Rolling Stone magazine’s David Fricke describes Chris Smither as, “a folk-blues singer-songwriter admired and covered by vocalists such as Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris, grew up in New Orleans and told illuminating stories about trying to be a solo cat in a saxophone and trombone city in the Sixties, learning from Lightnin’ Hopkins records and the New Orleans-based bluesman Babe Stovall, then running with fellow ‘New Dylans’ like Townes Van Zandt.”

Honing a synthesis of folk and blues for 50 years, Chris Smither is truly an American original. His latest release, Still On the Levee, is a career-spanning retrospective double CD that highlights the vast catalog of an American music master. Reviewers and fans from around the world agree that Chris is a profound songwriter, a blistering guitarist and, as he puts it, a ‘one-man band to the bone!’ Chris melds the guitar styles of his two major influences, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt, into his own signature sound. His music continues to draw deeply from the blues, American folk music, modern poets and humanist philosophers.

Chris Smither will be returning to the Portland area for a performance at The Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta Street, on Thursday, October 9th, for a 8:00 pm show. Tickets are available through, $20.00 advance / $23.00 at the door day of show. This is open to all ages, minors okay with a parent or guardian. New York-based singer-songwriter Milton will open the show.

The Banditos Band sews together honky tonk, R&B and beard-rock sounds in an unforced, carousing-soundtrack way. In 2013, Paste Magazine named Banditos to its “12 Alabama Bands You Should Listen to Now.” The band is now based in Nashville and are aimed to become one of the hottest acts hitting the concert circuit across America with their latest release, The Breeze, showcasing their raw and ragged sound that comes across in a raucous manner on stage. With a trio of vocalists, including full-belted powerhouse Mary Richardson (who may remind you of Brittany Howard), Corey Parsons and Steve Pierce, they perform on a variety of instruments ranging from banjo, lap steel and even kazoo. The band is a veritable jukebox of rough-around-the-edges musical styles.

The Banditos Band will be making their Portland area debut with a show at Duff’s Garage on Friday, October 24th starting at 9:00 pm. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so show your current membership card at the door and receive a $1.00 discount off the $10.00 admission.

The California Honeydrops don’t just play music—they throw parties. Drawing on diverse musical influences from Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, and New Orleans second-line, the Honeydrops bring vibrant energy and infectious dance-party vibes to their live shows. They’ve taken the party all over the world: on their nine European tours, to featured slots at such premiere festivals as Monterey Jazz, High Sierra, and Outside Lands, and performances in 2013 supporting B.B. King, Dr. John, Buddy Guy, and Allen Toussaint. Whether in those high-profile performances or in more intimate venues where the band itself can leave the stage and get down on the dance floor, the California Honeydrops’ shared vision and purpose remain: to make the audience dance and sing.

The Honeydrops have come a long way since guitarist and trumpeter Lech Wierzynkski and drummer Ben Malament started busking in an Oakland BART station, but the band has stayed true to that organic, street-level feel. With the additions of Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on keyboards, and Beau Bradbury on bass, they’ve built a powerful full-band sound to support Wierzynski’s vocals.
The California Honeydrops will be heading back to Portland for a one night show at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Avenue on Saturday, November 1st for a 9:00 pm sart time. This is a 21 and over only show. Tickets are available through, $15.00 – $17.00.

Guitar hero Coco Montoya will be showcasing his newest CD, the double-disc live recording Songs From The Road, recorded in Seattle’s Triple Door, at a special performance at Jimmy Mak’s on Thursday, October 23rd. Montoya has worked as a member of both Albert Collins and John Mayall’s Band (where he teamed up with Walter Trout) before heading off onto his own successful solo career. Expect to hear many favorite songs from throughout Coco’s outstanding career. An exciting live performer, you’re going to want to catch this dynamic show and also pick up a copy of the CD so you can hear his concert magic over and over.

Jimmy Mak’s is located at 221 NW 10th, in The Pearl District. Reservations are highly recommended for this 8:00 pm show. Coco Montoya CD Release Party Tickets can be purchased in advance at for $18.00 reserved (must also purchase meal) and $15.00 general admission. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so show your membership card at the door for a $1.00 discount off general admission.

Greg Johnson, CBA President

Coming in January, Blues On Beale Street, Memoirs of the International Blues Challenge, a photo book accompanied by a series of written experiences, short stories, song lyrics, and quotes by the vast variety of attendees of the International Blues Challenge, expressing their personal experiences while attending and competing at the event.

Baton Rouge-based Jenn Ocken started photographing the International Blues Challenge on its 20th anniversary, at a time when significant changes were beginning to happen. The growing number of fans attending and the increasing number of acts competing created the need for The Blues Foundation to re-organize the competition, finding the need to move from the small clubs on Beale Street to the grand Orpheum Theater for the finals. And Jenn found herself documenting something bigger than she could ever have imagined with her camera.

Collaborating with Greg Johnson of Portland, Oregon for this project, this memoir is not a chronological series of who won each year. But it focuses on the life changing moments, the personal memories and stories, emphasizing the emotional aspects, why attendees return every year and the impact the event has on the blues community.

“Over the years, I have come to realize that as a community, we make up a large extended blues family,” Jenn states. “As we reunite, we’re constantly sharing amazing experiences. As a result, Greg and I were inspired to create a photo book filled with emotionally rich images and personal experiences that make this event unique.”

“With this memoir, I’m archiving the changes, the relationships between the IBC goers, and the amazing stories told by those who experienced them. My photographs illuminate the true essences of attending the event. Greg’s words allow us to flow through the variety of personal experiences and memories of the people who make up the IBC.”

Pre-Orders available now at


Tom Royer

Long time Portland musician Tom Royer is in dire need of a lung transplant. Tracy Turner-Pain from Soul Sisters Productions has put together a fundraising effort to help raise funds for Tom. You can help by donating at Please keep on eye on this site for an upcoming benefit concert for Tom Royer as well.

terry robb

Terry Robb (press photo)

Head out to Vie de Boheme on Friday, October 10th, for what is certain to be an incredible evening of great music as two of Portland’s favorite musicians join forces. Well, one Portlander and a former local. Terry Robb, the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame Muddy winner for acoustic guitar and 2009 inductee into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, will team up with one of the great boogie players of our time, David Vest, the multi-Maple Blues Award winning pianist and former Portland resident now living in British Columbia. This pair matches up well, as Terry Robb can pretty much do whatever he wants on a guitar and David Vest can make a piano’s keys talk in volumes. Performing with Robb and Vest will be Terry’s rhythm section of drummer Dennis Carter and another CBA Hall of Famer Albert Reda on bass.

David Vest

David Vest (press photo)

Vie de Boheme is located at 1530 SE 7th. This is a 9:00 pm show. Admission is $12.00. This is also a CBA co-sponsored event, and admission for members is $10.00 when you show your current membership card.

For those living in the Columbia River Gorge area and cannot make it into Portland for Friday night, the group will be performing Thursday, October 9th at 7:30 pm at the Dalles Civic Center, 323 East 4th Street, The Dalles. Admission TBA.

Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls CD cover

Soul Brothers

Catfood Records

Can it get any better than teaming up two of the greatest soul-blues legends performing together? Why, yes it can. They can do an album together. And that is exactly what we have here. Soul Brothers is the new collaboration of Blues Hall of Fame member Otis Clay paired up with the incredible voice of Johnny Rawls. The two had worked together on Rawls’ previous Blues Music Award nominated tribute disc honoring his late mentor and employer O.V. Wright. And it was so good, you could only dream that they would do a full recording together.

Recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas, and backed by the right on target sounds of a group of established veteran musicians calling themselves The Rays, Otis and Johnny deliver on ten very pleasing tracks, alternating and blending their voices on each to perfection. New songs written by Clay, Rawls, Al Basile, Darryl Carter, Jose Hernandez and Bob Trenchard (who also provides bass on the album), and lined up against soul classics by Jimmy Ruffin (“What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted”), Tyrone Davis (“Turn Back The Hands Of Time”), Kay Kay Greenwade (“Waiting For Dreams”), and even a soulful take on a Dave Mason’s rocker (“Only You Know And I Know”). These are well known and much loved songs, but in the hands of Clay and Rawls they really come across with just a little extra that takes them over the top. Throw in new songs like “Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool,” “Road Dog,” “Poor Little Rich Girl” and “Hallelujah Lord” . . . heck, all of the tracks on this disc are standouts!

Both Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls put out some of the very best blues albums out there and have for many years. Having the two of them together is the icing on the cake. Simply put, this is soul bliss.

Total Time: 37:01

Only You Know And I Know / Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool / Voodoo Queen / What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted / Living On Borrowed Time / Turn Back The Hands Of Time / Road Dog / Poor Little Rich Girl / Hallelujah Lord / Waiting For Dreams


Harpdog Brown CD coverWhat It Is . . .

Dog Breath Records

There is never going to be any second-guessing with what you’re going to receive when you place a Harpdog Brown disc onto your player. It’s going to be pure, traditional sounding blues that’s fun, often with a touch of humor. Brown blows harp in the classic Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter manner and does it with precision and style. That’s exactly what you get with his latest release, What It Is . . . . This is music that makes you want to move. Makes you want to feel good and have a good time. None of that stereotyped depressing blues played by an old guy sitting on a porch in overalls with a beat-up guitar. That’s not what the blues are really about. And Harpdog Brown is here to show you exactly what it can really mean.

After a few years working in a duet format with piano player Graham Guest, What It Is . . . steps back to Brown’s original traditional bluesy playing that pays a lot of homage to the sensational blues acts that held court in Chicago during the 1950s-60s. And even though he originally hails from Edmonton, now living in Vancouver, you’d think this award-winning Canadian bluesman was born, raised and cut his teeth along Maxwell Street. Brown even throws in few of the Windy City masters’ tracks into the mix with Little Walter’s “Blue Lights,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “All Night Boogie” and Sonny Boy II’s “In My Younger Days” to let you know he can put it there with the best. Also covered is a nice jumping rendition of Wynonie Harris’ “Git to Gittin’ Baby.” But for the most part, Brown’s sharp songwriting is the focus on this disc. His hand was involved in penning nine of the fourteen tracks, with several co-written by drummer John R. Hunter.

Recorded live at Oakstone Studios in Victoria, British Columbia in January 2014, Brown hooks back up with long-time friend, guitarist Jordan Edwards and a rhythm section that includes the aforementioned John Hunter on drums and bassman George Fenn. This is a solid line-up that can easily make a song burn, sizzle and even swing when the direction calls for it. And they do just that on a number of outstanding songs, including “Facebook Woman,” the story of his girlfriend who is always online speaking to strange men and seeking new friends,yet he never sees her face in his own; the snappy step behind “How Come” with Edwards laying down a nice West Coast groove on a guitar solo, something he applies again nicely on “No Money In The Till”; and “Headin’ Out” runs a “Smokestack Lightnin’” groove as a nod to Howlin’ Wolf. The singing and harp work, both diatonic and chromatic, are over the top on all tracks.

What It Is . . . is certainly an album to pick up if you’re looking for that authentic traditional blues sound. Harpdog Brown has captured the sound and feel superbly. And he definitely proves that the blues is fun music, despite those old stereotypes.

Total Time: 59:34

Doncha Know I Love You / How Come / If Ya Wanna Grow Old / Whiskey Bottle / No Money In The Till / Git Ta Gittin’ Baby / Facebook Woman / Blue Lights / Cheatin’ n Lyin’ / Big Rockin’ Daddy / All Night Boogie / In My Younger Days / What It Is / Headin’ Out

Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson CD coverFor Pops: A Tribute To Muddy Waters
Severn Records

Mud Morganfield and Kim Wilson had recorded a handful of songs with each other on two recent albums, Morganfield’s Son Of the Seventh Son and The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ On The Verge, and one thing that had been noted was the apple did not fall too far from the tree when it came to Morganfield’s singing. He inherited an eerily pitch perfect inflection of his father’s voice. So much so that people wanted to hear an album of Mud doing his daddy’s music.

To do the music of Muddy Waters, though, you needed to put the right band together. And working with Kim Wilson that was pretty much a given that he was the exact person that had to be included. After all, Muddy always used the best when it came to musicians, especially harmonica players. And in the modern world of blues, there is no denying that Wilson is one of the best. The band was rounded out with some of the absolute monsters of blues players: Billy Flynn and Rusty Zinn on guitars, Rob Stupka on drums, Steve Gomes on bass and Barrelhouse Chuck on piano. And as was true with all of Muddy’s bands, this is one sharp and coherent unit, performing as an ensemble and not individuals trying to match the others output.

The album titled For Pops was recorded over a four-day period, all done live in the studio with the musicians working next to one another in the same room and only Mud isolated in a sound booth to ideally capture the tone of his voice. For the selection of tracks they wanted to mix several of Muddy’s most beloved numbers such as “Nineteen Years Old,” “Blow Wind Blow,” “Trouble No More” and “”I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love,” alongside lesser known selections like “My Dog Don’t Bark” and “Just To Be With You.” It makes for an incredible tribute to his father’s music and it comes across sounding just as his daddy would’ve been proud of had he done it himself.

For Pops is not only a fine recording of Muddy Waters’ material, it is an excellent example of some of the finest bluesmen of our time laying down that Chicago groove that made us all fall in love with the blues to begin with.

Total Time: 47:25

Gone To Main Street / Just to Be With You / I Don’t Know Why / I Want You To Love Me / Still A Fool / My Dog Don’t Bark / She’s Got It / I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love / Blow Wind Blow / Nineteen Years Old / I Want To Be Loved / Trouble No More / I Just Want To Make Love To You / She Moves Me



Greg Johnson / CBA President

Wow, just where has the time gone? Things seem to be flying by as of late. It seems like the Waterfront Blues Festival and the summer picnic were both just a couple of weeks ago. But we’ve already stormed past those as well as the annual rummage sale and now we’re full steam ahead working on this year’s Muddy Awards and making plans for the holiday party.

And let’s not forget about the annual voting for the elected officer positions. Though it seems like a ways off, the Cascade Blues Association truly does need your assistance. Running the organization and all of our events is quite a chore for only a handful of people. even if it’s just three or more joining on board can make a world of difference from the shoulders of the few. You do not need to apply for an elected position, there are openings with the At-Large spots and we can use your skills with merchandising, finances and a number of other projects.

Or you can simply volunteer your time. Having Richard LaChapelle has been a godsend to us with the amount of time and work that he does. He has not committed to becoming a board member, but he always shows up for board meetings and is the first to jump in to help with any of our events. In fact, he has been taking on a lot of the volunteer sign-up responsibilities which is an immense undertaking of its own. Thank you Richard, you really cannot imagine how much you are appreciated by the board.

Please consider giving a little of your time to the CBA if you’re able. We only have board meetings once a month and overall it is a lot of fun and the people are great to work with.

Aside from the business, I want to note what a fantastic night was had at the White Eagle this last month with the rare visit by Pete Karnes. I had not seen Pete perform in close to thirty years, as the last time he came around in 2010 I was somewhere in the air between Memphis, Denver and Portland returning from the International Blues Challenge. It brought back a lot of memories from those White Eagle show days of the late 70s and early 80s where I spent a many a night. And seeing old faces from so long ago mixed with those who’d never had the chance to see the original band’s days made it a magical show.

Okay, a little more business, don’t forget to send in your Muddy Award ballots. I say this every year, if you do not take the time to send in your votes, then you really can’t complain about the outcome. And if you’re not a member and you’re complaining, it’s falling on deaf ears buddy, this is a members only ballot. If you want to have your say, join the CBA. It’s easy to join and has a lot of perks that ends up rewarding you many times over what the annual dues cost if you take advantage of them.

So, let’s see, we’ve covered board positions and Muddy ballots. Is there anything else? Oh yeah, get out there and support our blues musicians and venues as often as you can. Without your support the scene is not what it can and should be. Get your butts in the seats, feet on the dance floor, pay that cover and throw a little something extra in the tip jar and to the venue staff. Support and promote the music that we love. And most of all, just have fun!