A Night at Aretha Jazz Club


As my fingertips carefully applied make-up to my face, smoothing out the rough edges, thoughts centered on the night ahead.  It would be spectacular!  Saxophonist Duane Parham and Vocalist Al Lindsey were teaming up to deliver a “smashing”  concert at the Aretha Jazz Club, downtown Detroit.  There would be “eats,” photo poses, books, CDs, chatter, laughter and everybody “just having a good ol’ time!”  I couldn’t wait to get there!

Quickly ejecting myself from the car onto the wind-blown streets in front of the Cafe, I made my way into the building.  As I walked on the heavily carpeted floors, it was getting harder and harder to keep my heart from pounding with excitement!  Glancing around the historic building, it was easy to take a mental walk backwards…backwards into the past where 19th century pictures stared from the wall, wooded floors and ceilings spoke quality, and nostalgia reeked havoc within my head.  The Cafe was small, intimate and waiting for action.

 

 

Even though music was the central focus of the event, Duane Parham had another focus equally important to him: selling his newly released book entitled Can You Hear Me NOW?  He viewed the book as not only a revelation of his life, but the life of Detroit.  It has story-after-story of Detroiters who not only created Motown music, but developed positive lifestyles and cultural nuances that serve Detroiters today. 

 

Several chapters of the book have been converted into audio and are available at duaneparham.net, while the printed copy can be found on amazon.com. 

On the eastside of the room, two guys were busy constructing a giant stand alone banner, sprinkled with logos, which later became the back-drop for photo-taking.  The entrance to the Cafe was buzzing with meaningful activity.  At 8:00 PM, the concert opened with The Duane Parham Band.  The “sounds” were so enticing, busy people setting up their wares, dropped them and swayed rhythmically with Duane Parham’s soulful saxophone.

 

 

 

It was a good night…a night that allowed me to meet General Manager Sheila Spencer of the Motown Museum.  She indicated a desire to have a copy of Parham’s book, but was not prepared to get it.  Quickly, a copy was placed in her hands, hopefully, one day…to see it in the museum.  It’s OK to dream, isn’t it?

 

 

Al Lindsey had a set-up containing several of his CDs…my partner and I pitched in to make his table a bit more appealing.  Seemingly, that had not occurred to his helpers.  When he took the stage, keeping my body from swaying to the “sounds of Motown,” was almost impossible!  He “topped off” everything by singing several tunes from his new album.  It was a night to remember–to remember artwork that challenged mind and soul, quality that spelled integrity, and music that soothed the “ruffles of thought.”  Aretha would have been proud!