Tuesday, February 17, 2015


One of the earliest blues guys that we met was Barrelhouse Chuck (aka Charles Goering).  I'd been listening to Ol' Harv playing his records for some time and one day Chuck was Harv's guest, live in the studio.  He was spinning tales about his history in the blues....about hearing his first Muddy Waters record with Otis Spann on piano...and said it was the turning point in his life.  

He said in 1979 he drove 24 hours, straight thru, from Florida to see Sunnyland Slim performing in Chicago.  He spent the next 16 years studying with the master. Thru Sunnyland he met other piano greats, Blind John Davis, Big Moose Walker, Detroit Junior, Little Brother Montgomery, Erwin Helfer and many more.  Chuck spent years listening, learning and becoming friends with his heros.  Learn more about him in his bio.

We finally met Chuck at the Midway Tavern.  I made him a recycled barrel-shaped pretzel jar into a tip jar. He was so surprised and appreciative!  We talked about his love for the blues and our love for folk art.  One day he came by the house and saw our collection...he became as hooked on folk art as we were hooked on the blues.  We have become good friends thru the years.  He always stops by the house when he's in town and stays overnight when his schedule allows.  We usually stay up all night listening to his stories.  Chuck knows EVERYONE...and EVERYONE knows him, just check out some of these quotes by his musician friends.

He was far-thinking enough to save mementos thru the years as he was working with all the blues legends. He's created probably the country's LARGEST COLLECTION of BLUES photos, autographs, posters and THOUSANDS of 78's, 45's, LP's, 8-track tapes and CD's.  Two or three years ago part of his collection was featured at the Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois. Read about it here

You may have seen the movie "Cadillac Records" the real story of Chicago's famous "Chess Records."  The movie starred Beyonce as Etta James and the musical soundtrack featured our friends: Kim Wilson on harp, Billy Flynn - guitar, Larry "the Mole" Taylor - bass, Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, and others.  A couple years ago Kim got the same group together for an extravagancy at the famous Apollo Theatre, "Howling for Hubert" as a tribute to the late Hubert Sumlin.  They backed Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Vaughan, Lonnie Brooks, Shemekia Copeland and many others. Check here to see some of the folks Chuck's recorded with.

In 2010 Chuck produced an album called "Rocking My Blues in Chicago" for Lluis Coloma...who Chuck calls "the world's best boogie boogie piano player."  Louis is from Barcelona, Spain.  He came to Chicago to record the album under Chuck's direction.
Lluis respected Chuck as Chicago's #1 traditional piano man.  We were lucky when Chuck brought him and Erwin Helfer to the Midway for an piano only extravaganza.
Lluis liked my art and wanted to use images on the new album.  We were thrilled when he used 7 photos of my stuff on the album cover and booklet.  Watch Lluis play Coloma's Boogie.

One of our favorite albums of Chuck's is called 8 Hands on 88 Keys.  It was recorded in 2002 featuring Pinetop Perkins, Erwin Helfer, Detroit Junior and Chuck.

Chicago's #1 piano man is always in demand for concerts and recording sessions in America, South America and all over Europe.  Thru the years he has picked up a truck load of awards from blues magazines and societies all over the world. His latest, was from the Blues Music Foundation, being nominated for "Traditional Blues Album of the Year" recorded with Kim Wilson. And he's been nominated as "Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year" for the last two years. 

Sheila and I, are proud to call Chuck a friend
Chuck is Sheila's Hero

A Great Vocalist


Chuck visiting Our Folk Art Collection

Monday, February 16, 2015

JOHN NEMETH at the Midway Tavern

Last night in Mishawaka it was 3 degrees outside...but our friend John Nemeth sure warmed things up inside the Midway.  He was a little late arriving from Memphis (it's amazing that he made it at all considering the weather).  John brought along Travis Swanson, Matthew Wilson and Danny Banks.  Just like we expected....it was a FANTASTIC SHOW.  It was the first time Sheila did't get to go because of a recent surgery (she's doing GREAT!).  But, my friend Ed Berry was there with me.  There was a full house....jumping and jiving.

As you might know, 2014's number one selling blues album was John's "Memphis Grease" and he won the title "Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year."

This year will be even better.  He's been nominated by the Blues MusicFoundation for:
          Album of the Year   "Memphis Grease"
          Song of the year "Bad Luck is My Name" written & performed by John Nemeth
          Soul Blues Album of the Year   "Memphis Grease"
          Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year 
          Band of the Year  "John Nemeth and the Bo-Keys"
And the one he deserves most....B. B. KING ENTERTAINER of the YEAR


He's a fantastic entertainer and a great guy....and doting Father.  He has a young son named Otis.....I made him this plaque.


YES...I made that sign, too!

When we met him 5-6 years ago...we knew he was heading for the top...HE MADE IT!
If you get a chance to see him and his great band...DON'T MISS IT!

Keep Checking this page...we'll be adding stories & photos!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

HONEY PIAZZA Pulled us into the Blues

I have to admit that we wasn’t always into the blues. But I’ve always been a fan of Click & Clack - The Car Talk Guys.  Every Sunday I’d listen to them on WVPE - Public Radio.  They would go off the air at 1 pm and then the next program was Ol’ Harv with the Blues Revue.  

While working in the shop on Sundays I’d usually just leave the radio on….but sort of “tune it out”.  One day sometime in the late 90’s all of sudden there was a dynamic piano boogie-woogie.  IT GRABBED ME!  After about 6 minutes this gal said “that was the ‘Stinger’....Jimi Bott on the drums”.  A guy (who I later found out was her husband}...said “If that ain’t the boogie...you ain’t gonna hear it here today!”.  I WAS BLOWN AWAY!  I called my wife who was working at our Nostalgia Store in the mall and told her what I’d just heard.  

I started listening more intently to the blues show. The following week....There was that song again. It was by Miss Honey of the Mighty Flyers a west coast award winning blues band, led by her harp playing husband Rod Piazza.

This time I called Sheila and she listened to the entire boogie and said: “ we must have that CD”. A few weeks later that great band was to play at the Midway Tavern in Mishawaka, unfortunately we both had to be out of town and had to miss it. We stopped by the bar and asked the nice lady if she’d buy us one and we could pick it up later….we paid her and she said “sure”.  A few days later she dropped it off at our store in the mall.  That’s how we met the owner, Albertina Wassenhove

That CD was Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers live at B B Kings in Memphis.   That CD turned us into blues fans. It’s still available at Amazon.  Here's the Link

The following year that same band was the headliner at a Blues & Rib show at St Patricks Park.  We caught their show…it was FANTASTIC!  We’re Mighty Flyers fans for life!  

The Mighty Flyers are 5 time winners of the “W C Handy Best Blues Band Award” and Rod has won for best Harmonica player and Honey has won for the “Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year Award”…it’s a great band!

Later on we got to meet Rod and Honey…..I made them some personlized folk art and they became folk art collectors.  Anytime they were within 100 miles, we’d travel to their shows. Everytime we’d see them we’d trade folk art for CD’s.  Because they no longer travel as much by van, we don’t get to see them as much here in the midwest.  They still work the west coast shows, but only travel to major festivals, Blues Cruises and they still work festivals in Europe.  We still consider them good friends and stay in touch via emails back and forth.

We’ll be forever grateful to Honey and the “Stinger” for opening up a whole new musical world to us.  We never miss Ol Harv’s radio show and still attend lots of shows at the Midway Tavern.  We’ve learned that the blues people and folk art people are so much alike….good “down to earth” folks.  It isn’t about money, fame or ego…it’s about the music and the art.  We’ve found that musicians like folk art and folk artists love the blues.



Tuesday, February 3, 2015


We are so fortunate here in the Michigan area, to have one of the finest blues venues in the country. It's the MIDWAY TAVERN located at 810 W. 4th Street, Mishawaka, Indiana.  The Midway has a long and storied career...starting in 1924 as Martha's Midway Lunch operated by Albertina's Mother. Martha is in the Bartenders Hall of Fame...she tended bar in this same room for 67 years. You'll find her story in the "People Magazine" archives.  Famous people like Al Capone and Knute Rockne were regulars, as was many of the Notre Dame folks.

The bar has original fixtures and lighting ....it looks like "time stood still" over the past 60-70 years.  The walls are covered with hundreds of photos and hundred of autographs of folks that have played there.  Albertina has been running the bar since the sixties.  Being a lover of music and a great dancer, she keeps the bar going thru good and bad times.  It's no longer a money maker for her but she says that she will keep it open "till the money runs out".  

Being centrally located between Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis she's able to draw big names in the blues scene on the day before or day after shows in the major cities. Where else in a 1920's bar will you see major national acts like: Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, Rick Estrin & the Night Cats, Deanna Bogart, Pinetop Perkins, Kim Wilson, Michael Burks, Barrelhouse Chuck, Willie Smith, John Nemeth, Popa Chubby, Bryan Lee, Eden Brent, Davina and the Vagabonds, Blue Lunch, Nick Moss, Mississippi Heat, Jimmy Thackery, Bruce Katz, Doug Deming, Dennis Gruenling, Walter Trout Band and on and on.

If you'd like to learn more about the bar WATCH THIS VIDEO

I do all the signs for the Bar and made her Birthday card and the Model above (12" x 20").  Albertina saves all her beer bottle caps for us to use in our folk art.  I made her the bottle cap flag here with 1024 red, white and blue bottle caps.


OL' HARV....A Salute to a blues friend of ours...

Before I get more into a listing of friends that we have made in the blues world I want to give a "shout out" to the guy that got us hooked on the blues.  Our friend, Harvey Stauffer, better known as "OL HARV" is a veteran blues DJ. He's on public radio station WVPE - 88.1fm in Elkhart, IN. Harv never planned to be a radio man...but he just filled in of a couple weeks 30 years ago and hasn't figured your how to stop.  That's right he's been on radio every week for 30 years (live or on tape). His show is Saturday and Sunday from 1pm - 4pm. It's broadcast locally and is streamed live on the internet...you can tune in from anywhere!  He's also the frontman for the Elwood Splinters Blues Band (Northern Indiana's Finest).

I wasn't always a blues fan, but Ol Harv converted me.  He plays current and classic blues and tells lots of interesting stories. He says that at 15 he bought an album of B.B.King live at Cook County Jail and he was hooked for life.  A couple years ago, the Blues Foundation in Memphis awarded him the radio version of the "Keeping the Blues Alive" award.  After returning from Memphis he stopped by the house to show us his trophy.  Here he is with Sheila in our living room.   You can listen to Ol Harv live here - Sat-Sun 1-4pm (eastern time)  

L to R: Deanna Bogart, Armita (Harv's wife), Me, Sheila, Ol HarvMike Hepner (former Elwood's keyboard man, now working in Las Vegas)
I Made this for Harv's Anniversary Party

Monday, February 2, 2015

Howdy ya'all....I bet you're wondering what has been going on with us this last year.  I'll tell you...it's been hectic to say the least.  Last year we re-did our 10 year old website that was getting a little "long in the tooth".  We just got it revised and working when we were informed that our NEW eCommerce provider was going out of business.  So....we have had to start from scratch with another provider.  Our web master, Matt, has been working his tail off to try to educate us "old folks" on the new world of the internet.

In the next month we'll be posting lots of new content.  This page "OUR MUSICIAN FRIENDS" will feature photos, stories and links to our great good friends in the BLUES MUSIC WORLD.  We are so very fortunate that thru the years we have met and become friends with most all of the top names in the field.  

On these pages we'll post upcoming shows, photos and interviews with blues guys and gals, and links to other BLUES related sites.     PLEASE CHECK BACK OFTEN!