Blues concert entertains and enthralls Monroe

Monroe enjoyed a night of smooth, soulful, and rocking blues at the Meyer Theater for the 23rd Annual Black History Month Blue’s Concert.

“This is a celebration of blues music in America,” the Reverend Robert B. Jones told the crowd Saturday night at “The Big Gig!” blues concert.

Jones, with his acoustic guitar in hand, opened the show with his song, “If I Had My Way.”

He interacted with the full-house crowd by telling stories behind the songs and making jokes.

After playing a few songs, he introduced harmonica legend Phil Wiggins to the stage, and the two chatted before launching into a high-energy performance of “Glory, Glory Hallelujah.” This got the crowd moving in their seats.

It was the first time Jones and Wiggins had performed together in public. Previously, Wiggins had performed with guitarist John Cephas until his death last March.

Together, Jones and Wiggins remembered Cephas by playing a Skip James song Cephas and Wiggins used to play.

The audience’s attention was captivated as Jones and Wiggins seemed to become one with their instruments as they played.

Jones and Wiggins then introduced Johnnie Bassett’s band, the Blues Insurgents, who took on the bass, drums, piano, and saxophone to dazzle the crowd. They were soon joined by L.A.-based guitarist Arthur Adams, who donned an electric guitar and sang with a clear, smooth voice.

Adams took over the show with his rocking guitar solos and interaction with the crowd. He and the Blues Insurgents kept the music flowing from song to song.

The crowd consisted of all ages, and during Adams’ performance an older couple got up and moved to the side of the theater to dance together. Seated audience members bounced and sang along to the lively music.

After the energy of Adams’ performance the crowd cheered as Johnnie Bassett, legendary Detroit singer and guitarist, walked onstage to perform.

Bassett chatted and joked with the crowd before playing.

“Every day above ground is a good day,” he joked after telling the crowd he had not been feeling well earlier that day.

He also brought up those suffering in Chile after the recent earthquake.

Bassett performed many of his hits, including “Bassett Hound.” He performed with ease, dancing along to the music and wearing a big smile.

“I wish I could do this every night for a crowd like this,” he said.

He added that the people in Monroe are real blues fans.

After Bassett and the Blues Insurgents played for over an hour, Adams came back onstage and increased the energy as he and Bassett played guitar back and forth and the audience clapped along.

Jones and Wiggins soon joined Bassett and Adams onstage again, as they performed the final song with as much soul and rhythm as they could. The audience’s energy was at its peak as they cheered and whistled, and ended the night with a standing ovation for the blues men.

“It was just great,” MCCC student Bill Strimpel said.

Strimpel is taking a History of Jazz class, and it was his first time seeing the blues men perform.

After the concert, the audience filed out of the theater with big smiles and a lot of energy, as they recounted their favorite performances, and several walked over to buy CDs in the lobby.

For more information on the men who performed at 2010’s “The Big Gig!” you can check out their Web sites:

Arthur Adams: www.arthuradamsband.com

Johnnie Bassett: http://www.myspace.com/johnniebassett

Phil Wiggins: http://jcephasandpwiggins.com/aboutPhil.html

Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr.: http://www.revrobertjones.com/