Black History Month Blues Series

The Monroe County Library System’s award-winning history lesson with a backbeat.

With awards from the Public and Michigan Library Associations, the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and The Blues Foundation’s 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Education (the blues world’s most prestigious honor available to non-musicians), the series is now the state’s longest running annual blues celebration.

Blues 2023—The Blues is Back Live!

Celebrating the 36th year of the Annual Black History Month Blues Series

This year’s series celebrates Michigan artists, both past and present. “Tuesdays are Blues Days” return to library branches throughout Monroe County, featuring new and returning artists, including the Flint Southernaires, Peter “Madcat” Ruth, Shari Kane and Dave Steele, Airey B, Carla Cooke, and The Good, and The Bad & The Blues.

Then coming Saturday, February 25, 2023, the Big Gig! returns live in the Meyer Theater of Monroe County Community College, honoring the memory of longtime blues series organizer, Bill Reiser. The show will celebrate Detroit’s rich music heritage with performances by Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr., Chris Canas, and R.J. Spangler’s Blues Review with special guest vocalists Tosha Owens, Sean Carney and John “T-bone” Paxton.

All events are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 7:00 pm

The Good, The Bad & The Blues—From Muddy Waters to Motown

The series kicks off with Toledo’s powerhouse blues band, “The Good, The Bad & The Blues.” The band is fronted by singer and guitarist Aayan Naim and performs everything from blues and soul to gospel. There’s something for everyone with selections from Muddy Waters to Motown.

South Rockwood Branch Library
5676 Carleton Rockwood Rd., South Rockwood

Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 7:00 pm

The Flint Southern Aires
Presented by the Dorsch and Navarre Branch Libraries, held at Oaks Village

Celebrating the sacred side of African American music and gospel with the acclaimed Flint Southernaires. The quartet follows in the hard-charging gospel tradition of southern-based groups like the Canton Spirituals and the Williams Brothers, but with an urban flavor.

Detroit’s Rosa Warner Jones opens the show with the sound of classic gospel ala Marian Williams and the legendary Mahalia Jackson.

The concert is presented in partnership with Oaks of Righteousness, and will take place at Oaks Village, 924 E. Second Street, Monroe

Tuesday, February 14, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Shari Kane & Dave Steele

A blues Valentine’s Day with Ann Arbor’s favorite husband and wife acoustic blues duo Shari Kane and Dave Steele. Their music is “street swing and stomp blues” as Shari and Dave lead a four-handed guitar party of original and classic blues, gospel, swing and ragtime.

Ida Branch Library
3016 Lewis Avenue, Ida

Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Carla Cooke Hampton

Acclaimed vocalist Carla Cooke Hampton, youngest daughter of the legendary Sam Cooke, brings her tour to Monroe keeping alive the music of her father and those of his era. Carla will present an evening of the music of Sam Cooke as well as her own original compositions.

Ellis Library & Reference Center
3700 S. Custer Road, Monroe


Saturday, February 25, 2023 at 7:00 pm

The Big Gig!

The Big Gig! returns live with a night of down-home Detroit blues featuring Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr., Chris Canas and his band, and R.J. Spangler’s Blues Revue with special guest vocalists Tosha Owens, Sean Carney and John “T-Bone” Paxton.

Rev. Jones, blues and gospel performer and master of ceremonies dating back to the series premier in 1988, is a renowned multi-instrumentalist and inspirational storyteller who celebrates the history and power of American Roots music.

Detroit blues is defined by great guitarists like the late Johnnie Bassett and John Lee Hooker. Guitarist and singer Chris Canas has earned the title of Detroit’s “Prince of the Blues,” representing the next generation of hard-working blues artists.

R.J. Spangler’s big blues band features rhythm section and horns backing the vocal powerhouse team of Tosha Owens, Sean Carney and John “T-Bone” Paxton paying tribute to legendary Detroit blues artists and displaying current sounds of today’s artists.

Seating for the Big Gig is general admission, first-come, first-served until the Meyer Theater capacity is reached. Doors to the theater will open at 6:00 pm sharp.

Monroe County Community College, La-Z-Boy Center, Meyer Theater
1555 South Raisinville Road, Monroe, MI


Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Airey B and Her Blues Troupe

Singer and pianist Airey B and her band of veteran Detroit blues musicians celebrate the music of classic blues women including Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

Carleton Branch Library
1444 Kent Street, Carleton


Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Peter “Madcat” Ruth’s C.A.R.Ma. Quartet

Harmonica virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist Peter “Madcat” Ruth is a longtime performer in the blues series going back to 1990. The quartet will explore the evolution of the Blues by mixing the blues with elements of Jazz, Folk Music, World Music, Americana, Fusion Music, Motown and Jam Band Music.

Bedford Branch Library
8575 Jackman Road, Temperance


Collage of Blues artists, with text "Black History Month Blues Series"

Blues Series Sponsors

Monroe County’s 36th Annual Black History Month Blues Series is presented by the Monroe County Library System, Monroe County Community College, and the 2023 Blues Coalition of community partners: DTE Foundation, Friends of South Rockwood, Friends of Carleton, Friends of Dorsch, Friends of Ellis, Friends of Ida, Friends of Bedford, and Oaks of Righteousness.

This activity is supported by the Michigan Arts and Culture Council.


Logos for MCCC, DTE, and MCACA

Highlights from the 2023 Blues Series