MANKATO — An area blues favorite returns on Saturday when Blue Max performs at the What's Up Lounge.
Howard "Guitar" Luedtke and wife Deb Klossner, herself a New Ulm native, form the backbone of Blue Max, a Wisconsin-based blues ensemble with a muscular, robust sound. Anchored by Luedtke's masterful work on slide guitar — the Chippewa Falls, Wis., native is hailed as one of the premier players in the region — Blue Max has made itself into a Midwest mainstay since its debut in 1982.
Before marrying Luedtke, Klossner was a well-traveled local musician who played in a variety of bands. Since joining Luedtke and Blue Max, the pair has made Mankato into a sort of home away from home.
The band appears regularly on area festival bills, including Brew Fest, River Blast and Blues on Belgrade. They played the well-worn but beloved Blue Moon in Kasota before it closed, played the What’s Up Lounge on the eve of Y2K on Dec. 31, 1999, and Luedtke said the long gone Square Deal in Mankato was one of his favorite venues. Earlier this year, Blue Max became the first band to perform for a second time at the Ambassadors' Blues Festival in St. Peter.
According to promotional materials, Howard and Blue Max have opened up for or played alongside some of the best musicians in the blues world, including: Long John Baldrey, Sugar Blue, Lonnie Brooks, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, Debbie Davies, Tinsley Ellis, Jeff Healey, Jimmy Johnson, Kenny Neal, A.C. Reed, Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang, James Solberg, Hubert Sumlin, Koko Taylor, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Joe Louis Walker and Howard’s guitar idol, Johnny Winter."
For more information about Luedtke and Blue Max, visit www.howardluedtke.com.
If You Go What Blue Max When 8 p.m. on Saturday Where What's Up Lounge, 701 N. Riverfront Drive Admission $6 Notes Ages 21-plus only.