Mr. B and RJ Spangler wsg Bill Heid Mr. B and RJ Spangler wsg Bill Heid Mr. B and RJ Spangler wsg Bill Heid





Mr. B and RJ Spangler wsg Bill Heid


  • Bill Heid, piano
  • Mark "Mr. B" Braun, piano
  • RJ Spangler, drums

Event Details


Bill Heid

Born in Pittsburgh, keyboard/vocalist Bill Heid has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe, and the Far East, including a three year stay in Japan and nearly two years in China. From 1965 through the mid-70’s, he worked the Hammond B-3 organ “chitlin clubs” with his own groups and with jazz greats such as Sonny Stitt, David “Fathead” Newman, Grachan Monchur, Mickey Roker, Joe Dukes, Roger Humphries, Rodney Whitaker, Robert Hurst, Grant Green, Jimmy Ponder, Bruce Foreman, and Henry Johnson, appearing on two Johnson albums for MCA/Impulse.

From 1975 to 1984, based in Chicago, Bill toured with blues greats Jimmy Witherspoon, John Lee Hooker, Son Seals, and Fenton Robinson, playing on two albums with Robinson, two with Ko Ko Taylor, and another with Roy Buchanan for Alligator Records. From 1984 through 1999, Heid lived and worked in Detroit, appearing on numerous records with Detroit blues artists Johnnie Bassett, Joe Weaver, and Alberta Adams, which included sessions for Fedora, Cannonball, and Black Magic Records, and two European tours. In 2000, he relocated to Washington D.C. and in 2002, his group toured Viet Nam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia as Jazz Ambassadors for the U.S. State Department, returning to those countries for an extended tour a year later, then backed vocalist Jay Klum on another Ambassadors tour to five African countries in 2004.

Mark "Mr. B" Braun

Blues and boogie-woogie pianist Mark Lincoln Braun is one of the premiere purveyors of a vanishing art. Having learned his craft first-hand from the early masters-- blues and boogie legends Little Brother Montgomery, Boogie Woogie Red, and Blind John Davis --Mark is a rare living link to the first generation of blues and boogie pianists.

In demand for both educational programs and concert performances, Mark has performed coast to coast and throughout Europe, Canada, Mexico, and South America. Born and raised in Flint, Michigan Mark gravitated to Ann Arbor in the 70s where the Blind Pig was an important venue for boogie and blues piano. While absorbing the tradition and developing his own approach, Mr. B was also listening to a variety of jazz pianists, especially those with strong blues roots. This broad range of interests enables him to feel equally at home playing boogie woogie classics with authentic fervor, and expanding the tradition into lively new settings, including jazz orchestra. Today he further promotes his art and breaks down stylistic barriers by frequently collaborating with world renowned mainstream jazz pianists including Monty Alexander, Henry Butler, Benny Green, Ray Bryant, Sir Charles Thompson, and Junior Mance. Mark has appeared on numerous National Public Radio broadcasts, including “Mountain Stage,” “Good Evening,” “Our Front Porch,” “The Flea Market,” “At the Bride,” and “All Things Considered.”

Mr. Bʼs many critically acclaimed recordings also demonstrate his breadth and originality. His most recent, for which Mr. B assembled nine noted Ann Arbor-area pianists and benefits youth in the arts and athletics, is 9 Pianists – Our Town, Our Time. Live at the Kerrytown Concert House shows the solo pianist playing original takes on blues and boogie standards while “Joybox” features him stretching out on his own compositions supported by bass and drums. With legendary jazz greats J. C. Heard and Marcus Belgrave, he recorded “Partners in Time.” His recording of trios and duets (“My Sunday Best”) features the renowned be-bop drummer Roy Brooks. Mr. Bʼs collaboration with the 15-piece Bird of Paradise Orchestra (“Hallelujah Train”) has produced an original and explosive blend of boogie, blues, and big band jazz. Most recently he has collaborated in the studio with some of todayʼs premiere blues artists, including John Hammond (“Found True Love”), Duke Robillard (“Dangerous Place”), and Big Bill Morganfield (“Ramblinʼ Mind”) among many others. 

RJ Spangler

Detroit drummer/producer/manager RJ Spangler is a journeyman musician who has done much to resurrect the careers of some forgotten blues artists. A versatile performer, Spangler has performed with such luminaries as Martha & the Vandellas, James Carter, Big Jay McNeely, and many others. Introduced to jazz and blues by his uncle, drummer Bud Spangler, who played with Detroit jazz legends the Tribe, RJ grew up listening to the greats of the music. By the early '80s Spangler had formed his own jazz band, the Sun Messengers, who earned its first Motor City Music Award in 1982. Although he spent most of his teens and twenties focusing on jazz, Spangler never forgot about the blues, and after seeing guitarist Johnnie Bassett perform at the Montreux-Detroit International Jazz Festival in the early '90s, Spangler asked Bassett to join his band. Bassett had fallen into obscurity since the time he was a successful session man in the '50s and '60s, but with Spangler's help Bassett's career got back on track and culminated in a successful tour of Europe. Since then Spangler has helped other blues artists resurrect their careers, including vocalists Alberta Adams, Joe Weaver, Odessa Harris, and others. In 2009, Spangler released You Know I Can't Refuse: The Bill Heid Sessions, featuring pianist/vocalist Bill Heid. (Matt Collar, Today RJ leads a soulful blues (RJ’s Gang) as well as Quartet with trombonist Tbone Paxton. He started the Planet D Nonet in 1998 and have garnered 5 Detroit Music Awards. Today, RJ is the Entertainment Director at the incredible Cliff Bell's jazz club.