Mr. B: Rolling into the 313, saluting Boogie Woogie Red

July 14, 2011
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Well, we’ve made it, 350 miles across the state, arriving in Detroit around 5:30 p.m. yesterday. We were followed by Channel 7′s Stephen Clark, who interviewed us, taped us playing a tune or two, and put cameras on our bikes as we rolled out of Livonia towards Grand River on 6 Mile Road.

The urban ride is fascinating, seeing things at a pace you don’t feel in a car, slowly watching the center of the city bloom before your eyes. All the familiar refrains regarding blight and decay are on display, but the straight-from-the-heart smiles and shouts of encouragement are so much richer than the equally sincere, but reserved, gestures we received in the rest of the state.

We loved stopping on the sidewalk and playing a surprise tune for a few 70-something gentlemen in front of their business on Grand River. There was no need to explain the music —  it was like watching someone open a package you’ve given them on Christmas that you knew would please … just felt good.

In the evening we quickly refueled — we eat constantly — and played a set at Cliff

Mr. B with a portrait of Boogie Woogie Red. (Photos by W. Kim Heron)

Bell’s in downtown. The room was filled with 20 somethings who were there as part of some pub crawl. I sternly lectured them into silence, and made them listen to a description of my friend and mentor, Boogie Woogie Red. We were there to honor him, and with the help of that part of the audience that was there to hear us, and the aid of the Detroit Blues Society, we raised some good money to pay for a long overdue headstone for Red’s grave; Thanks Spider, and R.J.!

We quickly chased the youngsters out of the joint, and settled into a nice set. Red was ever present in my mind. I have dozens of great stories, most of which can’t be shared in a blog. He was a sweet, but colorful character, his kind all but lost to history now. I’ll keep my memories and relish them.

Today we are scheduled to be on the air at WDET, and then to play a set at Detroit’s oldest cultural club, the Scarab Club. We’ll help raise money to allow families better access to chamber music. We’re looking forward to it.

We celebrate our ride with a victory lap of the city on Friday. We’re inviting the public to join us on a group ride from the Detroit Institute of Arts at 2:30 p.m. The ride benefits Earthworks, and the Community Bike Shop. I’m hoping for a great turnout for this excellent adventure in community building! This will be my last blog before the re-cap. Thanks for staying tuned. Dozens of groups have asked us to partner with them in future projects. My thanks for this opportunity to reach out.

Hope to see you tomorrow.