The Detroit Blues Society is holding a fundraiser to raise funds for a headstone for Detroit Blues legend, Calvin Frazier. The event will be held on Thursday, September 24, 2009 at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd. Auburn Hills, MI.
The evening of music kicks off at 8pm with local Blues/Rock jam specialists, Jam Samich and continues with New Orleans Funk/Blues Kings, Mem Shannon and the Membership. Doors open at 7:30pm and admission is a $10 tax deductible charge per person.
An associate of Robert Johnson, Calvin Frazier never attained the notoriety of other Johnson protégés like Johnny Shines, Robert Jr. Lockwood or Honeyboy Edwards, but his scant recorded legacy reveals a performer whose take on prewar-era blues is as unique and distinctive as any in the canon.
Born February 16, 1915 in Osceola, Arkansas, Frazier began his career performing alongside his brothers, and in the company of Shines, he traveled to Helena, Arkansas in 1930; there they met Johnson, and together the three men slowly journeyed north to Detroit, where they sang hymns on area gospel broadcasts.
Upon returning south, Frazier and Johnson also joined with drummer Peck Curtis in a string-band combo.
In 1935 Frazier was wounded in a Memphis shootout which left another man dead; he fled back to Detroit, marrying Shines’ cousin and settling into a life of quiet anonymity.
Apart from gigs supporting the likes of Big Maceo Merriweather, Rice Miller and Baby Boy Warren, he resurfaced in 1938 long enough to cut a session for folklorist Alan Lomax; while the specter of Johnson undeniably haunts renditions of songs including “Lily Mae” (a rewrite of “Honeymoon Blues”) and “Highway 51” (lifted from “Dust My Broom”), Frazier’s incomprehensible vocals, menacingly surreal lyrics and exquisite slide guitar are the hallmarks of a total original. He did not record again until a 1951 date with T.J. Fowler’s jump band, and entered the studio one last time in 1954 with Warren and Miller.
Frazier continued performing in the Detroit area to little notice until his death on September 23, 1972. His grave remains unmarked, thus creating the latest Detroit Blues Society history Project
Mem Shannon and the Membership
Mem Shannon is a former 15-year Bourbon Street cab driver who’s since released 6 albums worldwide (2 on Rykodisc, 2 on Shanachie, 2 on Northern Blues). Mem Shannon and the Membership are from New Orleans and while their music is rooted in the blues, it’s soaked through with that Big Easy syncopated sound, oozing with funk. They’ve played the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 15 years.
Mem has won or been nominated for a ton of “Best Of” awards for Louisiana music and national blues – including several Blues Music Association(formerly
W.C. Handy Award) nominations. Mem emerged onto the scene in 1996 with his first release, “A Cab Driver’s Blues” on Hannibal/Rykodisc. The breakthrough buzz album led to national media coverage from folks like ABC World News, CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, E! Entertainment Television, The New York Times, NPR and a much anticipated/celebrated performance at SXSW.
Mem’s 2001 release “Memphis In Morning included the song “S.U.V.” The catchy rant against SUV’s and their drivers became a mini-hit at blues radio, syndicated and specialty shows, and even a few Triple-A formats. It was named Song of the Year by Living Blues Magazine in 2002 and received a Handy (Blues Music Award) nomination for the same. Not to mention being added to NPR’s great show “Car Talk” and one of their yearly compilations.
Mem has shared bills with: Buddy Guy John Scofield Toots and the Maytals, Gov’t Mule, Josh Kelley, Junior Brown, James Ingram, Mavis Staples, Blues Traveler, Kim Richey, Branford Marsalis, Paul Cebar and The Milwaukeeans, Buckwheat Zydeco, Walter Trout, Karl Denson, Taj Mahal, Galactic, Robert Cray and many more.
He has toured consistently and has played most of the premier blues and roots festivals (King Biscuit, Montreal Jazz Fest, Kansas City Jazz & Blues Fest, Monterey Bay Blues Fest, Kerrville Folk Festival…), while headlining clubs night after night across the US and into Canada, Europe and Australia.
He was also presented in Hong Kong by the House of Blues and in Venezuela by the U.S. Embassy, and was part of an all-star tribute to Muddy Waters at The Kennedy Center for a televised special for PBS and NHK/Japan. He has played the huge Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle featuring diverse bands like Nickleback, Nas, The Pixies and Koko Taylor. He also played the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, an event that includes B.B. King, Gov’t Mule and Greg Allman. Mem Shannon’s name and persona appear coincidentally in (2)two horror novels:”Fat White Vampire Blues”by Andrew Fox and “Bad Moon Rising” by Jonathan Mayberry Not bad for a former cab driver.
Contact: Last Load Music: 504-616-3570
For U.S. and North American Bookings Contact: Marie Walker
Email: bookMEMwest@gmail.com, Telephone.248.275.3959.
Hailing from the outskirts of the Motor City in the great state of Michigan, a group of dedicated musicians have come together to create Jam Samich, an improvisational-rock band serving up a plate full of delicious tunes that will satisfy your musical hunger. Turning people on to the music they create hasn’t been a problem. Jam Samich combines elements of all the music they have soaked in to create their own unique sound. Combining rock, progressive-rock, funk, blues, jazz, soul, and metal, the songs are crafted with patience and conveyed with true musicianship. Jam Samich is fully armed with dueling guitars and a ground shaking rhythm.
Steve Allen–Detroit Blues Society (248)249-5287 email@example.com
Mike Moss – Callahan’s Music Hall
Telephone: (248) 858-9508