Stress relief for Mr. Stress

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Proceeds from the The Four CD compilation Stress Relief will go to help longtime Cleveland Blues harmonica legend Bill "Mr. Stress" Miller recover from a stroke.

The Cleveland blues community and local musicians in other genres have banded together to help out one of their icons through music with a deluxe four-CD benefit compilation called Stress Relief.

Singer/harmonica player Bill “Mr. Stress” Miller, 71, who has been on the Cleveland blues scene for nearly half of a century, has had a run of bad luck lately that would easily form the lyrics to a good blues tune.

Last November, Miller, who is legally blind, was served with an eviction notice. The next month, Miller took a break from packing his belongings to Skype with friends who noticed he was slurring his words and not making much sense. They called 911 and paramedics discovered that Miller had suffered a minor stroke.

Yeah, it gets worse.

Miller’s good friend and local blues band leader Colin Dussault found out that Miller’s apartment complex was planning to throw Miller’s possessions out on the curb. Then the moving company used by social workers refused to move Miller’s possessions because his old apartment was not packed and the new apartment found for him wouldn’t let him in because he was still officially not moved out of the old apartment. So the hospitalized harp man had nowhere to go.

Additionally, important identification information Miller needed to rent a new apartment was stolen or packed.

Dussault, whose family owns Dussault Moving & Storage, offered to move Miller for free and Dussault also dealt with the evicting apartment manager who did not want to let the movers into the building to gather Miller’s worldly possessions.

Meanwhile, Miller, who had moved to a nursing home in Lakewood and has no living relatives, had recovered from the stroke and was being cared for by Dussault, Dussault’s 6-year-old daughter, Sophia, and friend and bass player Jeff Beam.

Dussault managed to get a new birth certificate, Ohio ID and set up a bank account for Miller so friends and fans could help him out with necessary items such as a bed and a coffee maker.

Dussault then decided to compile a benefit CD but after putting the word out to the music community the single benefit CD grew into a four-CD set featuring 70 tracks from 58 contemporary and past artists. It is housed in a deluxe DVD case featuring rare photographs (saved from the curb of Miller’s old apartment) and a thorough bio on Miller’s storied career.

Among the artists who contributed tracks, several of which were previously unreleased, are Robert Lockwood Jr., Wallace Coleman, Easy Street, Michael Stanley, the Numbers Band, Carlos Jones & the P.L.U.S. Band and Hillbilly Idol.

The compilation is still in production but should be ready in a few weeks and is available for pre-order at www.mrstress.net. The collection costs $25 plus $5 shipping and handling with all of the proceeds going to help out Mr. Stress. Dussault says when the CDs ship there will be an all-star “tribute” concert to celebrate the septuagenarian blues man.

Irish happenings

Fans of Irish music and culture have a tough choice to make this evening in Akron as two local organizations celebrate their Irishness — one focusing on dance and the other on song.

Starting at 6 tonight, the O’Hare Irish Dance Booster Club hosts the Rhythm of Ireland: An Evening of Irish Music and Dance at the Ann Amer Brennan Theater at Our Lady of the Elms High School. There will be a dinner provided by downtown eatery the Barley House served at 6 p.m. and the show will feature the O’Hare School of Irish Dance which includes three 2014 World Qualifier dancers and Michael Holland, the 2012 Men’s World Champion. Music will be provided by the New Barleycorn featuring guest fiddler Ed Caner.

Meanwhile, the Ancient Order of Hibernians will hold its annual Songs of Ireland show at 7 at Hibernian Hall (2000 Brown St.). The songs will be sung by Irene Uhalley, Callahan & O’Conner, the Shaffer Brothers, Fergie & the Bog Dogs and a few special guests.

The MacConmara Irish Dancers will be fleet-feeting to the music and there will be food, an Irish bread contest (categories are Irish white, Irish brown and Irish scones) a Danny Boy singing contest and a “general Irish atmosphere will abound.” Admission is free.

Humble Heroz

Cuyahoga Falls-based production company Humble Heroz Productions LLC, which produces the area’s annual Ohio’s Got Talent competition, has gathered a few of its artists together for a big show at the Kent Stage tonight.

The evening’s headliner is 24-year-old Cincinnati-bred emcee Cal Scruby, who released a mixtape Scrubby last year available at his website www.calscruby.com. The Ohio State student has a smooth occasionally Southern-flavored flow and is a decent poop-talker with a blue-collar chip on his shoulder and some solid beats.

Also on the bill are Cleveland-based hip-hop singer Lorine Chia, whose album, Naked Truth, is coming soon; teenage, helium-voiced Cleveland emcee Ezzy, who has a 2012 mixtape called It’s Ezzy and rapper Swah.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at www.ohio.com/blogs/sound-check, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.


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