Michigan blues legend to perform in Alpena

If you’re singing the blues on Friday, you’ll be in prestigious company with Larry McCray at Nucleus Lounge.

The Michigan blues legend will perform a free outdoor concert starting at 6 p.m. Saturday.

“He’s our first international artist,” said Eric Peterson, owner of Nucleus Lounge and The Fresh Palate, both located inside The Center Building in downtown Alpena. “We’re just really excited to have such a big name playing for free in our alley.”

McCray and his four-piece band travel all over the world, performing high-energy shows featuring a “melting pot” of funk-infused blues, soul, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. You might even hear a little reggae tossed into the mix.

“We are the evolution of what blues music and soul music have become today,” McCray said.

Originally from Magnolia, Ark., McCray has been in Michigan for 46 years, since 1972. He spent much of that time in Saginaw, and has lived in Bay City for the past six years.

He came to Michigan to work in the auto industry, but he had to choose between a solid factory career or follow his heart. He went with his heart.

“I have never regretted that,” he said. “It’s been great. I’ve been a lot of places.”

He’s been writing and performing since he got his first record deal in 1988, with the Detroit production company No Strings Attached.

“We mostly do our own music,” McCray said, “but we do some covers.”

They have covered songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, ZZ Top, Gregg Allman, the Doobie Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Marshall Tucker Band, to name a few.

McCray draws influence from the “Kings” of blues – B.B. King, Freddie King and Albert King, as well as rock legend Jimi Hendrix.

McCray has been to Alpena before, but it’s been nearly a decade, he said. He used to come up here in the 80s to perform at a local club and he has been to several festivals here over the years.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” McCray said of returning to Alpena. “I haven’t been there in a long time.”

“We hope to have a lot of people come out for this show,” Peterson added.

Local favorite Blood Money Men will open the show.

Darby Hinkley can be reached via email at dhinkley@thealpenanews.com, or by phone at 989-354-3111 ext. 324.