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Our family would often head out on a Friday evening in our VW camper van to hear some music. . I would call from work really wired and burdened with unresolved problems that I knew would still be there on Monday. I chose not to face the house repairs and the cleaning up that filled too many weekends.We never told our three kids that that the reason to leave was to escape our weekend responsibilities. I would ask my understanding wife to prepare for a road trip. We would head out with a destination of a ragtime or bluegrass festival whenever possible. Sometimes it was a beach or antique shopping adventure but for the family the music  brings back the most enduring memories. We would head out as soon as I got home. I was probably not going to be able to sleep, so I drove as the kids slept. We often made the evening shows. We seldom took the freeway and stayed on the blue roads. We wandered. Only a family could tolerate such a lack of certainty. These were magical times and for me a great release of tension. I still depend on music to escape my darker moments.

I have raised three children, all of whom have a sense of adventure and a dependence on music. Family can be a powerful force as we travel our separate roads. When we take off in a direction together, like spirits can produce some serious positive energy.


Our family became regulars when a band called Straight Ahead played locally to an audience comprised mostly of their friends and family members. Our son Bill, a young musician , got a chance to hear and talk to one of  his heroes, the drummer Gayelynn McKinney.  I have a vivid memory of  seeing both of their smiling faces as they talked. Gayelynn later played at his wedding rehearsal dinner, again, they both were smiling.

“Family” is used metaphorically to include a social unit of any size that shares common values. A family of musicians would accurately describe the band Straight Ahead.  They are such a good story. This group was formed 25 years ago by assembling some of Detroit’s best musicians who happened to be women, They also were friends. They certainly have shared many common experiences and values. They are also equally  incredibly talented individuals. Like any family they have, at times, gone  their separate ways,  but they always come back to the nest to play some great jazz together.



This week the band Straight Ahead, starting Wednesday, will be at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café among friends. It will be kind of a family gathering.

Straight Ahead, like our family trips, doesn’t always follow a straight path in their music. They have a lot of fun getting to their destination and the patrons of the Dirty Dog will be caught up in their journey.

Straight Ahead  is a Detroit jazz ensemble and has a name that rings true for them.       They have gathered  a group that has  stayed on course. They have stayed true to each other while showing up and bringing it every night. This is what you can expect when you come out to see these Detroit musicians whose straight line has taken them around the world and straight back to the Dirty Dog.

For four nights we have a chance to scrap all our responsibilities and spend some time with family at the Dirty Dog.

John Osler







Straight Ahead rhythm remains anchored by Marion, Gayelynn and Alina                        with  Kymberli Wright on vocals and saxophonist Yancyy.



Here is a piece from Straight Ahead’s debut album Look Strait Ahead:

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