Pete Karnes - press photoThey say that the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. Well, harmonica master Pete Karnes is no criminal unless you count helping establish the Portland blues scene a crime. And he will be returning the venue where it all began, The White Eagle, 836 N. Russell. This venue helped establish many of the best blues performers back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and the Pete Karnes Blooz Band was one of the most beloved.

Karnes is a committed blues man who has played with many of the legends, including Big Walter Horton, Willie Dixon, Robert Lockwood Jr., J.B. Hutto, Lightning Slim and John Lee Hooker. Joining Karnes for this long-awaited return to Portland, will be several members from his original band, Richard Englund on bass, Doug Smith on sax and Michael Mendenhall on keyboards.

The night will also be extra special as Karnes will be releasing a new CD which is sure to take us back to those extraordinary nights, titled Live At The White Eagle 1982. This is a follow-up disc to his excellent recording released earlier this year, I’m Still Here. Taking that stroll back to that night in 1982, it features two outstanding artists who have since passed away, the late Nick Christmas and one of the West Coast’s premier guitarists Tom McFarland.

This one-night only performance happens on Saturday, September 6th, starting at 9:30 pm. The White Eagle will be extending their hours until 1:30 am in order to give everybody a complete night for this reunion show and CD release party. Advanced tickets may be purchased at for $8.00, or $10.00 at the door. Come on out and relive those memories as the Boogie Man Pete Karnes returns!

Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur - photo by Lori EanesThere has never been another group like Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band. The original “Americana” band, playing everything from classic blues to hillbilly country, ragtime, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll, they perfectly captured the legendary 1960s mix of exuberant anarchy and heartfelt sincerity. “The rock historian Ed Ward went so far as to place the Kweskin Band alongside the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Byrds as that period’s most influential groups.” – Alex Ward, The New York Times

Two of the legendary bands key musicians will be teaming up for a special show at The Alberta Rose Theatre on Thursday, September 11th, Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur.

Jim Kweskin is probably best known as a singer and bandleader, but he also created one of the bedrock guitar styles of the folk revival, adapting the ragtime-blues fingerpicking of artists like Blind Boy Fuller to the more complex chords of pop and jazz. He has maintained a remarkably consistent musical vision since his jug band days, continuing to explore traditional folk and blues with the sophisticated sensibility of a jazz musician and jazz with the communal simplicity of a folk artist.

Geoff Muldaur was already a known factor when he joined the jug band, and he went on to lend his soulful vocals and brilliant arranging skills to a wide range of influential groups, from Geoff and Maria to Paul Butterfield’s Better Days to his own dazzlingly varied solo ventures. Fifty years on, his singing remains uniquely powerful; as the English folk-rocker Richard Thompson said: “There are only three white blues singers, and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them.”

Opening the show will be singer-songwriter Phoebe Hunt, accompanied by Connor Forsythe. This duet effortlessly blends country, swing, jazz, folk, and pop.

Showtime is 7:30 pm. Minors are okay when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets are $22.50 advance and can be purchased at, $25.00 at the door.

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Well I think I am going to be a little more personal this month in this rambling. I want to personally apologize to all the local musicians and those touring through the area this past month and a half. I have missed a good deal of your shows. It’s not that I didn’t want to attend those, it was my vehicle deciding to take itself out of service about a week-and-a-half after the Waterfront Blues Festival. So I have only seen a small handful of happenings over that time. And since we’re talking about Portland that means an awful lot of shows coming through our area. It was hard not being able to see friends like Janiva Magness, Grady Champion, Cee Cee James and Too Slim when they stopped through.

And it was especially hard to turn down an offer from my friend Mike “Bear in the Chair” Berichon sent me. Bear is the producer of the Project Blues Review in Columbus, Ohio, raising money for the Columbus Cancer Clinic and he had asked me to come out with Karen Lovely to help with the event. One look at that line-up just killed me to have to say no. So many friends were involved: Karen, Sean Carney, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, Diunna Greenleaf, Tom Holland, Bob Corritore and Bob Margolin, plus David Maxwell, Kenny Smith, John Primer and Bob Stroger. I do want to thank those friends who offered to help get me back to Columbus, but I just felt that I needed to get back on track with my car expenses and travelling was not something I should be doing at this time.

I guess this just means I’m living the blues this summer. But I did manage to attend a few shows that I would not have missed for anything. The celebration of life for Mel Solomon was a very heartfelt day at The Lehrer with terrific performances by everybody. Getting to see Shemekia Copeland and the Robert Cray Band almost in my back yard was certainly a treat. And after about a year-and-a-half of pushing them to come out to the Northwest, having The Ori Naftaly Band finally in Portland at Duff’s Garage proved to be well worth the wait. Anybody who missed this one should pound their head on a wall now. They delivered a sensational night just as I knew they would. Hope they come back sometime soon.

The world lost one of the blues true giants this past month with the passing of Johnny Winter. Without him Muddy Waters career may not have caught that second wind that it did with Johnny behind the production helm. A blistering slide playing guitarist himself, he earned the right to call himself a bluesman. I am happy that I had the opportunity to see him perform a handful of times. He will surely be missed.

Watch your mail boxes for your Muddy Award Nomination Ballots and make sure to take the time to fill them out and return them. This is your chance to tell us who you want on the final ballot and it is part of your membership with the Cascade Blues Association. If you do not vote or you’re not a member, you have no right to complain if you do not agree with those on the final ballot.

And do not forget about the Fourth Annual CBA Rummage Sale on Saturday, September 6th at The Bomber in Milwaukie. Bring us your usable items that you no longer want and donate them to the CBA. You can help us raise money for the organization for various projects and it’s tax deductible, too. You may also want to consider volunteering to help out with this rummage sale. We can always use the help and it’s fun to hang out with friends.

Well, I hope to see you out there a lot more in the oncoming months, hoping to have these car troubles handled soon. And I’m missing being there to support the music as often as I’d like.

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

A.C. Myles – Reconsider Me (DAF Records)
American Music Program – Live At The Gerding Theater: Nothin’ But The Blues (PCS Records)
Al Basile – Woke Up In Memphis (Kenoza Music)
Al Blake – Blues According To Blake (Soul Sanctuary)
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin – Common Ground: Play And Sing The Songs Of Big Bill Broonzy (YepRoc Records)
Davis Coen – Get Back In (Soundview)
Eric Johnson – Europe Live (Provogue)
Gaynelle Neville – Woman Power (Self Produced)
Janiva Magness – Original (Fathead Records)
Jeff Dale And The South Woodlawners – Good Music (Pro Sho Bidness)
Jim Byrnes – St. Louis Times (Black Hen Music)
John McVey – Meet Me In Houston (Artists International)
John Mooney – Son & Moon (Fatback Records)
Lady T – Life’s Been Leaning On Me (Self Produced)
Matt Schofield – Far As I Can See (Provogue)
Rachelle Coba – Mother Blues (Mono Records)
Robben Ford – A Day In Nashville (Provogue)
Sena Ehrhardt – Live My Life (Blind Pig Records)
Steve Dawson – Rattlesnake Cage (Black Hen Music)
Stevens Hess Band – Gold Mine (Self Produced)
Terry Robb – Hymn (OCP)
The Alexis P. Suter Band – Love The Way You Roll (American Showplace Music)
The Dogtown Blues Band – DogTown Blues (Self Produced)
The Mannish Boyes – Wrapped Up And Ready (Delta Groove)
The Knickerbocker All-Stars – Open Mic At The Knick (JP Cadillac Records)
The Robert Cray Band – In My Soul (Provogue)
Ty Curtis – Water Under The Bridge (Self Produced)
Walter Trout – The Blues Came Callin’ (Provogue)

Kenny Blue Ray - press photoTwo of the West Coast’s finest guitar players, Kenny “Blue” Ray and Robbie Laws, will be joining forces for one night only at Duff’s Garage on Friday, September 19th for a 9:00 pm show. These two have collaborated many times in the past and they always bring the most sensational guitar tones with them.

Kenny “Blue” Ray, based out of the Bay Area (and for a while lived in Portland), has worked and played with a virtual who’s who of West Coast musicians including Smokey Wilson, William Clarke and Little Charlie & The Nightcats, plus artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Marcia Ball and Charlie Musselwhite. Known for his fat tones on his own homemade guitars, Kenny “Blue” Ray is a guitar player’s guitarist with his precision and agility.

Robbie Laws is a Northwest favorite and a Muddy Award Hall of Famer, known for his adeptness at performing a variety of blues, from Piedmont and Delta acoustic, to Texas and West Coast electric. Robbie has performed alongside master guitarists like Albert Collins and Ronnie Earl, but leaves nothing behind those guys when it comes to delivering brilliant playing himself.

Duff’s Garage is located at 2530 NE 82nd. Admission is $12.00 and this is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event with members receiving a $1.00 discount by showing their current CBA cards at the door.

After touring around the country for the past few years with both Too Slim & the Taildraggers and The Randy Oxford Band, bassist Polly O’Keary has returned to lead position of fronting her own band, The Rhythm Method. Armed with a new CD, Compass, the band will be making their way to The Birk, 11139 Highway 202, in Birkenfeld on Saturday, September 13th for a 7:30 performance.

Polly O’Keary is a multi-time winner of the Washington Blues Society’s B.B. Awards for best female vocalist and songwriter. Joining Polly in the rhythm Method are guitarist Clint “Seattle Slim” Nonnemaker who has been a favorite in both the Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska blues scenes in bands like The Alley Cats and Seattle Women of rhythm & blues, and drummer Tommy Cook who also played with Polly in Too Slim & The Taildraggers. This is a fiery band that’ll be laying down some cookin’ grooves out at the Birk.

Water Under The Bridge
Self Produced

Ty Curtis CD coverWhen Ty Curtis left his home in Salem this past year to make the move to Austin, Texas, it was certainly a hard loss locally to say goodbye to an up-and-rising young musician with his future easily sitting out for all of us to see. Fortunately for us, he does make several trips back home every so often. But it sure was nice to have him around as we watched his talent gel. Water Under The Bridge continues the songwriting and musical path that his last release, the fantastic self-titled Ty Curtis, began to take us into. But it also takes a turn-around to his original bluesy roots. Solid lyrics, sizzling guitar and blues rock patterns that belie his mid-twenties age surely making for a winning formula in the hands of Ty Curtis.

Water Under The Bridge is Curtis’ fifth album and was recorded in Austin, Texas, with the direction of his friend Jacob Petersen as producer. Petersen is a guitarist with the Steve Miller Band and has toured with Curtis Salgado. He also leads his own outfit in Austin called The Harvey Kartel which Ty Curtis is also a member, and the band was on hand to help lay down the tracks for Curtis’ new album. Aside from Petersen adding his guitar touches, Harvey Kartel members present are Brian Ferguson holding down the drums, bassist Keith “Kiko” Hanna and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Bryant. Also along for the recordings are Mingo Fish Trap’s Dan Farnsworth on keys, Glen Fukunaga on bass and harmonica player Gregg McManus.

Water Under The Bridge showcases the young bluesman’s expansion on his personal concept of the blues. Impressive and complex songwriting prevails, whether a fast-paced rocker like the opening numbers “Key To My Heart” and “Bad Break” or a heartfelt, tender ballad like “True Love.” Strong selections from this disc have to include the slow-blues heartbreaker “Seen My Chance” with its smooth guitar, the catchy lyrics and quick pace of “Your Desire,” and both the acoustic tracks closing the album, “Loveless Time” and “Shame O Me.” Actually, the more I listen to Water Under The Bridge, the more I find myself enjoying every song included.

With a voice and guitar tenacity that goes along perfectly, Ty Curtis is proving that he is a modern day bluesman that is going to bring it home every time out. And he certainly did this time.

Total Time: 42:04

Key To My Heart / Bad Break / Water Under The Bridge / True Love / Your Desire / Thief Of Hearts / Seen My Chance / Alright Now / All It Took / Loveless Time / Shame On Me

Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play And Sing The Songs Of Big Bill Broonzy
YepRock Records

Dave and Phil Alvin CD coverIt has been nearly thirty years since the Alvin Brothers last recorded an album together. Those records by The Blasters burned their way out of Southern California and quickly became American music classics with such great songs like “Marie Marie,” “Border Radio” and “It Must Be Love.” But as often happens when siblings work together too much, there can be a falling out and they both went their separate ways. But deep down there is their shared passion for music and the artists that inspired them.. One of those artists was Big Bill Broonzy. The first true king of the blues in Chicago, who worked with and influenced countless musicians, Broonzy was the epitome of songwriter, guitarist and performer. So what does it take to bring the Alvin Brothers back together in a studio and on tour? Their love for the music of Broonzy, of course.

The readings of Broonzy’s music by the Alvin Brothers have been updated to match their own stylings The guitar interplay between Dave and Phil is nicely done, bringing a freshness to the songs that may make them more modern sounding, but they completely save the original feel overall.

Classic Broonzy songs such as “Key To The Highway,” featuring the two trading vocals and Phil blowing impressive harmonica, “Just A Dream,” and even going back to one of Broonzy’s first recordings “Big Bill Blues.” It may not be The Blasters, but there sure are a lot of glimpses musically of that band, especially with the jumping swing take of “Tomorrow” or the rockabilly drive on “Truckin’ Little Woman” with its fiery electric guitar breaks.

For the band numbers they certainly didn’t hold back. Former Blasters member Gene Taylor is on board on the keys. Bassist Bob Glaub who has literally played with just about everybody in Southern California at one time or another, drummer Lisa Pankratz from Dave’s band The Guilty Ones is also on hand. Trading off in the rhythm section are also renowned session musicians drummer Don Heffington and bassist Brad Fordham.

Common Ground is a very enjoyable disc that serves as a tribute to the music of the legendary Big Bill Broonzy and as a reunion of the Alvin Brothers. It’s kind of the best of two worlds and certainly a pleasure to hear. I hope that the two reconcile their differences and create more outstanding recordings like this one. Even if it’s a Big Bill Broonzy follow-up album; there is certainly enough material to carry that focus on.

Total Time: 42:43

All By Myself / I Feel So Good / How You Want It Done? / Southern Flood Blues / Big Bill Blues / Key To The Highway / Tomorrow / Just A Dream / You’ve Changed / Stuff They Call Money / Truckin’ Little Woman / Saturday Night Rub

Live At The Gerding Theater: Nothin’ But The Blues
PCS Records

AMP Live at the Gerding Theater CD coverThe American Music Program, under the guidance of Grammy winning trumpeter and educator Dr. Thara Memory recruits young musicians in 7th through 12th grade from throughout the Portland metro area and places them in a rigorous learning atmosphere. These are some of the finest young artists the city has to offer and their devotion to music can take them to greater heights as they study with well recognized and established musicians. Graduates of this program go on to receive scholarships at some of the country’s top music schools such as Juilliard and the Berklee College of Music, with perhaps the most recognized student of recent years being two-time Grammy winner Esperanza Spaulding. They have also gone on to capture many acclaimed competitions such as The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, The Essentially Ellington at the Lincoln Center and the Monterey Jazz Festival.

This concert was recorded live at Portland’s Gerding Theater at the Armory and received so much notice that they were invited to perform at the 2014 Waterfront Blues Festival as the headline act on July 4th. The show was called “Nothin’ But the Blues” and covered a variety of musical approaches with music ranging from the early traditional number “Sweet Georgia Brown” from the 1920s to more modern classics by the likes of James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Al Green. All of the tracks here are covers of well-known pieces with the exception of “Confeddie,” an instrumental by Portland saxophonist and former student Hallie Niswanger.

The students in this performance are joined by many of Portland’s highest regarded musicians, many who studied under the tutelage of Thara Memory themselves. Among those included here are Louis Pain, Renato Caranto, Hallie Niswanger, Farnell Newton, the late Janice Scroggins and of course Thara Memory himself directing and playing trumpet. The vocalists for the night featured Tahirah Memory, LaRhonda Steele, Andy Stokes and student Sun Richter.

Nothin’ But The Blues is an entertaining listen that moves through jazz, blues and pop music. And it does your heart good knowing that there is a program like this within our town that nourishes young musicians to be the best that they can.

Total Time: 59:09

Your Love / Sweet Georgia Brown / Mornin’ Reverend / Take Me To The River / Lickin’ Stick / Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing / If You Don’t Know Me By Now / Signed, Sealed, Delivered / Confeddie / Man In The Mirror

Underworld Records

Too Slim and the Taildraggers CD coverAnthology is a superb collection of tracks from one of the Northwest’s (now based in Nashville) most beloved blues-rockin’ outfits, Too Slim & The Taildraggers. After nearly 30 years on the scene, band leader Tim “Too Slim” Langford has compiled a double-disc release with 34 of his favorite songs, including three new tracks, from the past 15 years showcasing the band’s years on the Underworld Records label. Filled with Tim “Too slim” Langford’s burning guitar work, it carries between the heavy hitting numbers the band is best known for from their raucous, party atmosphere performances, to the softer, acoustic side that comes across just as well with Langford’s greasy, gravelly vocals.

Favorite numbers like “Three Chords,” “Blue Heart,” the gritty Delta infused “Wash My Hands” in the muddy Mississippi, “Devil In A Double Wide,” “Daddies Bones, “the tantalizing appeal of strippers in “Dollar Girl,”  the scary tale of the family dog with the unfortunate ability of “She Sees Ghosts” and the even more frightening thought of riding on that “Last Train” with the manic Hunter S. Thompson as the engineer doing the driving.

Guest vocalist Curtis Salgado is outstanding on “Everybody’s Got Something,” as is Lauren Evans on “The Light.” Jimmy Hall also soars to great heights with his vocals on the slow blues “Good To See You Smile Again” with one of the most dynamic guitar solos Too Slim has ever laid down.

The three new tracks were all co-penned by producer, drummer and songwriter Tom Hambridge who has worked with many of today’s best blues musicians including Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Susan Tedeschi, B.B. King and Delbert McClinton. The heavy hitting “Wishing Well” and the softer “Big Ole House” with its guitar/piano/drums intermix were shared writing duties between Hambridge and Langford. The song “Little Gun Motel” that gives a more realistic view of the seedy side of Memphis along Elvis Presley Boulevard was a collaboration of Hambridge and Texas-based bluesman Jim Suhler.

Anthology is the perfect collection for anyone who loves Too Slim & The Taildraggers’ music and wants those favorites all in one place. It is also the direction to point anybody who may not be familiar with the band. One listen to these songs and you know something will appeal to them. Too Slim covers it all and it’s all well done. This is the ultimate Anthology of a band of road dogs getting it done night after night.

Total Time: 2:35:36

Wishing Well / Mississippi Moon / Last Train / Stoned Again / Wash My Hands / The Fortune Teller / Little Gun Motel / When Whiskey Was My Friend / Walk On Water / Givers And Takers / Cowboy Boot / Mexico / When You Love Somebody / Devil In A Doublewide / Been Through Hell / Wish I Was Fishin’ / She Sees Ghosts / Everybody’s Got Something / Blue Heart / Shaking A Cup / Daddies Bones / La Llorona / Inside Of Me / Good To See You Smile Again / Dollar Girl / Three Chords / Lonesome Alone / Big Ole House / Peace With The Maker / Throw Me A Rope / The Light / Too Cool / Bucerius / Princeville Serenade