Looking back over this past year, it seems that Portland’s own beloved blues musician Lisa Mann has been marking one

Lisa Mann

Lisa Mann

stellar accomplishment after another following the release of her Move On recording and major touring and festival appearances. The end of the year accolades keep rolling in, so we thought we’d give you a quick run-down on what an amazing year it has been:

  • Move On receives steady action throughout the year in both the Living Blues and Roots Music Charts and international radio play
  • Lisa is a featured story in America Blues Scene online magazine
  • Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band play the Blues Bender Festival in Las Vegas and have been invited back in 2015
  • Move On is selected by the Cascade Blues Association as its representative for The Blues Foundation’s Best Self-Produced CD competition
  • Lisa receives three Muddy Awards for Contemporary Band of the Year, Bass Player, and Northwest Recording of the Year for Move On
  • Lisa is named the Sean Costello Rising Star Award winner by Blues Blast online magazine and she performs at the Awards Ceremony in Champaign, Illinois playing with Andy T and Josh Hoyer
  • Move On is named the Blues Rock Album of the Year by Blues 411 online magazine
  • Lisa receives a nomination by The Blues Foundation for the Blues Music Awards in the category Best Instrumentalist – Bass

Congratulations Lisa! You make Portland and the CBA proud!

(Please note, due to her nomination for the Blues Music Awards, her entry as the CBA’s representative in the Best Self-Produced CD competition has become ineligible. That’s just how the rules are written and we were aware of this possibility in advance.)

Sammy Eubanks is one of those special vocalists that only come around once in a blue moon. So smooth that he has been nicknamed “The Voice” and has received nine vocalist of the year awards from the Inland Empire and Washington Blues Societies, meriting Hall of Fame status with both. Sammy reached the semi-finals at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

sammy eubanks - photo by Greg JohnsonWhen you think of it, artists like BB King, Robert Cray, Little Ed and Blues Imperials, Philip Walker, Kenny Neal and anyone that plays the Blues has been honing their craft their entire lives. At the other end of the spectrum artists like George Jones, George Strait, Marty Stuart, Merle Haggard, Lee Roy Parnell and anyone who has ever banged it out in a Honky Tonk have been honing their craft as well. Sammy can stand on either stage and has many times. It was recently stated,” Along the borderline between Country and Blues some genius arises. Delbert McClinton and Sammy Eubanks have the same borderline genre.”

Though living in Northern Idaho, Sammy Eubanks does not make it to the Portland area very often. But when he does, it is always an event to behold. With drummer Michael Hays and bassist Dave Nordstrom, this trio can put out a lot of sound and recently signed with Spokane’s Mission Control Records. Sammy Eubanks will be back in the area on Saturday, January 17th at The Lehrer, 8775 SW Canyon Lane, for an 8:00 pm show. Opening set by the Bottleneck Blues Band. Admission is $10.00. Definitely a not to miss show

Too Many Roads
Ruf Records

Thorbjorn Risager CD coverThis is the eighth album released by Danish bluesman Thorbjorn Risager and it is truly a testimony to his prolific songwriting abilities and his knack for creating high quality sounding music. He has an authentic feel for a European performing American-based music. It is catchy and the lyrics are intensely deep in their emotions and delivered through a variety of musical angles that can be deep down home bluesy and haunting (“Too Many Roads”) with nice slide acoustic guitar, maybe a bit jazzy perhaps loungy (“Drowning”) and sometimes soulful (“Through the Tears”). But whatever direction, this is an act to be heard. It’s certainly quite a fresh sound and maybe something you didn’t expect from a European blues band. The band, the Black Tornado, consists of seven over the top players that includes a sharp horn section. Risager himself has a rich voice with a range that can read gritty or smooth depending on the song at hand, and his guitar playing is also well done.

“High Rolling” is a rocker that builds in momentum and has a biting guitar solo midway through, telling the story about how love can be sometimes like a gamble, capable of going in either direction. “Rich Man” with its horn punctuations reminds me of classic New Orleans R&B that may have been at home being sung by Ernie K-Doe or Bennie Spellman. That is followed by “Play On” that easily brings to mind the frenetic piano boogie styling of Jerry Lee Lewis. There is even a cover of an old Nat King Cole, “China Gate.” In fact, that is the only cover on the disc. The original material was penned one each by guitar player Peter Skjerning (“Backseat Driver”) and drummer Martin Seidlin (“Rich Man”), with all the others written by Risager himself.

All of the selections are modern, but they still draw from traditional bases such as failing relationships and choices made throughout one’s life, be they good or bad. Too Many Roads is an exceptional album in every sense. Who would’ve thought that one of the most refreshing new blues directions of the year would come from Denmark. Well worth hearing.

Total Time: 48:27

If You Wanna Leave / Too Many Roads / China Gate / Paradise / Drowning / Backseat Driver / Through The Tears / High Rolling / Long Forgotten Track / Red Hot & Blue / Rich Man / Play On

During the late ’70s, Rockpile was the touring band for both Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. Like Edmunds, the band was passionate about traditional rock & roll. Like Lowe, the band played with a reckless, trashy abandon. Driven by the powerful rhythm section of drummer Terry Williams and Lowe’s bass, guitarists Billy Bremner and Edmunds were free to spit out crushing rock, blues, rockabilly, and country licks. With their fierce live energy and unpretentious rock & roll, the band fit easily into the post-punk new wave at the end of the decade. Although they only released one album as a group — 1980’s Seconds of Pleasure — the band provided support for most of the albums Lowe and Edmunds recorded in the late ’70s. After the rushed release of Seconds of Pleasure, the band toured one last time before splitting apart, largely due to mismanagement. (AllMusic.com)

The band nevertheless was inspirational for many musicians. Coming on Saturday, January 24th, a group of local musicians including members of The Sportin’ Lifers (Whit Draper, Erin Wallace and Steve Cleveland), Albert Reda, Jonathan Beyer and guests Jeremy Wilson, Steve Lockwood, Sean Flora and possibly Jim Wallace, will be presenting a tribute show to the band at Duff’s Garage,2530 NE 82nd. With this bluesy grouping you know it’s going to fun, so come out and hear some of those great old tunes like “You Ain’t Nothing But Fine,” “A Knife And A Fork,” “Pet You And Hold You,” “Teacher Teacher” and more than likely a number of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmonds solo material, too. Showtime is 9:00 pm.

Everything I Need

RJ Mischo CD coverR.J. Mischo may have moved from Minnesota many years back now, and has landed in both California and Arkansas in the ensuing years since, but he has always maintained a great relationship with those he’s worked with in the Midwest as he is often joined by former bandmates guitarist Jeremy Johnson and keyboard master Bruce McCabe, along with a number of other pals like Little Frank Krakwoski on guitar, Billy Black on bass, percussionist Richard Medek, and Victor Span on drums, there to give him a needed hand whenever the call is made.

Mischo returned to the Twin Cities to record his latest release Everything I Need and indeed made the call to all of those aforementioned friends. And as you would expect from “The King of a Really Good Time,” Mischo delivers more of that delicious, classic sounding blues that he’s known for. St. Paul may not be too far of a stone’s throw from the Windy City, but these tracks sound as if they came directly from the South Side of Chicago, with harmonica work that would make Sonny Boy, Little Walter or Junior Wells proud. In fact, he does a couple tribute pieces in the styles of two heroes, “Little Walter Shuffle” and “Big Walter Boogie.”

For his twelfth recording, Mischo wrote nine original tracks and offers three covers, including Buster Brown’s “Sugar Babe” and Muddy Waters’ “Got My Brand On You.” Whether he draws strong harp instrumentals such as “In & Out Boogie” or chilling “Soul Swamp” or his insightful songwriting that may lament the downside of a cheating woman as on “Leave Your Man” where he states that you left your last man for me, you’re likely to do the same thing to me for somebody new, R. J. Mischo brings the blues to life. And whether it’s a Chicago-based track, a swampy feeling piece or even a West Coast groove filled with pounding rhythm as on “Keep On Lying,” this is true blues as displayed as only somebody who has been churning out one great album after another and sweating out his music on stages from one side of the country to the other only can. R.J. Mischo just does not put out mediocre blues recordings; always top notch every time out. Everything I Need is not an exception to that path.

Total Time: 45:09

Got My Passport / She’s My Baby / Big Walter Boogie / Everything I Need / Sugar Babe / Soul Swamp / Leave Your Man / Little Walter Shuffle / Keep On Lying / Got My Brand On You / Wait On Me / In & Out Boogie

From early in their childhood in Boulder, CO., Chris and Oliver were steeped in American roots music. The brothers bonded over bluesmen like Jimmy Reed and Lightnin’ Hopkins, but their paths, musical and otherwise, would diverge. Oliver moved to Atlanta and joined Tinsley Ellis’ band, before fronting his own unit called King Johnson working blues, country, R&B and funk as a touring act. Chris attended school at the New England Conservatory of Music studying bass, then became a founding member of Medeski, Martin & Wood performing jazz and abstract music.The Wood Brothers - press photo

The brothers joined forces in 2006 and have been working together over the ensuing years with their dialed-in vocal harmonies, Oliver’s gritty acoustic guitar, Chris’s virtuosic upright bass, and warrior poet lyrics. The band was made complete with the addition of multi-instrumentalist and drummer Jano Rix, touring endlessly exciting audiences with their Americana and blues music.

The Wood Brothers will be appearing at the Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., on Thursday, January 22nd at 8:00. Tickets are available for $20.00 advance and $22.00 day of show through TicketFly.com. This is a 21 & over only show.

If you were not already aware, one of the Northwest’s most favorite blues artists of all time, Tim “Too Slim” Langford, recently had surgery for cancer and is now recuperating. As a working musician who tours consistently year-round, he needs assistance in making ends meet for the medical expenses this surgery has incurred. So a group of friends have come together to lend him a helping hand to raise these funds. Oh, did I mention that there are so many friends that three benefit shows will be taking place simultaneously in three different cities? That’s right, Portland, Seattle and Spokane will all be holding benefit shows on Sunday, February 15th, featuring an astounding array of the Northwest’s best musicians.Tim Too Slim Langford - photo by Carla Ciuffo

The show in Portland will take place at The Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside and take a look at some of the fantastic friends of Tim’s that will be appearing: Big Monti Amundson, Bill Rhoades Harmonica Blow-off, Bobby Torres, Chris Mercer, Dave Kahl, D.K. Stewart, Jim Mesi, Joe McMurrian, Lisa Mann, Lloyd Jones, Louis Pain, Mary Flower, Mitch Kashmar, the Norman Sylvester Band, NW Women in Blues, Peter Dammann, Rae Gordon, Robbie Laws, Sonny Hess, Steve Kerin, Ty Curtis, and the debut of the recently reunited Pin & The Hornits! And that’s just a start. Expect to see more surprising artists added to the line-up because Tim has many, many friends throughout the region who all want to offer their help.

Keep an eye on the Cascade Blues Association website and Facebook page, and February’s BluesNotes for further details. And if you’re unable to make it to the show, but would still like to help out, visit Tim’s crowd sourcing fundraising page at www.giveforward.com and enter in the search engine Tim “Too Slim” Langford’s Cancer Fund.



Things are really going to be heating up at the Aladdin Theater through the month of February into early March as a handful of fantastic blues shows will be on their calendar. Act fast, all of these shows have tickets available now through the Aladdin Theater box office at 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave, their website at www.aladdin-theater.com or www.TicketFly.com. Here’s who will be coming to town: Thursday, February 5thMarcia Ball; Friday, February 6thElectric Guitars: Eric Johnson & Mike Stern; Sunday, February 8th & Monday, February 9thLucinda Williams; Friday, February 20thThe Robery Cray Band; and Sunday, March 1stLucky Peterson.

A listing of new music received at the CBA office or purchased personally that should be noted:

Altered Five Blues Band – Cryin’ Mercy (Self Produced)
Berdon Kirksaether & The Twang Bar Kings – Latenighters Under A FullMoon (Roller Records)
Bottleneck Blues Band – Twenty First Century Blues (Self Produced)
Delta Generators – Get On The Horse (Self Produced)
Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley – Blues Stories (Big City Blues Records)
George Bonds – Stepping Into Time (8th Train Records)
James Day & The Fish Fry – Southland (Neon Blue Records)
Joe Bonamassa – Different Shades Of Blue (J&R Adventures)
Joe McMurrian – Live At The Aztec Theater (Self Produced)
Joe McMurrian – Old Blood (Self-Produced)
Johnny Drummer – Bad Attitude (Earwig Records)
Magnus Berg – Cut Me Loose (Self Produced)
Michael Osborn & The Drivers – Driven By A Sound (Checkerboard Records)
No Refund Band – Current State Of Blue (Self Produced)
Planet Full Of Blues – Hard Landing (Self Produced)
Preston Shannon – Dust My Broom (Continental Blue Heaven)
Robert Moore – Outta My Soul (Fresh/Reference Records)
Sister Mercy – Head Over Heels (Self Produced)

Driven By A Sound
Checkerboard Records

Michael Osborn & The Drivers CD coverWhen it comes to traditional blues in Portland, you certainly cannot go wrong with Michael Osborn & The Drivers. Four heavy-duty musicians who have been laying down that bluesy groove together for several years locally and individually or with other groups for a lifetime. Led by guitarist Michael Osborn, who spent 13 years playing with John Lee Hooker and touring the world, as well as releasing a trio of solo recordings before moving to Portland, with string work that is spot on for blues stylings with tone and knowledge of when and how much to play effectively. Joining Osborn is bassist and vocalist Ken “K.G.” Jackson, an award winning band leader in Portland himself; harmonica monster Dave Mathis who has burned the reeds with locals such as Kelly Joe Phelps, Steve Cameron and Sheila Wilcoxson and also knows a thing or two about singing himself; and drummer extraordinaire John Moore who has worked with the likes of Bill Rhoades in Portland, as well as Albert Collins and William Clarke nationally. The four combine as if they’ve worked together their entire lives, sounding as close to being brothers as you can get. You’ll always know exactly what you’re in for at any Michael Osborn & The Drivers’ performance, straight ahead blues and nothing but the blues.

It has been more than four years since the band released their initial album, The Glamorous Life, in 2010, so hearing new material on disc by these guys is always highly anticipated. With that in mind, I’m jumping up and down with excitement over the band’s new entry to their catalog, the five-song EP titled Driven By A Sound. Five new original numbers that continues that bluesy sound that drives us all to this band. Four tracks are written by Michael Osborn and the fifth, “Retirement Blues” is a Dave Mathis number.

Driven By A Sound opens with a searing guitar line that is punctuated by harmonica and a full horn section as Osborn, Jackson and Mathis trade vocals and harmonize together on “When I Listen To The Blues.” The horns are sharp, tight and really bring an attraction that draws you into the music from the get go. Osborn’s guitar playing is terrific and tasteful, especially on the solo, working to perfection alongside the horns and the regular band. The horns were arranged masterfully by trumpet player Joe McCarthy and include Portland greats Brad Ulrich and Chris Mercer (who has played with practically the definitive who’s who in the music business world wide) on sax.

Dave Mathis displays his brilliance on the tin biscuit on his own composition “Retirement Blues” as he explains “growing old isn’t easy, it’s so hard to adjust, one day you’re working steady, the next you’re collecting dust.” “Live Wire” is an instrumental focusing wholly on the stringing of Osborn with a walking pattern rhythm section. Both stinging and ultra-pleasing, this is dynamic blues guitar at its best. “I’ve Been Daydreamin’” takes us to those thoughts of wishing for a better life and wondering if it’ll be our time to get ahead. The band takes a Bo Diddley approach to close the disc with “Through With You.” John Moore’s drums carries this number with a harp solo offered by Mathis, who also leads the vocals. Not to be outdone, Osborn carries the track with another sensational guitar solo.

Driven By A Sound is exactly the type of recording you would expect from Michael Osborn & The Drivers. It is blues done just right. The only drawback is it leaves you wanting to hear more. Five songs is just getting my appetite wet. Hope that there is more coming down the road soon. But in the meantime, yes, yes, yes, this is some mighty fine guitar blues, absolutely driven by a sound. And a fine one at that.

Total Time: 22:33

When I Listen To The Blues / Retirement Blues / Live Wire / I’ve Been Daydreamin’ / Through With You