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Local and State News

411 Club to Close End of October.

The 411 Club in Kalamazoo, Michigan recently announced plans to close at the end of October. The 411 Club has noticed, like most live music venues, a shift in demographics: the live music crowd is getting older, going out less and a noticeable void in a younger audience to fill the seats at blues events. The 411 Club had been Kalamazoo's home for the blues for the last several years although the venue showcased several genres and hosted live comedy. The venue is located at 411 N. Westnedge Ave and opened in 2008. It was owned by Marty Spaulding, who confirmed the closure.


A Hallowe'en Night full of Blooooooos at The Michigan Theater in Jackson, Michigan.

Don't miss a full night of Halloween fun at the Michigan Theatre in Jackson. Music by Kev Nichols & Blue Tuesday with an opening set from very special guest Mike Crupi. Doors at 7pm. Music starts at 7:15pm. There will be a costume contest with prizes. Admission only $5.

Friday October 31, 2014 at Michigan Theater of Jackson 124 N. Mechanic Street, Jackson, MI,

National News and Beyond

Sista Monica' Parker Dies at 58

Monica Parker a  longtime Santa Cruz blues/gospel singer known internationally by her stage name "Sista Monica," died Thursday October 9, 2014  at age 58.

The former U.S. Marine and longtime tech-industry recruiter had been diagnosed with lung cancer in July. In 2003, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called synovial sarcoma and at that time, told she had three months to live.

At the time of her first diagnosis, Parker was at the height of her career as a performer specializing in Chicago blues and Southern African-American gospel. Her burgeoning popularity in blues festivals up and down the West Coast had led to success across the country and into Europe.  

Sista Monica won multiple awards for her charismatic stage performances, including the Santa Cruz County Artist of the Year, and the Gail Rich Award for excellence in the arts. She won a number of blues awards and recorded 11 albums of contemporary blues, soul and gospel.

For all her success as a performer, she didn't come to it until her mid-30s. It was in the early 1990s when she saw Stanley Burrell, a former neighbor in Fremont, on TV's "Arsenio Hall Show" performing as rap star M.C. Hammer.

"She figured if he could do it, she could do it," said her brother Barrington Parker.

Monica Parker grew up in Gary, Indiana where she was a regular at her local church every Sunday. She joined the Marines Corps after high school and returned to the Chicago after her service to start a business as a motivational speaker. It was in that role she was hired at a seminar to speak on the subject of following one's dreams an aspiring talk-show host named Oprah Winfrey.

Parker moved to Santa Cruz in the early 1990s where she worked as a corporate recruiter for Yahoo and other Silicon Valley firms. That was also the time that she started from scratch as a performer, hiring a band to be named the Essentials This collaboration resulted in several blues recordings and meeting a producer and sideman named Danny B. In a couple of years, she was well-known in Santa Cruz and an in-demand headliner at West Coast and Bay Area blues festivals. By the end of the '90s, she was playing around the world.

In recent years, to safeguard her health, Parker cut back on the touring and deepened her commitment to her faith. She started a 40-voice choir called the Sista Monica Gospel & Inspirational Choir, an ecumenical group, which she referred to as a "ministry," consisting of Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Buddhists and others.

Her approach to her music changed too. Before her 2003 diagnosis, Parker was very much in the mold of strong women singing blues as a testament against pain and struggle as Koko Taylor or Etta James. In the last 10 years, her approach has been softer and more wide-angle, trying to be more straightforward in her recordings and live performances.

"I've always carried the banner for strength and power," she said in 2004. "But when something like (cancer) happens, the wind gets knocked out of you. Of all the values that I've had, the value I feel strongest now is compassion."

Sista Monica Parker is survived by her brothers Barrington and Garland, and sister Charlotte.

Paul Revere, founder of Paul Revere & The Raiders, Passes Away on October 4th

Paul Revere, founder of Paul Revere & The Raiders, passed away on October 4th, 2014 at the age of 76. His death was announced on the band's official website.The cause of death has not been released, but he had been in poor health for the past year. In July, Revere reluctantly announced his retirement after 56 years in the music business.

Paul Revere was actually his real name and was born on January 7, 1938 in Harvard, NE. He learned to play the piano as a boy, and developed a keen appreciation for the work of Spike Jones & His City Slickers. He joined his first real band while in his teens, and was later joined by 16-year-old Mark Lindsay a singer/sax man who ended up replacing the group's vocalist. Called the Downbeats, they were popular at local dances, and cut a demo for Gardena Records in Los Angeles, where the company's owner was interested in issuing a record, but only if they changed their name. Revere's given name was such a natural as a gimmick that they became Paul Revere & the Raiders. Their third single, a Jerry Lee Lewis-style instrumental, charted low in the Hot 100, and by he middle of 1963, they were one of the major music attractions in the Pacific Northwest.One of their first recordings was "Louie Louie". But around the same time another group from the Pacific Northwest would record the song. They were known as The Kingsmen and they would have a number one hit with it.

The song "Louie, Louie," got them a local release that was picked up by Columbia Records, which not only released it nationally but signed Paul Revere & the Raiders to a contract. Their next big break came in 1965 when their producer, Terry Melcher, suggested that they update their sound. He got them to create music that was a mix of fast-paced, guitar-and-vocal-dominated Beach Boys-style rock & roll, and also the more intense and intimidating brand of R&B produced by the Rolling Stones. Their new sound debuted with the single "Steppin' Out," a Revere-Lindsay original that was released during the summer of 1965.

But success eventually come Revere's way. Between 1965 and 1971, with Revere on keyboard, Lindsay on lead vocals, Drake Levin on lead guitar and Phil Volk on bass, Paul Revere and The Raiders had nearly a dozen Top 20 hits. Among their more notable hits were "Kicks", "Good Thing", "Him or Me (What's It Gonna Be?"). Their final hit "Indian Reservation (Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)" would prove to be their only number one hit. Aside from their musicianship, Paul Revere & The Raiders also stood out because they wore uniforms from the Revolutionary War. The band had gone through a visual metamorphosis, adding Revolutionary War-style outfits to their look, and they stood out for playing straight-ahead rock & roll and having fun doing it.

While Lindsay left the group in the mid-1970's to pursue a solo career, Revere kept touring with the Raiders until he could tour no more.

2014 Blues Blast Music Awards.

Each year a group of industry professionals select the nominees for the annual Blues Blast Music Awards. Fans all over the world vote then vote for their favorites in twelve nomination categories. The results of this year’s voting by nearly 12,000 Blues fans will be announced at the Blues Blast Music Award Ceremonies on October 23rd.

It is the privilege and honor of the publisher of the Blues Blast Music organization to select recipients for the Blues Blast Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Awards. These awards are given to outstanding individuals with a lifetime of exceptional accomplishments in Blues music.

This year’s recipients are Bobby Rush and Lonnie Brooks. These individuals will be attending the Blues Blast Music Awards Ceremonies on October 23rd, at The Fluid Event Center in Champaign, Illinois to receive these awards.

 Blues Blast Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award - Bobby Rush

There is one word that epitomizes Bobby Rush: entertainer. As a boy, he visualized himself preaching to a congregation or playing music in front of an audience. Later in his career, Bobby Rush relentlessly toured the South, playing night after night in eventually earning the well-deserved title King of the Chitlin Circuit.

Once he gained the attention of white blues fans, Bobby Rush started headlined blues festivals all over the globe. Among his thirty-seven nominations for Blues Music Awards, he has received thirteen nominations for the prestigious B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award. This year he is nominated for 3 Blues Blast Music Awards. His recording Down in Louisiana was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album, his second Grammy nomination.

Bobby Rush is proud of the fact he continues to play the smaller clubs for African-American audiences, sustaining his career for several decades. He triumphantly refers to himself as a black blues singer; expertly mix humor, down-home funk and sexy innuendo into a thrilling live show featuring his female shake dancers.

Born in Louisiana in 1937, Emmitt Ellis Jr. was the son of a preacher attending church every Sunday and getting his first exposure to music. Although he never joined the church choir, he learned a few things about playing guitar and harmonica. When the family moved to Chicago in the early 1950s, Bobby Rush started hanging out with Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker.

When he started performing, he changed his name to Bobby Rush out of respect for his father. He recorded a few singles and had a session with Chess Records but it wasn’t until 1971 that Bobby Rush scored his first hit with Chicken Heads. This record kept Bobby Rush in demand on the club circuit

He continued to issue a steady stream of records that offered his unique perspective on man-woman relationships. Titles like What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander (La Jam), I Ain’t Studdin You (Urgent), Lovin a Big Fat Woman & Hoochie Man (Waldoxy Records) made a Bobby Rush a trailblazer for the current southern soul-blues scene. Over the course of his career, he has more than two hundred and fifty records to his credit.

In the last decade, Bobby Rush has eight titles on his own label Deep Rush Records, These releases feature him with stripped-down accompaniment which highlights his skills as a singer and songwriter and his harmonica and guitar playing. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006.

Blues Blast Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award - Lonnie Brooks

Not many people get to re-invent themselves over the course of a lifetime. Lee Baker Jr. has done it twice. He forged a memorable career spanning six decades filled with hit records, spirited live performances, and the fatherly love that nurtured two sons in establishing their own musical careers.

Born in Dubuisson, Louisiana in 1933, Baker spent long stretches with his grandparents growing up. His grandfather would rise early each morning to play his banjo to the delight of his grandson. Baker learned basic chords that kept him interested in playing until his early twenties, when he bought his first guitar.

After a move to Port Arthur, Texas, Baker worked in an oil field and played guitar in his free time. One day the King of Zydeco music, the legendary Clifton Chenier, was driving past the Baker home as Lee was playing guitar on the porch. Chenier quickly convinced the young guitarist to join his Red Hot Louisiana Band. When Chenier decided to move to California, Baker stayed behind and started his own band.

Calling himself Guitar Junior, Baker caught the ear of Eddie Shuler, head of Goldband Records. Junior’s first release for Shuler, the original Family Rules, became a regional hit. Then Baker met Sam Cooke as the singer toured the south and quickly accepted Cooke’s invite to go to Chicago.

Once he settled into the big city, Baker started hitting the clubs, looking for opportunities. He was part of the band on a Jimmy Reed session that produced the monster hit, Big Boss Man. In 1969, Capitol Records released an album under the Guitar Junior name, Broke and Hungry, that failed to generate much interest. Since Luther Johnson had already established himself as Guitar Junior in Chicago, Baker reinvented himself one more time to the name known around the world, Lonnie Brooks.

A spirited, live performer, Brooks offered a unique blend of Chicago blues spiced with hints of zydeco, country, swamp pop plus rock & roll. He had releases on Evidence and Delmark Records in the 70s decade before Alligator Records included four tracks by Brooks on Volume 2 of its Living Chicago Blues series.

As a father, Brooks never tried to push any of his nine children into music. He preferred to provide gentle encouragement. The testament of his approach can be witnessed any time one of his sons, Ronnie and Wayne Baker Brooks, hits the stage and dazzles the crowd with electrifying guitar talent. The three world-class guitarists formed the Brooks Family Reunion band that has thrilled blues festival audiences for over a decade.

In 2010, Lonnie was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Blues Foundation in Memphis.