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A Perfectly Tuned Evening Every Time...
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.
Archive for
Upbeats With John Osler
February 12, 2018



The whole world was beginning to experience an economic tsunami in 2008. In our corner of Michigan there was little traffic on the roads and even less traffic in upscale stores or restaurants. For most of us the mention of the year 2008 still sends chills up our spine. It was exactly at this moment in one of the hardest hit places in the world that the idea of a creating a jazz club in an upscale neighborhood was born. How it came about is such a good but sort of crazy Detroit story.





If you have been to the Dirty Dog you already know how the story ends. Most jazz artists proclaim that this is the best jazz club in the country and perhaps in the world. Customers try to keep it a secret so that they will find a place the next time they come. It has become a symbol of excellence in the delivery of music, food, service and smiles.


In 2018, after 10 years of respecting everyone who comes in the door they have established a refuge for kindred spirits. Here in a posh neighborhood where they consider a 60 foot elevation a hill and most streets have British names sits a magnet for a very diverse audience for America’s music, jazz. With its humble roots jazz still has the power to inform our souls. It has complexity and intensity and its appeal is growing. It is democratic, expansive and can be difficult to play. It thrives in the hearts of the curious.


The Dirty Dog Jazz Café remains the home for good jazz and good ideas.











Gretchen Valade                                 Tom Robinson


Andre Neimanis                                     Willie Jones



In 2008 Gretchen Valade was in a better place than a lot of Detroiters. She had property and wasn’t in danger of losing it. She just had to decide what to do with it. She asked a friend, Tom Robinson, who was helping her with some construction and then with the creation of Mack Avenue Records. They also wrote some music together. He never said “Start a jazz club”. No one did. Gretchen, however, didn’t hesitate to fulfill her passion to have her favorite music just down the street. She thought about the possibility to have her empty building serve good food and good jazz. Her answer was, “Why not?”. Gretchen as usual thought about what it would mean for others. This directive continues to keep the Dirty Dog moving in a positive direction. Tom has made Gretchen’s ideas work. Against all odds with trust and patience they have together stumbled on a pretty good plan. A plan that has lead to having a world class jazz club just down the street.




Success sometimes comes to those who just stumble on it.


Gretchen , once she had the vision for her place, had to make some key hires. She didn’t waste time. Why not get her favorite sous chef from down the street, Andre Neimanis. Why not?! With Andre on board she would need someone to run the front of the house. Well Andre had recently worked with  a pretty square guy for only two days. Those two days were enough, and Willie Jones, one of the city’s most respected restaurant managers, soon got the call to come and talk to two people with a far out dream.


He remembers his meeting well. Gretchen, hoping to give the project credibility, asked Willie if he knew about Mack Avenue. He thought that this was a curious question. He lived close to Mack Avenue. He said “of course I do.” Gretchen was referring to her jazz label, Mack Avenue Records and liked the answer. He was hired. Trying to find common ground, they found a common road. They have stayed on track ever since.






Do it really well


Respect the music


Treat everyone with dignity


Enjoy the experience





Tom Robinson would often roll his eyes at many of Gretchen’s impulsive decisions and then turn her visions into reality. Today we can see the results of an accumulation of Gretchen’s “Why nots?” and Tom’s “Let’s do it”. Her instinct to hire quality people has paid off. Chef Andre’s menu has won many awards, including Hour Magazine’s prestigious “Restaurant of the Year” award and twice was the magazine’s “Chef of the Year”.  The Dog’s success also stems from Willie Jones’ ability to pass on to the staff his work ethic. Willie is a proponent of everyone serving with “all eyes on everything”. The quality of every detail is everyone’s responsibility. Willie has a steady hand and a wry smile, just like jazz.


The Detroit Jazz Festival continues to grow in stature with Gretchen’s support and guidance. Mack Avenue Records, founded in 1998, just achieved eight Grammy nominations at the 60th Grammy Awards Jan. 28, 2018. This was the most of any independent label of any musical genre in a single year. Tom Robinson who is CEO of Mack Avenue said. “We had eight nominations in five categories,”  “In three of the categories we were competing against ourselves.”




Maybe they knew what they were doing


Throughout the life of the Café, Gretchen’s good natured spirit has guided the management, the staff and the music. Decency, listening and sharing have always  been the bulwarks of jazz. Using these strengths the Dirty Dog Jazz Café has becoming possibly the greatest jazz club in the world. Stumble on you Dirty Dog.


John Osler










It is appropriate that Dennis Coffey will be kicking off the second decade of music at the Dirty Dog. One of Detroit’s most legendary guitarists,  Dennis has been part of Detroit jazz’s  most important moments. He is also the right guy to lead us into new territory.

Come on out and find out where the music is heading.











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February 5, 2018




It is February and spring is just around the corner. However, nobody has told the weatherman


It looks like Detroit will have high temperatures in the twenties this coming week, Your car and house windows will have an icy glaze that would scatter the suns rays  if only we had sunlight in February. This can be depressing.


Polar bear




Bears gather up some stuff and climb into holes for the winter.


Polar bear 2


Bears also tend  to be grumpy.



We do have some better choices. We are an active people and being holed up usually doesn’t fit our nature.







We need to get out. We don’t want to become grumpy and feel hemmed in, but we need a pretty good reason to leave our warm home and navigate the icy roads. We need to find a place that will get our juices flowing again. We need to get warm to our bones.


Just yards from where your car is left for the Dirty Dog Jazz Café’s complimentary valet parking  is one of the warmest places in town. The warmth comes  from the heating system, the music, the food, the pub like atmosphere and most of all a genuinely pleasant  staff.


On these cold winter evenings the Dirty Dog assembles a staff that has rid themselves of any winter blahs. These are the folks who will welcome their guests into  a serene and uplifting experience. This process begins long before any patrons shows up. The management sets the tone and their respect and good-natured work ethic is contagious.




I have had a chance to watch the staff prepare for an evening’s upbeat event. They go about their tasks with a great deal of independence and purpose. Tables were prepared while the kitchen started to hum. The service at the Dirty Dog is a team effort and so is the preparation. This kind of service is not an easy task, and success is not an  accident.  Gretchen, Tom, André, Willy and all the staff seem to like being around each other. The Dirty Dog is a warm place even before the guests arrive.


Once they get settled visitors to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café often find a smile sneaking across their faces, especially this week when Vincent Chandler’s music and good nature can be counted on to pick up their spirits.


Detroit gives talent a chance to shine. Come on in out of the cold.


John Osler




February 7 – 10





Vincent will probably arrive early to the Dirty Dog just to warm up a little. After that the only worry we will have is if he overheats the place. With his reputation he tends to attract some hot cats to play with him. There might be some customers shifting to cool drinks.






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January 30, 2018

I have lived a very comfortable life.  I am also pretty satisfied with what I have. I too often remain in my soft place and just get angry when things go wrong.


Then there are others who stand up and make a difference. Sometimes it isn’t easy.



Painting by William Hahn




One who goes before, as into the wilderness preparing the way for others to follow.








This past week Hugh Masekela, 78, died. During his life he tore up the jazz scene in South Africa and the USA with both his trumpet and with his voice against injustice. He never hesitated to venture down new paths and was definitely a pioneer of South African jazz. He was part of the be-bop sextet, The Jazz Epistles. This group broke new musical ground and attendance records in Cape Town.  Their success came to a screeching halt when the South African government banned public gatherings of more than 10 black people. The ban was put in place following the massacre of 69 protesters by police in a township near Johannesburg. Soon after black artists were forced underground Hugh Masekela  left for the USA and New York City. He never forgot the richness and the trials of his homeland, and his music remained rooted in both the discord and the sounds of Africa. He is quoted as saying, “I was marinated in jazz and I was seasoned in music from home”.


I remember hearing him play in a jazz concert in Detroit and then later when he was featured with Paul Simon and  Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the Graceland tour.


His song Bring Him Back Home made me aware of the struggle to free Nelson Mandela, who was languishing in a South African prison. Hugh Masekela  returned to live in South Africa in 1990 , the year Nelson Mandela was being freed and apartheid was ending.


He ventured out, clearing a way that made it easier for others.





Growing up in a somewhat rural suburb of Detroit I knew of the existence of Africa through Tarzan movies and later the Joseph Conrad novel, The Heart of Darkness . Africa was mostly referred to as the dark continent. It was a mysterious land that was accessible by snake filled rivers winding through dense jungles. At least to a young mind, that was the impression. Geography class brought some light, and then at some point I heard Miriam Makeba and Hugh Maskala’s powerfully emotional music. There were suddenly a lot of bells going off. There was a lot more to this world than I had known before.

To get to know a country and its people listen to the music and the musicians.








a Detroit clarinetist and saxophonist and jazz pioneer who at 75 is alive and thriving. Coming off his great January gig at the Dirty Dog,  he got the news this past week that he was the 2018 Kresge Eminent Artist. This is a lifetime achievement award with a $50,000 cash prize.


Detroit drummer Gayelynn McKinney, also  a member of the Kresge Arts in Detroit Advisory Council, had this to say, “Wendell is like the Energizer Bunny,”   “He never slows down. He’s always striving to learn more. All of us in my generation have learned a lot from him. He’s inspired me to go after what I want, and he instilled in us that you have a responsibility to pass along the information to those who come after you.”


Mostly known with preserving Detroit’s jazz legacy, Harrison had spent time in the thriving New York jazz scene before returning to Detroit. In New York he  performed with such impressive artists as Grant Green, Big Maybelle, and Sun Ra. Back in Detroit he co-founded Tribe, a record label and artist collective. Tribe documented our city’s freewheeling jazz sound and served as an outlet for the black political consciousness.






In 1971, when Wendell returned from New York he reconnected with Marcus Belgrave, Harold McKinney and trombonist Phil Ranelin. Together they.formed the Tribe record label and artist collective. The group also included drummer and composer Doug Hammond, pianist Kenny Cox, trumpeter Charles Moore, pianist David Durrah, and bassist Ron Brooks. These Detroit stalwarts in Tribe started a new dialog in the jazz community and didn’t hesitate to address social change.


Tribe took on a broader community focus with the publication of Tribe magazine, which  explored subjects such as economic injustice, school busing, abortion and police brutality.


“I’m just trying to carry on the tradition,” Harrison said in the news release. “I’m trying to represent the high caliber of artists from Detroit dedicated to jazz improvisation.”



Wendell Harrison, 75, is still searching to find the African roots in the rhythms of Detroit jazz. He has new realms to explore. Pioneers just don’t stop being pioneers.


Like Wendell says,It’s been a long journey — sometimes challenging but sometimes very rewarding,” Congratulations Wendell.


I am struck by the similar paths that these two pioneers have taken. Both have been great musicians, social activists, seekers of truth and ceaseless pioneers in jazz.


Every day jazz musicians around Detroit pack up their gear and head out into the night to their gigs, sometimes into the known and sometimes into the unknown. They may be playing standards with a well practiced group one day and then breaking new ground  the next day. Regardless, jazz artists always have something to say. We listen a little more intently when they push the envelope and pioneer new ideas.


John Osler




Jan 31 – Feb 3





Ian is a Detroit based pianist, composer, producer and educator. He’ll be playing a mix of Jazz standards and his own compositions. In past gigs at the Dirty Dog Ian has created and played an original piece for the occasion. Ian is a class act.




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January 23, 2018









Most Wednesdays at the Dirty Dog you can find Judy Adams sitting at the end of the bar in probably the best spot in the place to see everything that is going on. Often she will be sitting alongside the club’s proprietor Gretchen Valade who also has figured out how best to experience jazz. Judy will turn her bar stool so that she doesn’t miss a thing. That is part of Judy’s DNA. That probably explains why Judy remains one of the most knowledgeable witnesses of the music of Detroit. She has influenced and encouraged many of the artists who come to the Dirty Dog and continues to be involved in Detroit’s music.


When the set ends the musicians make a first stop at the end of the bar to share a hug with Judy. This is an act of friendship and respect. Judy has the ability to document the music scene because of the trust that she has in the community.








I have to confess that I am a bit intimidated by Charles Boles. He towers over me when I am in his presence. Maybe not physically, but he has an aura of knowing what he is doing.. His natural composure is that of a relaxed and confident prankster.


The confidence comes from experience and hard work. He is a product of Detroit’s black bottom neighborhood, which was a cauldron of creative jazz artists. Charles is eighty- some years old now and has benefited from a lifetime of playing with great musicians. It shows in his playing. He has earned the respect of other musicians and those lucky enough to hear him live in a small club.


To better understand Charles I would recommend getting his Detroit Music Factory CD release Blue Continuum and listen to the cut Liz. Charles’ piano expresses a quiet reverence for his late mother Elizabeth. His fingers are placed on the keys with the single purpose to show respect and love for his mother. We can also hear in the song the playfulness and freedom that he was allowed as a child. As a child he was encouraged to play. And play he does.


Charles cd


Charles plays with his quartet every Tuesday night at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café from 6PM until 9 PM.





Charles  sits at his piano and plays great music. Sometimes I think he is having too  good a time. He can also be downright serious. His friends go along with him and together they go to some remarkable places with their music.


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The set was over and the band started to pack up their gear. Barely heard over the rising sounds of conversations was the sound of the Steinway. I looked and I didn’t see anyone. Crouched over and hidden from view was the diminutive figure of Charles Bolles. I hung around close to the piano and was treated to some music from one of Detroit’s most sensitive musicians. His subdued  playing didn’t disguise the skill and touch of a master.


Later I asked Charles what the heck he was doing at the piano after playing  a whole evening of jazz, . He explained that he was playing for himself on an exceptional instrument, a private pleasure. The Dirty Dog  Steinway is special, as is Charles.  Charles has a light touch and a purity of expression that comes from his years of experience. Time has  taught him to skip extraneous flourishes. Every note and chord is important, making the piano more important. They are well matched.


We sometimes take for granted those unique gifts that are in our lives, especially the quiet moments like the lake on a still night or Charles on the Steinway, They are  welcome departures from  the loud and annoying intrusions that more often get our attention.


Charles is a treat to talk to. His music is derived from his life experiences, and he is willing to share. Beware – his smile and the twinkle in his eye are infectious.


One of the genuine treats is to watch Judy and Charles engage. These two diminutive friends have a rare opportunity to look directly into each other’s eyes. They must think that they are looking in a mirror. Warm twinkling eyes full of life and warmth facing off with one another. These two have gravitated to the Dirty Dog probably because there is always a good chance of running into some pretty nice people.


John Osler




January 24 – January 25





Skeeto Valdez will bring his unbounded energy and uplifting smile for two days to the Dirty dog. Wear your most comfortable shoes for tapping.


January 26 – January 27



Jason Marsalis’ vibe quartet


With each passing year Jason Marsalis continues to grow and develop as both a composer and performer. With a fire in his heart and a passion for the music, his will to swing has never been more resolute. The maturity and the command he possesses over his music is clearly evident to those who have heard or seen him.








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January 15, 2018





My mother’s voice was always calm and soothing. She took time from her life to read to me. I still can curl up inside the memory of her pleasantness and the choice of her words.


My father had less time for extended warm moments. His voice was firm, authoritarian and final. It was also loving because he was loving which was reflected in his choice of words.


Martin Luther King Jr came along and just reinforced my appreciation for the spoken and written word.


Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day. Years after his tragic death we continue to honor the man and his words.




 “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”


If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”


“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”


“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”


“…the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”


“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”


I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”


We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”


No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”


“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”


“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.”


“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”


“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” 


Martin Luther King Jr had many gifts. He seemed to see truths clearly. He fearlessly shared these truths  and directed us to take action.  How the heck did one man seem to know so much and also have such eloquence?


Martin Luther King Jr was challenged every day of his life, as many of his messages were inconvenient. Others dismissed him for being an inappropriate messenger. He may never be accepted by some, but the words that he chose will survive for many Martin Luther King Days to come.








Dr. Martin Luther King’s opening address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:


God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.


Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.


This is triumphant music.


Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.


It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.


Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.


And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.


In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.


Everybody has the blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for Faith. In music, especially that broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone to all of these.  







When Martin Luther King gave his speech on the Washington mall he used the phrase, “now’s the time” which rings as true now as it did then. He found this command in the music of Charlie Parker. Dr King was criticized for his urgency to affect change. He, however, felt that those suffering from injustice deserved justice now.





“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”  MLK


“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”  MLK


John Osler






January 17 – January 20








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January 9, 2018


In my last blog of 2017 I recalled my thoughts of the past year that included:



Carl’s smile and Willie saying: DIRRRRTY DAWG!!!


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In response to this  blog, I received a comment from Bettye Wright.




Bettye’s brother, Gene Dunlap, is a drummer, a bandleader and is one of Detroit’s great jazz men. Bettye’s comment takes us far beyond just jazz and this one jazz club, albeit the Dirty Dog is possibly one of the world’s finest jazz clubs. It talked about the kindness and thoughtfulness that comes from being part of an extended family.




Here is her comment:




I needed to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. You are so correct. Carl is so personable, Willie is incredible and consistent, ( he) does not ever seem to have an off day. We were recently there when my brother, Gene Dunlap, was playing.  This month is bittersweet for our family. The staff of the Dirty Dog played such a critical role in Gene’s life


( back in 2016). The love, affection and support ( that was provided ) to Gene when he lost his only child, Brianna, in 2016 was awesome, to use one word .


Thank you Gretchen and everyone at the Dirty Dog,

Bettye Wright



In Bettye’s comment she talked about something that I have observed ever since I first stopped in for a beer and some jazz 6 years ago. The Dog is an authentically friendly place. Everyone is treated as family. Families need a place to talk things out.





Thank you Bettye for sharing your thoughts. It got me to thinking about the wealth of upbeat stories that exist in our community and that this space can help bring them forward.






Bettye Wright’s comment made me realize how important it is to have positive conversations.


This year I would like to start an upbeat conversation in this blog about Detroit, jazz, food, art, and sometimes the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe


The Dirty Dog because of a history of excellence and a philosophy of respect for the music and the listener has been by any measure a success. The Dirty Dog has earned a solid reputation and has attracted customers who have  an interest in jazz and know a good thing when they have it.






 Guest bloggers would discuss jazz and art in Detroit. These bloggers could include jazz musicians and our knowledgeable customers.


My personal insight into what makes the Detroit and the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe click.


There will be a lot to talk about about in 2018 with so much dynamic growth in jazz and Detroit.


We will make it easy to join in the conversation and look forward to an upbeat new year.



The new year at the the Dirty Dog will begin by presenting







Wendell was born in Detroit, Michigan.He studied with one of our great pianist Barry Harris. He began playing clarinet at age seven. He switched to tenor saxophone at 14 when he first performed professionally. His early gigs included backing up Marvin Gaye




In 1971, Wendell returned from New York and reconnected with Marcus Belgrave, Harold McKinney and trombonist Phil Ranelin. Together they.formed the Tribe record label and artist collective.The group also included drummer and composer Doug Hammond, pianist Kenny Cox, trumpeter Charles Moore, pianist David Durrah, and bassist Ron Brooks. The Detroit stalwarts in Tribe started a new dialog in the jazz community and didn’t hesitate to address social change. The jazz community still has a lot to say.


Let’s keep the conversation going.


John Osler




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December 25, 2017





How do we follow a year of positive change like the last few years?  Street lights have come back on. Building cranes can be seen where only hope lived before. Ideas have started to be listened to and financing is becoming more generally available. Detroiters allow themselves some time to enjoy the good things that have always been here. New shiny things have been added, and music can be heard coming out of newly occupied buildings.


Wayne Shorter in his role as artist in residence played four gigs at the Detroit Jazz Festival last Labor day weekend. The crowds who are known for being the worlds most knowledgeable group of fans in jazz were predictably enthusiastic. Despite large crowds there was no complaining,  only appreciation and respect. That was the kind of year it was in Detroit.


We continue to appreciate what we have and we are starting to see our recent good fortune bring a glimmer of hope to all our neighborhoods.


2017 was a pretty good year.


It was a year of change. For many, things were getting better.  For others there was the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, a place that doesn’t chance, a place you can count on , a place where you can get lost in the music, a place  where  there is always  a parade of great musicians and satisfied customers, a place where smiles and laughter were up this past year with pure joy trending in the right direction.


Detroit continued to find new energy, and the music in the city picked up on it. In our expanding  environment we felt confident to take more risk and also to pause and enjoy life. There were transitions as we lost some notables and welcomed in some new voices.


 All in all, it was a pretty good year


Here are some things that helped to make 2017 memorable for me:


 Carl’s smile:




Andre’s food:


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The Dirty Dog’s remarkably good natured staff





The stream of young players who have benefited from a chance to try out their chops at the Dirty Dog.


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All the times I have watched Detroit jazz fans listen with so much appreciation, knowledge and respect.





All the times that I have heard Willie saying: DIRRRRTY DAWG!!!


Willie gently coaxes everyone at the Dog to do their best.







Every once in a while we get a chance to start over. We get a fresh start,  January 2018 could be that moment.. We have a less wobbly base to set out from and more tools available  to reach our goals, It is a good time not to be sitting on our hands while remembering to hold on to the good things that we already have. In this blog I am looking forward to having  conversations about the coming year and the positive events as they happen. I hope to talk to and photograph those who will be helping to make Detroit a better place to live.


In 2018 music and particularly jazz will continue to show us the way in. A couple of years ago, Barry Harris said, after completing a remarkable set at the Detroit Jazz Festival,  “Isn’t jazz beautiful?”,  and it was, Detroiters seem to know that they we can be part part of something special. That spirit will likely continue. There will be new challenges to be faced and new energy to be tapped. We will have new stories to tell about the upbeat happenings all around us.






In 2018 there will be Dirty Dog blogs about  food. Chef André and Chef Eli will help us better understand their approach to preparing the special fare served at the Dirty Dog. They will share with us techniques, processes  and recipes.


We will explore the reasons that musicians and fans make the claim that the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is the best jazz club in America.


The creative process in the arts and music will be discussed with other artists. We will also meet many of the staff and musicians that provide such a perfect environment for all that jazz. We will continue the search to find what makes it tick.


An important ongoing story will be the growth of jazz and the incredible programs  and teachers in our schools. Each month we will feature one of these teachers..The folks at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe will continue to do what they can to bring the story of jazz and its force to the communities.  Jazz will be in good hands in 2018


Our community has passed through some systemic stress and we now sit at a crossroads. We have an opportunity to define our future. Jazz musicians have a sense of vision mixed with a solid foundation that comes from their roots. I will ask Detroit artists what their vision is for Detroit and its music.


The Dirty Dog we will be celebrating the resurgence of live music with innovative programs and adventurous menus. The Dirty Dog will continue to be the place to unwind, to celebrate and to be reinvigorated.




The Dirty Dog is looking forward to being part of your New Year in 2017 and wishing that you may  have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.


Happy New Year,


John Osler





December 27 – December 30 + New Year’s Eve





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December 20, 2017



Santa 12 21 15


DECEMBER 26                                   JOHN OSLER   OIL/CANVAS




It is our good fortune to live in Detroit where one can experience one of life’s great  pleasures  –  coming in out of the cold. On one of our cold and blustery days we are fortunate to be able to go to a warm and cozy place with good food, good drink, good music and good friends.







The Dirty Dog Jazz Café wishes all our regulars, and those who are planning to show up, and all those who won’t be able to get to the Dog yet have the spirit of the holidays in their heart a very merry holiday.


May your heart be filled with warmth, goodwill, joy, and may you find lots of reasons to smile.





Please join us at The Dirty Dog Jazz Café for our annual before Christmas smile exchange.


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This week the Dirty Dog will be prepared to help you celebrate this glorious season. Forget about all the anxieties that tend to well up at the holidays. We will make sure that once you pass through into this cozy and comfortable place you will find a genial staff, a kindly bartender, tasty food, good fellowship and Thornetta Davis and her band, who will chase the loop of bad seasonal jingles out of your head.


We hope that you will join us for an evening of good will and good fellowship at the Dirty Dog, and that you find peace and comfort in your home all through the holidays.


John Osler




Decenber 20 – December 23






Tis the season to be jolly,


Thornetta knows that Detroit knows that the blues are all right. She will take all our concerns on her shoulders and and replace them with some upbeat blues and a few seasonal tunes.





December27 – December 30 + New Year Eve





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December 12, 2017




In Michigan in December we are told that there is a sun. As we don’t see the sun very much, this will take faith. We are told to trust that things are looking up. Those who are doing well have evidence and  trust that this is true, yet many are not so sure. Detroit is a town that doesn’t always fall for the lines “trust me” and ” don’t trust them”. Trust has to be earned. We have learned from experience that creating a solid footing should be available to all of us. Detroit musicians keep showing us the way. In a town rich in trustworthy musical talent bands are formed to play honest music. Trust grows out of rich soil and traditions.



That train under the tree was all I could think about. I was hopeful but unsure that I had been good enough. I don’t think that I slept all Christmas eve. I had faith in Santa being a good guy, but I didn’t trust that he understood how hard it is for a boy to be good all the time. I should have trusted that Santa would do the right thing. We need faith  in something to get a good night’s sleep. The goodness of the Santa Claus story eventually sunk in.




We are indeed fortunate when we have the surety and security that comes with having trust in something. When you are in trusted hands you have the confidence to go out and do your best job possible. The experience of Christmas and jazz just point this out to us.


The holidays are a season of, faith, family and trust. In two weeks Christians will celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus.  Jews meanwhile will be celebrating Hanukah, the festival of lights. We all will be accepting the existence of the miracles that underlie these holidays. This requires faith. Many will see the holidays as a jolly way to end the year.


The holiday season comes along once a year to remind all of us how fortunate we are to have a warm place to land. It is a time when family includes all those around us.






The holiday season asks us to think about the stories that the truly faithful believe. We gladly go along with the uplifting music that is everywhere and seek the warm feeling inside that comes with giving the perfect gift. We watch Scrooge’s transformation into the person that we thought he should be. We seek out our own Tiny Tim. People from all levels of faith will plunge wholeheartedly into the Christmas spirit. Belief comes easily to children, and we make an extra effort not to disappoint them. We will spend a lot of time watching the joy in the faces of children.






When jazz musicians close their eyes they aren’t always nodding off. They are generally on a journey of trust. They are taking off into the unknown with their partners’ wind under their wings. They can do this because they trust that they will have the support of the group and they will be gently brought back to the solid ground and back to the melody. Playing jazz is risky business without the solid foundation that trust in the music and the process provides. The freedom and experimentation that is jazz needs a home base that is built on faith and trust.Trust can only grow when planted in healthy soil. When something is consistent, constant, caring and honest, trust develops.






Letting go of the rope when you are at the highest point and enjoying the adventure is the ultimate show of trust. Trusting that those holding the net won’t disappoint you or that your skill of entering the water will prevent disaster. Without trust in yourself or your mates you probably will hold on to the rope and return to the platform that you started from. You probably won’t get the same level of applause as those who had the trust and the skill.


John Osler




 December 13 – December 16




Gene Dunlap will be our drummer boy this week.  Gene has a history of enjoying playing jazz in Detroit. You don’t have to ask him , just watch him at work. His bio shows us that a lot of jazz musicians have enjoyed playing with Gene.




December 20-December23





December 27-December 30 + NYE Dec 31





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December 5, 2017




Learning jazz musicians secrets.


December sweeps in and challenges us all to remain civil and supportive of others. We are inclined to go into our protective mode. We add layers of clothes to protect us from the chill early winter winds and pad ourselves against our inability to get everything done in time. At times like this I try to be around creative people who welcome challenge and confront obstacles as part of their gig. I have noticed that so many relaxed jazz musicians who slide out of the cold and into the Dirty Dog seem thrilled to have this gig added to their busy schedule. This makes me wonder what is it about musicians that they can shake any  anxiety and just get lost in their music.


To play jazz you must carefully listen to one another, and you must be free to focus on the task at hand. Jazz musicians are remarkably good at clearing their heads. It could be that they just know how to enjoy and relish the moment. This allows them to smile their way through December.



Finding time to listen when you  don’t have any time.


Before I went into the hospital for surgery I was afraid that my fears of something tragic happening would rise up and cause me harm. My son Bill sent me a list of calming techniques that would put me me in a good place while I waited for surgery. Lying on the gurney with my mind racing, I wished that I had taken the time to read them. We are at a time of year when things pile up, and we have a very real deadline. Christmas. We are also in a time of needing support and some comforting conversations with some smiles embedded. This is a difficult period with its unspoken demands that this coming holiday season should be a constant joyous celebration of life.



Finding peace while getting all your shopping done


It is called the holiday season because you feel like you have been placed in a fry pan for some seasoning at a low simmer. Everything is stacked against you. Starting in December we will have little sunshine and more darkness and in Michigan we will be guaranteed to have unseasonable weather. We are asked to shop at a time when stocks are running short and the only parking places are at the other end of the mall. Exiting the shopping center your spirits probably won’t be lifted by the gloomy bearded guy at the end of his shift eying with disapproval your donation of what was left in your pocket.




You should be watching your weight and your alcohol consumption exactly when you  need it the most. There will be little solace and understanding drifting your way from the family and friends who don’t really have time, what with all their shopping and getting things ready. Understanding, merriment and glee will be talked about soon enough, probably after Christmas dinner if you live that long.


It is the season for decorating, forgetting, procrastinating, intimating and neglecting.








Break the cycle and take someone with you for a night out for some good food served as if you deserved the best. Top it off by getting lost in some jazz. Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Café hosts spirit lifting live jazz from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.

John Osler



Stop by for an Aguanko December jazz excelsior that blends hot Latin rhythms with calming Caribbean melodies.   STARTS: Wed, December 06 2017  ENDS: Sat, December 09 2017  



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