Nick Moss - photo by Greg JohnsonWorld-renowned, 16-time Blues Music Award nominated Nick Moss has honed his craft with a class of blues legends, including luminaries like Buddy Scott, Jimmy Dawkins and Jimmy Rogers, over the last twenty years. Considered one of the premier blues acts out of Chicago, the Nick Moss Band is currently touring in support of his latest release, Time Ain’t Free. Along with Nick’s incendiary guitar work, the band also features the stellar vocals of Mike Ledbetter, as they infuse rock, R&B and soul into their ultra-solid blues and roots foundation.

Always a well-received act whenever they come through the region, the Nick Moss Band will be performing three times in our area. On Wednesday, June 11th, the band will play at The Birk, 11139 Hwy. 202 in Birkenfeld, Oregon. Admission is a donation to help support the venue. Call 503-755-2722 for show time and further information. Then on Thursday, June 12th, the band will roll into the new Duff’s Garage at 2730 NE 82nd for a 9:00 pm show. Admission is $12.00. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so don’t forget to show your membership card at the door to receive a $1.00 discount. On Saturday, June 14th, Nick Moss and the guys will be the headliner at the Yakima Blues & Local Brews Festival (see separate article for information about this new festival).

If you’ve never seen a Nick Moss Band performance, this is a not to miss opportunity to catch one of the blues world’s finest bands. Guaranteed a great night of music every time out.

Got to say, I really think the Blues Music Awards is getting better every year. The performance line-up continues to be stellar and this year having sets from Ronnie Earl with guests Kim Wilson, Dave Keller and Bob Margolin; James Cotton with Elvin Bishop; Beth Hart; Brandon Santini with a very animated Jeff Jensen; Anson Funderburgh; and the tremendous grouping for the Remembering Little Walter set, just clicked from out of the gate. And yet, this was just a drop in the bucket of all the terrific music on hand for the night. Once again, I was privileged to work as one of the stage managers. Hanging out with the artists all day, making new friends, and then their utmost professionalism during the event made this quite an easy job this year. Not a glitch to be had.

I have said it before, these trips to Memphis are more about catching up with friends. We may be working, but we find the time to have a little fun, too. A huge thanks once again to The Blues Foundation for letting me be a part of their premier event and the biggest night in the blues world.

But back at home, we need to keep things real here. Rumblings of one of the top venues having hard times and thinking of closing is always a hard pill to swallow. We need these rooms people, go out and support the venues that offer us the music we want to hear. Sometimes it might mean having to drive across town, but the owners are trying to bring you the best around and that little drive every now and then is definitely worth it to keep our multiple options open week after week.

Hope that you’ve had the chance to check out the new digs for Duff’s Garage as Jon and Jennifer continue to bring in the best of local players as well as a rolling line-up of touring acts. I have yet to check out The Tillicum since the new owners have taken over, or to make it out to The Birk, but both are definitely in my sights and plans, as are making trips to some of the older locations I have not hit in a while.

And the summer is also coming on strong. Lots of festivals happening in the Northwest, including the biggie for us, the Waterfront Blues Festival. Thanks to all who have volunteered to help out for both the CBA and the Oregon Food Bank. The line-up is once again coming together with an incredible group of acts; got to hand it to Peter Dammann, who amazes me year after year.

But don’t forget about the Journey To Memphis competition. The first Friday and Saturday in June, we’re going to kick things off to find out who will represent us in Memphis next January. Whoever it ends up being, we know that we’ll be sending some of the best of our region and they’ll give a nice shake-up on Beale Street.

Lots of fun ahead over the next few months. Get out there, hear some music and support our local blues scene. It is one of the best things going when it comes to living here. Keep it vital and magical!!

Building on recent efforts to brand Downtown Yakima as an arts and entertainment destination, a new festival will be launched this June built around craft beer produced in the region and locally popular, nationally recognized, and internationally acclaimed blues artists.

The Yakima Blues and Local Brews Bash will make its debut on Saturday, June 14th from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm in the Historic North Front Street district. Two separate stages will be packed with high-quality, non-stop blues throughout the festival. The Depot Stage will showcase the Seattle-based The Wired! Blues Band at 2:45 pm, Kevin Selfe and the Tornados from Portland, Oregon at 5:00 pm, and Chicago’s 16-time Blues Music Award nominated Nick Moss Band at 7:30 pm. The Opera House Stage will feature Yakima favorites Stan Fortier & The Black Market Horns at 2:00 pm, The Rod Giles Band at 4:15 pm, and Shoot Jake at 6:30 pm.

Craft breweries located within 100 miles of Yakima have been invited to showcase their beers at the Yakima Blues and Local Brews Bash and several, including Bale Breaker Brewing Company (Yakima), Yakima Craft Brewing Company (Yakima), Icicle Brewing Company (Leavenworth), and Iron Horse Brewery (Ellensburg) have already committed to be part of the event. Naches Heights Vineyard, Gilbert Cellars, and Antolin Cellars, all based in Yakima, will also be serving their varietals at the festival.

Only people 21 years of age or older will be allowed on the festival grounds, but North Town Coffeehouse (32 North Front Street) will host a free family area during the event.

Tickets to enter the event will cost $10.00 in advance and $12.00 at the gate. Tickets for the festival can be purchased at the Capitol Theatre Box Office (19 S. 3rd Street), online at yakimablues.com, or by calling 853-ARTS. Scrip for beer (and wine) tastings, as well as for food prepared by restaurants from the Historic North Front Street district, will be sold at various locations on the festival grounds. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the non-profit Seasons Performance Hall while some of the money generated by the festival will go into a fund to help pay for next year’s bash.

The Yakima Blues and Local Brews Bash is being sponsored by the City of Yakima, Seasons Performance Hall, Ted Brown Music, City Hall 1886, and the Historic North Front Street Merchants Association.

Do not forget to make plans to attend the 27th Annual Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival happening over July 18th – 20th at The Blues Ranch in Winthrop, Washington. This year’s event will feature top drawer performances by the likes of Charlie Musselwhite, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Shemekia Copeland, Roy Rogers, Carolyn Wonderland, Too Slim & The Taildraggers, The Soul of John Black, The Holmes Brothers, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, Homemade Jamz, Chris O’Leary Band, DoctorfunK, David Vest, Lady A and Stan Street.

Weekend passes are $90.00 in advance and on-site camping is available for $45.00 for the weekend. For the complete schedule, ticket and lodging information visit www.winthropbluesfestival.org or visit the festival’s Facebook page.

Jigsaw Heart
Yellow Dog Records

Eden Brent CD coverEden Brent returns with her first release since 2010’s highly acclaimed Ain’t Got No Troubles, and she fills fan cravings for the bluesy, boogie numbers she is best known for and even throws in a little rockabilly. But what really makes this new album Jigsaw Heart stand out is the slower intimate numbers that only she can deliver with her deep Southern crying vocals that pulls at your heart as she relates life’s deepest secrets.

Recorded in Nashville under the oversight of Colin Linden and using some of the city’s finest musicians, Eden has created a true epic collection that just may be the best of her career so far. Amongst the artists she brings to the table, Linden supplies outstanding guitar and a little mandolin on the Jimmy Phillips’ number “Panther Burn” (Phillips had also penned the track “Fried Chicken” on her Mississippi Number One album). Dan Dugmore throws down some nice pedal steel guitar and The McCrary Sisters are on hand to provide over the top backing vocals.

For those seeking that tear it up boogie piano that Eden does so well, you will enjoy the work-out on “”Everybody Already Knows” where she relates how living in a small town makes it tough to keep secrets, because word seems to spread quickly in such an environment. “Let’s Go Ahead And Fall In Love” offers a little honky tonk piano with a heavy dose of sexual double entendres and “Locomotive” brings out a Johnny Cash styled rockabilly pace.

Covering Joan Armatrading’s “Opportunity” is definitely a high point on Jigsaw Heart as it comes across haunting and street wise. Eden performs the number on a Wurlitzer organ with sensational backing from The McCrary Sisters

Which leads back to those slower paced numbers that make Jigsaw Heart the essential recording it is. The title track tells of broken hearts and how trying to piece life together is like a jigsaw puzzle that is missing several key pieces to complete it. “The Last Time” is the story of memories of a friend who has passed away and how thoughts will always return of that very last time spent together. On “Better This Way” she has come to the realization that a relationship has come to an end and it’s time to face that parting is the best route to take. Eden claims that this song is the only one that she has ever written that made her cry while writing it. “Valentine” was written by Colin Linden and Tom Hambridge. It’s a stripped down number that has Eden wearing her heart on her sleeve with tender accompaniment from Chris Carmichael on violin that is heart wrenching number that can bring tears while listening to it.

Jigsaw Heart is a beautifully, well-crafted recording full of emotion and Eden Brent has certainly outdone herself one more time. Masterful piano playing, impactful lyrics and vocalizing that may bring you to tears at times or smiling broadly at others. Another winning collection from Eden. She just keeps getting better every time out.

Total Time: 47:55

Better This Way / Everybody Already Knows / Jigsaw Heart / Opportunity / I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free / The Last Time / Panther Burn / Let’s Go Ahead And Fall In Love / Tendin’ To A Broken Heart / Locomotive / Get The Hell Out Of Dodge / Valentine

Find Your Way Home
Lil’ Spinner Records

Duffy Bishop CD coverDuffy Bishop may open her long-awaited new release, Find Your Way Home, by telling you that she does not want to know about it, but you’re certainly going to want to know and hear about it, this sensational disc. It has been way too long since the last release, but what she delivers here is more than worth that wait. And if she tells us that there is nothing left to prove on “Get Up And Move,” don’t you believe that for a second. This lady and her band aren’t buried yet and they’ve got plenty to tell us here and you’re going to listen very closely. Well, it is Duffy Bishop after all, so you’re already aware that you’re about to have a good time. That much is a given. And Find Your Way Home is the band at their very best.

Duffy Bishop herself is a like a force of nature. She can come across at one moment like a gentle spring breeze, only to turn around the next like a category five hurricane. Her voice has been enrapturing us for many years. It’s something you just cannot get enough of. Her band mates Dean Mueller on bass, Kelly Dunn on drums and songwriting/guitar playing husband Chris Carlson are all at the top of their game blending with Duffy’s passion and energy. This is quite evident on tracks like “I Don’t Wanna Know About It” and “Fly,” as well as throughout the entire disc.

Duffy brings along a lot of friends into the mix, too. Old bandmates like Dave Jette, Keith Lowe and Henry Cooper whose slide guitar is slippery cool on the cover of Max Schwennsen’s “Back Out On The Run.” Mary Flower joins in on two numbers, with high note given to her lap slide playing on the swampy, spooky “Black Mangrove.” Dave Fleschner on keys, Carlton Jackson on drums and Jim Wallace on harp all deliver dynamite parts and the horn section of Joe McCarthy, Brad Ulrich and Chris Mercer blow out the desired groove every time.

There are a lot of special moments to be found on the album. In “Growing Old” Duffy tells us that “growing old is killing me, no matter how hard I try, things will never be where they used to be.” “Monkey Pants” starts with a classic soulful opening, then jumps into a fun, humorous piece that’ll have you singing along. Little George Seuref’s “Fingerlickin’” has long been a staple of Duffy’s live performances and a crowd favorite. The song has become a signature piece for her, filled with sexy powerful passion guaranteed to lighten up an audience every time. “Find Your Way Home” has that New Orleans flavor that continually builds its pace and it’s the perfect track to close out the recording. It is an essential Duffy Bishop that encompasses everything there is to like about her and the band.

Thank you Lord for helping Duffy Bishop find her way home back into the studio. Now let’s all throw on our monkey pants, turn up the volume and kick Find Your Way Home onto our players because the party is happening now! Yahoo!!

Total Time: 47:26

I Don’t Wanna Know About It / Get Up And Move / Growing Old / Monkey Pants / Black Mangrove / Fingerlickin’ / Back Out On The Run / It Tears Me Up / Fly / Find Your Way Home

Refuse To Lose
Alligator Records

Jarekus Singleton CD coverAs a venue coordinator at the International Blues Challenge I am quite fortunate to see and meet some of the finest musicians that many people have not heard of yet. There are some amazing artists that do not make the finals; it’s simply the tastes of the judges they face on any given night. One of my favorite acts over the past few years has been Jarekus Singleton. He has been scheduled in my room three times and he continues to blow me away more and more with each performance. I know I am not alone when it comes to liking Jarekus. Word tends to roll down Beale Street about acts that stand out and the rooms fill for those receiving the best word of mouth. That has certainly been the case for Jarekus Singleton as every night seems to draw larger crowds to see this young man perform.

Obviously I am not the only one sharing this perception regarding Jarekus. Though he may have not reached the finals, he plucked perhaps the ripest berry of them all when it comes to capturing the right ear amongst the industry people on hand looking for new talent. That ear belonged to Bruce Iglauer, the head honcho at Alligator Records, who was drawn by the overall skills that Jarekus displayed. An outstanding guitarist with exceptional stage presence and a knack for writing deeply touching songs of experience and life’s ups and downs.

The title of Jarekus Singleton’s debut album for Alligator is Refuse To Lose. That title alone says a lot about this young man from Mississippi. His original hopes were to play basketball for a living. A star player at the University of Southern Mississippi, he suffered an injury that cruelly dashed those dreams. But he found the blues and it was a new outlet where he found a release for the pain and hardships of life. He has cried so many tears and suffered through the years, there are so many things he doesn’t understand, but he still refuses to lose. The lyrics of the song are delivered with intense guitar that sears to the soul.

The music can be hard rocking blues or deeply funky. It all has highly danceable rhythms, with strong backbeat from bass and drums and dynamic organ. But it’s the lyrics that truly say a lot. They’re sharp-witted and often biting to the bone. Bad relationships come across in the slow blues “Crime Scene,” not the type you see on TV and the victim is me. In another slow track he lets us know that he’s assured of going to Heaven, because his baby’s already took him through “Hell.” The descriptions used in this song are quite clever, his life was standing still and his heart was hard as a knuckle, or he calls his baby Stevie Ray Vaughan because she’s double trouble. In “High Minded” he stretches out on guitar as he tells you that a turtle can’t move if his neck ain’t out of his shell and this is not “Training Day” and my name ain’t Denzel. It’s the story of a self-possessed girlfriend who wants it all, but does not want to sacrifice anything. She wants to take a trip to someplace she’s never been, and Jarekus tells her how about to the kitchen then.

The pace slows down with a more simple stepping guitar with chunky harmonica on “Blame Game,” that just may be the finest track on this album of winning numbers. It is a light feeling piece, running around the theme of having burnt all his bridges, he just can’t win with anybody – his boss is a jerk because he got made when he fell asleep on the job; he asks if he can move in with a friend and he had the nerve to ask for rent; his girl loaned him some money and expects him to pay it back – well, you get the picture.

Jarekus Singleton has made his mark in the South and is now ready to let everybody elsewhere know just who he is. With a fine album like Refuse To Lose filled with exceptional guitar and all original crafty lyrics, there’s a lot to like. He should be set in the direction for quick recognition. I foresee a new blues star on the horizon. Check him out.

Total Time: 53:03

Refuse To Lose / Purposely / Gonna Let Go / Crime Scene / Keep Pushin’ / Suspicion / Hell / Hero / High Minded / Sorry / Blame Game / Come Wit’ Me

The premier blues festival in the Columbia River Gorge returns to Stevenson, Washington on Saturday, June 21st with seven bands on two stages, sixteen regional breweries, six Gorge wineries and food from many local vendors. The Gorge Blues and Brews Festival will run from noon until 10:00 pm taking place in one of the most beautiful venues in the world at the Skamania county Fairgrounds. Kicking off the festivities will be a free Friday Night Waterfront Jam, with local bands including The Love Skunks, starting at 6:00 pm and running until 10:00 pm.

Admission to the Gorge Blues and Brews Festival is only $15.00 which includes a commemorative beer or wine glass. Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.Tickettomato.com. Buy your tickets in advance on-line and you will receive 5 free drink tokens.  For further information about activities at the festival, lodging and camping, please visit their website at www.gorgebluesandbrews.com. Doors open at noon.

Schedule for Saturday, June 21st, 2014

12:30—2:00pm Dusu Mali (Portland’s improvisational African blues rock & roll)
2:15—2:40pm Local Stage
2:45—4:15pm Billy D & the Hoodoos (Award winning bluesy rock from Portland)
4:20—4:55pm Local Stage
5:00—6:30pm Jimmy D. Lane & Guests (Chicago blues guitarist who has recorded with BB King, Van Morrison, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal and more!)
6:45—7:45pm Local Stage
8:00—10:00pm Soul Vaccination (The Pacific Northwest’s hottest Funk & Soul band)