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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin



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 for a romantic night out.

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