411 Club brings the blues back to west Michigan

(Photo Courtesy Pam Elliot) Magic Slim and The Teardrops gave Kalamazoo a taste of the blues on Sunday at The 411 Club.

By Andrew Minegar

Western Herald

When Mr. Wonderful’s Funky Basement closed, many were singing the blues, but now there is a new place where people can actually listen and the name of that place is the 411 Club.-

The 411 Club, at 411 N. Westnedge Ave. is located in the same building as the Metro Diner and Nightclub, which opened on Friday Aug 28 to a packed house listening to the Out Of Favor Boys.

“We were extremely honored when we were asked to do the first night,” Danny Ouellette, a guitarist with the Out of Favor Boys, said.

“The first time I came down to do a sound check I was shaking.”

The idea for the new club came from owner Marty Spaulding.

“Kalamazoo needed another live music venue and I just happened to have some extra chairs,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding also said that the 411 club will feature national, regional, and local bands.

“We’re pretty much doing a blues thing right now,” Turk Machin said, a booking agent for the club.

“We’re talking about a couple headlines a month.”

The first national headliner 411 booked was Magic Slim, a Chicago blues singer, and the Tear Drops.

Before Magic Slim finished his show he called Spaulding to the stage and asked him to pick some people out of the crowd to replace the Tear Drops.

Out of  nowhere Spaulding started calling out blues musicians that littered the crowd, like Patrick Banks, a former base guitarist for Seventh Son.

“I like this place,” Magic Slim said in an interview after the show.

“And I would love to come back and get to know the people.”

This Thursday, Sept 11, Out of Favor Boys will play  and Seventh Son will play on Friday.

“We want song writers,” Spaulding said.  “No cover-bands and no screaming.”

Even when there isn’t a venue band playing, the Out Of Favor Boys will be hosting a “high-end” blues jam on Thursday nights from 8 p.m. to midnight.  Ouellette said the jam is being set up so beginning musicians can see how things are done.

“We want to make it worth the time of the very best musicians to come out and play,” Ouellette said.

The bar itself is non-smoking, though there is a large courtyard with tables for the smokers.  There is also a nice selection of beers.  It set up in a way that everyone can see the band, even an enclosed area with a pool table has a monitor set up to view the stage.

“I think this is a pure act of genius,” John Hall said, host of the WRKR Sunday Blues Show.

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