The Band

Al Kalaf

– Electric Bass

Al’s bass playing forms the spokes of the rhythm wheel that connects to the drumming hub to roll the band down the musical highway. His five string bass approach allows the Terraplanes to call on those places they visit on any given night’s performance; jumpin’ Chicago blues, funky Memphis grooves, Motown, West Coast swing, New Orleans bounce,and Texas backbeat. Al has over twenty years of performance experience in the area including ten years playing with the likes of the Glen Eddy Band, the Steve Somers Band, and Joe Leabau and the Cool Flames band. He was the house bass player for the Steve Somers jam session at TCs for over a year. His influences include Don(Duck) Dunn, Ralph Armstrong,Walter Becker.

Jim Merte

– Keyboards, Vocals

This Ann Arbor native brings fluidity, diversity and experience from blues, jazz, rock and soul influences that round out and accelerate the bands driving sound. Jim remembers Monday nights at the Blind Pig hanging out and learning from the master, Boogie Woogie Red on the piano and cites Ray Charles as inspiration and aspiration. He began studying classical piano at age 5 and continued through his teens. His skills at classical instrumentation give him a keen ear for notation, pitch and tempo.

He lost a bet in the early 80s and learned and started playing fiddle in several country, bluegrass, and western swing bands. Over the ensuing 20 years Jim has played in several orchestras, Ann Arbor, Plymouth, and Allen Park symphonies, played in rock and roll bands, and honed hjis skills for country, blue grass, wedding, soul, Motown, and jazz,. “What some might call a short attention span in musical styles I like to think of it as an eclectic love of all music. Influences have been numerous depending on the genre but if I could acquire the talents and musical genius of just one person it would be that of the late Ray Charles.”

George Eberhardt, Jr.

– Drums:
DRIVETRAIN of The Terraplanes – The Terraplanes are honored to welcome drummer George Eberhardt to the band’s core composition. Currently considered the “drive train” of this region’s favorite blues and roots band, George contributes an incredible breadth of experience to The Terraplanes. His unique and valuable personal philosophy enhances the band’s continued success and commitment to the heritage of roots music.

Aside from his formal academic training at WCC and MSU, George has spent many years in experiential training as a professional drummer. His diverse repertoire includes the area’s most popular Jazz and Blues bands, as well as community gospel and improvisational groups. George’s musical influences include Tower of Power, Earth, Wind & Fire, and The Chick Corea Band. His prominence as a leader and importance as a major performer in The Terraplanes has recently been confirmed at major events at Conor O’Neill’s Tavern in Ann Arbor and Guy Hollerin’s Pub at the Holiday Inn of Ann Arbor.

George’s commitment to educating and furthering the promotion of talented young musicians is captured in his motto of “always help others”. He furthers contributes to the mission of all blues musicians with his profound “Be flexible, take what the song gives you. Sometimes, we play drum fills, solos…but most of the time we have to be keepers/traffic directors. Most importantly…great pocket.”

With the addition of this experienced musician as an essential component, The Terraplanes continue in their dedication to providing the best of roots and blues performances in the region.

Willie Rankins

– Saxophone, Vocals

Saxophonist Willie Rankins brings it home with a rich tone and musicality steeped in traditional rhythm & blues, gospel and jazz. Since his first gig at age 9 at the Star Bethel Baptist church in his hometown of Emeryville, California, he has found his calling as a musician. Through touring, recording, composing and jamming, Willie has come into contact with many great names in the music world — Albert King, Junior Walker All-Star Tribute Band, Sugar Pie Desanto, Sly Stone , Tower of Power, Martha Reeves, the Contours are a few of the names on the list.
His tenure with this caliber of musicians gives him the professionalism and sense of humility that melds with his talent. Whether he is keeping rhythm with a selective riff, hitting the highest notes, or growling in lower range, his skill is a catalyst which drives the Terraplanes to a peak performance; it is in the sweet soul sound of Willie’s saxophone.

Pete Bullard

– Guitar, Vocals

The musical roadmap for The Terraplanes covers many regions and your guide is in the capable hands of guitarist,Pete Bullard. Whether it’s Chicago blues, Texas swing, Memphis soul, Louisiana R&B, or good ol’ rock-n-roll, Pete will rev up your engine with tasty, well-placed guitar solos and rhythms. His rendition of T-bone Walker, Freddie King, and Chuck Berry songs display his top shelf guitar work along with vocal tributes to these musical greats. His 25+ years of working with various jump-blues and rock bands in SE Michigan have kept Pete busy doing roadwork for Wixom Slim, Mike May & The Messarounds, Doug Deming, and The Shelter Dogs.

Jerry Mack

– Guitar, Percussion, Vocals

The founding member of the band has performed with various groups around Ann Arbor for more than 25 years. He fills double roles as songwriter/arranger for many of the group’s original tunes. Jerry is also known regionally as the former writer of a blues review column for Current Magazine, Ann Arbor’s Entertainment Monthly. He maintains an excellent reputation as the host of “Nothin’ But the Blues” and “Yazoo City Calling”, two radio shows featured on WCBN-88.3FM. His history as emcee of these shows since 1981 has enabled him to interview some of the greatest blues artists of all time, including Willie Dixon, Sunnyland Slim, Blind John Davis, Koko Taylor, and Luther Allison.

Jerry has also organized, managed, and performed as host of several open-mic blues jams around the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area, including such venues as The Blind Pig, The Tap Room, The Arbor Brewing Company, and The Apartment Lounge. His diverse vocal range permits him to contribute not only a barrelhouse growl at the bottom end of the blues spectrum, but to assist in the higher notes of the group’s back up harmonies.

Jerry’s breadth of experience on the music scene as well as his vast knowledge of the history of the blues has earned him the reputation of a true “blues authority” in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area. His many years of performing in the music world brings a depth to The Terraplanes sound which is often lacking in contemporary blues performances bands today.