Blues trio gets place rockin’

Shelley Blundell

What better way to celebrate Black History Month than with some soulful blues tradition?

Wallace Coleman, a Cleveland-based recording artist, appeared at the Kent State Stark Campus last night for an evening of traditional blues.

Appearing with guitarist Mike Lenz and pianist Robert Montgomery, the trio entertained and moved the audience for an hour and half, playing covers of old blues favorites (such as Muddy Waters’ “Lonesome Room Blues”) and some of Coleman’s original material, taken from his self-produced album Stretch My Money.

Coleman performed as part of Kent State Stark’s Black History Month program.

“Wallace came and played for us last year, and we had such a great response that he was a natural to come back,” said Will Casterlow, member of the Black History Month committee and admissions counselor at Kent State Stark. “He and his wife are good people — we were more than happy to have them back.”

Coleman has been performing since his retirement in 1987.

“You’ve got to do something when you retire, or you’ll kick the bucket,” Coleman said.

Coleman, who performs internationally, had visited Compton Elementary School in Canton with Lenz earlier in the day to teach a group of 25 third to fifth graders some basic harmonica skills. Kent State Stark campus provided each student with a harmonica to keep.

“That was just great for me,” Coleman said. “We taught them how to play a few things and the sound a harmonica makes with the blow and draw.

“Once the kids got the hang of it, they were playing a whole bunch of things — it was great.”

Jody Getz, Coleman’s wife and manager, went with the group.

“Especially during Black History Month, we feel it’s very important to spread traditional blues music because it is a dying art form, especially among African Americans,” Getz said. “And of course, we’re happy any time we can get kids interested in it.”

Coleman, originally from Knoxville, Tenn., has played with both Lenz and Montgomery separately but noted it was a rare occasion when the three got to play together.

“I met Wallace at the 1987 Kent State Folk Festival at the Old Stone Jug on Water Street,” Montgomery said. “He talked to me about putting something together, and we’ve been doing stuff like this ever since.”

Coleman will be appearing 5 p.m. Sunday at the Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland.

For more information on Coleman and his band, go to

Contact general assignment reporter Shelley Blundell at [email protected].