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Seger saxophonist launches new holiday tradition

of the Oakland Press

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When Alto Reed talks about his All Star Thanksgiving Celebration, he makes it clear that he has more than just this weekend's bash in mind.

"I'm going to do this every year," promises the saxophonist and founding member from Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band, who on Friday, Nov. 26, will host a show featuring fellow Motor City music luminaries such as Martha Reeves, Mitch Ryder, Grand Funk Railroad's Mark Farner, Jeff Daniels and more -- with proceeds going to Goodwill Industries.

"It's really about creating a night," Reed adds. "My vision is to really give all of these artists a bigger venue top lay and create something people can look forward to and plan on coming to every year -- a real tradition, you know?"

Of course, earlier in the year it seemed like Reed would be occupied by his "day job." "Yeah, we were going to tour in October," he says, noting Seger's announcement earlier in the year for a fall tour that's now been pushed back at least into 2011. "I'm sure it will happen, but as I always tell people, the band is always the last to know. One of the first to know, somehow, is my mom. I tell people, 'You want to know what we're doing? Call my mom...'

"So in the meantime, I really have been wanting to build my brand up to where I have the ability to go out and perform on a higher level. That's what I've been developing, and this (All Star Thanksgiving Celebration) is part of building that."

The Reed "brand" has actually been well established by his time with Seger. With his shades, his 'fro, his sharp, open-shirted suits and flashy showmanship, Reed -- who previously played in the Detroit band Ormandy -- has been a first among equals in the Silver Bullet camp, the onstage foil whose solos during "Old Time Rock and Roll" and "Horizontal Bop" have long been a fan favorite. And his siren-like horn stabs on "Turn the Page" provide the sonic trademark to one of Seger's best-known songs.

But Reed has also worked hard to establish at least a semblance of a presence outside of the Seger spotlight. He released two solo albums, "Cool Breeze" and "RockHits," and scored both of Daniels' independent films, "Escanaba in Da Moonlight" and "Super Sucker." And a few years ago he started an all-star ensemble whose shifting lineup included some Silver Bullet alumni, John Oates, Dave Mason, Spencer Davis and others, which morphed into the short-lived Reed & Dickinson Band, with Canadian singer-songwriter Steve Dickinson, which released its first album, "Tonight We Ride," in 2009.

These days, however, Reed is focusing on the all-star concept, using Detroit's Groove Council as his core band and welcoming others -- such as Mason for a performance at this year's Target Fireworks show in Detroit -- when available.

"It's really just continued to grow from there," Reed says. "We did the Blue Water Music Festival (in Port Huron) and then were asked to perform for Arts, Beats & Eats...I have a huge list of great players out there who are available as all-star players, so depending on the budget and where we're (playing) I can add to that or subtract from whatever we do. It's a great situation."

Reed guarantees the same can be said for the Thanksgiving weekend show, whose roster also includes the Howling Diablos, the Brothers Groove, Jill Jack, keyboardist Jimmie Bones from Kid Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker band, country singer Julianne Ankley and Cowboy Troy from Nashville's Muzik Mafia.

"What more can you ask for than an all-star show of this proportion with Michigan/Detroit talent to entertain the troops in Detroit," Reed says. "And by the troops I mean us, man, the people, the people that make Detroit vital and moving forward and alive.

"My belief is that Detroit is a very resilient city, and part of that is entertainment and all the memorable music that's come out of her. So I'm doing my part to help out with that rebuilding and survival (by) just delivering those good songs and that good music. With that, I know I'm going to elevate the energy of the city and get people to walk away feeling good."

Alto Reed's All Star Thanksgiving Celebration takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Performers include Martha Reeves, Mitch Ryder, Mark Farner, Jeff Daniels and more. Tickets are $11.75-$26.75, with a $36.75 VIP package. Proceeds go to Goodwill Industries. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.tgifeg.com.

Web Site: www.tgifeg.com

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