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-illustration by Joe Mays

The Blue Notes

The Blue Notes is set up with the classic "Organ Trio" instrumentation: Hammond Organ, guitar and drums.  Of course with this line up you'll hear jazz and blues in the style of the great organ trios (Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, etc.), but you'll also be treated with Brazilian, funk, hip-hop and other more modern styles in the mix.  The group released its debut CD, titled "The Blue Notes" in 2005, and the follow-up disc, Out of The Blue, in 2007.  Both CD's can be purchased mail-order through this site, via on-line music outlets (amazon.com and CDbaby for example) and at shows.


  In The Blue Notes, Steve Himes is joined by these fantastic musicians:


McDonald Cary, the heart and soul of the group, has delighted audiences of all ages with his mastery of the Hammond Organ.  He is a complete player who is able to cover bass lines, chords and melody simultaneously.  Mac's masterful technique and his ability to connect with audiences of all ages reflect his many years of experience in performing and teaching.



Chris Hudson ignites the grooves with his ability to play any style on the drums with ease.  Whether it's a shuffle, swing, funk or any other rhythm, his superb technique helps propel the music to greater heights.  He has solidly established himself as a performer, teacher and studio musician in the Charleston area.



Rachel Franks Appears on the group's first two CD's.  She wrote the lyrics and melodies of all of the tracks on which she sings.  Her influences range from Sarah Vaughn and other great jazz divas to current hip hop and R&B vocalists.  Her incredible vocal range, emotional style and exceptional stage presence have made her a very popular addition to the Blue Notes.


To purchase The Blue Notes' CD's, click here.

-all above photos by Mike Coyne




Article about a Blue Notes concert by Bonni McKeown

-all photos by Bonni McKeown





About 750 Capital High School students plus their teachers enjoyed a jazz concert with organist McDonald Cary and the Blue Notes on Thursday Jan. 31. Principal Clinton Giles welcomed to the stage one of his former teachers—Mac Cary - as the Capital High School Black History Month celebration was kicked off.

"Mr. Cary taught me at Gary District High School, a segregated school in McDowell County," Mr. Giles told the students as he introduced the concert. He explained that, despite the disadvantages of being isolated in the coalfields under racial segregation, that school had great teachers.

"Since then, Mr. Cary has been a musician, entrepreneur, artist and a host of other things," Mr. Giles said. "Blues and jazz is an art form indigenous to the black culture in the U.S. We hope this concert will give you a chance to enjoy something you don’t hear much of anymore."

Mac Cary returned the compliment: "You have a dynamite principal. He supports the arts." He also said the band students at Capital, under director Bob Scott, are "dynamite, an excellent group and I appreciate how you conduct yourselves."

Mr. Cary explained to the students that his instrument, the Hammond B3 organ, was used by many early rock bands. He pointed out that it has three keyboards—including bass note pedals that he plays with his feet. Guitarist Steve Himes and drummer Chris Hudson were also in the Blue Notes combo, which played a wide variety of tunes from Grover Washington’s groovy "Mr. Magic" to James Brown’s funky "Cold Sweat" and Steve Himes’ Latin-style original "Espacio." Students clapped along and cheered at the closing, swingy blues number called "Big Band Jazz."

The concert was produced with a grant from the WV Commission on the Arts, arranged by the Charleston WV Blues Society. The Blues Society, with help from another grant from the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, has sponsored a series of 10 classes on music improvisation, taught by Mac Cary during the jazz band club period on alternate Thursdays.




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