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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 JAZZ CAFE BLOG
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
May 17, 2017

 

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Ralphe Armstrong at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

Photo: Hour Detroit magazine

 

 

World-renowned bassist and Detroit Music Factory recording artist, Ralphe Armstrong, is a regular performer at the Dirty Dog. You’ll not only hear him perform there with his own band, but with other groups including the Detroit Jazz Festival Allstars and many others.

 

 

This week Ralph is celebrating this birthday, which is May 17,  and it so happens he’s performing at the Dirty Dog this week from Wednesday 5/17/17 to Saturday, 5/20/17. He will be joined by Alex Colista on saxophone, Gary Schunk on piano and Gayelynn McKinney on drums.

 

 

Ralph Armstrong is one of Detroit’s best musical ambassadors and loves promoting this city’s impressive cultural history while performing at home and around the world.

 

 

This legendary Detroit born bassist, who like so many others, went to Cass Technical High School and Interlochen School of Fine Arts in northern Michigan. He’s played with the likes of Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, John Mclaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Larry Coryell and Jean-Luc Ponty to name a few.

 

 

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The Mahavishnu Orchestra circa 1974, Ralphe is second from left.

 

 

For a more extensive look at his background as a musician please check out the link below for an exclusive interview from 2010 with Jon Liebman from “For Bass Players Only”:

 

Interview – Ralphe Armstrong

 

Most Ralphe Armstrong fans know that he’s played with incredible artists over the years, but not everyone knows that his father, Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong is national treasure and a celebrated musician who, among other things, was part of the popular group “Martin, Bogan and Armstrong”.

 

 

Howard Armstrong was playing the mandolin by the age of ten, and by his mid-teens he was a professional musician. In the early 1930s he performed as "Louie Bluie" after meeting guitarist Ted Bogan. Their career as string band musicians was disrupted by World War I1, and it was not until the 1970s that he rejoined his old friends to begin a second career as a musician and entertainer. Here, he performs at the 1997 Chicago Blues Festival. Chicago, Illinois, Photograph by Jack Vartoogian

Howard Armstrong  at the 1997 Chicago Blues Festival. Photograph by Jack Vartoogian

 

 

These excerpts from his New York Times obituary tell us more about this extraordinary American artist’s fascinating life:

 

Howard Armstrong, (1909-2003), the last guardian of a vanishing African-American tradition of string-band music…played 22 instruments although he was best known as a fiddle and mandolin player.

 

He performed with a virtuoso’s panache, pleasing audiences with fast fingers and a droll stage presence. His repertory included blues, standards, country tunes, rags, work songs, jigs, reels, polkas, spirituals, Hawaiian songs and international songs in the seven languages he spoke. His gifts as a musician and raconteur were captured in a 1985 documentary by Terry Zwigoff called ”Louie Bluie,” a nickname that Mr. Armstrong got from a drunken fan in the 1930’s….

 

His music went out of style after the war, and from 1944 to 1971 he worked on the Chrysler assembly line in Detroit.

 

But in the 1970’s that music was rediscovered, his music career revived and he reunited with Martin and Bogan. They played a weekly club date at the Earl of Old Town bar in Chicago, made albums, including ”Barnyard Dance” (Rounder) in 1972 and ”That Old Gang of Mine” (Flying Fish) in 1978, and appeared on Steve Goodman’s 1975 album ”Jessie’s Jig and Other Favorites” (Red Pajamas).

 

They also began touring, playing at coffeehouses, folk festivals and on a State Department tour of Central and South America.

 

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In 1990 Mr. Armstrong received a National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Mr. Armstrong released a solo album, ”Louie Bluie” (Blue Suit), in 1995, and it won a W. C. Handy award from the Blues Foundation.

 

Ralphe Armstrong might be bringing a special acoustic bass, made in 1843, to play this week at the Dirty Dog that he hasn’t played in more than 7 years. He told me that it was recently getting repaired after it was damaged at an airport while he was on tour.  He’ll most likely tell us more about this special instrument that he said sounded very beautiful…almost like a violin.

 

For performance information and reservations call the Dirty Dog at 313-882-05299 or visit DirtyDogjazz.com

 

 

 

Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.

 

 

 

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