The legendary Blues Man fills the stage with what could be considered a “Once in a lifetime” experience, featuring Nikki James, Bobby Murray and Lenny Watkins.
The Grammy-winning Jim McCarty is an influential leader in the blues guitar world. An original member of the Detroit Wheels, a founding member of The Rockets, The Hell Drivers and Mystery Train, McCarty has been a part of many significant bands including Cactus, The Buddy Miles Express, The Detroit Blues Band and has recorded with many well-known performers such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Seger. McCarty is known for his use of the Hollow Body Les Paul, and it was his work on “69 Freedom Special” recorded by Les Paul himself that earned him his Grammy.
McCarty has inspired many performers, and even Ted Nugent credits Jim McCarty with influencing his own sound and says he is one of the most important guitarists in blues rock history. McCarty continues to inspire and influence, as well as promote the great Detroit blues scene with his Jim McCarty and Friends shows where he brings new and established Blues performers on stage.
McCarty and his band Mystery Train with McCarty on guitar, Emanuel Garza on guitar, Kenny Welk on harp, Marvin Conrad on bass and Jim’s son, Dylan McCarty on drums, opened the evening at Callahan’s with a first set of “Treat me Right” and “Come on back to me” before the first featured performer, Nikki James, joined the group.
James opened her six song set with “Born In Chicago” but closed the song with the line “I was born in Detroit.” When it was time to finished her set, she called the ladies in the audience to come join her on the stage. It was a great time when two of the local gals join James in the classic “Shake your Money Maker.”
James belts it out with her classic ringing blues voice. But she’s not just another pretty face who can sing. She is well-known in the Detroit Blues community, and her tireless work organizing events for the Detroit Blues Society.
Emmanuel Garza opened the second set with a couple of songs beginning with “Tuff Enuff,” and kept the audience going until it was time for McCarty to introduce Bobby Murray to the audience.
Murray gave us all a great rendition of the song “Conversation With Collins” before Lenny Watkins joined the group and gave us several blues favorites starting with “Smokestack Lightning.” Watkins’ performance engaged the audience and brought them to their feet.
The Encore was “Sweet Home Chicago,” with everyone on stage, including a couple of additional guest performers. With some coaxing from Nikki James, Mimi Cooper took the stage to sing a verse of the classic blues standard, and Booby Murray ran offstage and grabbed 14-year-old Brendan Linsley from the audience, slung his guitar on him and got him on stage to trade licks with the man himself. It was a fitting example of how this event promotes present and future blues performers, keeping the Detroit Blues alive.