When blues guitarist Josh White Jr. started performing onstage with his father at the age of four, he had no idea it would charter a course for the rest of his life. His father, the late Josh White Sr., was a folk musician who worked with everyone from Woody Guthrie to President Franklin Roosevelt. He grew up performing alongside him, and has since developed a solid career as a singer/songwriter. In anticipation of his June 29th concert at Foundry Hall in South Haven, he shared his thoughts shunning the labels of the music world, and paying homage to his father's roots while developing his own cross-cultural sound.
Here is an excerpt: On honoring his father's legacy onstage: "You know...before he died I remember him talking with our manager, and my dad was afraid that his guitar style would be lost because he didn't know if I was going to maintain it. Wherever I go I always make sure I have within my set two or three songs in a row that my old man did the way he did it and speak on him. Again it was something I was born into - I started doing it when I was three and a half. That which has happened has been a progression of. There was nothing else that was really pulling me that I wanted to do, and people started enjoying me doing my own stuff, and that's hard to beat."
As a musician, using your talent for someone else's benefit can be both rewarding and frustrating. You can get paid to perfect your craft, but you can't control how often you perform - or who will be listening. Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo had both hit those walls back in 2009.
Harmonicist Peter "Madcat" Ruth has spent five decades blowing all the right notes. His career has taken him around the world and into blues, rock, jazz - and even classical music.
The Ann Arbor-based musician is performing at Mangia Mangia in Kalamazoo on Saturday, and talked with us about his work with legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, his surprise Grammy win, and how the harmonica has continued to remain distinct from its electronic counterparts in the 21st century:
"The harmonica has just a sound that's unlike any other instrument. When they came out with synthesizers they could never get a synthesizer to sound like a harmonica cause so much of the sound of the harmonica is the harmonica player's lungs and throat and hands. In some ways I don't think it's as popular as it was a few decades ago, but still people like to hear it."
Six women will be featured in a concert to celebrate local female artists. The event, put on by the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, will take place Saturday at 8 p.m. at Bell’s Eccentric Café.