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Opened in 2008, The Dirty Dog is one of the premiere destinations in the United States for world class Jazz and cuisine. It combines the charm of an English-style pub with intimacy and meticulous attention to detail and hospitality.
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
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Upbeats With John Osler
October 10, 2018



I will keep asking this question until someone tells me that maybe it isn’t, and why.

I haven’t heard any jazz artists say that this club isn’t one of the very best venues in the world. I think it would be hard to beat the gang at the Dirty Dog and the jazz club they have built.



I get around Detroit listening to music, and Detroit has good choices of places to hear some jazz. Most of the time I am at the Dirty Dog taking pictures. This has given me a chance to listen to out of town artists like Freda Payne and well traveled local artists like Ralphe Armstrong. Sometimes world travelers like Freda and Ralphe talk about their favorite places. They talk about how they are treated, the respect of the audience, the sound in the room and the prestige of playing a first class club. When all is said and done, they often end up saying one club that makes the effort to accommodate the musician as well as the customer is the place they are both playing this week, the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. At the Dirty Dog they also get a respectful audience and some of the best food in town in their own green room.




The Dirty Dog Jazz Café is an intimate jazz club that serves really good food. It has been promoted mainly through word of mouth and the proclamations of others. The word is out that this place makes an honest effort to give jazz artists and their fans a great place to come together. Friends tell friends, and Detroit has a way of finding out about anything that is a cut above.




Every time Ralphe Armstrong comes to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café he reminds us that we can have something really good in our backyard. Sometimes you have to go away and come back to appreciate what you have.




I never thought about this idea until one night the well traveled Ralphe Armstrong offhandedly asked the question, “Has anyone been in a better jazz club in their life?”

No one stood up and challenged him. Truthfully, there are few people who would stand up and challenge Ralphe.  Since then, Ralphe rarely appears at the Dirty Dog without making this claim. He is not alone. many artists pause to remind us how remarkable this venue is, and when they do they don’t hold back. I started listening to these artists when they praised the club.






The club is a place that is run almost entirely to honor the music and the musicians.. The Dog has paid attention to those things that allow the music to live. There is a great sound system with a sound engineer on staff. The Dog is a place with an openness to new ideas and encourages musicians to stretch their craft. Jazz is respected at the Dog.


What I have heard from visiting artists is that the Dirty Dog is an oasis of respect. Respect pours over musicians from the moment they enter the club. The Dirty Dog is a place where jazz thrives because Gretchen, the management and the audience think that the music deserves to be heard. Finally, where else do artists get four day gigs?


It is an intimate space small enough to offer proximity to the action. Jazz is often a spontaneous, evolving relationship that is sometimes sublimely harmonious, often gleeful and sometimes raucous. Patrons can witness the fleeting glance and the startled smile between players.  Jazz can be at its most engaging when you can experience that process unfolding with your eyes as well as your ears.







The Dog has some really good food and a great bar for the customers





The same great food and drink is served in a beautiful green room reserved for the artists.




Chef Andre Neimanus, Manager / Director of jazz Willie Jones, the world’s most lovable bartender Carl and the amazing staff with all their good cheer and  smiles.




The classiest proprietor in all of jazzdom, Gretchen Valade.





Visit the Dirty Dog and see for yourselves how the the artists are treated, the respect of the audience, the sound in the room and the prestige of being in a first class club. When all is said and done, you may add your voice in saying that the one club that makes the effort to accommodate the musician as well as the customer is the Dirty Dog.




We will need more information to really know the answer, so, please think about it and after you have spent some at the Dog, let us know.


John Osler





October 10, October 11





A wondrous spirit, Ralphe Armstrong will bring a good argument that Detroit’s  jazz is on  the rise. Ralphe is a true champion of Detroit and of its greatest export, its music.

 October 12 – October 13





The multi-talented Freda Payne is best known for her singing career, yet she has also performed in musicals and acted in movies over the years. Freda was born in Detroit, Michigan, Payne developed an appreciation of music at an early age (due to such sultry jazz singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday). She will bring much needed heat to a Michigan fall.



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October 1, 2018

“No problem” Willie Jones




This week Willie Jones makes his first post in what we will call Willie’s Corner.


Willie is officially the dining room manager/programming director. Unofficially he is the Director of Food,Spirits and all that Jazz. Because Willie Jones directs the food, spirits and jazz with a firm but light touch, the Dirty Dog Jazz Café looks and feels the way it does.


He is responsible for all the things that work, and when they don’t he is there making things right. Lucky for us that he is going to share some insights and stories. Knowing Willie, they will be to the point and upbeat.






I love October. It is my favorite month of the year. Fall is my favorite season of the year. OK, I admit it, I’m a little biased for October. I was born in October. Fall Colors, fall weather and of course fall Jazz.


So the fall season has officially arrived. The cool nights of fall are the perfect time to come on into the Dirty Dog Jazz Café to enjoy some warm jazz in a cozy intimate environment.


The entire month of October at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café will bring you a montage of Mack Avenue Records and Detroit Music Factory artists like vocalist Freda Payne, Bassist Ralphe Armstrong, Pianist Scott Gwinnell, Guitarist Ron English, Bassist Rodney Whitaker and the legendary Pianist Charles Boles.


While you’re at the Dirty Dog feasting on a hearty or even light fare dinner before the music starts, might I highly recommend that you indulge yourself in a few of our culinary favorites such as Short Ribs, Grilled Salmon, Shrimp Pasta, Chicken and Waffles and the “Must Have” Fork and Knife Burger.


You also should take a moment (before the music starts) to view the incredible décor and wealth of photos of musical legendary talents sprinkled throughout the Café. During your visual tour, expect to stumble across several beautiful paintings by our resident photographer and blogger John Osler.


Only John Osler can capture Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, Carl the bartender and the Dirty Dog’s fearless leader Gretchen Valade all hanging out together at the Bar at the Dirty Dog. Ask anyone on my gracious staff to take you to our private boardroom and just look above the fireplace.


YES the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is all about jazz, but expect to find much more than just amazing jazz as you take on the “entire experience” of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.Willie Jones








Wille has guided the Dirty Dog Jazz Café since its conception ten years ago. He has done this with an unusual amount of surety, confidence in outcomes,  combined with  grace and joy. Knowing Willie is around makes one feel like everything is going to be alright.


There are situations that spring up and test us. Everyone looks around for a way out of the mess. Sometimes the monstrous obstacle that is thrown in our path isn’t as big as we think it is, and we just needed someone to bring the problem into perspective. Willie Jones the manager of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is that someone.


All eyes turn to Willie. Willie will certainly handle this. Everything will be all right.


When others might go into  semi-panic mode as events unfold, Willie looks as calm as our old cat lying in front of the fireplace. He reminded me of those other kids that had really studied before a test. Nonplussed and unshaken their demeanor is always calming and reassuring.


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Willie’s lesson for all of us is that old saying “Opportunity seldom rises with blood pressure.”


Everyone coming to the Dirty Dog will experience the sense of order that Willie Jones brings to his tasks. Willie has the ability to place the right person in the right place at crucial times.  Smiles are allowed, mistakes are corrected, and the results are apparent, as Willie in his role as Director of Food, Spirits and all that Jazz says, ” WELCOME TO THE DIRTY DOG”.


October is Willie’s favorite month and for the rest of us it is time to get an appointment with someone to check the furnace and to put the summer lawn furniture away. October can be our prettiest month in Detroit with sunny days and bright colored leaves. It is harvest time and we will be getting the last of fresh local produce. It also means that we may be spending more time indoors.


John Osler




Playing indoors at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this October will be:



October 3 – October 6





Guitarist Ron English has had a decades-long career that has spanned a spectrum of musical styles. His new Detroit Music Factory release  Dance/Cry/Dance shows off his command of his instrument and  creative freedom.


“You have to sort of triangulate,” laughs English. “It’s in between. It’s a jazz record. It has a relationship to dance rhythms, out in groove territory, and it uses song forms, with what I like to think are fresh and appealing melodies. But the record also emphasizes the emotional development and storytelling and dialogue in the improvised solos, within the strength of the various grooves.”


October 10 – October 11





A wondrous spirit, Ralphe Armstrong will bring a good argument that Detroit’s  jazz is on  the rise. Ralphe is a true champion of Detroit and of its greatest export, its music.


October 12 – October 13




The multi-talented Freda Payne is best known for her singing career, yet she has also performed in musicals and acted in movies over the years. Freda was born in Detroit, Michigan, Payne developed an appreciation of music at an early age (due to such sultry jazz singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday). She will bring much needed heat to a Michigan fall.


October 17 – October 20





Scott is a major talent who was given a chance to be one of the first to play the Dirty Dog. Every time he has played the Dog he has given back for the opportunity he was given. Scott, as usual, will surround himself with other remarkable players.


October 24 – October 25





Charles is a treasure that keeps being discovered. Each time we hear Charles play piano jazz, what comes through is a freshness and his joy at having a chance to do what he does.

What a treat to have two days with Charles and his friends.


October 26 – October 27





I have known Rodney Whitaker since he was a young man earnestly starting out on his storied career. There is little that Rodney has set out to do that he hasn’t achieved.  He is someone whose personal fortitude has made everyone around him better, just ask the students that come out of his program at Michigan State, or better yet ask his band mates when you catch him at the Dirty Dog this week.

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September 25, 2018


On September 20 there was a groundbreaking event in our town.



Gretchen Valade has a habit of breaking new ground. Last week she took this task literally.



Gretchen took part in a ceremonial groundbreaking for Wayne State’s  Gateway Performance Complex, which will include the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center.

The new complex will include:


  • Three new theaters including: the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center, a proscenium and studio theatre
  • New educational production space for students to hone their skills in performance, design and management
  • A modern café where guests can mingle before performances, during intermissions and after events
  • A patron lounge that allows invited guests to relax and socialize before the show.

Chris Collins, who heads up Wayne State’s jazz program, has a lot to be happy about. The City of Detroit will have in the Valade Center a shiny new venue that will offer spaces for students and professional musicians to perform, rehearse, network and collaborate. Chris reminded us that this is not only the largest gift the WSU Music Department has ever received, it’s the “largest arts gift the university has ever received.”


Gretchen will also donate $1 million for the Gretchen Valade Endowed Scholarship in Jazz Studies, to give scholarships to jazz studies students performing and working in the Valade Center.


Gretchen said, “My love of jazz music and of this great city have inspired and motivated me my entire life,” “I can’t imagine a more meaningful way to combine those passions than by supporting jazz education at Wayne State University.”


Chris Collins added that Gretchen is “something of an angel to jazz in Detroit” as she continues to support the music she loves not only financially, but also by bringing others together to further these initiatives.” “It’s not just financial — it’s her spirit, her vision, her love of artists,”


Gretchen once again has shown that she understands the importance of having venues available for our young artists as well as our established musicians.







There is plenty of music all around us, but it is often in the background while our brain is focused on a task. Getting the time to get lost in some music just isn’t always available. Luckily in Detroit there are earnest efforts to bring our master artists into the community to share their gifts. Providing  an intimate experience with these teachers will assure that many young lives will be richer. I have seen the skill of our jazz educators with their young students and  I have witnessed these kids abandoning their cell phones after being introduced to something new.

This year I hope to spend time documenting the programs and the individuals whose lives will be enriched. I have always been impressed with the ability jazz musicians have to listen to the children. They seem to know how much that listening matters. Maybe it is that listening to others is the key to jazz.







If you want to expand the audience of an art form, you need to get the next generation interested in it. This means that is important to let our kids discover the music themselves, or let them think they have. It is important to let their imagination take over, and to get them out to hear and see live music.





Children learn to think on their feet which gives them confidence to take on complex tasks and problem solving. When children practice creating something collaboratively like jazz they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people. They learn that when they are not prepared or on-time, that other people suffer. Because mistakes are a regular part of the process of learning in the arts, children learn that it is important that when you make a mistake you take responsibility for it. They learn to acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.


They learn perseverance, focus, determination,  dedication and that learning can be fun.



 I got a glimpse of the joy that a great jazz program brings when I was asked to photograph the Jazz Band at Cass Technical High School last spring.




Keeping the joy and exhilaration in our hearts is a lifetime job, if we are lucky.


John Osler


This is a reminder that the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is a kid friendly place, meaning children of all ages stop by to escape and get lost in some music. Sitting in a comfortable chair and listening to jazz artists explore new places requires limited training.

September 26 – September 28





Gerald Gibbs loves what he does. He plays the Hammond B3 organ, and plays it, smiles and plays some more. Here is what James Carter said about Gerald:


“Gerard is basically a continuation of the organ tradition. Playing with him is like getting together with family. He is an individual that is always looking for new things in the music,” When Carter assembles an organ trio, Gerald is the organist he wants.


September 29





Mack Avenue Records star, pianist Connie Han will appear in full force for one night at the Dirty Dog.


Try to catch a live performance of one of jazz’s hottest new stars.

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September 19, 2018


Dave Bennett will be playing for four nights at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this week.



For all four nights the place will be packed. it will be jammed with those who have an appreciation of jazz roots. They will be treated to being only feet away from musicians who share their love of jazz and will be playing it about as well as anybody could. They will unabashedly play music that makes one feel good to be alive.


Last week I shared an email that I received from a New York resident and Detroit jazz fan Yvonne Cummings that is worth repeating.


Good Day John:


This was the 4th year in a row that I have attended Detroit’s Jazz Festival.  It is by far the greatest festival I’ve ever attended.  What impresses me most is not only the cross section of music artists; both local and world renowned, especially Detroit’s own but the commitment of this festival to youth through providing high school and college students with an opportunity to present to a wider audience as will as giving them intimate exposure to the professionals, and where they can grow as musicians by participating in jam sessions.  As a native New Yorker I am jealous that we do not have anything as big, organized and cohesive as Detroit’s Jazz Festival. My other observation has to do with the wide spread support of jazz by local people; I haven’t witnessed such support in NYC at any venue whether free or for charge.  As an African-American I’ve been concerned that knowledge and legacy of  jazz may be lost to NYC youth. In NYC it is very rare to see more than a hand full of  younger African-Americans at jazz events; usually they feel like AARP gatherings.  It is wonderful to see kids in attendance, without their parents, at times with younger siblings in tow.  This festival gives me confidence in the future of jazz because of it’s commitment: to providing a venue for young musicians to improve, to support local artists and to expose everyone to the music.  Jazz is alive and well in Detroit.




Yvonne Cummings


Yvonne’s comments refer to the Detroit Jazz Festival but could also be directed to anything that Gretchen Valade has touched. Yvonne would have remained put in the Big Apple, except for Gretchen’s love of jazz and her determination to see that everyone gets a chance to hear it. Without Gretchen we would only have politicians making speeches in Hart Plaza on Labor Day, and our local artists and soon to be artists would not have a chance to be honored and discovered.






Manhattan’s 52nd Street, 1948. Photo by WIlliam P. Gottlieb.

Gretchen Valade found herself in school in NYC, and was introduced to jazz. In the 1940’s, New York’s 52nd Street and Greenwich Village were littered with jazz clubs.


52nd Street was also called”The “Street”, The Street  of Dreams” or “Swing Street.”  After going from club to club  on 52nd Street, it was only a short cab ride down to Eddie Condon’s in Greenwich Village


These were musician friendly places where the artists could have their mail forwarded and were given a chance to be heard by the crowds stopping on their way to and from the theatre. Gretchen Valade discovered jazz at places like Eddie Condon’s.  On 52nd Sreet she may have seen Art Tatum play piano at the Famous Door, Coleman Hawkins at Kelly’s Stables and Willie “The Lion” Smith at the Hickory House. Bright lights might have drawn her to the 3 Deuces, the Onxy Club, 21 Club, Jimmy Ryan’s, Leon & Eddie’s.  Artie Shaw, Billie Holiday, Erroll Garner, Oscar Pettiford, Jack Teagarden, J.C Heard, and Count Basie all played “the Street.”


So many clubs all packed together created a strong sense of musical community. Artists could play a set at one club and walk to another to either listen to or sit in with another band. This created an exchange of ideas which pushed the music in new directions. Young musicians got to play with established masters. There existed a sense of solidarity and democracy that kept the music alive for three decades until the clubs gave way to new construction.


I had a chance to spend time on 52nd Street in the fifties and bought the mandatory two drinks at Eddie Condon’s. You never knew who would show up and sit in. Jack Teagarden might drop by with his trombone to play duets with “Wild” Bill Davidson.


Fortunately for Gretchen and me, we probably heard more jazz masters in one evening than most get to hear in a lifetime.




Entrance to Condon’s on West Third, NYC, 1945. Photo courtesy Hank O’Neal


Without the existence of these clubs so many of jazz’s pioneers wouldn’t have had a place to pioneer, and Detroit wouldn’t have one the world’s greatest jazz promoters.


Dave Bennett and jazz musicians from around the world now have a showcase like Gretchen’s Dirty Dog Jazz Café. Our young musicians, as Yvonne Cummings noted, have a chance to be heard. Today Detroit continues to be a destination for jazz lovers.




We can be thankful that Gretchen needed to open a jazz club like Eddie Condon’s just down the street, create a record company and save our jazz festival. It was all because of what she learned while at school.


John Osler



Sept 19 – Sept 22


Dave Bennett has promised us that he will bring some heat and smiles to those coming in hoping to find the same energy that Gretchen found on 52nd Street years ago.




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September 11, 2018


The 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival revealed again the resilience of our jazz music and showed us what it takes to keep the music alive and strong.






Detroit was shining bright even when the sky was dark and threatening. The Detroit Jazz Festival always seems like it needs to be tested to see if it can still handle adversity. Again it proved that Detroit’s most joyous annual event can’t be put down by some dark clouds filled with lightning.



Detroit continues to show the power of our diverse community. It helps us through the adversity that we manage to face together. This year the weather caused delays and cancellations, and yet the crowd hung around and filled the venues once the all clear was given. Civility reigned and the musicians appreciated and responded to this town’s enthusiasm for jazz.



We have always known how important jazz is to Detroit and how fragile the health of jazz in Detroit can be. Without vigilant action this free wheeling form of music could easily be lost in the latest musical moment. Once a year we get proof that there are Detroiters who don’t want to see this happen, and there are many of us who benefit from all their work.




Many of those who show up at this purest of all jazz festivals come in from out of town. I was in the Mack Avenue Records talk tent where I had a chat with a visitor from New York City. Yvonne Cummings, like many who travel to the festival, makes a circle around the festival dates on her calendar. I asked her why she keeps making the effort to return to this jazz festival. What she said made me proud of our city. I asked her to stay in touch and  write to me her impressions of the festival.


Here is her reply.


Good Day John:


This was the 4th year in a row that I attended Detroit’s Jazz Festival.  It is by far the greatest festival I’ve ever attended.  What impresses me most is not only the cross section of music artists; both local and world renowned, especially Detroit’s own, but the commitment of this festival to youth through providing high school and college students with a opportunity to present to a wider audience as well as giving them intimate exposure to the professionals and where they can grow as musicians by participating in jam sessions.  As a native New Yorker I am jealous that we do not have anything as big, organized and cohesive as  Detroit’s Jazz Festival.  My other observation has to do with the wide spread support of jazz by local people; I haven’t witnessed such support in NYC at any venue whether free or for charge.  As an African-American I’ve been concerned that knowledge and legacy of  jazz may be lost to NYC youth.  In NYC it is very rare to see more than a hand full of  younger African-Americans at jazz events; usually they feel like AARP gatherings.  It is wonderful to see kids in attendance, without their parents, at times with younger siblings in tow.  This festival gives me confidence in the future of jazz because of it’s commitment: to providing a venue for young musicians to improve, to support local artists and to expose everyone to the music.  Jazz is alive and well in Detroit.




Yvonne Cummings



There is a lot to think about and to be thankful for in what Yvonne has told us. She has seen the results of having music and the arts in our schools. In the past we have had excellent teachers in neighborhood classrooms who have sent well equipped students into advanced music programs with the skills and passion necessary to succeed.


Yvonne’s image of our musical vitality is reassuring but is in danger of fading away.  Funding for the arts is drying up and fewer and fewer young students are familiar with America’s gift to the world, jazz.




Wednesday afternoon I received Yvonne’s email and that very night her thoughts were brought to life by an event that I caught at the Dirty Dog. Sean Dobbins Sextet was scheduled to come on stage. But for the first half hour we had an unannounced treat as a quartet of young jazz artists started the evening. They showed us that the music is still being passed from one generation to the next. This was done at one of the premier jazz clubs. It is however a Detroit jazz club and proves Yvonne’s point. We care about our youth.



Following an excellent set we heard appreciation showered on the club for the opportunity given to these young players. The quality of the music showed the presence of some good mentoring. All six of Sean’s band turned out to be teachers and professors.





Thank you Yvonne for reminding us that we are pretty lucky to have those who continue to support jazz in our community. Thanks to all who keep the music alive.


John Osler




September 12 – September 15





It is recommended that you make your reservations as soon as possible. Kimmie Horne is fast becoming a Detroit legend.  Other singers are starting to try to sing like Kimmie Horne




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September 4, 2018




Every year I think that the new jazz year starts with the Tuesday following Labor Day. The previous jazz year wraps up as I walk out of Hart Plaza, turn around and regretfully say goodbye to the Detroit Jazz Festival. This year the threats of a serious thunder storm interrupted the festival on several occasions. This year’s festival will still be considered one of the most successful according to the unofficial international smile meter. It was a remarkable display of resilience as the crowds took cover and reappeared when the weather cleared. The Detroit Jazz Festival is special because those who show up know jazz and accept the stuff that comes with it.





The festival is appropriately held on Labor Day weekend. However, metropolitan Detroit doesn’t take that weekend off. Everyone has a venue to go to and they are all  terrific. There is little reason to go out of town, with the absolute jewel being the Detroit Jazz Festival, where our community puts its soul on display. Every year we show off what we do best, exposing the roots of our music, pain, shame, joy, resilience, cleverness and a lot of kindness. The 2018 festival added some extra zest to its jazz. It seems as though we always get more than the planners planned . There was again something in the air that was inspiring the jazz artists. The crowd got it and showed their appreciation. Then musicians caught the fans’ vibes and used them. Everyone knew that something beautiful was going on.



This mutual respect is what  makes this festival unique. The crowd sitting on hard concrete seats become one with musicians sitting in their more comfortable chairs. They start to move together, everyone swaying, clapping with subtle foot taps, all of this movement synced to the music. I am often aware of the powerful connection between the artists and a Detroit audience.


Hopefully some city planners might have wandered in amidst this four day event held right in the middle of downtown. This is an event which takes the assets that exist in the city and shares these assets among a diverse and deserving following. Downtown Detroit glows with all the mutual respect. The planners will see examples of renewal happening  stage after stage and bands taking a solid foundation and building on it. It’s a pretty good model for our future growth.





The festival doesn’t happen without serious people planning and industrious people making it happen.



Detroit Jazz Festival Director Chris Collins


Thanks to all the great musicians for coming back and reminding us why you do come back. Thanks to all the staff and the volunteers who are often too busy to enjoy their own efforts.







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For 39 years I have seldom missed a Detroit Jazz Festival. I am a proud REGULAR. I have many reasons to not want to miss this unique Detroit event. One reason is that it is free. It is also close by. Then there is the music and food, which are terrific. But it is the chance to be around the many others like myself who tend to be proud of their town that brings me back time after time. These are the regulars. They can be counted on to know the music and a lot of the musicians. They know why they are there. These are the the familiar faces  I want to walk up to and say hi. I don’t know their names, but that doesn’t matter. They are friends.




This magical Detroit Festival is a magnet for so many pure jazz fans from Detroit and in growing numbers folks from other places. The world’s largest free jazz festival through the years has attracted many guests to the city who regularly plan their end of summer weekend to be part of our festival. Their presence is a big salute to those who work so hard to keep the festival at such a high level.




Tom and Gretchen   



Two of the regulars are Detroit’s grand champion, Gretchen Valade and Tom Robinson.


Her touch is seen in all those things that work so well at the Detroit Jazz Festival. Her vision will always be on display during the four festive days. Every note will reflect her passion, integrity  and vitality.


Tom quietly has done all the things that have been  necessary to keep the  Festival on an even keel. Both are essential regulars.









The crew from the Dirty Dog will wrap up their stuff from the Dirty Dog tent Labor day evening and begin getting everything ready at the Dirty Dog. They will be ready to keep the music going and welcome everyone back.




TAD WEED 1957 – 2018


” Pianist Tad Weed displays a very rare ability to cross over from dashing bop lines to rich impressions, he has the bases covered, from funky blues to the border of the avant-garde.”  -Leonard Feather





Last week we lost a friend and one of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café go-to musicians, pianist Tad Weed. Tad’s trio graced the the club many times. Tad was a deeply knowledgable musician and a skilled pianist. Tad was sought after to be a bandmate and loved as a person. Tad will be missed.



John Osler











Drummer Sean Dobbins will continue the high level of excitement from this year’s Detroit Jazz Festival.




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August 27, 2018



Why would the smart gang at the Dirty Dog think of moving the operation? The answer is: they are going to take the operation to  where the best jazz in town will be playing. The Dog is setting up its operation in downtown Detroit right in the middle of the Detroit Jazz Festival. Maybe, they are just pretty smart.











Gretchen Valade is Detroit jazz’s guardian angel. She is also someone who defends her right to do things well. Her love of music and food meant that it will be possible to enjoy the Dirty Dog fare while listening and watching great acts at the jazz fest.






Now in its 39th year, the festival will take place from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius . The festival offers educational activities for adults and children, fireworks, late-night jam sessions, rare opportunities to meet the artists and much more. And it’s all FREE.


People know that Detroit’s festival is special. From all over the world jazz lovers circle the date of the Detroit Jazz Festival. Those who come find jazz of great intelligence, energy and purity. There is little hype and  a lot of music. Visitors learn that Detroit can throw a festival, and we will again  get the credit for doing something right. This year’s festival will  attract upwards of 750,000 people who will spread the good word about Detroit.


How lucky for us that it was someone of Gretchen’s integrity who took charge.  She was determined to keep the event Detroit’s event. Today it remains free for all to enjoy and reflects the best side of Detroit’s character.


Gretchen has made me aware that the festival doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, hard work, attention to details and oversight.  It’s not just casual oversight. but oversight that comes with purpose and a respect for the music and the people of Detroit.  Good fortune is with us as it is Gretchen on the watch.


She gets things done with grace and authority.  The festival is the result of the right people doing their best to provide Detroit music lovers the best free Jazz festival in the world.  Gretchen continues to think ahead of many of us and doesn’t skip out on the job.


For four days at the end of summer the best of Detroit can be experienced in our downtown.  The most knowledgeable group of Jazz fans will be  treated to great Jazz.  Nothing is done all year that doesn’t have these fans in mind.  Crowds will drift from venue to venue while behind the public view crews will be taking care of all the details that that will make the 2016 Detroit Jazz Festival a glorious success.  All the hard work and planning will pay off. Meanwhile Chef Andre Nemanis  and the Dirty Dog staff will be serving  some sumptuous savory barbecue to some lucky jazz fans. All thanks to  the planner in chief.






A community of like spirits will gather to celebrate the music and good fellowship.


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while the scent of Dirty Dog barbecue wafts its way up Woodward Avenue drawing us in for some chow and a beverage.


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This could turn out to be a good move. Enjoy!


John Osler



September 5 – September 8





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August 21, 2018



We just returned from vacation. We drove through lush deep summer Michigan landscapes and eventually landed back home in Detroit. We passed by a lot of green forest and yet to be harvested corn and other crops. Michigan has a dense beauty that is reassuring and seemingly unchanged through all the  years that we have been doing this trip. Detroit is changing, and as we approaching Ann Arbor and then Detroit we were reintroduced to competitive traffic and purposeful activity.


We returned to television, phones and the news that Aretha Franklin had died.





I also returned to the Dirty dog Jazz Café where I listened to Rayse Biggs, Buddy Budson, Dave McMurray, Sean Dobbins and Ibrahim Jones remind me that all the good stuff is still around and still comes out in the music.






August brings us plenty to celebrate in Michigan . Crops that were planted this spring are ripe and ready to eat. We will be able to eat breakfast on the porch and dinner outdoors on pleasantly warm summer evenings, Music concerts and festivals abound.



August in Michigan requires restraint when entering the grocery store and special caution when you come upon a fresh fruit stand. This is loose clothes season in Michigan. Our great local produce starts showing up, and it all goes well at a picnic. At the Dirty Dog Chef Andre and his crew will use Michigan’s rich fresh bounty that is  available only at this time of year. Standing and clapping will help balance out the mouth watering fare at the Dirty Dog.






We returned at the end  of our local blueberry season. The slogan Pure Michigan  is pasted on most cartons of these succulent berries. The State of Michigan has for a long time run commercials  that highlight the natural beauty of Michigan.  This glorious state has inspired an appropriate ad theme. I believe that Detroit should think of incorporating one of its greatest assets, the rich music scene, into all of their promotions. We draw millions of visitors to our music festivals because the world wants to know what authentic new music Detroit has come up with.  Detroit shows off its musical riches  with free outdoor music concerts downtown almost every weekend. Labor Day will bring to downtown Detroit  one of the world’s finest music festivals, the Detroit Jazz Festival. We need to think about promoting our city with a product that already exists – our music.





Last week we lost Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin was pure Detroit. Every time I heard Aretha I wondered why she took so much risk. There was always a feeling I had that maybe she was reaching too high. She took us with her out onto  musical limbs, then she would leap up to higher scarier  limbs and then she would soar into new previously unknown places.  When she took us on her journeys, I found great relief and joy when she landed. She was remarkable. Luckily she shared her gifts with the world.


Here are some things the world said.


They talked about her roots being in gospel and in Detroit, about how she also drew on jazz, the blues, rock and, later, opera, about how her unique and majestic swoops and squeals combined the improvisation of jazz, the hurt of the blues and the force of rock.


Amanda Petrusich, a staff writer atThe New Yorker wrote.

When Aretha sings “Amazing Grace” in a church, it’s suddenly not a song anymore, or not really—the melody, the lyrics, they’re rendered mostly meaningless. A few bits of organ, some piano. Who cares? Congregants yelling “Sing it!” None of it matters. I’m not being melodramatic—we are listening to the wildest embodiment of a divine signal. She receives it and she broadcasts it. “Singing” can’t possibly be the right word for this sort of channelling.


To listen to Aretha Franklin now is to hear everything—everything that came before her, each strain of American blues and jazz and gospel and soul, all the musical traditions people leaned on to stay alive, and everything that exists now, all the singers she gave license to, everyone she taught. Her death is in all of us, as her songs are in all of us. She is as immortal as can be.”


Mary J. Blige

“Aretha is a gift from God. When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing.”

Barack Obama added,

“Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.”



The Queen is gone. Long live the Queen!


The world praised Aretha, acknowledged her faults and eccentricities and in their praise there was a little envy. Not everybody can have the skill, surety of self and the courage to talk about their pain and joy, Not everybody can be from Detroit.

“Looking out on the morning rain
I used to feel so uninspired
And when I knew
I had to face another day
Lord, it made me feel so tired
Before the day I met you
Life was so unkind
But you’re the key to
My peace of mind.”

It’s good to be back home.

John Osler






Detroit keeps on giving. New talent (no pun intended) keeps coming forward. Renewal continues to keep Detroit at the forefront of jazz. This will be jazz singer Nicole New’s first night at the Dirty Dog.








Freddy Cole is not new to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. Freddy reminds us that it is OK to smile with pleasure at a jazz club. His minimalist piano and clear warm vocals are a perfect fit


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August 14, 2018



We expect so much of August.

All winter long we think of August and thawing out. August is the time we like to  join the family for an adventure, along with every one else. In France the whole country seems to take August off. August is usually a month when things shut down, slow down or just don’t seem important. Congress usually sneaks off on a month long recess, and nobody misses them. These are the lazy days of summer, but it often requires hectic work to maneuver the crowd in the family car and at the overbooked and seasonally overpriced  motel. Oh well, the kids will get a break from the back to school ads in the morning paper.


I am a lucky guy. Every week I have the opportunity to leave a challenging world, enter the Dirty Dog Jazz Café and get lost in the music. Everyone needs a place like this and not all are as fortunate as I am. Sometimes I get to take a longer break from the things outside my control.

Every summer I take a break from the sounds of power mowers, TV, my aging, faltering and frustrating computer, traffic and political noise, I spend as much time as I can in an environment where you have to listen carefully to hear the sound of an eagle’s wings as it flies overhead. A place where one can make peace with oneself and recharge ones’ good feelings about our world.

Before I left for vacation a couple of friends at the Dirty Dog asked if I would bring back photos of the remote place that I was escaping to. Here is where we go, and at the bottom of the page are a whole bunch of the threatened vacation photos.


Lake Saganaga lies both in the US and Canada. The American side is completely in the well known Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The north shore is all part of Quetico Provincial Park, another wilderness park where no motors or cabins are allowed. The rest of the lake is in Canada’s Verendrye Provincial Park where there have been no new properties offered since the 1950s. It was an affordable place when six friends had a chance to buy an existing property. It has changed very little in since then.

Lake Saganaga  is one of many lakes that are part of the Precambrian Shield that was formed by violent volcanic uplift and then vigorous erosion. Glacier movement during the ice age scraped off all the top soil revealing  some of the world’s oldest exposed rock  -almost 2.7 billions years old. It also tumbled large pieces of very heavy rock off the islands that they formed. They remain today in the place where this force placed them. Many are just under water where  I can run our boat over them and seriously damage the outboard motor. This lake has a history. Life can be found in the form of fossils of algae that date to 2 billion years old. We still can find cedar trees that are figured to be 700 to 1100 years old surviving in the shallow soil that exists today. There are underground fungus that could be 1500 years old. This is a raw place that takes patience and shrewd planning to survive.


Lake Saganaga has been a destination for our family along with a family of close friends  for forty seven years. How the heck we  have pulled this off is still a mystery to me. The first time that I came to this lake it was in October to fish with some friends who grew up near Duluth. They didn’t seem to notice that it was 33 degrees and raining. I spent a whole lot of my time bobbing in the boat trying to straighten out a backlash on my fishing reel and watching the cold rain drip off my nose. Once inside the warm cabin with the smell of fresh fish frying and then seeing the evening display of stars and northern lights I figured I could be happy here. The two  families  have shared our summer vacations in a place that is accessible only by boat and has no electricity, no TV, no phones, no internet., no running water or indoor plumbing. We have traded these luxuries in for a place where one can sit in silence, witness beauty, engage in uninterrupted conversation, dismiss worldly concerns and have a private library up the path in the woods.

It is the area where Hamms Beer commercials were shot years ago  to illustrate “The land of sky blue waters.” I think it is beautiful even though it is just grey rocks  covered with  stunted trees desperately trying to survive in the shallow soil. Years ago all the good soil was delivered to Iowa and the Midwest by a massive ice field. It is not a grandiose nor majestic landscape. It demands reverence because everywhere you look is evidence of nature’s ability to adapt. It is what things can look like in the absence of man.



Nature has thrown violent thunderstorms, forest fires and wind shearing fronts at the islands trees. Most bend and those that crack become soil for future trees and a home for an abundance of insects. After all the time that I have spent on this island, I still have daily discoveries of small things that I never noticed before. Nature has had billions of years preparing this place for me. Things in nature make the necessary changes to survive. I can’t help but make the comparison that nature has the freedom to improvise much as the jazz musicians at the Dog have been given this freedom. When we take the time to watch this happen , it can be pretty entertaining.



“The Island” is how our family refers to our destination.

I take a 16 hours car ride to get to the Island. The island is a great place to be, especially on a long summer day. The island is where I have learned to solve some problems using only with what is available, far from stores and tutorials. It is where I visit my deepest thoughts. It is where  the wind and the weather seem most  important to us as we start each day.  We are acutely dependent on their whims. Everything around us has remained little changed since the ice age, yet we are aware of virtually everything evolving around us  throughout every day. A thousand little moments of wonder fill the days.

It is  hard to capture this place with still photography. It is the same as trying to explain a great jazz set with a photo of a guy playing his horn.


In addition to my digital photos, here are a couple of moments that have stuck in my mind.

They made me think of how nature composes a day for us, a day full of varying rhythms and plenty of improvising.

When  I sit and look out at the water while working at a task and take a moment to glance around,  I am reminded that I am just a visitor.

A shadow of a bird passes across the rocks and out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of an eagle. We are constantly treated with new bird calls and behavior.The loons dive from view when they sense there is a camera focused on them, while the Canada jay will eat bread from your hand and pose for its picture, They both have their reasons for their approach towards man.


Small animals are generally silent except for the squirrels who seem always to be in an irritated state and chirp out their dissatisfaction with having so much to do. Everything but the rocks are on the move, and they haven’t moved since the Ice Age.

When I was sitting and writing this I heard a noise on the cabin porch’s roof. Looking out through the screen by the roof I saw a red squirrel lean over the edge and swipe several times at a hornet’s nest, sending the nest and its citizens flying. The squirrel high-tailed it out of there leaving a swarm of newly homeless mean spirited yellow jackets milling around our porch door.


I can hear the steady beat of the lapping water with a back beat of whack,whack,whack from a seriously large pileated woodpecker at work accompanied by the melodic sound of the wind through pine needles. This is interrupted by the sound of the screen door closing followed by shouts and whoops of young grandchildren followed by an adult voice yelling “Don’t slam the door.” obviously forgetting the joy of being young.

Sitting on the cabin’s screen porch I can be completely entertained by the sky over the water. It is raining heavily here while there is sunshine on the lake in the west. The lake is a rich dark gray color with the sun making straight bright horizontal white stripes quickly advancing towards me. Soon the Island will have a rainbow over it as the western sun pours through the rain. I will be under the rainbow but because it is raining I probably wont go out in the boat and look back at the rainbow. It is a shame that we never know when we are under the rainbow. I think most jazz musicians would have the instinct to get in the boat, witness the rainbow and then play it for us.

John Osler


AUGUST 15 _ 18


Rayse Biggs will bring his gravity defying act to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café for four nights of authentic Detroit jazz. Rayse has always attracted talented musicians to play alongside him. Come and hear why.





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August 7, 2018





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Visit the Dirty Dog Jazz Channel on YouTube to view our collection of videos. Watch Now
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
Pepper Adams at the Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, France, July 7, 1978     Born in Highla [..]
  IS THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ THE BEST JAZZ CLUB IN THE WORLD? I will keep asking this question [..]
“No problem” Willie Jones   WILLIE’S CORNER   This week Willie Jones mak [..]
Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.
Scott Gwinell
STARTS: Wed, October 17 2018
ENDS: Sat, October 20 2018
Charles Boles
STARTS: Wed, October 24 2018
ENDS: Thu, October 25 2018
Rodney Whitaker
STARTS: Fri, October 26 2018
ENDS: Sat, October 27 2018
Skeeto Valdez and the Valdez Collective
STARTS: Wed, October 31 2018
ENDS: Thu, November 01 2018
Cameron Graves
STARTS: Fri, November 02 2018
ENDS: Sat, November 03 2018