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Singing the Blues for Mr. Stress

Colin Dussault

by David C. Barnett

A who's who of Cleveland musicians, spanning rock, folk and the blues, played to a packed house on Cleveland's east side, last night.  This spirited celebration was dedicated to the memory of one of the city's most beloved blues men.

As the evening sun went down, last night, Cleveland musician Colin Dussault stood outside the Euclid Tavern, exhausted.   It was a long evening that started with him carrying the cremated remains of his mentor and friend, Bill Miller, into the club and placing them onto a pedestal at the side of the stage.

"Walking in with his urn, it felt like bringing him home."

Better known to area blues fans as "Mr. Stress", Miller was a fixture at the Euclid Tavern for years. It's where, he recorded a popular live album in 1980. When Miller suffered a stroke in 2013, Dussault produced a four-CD tribute to the ailing musican to help pay his medical and basic living needs.  

Miller died recently, and last night, Colin Dussault organized a four-hour musical wake to send his friend off in style, including a New Orleans brass band.

"He loved jazz," says Dussault,  "and as I looked at the urn, and the candle burning, and listening to that New Orleans music play it, I just knew we were doing the right thing."

Dussault says Bill Miller's ashes will be taken to Chautauqua where the blues man loved to fish. And as those ashes are scattered, they'll probably still be vibrating.

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.