Mr. Stress Blues Band Live At The Brick Cottage 1972-1973 on LP
From 1966 until 2010, Bill "Mr. Stress" Miller was the reigning king of the blues harp in Cleveland. As a bandleader, Miller fronted his iconic Mr. Stress Blues Band through numerous permutations that included some of the best and brightest musicians in Cleveland. Some of the Stress Band alumni include Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders), Peter Laughner (Pere Ubu/Rocket From The Tombs), Anton Fier (Golden Palominos/The Feelies/Swans), Vito San Filippo (Tower of Power/The O'Jays), James Emery (String Trio of New York/Anthony Braxton), Glenn Schwartz (Pacific Gas & Electric/All Saved Freak Band), Alan Greene (Breathless/The Innocent), Ken Klimak (Dr. John), Chuck Drazdik (It's A Beautiful Day), Kenny Ruscitto (15-60-75), no less than six members of The James Gang, and noted international journalist and writer Eric Ehrmann.
Miller had formed the Mr. Stress Blues Band (MSBB) at the end of the summer of 1966, having been inspired by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and numerous harder Chicago AfricanAmerican electric blues performers. The band's peculiar yet catchy name was derived from a term used in psychiatric hospitals. Miller had been inspired by Butterfield in particular and acknowledged other purveyors of "white blues" such as The Blues Project, John P. Hammond, and the Siegel-Schwall Band, but it was already clear that even on a regular night the MSBB could easily wipe the floor with any of those bands. While visually it was pretty obvious that the MSBB were a bunch of white boys from Cleveland, if you closed your eyes when they played, you could be convinced that they were a well-oiled machine of veteran bluesmen from Chicago's South Side.
Though the MSBB rarely played outside of Cleveland and ventured outside of Ohio only a handful of times, they were perhaps the best kept musical secret seen by the most people in the Buckeye state. The MSBB held down bi-weekly residencies at the legendary Cleveland clubs the Brick Cottage (1972–1979) and the Euclid Tavern (1979–late 1990's) while opening for everyone from Bonnie Raitt, Joe Jackson, and Little Steven to Steppenwolf, Nazz, and Three Dog Night. They were a powerhouse to be reckoned with and took their take on electric Chicago blues very seriously. What's more: they wanted you to get up and dance.
Live at the Brick Cottage 1972-1973 finds the band during one of their many peak eras, and the line-up featured on these archival recordings Miller stated to be among his favorites: Chuck "Pontiac Slim" Drazdik on guitar, Mike "The Professor" Sands - who clocked a combined total of 26 years in the MSBB – on piano, Tom Rinda on bass, Dr. Pete Sinks (1972) and Kenny Ruscitto (1973) on drums, and Bill "Mr. Stress" Miller on vocals and blues harp. These electrifying performances, captured on stage and cookin' in the smoky, densely packed standing room only "Sick Brick," feature the band burning through riveting takes on Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Slim Harpo, Jimmy Reed, Albert King, and more as only the MSBB could.
Though sadly Miller passed away while this project was being completed, his legacy is proudly displayed on this release. Live at the Brick Cottage 1972-73 serves as a lasting tribute to what was the best bar blues band in Cleveland and an important milestone in the storied history of that city's music scene.