After hearing the Butterfield band, the Prime Movers were more dedicated to the blues than ever. Unlike many of their contemporaries, they now played frat parties only rarely, concentrating on clubs like Schwaben Inn, the Town Bar, Mr. Flood's Party, the 5th Dimension, and Clint's Club, the only Black bar in Ann Arbor; they also played free concerts and concert halls like Mothers (in Ann Arbor) and the Depot House.


Schwaben Inn, 215 S. Ashley Street

By Michael Erlewine (

Back in 1966 the Schwaben Inn was a large low-ceiling place in the middle of the block at 215 S. Ashley Street. Upstairs were some pretty nice meeting rooms and in later years some gigs (more like catered parties) were held there, but back in 1966 we are talking about the ground floor at street level, a wide room with a cement floor and the bar all along the back. On your left as you came in was a little bandstand raised not more than a few inches where we played.

The place stunk of stale beer and cigarettes. Perhaps it was the low ceiling and lack or air or perhaps they never really washed down the bar or the floors. It kind of caught you when you came in and took a minute or so to adjust. Of course back then we drank and smoked as much as anyone there, well, perhaps we didn’t drink as much.

Washboard Willie and the Super Suds of Rhythm would also play there on other nights of the week and we were geeked that we shared a stage (not at the same time) with this Detroit bluesman who used to play behind the great Eddie “Guitar” Burns. I can still remember Washboard Willie singing the line “See the girl with the red dress on; she can do it all night long.” When we were not playing there I would sometimes come and listen to Washboard Willie like everyone else.

Our band, the Prime Movers Blues Band, would play at the Schwaben and often. There was one problem. Two very different kinds of people liked to come to the Schwaben to hear us play, the townies and the college kids. I was a townie. We called the students “pinheads.” These two did not get along, not hardly ever, and huge fights would break out. When I mean huge, I mean really big. I remember one fight where it took nine police cruisers to break it up.

And there we would be crouched behind our equipment, trying to protect both it and ourselves. We were mostly townies ourselves, but not about to join that fight.

This venue later became Mackinac Jack's, featuring acts like Radio King & His Court of Rhythm, Lightnin’ Slim, The Rockets, New Heavenly Blue, and none other than Washboard Willie and the Super Suds of Rhythm. Some things never change. – Photo of Prime Movers Band at Schwaben Inn, October 1966