle of the Bands at the Village Tavern, so come cheer them on!! I haven't heard yet whether Stonehouse won their battle this past weekend, but they may be competing on Saturday as well, in which case you'll have 2 bands to cheer for!

All for now.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Wyatt Garey tonight at the Village Tavern

UPDATE! Wyatt Garey's band, Stonehouse, will be playing in the Battle of the Bands at the Village Tavern in Mt. Pleasant. VT is on Hwy. 17, in the Crickentree Shopping Center, not far from the Kickin' Chicken.

Tonight at 11pm.

This week's featured artist was Son House

Eddie James "Son" House, Jr. was a popular and influential Delta Blues artist in the early part of the 20th century. Many musical greats—Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, John Mooney, as well as contemporary musicians like Jack White (The White Stripes, the Raconteurs) and France’s Francis Cabrel—list House as a musical influence.

Those who saw House play live were amazed with his emphatic performance style. In 1967, a Blues World reporter commented, “It is difficult to describe the transformation that took place as this smiling, friendly man hunched over his guitar and launched himself, bodily it seemed, into his music. The blues possessed him like a 'lowdown shaking chill' and the spellbound audience saw the very incarnation of the blues. With his head thrown back, House hollered and groaned the disturbing lyrics and flailed the guitar, snapping the strings back against the fingerboard to accentuate the agonized rhythm.”

House is believed to have a birthday on March 21, in 1886 or 1902; accurate birth records were not kept at this time. He originally planned to be a preacher at age 15, but fate seemed to have other plans. House was inspired by the guitar work of Willie Wilson. He would teach himself to play guitar. Serving a jail term in 1927 may have inspired House’s music-writing, the rhythms and refrains of chain gangs blending with gospel music in his imagination. Church influences attempted to dissuade House from playing Blues music, given its links to bars, women and a sinful life. But House found it hard to stay away from juke joints. He would play at them with Willie Brown and Charlie Patton. In 1930, he would record music for Paramount, followed by recording 19 songs for Alan Lomax as part of a Library of Congress project in 1942.

Rumor suggests the deaths of Robert Johnson and Willie Brown convinced House to get out of the Blues music life. After quitting the music profession, House went to work for the railroads.

In the 1960s, there was a revived interest in Son House’s music that would bring him back to the stage for a short time. House would disappear, then reappear, in the public eye for many years later. He was included in the lineups of the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, 1965 New York Folk Festival, and the 1967 American Folk Festival tour of Europe. Luckily audio and video recordings had improved by the 1960s, and the Blues community now has a wealth of 60s and 70s performances available for appreciation. Son House played a Regal RC-1 Polychrome Duolian, a guitar that amplifies internally with resonator cones. When Delta Blues artists traveled to Chicago, they took their Duolians with them, cementing this instrument’s place in classic blues music. House and other acts popularized the resonator.

House’s guitar playing method was also unique, as distinctive as his voice. He would slap the guitar strings and often pull on them while singing to create his signature sound. House often used a bottleneck slide to play his resonator. And on some songs, House had no instrumentation at all, singing a capella to deliver the mood and impact of the song. Later in life, Son House lived in Rochester, NY and Detroit, Michigan before his death in 1988.

Sliding Delta
Deptford Saints page for Son House
The Wikipedia page for Son House
Blues for Peace

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blues and more

Hi Blues Club friends --

We had a great jam on Tuesday night at A Dough Re Mi, and a good crowd. This coming Tuesday night will be a little different, as Dan Wright will be busy elsewhere, so the host will be someone else -- you'll have to show up to find out who that will be! Our jam on Tuesday the 24th will also be a bit different from the usual plan. Our own Hollywood Rob Lowe will do a short show with his new band Kings of Thieves, starting early, possibly 7:45 -- So get there early to get a sneak peek at this very new band!

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, Smoky Weiner and the Hot Links (including Greg Levkus on drums) will be playing at A Dough Re Mi, and they're always fun. . .

I also want to let you know about a relatively new venue for music: Awendaw Green. They've started a free music gathering on Wednesday nights, no cover, all kinds of music, that starts around 6:30 and goes on till late, with several bands playing each time. They also have events on Monday nights with more established artists, for a $5 cover. This coming Monday the 16th features the Bowmans and Danielle Howle. You can get all the details at -- I hope that some of our favorite local blues bands may choose to partipate in the future. . .

Our friend Gary Erwin has lots and lots of blues-related events scheduled for this spring. If you haven't done so already, I highly recommend that you sign up for his email newsletter at Or you can go to for info as well. . .

On March 21st, Wyatt Garey's band Stonehouse will compete in the Battle of the Bands at Village Tavern, so come out and cheer them on! And Cole Train won their battle last weekend, and will compete in the semi-finals at the Village Tavern on the 28th, so don't miss that either!

Keep in mind that March 27th is a night you won't want to stay home: Tommy Thunderfoot's band will be in Summerville, Dan Wright's band will be at A Dough Re Mi, and Rob Lowe's band will be at the Oasis!!!

And then, there's a road trip opportunity to go to the Springing the Blues festival in Jacksonville, FL, to see Tommy Thunderfoot and lots more great bands, April 3-5. So much music!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This week's featured artist was Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe rose to fame in 1938, inspiring fans with her vivacious singing, footstomping, and virtuoso guitar playing. She is credited with inventing the subgenre of pop gospel. Born Rosetta Nubin in Cotton Point, Arkansas, on March 20, 1915. Her mother, Katie Bell Nubin, was an evangelist for the Church of God in Christ who sang and played mandolin. Young Rosetta mastered guitar by age 6 and accompanied her mother's performances. She herself had a resonant vibrato singing voice. Her family moved to Chicago in 1920. In the early part of the decade, Rosetta nd her mother were part of Rev. F.W. McGee's itinerant revival group. Rosetta was inspired by the performing styles of her mother and a blind pianist named Arizona Dranes. She learned electric guitar and piano as well, and had a resonant vibrato singing style.

By the mid-1930s, Rosetta met and married pastor Thomas J. Thorpe, a Harlem leader of the Holiness Church. Thorpe had expected Rosetta to settle down and be more domestic, but Rosetta had no intentions of doing so, she truly enjoyed performing. They soon divorced, and Rosetta changed her surname to "Tharpe". Word quickly spread about Tharpe's sensational performances. In 1938 she was featured in John Hammond's "From Spirituals to Swing" show at Carnegie Hall. That same year, Decca, the largest and most well known label at that time, signed her as one of their acts. Her first singles were "Rock Me" and "Fast Train". In the 1940s, Rosetta collaborated with the Golden Gate group. She was one of two African American gospel acts featured on a V-disc, a record sent to troops overseas in WWII. Gospel was a very popular genre the war, and Rosetta was an ideal act to deliver that music, stepping up the tempo of many traditional spirituals and giving them more widespread appeal. Rosetta would tour with the Dixie Hummingbirds, another gospel group, and record with Marie Knight and Sammy Price.

Rosetta dressed to the nines and played in clubs and bars where many gospel acts didn't dare go, consequently, Rosetta was a controversial figure of her times. LA Times reporter Lynell George described Rosetta with the following: "As an African-American, she was crossing color lines. As a woman, she was going places and performing in a fashion that had previously been unheard of--not to mention making mockery of the term 'ladylike.' Tharpe was a sanctified gospel singer who ladled up big servings of the blues and sang and raised many an eyebrow doing so."

In the 1950s, Rosetta released a Blues album that offended her core audience. She started performing more in Europe because back home the crowds didn't come back for about a decade. This move might be called "selling out" these days, ironically, this new side of Rosetta was very inspiring to younger musicians that would become legends themselves; these included Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Isaac Hayes, BB King, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley. Apparently it was not until Cash died that fans were aware Rosetta was his favorite; Roseanne, his daughter, revealed this in an interview following his death in 2003.

By the 1960s, Rosetta's luck had turned around in America. In 1960, she was performed in a gospel show with the Caravans and James Cleveland at the Apollo. In 1967, she was featured at the Newport Folk Festival. The next five years, though, would be Rosetta's toughest yet. In 1969, while she was on a European tour, she learned her mother had died. In the next three years, Rosetta would lose her friend, gospel icon Mahalia Jackson, and suffer several strokes herself. On October 9, 1973, Rosetta died.

The late 1990s saw a renewed interest in Rosetta. Footage of her playing electric guitar and singing with a gospel choir was included in the 1997 film Amelie. In 2003, thirty years after her death, the album A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Shout, Sister, Shout was issued by MC Records. It featured female artists like Joan Osborne, Marie Knight, Marsha Ball, Victoria Williams, Rory Block, and Maria Muldaur. In 2007, the Raising Sand album by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant featured the song "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us", written by Sam Phillips. Phillips released her own version of the song in 2008.

Youtube links (some are just sound, no images or moving images):
"Up Above My Head"
"Didn't It Rain"
"Strange Things Happening Everyday"
"I Looked Down the Line"

Sources for article:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

blues for you

Hi All -- It's almost Tuesday night once again, and time for the Lowcountry Blues Club jam at A Dough Re Mi -- the jam starts at 8 -- don't miss it!! If you enjoy the Tuesday night jam, please come -- we have lots of great musicians, but could use some more audience members. We want to be sure that the event is successful enough that the Dough will continue to want to host us.

Also at the Dough, come see Smoky Weiner and the Hot Links (with Greg Levkus on drums) on Friday, March 13th, and see the newly formed Energy Company with Dan Wright and friends on Friday, March 27th, 9pm. Another option on March 27th is to see Tommy Thunderfoot play in Summerville -- more details to come. . .

And be sure to mark your calendar for an upcoming blues and gospel festival being planned by Ranny Garey and friends for April 25th at Awendaw Green! This will be an all day benefit for Diabetes in Rev. Eddie Palmer's honor. It should be lots of fun!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This week's featured artist was Jeff Healey

About a year ago this past weekend, Canadian guitarist and singer Jeff Healey passed away. He was just 41 years old, and had battled retinablastoma (eye cancer) his entire life. Born on March 25, 1966. in Toronto, Ontario, Norman Jeffrey Healey went blind in both eyes by his first birthday. By age three, he had adapted a way to play guitar on his lap, like a lapsteel or dulcimer, which enabled him to generate both a unique playing style and licks. His musical icons included John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton. By age 14, Healey was performing in coffeehouses and bars hear his high school; he met his future bandmates at an open jam session.

His first band, the Blues Direction, did not last, but the next one would--the Jeff Healey Trio, featuring Joe Rockman on bass and Tom Stephen on drums. They released a single, "Arianna", on their Forte label, and Stephen, acting as band manager for most of the 1980s, sent demos to everyone who was anyone in the Canadian music business. This effort paid off in spades---the band received an expanded touring range, won roles and soundtrack work for a major box office movie, scored major label deals for a debut album as the Jeff Healey Band (JHB), and were invited to tour with Bonnie Raitt, herself on verge of a major career breakthrough with Nick of Time.

JHB's debut album was 1988's See the Light; it featured the single, "Angel Eyes", cowritten by John Hiatt. It was a major pop hit in the States and back home in Canada. The album went platinum and Healey became a legend in Blues rock circles. Their movie debut was the Patrick Swayze film "Roadhouse Blues" (called simply "Road House" in the States) playing the house band at "The Double Deuce", a rough Missouri nightclub. JHB also provided a number of songs for the soundtrack, including the title track, a Doors song. This paved the way for Healey to release two albums dedicated to his pop music heroes of the '60s-'80s: these albums were 1994's Hell to Pay and 1995's Cover to Cover. Hell to Pay featured backing vocals by Mark Knopfler, George Harrison, Paul Shaffer, Jeff Lynne, and Sas Jordan; the latter features covers of tunes by Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Steeler's Wheel, the Beatles, and the Yardbirds. In his lifetime, Healey played alongside Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, BB King, ZZ Top, Steve Lukather, and Eric Clapton. Clearly, regardless of album sales that paled in comparison to the JHB debut, Healey had the respect of his heroes and peers in the music business.

Healey also released a blues album that captured the spirit of JHB's live shows called Feel This in 1992. In 1998, ten years after their initial success, a greatest hits collection was released--The Very Best of the Jeff Healey Band. Healey released one more cover album on his Forte label, Get Me Some, but it went largely unnoticed. Healey turned his attention to jazz as the 90s drew to a close; JHB officially broke up in 2002. He learned to play trumpet and playing more jazz of 1920s and 1930s. His next two album releases were classical jazz--It's Tight Like That (2006), Among Friends (2007), Adventures in Jazzland (2007). All three were released on his label, Healeyophonic. He started a new jazz group, The Jazz Wizards. He continued to tour, occasionally playing blues rock shows in addition to jazz shows. Other non-jazz releases include and Live at Montreaux 1997 and 1999 (2006). During his very busy and prolific career, Healey was continually being treated for cancer. In 2007, growths in his legs and lungs had to be surgically removed. Healey's last album, Mess of Blues, was released in April 2008, but he did not live to see it. Later in the year, SuperHits was released.

Healey is survived by his wife and two children; his website is
If you're ever in Toronto, there is a bar named in his honor "Jeff Healey's RoadHouse" but it was never owned by him. Last year a number of Canadian and American musicians joined together to perform and remember Healey, but no word on whether this is a yearly tradition. If we hear of it, it will be attached to this blog entry.

Until next week...

kwehle March 2009