It's a special year for the Saginaw Bay Area Blues Society.
With the passing of its Chairman, Jim Zimmerman, aka 'The Blues Buddha' last November, the Society has decided to continue to push forward and present one of their biggest blues events yet. The 2008 Blues Cruise on the Princess Wenonah in Bay City leaves Sunday, August 24, at 2 pm, featuring regional blues acts Laith Al-Saadi from Ann Arbor and Harmonica Shah from Detroit. Tickets are still available.
The Annual four-hour cruise boards at 1:30 pm and will return at 6 pm, and is sponsored by Fabiano Bros., Mid-Michigan Music, St. Laurent Bros., Herter Music Center, Rattlesnake Rick's Roadhouse, Co-Op Elevator, and Showcase Mistubishi.
"This is the Society's 6th Blues Cruise," said SBABS President Rodney Shur. "One of our early board members thought it would be great to cruise out to the bay and back while listening to live music. In fact after we started to have our blues cruise the idea caught on in Detroit and now they have an annual cruise."
Featuring acts over the years at multiple events like Debbie Davies, Dr. Duke Tumatoe, Janiva Magness, Jason Ricci Band, as well as local and statewide blues artists, the SBABS always features top quality cruise party blues music and jams.
"Each year we try and pick at least one group who is not know to people in this area," said Shur. "By doing so we expose them to a wider audience and expand the listening pleasure for our local people. This year we have chosen Laith Al-Saadi, a sizzling-hot artist who is starting to make a name for himself. In 2006, he was crowned 'King of the Blues' for the Northern Region of the United States by Guitar Center, making him one of the Top 4 blues guitarists in the country. In GUITAR WORLD magazine (Nov. 2006) he was heralded as sounding like, "Danny Gatton and Buddy Guy at their best." I was told by one lady, 'He'll bring tears to your eyes when you hear him play.' Now that's someone I want to see!"
Shah brings a rootsy-Detroit vibe to the cruise.
"Blues legend Shah and his band is dedicated to keeping his music as authentic and tough as possible," stated the President. "Shah says, 'The blues had to be tough to reach ears accustomed to the drop forge and the white-hot steel of the auto industry in Detroit. I don't want to play 'nice' music.'"
With intentions geared at keeping the blues alive at all times, the Society has dedicated this year to Zimmerman.
"Jim was the #1 supporter of Blues in Michigan," Shur insisted. "He was a long-time member of the Detroit Blues Society and the Capital City Blues Society in Lansing. He was involved with judging Blues Competitions all over the state. He knew everyone who was anyone in the Blues scene.
"Because of his love for blues music Jim felt it was necessary to start a blues society in this area, hence the Saginaw Bay Area Blues Society. He led the Society from its inception until his death. As he was the only Chairman of the Board that we ever had, we have left that position unfilled in his honor. He will be missed."
Planning to continue into the future, Shur relates the best is yet to come.
"We are a small group who volunteer our time and sometimes money to bring the joy of blues to others. I think the Society's future is bright. We are continuing to meet our goals of providing Blues events. We have gained some new board members and some former ones. There is nothing like new blood to breathe new ideas into the mix. We still love the Blues and we are committed to furthering the music."
Cash bar and food will be available. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the dock for Bay City Boat Lines at the end of 9th St. at the River or by calling 989-671-0607 in Bay City, 989-964-9370 in Saginaw, or 989-832-5701 in Midland.
16th November, 2023