Mike Jellick Quintet and The Funhouse


Last night, Wednesday, August 28, 2013 was a trip into the unexpected. I was in one of my usual ruts and wearing the rut deeper. I went to Northern Lights Lounge to see The Mike Jellick Trio. And last night it was a quintet. There were two additions during the first set. Jesse Palter, a vocalist, was in from Los Angeles. And Marcus Elliot, a saxophonist, was the other addition. I first saw Mike Jellick as the piano player for Jesse Palter at Cliff Bells in Detroit. They were much different than they are now. Both have much more depth and character to their performances now. I also saw Marcus Ellliot for the first time several years ago at Bakers Keyboard Lounge. And he is also much improved. I’ve learned that the very good performance that does not touch me emotionally from a young performer may be just a matter of a little time before they give a brilliant emotionally charged performance.

20130829-172129.jpg I came to see this. (Mike Jellick, Miles Brown and Jesse Kramer)

20130829-172249.jpgAnd got this. In this picture, Jesse Palter is the addition. I got so into the music that I forgot to get a picture of Marcus Elliot who was a big part of the reason the music made me forget about anything else.

Although I sat in the back since it was crowded when I arrived, the sound was good and is something I really like about the place. On the first number, Jesse Palter used her voice as if it were an instrument and was most like a clarinet. Marcus was on the soprano sax during that number. They all worked together as one shifting from one instrument to another seamlessly. During the set as Jesse was singing vocals, it was so refreshing to hear a vocalist enunciate making every word understandable. During the set I got my dinner of beef nachos. They went cold while I listened.

The last song of the set was “Bye, bye Blackbird” and is one I enjoy. She did not make it overly sad or snappy. And I finally got to my cold nachos. It was enough for at least three meals. They are good. The only things that could be improved is if it had fresh salsa and the jalapeño peppers were fresh. All the other veggies are fresh and flavorful.


The quintet became a quartet losing Marcus Elliot during the second set. The quartet played “Blue Skies”. The pacing and tempo reminded me of a Frank Sinatra version I have heard with a completely different voice. All in all it is a pleasure to hear the musical growth of Mike Jellick, Marcus Elliot and Jesse Palter.

I then headed to Motor City Wine to see Skeeto’s Funhouse.

And I expected to see Kris Kurzawa, Skeeto Valdez, Takashi Iio and Phil Whitfield. This is what I saw.


Phil Whitfield, a Canadian, was stopped at the border crossing for an invalid visa which he will take care of by next week. So, Skeeto called in the reserves or four saxes, one trumpet a guitar and different keyboard player. It was a shock. I can’t remember what they were playing as I walked in. Takashi took me aside and explained the situation. They did sound good though. The last number they played was “Isn’t She Lovely”.

All in all it was an evening I didn’t expect. And I’m glad to have that kind of surprise in my life.

Motor City Wine 2.0 – The Funhouse


Last night, Wednesday, August 7, 2013 was my first visit to the new home of Motor City Wine located at 1949 Michigan Ave in Detroit. It was a move from downtown to the Corktown neighborhood. The new place is larger and better arranged. When I walked in,I walked into a bar area with chairs along the bar. The design arrangements around the bar in the wall are wine corks arranged in designs. The place is not carpeted like the other place. They have a nice outside patio. They were planning on having music events on the patio but some people live nearby and the noise disturbs them. They may pipe music outside later.

I didn’t have to climb up a flight of stairs at the new place. And there is a parking lot. No more looking for a place to park.

I ordered my blood orange soda and a plate that included herbed salami, asiago cheese with basil and a bowl of olives served with crackers. Within a few minutes, Charles Greene and his girlfriend came and sat with me. I’m glad I had someone to share since it was too much for me alone. The flavors I picked were bold and luckily, the crackers were bland so it was a good combination.

There is another room next to the bar and this was where the band played. The set up is better for music. It was the usual Funhouse crew of Kris Kurzawa ( gtr), Skeeto Valdez ( drums ), Takashi Iio (bass) and Phil Whitfield ( keys). For any Canadians, Phil is from South Detroit or Windsor, Ontario.


The music is not so loud I can feel my body vibrate as it was in the first place. They have a certain distinctive style of playing and have usual favorites. Most of the favorites are compositions of the band. They did play one I hadn’t heard before called “Funky Strut” written by Phil Whitfield and I do like funky music. The funkiest number of the evening was “Do It Again” a Steely Dan cover. That one was played by Charles Greene on keys and Freeman Spells on bass. That one was really good.

I usually stay for one set but tonight I stayed for the evening. Somehow, the idea of driving in the opposite way from home and into downtown was not appealing. I considered what was available and went home after two sets.

It was an enjoyable evening. I heard good music and got to sit with people I like.

The Funhouse at Motor City Wine


Last night, July 24, 2013, was the last night for the Funhouse at Motor City Wine at the place on Woodward. Motor city Wine will be moving to another place in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit this coming weekend. It will be a different area for me but it is another Detroit revival neighborhood and there are several music venues in the area as well as an iconic barbecue place called Slows Bar BQ. I’m looking forward to exploring a new neighborhood.

I arrived for the second set and heard there was a good size crowd. I saw several people I knew and said my hellos and talked to a few people in the room. The owner/ bartender poured me my blood orange soda. I asked him about the new place. He talked about the new patio at the new place and some of the plans he had for new bands at the new place. The band began to return and I found a place to sit down.