Blues and roots fans know that the soundtrack to early rock’ n’ roll ran on three-minute instrumentals with sax in the lead, and was directly related to 1950s and 1960s New Orleans R&B hits, along with that deep-fried wildness that came from Memphis. With this history lesson, old school rock ‘n’ soul saxophonist and singer Terry Hanck makes perfect sense. Clearly, Hanck has worshipped at the right Southern altars–those of such iconic R&B brothers as Fats Domino, Ray Charles, B. B. King, Lee Allen and King Curtis. “I write songs that you think you’ve heard for years,” says the South Florida-based Hanck, who’s got suave movie-star looks and a good time presence that immutably anchors the old-style R&B he adores.

As Living Blues writer Lee Hildebrand testified, “Hanck is one of the most formidable saxophonists in the blues and soul business. He has a virile tone and attack and an uncanny command of upper-register notes.” But, whether it is a joyous jump blues romp or a steamy slow dance of a stroll–this is the kind of music that has mattered to the tall tenor man all his life.

Terry Hanck received the 2012 Blues Music Award for Horn Player and he is nominated once again this year. He will be returning to Portland for a show at Duff’s Garage on Thursday, May 16th, joined by an outstanding band of some of California’s finest sidemen, “Johnny Cat” Soubrand on Guitar, Butch Cousins on Drums and Tim Wagar on Bass. Tickets are $12.00 and this is a CBA co-sponsored event, so show your card at the door for a $1.00 discount. Duff’s Garage is located at 1635 SE 7th and showtime is 9:00 pm.

The New Iberians, one of Portland’s premier zydeco-blues bands are going to hold a fais do do at The LaurelThirst Public House in celebration of their latest CD release, Pingaddamidy! Join them Friday May 17th. You’re always guaranteed a good time when it comes to The New Iberians, who just dare you to try to sit still while they play their infectious dance tunes flavored with the hot sauce of Louisiana-based themes and rhythms. Led by the sensational trio of Evan Shlaes on accordion/vocals, Claes Almroth on harmonica and Paul Bassette on rubboard, they present a authentic sound that proves that you do not need to travel to Louisiana to hear some of the best renditions of this genre when you’ve got a band like The New Iberians right here in the Northwest. Grab your Mardi Gras beads and second line over to The LaurelThirst for a rousing party.

The LaurelThirst Public House is located at 2958 NE Glisan. Showtime is 9:00 pm.

In 1952, ethnomusicologist Harry Smith released the seminal recordings The Anthology of American Folk Music. The 84 songs collected on the original three 2-LP sets became some of the most influential numbers for the folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, with renowned musicians such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez citing its impact of their songwriting. ” It is like looking back in time, sort of like the Hubble telescope, only we are looking at images from our own human heritage, and perhaps ourselves. a “genetic code” for modern music.”

Harry Smith was born in Portland, Oregon in May 1923, so in recognition of his birthdate the Mission Theater will be hosting a little hometown celebration on Saturday, May 18th. Emcee’d by Miz Kitty and following the artist direction of Joe McMurrian, the event will be an all-star extravaganza featuring artists from multiple genres proving that the recordings released back in 1952 still have an impact today.

Among those appearing will be several blues artists to note. Along with Joe McMurrian, they will include Alice Stuart, Mark Lemhouse, Lauren Sheehan, Tony Furtado, Tevis Hodge Jr, Anne Weiss, Thad Beckman and multitudes more.

The Mission Theater is located at 1624 NW Glisan. Showtime is 7:00 pm and tickets are available through, $15 advance and $20 day of show. This is a 21 & over event only.

Last fall, Steve Kerin went back home to visit his friends and family in Lafayette, Louisiana. While there, he gathered a few of his friends and laid down the tracks that make up his latest CD titled Joy. Though he has already celebrated its release with shows down South, it is now time to throw a little party in his current home town of Portland. Joy is filled with various musical visions behind the mind of Steve Kerin and the dozen numbers on the disc are all well-crafted and a delight to hear. Here’s your chance to catch the songs performed live by Steve and a few of his friends, plus the opportunity to pick up a copy of your own. The CD release party will be held at Duff’s Garage (1635 SE 7th) on Sunday, May 19th. This will be an early show, starting at 7:00 pm. Ticket price is $12.00, but as a CBA co-sponsored event, members can obtain a $1.00 discount at the door by showing the current membership card.

Song Isle Publishing

 Since first moving up to the Portland area from Louisiana just a few short years ago, Steve Kerin has captured the listening audience here with his stunning work on the piano and has earned himself two Muddy Awards as keyboardist. Well versed in the styles of New Orleans masters like James Booker, Dr John and Professor Longhair, Steve is quite the accomplished crafter of his own material as well. Having showcased his talents with several bands in Portland, including Atomic Gumbo, Berthaline, Franco & The Stingers and Kolvane as well as others, Steve returned to his native Lafayette, Louisiana to put together his new CD, Joy.

The album features almost entirely Louisiana-based musicians, such as Jerry LeJeune on drums, Pat Breaux on accordion and Michael Juan Nunez on guitar, providing that truly authentic flavor of the Bayou and Crescent City. Portland guitarist Bob Shoemaker also makes an appearance throwing down some fine slide guitar. And Steve himself did the work of a one-man army of studio sidemen having played not only piano, but also guitar, bass, organ, triangle, accordion, ukulele and various strings and percussion.

Like the music of Louisiana, Joy takes on a variety of different sounds. They come across very chameleon-like with their interpretation with Steve rolling through several approaches that can cross-over to genres like Cajun, country, folk, rock, funk and blues. All done in spectacular fashion, the twelve selections are all Steve Kerin originals.

There is much to like here. I love the sassiness in “Everything Is Temporary,” uh-huh, yeah right! The deep down bluesy sound on the piano on “Bonnie And Clyde.” How much that “Greg’s Song” sounds like it could’ve been pulled right off from a Robbie Robertson recording. The beauty of “Joy” and “Blueberry Way.” The funkiness on “Cards.” The interplay of piano and slide guitar on “Yesterday,” that comes across to me as very John Lennon-like in its lyrics and approach. And closing with the acoustics of ukulele, fiddle, accordion and percussion on “Waikiki Yacht Club” weaving into the dialing of a radio focusing into the Lafayette station and segueing into an incredibly played piano solo that leaves a nice gentle flavor in your mind that makes you want to turn around and play the whole disc all over again.

Steve Kerin has a definite winning release with Joy. An amalgamation of fun sounds that befits the title.

Total Time: 50:47

One To The Bottle / Bonnie And Clyde / Joy / Everything Is Temporary / Yesterday / Going To Louisiana / Greg’s Song / Walking Down The Road / Cards / Blueberry Way / I Aint’s Complaining / Waikiki Yacht Club

New Iberians CD cover Pingaddamidy

New Iberians CD cover PingaddamidyPingaddamidy!
Argess Records

Portland’s favorite purveyors of good-time Cajun and zydeco are back at it again with a brand new release, Pingaddamidy!, that proves that a band does not have to hail from Louisiana to do this music right. The New Iberians have been showcasing their local blend of blues and zydeco for a number of years and are always the life of any dance party.

Pingaddamidy! was recorded at Falcon Studios under the ever keen direction of Terry Robb and Dennis Carter. These guys know how to capture the true essence and talent of the performers they work with, and with The New Iberians it’d be hard to miss with such stellar players on hand. Evan Shlaes is front and center on every track with his cool hand accordion and vocals, enhanced by Claes Almroth’s harmonica and Paul Bassette’s rubboard providing a truly authentic sound.

These are songs that are meant to be danced to and if you can make it through the opening track “Are You Ready?” without feeling the urge to move around, you might want to check your pulse. It’s just natural to want to get up and shake it with The New Iberians. The feeling holds throughout the nine selections on the disc, all originals written by Evan Shlaes, with themes about barbecue, holding Sundays close to his heart as the day his baby and he get to spend together, and gathering for a second line with mention of some of Louisiana’s most favored musicians leading the way.

For those with a passion for all things Louisiana-based, zydeco or just plain fun, Pingaddamidy! will keep you happy with much repeated plays for sure. Oh yeah, if you’re trying to figure out how to pronounce the title, it is Creole slang for “Pink God Almighty.”

Total time: 35:53

Are You Ready? / The Barbecue Song / Mercy / Soul Creole / Port Soleil / Pingaddamidy! / Sweet Sunday / Place In The Sun / Second Line

The Light Still Burns
Wilson River Records

This new CD by Lauren Sheehan is the companion piece to a book written by John Thomas titled, “Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary & Gibson’s ‘Banner’ Guitars of World War II.” Gibson Guitars have stated in the past that during the War production of their instruments had ceased. But in reality some 9000 guitars were made under the Banner label during those years, which is in fact manufactured by Gibson. The real story behind these creations, though, was that with many American men sent overseas to fight, the production was handled mostly by a group of women in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and many with no previous experience in building guitars.

Portland-based roots musician Lauren Sheehan was invited to come back to New Haven, Connecticut and to record an album using these classic guitars. She found herself surrounded by the instruments and the dozen tracks found on The Light Still Burns were all recorded with a different guitar on each number.

The song selections include many traditional Americana songs such as “Old Folk At Home,” “America The Beautiful” and “When Johnny comes Marching Home.” Songs that were probably well-known by the makers and players of these instruments. There are also a handful of period pieces that were originally recorded during this time frame, such as “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” and “In The Sweet Bye And Bye/Keep On The Sunny Side.” Many of her interpretations of the songs were influenced by artists who Lauren has had connections with over the years like John Jackson and Cephas & Wiggins. “C Medley” is a collection of songs by Etta Baker and Lauren does a remarkable job at recreating the famed guitarist’s work. The disc also includes a newer track written by Gillian Welch called “Hard Times.”

Overall, the sound quality of these guitars is amazing. Lauren’s playing is impeccable and her voice suits the numbers especially well. The Light Still Burns is a nice reflection of music from our country’s past that still can bear meaning. The story of the Kalamazoo Gals is also exceptional and this album will keep the sound and legend of their work alive.

Total Time: 37:28

I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate / Precious Lord / Old Folks At Home / Bearcat Blues / C Medley / In The Sweet Bye And Bye – Keep On The Sunny Side / Soldier’s Joy / When Johnny Comes Marching Home – Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya / America The Beautiful / Home On The Range / Hard Times / My Baby’s So Sweet

Jim Mesi Band CD coverI’m Ready
Self Produced

 The Jim Mesi Band is back with their first new recording after several years and it is definitely a winner on all counts. I’m Ready is packed full of song selections, many that the band has showcased for a number of years, with rocking numbers next to soul and blues, all featuring superb instrumentation from the band.

Jim Mesi is a legend on the West Coast for his guitar tone and phrasing. His solos are highly imaginative and interesting every time out. Even if a song may be a tried and true standard that you’ve heard a hundred times before, Mesi can lay down a guitar pattern that will make you turn your head and note that it is something new that works perfectly. And he does just that multiple times on I’m Ready.

The band works like a well-timed engine. There are no misses or pings to be found. A true ensemble that feeds off one another musically to a tee. Ed Neumann’s keyboards are a great foil to Mesi’s guitar, blending naturally, while the rhythm section is solid with bassist Scott White and drummer Johnny Moore laying down the tempo masterfully. White and Neumann alternate throughout the disc on vocals and horn fills are provided by saxophonists Al Zion and Pete Moss.

The song offerings are terrific, with highlight covers including The Neville Brothers’ classic “Yellow Moon,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” John Hiatt’s “Feels Like Rain” and “Can I Change My Mind” best known by Tyrone Davis. There are also a handful of originals including a Mesi-written instrumental titled “Palm Trees” that offers nice mellow guitar work. Ed Neumann penned three of the songs with “Lonnie’s Song” and “My Monkey’s Move” both filled with humorous lyrics.

The most note-worthy track on the disc was actually recorded by Ed Neumann several years ago, without being released until now. Titled “Blues For Me,” the song is highlighted by the harmonica playing of the late Paul deLay, joining Mesi, his former guitarist from Brown Sugar and the original Paul deLay Band, for the first time on disc for many years. It is certainly a number that can bring back many memories.

I’m Ready is a welcome release by the Jim Mesi Band. It has been way too long between discs and it’s good to hear that sensational guitar playing once again, backed by a stellar band. Portland’s guitar hero is back and in a big way!

Total Time: 60:48

I’m Ready / Yellow Moon / Hootchie Coo / Change Gonna Come / Change My Mind / Unchain My Heart / Feels Like Rain / Lonnie’s Song / Fannie Mae / Blues For Me / My Monkey’s Move / C.O.D. / Palm Trees / Still Wanna Be Your Man / Changes

Better For You
Self Produced

There is no shortage of great blues artists in Canada these days, but this new CD by guitarist Chris Antonik just may be one of the finest releases coming from The Great White North in many a year. Recorded in Toronto, Better For You is the sophomore release from Antonik, whose first disc garnered him a best new artist nomination at Canada’s Maple Blues Award. And as terrific as that debut album was, this one takes it even a step higher.

Antonik not only proves himself as a superb guitarist, he also makes his mark strongly as a songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote ten of the eleven songs, the lone exception a stellar take of Big Walter Horton’s “Have A Good Time.” The guitar runs throughout are ingenious and exciting, rich in tone and never overplayed. He also takes on more vocals with this release and comes across with true feeling behind his words. Some of the lyrics are based on personal experiences, while he claims others are just stories he has put together. But they run the gauntlet of love lost, being on the road and the desire to be back home with family.

The cast that Antonik has put together for Better For You is like a who’s who of fellow blues countrymen and women. MonkeyJunk’s Steve Marriner, guitarist Suzie Vinnick, The Fat Cat’s Josh Williams, pianist Julian Fauth and vocalist Shakura S’aida. Also on hand is The Tedeschi-Trucks Band’s Mike Mattison. They all help to make Antonik’s album a living and breathing masterpiece.

Two discs behind him in his short career so far and both are prime examples that Chris Antonik is a blues star rising. Make note of this artist and take a listen to Better For You; he is pretty convincing of his talent.

Total Time: 48:53

Long Way To Go / Turn To Shine / Come From A Good Place / Broken Man / Have A Good Time / Shake Me Down / Better For You / Nothing I Can Do / Tell Me What You Need / So Tired / I’ll Help You Through

Out Of My Mind
Yellow Dog Records

In the opening two-part “Ol’ Mama Dean,” Cassie Taylor tells the story of an abused woman who finally takes measures into her own hands and kills her partner. It is the extreme and she knows she will have to pay for her crime, but alas she now has freedom for her pain. It is an example of the detailed story-telling that Taylor has developed in her young life. But though she may be only 26 years old, she has already seen and worked the musical circuit for more than a decade, first accompanying her father, Otis Taylor, in his band as a vocalist and bassist, and several years on her own and touring with fellow young female artists Dani Wilde and Samantha Fish.

Cassie Taylor is a strong person and a strong songwriter. Her songs may often take on personal themes, but also like her father, she is not afraid to speak her mind or let her political stance show through. On her debut Yellow Dog Records release, Out Of My Mind, her lyrics are terrific and captivating. She also provides work on the piano, Hammond organ and theremin as well as her bass playing and singing.

Most of the songs feature just her in a trio format with drummer Larry Thompson and guitar whiz Steve Mignano, who has worked with people like Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Jean-Luc Ponty and his own fusion band Tribal Tech. It is Mignano’s interactions with Taylor on the disc that really make each of the songs speak out loud. Trumpet player John Gray also adds the right amount of flavoring on tracks like “New Orleans” and “Forgiveness.”

Taylor does not offer blues in your traditional 12-bar manner; instead bringing forth her own take on modern methods to the genre. She states that it is more a sign of the times and the music influences that she has been exposed to. Who knows whether Muddy Waters or Memphis Minnie would have had a different sound today if they had been exposed to the diversity of electronic music, punk rock or West African psychedelic rock. This is her version of the “blues as a continuum connecting the past and the present.”

There is plenty to enjoy on Out Of My Mind. She gives her boyfriend the very open hint to “put a ring on my finger” in “No Ring Blues.” The life-long commitments that lovers make in “Lay My Head On Your Pillow.” Her sensational vocals alongside acoustic guitar and trumpet on “Forgiveness.” And closing the disc with “Alone,” featuring Taylor on piano along with guitar interplay from Mignano. The song is beautifully done and the perfect track to close out a well put together album.

Cassie Taylor continues to grow as an artist and is destined to take the forefront; as if she has not already done just that already in her brief career working with younger musicians and holding a spot on The Blues Foundation’s board of directors. A mover and shaker in the newest of the blues’ generations, expect to see Cassie Taylor remain in the spotlight for many years to come.

Total Time: 49:51

Ol’ Mama Dean (Part 1) / Ol’ Mama Dean (Part 2) / Spare Some Love / Out Of My Mind (Intro) / Out Of My Mind / Lay My Head On Your Pillow / New Orleans / No Ring Blues / No No / Forgiveness / Gone And Dead / That’s My Man / Again