Dooley Wilson
Gig Seeker Pro

Dooley Wilson

Toledo, Ohio, United States | INDIE

Toledo, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Band Blues


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Innovative Henry and June reunite for show Saturday"

Henry and June expect to play their first ever sold-out show in Toledo. Too bad they weren’t nearly so popular when the band was actually together.

That was 14 years ago.

"We probably came off as really weird, I guess," recalled Jimmy Forshey, 36, the vocalist and rhythm guitarist known as "Jimmy Danger" on stage with Henry and June. "Now, looking back, it’s like we were doing something no one else was doing."

Fans hail the gritty, blues-flavored rock quartet Henry and June for their prolific sound. So prolific, in fact, that their big break didn’t come until almost a decade after Henry and June split as the White Stripes covered their one and only single – "Goin’ Back to Memphis." The original three members split a $2,000 royalty check for their trouble as the Stripes distributed the tune as part of a 2004 live concert DVD.

Henry and June polished their guitar-driven sound and toured regionally for three years before breaking up in favor of other musical projects in 1996. Now, the foursome will reunite for a special $10 show at Frankie’s Inner-City tomorrow that has some fans lamenting what might have been had the band emerged at a time outside of the grunge and heavy metal era.

"If Henry and June would have come out in the early 2000s, they would have been huge. People just weren’t ready at the time," said longtime friend and musician Rob Smith, 36, who hosted their band practices in the basement of his Old West End home. He now lives and performs music in Detroit.

Henry and June emerged in 1993 out of casual jam sessions by the recent Maumee High School graduates: Forshey on vocals, harmonica, and guitar; Dooley Wilson (C.J. Forgy) on lead slide guitar, and Ben Swank (Ben Smith) on percussion. St. Francis de Sales High School grad Johnny Walker joined later.

Nothing was written down. Nothing was planned in advance. Their original tunes blossomed from a short riff Wilson might improvise on the spot, Forshey said.

"Our songs were never the same. From one show to the next, it might be 10 minutes long at one show and three minutes" at another, Forshey said.

Their early musical experiments evoked the Rolling Stones, the Stooges, and Delta blues, Forshey said. The result produced a gritty, retro sound now echoed by Akron-based duo the Black Keys and Detroit-born the White Stripes. A sampling of Henry and June basement recordings are posted online at

"People say we were a blues band, but it was definitely more than that," Forshey said. "You think of a blues band, and you think of middle-aged white guys trying to be black. We were suburban white kids trying to be black."

The band never printed a full album, but a small label in Detroit did make about 100 copies on 7-inch vinyl of the single later made famous by the White Stripes. The records now fetch hundreds of dollars online as a rare collectors item, Forshey said.

The band split as "we were just getting to the point where people were taking notice of us," Forshey said. "It was just one of those things where it was just getting old."

The breakup sent Swank and Walker to form the rock trio Soledad Brothers, which earned acclaim in Europe and a nod from buddy Jack White of the White Stripes when he told Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 their project was "really interesting." The group wrapped in 2008. Swank now works in Nashville for Jack White’s independent record label, Third Man Records. Walker finished a medical program in psychiatry and now lives and works in Covington, Ky.

Forshey and Wilson teamed up to build another blues-influenced jam band, Boogaloosa Prayer, which performs at Mickey Finn’s in Toledo on April 15, and Howard’s Club H in Bowling Green April 16. Forshey is now married with two young children and works for a screen printing company in Toledo. Wilson stays busy juggling several musical projects.

Broc Curry, 33, who books shows for Frankie’s and the Versa Group, said it took about five years of persuading to convince Henry and June to do the reunion show. He considers the group "one of the best bands I’ve ever seen" and expects the show to sell out with a mix of new and old fans – including some expected to travel from as far away as Texas.

"I think it’s going to be a great event because it is kind of bringing the old-school Maumee-Toledo scene full circle, with some of the new-school people, again, that have never seen this band," Curry said. "I think its going to be a really fun night."

Smith, the longtime friend and fan, said he was thrilled to hear about the reunion show.

"Its like a time machine. I was like, ‘What?’ " Smith said.

The band plans to run through their old set list of about 20 songs to rehearse for the show just a few days before their performance, with Swank and Walker coming in from out of state.

Henry and June’s break-up was amicable, Forshey said, though the last time the guys were all in the same room was about two years ago, when the Soledad Brothers played their final gig in Detroit. He hung out with Swank about a month ago at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, and performs with Wilson often. Still, Forshey remains incredulous that the reunion is actually going to happen.

"People didn’t really care about us when we were together. In Toledo, no one ever came to our shows. Nobody ever cared about us. That’s how Toledo is today. Detroit was our second home," Forshey said. "People always talk about a scene in Toledo, but I don’t think there really ever was one."

Henry and June will perform tomorrow at Frankie’s Inner-City, 308 Main St. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets, $10, are available at Culture Clash, 4020 Secor Rd., 419-536-5683, and at RamaLama Records, 3151 West Central Ave., 419-531-7625. - Toledo Blade

"Dooley Wilson to appear at Hamtramck Blowout"

“He’s a classy blues guitarist in the vein of a rootsier Stevie Ray Vaughn and very early Eric Clapton. He seems a little young to have too many tales of woe, but he plays like a motherfucker.” - Detroit Metro Times

"Dooley Wilson: Modern take on classic blues"

Call it a Toledo urban legend.

It goes like this: did you hear? Dooley Wilson taught Jack White to play slide guitar. Seriously, man.

Except it’s not true, at least according to someone who should know. Wilson, a Maumee native who lives in Toledo, said that only through a “six degrees of separation” kind of a way is there any relationship between him and Jack White of the White Stripes, and he most definitely did not teach the latter how to play guitar.

But the fact that anyone thinks that Wilson is a serious influence on White is a powerful testament to the Toledo blues guitarist’s prowess. His style is steeped in early country blues circa 1920s and ’30s, only amplified and with a true believer’s intensity. It’s authentic without being mimicry, and for guitar aficionados, it’s impossible to turn away when Wilson plays.

He’ll be on stage tomorrow night at Woodchuck’s bar, 224 South Erie St., as the opener on a three-act bill.

Wilson, 35, has been playing for 20 years. When he first picked up the instrument he played “obsessively,” trying to ape the riffs of bands like Guns N’ Roses before discovering the slide-heavy Delta blues a few years later. Artists like Son House, Robert Johnson, and Skip James seeped into his musical DNA.

“I just fell so in love with that. I remember going down to the Mad Hatter [record store] and selling all my rock and roll and getting hard core.

“Son House is the guy who made me say I wanted to sound like that. It seemed more emotionally gripping to me than rock and roll and pop. Now I’ve been doing it so long that it’s almost a part of my identity. I’m probably too romantic for my own good.”

He went through the usual “militancy” about believing that only through the blues could you find musical purity, but was confronted with the fact that he was playing a style of music that was a long way from northwest Ohio, both geographically and demographically.

“When I was young I was trying to sound as authentic as possible and my whiteness seemed to get in the way, but I’m over that now,” Wilson said. “If there’s a bluesy mindset I’m probably just living it. I don’t have to talk myself into it.”

He’s been in a handful of other Toledo-area bands, including Henry and June, which toured regionally and had a song that is covered by the White Stripes; the Young Lords (a high-energy thing that “usually almost invariably ended with me being damn near naked and rolling on the floor covered in rum”), and Boogaloosa Prayer, who still play occasionally when drummer Todd Swalla is in Toledo.

Wilson forged his blues musical identity with endless of hours of practice and a year living in New Orleans, where he developed the confidence to go along with his technique. Although his name is C.J. Forgy, he takes his stage name from a early 20th century piano player named Dooley Wilson, best remembered as Sam (as in, “Play it again, Sam”) in Casablanca.

That early, pre-Depression blues holds an endless fascination for Wilson because of the strong identities of the various players and their ability to absorb different styles — slide, finger-picking, different tunings — and adapt rapidly.

“From an ethno-musicological standpoint, that country blues started up and evolved so rapidly between the turn of the century and the Depression that I don’t think there’s anything else like that,” he said.

“The folk musical forms like that don’t evolve very rapidly. They stay very homogenized, but there was so much individual conceit with those guys and there were so many of them putting their own self into the sound instead of sublimating themselves to a folk, cultural form.”

At the same time, he’s also wrapped up in the pure, visceral act of playing, something that he said provides its own powerful satisfaction.

“There’s no discipline involved in what I do. I just like to play,” he said.

Wilson will play Saturday at Woodchuck’s across the street from the Erie Street Market. Show time is 10 p.m. - Toledo Blade

"Brian Olive & Dooley Wilson @ Mickey Finn's Nov. 13"

... Joining/hosting this show is the incomparable Dooley Wilson. Known and respected regionally, Wilson is regarded as one of the best blues slide guitar players north of the Mason-Dixon. A Toledo native, and Toledo musical hero for that matter, Wilson has been an icon in the local scene since the early '90s, playing in bands such as Henry & June (essentially later to become the Soledad Brothers), The Young Lords, Boogaloosa Prayer (with ex-Necros and former Laughing Hyenas drummer Todd Swalla) and, of course, embarking on quite and impressive solo career, which has literally taken him down Highway 61 into the heart of the Mississippi Delta, and eventually to New Orleans' infamous French Quarter, where he fast earned a reputation as the real deal. Of late, Wilson has been joined by East Toledo blues harp player John Roundcity, a.k.a. "the Johnny Woods to Dooley's Fred McDowell," for heart-wrenching sets of '30s and '40s country blues songs, both classic and obscure, and Wilson's acclaimed originals.

This is about as good and genuine as live music in Toledo gets. I suggest you show up.

Brian Olive and Dooley Wilson with John Roundcity play Mickey Finn's Pub, 602 Lagrange St., on Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10 p.m. Cover is just $5. -


Singles: split 7" with The High Plane Drifters; "Goin' Back To Memphis"

LPs: "Tuff Break for Hand-Job," "Asshole's Last Chance"



Hailing from the unlikely environs of South Toledo, Ohio, Dooley Wilson is among a rare breed of latter-day purveyors of “hard” Mississippi/Louisiana – styled blues. With an approach that is steeped in the tradition of his forebears, Wilson offers a combination of bottleneck/slide guitar virtuosity with a renegade intensity that is more at home in a seedy rock club than at a typical “blues society” venue.

In the mid-nineties, Wilson co-fronted the indie-blues outfit, Henry & June, with whom he released the single, “Goin’ Back To Memphis.” The song has since been made famous by the White Stripes, who have included it in their live show since 1998. Henry & June reunited briefly in early 2010 for an immensely successful one-off show in their hometown of Toledo.

In autumn of 2001, Wilson migrated to New Orleans, where he spent a formative year busking on the streets of the French Quarter, pitted amongst a peer group of today’s most formidable torch-bearers of traditional American Blues.

2003 saw Wilson back home in his native Toledo, where, as a soloist, he became a finalist in the 2004 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the first-ever contestant from Toledo’s Black Swamp Blues Society to earn such a distinction.

Wilson has earned a modicum of international recognition touring Europe twice (2004 & 2005) as a support act for Detroit’s Soledad Brothers, and has been enthusiastically received by rock fans up and down the U.K., France, Spain, Portugal, and The Netherlands. In September 2005, Wilson returned to the U.K to play a co-headline tour alongside The High Plane Drifters.

Since returning from Europe, Wilson has performed in various capacities throughout the Midwest, including at the 2008 and 2009 Deep Blues Festivals. Wilson also fronts the popular blues/rock group Boogaloosa Prayer, as well as old-timey trio The Staving Chain, and has recently expanded his musical repertoire by joining Toledo-based hiphop group MC Habitat & Draw Blood.

Wilson will be releasing a 10" vinyl on Top Magic Records in February 2011. It will be his first release since 2006.