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Michigan Boogie Local Bands

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The local music scène is showing plenty of signs of life lately with the end of the year bringing about changes in a number of bands. There's been lots of activity going on: some groups losing old andor adding new members with a few new bands emerging, with most all of them showing enough potential to make it worth keeping your eyes and ears on them. First off Lightnin' has undergone some restructuring in the past month or so with lead vocalist Scott Morgan and bassist dropping out but they definitely haven't stopped rocking. Instead Al Jacquez has taken over most of the lead vocals with keyboard whiz Tim McCoy and drummer Dave Morgan (Scott's brother) both taking on the singing duties on a couple of songs each. And Mark Gugeon has been added to play bass and flute and to sing a few tunes himself. They've been playing around for a few weeks now and sound surprisingly good, especially so soon after the change. With time and work their music will start tightening up even more so make sure and check out the new Lightnin'. Scott and Terry are working out a new band with guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith and bassistkeyboard man Michael Davis. Smith and Davis are veterans of the legendary MC5 and if you don't remember them from then you might have caught them playing around last summer as Ascensión. There's no name for the new unit and they're still working at finding the right people to roundout the group but they should be playing jobs within the next few weeks. You might even be able to catch them at the Primo in the not too distant future. Another ex-member of the MC5 and Ascensión , drummer Dennis Thompson is rumored to be in the Murder City working on a new band with bassist Ron Cook and none other than Mitch Ryder. Mitch was last heard to be working with Wayne "Tex" Gabriel but there's no word on whether Gabriel is in the new band which is going to be called the Detroit All Stars. Cook played with Ryder in Detroit and was featured on their album playing bass and singing lead vocals on "Box of Old Roses" and between him and Thompson this band is gonna have a strong rhythm section. Up until lately there's been a real shortage of powerful, top quality rock and roll bands and if these guys click it couldbe a real boost for the local music scène. Rusty Day's Detroit band lost a couple of memDers recently with Big Bill Hodgson dropping out to work a job and bassist Nathaniel Peterson Jr. also left to work with Catfish guitarist Jody Blair and some other people on a new group called Zoom! Detroit also recently left the management of Rainbow Multi-Media. Tm hoping for a chance to see how Detroit has adj usted to the changes and see how they sound now but it seems as if they aren't playing much locally. They just returned from a couple of dates in Iowa and I know they have added John Seeburg on bass with guitarist Steve "Crawdaddy" Gaines taking on Big Bill's lead parts as well as amply covering nis own. Another Ann Arbor band, UPRISING, has been coming on really strong for the past couple of months, fast developing into one of the hardest driving groups around. Now the lead singer Leon Mills is on the sidelinesthey"re gonna have to work hard to fill the gap. A lot of people might think this to be the end for UPRISING and I' 11 admit León would be a hard one to replace, but don't count these boys out quite so fast. They'll be back kicking out some more of their red hot rock and roll at the Primo on Saturday, Jan. 19. The local boogie and blues bands have also been going thru the changes too. Donnie Backus, a local boy who's been in the San Francisco bay area for awhile playing with both Knee Deep and the Crabs recently returned to Ann Arbor where he linked up with the Mojo Boogie Band. It was reporte to me that Donnie's a boogie woogie piano player and that he's been known to play some nasty electric guitar. He can also sing and must be a plus for the Mojo's because Tve been hearing alot about them lately even since they turned it out at a Pass It On Freedom School benefit at the F. imo. It'sgood to see them getting a little more notice and ïwSe they won't have to die a forgotten death in the Tree City. They're trying to branch out a bit more travelling to Chicago to play a total of six nights this month (Jan. 17-19 and 24-26) at Mac Arthurs Pub, and they should be appearing at Lizards in East Lansing in the near future. You'll definitely be hearing more about these guys shortly so stay tuned. Leon Mills, lead singer for UPRISING, was injured in an accident on New Year's Day and it looks as if he's gonna be out of action for awhile, unfortunately. León has been on the scène since around 1966working with a number of different bands and musicians and you might have seen him rocking with the old Brat band a few years ago, or else in the past year with UPRISING. He helped form both these bands and supplied a large amount of the drive behind each group. Both of which gained a relatatively large local following without being able to break out on a large enough scale to make the whole thing pay off fïnancially, One of the most underrated musicians on the scène today, Leon wrote almost all the lyrics to UPRISING'S original material as well as helping arrange the musical end and handling a large majority of the bands vocal works . A master showman Lee was always trying to do his best on stage, always dancing and moving around but it didn't conflict with his singing abilities in the least. I can remember watching him singing and really putting it out when suddenly he'd do the splits and silde down to stage level only to twist and do a couple of quick pushups. Then he'd spins back up and dancin' and prancin', styling as fancy as any lead vocalist you'll find. Whew! Whether regularly fronting the explosive UPRISING or in more recent times, occassionally catching the groove with RADIO KING and his Court of Rhythm. Leon is an exciting high energy vocalist and performer and undoubtedly one of the best in the MidWest, so we wish the best of luck, GET WELL, Leon! Look in a future SUN for the first part of a series of articles on the local bands and music scène, and don't miss Bob Seger at the Primo Jan. 23 and 24, nor the SUN benefit at the Primo on the 1 3th with CJQ and the Vipers. The SUN benefit will be broadcast live on WCBN-FM starting around 1 1 p.m.