Joe Tiboni


Joe Tiboni’ s love affair with the blues began while he was a student at University High School in Ann Arbor in the 1960’ s, listening to blues records along with the rock and roll of the period. The early Ann Arbor Blues Festivals and the healthy live music scene played a major role in cementing the relationship.

A radio buff since his elementary school days in Philadelphia listening to AM Radio legends Joe Niagra and Hy Lit on WIBG, he began broadcasting in 1968 on WEAK, part of the Michigan State student network. Returning to Ann Arbor, Joe was a volunteer broadcaster at WCBN-FM at the University of Michigan for over twenty years, hosting the free-form show "It’ s Just About Playin’ Some Music, You Know?" and creating "Reel Live Music" and "Nothin’ But The Blues," the area’ s longest running all blues radio program. In December 2011, Joe will celebrate eleven years as host of the Big City Blues Cruise.

Joe is best known, perhaps, for his tenure as the proprietor of Joe’ s Star Lounge, the legendary Ann Arbor bar which played host to talents as diverse as Big Joe Turner, Sippie Wallace, Mose Allison, Country Joe McDonald, REM, The Violent Femmes, and Billy Bragg in its short lifetime. He has also served as entertainment coordinator for the Ann Arbor Art Fairs and created a critically acclaimed live music showcase at two Ann Arbor coffeehouses. Joe served on the board of the Ann Arbor Film Festival for 15 years and the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival for 11 years before reclaiming some personal time for more private pursuits like gardening and home renovation.

A charter member of the Krewe de WEMU, Joe looks forward to their annual trip to New Orleans for the Jazz and Heritage Festival and despite the upheaval wrought by Hurricane Katrina contemplates relocating there some day. In real life, Joe is a manager for Eastern Michigan University Dining. In his spare time, Joe enjoys performance art, live music and collecting and reading cookbooks.

Ways to Connect

The blues has a long and rich tradition and Southeast Michigan and WEMU have been part of that tradition for over 50 years. Clubs, festivals and radio have made our area a blues hotspot. Now a different kind of hotspot threatens all that history. Clubs are closed, Festivals cancelled and Covid 19 threatens blues on the radio, too.

Riley B. King, the guitarist better known as B.B. King, whose voice brought blues to the mainstream, died Thursday night. He was 89.