Self Produced

This is an album that I had long been anticipating hearing, but for some reason I just kept failing to catch up with Ken DeRouchie to obtain a copy. Now having listened to this over and over, as I just cannot get enough of it, I keep kicking myself and ask myself, “Why did you take so long to pick up this disc”? Muse is without a doubt one of the finest mixture of soul, blues, funk, jazz and R&B material to come down the musical road for some time. It is full of expressive lyrics, finely crafted instrumentation featuring a world class band and deep soulful vocals, all of it sounding as if it came directly from the church of Tower of Power.

Ken DeRouchie CD coverKen DeRouchie is an incredible songwriter. His material is filled with emotional tales reminiscing of personal love, both found and lost and covering all points in between, all forever cherished. And like the best songwriters he has used these experiences to express himself in his art. This is his muse that has proven to be the theme of this album.

All of the tracks included are Ken DeRouchie originals, save for the Percy Mayfield classic “Please Send Me Someone To Love.” The take of that song is perhaps one of the most passionate versions I can think of. And that says a lot as it has been covered by the best in so many outstanding methods over the years. Ken’s stands right amongst the best. To me, the best tracks on Muse are the ones that come across as the most heartfelt, the most soul baring examples of his love. Numbers like “Guide You Home,” “All Of You,” “This Too Shall Pass,” and “Where Do We Go Now.” But all of the songs on Muse bring across his true feelings, and it would be hard to find any weak points amongst the selections.

DeRouchie, aside from being an exceptional vocalist and songwriter, is also a multi-instrumentalist, often handling guitar, drums and keys on a number of the tracks. But he also has behind him one of the tightest bands to be found anywhere, with long-time friends Jeff Knudson on guitar, Alex Shakeri on keys, Caleb Denison on trumpet, Steve Moretti on drums, Rob Busey on bass and Clayton Daffron on sax. This group of highly acclaimed artists help propel the music into that next stratosphere of the exceptional, emphasizing DeRouchie’s songs to perfection. And then there is vocalist LaRhonda Steele, one of the Northwest’s true treasures. She takes the lead on two numbers, “Tryin’ To Tell” and “Sexual Chocolate,” and as you’d only expect it is simply spot on target.

DeRouchie originally put these tracks together in his brother Doug’s studio. Doug had been his life-long best friend and inspiration to pursuing his music, always his biggest cheerleader. Shortly after the final tracks were completed, Doug was hospitalized and soon passed from a long battle he’d fought with liver disease. He never heard the finished product that Jeff Knudson completed at his Primordial Soup Recording Studio, but like those past loves, Doug was also an important muse to Ken.

Perhaps the impact of those muses that affected DeRouchie are best described by his own lyrics in “All Of You:” “Feed my soul, feed my mind / give me sight, I’ve been blind / Take my hand, touch my heart / Touched my life, from the start.”
The words and inspiration are felt throughout Muse. Ken DeRouchie has created an album that can speak to us all. Definitely a master work for him and the band.

Total Time: 71:35
Guide You Home / Unglued / Tryin’ To Tell / All Of You / No Do-Overs / This Too Shall Pass / Please Send Me Someone To Love / Muse / Sexual Chocolate / True To You / Family Life / Where Do We Go Now / Hey Baby / Learn To Live / Dark Betty

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

Al Cook – Mississippi 1930 (Wolf Records)
Frank E. Gee and Jimmy Meunier – Social Moments (Self Produced)
Hard Garden – Blue Yonder (Hard Garden Music)
Harmonica Hinds – I’dGive You Anything If I Could (Wolf Records)
Holfar Blue – You Need Truth (Self Produced)
Justin James Bridges – Long Road To Nowhere (Self Produced)
Justin James Bridges – Medication Recreation (Self Produced)
Ken DeRouchie Band – Muse (Self Produced)
Kivett Bednar – Land Of The Living (Self Produced)
Robbie Laws – Between The Lines (Self Produced)
Root Doctor – New Attitude (Self Produced)
The Bob Lanza Blues Band – Til The Pain Is Gone (Self Produced)
The Halley Devestern Band – Fabbo! Boffo! Smasho! (Self Produced)
The Healers – Live At Knuckleheads (Blue Star Connection)
Tinsley Ellis – Midnight Blue (Heartfixer Music)

On Friday, February 28th, The Linda Hornbuckle Band presents a night of Old School Soul at Jimmy Mak’s, with three of the most dynamic vocalists in the Northwest. Linda Hornbuckle and Andy Stokes are both Oregon Music Hall of Fame members, and Lady A is the queen of Seattle Soul! The band will bring it once again with drummer Lenn Russell and locking up with him the peanut butter and jelly sandwich of funk, bassist Randy Monroe and guitarist Doug Lewis. Your one man horn section features sax giant Renato Caranto and Hammond organ master Louis Pain rounds out the band. This will be a night of magical music that will leave you breathless…the most talented band and the ultimate singers, a heavenly combination!

Jimmy Mak’s is located at 221 NW 10th Ave. Showtime is 8:00 pm, 21 & over only. Tickets may be purchased at $10.00 general admission with no guaranteed seating, or reserved seating at $12.00 (dinner required).


ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

As I sit here with less than a week before I head to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge, things seem to be out of place in a way. Why? Because here we are putting the finishing touches on the BluesNotes and normally we would be reporting on the results of the competition. But we’ll have to wait until next month to report that (though you’re more than likely going to hear how things came out long before we even get to this point next month) and you’ll most likely be seeing posts from Memphis on the happenings when this issue is delivered to you. C’est la vie, it is what it is.

But I have good feelings on what both Ben Rice and Tevis Hodge can accomplish with their trip to Tennessee representing us.  And at the same time I get to gather with close friends, eat great food and hear a bevy full of new acts that we’re sure to be hearing about many in the future. Can things get any better than that?

2013 sure took a sad turn as it came to a close, with the passing of Jim Miller. You’d have to be pretty hard pressed to find anybody who did not get along with Jim. He was everybody’s friend and always there to offer advice or assistance if needed. And though people from elsewhere may ask who? Those in the Portland music community know that he was a true icon in these parts. We’re going to miss you Jim, sending you our love always.

On a happier note, 2014 is going to have a great beginning as two of our area’s musicians (well, one has been living in Nashville for the most part), Melody Guy and Jake Blair will be walking down the aisle of matrimony in early February. A match truly blessed as you could not ask for two nicer people to be matched up with one another. The Cascade Blues Association offers congratulations to you both and we’re certain there will be some creative music from this harmonious union.

But then again, it is a new year and the CBA still has the same need. The Board of Directors is sorely lacking bodies. Following the election in December we have five elected officers and one at-large member. Two people have recently expressed interest in possibly coming on board, but we sure could use maybe three or four more. It is a lot of work for such a small group. We are fortunate to have such a great support from volunteers when needed. Recently Vice President Wendy Schumer put out a notice that we needed people to help distribute the BluesNotes around town as we were losing a couple people that had extremely large routes and new venues were popping up. With that one notice she received multiple calls from those willing to give a hand. In fact, she had more than necessary, so we can split up to shorter routes and have added some new names to our list of volunteers. Thank you all so much!!

Yet, we have many committees and positions that we could an use your skills for. We’d like to explore new avenues in the way of merchandise and fundraising, education and possibly even doing some of the musician visits into long-term care facilities and assisted living centers as Jim Miller had taken on with Golden Harvest. Please contact us if you’d like to get involved. We will also welcome new ideas, but remember we need to raise funds in order to achieve these goals. Are you savvy on ways of bringing in advertising revenues for the BluesNotes or working as a form of a street team going to venues and pushing memberships? Are you able to travel to represent the CBA selling merchandise at regional festivals and other events? We cannot simply survive on membership dues and ticket raffles at meetings (though they certainly do help us immensely), so believe me we are open to your visions on how to make the CBA continue in being a successful and stable organization. Get in touch with us and help support the local blues community. We really are a fun group to work with. Give us a try.

Live At Knuckleheads
Blue Star Connection

This has been a recording that has intrigued me since I first heard of its release nearly a The Healers CD-DVD coveryear ago now. It has been something I have wanted to hear for a long time and finally the longing became unbearable and I broke down and made the purchase on-line. After all, what is not appealing about a live performance featuring luminaries like former Wet Willie frontman Jimmy Hall, former Stevie Ray Vaughan keyboardist Reese Wynans, Trampled Under Foot’s Danielle and Kris Schnebelen, and the double guitar mastery of Kate Moss and Samantha Fish collectively called The Healers? Put them all together in Kansas City’s famed Knuckleheads and you know you’re in for something special.

The night was recorded and released as a combo CD-DVD package, with ten numbers featured on both, then an extra two on the DVD. Jimmy Hall presides on vocals on the majority of the tracks and also blows some killer saxophone and harmonica. Of the twelve selections, all but two are all known cover tunes previously handled by the likes of Muddy Waters, Albert King, James Brown, Little Milton, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and more. The exceptions are Danielle Schnebelen taking the lead on “Love My Baby,” a Trampled Under Foot staple, and Jimmy Hall reprising his Wet Willie classic “Keep On Smilin’.”

The CD opens and closes with Freddie King pieces, “San-H-Zay” leading things off instrumentally and Jimmy Hall and Reese Wynans tearing things up on “Goin’ Down” to finish things off. In between there are numerous highlights for certain. Danielle and Samantha Fish take strong advantage when given the opportunity to take the mic. And on the cover of James Brown’s “This Is A Man’s World,” everybody shines brightly taking the spotlight while Danielle and Jimmy exchange vocals. For a live recording in a club, the sound quality is outstanding, and so is the video.

I said earlier that this is something special, and perhaps the most special aspect of this concert and the CD-DVD packaging is that it benefits the Blue Star Connection. That group originally founded by Colorado’s Grand County Blues Society, helps to put musical instruments into the hands of medically-fragile children and young adults with cancer and other serious challenges. To date, the Blue Star Connection has reached over 100 recipients from around the country and as far as India, and has worked with 22 music therapists in childrens hospitals. In 2014, the Blue Star Connection will be honored with a Keeping The Blues Alive award from The Blues Foundation. All of the artists involved with this recording are deeply involved with the organization and such events have been held in various locations in Colorado and across the country with people like Royal Southern Brotherhood, Ana Popovic, Curtis Salgado, Paul Thorn, Austin Young and Israel’s The Ori Naftaly Band.

To read more about the Blue Star Connection, go to

Total Time: 1:20:39 (CD) 1:35:59 (DVD)

San-Ho-Zay / Grits Ain’t Groceries / Messin’ With The Kid / Rollin’ & Tumblin’ / As The Years Go Passing By / Got My Mojo Working / Love My Baby / This Is A Man’s World / Keep On Smilin’ / Goin’ Down / I Still Want To Be Your Man (DVD only) / I Put A Spell On You (DVD only)

Land Of The Living
Self Produced

kivettFrom the opening chords of the distorted guitar and into the pounding heavy pace of the opening track, “Lonely Tonight,” you know that this is not going to be your standard traditional blues music. It is more a blend of metal and blues, with perhaps a little touch of a gangsta rap approach just for a touch of enhancement as described by band leader Kivett Bednar. But when everything is said and done, when you’re finished going through Land of the Living, there is no denying its blues base.

The brain-child of guitarist/songwriter Bednar, who is originally from Austin and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, who has been living in Portland since 2012, Land Of The Living is deep and dark music that follows some of the basic guidelines for the blues, such as good love gone bad. Partnered with drummer Anthony Pausic, they follow patterns already explored by guitar-drum duos like the Cedric Burnside Project or Hillstomp. But the uniqueness of this pairing is the merge between metal music and the blues. And if that seems like a frightening prospect to you, just give Land of the Living a listen. The two genres meld together better than you may imagine and with this release the blues takes the upper hand in the overall feel.

The songwriting is outstanding. There are quite emotional lyrics underscoring some of these tracks who can bring across emotions on numbers like “I Been Loving You” or “Say It With A Grin.” And the guitar work is on fire, such as on “Highlife & Hydro,” a barn-burning blues rocker, and again on slide for “OG” that almost comes across as a take of “Rolling And Tumbling” done on speed. The recording closes with “Pedicab Blues,” the most traditional blues number offered and again is highlighted by Bednar’s superb guitar playing and strong vocals and Pausic’s driving drum beat.

Land Of The Living carries blues music into a direction that just may appeal to younger audiences or those looking for a new flavor within the genre. It is an exciting and innovative approach that really is not as far-reached a concept as you may imagine. Land Of The Living has been released as a limited run on red vinyl that is exclusively available only at Portland’s Music Millennium. For those unable to play vinyl, the recording may be downloaded at

Total Time: 28:49

Lonely Tonight / I Been Loving You / Say It With A Grin / Hawd Time / Ain’t Got No Blues / Highlife & Hydro / OG / Pedicab Blues

Some people may tell you that the right mood of music can set the tone for the perfect romantic evening. They are so right. And nothing does that better than romantic soul music. Jimmy Mak’s knows this, so on that one very special day of the year, St. Valentine’s Day, they have put together a show featuring The Portland Soul All-Stars for a night of music by Barry White, Stevie Wonder, Teddy Pendergrass, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and more.

The Portland Soul All-Stars are fronted by vocalists LaRhonda Steele, Sean Holmes and Tahirah Memory. The band will be “King Louie” Pain on the Hammond B-3, saxophonist Renato Caranto, Mike Doolin on guitar; and Micah Kassell on drums. The Portland Soul All-Stars have staged tributes to many late-great soul music legends including James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and Etta James, as well as to various soul genres, including Memphis Soul, Philly Soul, Sweet Summer Soul, and Romantic Soul. The group’s performances have received raves from critics and audiences alike for not only capturing the spirit of the original hits, but also putting the music into the context of the artists’ remarkable lives and careers.

It all happens on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th at Jimmy Mak’s, 221 NW 10th Ave. There will be two shows, one at 7:00 pm and another at 9:30 pm. These are 21 & older only events. Tickets may be purchased in advance through General admission is $12.00 for non-guaranteed seating, and $15.00 reserved (dinner purchase also required).

Thursday, February 6th – 7:00 pm

The Melody Ballroom, 615 SE Alder St., Portland
Members always Free – Non-members $3.00
Opening Acoustic Set –  Vicki Stevens & Sonny Hess
Second Electric Set – August In Blue
First of all, please note the date for the February meeting. We will be holding this month’s meeting on Thursday, due to a Sonny Hess and Vicki Stevens - photo by Ty Hitzemannlarge group using the room on Wednesday. The good people at The Melody were asked to book a high-paying, catered event on Wednesday and asked if we could change the date for our meeting. They have been so good to us over the many years we have held our monthly events here, completely donated by The Melody, how could we not agree. It is the only time in my memory that they have ever requested this and it has been a very good partnership over that time. But even though the date may be one day later than normal, you know we’re going to have a great event just the same.
Sonny Hess and Vicki Stevens – photo by Ty HitzemannOpening the night will be 2013 Muddy Award recipients for Best New Act, Vicki Stevens and Sonny Hess. Like at the picnic this will be the acoustic duo with Sonny on guitar and Vicki on harmonica, with both providing vocals. Sonny is a Portland area legend having performed with numerous acts, leading her own band, holding the annual Northwest Women in Rhythm & Blues events, a multiple Muddy Award recipient and has been nominated for Lifetime Achievement recognition, too. With her guitar prowess, you’re surely going to understand why she is called Sonny “Smokin’ Hess” for a reason. Vicki Stevens moved to the Northwest a few years back, settling in Eugene and then Seattle before making the move to Portland and partnering up with Sonny. She is an award winning vocalist and represented the Rainy Day Blues Society in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge a couple years back. Vicki and Sonny are planning on entering the Cascade Blues Association Journey to Memphis this year, where you know they’re going to give the judges an impressive taste of their talents. We get a nice preview of what they’ll offer at the meeting. Always an entertaining and exciting act, you do not want to miss Vicki and Sonny.
August In Blue - press photoFor the second set, we will also be bringing back a group that performed at last summer’s picnic, but with an altered line-up from what we saw then. August In Blue has August In Blue – press photobeen a long-time dream of guitarists Richard Staats and Josh Makosky, who have making music together since they were in the 8th grade. In the summer of 2012 the two joined forces to blend the upbeat precision of rock and funk with the soul and emotion of the blues. Thus the birth of August In Blue. A band formulated and assembled on the month of the Blue Moon. Both have performed with bands on their own, Richard with Stupefyin’ Jones and Josh with Angel Bouchet and most recently with The Space Monkeys. With the fiery, funky thump that you come to expect from Calen Uhlig, plus the soul and groove of the amazing Brian Foxwoth, the combination becomes explosive. Having this rhythm section alongside this pair of hot guitar players just means that the members are certainly in for a big treat at the meeting.
Remember to pick up your free drawing ticket as you enter the venue for a chance to win great prizes and consider purchasing one or more $1.00 tickets for the multiple CD package, where the money will go to help the CBA maintain its business expenses and assist in upcoming events. And bring a friend or two and convince them they should join one of the finest blues societies in the country. You may not need to do too much convincing, as they’ll see for themselves just how much fun we have.
See you all there!!

Social Moments
Self Produced

Frank E Gee CD coverThe selections on this recording were made in the winter of 2010 by guitarist Franck Goldwasser and bassist Jim Miller. The two friends had been doing a regular Sunday afternoon gig at Acme Donuts in Portland and had the notion that they could use the tracks to help promote more bookings for themselves, so they hired Jim’s friend Terry Amato to help lay down tunes for them at his home studio. These fourteen tracks are for the most part being heard by the mass public for the first time, with the exception of “The Highway Is Like A Woman,” which appeared on the Cascade Blues Association compilation Puddletown Blues, Vol. 2.

As stated in the liner notes, Franck and Jim had always thought that these songs had the possibility of being more than just a demo to seek out gigs.. But they sat dormant for the time being until the unexpected sudden passing of Jim Miller in late December. Wanting to honor his friend, Franck Goldwasser decided to release the music and used the stage name they had come up for themselves, Frank E. Gee and Jimmy Meunier (Meunier being French for Miller). He went back to Terry Amato and had the numbers cleaned up to sound as perfect as they could. Goldwasser’s guitar is phenomenal as always and Miller’s bass work is as solid as ever, never overstated with just the right feel every time out. It is a true tribute of his playing.

Most of the tracks are cover tunes of artists ranging from Otis Rush, Bill Doggett, JJ Malone, Percy Mayfield, Jimmy Rogers and more. Plus there are a couple of original numbers, including the instrumental titled “Social Moments,” which is also the name of the album, that Goldwasser states was an inside joke between the two friends. Even if it was named in jest, the music follows suit with the overall collection: first class and highly listenable.

Besides paying tribute to the memory of Jim Miller, Goldwasser set the recordings up on as a download with all proceeds raised from its sale to help Jim’s life partner Wendy make ends meet due to his sudden loss.

Total Time: 50:27

All Your Love / Barefootin’ / Don’t You Lie To Me / Honky Tonk / Untitled Instrumental / My Bad Luck Is Fallin’ / Okie Dokie Stomp / Party Girl / Sitting Here Thinking / Social Moments / The Highway Is Like A Woman / Three Times A Fool / You Left Me With A Broken Heart / You’ll Always Have A Home

Blind-Boy-Paxton-photo-by-Greg-Johnson-200x300Twenty-four year old Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton just may be the leading force of the next generation of acoustic blues and roots performers. A swiftly capable multi-instrumentalist who picks banjo and guitar, plays harmonica, piano and other instruments, including the fiddle, this virtuoso is a joyous entertainer, humorous with a smooth vernacular, dazzling wit, a terrific storyteller, exuding an affable excitement. These traits were clearly on display this past summer at the Waterfront Blues Festival where Jerron Paxton was widely acclaimed as one of the surprise hits of the event. He masters multiple blues styles and picks like Blind Blake. He feels home in the Piedmont tradition with its ragtime influence. Country blues fans will pick up on Blind Boy Fuller, Gary Davis, but also on the swampy blues of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta. He digs deep in the archives of the country blues, from Furry Lewis to Texas Alexander. On the piano he can remind you of Fats Waller, although he cites James P. Johnson and Lucky Robinson as influences. Definitely the full package or as harmonica master Phil Wiggins states, “a musical genius.”

Blind Boy Paxton returns to Portland on Friday, February 7th, for a double headed bill also featuring Portland’s own acoustic multi-instrumental master Lauren Sheehan. Lauren has consistently released fantastic recordings that have received high acclaim from critics nation-wide, with her latest being the tribute to women who built Gibson’s Banner Guitars during the Second World War, titled The Light Still Burns.

Duff’s Garage is located at 1635 SE 7th. Showtime is at 9:00 pm with a $10.00 cover. This show is a CBA co-sponsored event, so make sure to show your membership card at the door for a $1.00 discount.