Martila Sanders & Gee Q

Martila Sanders & Gee Q

Friday, Sept 16, 2016
8:30 to 9:30 pm
North Stage

Formed in 2008, under the short lived name “Groovestone”, the brainchild of Michael Gee, newly resurrected from a prolonged sabbatical from the music business, or live performance anyway, this band’s story of it’s early days is not unfamiliar; A year long revolving door of players, short money gigs and small venues. Following the departure of original drummer, Brad Smith of Kalamazoo and Hammond player Harry Robinson of Battle Creek, with both relocating to Florida and without what you could call a dedicated and reliable bassist, the band was on the verge of collapse.

But for Gee, the return to the hustle of the music business was not about money or notoriety,  rather his love of the craft, a body of unpublished work and unrealized aspirations. Not yet willing to call it quits, Gee went player shopping again, meeting drummer and spectacular vocalist Jimi Tulk through a mutual friend and then turning to long time friend and bandmate on numerous occasions in the past, slide guitar virtuoso, Jerry Lew Patterson of Albion and a newfound friend,  Sax player, Bob Hunt of Kalamazoo. All agreed to jump on board with the project. As a bonus, shortly after Patterson joined the band, his lifelong friend, bassist, Terry “Hoot” Gibson came on board, filling yet another void.

As if driven by some inexplicable force, the band and personalities fell together almost effortlessly. As the band was taking shape, Gee had already begun recording on the band’s first CD, “Fame and Misfortune”, playing most of the tracks himself and drawing in sampled drums, with sax tracks added later by Bob Hunt, Slide Guitar tracks by Jerry Lew Patterson, some keyboard tracks by Chris Clark and Harmonica tracks by Jeff (Bosco) Bobrofsky. The CD was released in 2010 on Gee’s private “MG Distractions” label under the band’s first re-branded name; “The Bosco-Gee Blues Band”. Within a few short months of the CD release and a runner-up showing in a regional blues competition, in hopes of competing in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, the small venues magically evolved into festival stages, theaters and casinos.

In the fall of 2010, while the band discussed next steps and plans for the future, fate intervened. While the band was breaking in some new material at a local Blues Jam, the band met vocalist  Martila Sanders for the first time. After sitting in with the band for one song, Gee was sold and the courtship began. Although it took nearly nine months, Martila finally agreed to come to a rehearsal, bringing in two Etta James songs, I’d Rather go Blind and The Blues is my Business, songs the band still plays regularly.  Martila’s rookie jitters and tentative demeanor passed quickly and she found her home on stage.  The band’s second CD offering, “The Rain Falls Anyway”, Featuring Martila, was released in 2012 and nominated for the Blues Foundations “Best Self Produced CD of the Year” in 2013.

In 2012, the band, having now grown to seven pieces, re-branded again as “Gee Daddy’s BIG Blues Revue, featuring Martila Sanders and appeared in two regional blues competitions, taking the runner up honors in Lansing’s CABS Blues Brawl and ultimately winning Kalamazoo’s KVBA Blues Challenge, earning the privilege of representing SW Michigan in the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.  Since then, the band, rebranded for the last time as simply Martila Sanders & Gee-Q has played numerous festival, Casino and theater engagements throughout the midwest, including five consecutive Kalamazoo Blues Festivals, Lansing’s Old Town Blues Festival, have become a regular at Detroit’s Motor City Casino  and have appeared on the same bill with such National greats as Carl Weathersby, Larry McCray, Rod Piazza, Kenny Neal, Diana Bogart, Janiva Magness, Sherman Moody Thomas, Tommy Castro and Coco Montoya, just to name a few.  The band is booked to appear again this year in the Michigan Blues Festival in Lansing’s Old Town district in the first headliner slot,  just before Danielle Schnebelen, formerly of Trampled Under Foot, the 2008 IBC Winner.