Former SNL musician brings the blues to NIU

By Rob Heselbarth

Anyone feeling a little blue this week can let it all out while listening to some great blues music.

At 8 p.m. tonight in the Duke Ellington Ballroom, “Blue Lou” Marini will be the guest artist at the NIU Jazz Ensemble’s spring concert. Admission is free.

Marini was the saxophone player for the Blues Brothers Band and also performed in the original Saturday Night Live band.

Marini was born in Charleston, S.C., grew up in a little town in Ohio, started playing clarinet when he was 10 and graduated from North Texas State University.

“A lot of what I first heard was from big bands like Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman,” Marini said. “My dad was a lover of big bands, and got me hooked on the music.

“I moved to New York to play with Doc Severinson, and two months later I got an audition with Blood, Sweat and Tears and joined up with them,” Marini said.

Eventually, he ended up playing saxophone for the Saturday Night Live band, where his career expanded.

Marini said the whole Blues Brothers thing started out as John Belushi and Dan Akroyd doing warm-up tunes with the Saturday Night Live band before the shows.

“We did it one night and got a tremendous response from the audience,” he said. “That night some of the skits didn’t go too well, so they asked us if we would do the Blues Brothers on the show the following week.

“That summer, the band started off with a gig opening for Steve Martin 13 nights at the Universal Amphitheater,” he said. “Belushi got an opportunity to do something with Atlantic Records, and it took off from there.

“The band has been playing together as the Blues Brothers Band for the past three-and-a-half years,” he said. “We have a big selling out in Europe.”

The Blues Brothers Band just cut an album, and plans to release a video with Dan Akroyd sometime next week.

Marini said his visit to NIU is for educational purposes. “Doing something like this is payback for those times when older cats helped me out.”

Ron Modell, director of the NIU Jazz Ensemble, said Marini has been to NIU before. “Lou has played here before, and people really enjoyed it. It’s great to have him play here again,” Modell said.