10 more to watch: The Willies

Mar 7, 2001 at 12:00 am

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s damned hard trying to picture a group of lawyers playing the blues. I mean, you gotta figure the suits would be all wrong, and the last thing I want to see on stage is a stack of briefcases where the instruments ought to go. Anyway, that’s the way I used to think before I saw the light.

Man, you got to check out the Willies.

This four-piece band, which includes guitar (played by a lawyer), keyboards (played by a lawyer), drums (played by a lawyer) and bass (OK, played by an Internet consultant, but close enough), is for real. But equally important as their evident commitment to the blues is the fact that these guys know how to communicate the joy of the music. The Willies are partyin’ down, and you can feel it on every cut on their debut CD, which was released last year. From what I understand, their live performances pack one hell of a party punch as well.

But what really makes this band special is the Willies Foundation, a nonprofit charitable foundation which was established by band members to set aside a portion of their gig proceeds and CD sales to go towards helping children in need. Blues to the rescue. Gotta love that.

Gary Busch, who serves as lead guitarist, band leader and vocalist, estimates that the foundation has raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 in the roughly five years it has been in existence. The band itself, which features Gary “Willie” Busch on guitar and vocals, “Mongo Willie” John Potter on bass, Neil “Willie B” Goodman on drums and Jim “JR Willie” Robb on keyboards, has been around for seven years.

Wait a minute. What’s up with that name, anyway?

“You know how when something makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up? And they say it gives you the willies? Well that’s how the music makes us feel,” says Busch. “Plus, all the great blues players were named Willie.”

Works for me.

Watch for info about the next Willes’ gig in What’s Happening.

Check out the other artists that made MT's 10 more to watch list.

Stroker Ace
They Come In Threes
Saturday Looks Good To Me
Mike Huckaby

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-area freelance writer and musician. E-mail [email protected]