Albanian Blues | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Albanian Blues

An invitation to join a re-formed Blues Brothers Band more than a decade ago was all the motivation that According to Jim star Jim Belushi needed to begin playing shows with the Sacred Hearts. After eventually deciding to pick up where his brother, late comedian John Belushi, left off, Jim Belushi is now touring the country, playing the blues and carrying on the tradition that his brother and Dan Aykroyd started in 1978 with their seminal release, The Blues Brothers.

The Chicago-born actor of Albanian descent had sung on Broadway before, but the band experience was something new for him. "So Danny wanted me to do it," Belushi recalls, "and I said, 'Ah, gee, Danny, I don't know — that was John's thing.' And he said [imitating Aykroyd's baritone], 'This is like a great law firm — when one of the partners goes down, the son, brother, or the father takes over the role — and he willed it to you. C'mon, Jimmy — let's keep the spirit alive.'

"So I started working with the Sacred Hearts at the House of Blues — Danny and I are both partners there, and I would go up and learn one song a week with the band and then we went up to Ottawa with Danny and did a whole Blues Brothers show, playing all the songs in one day — talk about throwing yourself into the lake."

After that gig, Belushi noticed that he had developed a certain chemistry with the musicians in the band. "I started working with the Sacred Hearts, and we started getting these little gigs, and now 13 years later, we do 50 shows a year, and we have three CDs that we released — it's really been a great opportunity for me to just expand my knowledge of music on stage with the band — it's really changed my life in a way."

For his appearance in South Florida, Belushi tells us that it will be a "90-minute show of blues, funk, audience participation, and maybe one backflip or two, depending on the audience." The set includes classic tunes like Sam & Dave's "Soul Man," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Land of a Thousand Dances," and a short tribute to John Belushi.

While he's in South Florida, Jim Belushi (who was recently awarded the Honor of the Nation award in Albania) will also be grand marshal at this year's edition of the Winterfest parade. "I have a lot of friends in Florida, so we'll hang out and have some boat drinks during the parade," he says with a chuckle. "It should be fun."