The Robert Lockwood Jr. All Stars

Wallace Coleman

As a youth in eastern Tennessee where country & western music still prevails, Wallace Coleman was instead captivated by the sounds he heard from his radio late at night. It was Nashville's WLAC and they were playing ...the Blues. The sounds haunted him by day where, he says, "I would be sittin' in class and hear the Howlin' Wolf singin' just as clear in my head..."

It was on WLAC that Coleman first heard those who would also become his greatest musical influences: Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Wolf, Muddy Waters. Creating and laying down the guitar foundation on many of those recordings was Robert Lockwood Jr. - a man who, some 25 years later, would play a pivotal role in Coleman's future.

Coleman left Tennessee in 1956 to find work in Cleveland, Ohio. He found steady work and, to his delight, an active Blues community where Jimmy Reed, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, B.B. King and others came to perform.

A self-taught musician, Coleman played the harmonica on his breaks at work. One day a co-worker brought his cousin to the jobsite to hear Coleman play. That meeting sparked a year-long pairing with Cleveland's Guitar Slim at the Cascade Lounge. A real Blues juke joint setting nestled in his city of Cleveland where he could play good old Blues was more than Coleman thought he could ask for.

But the next step was just around the corner.

The Cascade Lounge is where Coleman caught the ear of Robert Lockwood Jr., who had come to hear him play. Lockwood liked what he heard. He asked Coleman to join his band. Coleman had a while longer to work in order to retire from his full-time job. Lockwood asked Coleman to call him after he retired. One year later, Wallace Coleman did retired, marking the end of his 31 year career at Cleveland's Hough Bakeries. Then he made the call to Lockwood as promised.

And at the age of 51, Wallace Coleman joined Robert Lockwood Jr.'s band...marking the beginning of his professional music career.

Soon he was traveling throughout the United States, Canada, and overseas playing major Blues Festivals and clubs with one of this American artform's most creative architects.

For the first time, Lockwood would be performing his own music and the songs of his step-father, Robert Johnson, accompanied by harmonica. He asked Coleman to find ways to bring his richest harmonica tone to these songs. An innovator himself, Coleman created and developed 3rd position harmonica parts that perfectly complemented Lockwoood's guitar.

Lockwood knew that Coleman had a lot to offer with his playing and singing and recognized that Coleman should form his own band. As time went by, Lockwood encouraged him to do just that. In 1997, Coleman left Lockwood's band, graduating to the post of full-time bandleader. Shortly before leaving, Coleman recorded with Lockwood on his Grammy-nominated "I Gotta Find Me A Woman."

Coleman's introduction to the 1950-60s Cleveland blues scenemeant seeing as many of the touring artists as possible. IN the 1960s, Lockwood and Sonny Boy Williamson II, who had been performing together in the south, made their way to Cleveland via Chicago, taking up residence and performing.

While COleman would not meet Lockwood until much later, Coleman often went to see Williamson perform at local venues. The two became friendly, discovering they lived only several blocks apart. Williamson would soon depart for Europe while Lockwood made Cleveland his permanent home. The elders of the Blues inspired Coleman, whose time as a young man new to Cleveland and hungry for the Blues would shape his life for years to come. Little did he know that he would one day take the stage, recognized for his own artisty and contributions.

In the 1940s, Coleman's mother, Ella Mae, saved her money to surprise he young sone with his very own radio. The gift opened a new world to young Wallace when the Blues arrived on the nightly radio waves of Nashville's WLAC. They were sounds he'd never heard before. And sounds that would always be with him from then on. Coleman established his own record label, now named Ella Mae Music, in honor of his late mother.

With his Ella Mae Music lable, Coleman produced four CDs - "Stretch My Money," "Live at Joe's," "The Bad Weather Blues," and the newest, "Blues in the Wind" Remembering Robert Lockwood Jr. all critically acclaimed in the US and abroad.

Crazy Marvin

“Crazy Marvin” Braxton, born May 30, 1943 in Cleveland Ohio had music put in his soul, as do so many of the greats, by his mother and father who played the piano in church. He got started by blowing on a tuba, but quickly discovered a harmonica, won a talent contest at the famed Leo’s Casino in Cleveland, found himself on stage being introduced by Ray Charles at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, … and has been making folks smile and dance ever since.
Possessing the heart and mind of a naïve youngster, Marvin just has a knack for crazy light-hearted and musical FUN. Marvin has found himself in some crazy moments, rubbing elbows with famous musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Sly & The Family Stone, Buddy Miles and recalls the time he helped George Harrison push his broken down Volkswagen up Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. No stranger to the Blues, he has worked many odd jobs, including a stint caring for horses at the tracks in Louisville, KY.
Marvin has been scuffling, playing the blues clubs around Cleveland, Ohio for decades, and still performs, with a pacemaker now installed, ….CRAZY MARVIN’s got the BLUES and is still “whippin’ n’ dippin’ and Gettin’ on down”.
Marvin will be the center of attention at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio this coming Sunday, May 27th from 1 to 4 pm as the local Musician’s Union and Cindy Barber (owner/Beachland Ballroom) throw Marvin a Birthday Blues Bash to which YOU and the public are invited !

Bob Frank

About Bob Frank Cleveland Magazine said, "Aside from being an accomplished guitarist, Frank boasts a encyclopedic knowledge of old-time country, blues and bluegrass music." The Free Times added, "Frank is a first-class guitarist and vocalist." Jazz and Blues Report added, "A sure-fingered, veteran player, skilled in a wide spectrum of black and white roots styles, Frank comes off as a performer with a strong sense of identity." And in a recent cd review, Vintage Guitar Magazine said, “Frank is a first rate songwriter and a champion guitar player.”

A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Bob spent eighteen years as the leader of the Hotfoot Quartet, touring throughout North America and recording several albums. As a sideman he has worked with Robert Lockwood, Wallace Coleman, fiddler Howard Armstrong, the Falls City Ramblers, and British bluesman Long John Baldry. Bob has played many different kinds of music including bluegrass, old-timey, swing, rock, reggae and Caribbean soca.

As well as playing guitar and serving as one of the bands lead vocalists, Bob contributes as the primary song-writer in the band. He also acts as producer for the band's recordings.

During the day Bob works through Young Audiences, performing traditional American music assembly programs for children. He has done over 3000 of these programs in schools throughout the United States.

Bob is also one of the founders of the Cleveland Blues Society. He is currently a board member of that organization and serves as the director of the educational committee and the historical committee.

Recently, Bob has returned to his longtime interest, coaching baseball. He is currently the assistant varsity baseball coach at Richmond Heights High School.

Bob and his wife Ellen have two grown children. They live in Shaker Heights.


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