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img_0228Saturday, November 12
2 pm to 4:30 pm
$5 admission
The Scarab Club & the Detroit Blues Society present
The Blues Heritage Series

This concert is about the pre-Motown blues and R&B roots of Detroit and will celebrate the lives of departed greats like Sir Mack Rice and Joe Weaver. Drummer RJ Spangler leads a reunion of his old band, the Rhythm Rockers for this special occasion.  The Rhythm Rockers backed Sir Mack and Joe as well as other Detroit artists such as Alberta Adams, Johnnie Bassett, Eddie Burns, Eddie Kirkland and the Motor City R&B Pioneers (a vocal group with Joe Weaver, Stanley Mitchell and Kenny Martin).

RJ & the Rhythm Rockers backed these wonderful Detroit artists across Canada hitting major events like the Atlantic Jazz Festival in Halifax, the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Vancouver Jazz Festival. Back in the US they traveled up and down the east coast, including the fabled Apollo Theater in Harlem, as well as tours to the deep south and the entire west coast.  Here in the Midwest they hit major events throughout Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and several appearances at the Chicago Blues Festival. The band toured throughout Europe with Johnnie Bassett, Geno Parks, the Motor City R&B Pioneers, Thornetta Davis and Joe Weaver.

Detroit’s pre-Motown history has not been as illuminated as maybe it should be? The house band at Motown, called the Funk Brothers, included Joe Weaver’s first cousin, Benny Benjamin, one of the most influential R&B drummers of all time.  Benny, bassist James Jamerson, drummer Uriel Jones and guitarist Eddie Willis all performed in Joe’s band, the Blue Notes, before Motown had even set-up shop. Johnnie Bassett was the very first guitarist in that group. They recorded for labels like Fortune in Detroit and DeLuxe in Cincinnati and even cut unreleased tracks for Chess in Chicago.  United Studio owner & song writer Don Davis was a member of the Blue Notes. After Motown came along, Joe toured as pianist with the Motor Town Review backing the Motown stable of artists including Barrett Strong and a very young Stevie Wonder. That is Joe on “Fingertips Pt 1 & 2.”

At Fortune, the Blue Notes served as house band for recordings with Andre Williams, The Royal Jokers, Nathaniel Mayer, Nolan Strong, Geno Parks and the Five Dollars (including Alberta’s son, James Drayton).

Sir Mack got his start with the Falcons, a vocal group that included Joe Stubbs, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett and Robert Ward. He went on to write such amazing songs as “Mustang Sally” for Wilson Pickett, “Its Cheaper to Keep Her” for Johnny Taylor, “Respect Yourself” for The Staples and “Cadillac Assembly Line” for Albert King. Mack was often associated with Stax records in Memphis.  Mack recorded an EP with the backing of RJ’s Rhythm Rockers in 2006 and performed on the Don Was Review and the Concert of Colors in 2009. Paul Carey was on guitar.

This will be a special afternoon of early Detroit blues and R&B as performed by the back that backed these most original of artists. Sir Mack Rice & Joe Weaver, lifelong friends and great Detroiters.

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