Two well-known blues musicians come to the Ellis Library & Reference Center to honor the late Bill Reiser.
The Bill Reiser Memorial Blues Concert is Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Library, 3700 S. Custer Rd. Admission is free; the public is welcome. The doors open at 6.
Pianist Mark Braun and storyteller/musician Reverend Robert B. Jones Sr. will share their music and memories of Reiser during Saturday’s concert.
A critically acclaimed blues and boogie-woogie pianist, Braun is popularly known as Mr. B. The Michigan-born artist has traveled the world providing concert performances and educational programs.
“Learning his craft firsthand from the early masters, he is a rare living link to the first generation of blues and boogie pianists,” said Barbra Krueger, public affairs coordinator for the Monroe County Library System.
“Reverend Jones is an inspirational singer, songwriter and storyteller. He is an award-winning self-taught and multi-instrumentalist. A Detroit native, Reverend Jones has been performing nationally and internationally for nearly 30 years,” Krueger said.
“When you engage artists of this caliber, people connect to the music in a profound way, it’s transformative,” said David Tamulevich, President of Tamulevich Artist Management. “It has been a privilege to work with Bill Reiser. His energy and passion made all of this possible.”
Longtime librarian Reiser, who died in December 2021, was best known for coordinating the annual Black History Month Blues Series. He affectionately referred to it as “the Monroe County Library System’s award-winning history lesson with a backbeat.” This blues series is Michigan’s longest-running annual blues celebration. It has been recognized by the Public Library Association, the Michigan Library Association, and the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. In 2009, the Blues Series received the Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Education from the Blues Foundation. It is the most prestigious award given to non-musicians.
“Bill has always been an enthusiastic and friendly partner, committed to providing the best possible experience for his audience. He was highly qualified as a curator and an impeccable host as a moderator. We will miss his curiosity and warmth and will always remember him fondly. We were all very happy recipients of his knowledge, professionalism and dedication to his community,” Braun said.
Reiser’s tenure with the Monroe County Library System began in 1987 and spanned more than three decades.
“He was a fierce advocate of intellectual freedom and of library services. He was also instrumental in the renovation of the Ellis Library & Reference Center in 2011. Nancy Bellaire, Director of the Library, said: “Bill was a giant in our library system whose leadership touched so many lives. I appreciated his humor, insight and camaraderie. His absence is still felt by friends and colleagues alike.”
The event is hosted by the Friends of Ellis library system, Monroe County Community College and the DTE Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Library Friends Group. The event is supported by the Michigan Arts and Culture Council. On the Internet: Website at www.mymcls.com.