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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin


John Osler Santa oil/canvas


Living in Michigan in the month of December is a challenge. It is November without the promise of of a few warm days. The notorious lake effect, shortened days, first snows and the threat of winter can take a toll. Five of the ten cities with the most depressing winters are located downwind from one of the Great Lakes. Lake-effect cloud cover makes winter sunshine a rare sight in these places. Great lakes means Less sun, Overcast skies, Overwhelming depression and general Malaise.


Gloom is partial or total darkness, a dark or shadowy place or lowness of spirits. 

Gloom is an amorphous melancholy that can exist in even perfect conditions and thrive when it seems that things aren’t going to get better, like December in Michigan.

We can get some comfort knowing that there are forces working to keep gloom at hand.

There will be no more grass cutting or yard work for a while. Longer nights mean that we will have more guilt free time to hole up and read. A sighting of the sun, a smile or a small act of kindness can make a difference. A place where they are dedicated to lifting your spirit can make a big hole in the gloom.


I have little to complain about in my life even on a wet dark December day in Michigan. It is hard though to get up from the couch and go into the unfriendly environment of early winter. It doesn’t take long once I come through the door at the Dirty Dog to realize what a smart move I made to show up here.

A place where a busy staff always seems to be enjoying their tasks.

A place where there is warmth built into everything.

A place that has gloom resistant walls

Even before the music starts, the center plated portions of food arrive, and the beverages take effect, the art scattered around the Dirty Dog will start to lift all grumpiness out of your life.

The walls are covered with whimsical images of dogs, jazz artists, cupids and more dogs.

If this doesn’t cheer you up the club will bring in seasonal decorations that just add to the warmth of the place.

It is a place that serves up antidepressant jazz music.

The finisher is the act of getting lost in the music. Gloom is a goner, joy wins again.

It is a place where I can look at one of my paintings that hangs on a wall in the Dirty Dog.

Ron Carter; Musician, Legend and Cass Tech Graduate

All winter, very time I look at this painting I think back to a warm summer day.



It was a beautiful summer day and I had a lot of outdoor projects lined up. In the morning of this near perfect day I learned that the jazz legend Ron Carter was going to be at the Dirty dog Jazz Café. He was in town and offered  to spend some time with fortunate local high school students from the Detroit Jazz Festival program. Reluctantly I said goodbye to the warm sun filled backyard. I packed up my camera,  I headed over to the Dog, and I went out of the sunshine into one of my most soul enriching experiences of 2016.


The students had arrived and set up to play some music. There was some youthful jabbering until Ron Carter arrived. Ron Carter looks as good in person as he does on his CD covers, only taller and even more elegant. He introduced himself to a suddenly very quiet group of young jazz musicians. He asked them to play and soon with some gentle nudges a relaxed band entered into a shared learning experience. Here was a player of jazz music who has had an entire  lifetime at the top of his craft listening carefully to some Detroit kids starting out. His taking the time didn’t go unnoticed.

Ron Carter was gently but firmly showing our next generation how a man acts and a jazz man plays.

Another way to chase the blahs is to settle in with a good book.



If you want to learn something about jazz in Detroit, this is the book. Mark Stryker covered music and art for The detroit Free Press for 21 years before leaving to write this book.This is his take on what has kept Detroit constantly producing so many influential jazz artists. Mark has the advantage of having been there. The reader benefits from Mark’s relationship with Detroit’s jazz artists. He has asked them  direct questions through the years and has gotten honest answers. This process came from his deep personal interest in how and why  Detroit with its ups and downs has seen its music persevere and thrive. His personal insights makes this book stand alone.  Mark explains jazz in Detroit  Mark has the skills to make it come alive. He ties together a lot of things we already know. Free up some time by the fire for this new book.


JAZZ BOOK cover4


Documenting The Legacy Of Gretchen Valade

Cover photo of Will Austin at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café

If you ever want to be reminded of the great story of jazz and Detroit in photographs, you might consider picking up the book, DETROIT JAZZ  Documenting the legacy of Gretchen Valade. The book is a collection of my photographs of Detroit’s great jazz artists shot at venues that have been made possible by the generous acts of Gretchen Valade. It is my  attempt to document the results of one woman’s dream,  I wanted the world to know that Detroit’s jazz community has never faltered.The photos are witness.I would like to thank all of the local and national artists who performed in these venues. Opening the door to this remarkable world were Gretchen’s right hand, Tom Robinson, Chef André Neimanis, Manager Willie Jones and all the staff of the Dirty Dog. Thanks also to the Detroit Jazz Festival and it’s director, Chris Collin. Special thanks to Gretchen, whose strength and foresight have provided the gentle push for both the music and this book. I hope that the book respects and honors all of the artists, Detroit and Gretchen.

If you ever want to be reminded of this great story of jazz and Detroit in photographs, you might consider picking up the book.

Here are some pages from the book.

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detroit Jazz 10 0432
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detroit Jazz 10 0414



You can order the book online on Amazon or for a signed copy contact us at or call John at 313.886.4728 and we will get books out to you.

Let your good nature prevail. Quit moping. Kick dreariness out of your life. Bring your good nature out of hibernation. Enjoy December in Detroit.

John Osler


December 4 – 7

John Osler                                              Dave                                                               oil/canvas


Dave McMurray edits everything out except his personal thoughts, his power and his compelling spirit. Detroit knows David and Detroit know jazz.

One of the jazz world’s greatest spirits will strip away any of your late winter blahs this week. Bring your most youthful attitude. David deserves and accepts applause


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