The maiden voyage of Mr. B’s Joybox Express last year was so successful that the famed blues and boogie-woogie pianist is hitting the road again–and even expanding his route.

Last summer, pedaling a one-of-a-kind bicycle built especially for him, Mark “Mr. B.” Braun pulled his 352-pound Baldwin spinet 150 miles throughout southeast Michigan, playing concerts in various settings along the way. This year he’s going coast-to-coast, riding 300 miles from Lake Michigan to the Detroit River. Drummer Pete Siers and guitarist Brian Delaney will be riding pusher bikes attached to Mr. B’s outfit, while Carl Hildebrand, on a separate bike, will pull his standup bass with his own special rig.

Starting in Saugatuck on July 2, the Joybox Express will make stops in Holland, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Howell, and Chelsea, before puffing into Ann Arbor on July 11, just in time to appear at the final night at Top of the Park. Then it’s on to Ypsilanti and the end of the line in Detroit on July 14.

Though expanded from a solo act to a quartet, the Express will still be compact–and green. Siers has managed to fit his entire drum kit into a Samsonite suitcase, with the large luggage piece itself serving as the bass drum. Delaney, who plays electric guitar through a small amplifier, will supply his own electricity with solar panels and pedal power.

The Joybox Express has already made a couple of local appearances this spring with warmly received dry runs at the Ark and at Wines Elementary School. The quartet has also recorded a live album they say will be available in time for the tour. And of course Mr. B will be back at the art fairs starting July 21 for the thirty-first consecutive year.

The tour has its own website,, where fans can track its itinerary, arrange to ride along, or make contributions to the organizations benefiting from the trip. Last year, the Joybox Express raised $2,500 for organizations that promote the arts and athletics for children. With a bigger band and a longer run, Braun hopes to do considerably better this year.