I gotta thank the nice folks putting together the 2013 Winterfest for inviting AC and The LiveWires to play their cool shindig! AC and the band will be doing a raucous set at Winterfest on Friday, February 15th from 6:30 to 7:30pm, AND THEN hitchhiking across town right on down to the Blue Diamond that same Friday night to finish what they started! 9pm to Midnight, No Cover, and lots of blues and originals done in the only way the LiveWires do it… full ON!

Sure would be a gas to see a bunch of old and new friends shakin’ it at these gigs!

The Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie, is bringing two superb blues and roots acts together for one special night on Friday, February 8th, as The Wood Brothers and Seth Walker will both take stage in this outstanding double-headed bill.

Oliver Wood (guitar, vocals) and Chris Wood (bass, vocals, harmonica) decided to form band, adapting the blues, folk and other roots‐music sounds they loved as kids into their own evocative sound and twining their voices in the sort of high‐lonesome harmony blend for which sibling singers are often renowned. After fifteen years of pursuing their own separate projects, they joined forces as The Wood Brothers in 2004 and have since released five CDs and toured consistently around the country.

The driving delivery and infectious down-home style of Seth Walker’s voice and songs resonate with Blues and Roots music. Although he is heavily influenced by guitar players – B.B. King, T-Bone Walker and Snooks Eaglin to name just a few – Seth also has a great gift for songwriting in the blues idiom. Seth has honed his skills for the last ten years in Austin, TX, playing among the best blues musicians in the world.

Showtime for this great evening of entertainment is 8:00 pm. Tickets are $18 advance and $20 day of show and available through www.ticketfly.com. Minors are permitted when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

After a successful first year’s event, The Coyote Kings are bringing back the Walla Walla Invitational Guitar Festival in a new two-day format that will include 17 bands in four venues. This year’s showcase will feature many of the Northwest’ finest artists, including the Randy Oxford Band, Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes, Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, the Tommy Hogan Band, Alice Stuart & The Formerlys, Snake Oil Blues Elixir, the Pat Coast Trio, Franco & The Stingers and many more. And of course The Coyote Kings featuring Mush.

It will all happen on Friday, March 8th and Saturday, March 9th with all four venues within a 3-1/2 block radius of one another. Your admission ticket gets you into all shows. As a CBA co-sponsored event, you can get a $2.00 discount on tickets when using the code “MEMBERS”. Tickets and motel/fest packages can be purchased now through the event’s website at www.wallawallaguitarfestival.com.

Along with the music, each ticket holder will also receive a ticket for a drawing with prizes including 2 guitars, a weekend getaway at a Walla Walla bed & breakfast, clothes, jewelry, food and many bottles of wine from the renowned Walla Walla wineries. Additional raffle tickets will be available for purchase.

Plus, for those who arrive a day early, there will be jam happening at Sapoli Cellars hosted by Robin Barrett & The Coyote Kings starting at 7:00 pm.

Here is the event schedule for the festival:

Thursday, March 7th:

  • Robin Barrett & Coyote Kings Jam – Sapoli Cellars

Friday, March 8th:

  • At Walla Wall Elks: Wasteland Kings, The Randy Oxford Band, Iguana Hat
  • At Sapoli Cellars: Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes, Billy Stoops & The Rectifiers, The Tommy Hogan Band

Saturday, March 9th:

  • Acoustic Showcase at noon
  • At Vintage Cellars: The Dakota Brown Band
  • At Sapoli Cellars: The Pat Coast Trio

The Large Show from 2:00 – 8:00 pm

  • At Walla Walla Elks: Coyote Kings with Mush, Bakin’ Phat, Alice Stuart & The Formerlys, Snake Oil Blues Elixir

The Guitar Crawl from 8:00 – midnight

  • At Sapoli Cellars: The Randy Oxford Band, Pappa Frita & The Hot Mustard
  • At VFW Post 992: Franco Paletta & The Stingers, The Tommy Hogan Band
  • At Walla Walla Elks: Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, The Winston Barrett Project
  • At Vintage Cellars: Franky Joe Stiffler
  • All Star Jam at Sapoli Cellars from midnight to 1:45 am hosted by Clint Carter & Curtis Johnson

Over the years, The Cascade Blues Association’s Sweethearts Dance has become a Valentine’s weekend tradition, as we have brought some of the finest local talent to help celebrate the event. That talent has included the likes of  Mary Flower, Duffy Bishop, Robbie Laws, Bill Rhoades, The Strange Tones and one year we even had Blues Music Award winner Watermelon Slim drop by to help out while he was in town. Always a fun night of the blues and dancing with that special sweetheart, we’re hoping to have you join us again this year on Friday, February 15th at Vie de Boheme (1530 SE 7th). And we’re going to make this year’s event a showcase of local Women in the Blues.

We will open the night with a familiar face if you attended last year. Melissa Buchanan sat in with the Deep Blue Soul Revue last year and she was so well received we decided to invite her and her new band to play this year. The artful subtleties and straight, but powerful delivery of the vintage masters are inspiration to Melissa as she works to deliver a performance to remember. She employs several genres of music to fit the audience mood or event ranging from jump blues to smoldering torch songs. Melissa also has a swing and blues dance background, so when it comes to performing music, danceability is of utmost importance.

Making the trip from Eugene for the second set will be the Joanne Broh Blues Band. A past finalist in the Cascade Blues Association’s Journey To Memphis and a musical mentor with United By Music, Joanne Broh is also a recipient of the Rainy Day Blues Society’s Rooster Awards for Female Vocalist. Joining Joanne for the performance are several of the Eugene area’s finest players, including Jerry Zybach, Jim Badalich, Sean Brennan and John Bryson. Joanne has been known to offer a variety of music, from rock and funk flavors, but it is always steeped heavily with the blues in everything she does.

Headlining this year’s Sweetheart Dance will be one of the quickest rising stars on the international blues scene today, and recent transplant to the Portland area from Southern Oregon, Karen Lovely. Following her taking second place at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, representing the Cascade Blues Association in 2010, Karen has released two highly praised CDs, received seven CBA Muddy Awards and was nominated for three Blues Music Awards in 2011. And she has also been a favorite for festivals and concerts throughout North America and into Europe. Joining Karen will be her regular guitarist Leonard Griffie, making the trek up from Ashland for the event, and a yet to be named group of Portland area all-stars to compliment her performance.

Vie de Boheme is an urban winery with great food and plenty of room for dancing. Admission to the Sweetheart Dance is $10 per person or $15 for couples. Everything will start at 8:00 pm, so grab your sweetheart and come celebrate Valentine’s Day with three outstanding vocalists and good friends. Always one of the most fun nights on the CBA calendar every year. Hope to see you there.

Steve James is a songsmith and bottleneck guitarist from Austin Texas, described by Third Coast Magazine as “a true Americana hero…his intensity and focus always reminds me of James Coburn’s character in the Magnificent Seven.” Del Rey hails from Seattle Washington and is a complex, pianistic guitarist, described as “a combination of Bo Carter and the Andrews Sisters.” These two powerful exponents of American vernacular guitar-playing, have joined forces to make musical testament to the hillbilly/smarty-pants/country blues aesthetic. Sharing a sense of humor and a similar manic intensity, their duets are smart, funny and full of instrumental virtuosity. Del Rey doubles on resonator ukulele and Steve James is known for his “noble savage” mandolin style.

Always a smile-inducing show, Steve James and Del Rey return to Portland for a 9:00 pm show at Duff’s Garage (1635 SE 7th) on Thursday, February 7th. This is a CBA co-sponsored event, so bring your current CBA membership card for a $1 discount at the door. Acoustic blues in its most authentic and inspiring presentation.

By Tom Harmon of Positively Entertaining Magazine

The buzz, the electricity, even before the band started, was fantastic. The band members were really enjoying the idea of performing at the Blue Diamond in Portland OR. They greeted customers and friends as they came in the door, which created a real welcoming atmosphere.

As things came about and it was time for the first set to begin the Sonny Hess Band started to cook with the very first song (an original by Sonny). The house roared with approval.

Then, by the third song, the new vocalist Vicki Stevens came up on stage. Just as she was introduced a smile came across her face and a rumba broke out (a rumba, not a rumble). Vicki’s dominance and great voice captivated the audience to its next level of interest.

Between Vicki and Sonny, Jim on bass, and Kelly on drums the crowd continued to respond after every song with outstanding approval. As the evening progressed the band was met with applause from the very first song. They started out hot and just got hotter. The Sonny Hess Band will hold your interest all night.

Sonny Hess is a great and seasoned player no doubt. Having played the Portland and regional circuit from the 80’s and 90’s Sonny played lead guitar for the Paulette N’ Power Band from 1991 to 1996. The Power Band took Portland by storm in the early 90’s winning the Best R&B Act Award by the People’s Choice Crystal Awards.

They had a tight sound with a recording contract in the works when Paulette met her untimely death. Since then, Sonny has continued looking for that “special connection” while performing in clubs and festivals with the Sonny Hess Band. When Vicki sat in with the legendary band, something happened that couldn’t be denied, it was like, MAGIC and that magic was felt by everyone.

Vicki Stevens holds a Rainy Day Blues Society Rooster Award for Best Female Blues Vocalist. She was also a semi-finalist in Memphis’ International Blues Challenge and continues to slam the Northwest audiences in the face with her bluesy vocal style and show-stopping performances. She connects with her crowds as though she knows them personally. Vicki has a dynamic presence on stage. When she sings and moves the audience is focused on her. She molds herself to each song as she performs them. She’s an artist with great expression.

Sonny Hess is the first woman guitar player to hold a nomination for Best Lead Guitar Muddy Award by the Cascade Blues Association as well as a nomination for a lifetime Achievement Award. She has implemented many music programs in the area, fundraisers and benefits, and is known for her productions of the NW Women R&B shows. Hess started playing guitar when she was eight years old. Her influences have been Grand Funk, John and Edgar Winter, Clapton, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt.

Bass player Jim Hively had some of the most slick bass lines and runs. Using his five string custom bass he ran off eighth notes that created a full sound while playing off lead guitarist Hess. The fullness of his playing made the band sound complete something not always achieved by a three piece band. Hively has played ever since he was a kid at school and at church. He was influenced early by bands like Earth, Wind and Fire, Cold Blood, and others. He’s played with Sonny Hess for the last nine years and is excited about the possibilities that the band has.

Drummer Kelly Pierce has professional delivery in every song he plays whether it’s funk, blues, or rock. Tonight both he and Jim were in the pocket on every song. The energy he pours into the Sonny Hess Band behind the drums shines. He’s played with Sonny for eighteen years providing the driving force behind her guitar playing. Playing since he was sixteen his early influences were Tony Williams, John Bonham, and Sonny Payne (Big Band and Swing). He recently was in the studio with Hess and Hively finishing their most recent CD.

The mix for the band was perfect. Each player maintained a volume that didn’t overpower anybody and the vocals were clearly heard from all four mics. And their harmonies were strong and right on.

So what’s in the future for the Sonny Hess Band? Sonny has planned on being a regional touring act. They have national ability and are looking for a good deal. Just recently they released a new CD All Aces and another CD is planned to come out in 2013.

For bookings contact Sonny Hess at www.sonnyhess.com

The Blue Diamond bar is located at 2016 NE Sandy Blvd Portland. The Blue Diamond is a long time club that features Rock, Blues, and Funk entertainment. Steve the owner offers a complete menu with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner and lunch specials are offered daily (a favorite dish is the Halibut Bites). The food is great and is served by an excellent staff. There is a full bar with large screen TV’s and slot machines. It’s a great atmosphere. Open from 10am til 12am with entertainment six nights a week. If you’ve never been here you should come in for a visit.

Robben Ford is one of the premier electric guitarists today, particularly known for his blues playing as well as his ability to be comfortable in a variety of musical contexts. A five-time Grammy nominee, he has played with artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Miles Davis, George Harrison, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Claus Ogerman, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Greg Allman, John Scofield and many others. Ford will be returning to Portland for a show at the Aladdin Theater on Tuesday, February 26th and will be celebrating the release of his latest album, Bringing It Back Home (the new album will be released on February 19th). With this new disc, Ford returns to his first musical love, the blues, with songs ranging from the early Delta masters to the more urban sounds of classic Stax soul.

Tickets for Robben Ford are available through www.ticketfly.com, $30 advance or at the Aladdin box office for $35 day of show. Minors are permitted with a parent or guardian. Show time is 8:00 pm. Make a point to get your tickets early as Robben Ford always fills the house in Portland.

Somethin’ a lil’ different for Tuesdays in February! Every Tuesday at the Blue Diamond (20th and NE Sandy), Bluesman and NW Harmonica icon-extraordinaire BILL RHOADES will be holding court in a cool, laidback style with local blues guitarists WHIT DRAPER (Sportin’ Lifers, etc…) and AC PORTER (LiveWires, etc…) in a trio that just wants to have a good time and lay down some serious blues for y’all. Some acoustic, some electric, some city, some country, some sweet, some stanky….you get the idea. This will be the first time all three of these cats have had the chance to play together at the same time, and it will absolutely be a jukin’ good time! Starts at 8pm to 11 every Tuesday, and NO Cover! (I bet a few choice friends sneak in to add to the musical atmosphere, too!)