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Paul Handelman

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The Paul Handelman Blues Band with vocalist Dee Dee Michels

Paul Handelman Blues Band with Dee Dee Michels - Walk Away
Concert at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY

Quarterly Artist Highlight: Scarin' the Blues Away: Paul Handelman Blues Band with Dee Dee Michels

It’s not everyday—nor every artist—that gets to age 70+ while laughing, dancing, and clapping to the beat. Circuit Productions, in association with the Healing Arts Initiative (HAI) and co-sponsored by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs- with partial funding from Council Member Stephen Levin, 33rd Council District - presented a special Halloween jazz and blues concert, Scarin’ the Blues Away at St. Francis College.

The 75-minute event spotlighted The Paul Handelman Blues Band with vocalist Dee Dee Michels. Paul Handelman has been singing and playing guitar for decades. The members of the band are as diverse as they are talented. In addition to Paul: Rebecca Levinson on piano, Noriatsu Naraoka on bass, Kent Miller on harmonica, Scott Bourgeois with J. Walter Hawkes (the Vernon Horns) and of course, vocalist Dee Dee Michels.

More than 125 seniors and 30 high school students showed up for the October 31st performance at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. Dee Dee’s spirited and sharp energy had everyone in the audience involved. This included getting the young and old alike to join her for a line dance in the performance area. A vigorous oldster even got down on his knees to kiss Dee Dee’s hand at the end of one of the songs! Dee Dee’s been performing since the age of 14 as a soloist with the North Carolina College Choir. Her career spans 5 decades and has brought her to perform at Carnegie Hall and with the Harlem Opera Company with The Cotton Club Dance Band, the legendary Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, and currently with own band “Why Not Jazz”.

As an audience member, I felt like I was a part of a long vibrant history of Blues and Jazz artists baring their souls for all to see. The song selections were both deeply moving and wonderfully lively. Part of what Circuit Productions aims to do is to inspire, entertain, and educate audiences by creating programs that feature emerging artists as well as “living legends”. The Halloween program included both new artists in Paul Handelman’s band and the living legends of Paul himself and Dee Dee Michels. It was a truly fun combination that scared the blues away while bringing joy to many.


Paul Handelman

Paul Handelman

Growing up in New York's Greenwich Village and coming of age during the late 1960s and ‘70s, Paul Handelman (guitar and vocals) had the good fortune to be exposed to a wide range of diverse types of music. "One favorite spot of mine was the Cafe Au'go go on Bleeker Street where I saw some of the most amazing and legendary Blues musicians of our time like Mississippi John Hurt, Big Joe Williams, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, John Hammond, James Cotton, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and, of course, B.B. King, who was a regular there. It was a small, intimate space where you really got an up close and personal experience of the music and souls of the artists". Down the street was the famous Village Gate where Paul used to see the great Mose Allison (an early and important influence) as well as many other great jazz musicians.

About 10 years ago Mr. Handelman, along with founding members Scott Hamilton and Drew DiCamillo, formed their own band and Señor Lucky was born. They pay homage to the music and legendary musicians who have enriched their own lives. While remaining true to the original beauty and integrity of the Blues – that truly indigenous American art form - they have created their own, unique urban-jump Blues voice.

Dee Dee Michels, Vocalist

Dee Dee Michels

Dee Dee Michels (Delores LeVant Albert) was born in Lumberton N.C. and started her professional career at the age of seven, singing with her mother and three sisters on a first-ever Black radio show on station WTSB in Lumberton. The show, titled "Something For Everyone,” featured DeeDee as the lead vocalist with her family. Trained classically at an early age, Dee Dee sang with the North Carolina College Choir as soloist at the age of 14. Piano and the dance were her favorite pastimes.

After making her T.V. debut on a national network from Charlotte N.C. with her sisters, the family came to N.Y.C. and appeared on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and won first place. Dee Dee and her sisters gave their first New York recital at Carnegie Hall in the early 60's and received a heartfelt welcome and acclaim from the media and the audience. Dee Dee became a member of the Harlem Opera Company for a short time and then decided to rejoin her sisters. The "Primettes " were to become the sisters’ professional name and they toured with Wilson Pickett as part of his revue and as back-up singers. Dee Dee has worked as a studio musician for Columbia Records and Atlantic Records. She recorded with the Latin sensation Frankie Mercado on his first Spanish and American record, "Latin Soul". Dee Dee’s Broadway experiences include "Your Arms Too Short to Box With God,” “God's Trombones,” “God's Song” and as an understudy in “Hair” and “The Wiz." DeeDee has performed with The Harlem Gospel Choir, as soloist with the all-male 150 voice choir at The Cathedral (Floyd Flake) Church, with The Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, The Cotton Club Dance Band and with her own band, “Why Not Jazz".

Dee Dee received a BA/MA degree in music in the early 1980's and taught music and drama for 10 years in the New York City public school system at the High School level. She is currently a college Professor at Touro College. Her most recent New York appearance was in "A Time For Love," a one-woman show at the famous nightclub "Don't Tell MaMa". She is the vocalist for the Paul Handelman Blues Band and appeared in July 2014 in Central Park at the Harlem Meer Performance Festival.

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