One of April’s musical highlights is Mr. B’s Boogie and Blues Piano Celebration. 20 years ago, beloved blues and boogie-woogie pianist Mr. B teamed up with his mentor, pianist Bob Seeley and two more pianists for an evening of different piano combinations at a house concert. The event sparked a dream that Mr. B made come true one year later. Starting in 1998, the celebration expanded to The Ark for a big concert. Over the years, the boogie-woogie, jazz and blues piano bash has grown beyond Ann Arbor to include venues in Detroit and Monroe. The 20th Anniversary festivities start Friday, April 21st at The Detroit Institute of Arts, continue Saturday at The Ark and conclude on the 23rd at The Monroe County Public Library.
For the 20th anniversary event, Mr. B decided to honor Bob Seeley who at 88 years of age is an incredible, formidable force of nature. All 88 keys of the pianos for all three events will rock and resound in reverence for Bob Seeley. Along with Mr. B and Bob Seeley, the 2017 piano celebration roster will include hometown heroes returning for a major musical reunion: Bill Heid and Al Hill. Who knows what will happen when these generations of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie pianists combine forces! Bassist Paul Keller and drummer-vocalist Dr. Professor Leonard King will add more punch and power to the concerts.
Mr. B made his annual stop at WEMU to talk about the shows and his deep love and respect for all three musical cohorts. If you have listened to WEMU for years, you have heard Mr. B’s stories. However, each time he visits, you learn something new about Mr. B, the art of boogie-woogie piano and the musicians involved. This time Mr. B explained Bob Seeley’s steam train fascination, Bill Heid’s achievements in The Guinness Book of World Records and Al Hill’s recent triumph at The Memphis Blues Challenge. Enjoy this hour of great boogie-woogie and blues piano and appreciation of musical friendships.
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— Linda Yohn is the WEMU Music Director, and host of 89.1 Jazz. On twitter @LindaYohn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org