Thunder Bay Blues Society’s Big Fall Event

By Ken Wright

Thunder Bay blues and R&B lovers are in for a real treat at the Thunder Bay Blues Society’s annual big fall event, Friday November 25 at the Rock House with Detroit-based blues and R&B dynamos Laura Rain and the Caesars. Laura Rain and her tight three-piece band draw inspiration from the very best of Motor City’s musical traditions, playing John Lee Hooker blues, Aretha Franklin soul, Bob Seger rock, and Motown funk.

Since forming in 2012, they’ve embedded themselves in the Detroit music scene, with six Detroit Music Award nominations in 2015 including a win for Outstanding Blues Songwriter. Rains and the Caesars have continued to turn heads with the release of three critically acclaimed CDs and a heavy club and festival tour schedule throughout the US, Canada, and Paris, France.

A classically-trained soprano often compared to Aretha Franklin, the vivacious Rain has shed any of that genre’s staid restrictions while retaining her audience-captivating vocal power and expressive emotional range. Tom Hyslop of Blues Music Magazine calls her “a force of nature.”

Dissatisfied with her initial musical forays, Rain moved to Los Angeles where she met her current band leader and co-songwriter George Friend. A collaborator of blues goddess Janiva Magness and rockabilly idol Robert Gordon, his deft guitar touches are the perfect foil to Rain’s vocal prowess. The Caesars’ blue ribbon pedigree is rounded out by keyboard and bass player Phil Hale—a veteran of the scene who has played with Martha Reeves and George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic—and drummer Ron Pangborn.

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