Mark your calendars because one of Portland’s most favorite touring bands will be making their way back to town in May for two nights in Northwest Oregon. Rick Estrin & The Nightcats always fill the room and treat those in attendance to crafty guitar playing from Kid Andersen and the witty lyrics and vibrant harmonica of leader Rick Estrin. Rick Estrin was named the recipient of the 2013 Blues Music Awards for harmonica player and the band has been nominated for four awards again this year. Always in demand for festivals, blues cruises and major venues worldwide, they are touring in support of their most recent Alligator Records release One Wrong Turn. J. Hansen on drums and Lorenzo Farrell on bass and keys make up the remainder of this powerhouse outfit that is guaranteed a good time every single night.

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats (photo by Kent Lacinel)

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats – press photo by Kent Lacinel

On Wednesday, May 14th, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats will be doing a dinner show at The Birk, 11139 Highway 202, Birkenfeld. The show starts at 7:00 pm. Suggested donation for the night is $10.00.

Then the following night, Thursday, May 15th, Rick and the guys will roll into Portland for a 9:00 pm show at Duff’s Garage’s new location is at NE 82nd & Russell, across the street from Madison High School. Admission is $15.00. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so make sure to show your current membership card at the door to receive a $1.00 discount off admission.

“Nobody I know, and I mean nobody, has covered more ground and made more friends and sung more songs (than Ramblin’ Jack Elliott). He’s got a song and a friend for every mile behind him.” – Johnny Cash

Ramblin' Jack Elliott press photo

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (press photo)

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is an American icon. A folk music legend who has been nominated for five Grammy Awards, including a win for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2009 for the disc A Stranger Here. With six decades of performing he has quite a lengthy and noted resume. In his early years he worked the roads as a troubadour alongside his buddy Woody Guthrie and became a huge inspiration for future musicians including Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits and just about anybody who has picked up a guitar to play folk and roots music.

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott will be performing in Portland once again presenting his “The Seeds & The Stories Tour” at the Alhambra Theatre, 4811 SE Hawthorne Avenue, for an 8:30 pm show on Saturday, May 24th. Admission is $20.00 and available at This is a 21 & over only show. Opening the evening will be Nell Robinson, who has been called “one of the freshest voices in Roots music.”


1601431_767966943221993_5902319648285297749_n[1]There are many great things about living in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Really way too many to list here. But a couple I will list are the fantastic music scene we have and all the outstanding musicians that pull together when one of us is in need. I know. I can speak from personal experience. I was helped a number of times by the folks here in Portland and in Eugene, when going through health issues. If it wasn’t for Randy Lilya, Jan Bisconer, Greg Johnson,

the Cascade Blues Association, Terry Currier, Bill Shreve, Paul Biondi, M.E.M.A (Musicians Emergency Medical Assoc.) and all the musicians, I probably would be living out on the street.

Well, that time has come up again. One of the Northwest’s most outstanding Blues Harmonica players needs help. Mike Moothart was recently diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. It had spread to five tumors on his spine. One tumor was removed and this eliminated him being paralyzed from the waist down. Mike has been receiving hormone / chemo / radiation

treatments and the doctor have found the results encouraging so far, saying that he has responded well to the treatments. I’m not pulling any punches here. The cost of this is huge. Add all this to the fact that two weeks before he was diagnosed, he was “let go” from his job of thirty years. He still has some insurance for himself and his daughter but the monthly costs of that are large.

Mike has been a solid blues musician and blues supporter for over 40 plus years. He grew up with Curtis Salgado in Eugene, OR., and played in many bands there. He offered his home to musicians traveling through like Big Walter Horton, Sonny Rhodes and many others. After moving to Portland, he played with the Jim Mesi Band, Jimmy Lloyd Rea & the Switchmasters and has frequently been seen at the Blues Harmonica Blow-Off’s and Summit’s. At one point he even drove the van for the Paul deLay Band. Mike loves blues music and is hands down, one of the most hard blowing harp players out there. He used to ask people not to stand in front of him when he played because of the danger of being “sucked up into the Harmonica”.

Now Thanks to Randy Lilya, Sonny Hess, the Spare Room and an Award winning list of Portland musicians, a benefit will be held to help Mike off-set the enormous costs of his treatments. On Sunday May 18th at the Spare Room – located at 4830 N.E. 42nd Ave – here in Portland, OR., an All-Star cast of players will get together and play from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

Donations will be accepted throughout the evening and there will a “ton” of unbelievable music and musicians! Let me throw some names out and see if this gets your attention. Curtis Salgado, Linda Hornbuckle, Norman Sylvester, D.K. Stewart, Lloyd Jones, Jim Mesi, Terry Robb, Andy Stokes, Sonny Hess, Steve Bradley, Bill Rhoades, Alan Hager, Jim Wallace, Jimmy Lloyd Rea, Sir Henry Cooper, John Koonce, Doug Rowell, Newell C. Briggs, Randy Lilya and Robbie Laws. There will be many more players showing up. Way too many to list. A line-up not to be missed! Plus, there will be a raffle and drawings to win prizes and every ticket you purchase will go to help Mike that much more.

So please put that date on your calendar. May 18th – Sunday 5 pm to 10 pm at the Spare Room. Once again we can show that not only do the musicians here in the Northwest play great together but that they look out for each other and help when the time comes up. Don’t miss this show – like J.B. Hutto used to say “It will be Heavy”!








One of the most beloved bluesmen of his generation, Tab Benoit returns to Portland after a couple years absence to headline a show at The Star Theater on Thursday, May 15th. Tab Benoit, hailing from the Louisiana wetlands in the early 90s has been a much in demand performer for his outstanding guitar work, songwriting skills, deep velvet smooth voice and his Southern charm. The recipient of the Blues Music Awards BB King Entertainer of the Year recognition in 2007, he has also receive a Grammy Award and released seventeen recordings over his career including his work with Voice of the Wetlands and his latest Medicine. Always an over the top performer, Tab Benoit alone is worth the price of admission.

Native Orleanian Fine Photography/Jerry Moran Images for Tab Benoit website.

Tab Benoit (photo by Jerry Moran)

But he is not alone for this night full of entertainment. Also on the bill will be Northwest root-rockers Cody Beebe & The Crooks, known for their high-charged, energetic on-stage delivery. Portland’s own powerhouse blues band Woodbrain will also fill out the bill, with the crafty songwriting and guitar work of Joe McMurrian, the frenetic harmonica of David Lipking, bass man Jason Hnol and multi-Blues Music Award nominee Jimi Bott on drums.

The Star Theater is located at 13 NW 6th Avenue in Portland. Showtime is 8:00 pm. This is a 21 and over only concert. Tickets can be purchased in advance through for $25.00.





Raised in small towns in Tennessee, Valerie June moved to Memphis following high school and absorbed as much of the music of the MidSouth

Valerie June (press photo)

Valerie June (press photo)

as she could. The sounds of the church was intermixed with the folk, blues and country, all of it feeding into her mind and pouring out through her original music. It can be heard prominently in her critically acclaimed debut disc Pushing Against A Stone. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Valerie June holds a strong grip on the future sounds of indie-folk and blues-related Americana with her superb songwriting skills and on stage savvy.

Valerie June will be performing in Portland at the Rose Festival in Tom McCall Waterfront Park as part of KINK on the Waterfront on Sunday, May 25th. that will also include emerging stars Scars on 45 and Capital Cities. KINK on the Waterfront will also take place on Saturday, May 24th with performances from Vicci Martinez, Marc Broussard and Vintage Trouble. Tickets are $25.00 each day. Doors are at 5:30 for this all ages event. Tickets may be purchased in advance through


Sugaray Rayford (photo by Alejandro Rodriguez)

Sugaray Rayford (photo by Alejandro Rodriguez)

Delta Groove recording artist Sugaray Rayford is one of the most exciting and dynamic performers touring the blues circuit today. As a member of the Blues Music Award winning Mannish Boys or with his own band, this is one artist who is guaranteed to have you at the edge of your seat or frantically busting your moves on the dance floor. If you had any problems going into a Sugaray show, you’ll surely have forgotten them by the end of the night. The perfect cure-all for all your miseries. The big man knows how to have fun and it will rub off on the audience as well. Raised in gospel music, Sugaray has a soothing, intimate R&B approach that presents his background from singing in the church, yet can get down and gritty belting the blues with the best of them. One of the fastest rising stars in the blues world today.

Sugaray Rayford will be performing two nights at The Birk over Memorial Day weekend for his only Oregon appearances on this tour. Both are early dinner shows on Saturday, May 24th at 7:00 pm and Sunday, May 25th at 6:00 pm. Admission is a suggested donation of $15.00 on Saturday and $10.00 Sunday. Minors 13 and older are welcome on Sunday, so this is a wonderful opportunity to expose younger audiences to a world class musician. The Birk is located at 11139 Highway 202, in Birkenfeld, a great scenic drive and a wonderful way to spend the day before the show.


Little Hurricane - press photo


San Diego-based duo Little Hurricane describes their music as a dirty-blues twosome. They are a rootsy blues-rock outfit with an Americana sense of storytelling, a disarming ease with breezy melody and a broader sonic palette. At times stark and lushly textured, gritty, edgy and downright soul shaking. Made up of guitarist Anthony “Tone” Catalano and drummer Celeste “C.C.” Spina. This pair have just released their latest recording, Gold Fever. They first formed in 2010 and have since been making highly touted appearances at festivals, at SXSW and were named best new artists at the San Diego Music Awards. Daytrotter music website states, “There’s so much rotten in the guts and so much piss and fire spewing out of Little Hurricane songs that you’re fairly sure that they’ve ticked off the devil and they’re on the wrong list.” Just the perfect mixture that has brought their unique blues forms to become a favorite on slacker radio stations.

Little Hurricane will be appearing at The Wonder Ballroom n Saturday, May 31st for a 9:00 pm show open to all ages. Tickets are available through ranging from $13.00 – $15.00.

Opening the night will be Lincoln Durham, a roots-rock revivalist with a heavy amped edge, preaching the gospel of some new kind of depraved music. With driving guttural beats back-boning various growling stringed instruments Lincoln gives birth to a sound that transcends genres with his dark poetic ad raw writing style.


The California Honeydrops - photo by Rob McDougall


The California Honeydrops are living proof that pursuing your dream can be rewarding, taking you literally from the streets to working major festivals all across the country. That is exactly what band leader Lech Wierzynski did with the small acoustic group he first formed in college back in Ohio, relocating to Oakland, California and teaming with original California Honeydrop member Ben Malament. They began playing on the train platforms for tips and became so popular they started receiving gigs at venues all around the Bay Area with their fun-filled music combining New Orleans second line material with blues and roots music. Their first release generated a Blues Music Award nomination for debut recording and they’ve been on a steady upward movement in demands for performances from coast to coast.

The music is infectious and good times-inducing. Supporting their latest album, Like You Mean It, The California Honeydrops return to Portland for a show at Mississippi Studios on Thursday, May 29th at 9:00 pm. This is a 21 and older only show. Tickets are available in advance at for $13.00. The California Honeydrops don’t just play music. They throw parties.





Bonepickers CD coverWhen it comes down to the greatest innovators of the electric guitar, T-Bone Walker stands high amongst the most influential guitar players of all time. Breaking out of Texas and becoming one of the crafters of the West Coast jump sound out of Los Angeles, his impact is felt within just about every modern player of our times, from Chuck Berry to Jimi Hendrix to BB King, the methods of Walker touched them all.

In recognition of Walker’s influence a group of musicians in Portland, Oregon gathered together to pay tribute with a show to focus on his music. The T-Bone Walker Tribute concert was highly successful and spawned a handful of encore performances, all of them sold-out events. Fans began requesting that a recording of this beloved music be released performed by this extraordinary group of musicians.

The band is made up of stellar artists all. Guitarists Franck Goldwasser (The Mannish Boys), Chris Carlson (Duffy Bishop Band), Vyasa Dodson (The Insomniacs, Curtis Salgado Band) and Jim Wallace showcase the sound of Walker to perfection. With horn players Chris Mercer (John Mayall, Paul deLay, too many more to name), Brad Ulrich and Joe McCarthy adding that punch that makes the music jump, keyboardist Steve Kerin, and the rhythm section of John Mazzocco (John Lee Hooker, Paul deLay, Curtis Salgado.) and drummer Reinhardt Melz, the music comes alive capturing the exact mood that made Walker so popular.This is music done from the heart of each of these incredible artists and it comes across just so. It is a tribute to a musician that changed modern music filled with feeling and energy. But they could not simply call themselves The T-Bone Walker Tribute Band, that doesn’t really put any personalization to the project. Thus the new name Bonepickers, as in T-Bone (I’m sure that did not have to be pointed out).

The album, Strollin’, is packed full of some of the best known material T-Bone Walker is recognized for. Not all inclusive mind you, Walker’s catalog is large enough that there can easily be multiple recordings offered by the Bonepickers for some time to come. Each of the four guitarists take on favorite Walker tracks stretching themselves out on captivating guitar solos combined with sharp vocalization. This is an album that is masterfully done on each and every number, so choose for yourself which song is to be called a highlight recording. But many of those recognizable numbers are here: “Party Girl,” “Evening,” “Strollin’ (With Bones),” “Alimony Blues” and “2 Bones (And A Pick)” are just a handful. I have to say that I am really happy that they did not select the obvious pieces that have been done by so many artists over and over again, like “Stormy Monday,” “T-Bone Shuffle” or “Mean Old World.” Don’t get me wrong, I love those just as much. But Walker had a large repertoire of songs and all of them equally as great. And I’m hoping on the next release that they look to include some like “Street Walkin’ Woman,” “Don’t Throw Your Love On Me So Strong” and “The Hustle.” Walker was so prolific, you just have to love it all.

If anybody is unfamiliar with the work of T-Bone Walker (I know, how can that be possible?), this is a great place to introduce yourself to his mastery. It’ll get you wanting to hear more. Not only T-Bone Walker, but the Bonepickers, too. Heavily anticipating to see what will come next from this outstanding cast of musicians.

Total Time: 36:07

Tell Me The Reason / Blue Mood / Party Girl / Evening / Strollin’ / I Get So Weary / Inspiration Blues / Life Is Too Short / Alimony Blues / Get These Blues Off Me / 2 Bones

Memphis Grease
Blue Corn Music

John Nemeth CD coverIn a recent show, John Nemeth explained how he became a songwriter. While performing in a harmonica summit in Portland, he was on the bill with the late Paul deLay. After playing a handful of classic blues cover tunes by people like Little Walter, deLay spoke to Nemeth and told him he had done a great job, but if he ever wanted to get anywhere in the business he needed to start creating his own original music. Nemeth took this to heart. In a big way. After all, deLay was not only an exceptionally scary great harmonica player, he was also an ace when it came to penning original music. Since taking that advice from deLay, Nemeth has developed into one of the finest songwriters in the genre, capturing the right mood for his soulful voice and booming harmonica playing.

Those songwriting skills are very evident in his latest release, Memphis Grease. Ten of the thirteen selections on the album were all written by Nemeth. Memphis Grease is Nemeth’s first release since making the move to Memphis from the West Coast. It is dripping full of that great soulful feel that lives and breathes in the music of that city. I’m not sure if it’s something in the Mississippi River water or the sultry humid air that brings out the best in soul singers, but Nemeth was an incredible vocalist before making the move, but he has even surpassed all that now. Maybe it’s hooking up with Scott Bomar and The Bo-Keys that add that authenticity. I mean, how can you go wrong when working with a collection of some of the finest musicians to ever lay down that soulful groove for so many other outstanding artists in the field? But even with all the climatic Memphis feel and encouragingly fantastic band behind this recording, it still breathes John Nemeth at his original best.

The feeling behind the original tracks on Memphis Grease have that flavor of classic numbers recorded at Hi, Royal or Stax Studios in their heyday. I can picture a number of legendary performers from Johnnie Taylor to O.V. Wright to Otis Redding singing these exact songs. And doing them precisely as Nemeth has delivered them himself. Numbers like “If It Ain’t Broke,” “I Can’t Help Myself” and “Testify My Love” come across in this manner to a tee. There are also examples of Nemeth making his own statement in soulful stylings with “Sooner Or Later” and “I Wish I Was Home.” They accentuate Nemeth’s over the top vocal talents and increasingly tasteful songwriting abilities.

There are three covers featured on Memphis Grease. A superb take on Howard Tate’s soul masterpiece “Stop,” and Otis Rush’s “Three Times A Fool” is heavily funkified with Nemeth throwing down hard blowing harmonica riffs in the places where Rush would’ve supplied his guitar licks. Perhaps the most amazing cover, though, is Nemeth’s take on Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” I told him myself that taking on any number of this caliber by Orbison took a very confident and brave vocalist. Orbison had such a range in his voice that seldom will you find somebody to capture one of his songs in the right way. Nemeth has accomplished that feat remarkably.

Overall, Memphis Grease is another step forward for John Nemeth. I mean, the man has already put together some exhilaratingly unbelievable recordings. Just how much better can he get? Memphis Grease has already surpassed expectations from the work he has released before. He makes me a believer that there may be no bounds and heights he cannot reach in his songwriting and performances. Expect to find this one on the blues charts for a lengthy time and sitting right there as one of the best of the year when all is said and done.

Total Time: 53:52

Three Times A Fool / Sooner Or Later / Her Good Lovin’ / Stop / If It Ain’t Broke / I Can’t Help Myself / Crying / My Baby’s Gone / Testify My Love / Bad Luck Is My Name / Keep The Love A Comin’ / Elbows On The Wheel / I Wish I Was Home