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“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.


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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