m curry

Matthew Curry (press photo)

At just 18 years old, young blues-rock slinger Matthew Curry has been receiving a great deal of acclaim as the next bright star amongst guitar heroes. Possessing mature vocals and a true knack for awe-inspiring guitar work that belies his age, Matthew Curry and his band The Fury have been amassing a great deal of recognition over the past couple of years. Now touring in support of his second release, Electric Religion, he has traveled across the country, playing major festivals such as the Chicago Blues Festival, Telluride, Mississippi Valley Blues Festival and King Biscuit Blues Festival. He has performed with and earned praise from artists like Tommy Castro, Bryan Lee, Bernard Allison and Ronnie Baker Brooks.

Matthew Curry will be playing in Portland on Wednesday, April 23rd, less than a week after joining Robben Ford headling BluesFest in Sydney, Australia (replacing the ailing Walter Trout). The show takes place at McMenamin’s Lola’s Room (1335 W Burnside, second floor right below the Crystal Ballroom) starting at 6:00 pm.

Opening the evening will be Portland blues icon Sonny “Smokin’” Hess, known for her exciting guitar playing, crafty songwriting and soulful vocals. A multiple Muddy Award recipient from the Cascade Blues Association, she was recently named Best New Act for her latest project with vocalist Vicki Stevens.

Doors open for this show at 5:00 pm. Tickets are available in advance through mcmenamins.com or at the Crystal Ballroom box office for $12.00, or $14.00 day of show. This is an all ages event.



If you’re planning on taking part in the Cascade Blues Association’s Journey To Memphis competition to find a representative for the organization at the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, time has just about run out. You must turn in your applications no later than the CBA April General Membership Meeting on Wednesday, April 2nd. No late entries will be accepted.

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, please keep these dates open if applying as time slots for the competition are drawn at random filling in the order as each act is drawn. Judges with qualified credentials in the music industry will score acts in five categories to 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 www.blues.org.

Speakeasy BluesOver the past year, Karen Lovely has presented a number of performances based on the music of the early female blues legends of the 1920s-30s. These shows have been highly popular and often she has been asked whether there was a recording available of this music. So she has decided to release a new CD titled Speakeasy Blues, recorded over two nights at Jimmy Mak’s with Karen’s Prohibition Orchestra. Many of the songs collected here were originally written during the time when booze was illegal and speakeasies were alive and well. Quite often there were little hidden innuendoes  in the lyrics and sometimes not so hidden. But it was these early female artists who were the first heroes of the blues and they had a strong influence on the way that Karen Lovely performs as well.

To celebrate the release of Speakeasy Blues, Karen Lovely & The Prohibition Orchestra will be returning to the scene of the original crime, Jimmy Mak’s, on Friday, April 11th at 8:00 pm. There will be burlesque dancers and prohibition era drinks available, and a costume contest for those who show up dressed in Roarin’ 20s period outfits.

Jimmy Mak’s is located at 221 NW 10th and advance tickets are available through Tickettomato.com. $15.00 for guaranteed reserved seating and $12.00 for general admission. Cascade Blues Association members may receive a $1.00 discount for this co-sponsored show, by using the code “CBA” when ordering on-line or by showing your membership card at the door.

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 reaped multiple vocalist of the year awards from the Inland Empire and Washington Blues Societies. He has also merited Hall of Fame status with the Inland Empire (an organization he helped found) and reached the semi-finals at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. And if his singing abilities were not enough, he is a strong guitarist as well. Be it blues, R&B, soul, country or rock, Sammy Eubanks can do them all.

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 Friday, April 4th at The Lehrer, 8775 SW Canyon Lane, for an 8:00 pm show. Admission is $12.00, this is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event so show your current membership card at the door and receive a $1.00 discount. This will be a sensational show, so plan on making it out to catch an all too rare appearance from Sammy Eubanks.

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Celebrate New CD With Show At The Alberta Rose

Tommy Castro has long been known for his high energy, exhilarating performances, featuring a horn-fueled band bringing forth a party attitude. It was enough to garner Castro twelve Blues Music Award nominations, taking home six wins including two for the prized BB King Entertainer of the Year. With his latest release, The Devil You Know, on the Alligator Records label, Castro has decided to part with the horn section that has been so recognized over the past few years and returned to the bare boned four piece outfit in the manner from which he first built his reputation. It is a driving force that brings back the memories of tough as nails blues rock that saw Castro soar from the Bay Area to eventually conquer the blues world and still makes Castro one of the very best live performers working the blues scene today.

Tommy Castro will be bringing that cut to the chase band, The Painkillers, with him as he makes another visit to Portland on Tuesday, April 1st, at The Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta Street, for an 8:00 pm show. Tickets are $20.00 advance through www.albertarosetheatre.com or $25.00 day of show. Minors are permitted with a parent or guardian.

Special update: Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes will be opening for Tommy Castro.

Joe Louis Walker has been delivering his mesmerizing guitar playing and songwriting skills for nearly three decades, reaping a staggering Joe Louis Walker - photo by Greg Johnsonnumber of Blues Music Award nominations and wins over that time, including four nominations in 2013 alone. He was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame this past year. His music covers the blues in every angle imaginable over his career, whether it is greasy sliding guitar, smooth soul, Sunday morning gospel, funky grooves or a tenacious rockin’ approach as displayed on his newest Alligator Records release Hornet’s Nest, Walker can cover it all and do it perhaps better than just about anybody. His performances are legendary and always big draws in the Portland area with his incendiary guitar and enrapturing vocals.

It has been almost two years since Joe Louis Walker played last at Jimmy Mak’s, with only a lone appearance at the Waterfront Blues Festival thrown in between, so his return to Portland will be highly anticipated. He will be returning to Jimmy Mak’s, 221 NW 10th  as part of the Soul’d Out Music Festival, on Thursday, April 17th for one show only at 8:00 pm. Advanced tickets can be found at Tickettomato.com, $17.00 reserved seating and $13.00 general admission. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, and members may receive  a $1.00 discount when ordering on-line and using the code “CBA” or by showing their membership card at the door.

Guitar Shorty - press photo

Guitar Shorty (press photo)

Legendary guitarist/vocalist Guitar Shorty is a giant in the blues world. Credited with influencing both Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy, Guitar Shorty has been electrifying audiences for five decades with his supercharged live shows and his incendiary recordings. Like a bare knuckled boxer, Shorty strikes with his blistering, physical guitar playing and his fierce vocals, connecting directly with body and soul. What really sets Shorty apart is his absolutely unpredictable, off-the-wall guitar playing. He reaches for sounds, riffs and licks that other blues players wouldn’t even think of. Guitar Shorty has long been a favorite amongst Portland blues fans and has consistently brought large crowds to his shows. He will be performing two shows in Northwest Oregon during the month of April.

On Sunday, April 13th, Guitar Shorty will also be performing a dinner show at The Birk on Sunday at 6:30. The Birk Country Store & Café is located at 11139 Hwy 202, Birkenfeld, Oregon. Please contact the venue for admission prices and other details at 503-755-2722

Then as part of the Soul’d Out Music Festival, Guitar Shorty will be performing at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave, on Monday, April 14th. Appearing on the bill with Shorty will be The Resistance. This is an 8:00 pm show, 21 & older only. Tickets are available through TicketBiscuit.com and are $17.00 advance, $20.00 day of show.

Originally scheduled in February, Bill Rhoades’ 19th Annual Harmonica Summit had to be canceled due to severe weather. But now the weather has cleared up and the event has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 19th at The Melody Ballroom. And as always, Bill has thrown together an incredible line-up of some of the Northwest best.

Traveling over the mountains from Bend, OR. will be one of the best woman harp players out there. Lynann Hyde basically stole the show at the last Harp Summit she played at and could do it again! She has a unique way of scaring the guys on the bill with her downhome harp work! We’ll be in real luck as she’ll be bringing her duo partner – guitarist/vocalist Stu Kinzel from their group Kinzel & Hyde. We’ll get a chance to see what they’ve been stirring up on the other side of the mountains.

One of the original old guard of Portland Bluesmen — Johnnie Ward has been a member of many Blues and Jug bands, including leading his own outfit The Jokers and presently as a member of The Shark Skin Revue. Paul deLay once said that Johnnie was someone he used to go see play, when he was first learning the harmonica. No surprise there as Johnnie is a really great player of many styles and is “The Granddaddy of Portland Harmonica.”

Another harmonic fixture on the Portland Blues scene is Dave Mathis. He played for a period of time in the Liquid Blues Band and was 1/2 of the fine duo of the Blues Police with Steve Cameron. His current spot is blowing harp and vocals with Michael Osborn and the Drivers. His latest CD, titled In Your Face, features his diversity and talent on the harp. Good Stuff!

Northwest veteran Mike Moothart will be making a special appearance at the show! He has been fighting cancer for the last few months and is eager to play! Moothart honed his chops early in Eugene, OR. He played in the BlueTones and toured with J. Wood and the Blues Commanders through Australia. After moving to Portland, Mike was a member of the Jim Mesi Band and went on to play a couple years with Jimmy Lloyd Rea and the Switchmasters. An extraordinary harp master who had caught the attention of Paul deLay and is still a favorite of Curtis Salgado.

And last will be your host and bluesman – Bill Rhoades. Also starting off in Eugene, Bill has had the pleasure and honor of playing with Albert Collins, Jimmy Rogers, Luther Tucker, Michael Bloomfield and many others! A founding member of the original Oregon Blues Society in Eugene and Portland’s Cascade Blues Association, Rhoades has been fronting his band The Party Kings since the 1970s and was a recipient of the Cascade Blues Association’s Lifetime Achievement Muddy Award.

The harpers will be backed by an all-star line-up featuring Newell C. Briggs and Chuck Laiti on guitars, Katey Angel on bass and Jolie Clausen on drums.

The show will take place in The Melody Ballroom’s Blue Heart Café (615 SE Alder St, downstairs), from 8:00 pm until midnight. Admission to the 19th Annual Blues Harmonica Summit is $10.00 at the door and as always $2.00 off to C.B.A. and other card carrying Blues Club / Society Members.

A lot of huffing and puffing, blowing and drawing, bending and squalling, and heavy breathing will be going on, helping to bring in the spring and Keeping the Blues Alive here in the Northwest.

Tell Mama! A Tribute To Etta James Continues To Showcase The Legendary Artist With Two Shows At Jimmy Mak’s

When Etta James passed away two years ago, the world mourned the loss of one of the most dynamic and beloved singers of all time. With a career that spanned seven decades and a string of hit songs, James defined the growth of R&B, soul, pop and blues music and enchanted us all with her incredible voice.

To honor Etta James, Portland area musicians DK Stewart and Chris Mercer organized a tribute show that featured a handful of the city’s most cherished female singers performing the James’ material titled Tell Mama! A Tribute to Etta James. A well-received CD of the show followed, along with a second concert and a set at the Waterfront Blues Festival. Two years later, the idea is still strong as a new concert has once again been pieced together and this time you will have two chances to catch the show. Happening at Jimmy Mak’s, 221 NW 10th, there will be two complete shows taking place in one night on Saturday, April 19th, at 7:30 pm and at 10:00 pm.

Once again the show will be under the direction of Oregon Music Hall of Fame pianist DK Stewart and world-renowned saxophonist and arranger Chris Mercer. The band will also feature Chris Carlson and Peter Dammann on guitar, Joseph Conrad on bass, drummer Ed Pierce and trumpet master Joe McCarthy. Presenting the vocal heart of Etta James’ music will be five of Portland’s favorite singers: Rae Gordon, Duffy Bishop, LaRhonda Steele, Lady Kat and Lisa Mann. Like just about every female performer of our time, each of these individual artists have been greatly influenced by the work of Etta James.

Tickets for Tell Mama! A Tribute To Etta James are available through Tickettomato.com, advanced tickets are $15.00 for reserved seating and $12.00 general admission. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored show and you can receive a discount on tickets by using the code “CBA.” Purchase your tickets early as this one is certain to sell-out.

As a young man just starting out, Norman Sylvester was unable to pursue music as a full time occupation. With a new family he needed steady employment that offered health care insurance. Over time that insurance paid off for him with hip replacement surgeries and then two vehicle accidents that created the need to have those earlier surgeries repaired. Now he has reached the age where he can receive Medicare, allowing time to fulfill his desire to work as a musician.

Tevis Hodge Jr is a young Musician, just starting to try to make a name for himself by working in the music industry. And like most musicians pursuing this as their career, he will feel the pressures of trying to afford health insurance from his own pocket.

Inner City Blues Tevis and Norman - Photo by Greg JohnsonBoth Norman and Tevis will be featured in this year’s Third Annual Inner City Blues Festival: “Healing the Healthcare Blues.” As Norman describes it, they represent the seasoned Boogie Cat and the young cat, keeping the blues alive. Joining them will be a number of the Portland area’s finest musicians at The Melody Ballroom, 615 SE Alder St., on Saturday, April 5th, from 7:00 pm until midnight. Both the Grand Ballroom upstairs and the Blue Heart Bar downstairs will feature live entertainment. Food and drink will be available for sale and a no host bar. There will be a community information table, raffle prizes and a silent auction.

The Inner City Blues Festival: Healing the Healthcare Blues was created three years ago to help benefit the growing campaign for Health Care for All Oregon (www.hcao.org). The mission is to provide no cost health care to all Oregonians, young and old. Everybody’s In, Nobody’s Out! This event is aimed at furthering the goal while at the same time being the party of the year to attend!

Performers this year will include:

In the Grand Ballroom: Too Loose Cajun/Zydeco Band w/ Reggie Houston; Duffy Bishop Band; Shoehorn; The Strange Tones w/ The Volcano Vixens, Mad As Hell Doctors, Norman Sylvester Band w/ LaRhonda Steele; The Boogie Cat Blues Guitar Explosion w/ Lloyd Jones & Jim Mesi; and Chata Addy & Friends Drum Procession.

Acoustic artists will perform In the Blue Heart Bar: Nico Wind Full Circle; Steve Cheseborough; and Tevis Hodge Jr.

Celebrity MC’s: Paul Knauls  &  Renee Mitchell