With awards from the Public and Michigan Library Associations, the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and The Blues Foundation’s 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Education (the blues world’s most prestigious honor available to non-musicians), the series is now the state’s longest running annual blues celebration.
Blues 2020 - Monroe County’s 33rd Annual Black History Month Blues Series
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Ellis Library & Reference Center - 7:00 pm - 3700 S. Custer Rd. Monroe, Michigan
Chicago blues royalty Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials launch the 2020 Blues Series with their first Blues Series appearance since a raucous 2004 headlining set at the River Raisin Centre for the Arts. The band’s big sound, fueled by Lil Ed’s gloriously rollicking slide work, deep blues string bending, and his rough-edged, soulful vocals, is as real and hard-hitting as Chicago blues gets. The band’s infectious energy, joyful showmanship, and masterful playing have been honed to a razor’s edge by 30+ years of playing together. The multiple Living Blues Best Live Performers Award winners are out on the road promoting their new release, The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Dorsch Memorial Branch Library - 7:00 pm - 18 E. First Street, Monroe, Michigan
AJ Ghent [j-ent] and his Singing Guitar construct a musical soundscape that can be heard howling from the church to the streets to the clubs, fusing blues, funk, rock, and pop into a genre Ghent likes to call NEO BLUES. Ghent takes the Sacred Steel tradition created by his great uncle Willie Eason and brings it to a broader audience with passion, positive energy, and a unique style--Ghent plays his custom built lap steel guitars standing upright, using his over handed technique to pick, slide, and strum all over the strings. In his young career, this rising star has already worked with the likes of his mentor Colonel Bruce Hampton, Zac Brown, Dave Grohl, Robert Cray, and The Allman Brothers Band.
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Carleton Branch Library - 7:00 pm - 1444 Kent Street, Carleton, Michigan
As the piano-pounding frontman and songwriter of Low Cut Connie, Adam Weiner is known for delivering high energy, raucous performances and leaving audiences enthralled. With a new series of acoustic solo shows, Weiner demonstrates his dynamic ability to captivate in a more intimate setting, alternating between songs on the piano and acoustic guitar. “I’m always trying to get closer to the crowd. I really wanna get eyeball-to-eyeball with everyone and make something very real happen. I want people to reach out and touch the piano,” said Weiner.
Weiner's songs have been praised by many media outlets, including Rolling Stone and NPR, as well as Sir Elton John, who recently declared his love for Low Cut Connie on stage at a sold out show in Philadelphia.
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Ida Branch Library - 7:00 pm - 3016 Lewis Avenue, Ida, Michigan
The Piedmont Bluz acoustic duo are ambassadors of country blues and the Piedmont style of fingerpicking. Husband and wife Ben and Valerie Turner feel that "there are stories to tell, people to remember, and things that must be said," so, in addition to tickling your ears with delightful music, they weave a bit of history into the presentation of each song. Inducted into the NY Blues Hall of Fame in 2018, the duo has performed at the Newport Folk Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, Tel Aviv Blues Festival, Clearwater Revival, and Brooklyn Folk Festival, to name but a few.
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Bedford Branch Library - 7:00 pm - 8575 Jackman Road, Temperance, MI
Monroe County's 33rd Annual Black History Month Blues Series continues with the Blues Series return of Samuel James, one of the world's most innovative guitarists, and the Blues Series debut of Andrew Alli, one of the world's most highly acclaimed young harmonicists. This rare team-up of these true virtuosos will feature solo and duo performances, both rehearsed and off-the-cuff, so expect the unexpected.
With a voice of grit and gravel, Samuel James sings with an authenticity lost in time. A modern guitar master, James's skill has a depth and range that seems impossible for a man with only two hands. An award-winning songwriter and a Moth-featured storyteller, James brings all of these talents to his live performances, which are part theater concert, part stomping-on-the-floor dance party, and part stand-up comedy set. His songwriting has been compared to Leonard Cohen's and his guitar virtuosity to that of Jimi Hendrix.
Andrew Alli is a Richmond, Virginia, native who took up music relatively late in life, at age 20. After being inspired by a busker playing harmonica on the street, he hit his local music store and purchased his first harmonica. He committed to learning the history of the instrument and quickly fell in love with the blues and began studying the life and work of greats like Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Junior Wells, and more. He's developed his own unique style, while still paying respects to these influences from the past.
Saturday, February 29, 2020
1555 S. Raisinville Rd. Monroe, MI 48161
Thornetta Davis, Detroit's reigning Queen of the Blues, and Toronzo Cannon, one of the most electrifying bluesmen to emerge from Chicago in decades, team up to headline The Big Gig!--Monroe County's 33rd Annual Black History Month Blues Concert--on Saturday, February 29, 2020. Davis and Cannon will be joined by Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr. who began the Blues Series with a 1988 solo performance and has returned to Monroe each February since.
Davis is a powerhouse vocalist and songwriter whose storied 30+ year career has earned her over 30 Detroit Music Awards, several Blues Music Award nominations, and international touring and numerous national television appearances. Cannon is a blistering guitarist, soulful vocalist, singular songwriter and city bus driver (true!) who fuses his muscular, rock-inspired blues guitar playing with his original, keenly detailed slice-of-life songs. Rev. Jones is a native Detroiter, accomplished multi-instrumentalist, and inspirational storyteller who celebrates the history, humor, and power of American Roots music.
The Big Gig! is an extremely popular event. No advance tickets are required and seating is general admission, first-come, first-served until Meyer Theater capacity is reached. Doors to the theater will open at 6:00 pm and the show begins at 7:00 pm sharp.
Thanks to Our Sponsors
This project is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Past Blues Series Events
Enjoy video from the 2019 Big Gig!