Music Maker Blues Revue at American Tobacco Campus


American Tobacco Campus
300 Blackwell Street, Durham, NC

Date & Time

September 25, 2024
6:30 pm EST

Music Maker Blues Revue featuring Pat Cohen, Albert White, Ardie Dean, Fred Thomas and Leonard Lowdown Brown.


“Just apply your own soul, man, the spirit, and you got blues”

From gospel to salsa, blues to zydeco, discover the roots and routes of American music at American Tobacco Campus as we celebrate 30 years of Music Maker Foundation!


From hole-in-the wall honky tonks to Carnegie Hall, the Music Maker Blues Revue has backed every variety of singer, from jazzy to rockin’ and points in-between. The lives and careers of its musicians are a testament to the sustaining power of the blues.


Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen shares the mettle, pathos, and ocean-deep compassion of blues singers like Billie Holiday and Etta James. Despite losing her home twice, she keeps bringing her talent and heart to the world, and was even featured on PBS Newshour for her one-woman shows at nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Albert White is a consummate blues guitarist who grew up playing behind his uncle, Piano Red, and would go on to share the stage with the likes of Ray Charles, Rufus Thomas, and The Tams. The tradition of high-energy, funky R&B lives on in his playing, immortalized in his two (soon to be three) albums on the Music Maker label. Drummer Ardie Dean has been keeping blues time since 1969, and is the de facto leader of the Music Maker Blues Revue as well as a talented producer. Fred Thomas helped invent funk music as bassist for James Brown and the JB’s over three-and-a-half decades. He is now stepping up to the mic himself, launching his solo career with the release of three singles this year on Curtis E Records.

The blues has been the beating heart of American popular music for more than a century, inspiring new genres from jazz to rock n’ roll. What makes it so enduring and adaptable? Maybe it’s the way it speaks to artists’ and listeners’ deepest hopes, pains, and joys. As Fred Thomas says, “Just apply your own soul, man, the spirit, and you got blues.”

Pat Cohen

Pat Cohen shares the mettle, pathos and ocean-deep compassion of the blues singers she idolizes — Billie Holiday, Koko Taylor and Etta James. Despite losing her home twice, she keeps taking her talent and heart to the world. Pat’s performances have always unfurled the tapestry of her life experiences to her audience in soulful words and music. That compassion began to flow from Pat in brand new ways during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As her scheduled gigs disappeared, she began playing one-woman shows at nursing homes. She even made phone calls to individual people and sang to them. These works of compassion wound up making her the subject of a touching story on “PBS Newshour.”

Albert White

Albert White, an Atlanta native, grew up playing behind his uncle, Piano Red, a legendary Rhythm & Blues powerhouse who had many hits including the song “Doctor Feelgood” famously covered by the Beatles. In Albert, the tradition of high energy, funky R&B lives on. Albert and his band The Rockers have played jukes, clubs, weddings and celebrations throughout the Southeast from the 1960s to the present. Along the way, they have shared the stage with every notable R&B star that has traveled the circuit including Rufus Thomas, Ray Charles, The Tams, Joe Tex and many more.

Ardie Dean 

Ardie has been keeping blues time since 1969. He started out playing drums with Homesick James and then paid his dues on the Chitlin’ Circuit leading the band for R&B singer Chuck Strong. Dean has performed at Carnegie Hall and played with legendary artists including Ernie K-Doe, Bo Diddley, Greg Allman, and Taj Mahal. For years, Ardie has also recorded with and produced records for many artists, including Guitar Gabriel, Big Ron Hunter, Jerry McCain, Sweet Betty, Alabama Slim, Little Freddie King, and Many more. His crowning achievement as a producer might be the 2006 album “Soul of the Blues” by Music Maker partner artist Albert White. That record brought together great players including Elvin Bishop, T-Bone Burnett, and Beverley “Guitar” Watkins.

Fred Thomas 

Fred Thomas occupies a very special niche in the history R&B. As James Brown’s principal bassist since 1971, he participated in one the most prolific periods in the Godfather of Soul’s incredible career as a member of Brown’s band, the J.B.’s. He can be heard on such hits as “Hot Pants,” “Papa Don’t Take No Mess,” “Make it Funky,” “Get on the Good Foot,” “Doin’ it to Death,” and instrumentals like “Pass the Peas”, “Gimme Some More” and others. He played on seminal albums like “Revolution of the Mind: Recorded Live at the Apollo, Vol. III,” and can be seen in many film and tv performances, including “Live in Zaire” and all the Soul Train appearances.

Leonard Lowdown Brown

Leonard “Lowdown” Brown is an electric guitar-slinging blues legend in the Houston music scene. His virtuosic fingerwork and formidable voice seem effortless, evidence of his raw talent and over four decades of dedication to his craft. Born in 1953 into a family with five brothers and four sisters, Leonard grew up with music all around him. Music was one way his family remained connected to their southern roots, and they shared this passion with their children. Leonard and his siblings spent their formative years singing in traveling gospel choirs, which he credits as the foundation of his musical style. Around the age of six, Leonard’s father gave him his first guitar and he hasn’t stopped playing since.