The Crystal Ballroom welcomes a pair of performers on Tuesday, April 1st who have been lighting up stages around the world and may be remembered for their spectacular recently at the Waterfront Blues Festival. Together for one night in Portland, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, with a special solo appearance by James Hunter.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are already well known as one of the most exciting acts in the nation for both their explosive live shows and their prolific output of gritty studio recordings. The band has come a long way since their humble beginnings, steeped within the gilded and gritty sounds of gospel, soul and funk, this nine-piece Brooklyn collective has continued to electrify fans, disc jockeys, critics, record collectors, and bloggers the world-over with their authentic, heart-felt sound. Their albums recall an analog era led by iconic studios like those at Motown and Stax Records, and have thrust the Augusta, GA native and crew into the multimedia limelight

James Hunter was born into a working–class family in Colchester, Essex. “It wasn’t quite like growing up with the blues in Alabama, but in my part of England, anywhere south of Watford would be considered Alabama,” he notes. “In the States, you’ve got the Mason– Dixon Line and in England, we’ve got the Watford Gap.”  Among James’ earliest musical influences was a collection of 78 r.p.m. records of Fifties rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues , and that passion for the music of the Fifties and Sixties never waned. He has worked on bills with artists like Van Morrison, Etta James, Boz Scaggs, Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson and has been nominated for Grammy Awards. Van Morrison has called him, “one of the best voices and best kept secrets in British R&B and soul. With his most recent string of performances, James Hunter is a secret no more.

The Crystal Ballroom is located at 1332 W Burnside. This is a 8:00 pm show and all ages are welcome. Tickets can be purchased at for $25.00 advance and $30.00 day of show.

On March 22nd, in celebration of National Women’s History Month, The Alberta Rose Theatre will be presenting the second annual Women With The Blues concert, featuring four of Portland’s most engaging blues ladies: Anne Weiss, Mary Flower, Janice Scroggins and LaRhonda Steele.

Combining contemporary folk, blues, acoustic funk, gospel music, and smatterings of classical phrasing and Latin rhythms, Anne Weiss is known for her enormous bluesy voice, great guitar chops, and striking stage presence.

With her warm contralto and dazzling skills as an instrumentalist and arranger, Mary Flower has cemented her status as one of the most dynamic performers on the acoustic blues circuit, earning recognition with multiple Blues Music Awards nominations.

Janice Scroggins has been performing in public for 52 years. She has played, extensively, with Linda Hornbuckle, Thara Memory and Curtis Salgado, yet saxophonist Reggie Houston insists, “Janice has yet to perform with her peers.” She has Carnegie Hall talent, whether playing blues, gospel, ragtime, this past Grammy nominee does it all to perfection.

An amazing vocalist, LaRhonda Steele has enjoyed working with local, national and international artists: Curtis Salgado, Norman Sylvester, Linda Hornbuckle, Janice Scroggins, Paul Delay and Thara Memory, recoding with Obo Addy, Janice Scroggins, Norman Sylvester and Ken DaRouchie, and has performed at the Lincoln Center in New York with the late Obo Addy.

Aside from the four leading ladies, special guest harmonica player and Cascade Blues Association Muddy Award Hall of Fame member LynnAnn Hyde will be crossing the mountains from Bend to join in on the event.

The Alberta Rose Theatre is located at 3000 NE Alberta St. Showtime is 8:00 pm. Minors are welcome when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets are $14.00  general admission, $17.00  at the door, and $22.00 VIP preferred seating and.  Advance tickets are available through

The 2014 Coyote Kings Invitational Walla Walla Guitar Festival will be kicking off at 8:00 pm on Thursday, March 13th, in Beautiful Downtown Walla Walla. Special headliner for opening night will be Chris Duarte in concert at Main Street Studios, followed by the opening night jam at Sapolil Cellars, hosted by Robin Barrett and Coyote Kings.

The Party continues starting at 8:00 pm Friday the 14th with The Evangenitals with Tom Gnoza & The Millionaire’s Club at Sapolil Cellars. And The Stacy Jones Band along with Phil Lynch & The Reubens at be at VFW Post 992.

On Saturday the 15th, “The Acoustic Showcase” begins at noon at Sapolil Cellars with Terry Robb, and with Solomon Jest at VFW Post 992. “The LARGE Show” follows at 2:00 pm at the Walla Walla Elks with Robin Barrett & Coyote Kings, Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method, and Big Monti Amundson. Later that evening “The Guitar Crawl” will take place at 8:00 pm at Sapolil Cellars with Charlie Butts & The Filter Tips and The Wasteland Kings, while over at VFW Post 992 The CD Woodbury Band and Gary Winston & The Real Deal be on stage, and at The Walla Walla Elks you’ll fins Billy D & The Hoodoos and Tuck Foster & The Mossrites. The fun for the night does not end there, though. Starting at midnight and running until 1:45 am there will be “All-Star Jams” at both Sapolil Cellars and The VFW, hosted by Clint Carter & Gary Winston.

Everyone who buys a ticket to this year’s festival will also receive one ticket in a drawing for your chance to win prizes including guitars, a weekend Bed and Breakfast getaway, tickets to other Pacific Northwest Blues festivals, plus many, many, many bottles of Walla Walla wine! Feeling like you might like more chances to win? Extra drawing tickets will be available for purchase!

The venues for this year’s festival are: Sapolil Cellars at 15 E Main Street, Walla Walla Elks Lodge at 351 E Rose Street, the Walla Walla VFW at 102 North Colville Street, and Main Street Studios at 207 West Main. Walla Walla is known for its wine, food, and beautiful and historic Downtown. Tickets, Motel/Fest Pkgs, and a lot more info are easy to find online at

The Coyote Kings Invitational Walla Walla guitar festival is brought to you by Robin Barrett & Coyote Kings, Wee Willy’s Music Enterprise, Tourism Walla Walla, The Marc, CH2M Hill, Blue Mountain Crossing, Blazing Guitars, The Fischer House, The Maple Counter, Coyote Cabs, The Walla Walla Blues Society, The Washington Blues Society, The Inland Empire Blues Society, The Cascade Blues Association, The South Sound Blues Association, Blues Therapy Radio Show, Big Groove Blues & Roots Show.

No Fluff, Just The Stuff
E Natchel Records

What do James Cotton, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, John Primer, Carey Bell, Phil Guy, Tom Holland CD coverHubert Sumlin, LV Banks and AC Reed all have in common? Well, other than being a who’s who of the Chicago blues scene for the past several decades, every one of these artists have sought out the talents of Tom Holland. The ultimate go-to guy in Chicago when it comes to filling in the needs of tasty, tuneful guitar, who somehow while seemingly playing on the road and working endlessly with others has managed to find the time to lay down original material of his own. Those aforementioned artists may be the old school of Chicago blues, but Tom Holland is standing at the head of his class for the new school sound. And it does not stray far as this young cat knows his history regarding the city’s traditional blues and aims to keep it front and center.

No Fluff, Just The Stuff is Holland’s second release with his band The Shuffle Kings. There was definitely a long gap between the two discs, about eleven years to be exact. But over the 15 years or so he has been offering his guitar work amongst the Windy City elite, he has always kept this group intact. The man knows how to keep himself busy, and that in itself is an understatement.

When it comes to traditional Chicago blues, Holland would have it no other way. He breathes and bleeds the music. All of the tracks on No Fluff, Just The Stuff are Holland originals, but there is heavy influence present throughout the songs that you can recognize the direct line from Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, John Primer and without doubt James Cotton. And there is no overplayed guitar here either. He says what he needs to on the strings and nothing more. Exactly as it should be. The rhythm section of Mike Scharf on bass and Tino Cortes on drums provide the perfect backdrop for Holland’s bluesy guitar lines. And harp player Big D lays down notes that sound as if they came directly from Cotton himself, perhaps what Holland had in mind to begin with. That’s not to take anything away from Big D, an amazing harmonica player for sure! Guests on the disc include piano player Marty Sammon on four tracks and mentor John Primer on two.

Selecting highlights from this album is like telling somebody who your favorite child is; you love them all. But if I were to select a handful today, which could very well be a completely different thought tomorrow, I would point out the great opening shuffle “The Other Shoe To Drop,” the soulful “Easiest Thing I’ll Ever Do,” the Otis Rush feel in the slow blues “Hardest Part Of Loving You,” or maybe the instrumental “Hey Pardner!” where Holland sounds like he’s channeling Hubert Sumlin. This is just a flat out great album by one of today’s finest guitarists. Aptly titled, No Fluff, Just The Stuff is exactly that and I cannot say we couldn’t ask for anything more, because we do want more from Tom Holland when it comes to music like this. Outstanding? Oh yeah, and then some.

Total Time: 43:27

Waiting On The Other Shoe To Drop / Long Road To Tomorrow / Hurry Up & Wait / Easiest Thing I’ll Ever Do / Hey Pardner! / More Things Change / Shuffle King Boogie / Hardest Part Of Loving You / Look Here Baby / No Fluff, Just The Stuff

Between The Lines
Self Produced

Robbie Laws CD coverRobbie Laws is a Northwest guitar icon. That may be a little understated, but the fact of the matter is the man can flat out play a guitar like it’s his business . . . and it is. Fans have recognized Laws’ skills, honoring him with nine electric guitar Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association. But there seems to be no limitations to his prowess on six strings and that is highly evident on his latest recording Between The Lines.

For best proof, jump right ahead on the disc to “Coffee Grounds and Eggshells.” In his most Albert King like impression, this instrumental is a burn down the house intense slow blues number. The guitar cries out with feeling that makes you bite your lip with its every punctuation and a tone that is so sweetly rich it could give you diabetes. And yet, this is precisely the type of blues guitar work that those who’ve followed Laws’ career expect of him.

Plus there is no shortage of guitar mastery on this album. He pays homage to a number of avenues of the music world, be it the West Coast swing patterns on “Yazoo Slim Rides Again” that could make even Little Charlie Baty envious, or the jazzy lines a la Laws’ mentor Ronnie Earl that shows up on several tracks, or the easy-rolling Chicago style shuffle on “Jimmy Reed” paying homage to the song’s namesake and his partner Eddie Taylor.

A number of these songs are already familiar Robbie Laws fare as he has been performing them for a few years and they’re just now finding their way to disc. Numbers that served as backbone pieces of his International Blues Challenge sets such as “Gritz ‘n’ Greens” and “Shakin’ What Your Mama Gave Ya” are snappy tunes aimed at bringing the audience to the dance floor. And though he has covered B.B. King’s classic “Sweet Little Angel” in the past, it is the inclusion of Karen Lovely’s vocals that sets the bar for this take above a number of other renditions you may have heard before by many artists. There is just that extra layer of yes sir and uh huh that makes you know this is the way it was meant to be heard. Expressive and emotional, it takes it to that special level.

No matter what angle Laws throws out on the album’s selections, it is all emphasized by the solid rhythm of Benjamin Laing on bass and Randy Herbert on drums. The three can read each other’s next step and it makes the musical flow precisely in line with the way Laws has envisioned the material. Still, it is Robbie Laws’ feel on the guitar that drives Between The Lines. It just may be the finest display of his string diversity and skill yet to date. And it leaves you with the thought, where else can Robbie Laws take us that he has not explored before. It’s mind-boggling what the future may hold within his mind. Amazing, fresh and enticing, Between The Lines cuts to the core of Robbie Laws’ musical adeptness with expressive and memorable musicianship.

Total Time: 41:03

Mornin’ Noon and Night / That Woman Keepin’ House With The Devil / Gritz ‘n’ Greens / Shakin’ What Your Mama Gave Ya / Sweet Little Angel / Yazoo Slim Rides Again / Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You / Jimmy Reed / Coffee Grounds And Eggshells / Brother Can You Spare A Dime

Long Road To Nowhere
Self Produced

Portland-based guitarist Justin James Bridges is like a modern day political songster Justin James Bridges CD coverseeking reform in the treatment of the people. Think of the music of Richie Havens, singing solo armed with only an electric guitar and you’ll have a good conceptof Bridges’ music. Injured by police in the Occupy Portland movement while working as a sign language interpreter and now forced to live in a wheelchair, Long Road to Nowhere is one of three recordings he released during 2013 and it is filled with social advocacy for people’s rights and also, as on his second disc, the legalization of marijuana use.

The music is pretty basic and straight forward, influenced by the blues he heard growing up in Texas as well as the music of Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters. Melodic guitar lines with sharp and biting fretwork and singing, even his vocal stylings may remind you of somebody like Havens in their delivery. All selections are done completely without accompaniment, with the sole exception being “Left My Baby Down In Texas” where he is joined by vocalist Laura Ivancie.

There is no mistaking his aim in his messages, calling for people to stand up and take a stand in society in tracks like “Realize,” “Tryin’” or “Boys In Blue.” After all, he does have a personal stake behind his lyrics and those feelings have a no holds barred approach.  But it is not totally a political album. Ten original tunes that will make you think while telling his own story about his stance and his past. Soul-baring and hard-hitting, Justin James Bridges is a modern day troubadour who would’ve been at home singing in a New York or San Francisco smoke-filled coffee house of the 1960s alongside the beatniks, poets and activists of the time. But in reality, is the message any different today? Musicians have always held a position of delivering the call for reform of the times and Bridges places himself square in the middle of being the message bearer of today. A thought brought home succinctly in his lyrics to “Long Road To Nowhere”: “You can listen to me if you want to/ You know I got some stories to tell / Believe it or not, this life that I’m livin’ / It may not seem like much, but it suits me so well.”

Total Time: 34:50

‘Til The Moon Goes Down / Sing For Me / Realize / Tryin’ / Magical Ride / Left My Baby Down In Texas / Boys In Blue / Long Road To Nowhere / Why It Ended So / Devil Ain’t Got Shit On Me

New Attitude
Self Produced

Root Doctor CD coverMichigan-based Root Doctor has returned with another stellar recording to help satisfy the need for soulful and rootsy blues, bringing a bit of funk and classic R&B sound to the mix. New Attitude is the band’s sixth release and all have gained high raves including a Blues Music Award nomination in 2008.

Nowadays, the band features original members Freddie Cunningham’s supreme vocals and bass player James Williams. They also welcome back founding member Mike Skory as keyboardist. The other members are Bill Malone on guitar and Bob Gardner on drums. The album also features a huge number of horn players.

The selections on New Attitude take on multiple directions and they handle every one of them skillfully. Opening with a funky slice of guitar, harmonica and organ interchange on “Rear View Sight,” the band moves immediately into a classic 1960s New Orleans-feeling R&B piece titled “Set Me Free” and then into a Memphis soul flavored number “Bring It Back.” It shows how this band can run the gamut. Other highlights may be the Cajun inflected “Louisiana Bound” with Mike Lynch throwing down nice accordion runs, the stinging guitar and horn work on the very bluesy “The Other Way” or “Baby, You’re Bad” that once again brings across the New Orleans R&B touch bringing to mind perhaps Charles Brown or Snooks Eaglin. There is a very nice take on Denise LaSalle’s classic “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In,” one of only two songs on the disc not written by band members or their collaborators. The other is a superb take on fellow Michigan songwriter’s “Land Of The Free” that closes out the album with a nice social message for us all.

Root Doctor continues to impress me with every new release. New Attitude is a recording that should appeal to anyone who enjoys soulful blues. Pick it up just to hear Freddie Cunningham, one of the most overlooked vocalists out there who’ll convince you this man has the voice and know-how on using it. The rest of the band will prove themselves as you hear Freddie. Root Doctor needs to be heard beyond the Midwest, check them out!

Total Time: 44:36

Rear View Sight / Set Me Free / Bring It Back / Pay The Rent / The Other Way / Louisiana Bound / You’re Gonna Lose / Baby, You’re Bad / Someone Else Is Steppin’ In / Land Of The Free

Various Artists
Pro-Arts Productions

Blues From Eugene CD coverEugene, Oregon has long held a wealth of history and talent when it comes to the blues. The Northwest’s first blues society originated here and musicians such as Curtis Salgado, Robert Cray, David Jacobs-Strain, Henry Vestine, Bill Rhoades, DK Stewart, Watermelon Slim and many others cut their teeth establishing the city’s music scene. That original blues society may be long gone, with the Rainy Day Blues Society picking up within the last decade, but there are still an impressive number of artists calling the city home. Recordings like Blues From Eugene: An Eclectic Collection,Volume 1 serve a great purpose in bringing to light just how rich and diverse the talent runs that people elsewhere may be unaware of.

Artists that many within the Northwest are familiar with are well represented here: Hank Shreve, Joanne Broh, Barbara Healy, Paul Biondi, Walker T. Ryan, Henry Cooper, Al Smith and Jerry Zybach among them. And you could not have a retrospective of the Eugene blues community without including its patriarch Eagle Park Slim. But this is a great introduction to those perhaps a little less known or just flat out deserving more attention like Lynda Duffy, Steve Ibach, Lloyd Tolbert or Dennis Smith. The music spans various styles, all well done and nicely produced by Anthony Proveaux and Jerry Zybach. All tracks were recorded at Pro-Arts Recording Studio, mostly done live which adds to the overall pleasing results.

Like any compilation of a region’s music collective, it is nearly impossible to include everybody in a single disc. Eugene remains a great haven for the blues today and this impressive sampling is worth checking out, with great hopes that a volume 2 will be on the horizon as well.

Total Time: 76:06

Real Kinda Thing / I Don’t Play / Rendezvous With The Blues / Bumble Bee / Long Train Rollin’ / Don’t Go / Walkin’ Uptown / Night Time Is The Right Time / St. Louis Blues / Tried To Keep Her / Farewell Mr. Fahey / Le Moulin Bleu / Black Cat At Midnight / Movin’ Along / Boogie Boss / 390 Blues / Blues & Trouble / Any Way You Want It / It’s Alright /  Hello Jesus / Goin’ Back To Eugene

Wednesday, March 5th – 7:00 pm
Melody Ballroom, 615 SE Alder St., Portland
Opening Acoustic Set – Ralph Broqvist & Jim Wallace
Second Electric Set – Kenny Kofler & The Third Power

We want to apologize for canceling the meeting in February at the last minute. We did not foresee the inclement weather that decided to hit town that day and pretty much close  everything down for the following few days after. But it is better safe than sorry when this happens and after speaking with The Melody Ballroom and the performers it was considered the best option for all. We will work at trying to reschedule the acts for a future date.

But we do not see anything that should interrupt the March meeting and we’re back on schedule with our regular first Wednesday of the month, too. Just to let you all know, we have a line-up of acts for the remainder of the year that are mostly new to playing our monthly meetings, with perhaps one or two old friends. All the band slots for the year are filled and the opening sets are filling up quickly.

Opening the meeting in March will be a very special grouping that does not happen too often. Normally we offer an acoustic set, but tonight we had the opportunity to showcase our friend guitarist Ralph Broqvist who will be joined by Portland harmonica ace Jim Wallace and backed by the Suburban Slim Band. Usually when Broqvist visits town, these performances are something that may only occur at small gatherings of friends or in a jam setting.

Ralph Broqvist

Ralph Broqvist (press photo)

Ralph Broqvist is the leader and guitarist for the popular Swedish band, Blueass Blues Band and has also worked with Deborah Coleman’s band when she toured through Norway. He has been called by Jefferson magazine as “one of the unsung heroes of Swedish blues guitarists today,” who can play sharp rock guitar, blues that just feels right in tempo and tone, and when on slide guitar you can imagine “Hound Dog Taylor smiling from Heaven . . . or maybe downstairs.”

Jim Wallace (photo by Greg Johnson)

Jim Wallace (photo by Greg Johnson)

Jim Wallace, of course, needs no introduction to Portland blues fans. One of the region’smost popular harmonica players, he has worked as band leader of The Haus Katsand has played alongside greats like Rick Welter, AC Porter & The Live Wires and Franck Goldwasser. The Suburban Slim Band will back Wallace and Broqvist, featuring Phil “Suburban Slim” Wagner on guitar, John Neish on bass and Scott Van Dusen from The Third Power band will be doing double duty on drums, playing both sets. Certain to be a memorable meeting for sure.

And yet, that is only the beginning. For the second set of the night we will be presenting Kenny Kofler and The Third Power, a new blues-based variety group from Portland showcasing some of the city’s brightest up-and-coming talent.

Kenny Kofler & The Third Power (photo by Roger Kofler)

Kenny Kofler & The Third Power (photo by Roger Kofler)

Led by Kenny Kofler, whose musical background began with the accordion at the tender age of five, moving on to saxophone that saw him reap numerous State and regional awards as a soloist in high school and college, and eventually taking up the guitar to express his love for American roots music. He has performed in multiple genres ranging from funk, blues, jazz, classical and contemporary country with numerous bands such as Deep Blue Soul Revue, The Sinners Club, Walter Guy Band, Bolt Upright and many others. With The Third Power Kenny provides vocals, guitar and saxophone.

Also on saxophone is the amazing Eric Rabe whose influences include Blue Lou Marini, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and others that helped him develop his own recognizable trademark sound. He has worked alongside many of the most highly regarded acts in the area as well as making a name for himself as a session musician in several of the top studios in Portland. His presence adds a very melodic and soulful sound to The Third Power.

Scott Van Dusen on drums is the backbone of the band. With solid, driving grooves, his background spans various genres of rock, blues, jazz, fusion, folk and R&B. Since relocating to Portland from Southern California, where he worked with Tupelo Blue and The Jill Sharpe Band, he has been working with some of the finest musicians in the Northwest.

Rounding out The Third Power is bassist Chris Hale. Originally from San Diego, he has been honing his skill for nearly a quarter century playing blues and jazz. One of the Northwest’s most talented and entertaining bassists, he will wow you on both the fretless electric bass and the upright. A cerebral pocket-player with a superb talent for melodic intuition, he brings a rock-solid low end the band filling nooks and crannies with sonic goodness.

Don’t forget to pick up your free drawing ticket as you enter The Melody, for your chance to win CDs and concert tickets. We’ll also have another multi-CD raffle, winner takes all, for only $1.00 a chance. Come on out to the meeting and be prepared to party with two bands in one night. Bring your friends, too. We’re always happy to see new faces.

By now you have certainly heard of the success that Northwest musicians had representing our various blues societies at the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. If you’d like to have your chance to play on Beale Street at the 2015 IBC before multitudes of blues industry people, here is your first step. Every act competing in Memphis must win a regional competition sponsored by one of their affiliated organizations and the Cascade Blues Association has held such competitions and sent musicians every year to Memphis since 1999.

To apply for the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition, following the instructions detailed here:

1.         First and foremost, all applicants must be a current member of the Cascade Blues Association. No act that has either won or has been nominated for The Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards may enter.

2.         Put together a promotional packet including:

•           A letter of intent

•           Band/Artist biography (including the names and ages of any members under 21 years)

•           A photograph for promotional use (must be a minimum of 300 dpi)

•           A CD sample of your music (please use full songs as your music may be used to promote the event on local radio)

•           Contact information including address, phone number and email address if available

•           $20 application fee. This fee will go toward the prize offered by the CBA to help defray travel expenses for the winning act. (Please make checks out to the Cascade Blues Association and note at the bottom “J2M” for our accounting purposes).

Depending on the number of applications received, one or two nights will be scheduled to hold preliminary competitions.  This year’s first round will be held at The Lehrer the first weekend in June, where judges will determine the final four entries to compete at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival on the Front Porch Stage on the 4th of July. The winning act selected at the Waterfront will have the honor of representing the CBA at The International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Also included as part of the prize is a guaranteed paid set at the following year’s Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, a set at the 2014 Muddy Awards and a cash prize based on the amount of admissions sold during the first round of the competition.

Please send application packets to: Journey To Memphis, c/o Cascade Blues Association, PO Box 14493, Portland, OR 97293. Or you may deliver your applications at the CBA monthly meeting at The Melody Ballroom. All applications must be received no later than the April 2nd CBA Membership Meeting, so we may have appropriate time to set-up semi-final dates in early June and to promote the acts in the BluesNotes that month. Absolutely no late entries will be accepted.

All rules used for the Journey To Memphis follow those outlined by The Blues Foundation. These can be found at their website