randy oxfordThe award winning Randy Oxford Band will be performing at The Birk on Saturday, December 13th. One of the Pacific Northwest’s most beloved and popular bands, they are led by trombonist Randy Oxford and feature the mighty guitar playing of Randy Norris, drummer extraordinaire Richard Sabol, bassist Leslie Eglash and the sensational vocals of Suze Sims. Recently The Randy Oxford Band won the regional competition in Eugene for the Rainy Day Blues Society earning them the right to represent that group at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN in January.

The Randy Oxford Band is always an exciting act and a not to miss show. The Birk is located at 11139 Hwy 202 in Birkenfeld, OR.  Showtime is 7:00 pm.

Pure Magic
Wolf Records

Magic Slim CD coverRight on the heels of the stellar recording You Can Make It If You Try! that showcases the live performances of John Primer with The Teardrops in various dates in Austria in the 1990s, Wolf Records releases a collection of the head Teardrop himself, Magic Slim from this same period. Aptly titled Pure Magic, this is a nice representation of the brilliant guitarist delivering what he did best.

Morris “Magic Slim” Holt first came to Chicago in the mid-1950s with his friend Magic Sam during a time frame that may have been the most productive for the discovery of amazing guitarists in the city as people like Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and Jimmy Rogers were all coming into their own. Magic Slim would release his first recordings a few years later with his band The Teardrops with his brother Nick Holt on bass. The band would become a Chicago favorite and continuously raised the bar for blues acts over the next forty-plus years, winning countless awards including an unprecedented forty-four Blues Music Awards nominations and seven wins.

Pure Magic captures Magic Slim & The Teardrops at their best. With the tight band of the era that featured Slim accompanied by second guitarist John Primer, brother Nick on bass and Earl Howell on drums, they soar through lengthy takes on a number of well-selected covered numbers and one original. The songs may have been written by people like Albert King, Ike Turner, Willie Dixon, Little Milton or others, but in the hands of Magic Slim and his guitar they’re truly his own. This is proven time and time again on the tracks chosen here, with highlights such as “Going To California,” “I Got The Blues,” “See What You’re Doin’ to Me” and “Spider In My Stew.”

The blues world may have lost Magic Slim in 2013, but with recordings like Pure Magic we are left with a legacy of outstanding material from one of the best blues guitarists we have ever seen. Magic Slim on stage any and every time was Pure Magic and that comes across in spades on this fine disc.

Total Time: 74:28

Love Somebody / Going To California / I’m Ready / I Got The Blues / Lovin’ You (Is The Best Thing That Happened To Me) / Since I Met You Baby / See What You’re Doin’ To Me / Spider In My Stew / Slim Talkin’ Part 1 / Look Over Yonder’s Wall / Jimmie / Do You Mean It? / Call My Job / Slim Talkin’ Part 2

Only in Portland Oregon can so much talent and dedicated effort be compressed into the Melody Ballroom to produce a one night blues event like this year’s Muddy Awards.

A special thanks is owed to all of our CBA volunteers who stepped up and supported the evening:

Admission and Door Duties; Sandy Frost, and Bonita Davis.  Merchandise Sales; Steve Broderick, Winnie Richards, Mike and Kimberly Taylor, Steve MacGregor, Randy Murphy, John Keaton, and Jon Norstoe.

Stage Equipment; John Keaton, Jon Pierce, and Richard LaChapelle

Program Creation, Nominee Certificates and Evening Multi-media Presentation: Wendy Schumer. Printing donated by Cedar House Media.

Belmont Boulevard
Blind Pig Records

JW-Jones CD coverOttawa bluesman JW-Jones has certainly been making his impression on the blues world for a number of years now, proving himself as one of Canada’s premier guitar players and entertainers. With a number of albums under his belt over the past fifteen years, as well as a wheelbarrow load of Maple Awards, he now debuts with blues powerhouse label Blind Pig for his latest, Belmont Boulevard, recorded in Nashville and co-produced by Tom Hambridge and himself.

There is plenty of blistering guitar work offered here. Jones soars through takes on Buddy Guy’s “What’s Inside Of You” and Bobby Parker’s “Watch Your Step,” and there are several songs written by Hambridge, who continuously shines himself as a songwriter and producer for many of the best musicians around. But it is Jones’ own material that really stands out for me. His instrumental “Magic West Side Boogie” will find it nearly impossible to keep still while listening to him tear through this piece filled with rip-roaring grooves in a near surf rock format. He also pays tribute to Texas guitar master and one of his personal heroes Jimmie Vaughan on “What Would Jimmie Do?”

Jones tackles social issues like domestic violence on “Don’t Be Ashamed,” then he relates how a love that had gone flat helped him free himself when she does him wrong by finding another man and all he can say is “Thank You.” The album closes out with a bit of psychedelic guitar roving on “Cocaine Boy” as Jones utilizes echo effects and fuzzy vocals to bring forth a hauntingly moody piece lasting a little more than seven minutes long.

Start to finish, Belmont Boulevard just simply blazes with sensational guitar work Count this amongst JW-Jones’ finest that should find many more accolades headed his way.

Total Time: 50:08

Love Times Ten / Watch Your Step / Blue Jean Jacket / Coming After Me / Don’t Be Ashamed / Thank You / Magic West Side Boogie / What Would Jimmie Do? / If It Feels This Good Tomorrow / What’s Inside Of You / Never Worth It / Cocaine Boy


The 2014 Cascade Blues Association Muddy Awards were held on Wednesday, November 5th at The Melody Ballroom to a huge crowd of blues supporters for what has traditionally been one of the biggest single-night events within the local blues community every year. The awards were presented in twenty-two categories as voted on by the CBA membership, selecting their favorite acts, events, venues and recordings from the last year. And we also paid tribute to those musicians we lost this past year, Jim Miller, Janice Scroggins, Linda Hornbuckle, Mel Solomon and James Williams.

The big winner this year was without doubt Lisa Mann, who walked away with three of the awards she was nominated for: Contemporary Blues Act with her band Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, Bass and Northwest Recording for her album Move On. Both Curtis Salgado (R&B Act and Performance of the Year) and Kevin Selfe (Traditional Blues Band with Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes and Electric Guitar) received two awards each. Kevin Selfe was also inducted into the Muddy Award Hall of Fame after taking home the Electric Guitar award three consecutive years.

The Cascade Blues Association also presents two of their highest honors each year with the Back What You Believe In Muddy Award and the Lifetime Achievement. The Back What You Believe In is presented to those individuals who have contributed above expectations in a non-performing position. This year the award was presented to Soul Sisters Productions, the team of Tracy Turner-Pain and Susan Mills, for their devotion in raising funds for musicians in need of assistance through a series of benefit showcases. This award is not selected by the membership and is the only one decided by the CBA Board of Directors. The Lifetime Achievement is chosen by the membership, though, and this was an extremely difficult year as two of the nominees were much beloved and both had passed away, whereas the third is not only revered locally, but recognized world-wide as one of the best performers at his instrument. The members decided to honor the late Janice Scroggins, one of the most influential musicians in Portland history, not only as a blues artist, as she easily worked in any genre presented, but also as a music educator.

Of course, it would not be a celebration of the blues without music, and we had three fantastic segments of performances to make the night truly special. The Rae Gordon Band, the CBA’s Journey To Memphis band winners, kicked things off with style as Rae’s vocal talents were soaring. Midway through the night, we took a short acoustic interlude with a set by the Journey To Memphis solo/duo winners David Pinsky & Phil Newton, always an entertaining pair who display such camaraderie and happiness every time they take a stage.

Every year we select an individual to put together the closing set of music with an all-star grouping. This year that was keyboardist Dave Fleschner who grouped together one of the most sensational showcases ever seen at a Muddy Awards celebration. Not only did he gather a terrific core of musicians, it also led you through a historical background of the different genres within the blues itself. First up was the duo of Alan Hager and Mary Flower on acoustic guitars, soon joined by Brandy Hutchinson on snare, Doug Bundy on clarinet and Fleschner on keys. That was followed by a more traditional electric blues set with Vyasa Dodson on guitar, Jim Wallace on harmonica, Tyler Smith on bass, Jimi Bott on drums and a duo keyboard teaming of Fleschner and Steve Kerin. Karen Lovely next took command of the stage with her vocal dynamics, with a fiery Doug Rowell on guitar, Russ Kleiner drums, Sam Howard bass and Brad Ulrich on sax to go along with Fleschner and Kerin remaining on keys. Then things really started to mix as Arietta Ward, LaRhonda Steele and MaryEtta Callier offered an acappella gospel delivered straight from the heart, then joined by keyboardists Mark Steele and Brian Harris, drummer Brian Foxworth, Randy Monroe on bass, Dave Iual, Ben Rice and Peter Dammann on guitars, Peter Moss on sax. Closing the night, Andy Stokes brought the room to its feet, backed by the same band and delivering a stunning soulful presentation that you just hated to see it come to an end, even though we had gone at least a half hour beyond the time frame we expected.

Thanks to all the musicians who performed, The Melody Ballroom and their staff for allowing us to once again use their facilities, all those who gave award presentations, JBL Sound for putting together the best sound ever at a Muddy Awards (that really is a tough room folks), Cedar House Media for donating the programs and nominee certificates, Big Screen Presentations for the AV equipment, Affordable Trophies, the CBA Board of Directors for a lot of preparation and hard work, and to all our members for making this night amazing. Let’s do it again next year!

billy2[1]by John Rumler

Mine is just another scene
From the world of broken dreams
And the night life, ain’t no good life
But it’s my life

The road for full-time musicians is often rocky and full of hairpin curves and sheer cliffs. For every stretch of straight highway, there’s a dozen potholes.

For every big success, there are hundreds of talented artists toiling in shadowy neighborhood bars, lounges, and biker dives.  The blues and rock and roll lifestyle is aptly described by Willie Nelson’s stark and poignant song Night Life—immortalized by BB King, Jimmy Witherspoon, and countless others.

Billy Hagen is an exception. He hit the big time when he was barely out of his teens. His devastating skills as a lead guitarist combined with his uncanny and explosive stage presence propelled him to dizzying heights on a regional level. He did extended stints with the Mel Brown Quartet and Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts, although poles apart musically, the entities are arguably two of the region’s most durable, popular and respected bands.

A native Oregonian, Hagen grew up in Cedar Hills and Beaverton, where he currently lives. His parents were both stockbrokers.

He played on stage no less than four times with the great Chuck Berry, who himself overcame numerous pitfalls, including three stretches in prison for three different offenses.

One of the more unique personalities in Portland’s pantheon of guitar gods, Hagen is older and wiser these days and perhaps a step slower. The endless parties, countless gigs, and hard living—and the years too–have taken a toll.  But, with a guitar in his hands, a stage, and an audience, Hagen can still give chills, still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. The sudden transformation he undergoes when he steps up on the dais and begins performing is astonishing to those who don’t know him.

The reaction is often quizzical looks, shaking heads, smiles of disbelief, and questions like, “Good Lord, who is that guy?”

Like many kids growing up in the 1960s and 70s, Hagen’s initial introduction to the Blues came through bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers who turned him on to Muddy Waters, T Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed and other blues greats.

“I listened to my big brother Ed’s records, when I was 12, I got my first $15 no-name guitar and a little Fender amplifier. Ed’s friend Casey Thomas showed me my first chords.”

Hagen didn’t dabble. He became nearly obsessed, listening intently to the early Stones covers such as Little Red Rooster and trying to replicate the sound, note for note. After graduating Beaverton High School in 1977, he studied piano and guitar at Mt. Hood Community College and “wood-shedded” constantly and began a lifelong passion for jazz and classical guitar.

He also played in the bands such as Killing Floor, named after the Howlin’ Wolf song. Killing Floor attained a degree of popularity playing blues and an assortment of Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, and rock and roll tunes. The band featured two lead guitars, a rhythm guitarist and a drummer and played a variety of high school dances, keg parties, and backyard bashes.

Hagen later gained additional seasoning playing guitar and handling the vocals in Freeborn, and Pulse, short-lived but raunchy, high-energy blues-based bands that rocked Portland’s music scene.

He considers Wes Montgomery his strongest musical influence and has played with a host of jazz artists including Mel Brown, Bud Shank, Dave Fleschner and his Jazz Trio and played bass several times, as previously mentioned with Chuck Berry, because there’s only one lead guitarist when Berry is onstage.

A few of his other musical influences include Joe Pass, Keith Richards, Howard Roberts, and Mick Taylor. “My forte would be that I play any and all styles of rock, blues, jazz, pop and classical,” he says.

In 1982, Mike Mason first saw Hagen performing with Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts at the Silver Moon Tavern—now the Blue Moon– on Northwest 21st Avenue. Mason, who is a bass guitarist and a graphic designer, became close friends with Hagen over the years and was his best man at his wedding. Besides sharing a deep love of music, the two were (and still are) avid Green Bay Packer fans and once took a trip together to see a professional football game at storied Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Mason credits Hagen with helping him get started in music, encouraging and coaching him musically and getting him gigs. He played in The Billy Hagen Trip from 1994-96, a raucous, high energy Blues and Rock and Roll Band that played original compositions as well as early Stones, and Santana and Hendrix covers. “Billy’s my hero. He gave me a chance when nobody else did. He believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself,” he says.

But it wasn’t always happy, carefree, good times, Mason admits. “It was at times a troubled and difficult road. We all have our demons and Billy had his share. Sometimes they got the better of him, but he still is and will always be my best friend.”

Another local musician Dave Gill, has also performed with Hagen on and off over the past quarter of a century and the two are still the best of friends. “Billy’s hard to describe, he defies categorization,” Gill says. “His creative spark is more like a raging inferno.”

While Gill says that Hagen’s musical mastery and level of knowledge is “off the charts,” he also points out that his friend isn’t just a musician, he’s also a natural entertainer. “Before he had a hip replacement a few years ago, Billy could do these acrobatic somersaults and a Mick Jagger routine that his fans adored. He had a long cord on his guitar and he’d walk around playing behind his back and over his head like Guitar Slim, T Bone Walker, and even Jimi Hendrix.”

Over the years, Gill has recorded dozens of Hagen’s live performances and he is a just now transferring them to a digital format. “Billy’s comprehension of music and his range is astonishing,” he says.

Gill points out that for all Hagen’s creative talents and skills and high-octane stage performances, he is amazingly humble when he is out of the spot light. “There can be a bit of snobbery with highly accomplished musicians, especially in jazz, but Billy’s the opposite. He’ll always bend over backwards to help another musician, especially one who was starting out.”

The rock and roll roller coaster is a wild joy ride and is frequently accompanied by drugs, sex and hell-bent-for-leather partying.  The frantic energy and hard driving, late night lifestyle eventually took a toll, Gill says. “Sometimes we can all be our own worst enemies.”

Few regional bands, if any, could rival the longevity and popularity of Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts. Formed in 1978 as a lark, the band has opened for Chuck Berry, Johnny Rivers, Jan & Dean, Chubby Checker, and many other national acts and has toured Japan, Korea, and The Philippines. Although they don’t perform as often as in years past, their popularity is undiminished: Last year, during their summer concerts in the parks, they set new records for attendance.

Jerry Hofman, aka, Johnny Limbo, is the front man and founding member of the band that played well over 100 shows a year during their heyday.  He recalls the very first time he saw Hagen performing. “We were looking for a guitarist and Billy was playing at a Rose Garden summer concert in 1979 or 1980.  He was a lot younger than any of us, kind of wild and crazy, but WOW, was he impressive.”

The Lugnut band members all had white collar jobs, one was an attorney. They had short 1950s-style haircuts and wore costumes as a part of their “schtick.” They also had a highly disciplined and professional approach to performing and practicing. It was quite an adjustment for Hagen, who had shoulder-length hair and was practically in his teens, but he stayed with the Lugnuts for upwards of 10 years during the band’s peak.

“Billy was an amazing and dynamic performer. He could do a somersault even with his guitar,” Hofman recalls. “He just grabbed a hold of audiences and he did the most dead-on impersonation of Mick Jagger you could imagine. He even looked like him.”

Hofman was the business manager, and bandleader for the Lugnuts and sang and also played several instruments. He said that Hagen is the most talented musician he’s ever known. He tells how once Hagen was lobbying for a second saxophone player in the band. Hofman nixed the idea saying the cost would be prohibitive, so within about a month’s time, Hagen was blowing a mean sax.  “While it is a God-given gift, Billy also developed it and he had an encyclopedic knowledge of music, even older music. He also plays piano as well as the guitar, yet he has this other showmanship side of him that is wildly entertaining.”

Young, bursting with energy and eager to please his audiences and band mates, Hagen played with a fanatical intensity somewhere practically every night and he’d often play twice in the same night.

It was non-stop life in the fast lane and Hagen couldn’t get enough. The Lugnuts were a huge draw. There were plenty of gigs at swanky corporate parties, a Far East tour, a splashy show for Nike at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and that’s just for starters. Hagen was burning the candle at both ends, but since he was having the time of his life, he just kept partying.

After 10 years, the young, brilliant and hard-charging lead guitarist began having greater and greater difficulty making the band’s practice sessions. “In 1989 they sort of gave me a choice: Shape up or ship out,” Hagen ruefully recalls. “I chose the latter.”

Today Hagen looks back on his days with the Lugnuts with a different perspective. “Jerry and all those guys, they were all smart, shrewd businessmen. They loved their music and had a great time, but they also knew how to brand and market themselves. They had their act together.”

“I lived the Rock and Roll lifestyle: lots of drugs, lots of girls, lots of parties. I went overboard,” Hagen explains.

The two men have remained close over the years and still talk on the phone at least once a month. “We all truly hated to see Billy go, but it was his own decision,” Hofman says.

After leaving the Lugnuts, Hagen joined one of the region’s most respected and influential bands: the Mel Brown Quartet. He’d been performing with them off and on for months, now he simply became a fixture. It wasn’t exactly a regular gig, because Brown was touring with Diana Ross at the time and had plenty of his own irons in the fire. Brown recalls being surprised at how quickly Hagen adapted to his new environs. “Billy’s extremely gifted musically and he could play similar to Wes Montgomery. Lots of guys can play rock and roll, but very few can play jazz like he did.”

Brown was often gone on nationwide tours for months at a time and as a result, Hagen gradually moved on. “I haven’t seen him in years. It’d be great to play with him again and to see what else he’s learned over the years,” Brown said. “Billy caught on quickly, he could adapt to almost anything.”

During this time in the mid-1980s, the quartet played at the Hobbit in Southeast Portland, the Old Jazz Quarry on Southwest Jefferson in downtown and at the Dublin Pub which was then located on Southeast Belmont Street. Hagen played with Brown for 4 to 5 years. “Since I love playing jazz, it was a great experience for me. I learned a ton of stuff from Mel about music, a lot of it very subtle things. I especially learned to play easier and to mellow out.”

Besides Hagen on lead guitar and Brown on drums, jazz maestros George Mitchell played the Hammond B3, and Brad Harris played bass. “I’d love to see Mel again. It’s been way too long.  I’m going to get down to Jimmy Mak’s soon,” Hagen says.

From then on, Hagen formed the Nerve Agents which lasted a few years and he also played off and on with the Dave Fleschner Trio with Ken Ollis on drums. “We did some excellent recordings. That was another bright spot for me,” Hagen says.

Lately Hagen has spent more time focusing on private recordings and giving music lessons. Six months ago, one of his grateful students repaid him with a 1991 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. Perfect timing, because Hagen recently got his driver’s license back. That comes in particularly handy when he is booked for private parties he hires his own musicians that he’s known for decades.

In recent years Hagen has slowed down on the partying and has been “dry” for one year. He’s enjoying his life fully and looking at new musical frontiers. He is often booked for private parties, and when he is, he prefers to hire his own musicians, many of them are former bandmates that he’s known for decades.

While Hagen’s left his mark on the local scene, Hofner said his friend of nearly 35 years could have gone much farther, that he had the stuff to make it nationally. “There’s absolutely nothing Billy can’t play, even beautiful classical guitar. He really should have hit the big time, instead of just sort of hanging around Portland. But Billy’s got a heart of gold and he makes friends wherever he goes. The guy doesn’t have an enemy in the word.”

As the year 2014 winds down, Hagen is now busy working with Mason and Rod Sharer, a vocalist from Oregon City, on a new recording project with Steve Solomon on keyboards. The musicians met while jamming together at a Portland Marathon gig.

“We’re all super-excited about this. It’s a bit of a departure from anything any of us have done in our past,” Mason says.

“We’ve taken our share of lumps in the music business, but things are looking up. Billy’s even got himself another big Caddy like he had back in the old days and we’re really having fun.”

Tis the Season of Soul at Jimmy Mak’s with the soulful sounds of Christmas, as they present Merry at Mak’s. It will be one glorious holiday happening on Saturday, December 13th, all starting at 8:00 pm and featuring some of the areas finest award winning musicians. They’re all strong forces in the Portland community with their own musical projects, but they’ll share the stage together for just one beautiful joyous night.

This show will include the Rae Gordon Band rhythm section with Gaddis Cavenah on guitar, Federico Pol on bass and Edwin Coleman III on drums . Plus, Louis Pain on Keys, Renato Caranto on Sax, with Lloyd Jones on guitar and vocals, and LaRhonda Steele and Rae Gordon add their voices to the Merry at Mak’s Christmas Chorus. Santa Claus will also be making an appearance.

Come down for the show that will help jump start your holiday cheer with some memorable performances with Holiday hymns that are both new and tried and true, sung by some of your favorite performers. Jimmy Mak’s is located at 221 NW 10th. General admission is only $12.00. Reservations for dinner highly recommended and will guarantee you a seat.  So go early and plan on getting your holiday cheer on. For more information go www.raegordon.com/merryatmaks.

Tracey Fordice and the 8-Balls

Hello Blues lovers,

We are so happy! Why, you ask? Because we were awarded the 2014 CBA Muddy Award for Best New Blues Act, that’s why! We are honored, and we know there are so many other great new acts that were in the running, so we are especially honored to be placed alongside them. In the end, only one act could win the award, but the other nominees are also winners in our mind, and so too the acts that were chosen in the first round ballots. The Blues scene in Portland (and throughout the NW) is over the top with talent, showmanship, creativity, originality, and professionalism. As we already mentioned, we are so honored! And, the Muddy Awards Event was well done this year too, so all the people involved deserve a big round of applause! Thank you CBA!

Keeping the Blues alive is our goal and the goal of any new Blues act. In doing so, we strive to do our best to present something new and fresh that is deeply rooted in the historical content and traditions of the Blues. This leads to our next accomplishment that took place this past month. We participated in the Ashland Blues Society’s competition for the International Blues Challenge (IBC) and we are proud to say we will be going to Memphis in January to compete there! We plan to have a good time, do our best to represent the NW Blues scene, and come back with a great new experience that is sure to enhance our goals and keep us moving (as a band) in the right direction!

In other news, we are still working hard on completing our new CD of original material. Although we have made some sacrifices in the schedule (to allow for other priorities), we anticipate having the CD completed before we get to Memphis!

Hope to see you out on the town somewhere soon. Blues to you!

Tracey Fordice and the 8-Balls


James Clem

Lots of news this month. Looks like my new CD will finally be ready soon. This was recorded live in the studio at Ron Rogers all analogue studio. You can count on a CD release party or two.

I just got back from a trip to Europe where I played a couple of gigs and set up some more for next summer. I was invited back to headline a concert called the London Ukulele Cabaret. Somehow in the UK I got a pretty good following in the ukulele world after a uke video I did made their top 5 best uke videos of 2013 in a viewers poll. This caught me by surprise as it was up against people like Eddie Vedder and other rock stars that do uke videos so that falls into the “go figure” category. I also did a concert and workshop in Amsterdam, Holland while over there.

I am lucky to have made many friends in the blues world over in the UK. As an example, a player who has the largest collection of vintage National guitars in Europe always invites me over to his home near London to jam and we play a gig at a very cool sixteenth century pub near his home. I am in resophonic heaven at his pad! Not a bad way to travel.

Check out my new improved website if you get the chance and also keep me in mind for lessons. I give lessons in vintage acoustic blues (regular and slide) and the good ol’ ukulele as well. Keeps me off the street and really busy. Contact me through my website. Hope to see you around.

Cheers, James



The Strange Tones

Season’s Greetings Everyone!

Many people have been asking us about our big Christmas show and when we’re doing it. We’re sorry to say, that for a couple of reasons we’ve decided not to do the show this year, but rather to bring it back bigger and better than ever in 2015. First there were scheduling conflicts that made it impossible for us to get the Hollywood Theatre on a weekend night. Also The Strange Tones have been called away overseas to play in Mexico right during the time that we normally schedule the Christmas show. That’s right, The Strange Tones will be playing some shows in Puerto Vallarta the first week of December! We’re bringing with us a plane full of blues and Crime-A-Billy fans to invade the city and help spread that crazy Portland sound!

And if you can’t make it to Puerto Vallarta with us, we are very excited about our big New Year Eve’s show at the new Duff’s Garage! It’s so nice to have all that extra space and seating and that great Duff’s vibe – it’s guaranteed we’ll have ourselves a wild good time! There will be special food and drinks, and a limited number of package deals with reservations. Go to www.duffsgarage.com or www.strangetones.com for details.

¡Hasta la vista!
The Strange Tones


Ken DeRouchie

This time of year is always a time of giving, no matter what faith or what religion you hold dear, the holidays are a time of giving.

This year I wanted to do something for those less fortunate than I. I had thought about donating money from ticket sales but I wanted something more tangible. Something that, when a person donated it, that very thing would go to help someone in need.

The Portland Blues community has long had a big impact on those in need with the Oregon Food Bank’s Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. I would like to add to that by having a month long opportunity for all of us to donate to those in need. So I’ve started the 1st annual Ken DeRouchie Band food drive for The Oregon Food Bank.

Starting on December 3rd you will be able to drop off non expired, non-perishable dried and canned food at Vie de Boheme. They are located on the corner of SE 7th and SE Clay, 1 block south of Hawthorne. Food can be dropped off between 4:00 PM and midnight, Tuesday through Saturday. Everything will be collected on Wednesday, December 31st and given to The Oregon Food Bank to help those in need. Please stop by and contribute. Our initial goal for this is 1000 Lbs. of food collected in December and we definitely need your help to do it!

The Ken DeRouchie Band will be playing a special “Soulful Christmas” Show at Vie de Boheme on Saturday, December 20th. If you show up with 2 or more cans or packages of food to donate you will receive $2.00 off of the cover charge! You can help those in need AND have a fantastic Christmas party all at the same time.




Norman Sylvester

Blast into 2015 with the Boogie Cat! New Year’s Eve will be a spectacular night of fun this year. Oregon Music Hall Of Fame member, and Muddy Award Lifetime Achievement winner, Norman Sylvester will perform at the Lehrer, the Muddy Award winner for best venue this year. For New Year’s Eve, the band will feature Norman’s daughter vocalist Lenanne (Sylvester) Miller, and perennial Muddy award winner Pete Moss on sax, along with keyboardist Jeff Otto and the rhythm section of Rob and Paul Shoemaker. Admission is $18 in advance or $20 at the door and includes champagne toast, party favors and a delicious late night buffet at 10:30pm included in price of admission. Advance tickets are available from www.tickettomato.com. Special discount room rates are available at the Beaverton Shilo Inn, just a stone’s throw away from the Lehrer. Please mention the Lerher when making reservations.  Party at the Lerher with Norman, stay overnight at the Shilo for the perfect New Year date night!  http://shiloinns.com


Wingtips and Special Guests

Tuesday nights continue to happen at Duff’s Garage, 2530 N.E. 82nd Avenue, with Wingtips (or the Dover Weinberg Quartet, if you prefer) playing from 8:30 – 11:30pm. With Chris Carlson south for the winter, guitar duties are in rotation between some remarkable special guests.

First Tuesday will feature Alan Hager, a master of whatever blues style you can throw at him. The second week will have Muddy Award nominee Doug Rowell taking it in some unexpected directions. Third week duties are covered by the legend, himself, Steve Bradley. Surf, rock, swing, and even the theme from “Midnight Cowboy” – this one’s a whole different flavor. Fourth and fifth (if there is one) weeks are “Wild Cards”, with the likes of Terry Robb, Neil Grandstaff, Larry Pindar, and others that will round out your musical palate. This really is stuff you should savor, folks.

Dover Weinberg, for all you fans of his, is going to be around a lot through the winter, so this is a chance to say hi, get your picture taken with him, find out how many holes it take to fill the Albert Hall. When he’s out with Robert Cray, Ed Neumann has been more than covering for Dover – and he ain’t no slouch!

We’re hoping to see you on one or several of these nights. Big dance floor and a low volume band. Cover is only $3. Plenty of parking. The only thing that would make it better is your presence.


Soul Cookin’

Lloyd Jones, Carlton Jackson, David Kahl, and Dover Weinberg (or Louis Pain or Steve Kerin), collectively known as Soul Cookin’, are having a blast on Wednesday nights at Blackwell’s, 1815 N.E. 41st Avenue, from 8:30-11:30pm. After three years, this one is finally getting some talk and some traction.

There’s not enough space to list the accomplishments and experience of any two of these band members, let alone the amazing talent that has come to share the space, if not the stage with these guys. Just ask anyone who’s been to any one Wednesday what they think and you’ll get all kinds of answers, but they’re all positive and enthusiastic. All we can offer is this: if you like it funky, greasy, swinging, strolling, shuffling, and relentless then you should be here.

On Christmas Eve, it will get even better. A very special guest will be featured. Ty Curtis will be coming up from Austin, Texas and will join us for an “Orphan’s Christmas Eve”. We’ll come together as family and make enough noise to be certain that Santa knows where to find us. Turkey and ham dinner specials will be featured. Needless to say, this will be a rare chance to see and hear Ty in Portland.

No cover, but there is a $5 purchase minimum. Blackwell’s is located across Sandy Boulevard from the historic Hollywood Theater.


Rae Gordon

This last summer, a dream of mine for a long time came true, the honor to represent the Cascade Blues Association and Greater Portland in the International Blues Association, the annual contest that is held every year in. Memphis, Tennessee and highlights acts from all over the world. It is an exciting time for the musicians and the people who are lucky enough to be there during that time. At the Waterfront Blues Festival we were up against some amazing and talented acts that would have blown The IBCs away and are grateful for this opportunity.

If you haven’t been to this amazingly run event, it will be January 20 to 24th, 2015 and is well worth being in your upcoming vacation plans. There is nothing more cool then looking out at the audience and seeing Home.

In October, the music loving community from all the way down to Southern, Oregon and up to Seattle came to enjoy a benefit for our band to fund this trip. The Cascade Blues Cruise on the Portland Spirit highlighted acts and musicians who had previously been to Memphis for the CBA. Special heartfelt thanks to Lisa Mann and her band, Franco Palette and the Stingers and Ben Rice. In addition, special shout out to Joseph Conrad and Ed Pierce who were in Memphis with RGB in 2014 for the Rainy Day Blues Society.
In addition, the CBA, Greg Johnson, and all of the people who helped with the cruise and the people who boarded and enjoyed themselves and made our trip possible.Other things in the works for the Rae Gordon Band is a 2nd CD Dirty Flowers. Another collaboration of songwriting with Gaddis Cavenah.Thank you to all who helped fund $1000 towards it.Even though we didn’t make our fundraising goal and the release had to be pushed back, it has allowed us to take more time to develop it more and look forward to releases it sometime in spring, which is poetic given the name of the title track!

Upcoming gigs include Merry at Mak’s, a Christmas celebration of soul featuring RGB with Louis Pain, Lloyd Jones, LaRhonda Steele, Gaddis Cavenah, Federico Pol, Edwin Coleman III and Renato Caranto. New Year’s Eve. finds us at the Home of the Blues Trails End Saloon and the new year brings back the 1st Sunday gospel show at The Trails, a Beale street and Birthday Bash and send off at the Lehrer Jan 18th and RGB in Memphis competing to bring back the blues gold to All of you!
Thank you for all you support of RGB, CBA and live music.


Oregon Trail Restaurant and Bar

The famous End of the Oregon Trail brought families to the area by foot, horseback and wagon looking for a place they could feel at home and after miles of hardship; they knew they had found it.  The Trails End Saloon sits in the middle of this historic location on Main Street and is now continuing the tradition of attracting visitors who arrive and exclaim “this is it!” with new owners.  A long beloved business occupying a building that is the last of its kind, it is well known for being an important part of city and music history

New owners Mark and Linda Temple, along with daughter Katie are breathing new life with an open armed approach that is already evident in repeat business. “The Trails” has long been a favorite of not only local residents, but patrons from all over, who have moved away, but continue to make it a stop however far their travels take them.

As a Music Venue, the Trails End Saloon has had national acts grace its stage like Curtis Salgado, Maria Muldaur, Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds.  Many local Blues Artists also occupy the stage regularly and the blues jams are renowned, attracting people from all over the US when in town, and has been the beginning of successful band partnerships.  The Trails End has won eight Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association for Best Blues Venue over the years.  In addition, the Trails End Saloon has long been known for opening its doors to benefits such as the Shriner’s Toy Run, Cody Myers benefit, Villages NW, Water Trout benefit, a Hurricane Katrina benefit, and the Doernbecher Childrens benefit.

A structure of historical significance on the corner of 14th & Main Streets in Oregon City , it is the last square nailed, wooden frame, lap sided structure left downtown.   It was the first grocery store, built circa 1880-1885 as Freytags Grocery.  Like its counterparts in Portland, it too has its folklore side.   Underneath the Saloon is an old tunnel that was used to transport freight brought up and down river by sternwheelers. An underground entrance led from the building, under the parking lot and down to the nearby Willamette River. Local folklore describes “other” uses for the tunnels in the old days, best left to the imagination. The current building still offers nostalgic charm such as a dimly lit dark wood bar, ceiling fans run by a conveyor system, and original wagon wheels.  To this day, it is also a popular spot for those looking for paranormal activity.

In 1905, the building was the site of a major fire, but was rebuilt into what you see today.  1910, it had another life again as a grocery Store called McAnulty’s.   It was a Chinese Food restaurant in the 40s and during the Korean War years, it was “Pat’s Inn”.  In 1972, the Holladay’s took over and called it The Spotted Skunk and did remodeling that included false ceilings and covered windows, then changed the name to Doc Holladay’s, which is well known and mentioned to this day.  In 1992, the Montjoys took over, did restoration and renamed it Trails End Saloon.  The Synders purchased it in 1997.  In 2013, Eric Hallingstad purchased it, did renovations that included uncovering long forgotten windows, did some major remodeling.   New owners Mark, Linda and Katie have taken over where he left off, providing quality food and top rate entertainment.


Dean Mueller and Julie Amici

Happy Holidays everyone, with Julie quitting her wine bar gig at the coast we are looking forward to the free evenings and much more performing in 2015. We are very fortunate to have had Chris Carlson and Alan Hager fill the third spot in the “trio” and look forward to playing with them more this year. You can expect us to mix it up a bit more this coming year starting with a VSOP (Very Special Onetime Performance) Showcase on Dec 22nd at the Lake Theater. This show will feature Dean Mueller, Dave
Fleshner, and Dan Gildea backing a diverse group of singers including LaRhonda Steele, Mary Kadderly, Julie Yanko, and our special guest Curtis Salgado. The combination of a stellar backup band along with the diverse styles of the vocalist will make this a Very Special Onetime Performance indeed, we can’t wait! Dean is also looking forward to playing with some more greats at the Lake Theater including Lloyd Jones, Kevin Selfe, Mitch Kashmar, and Terry Robb. If you have not yet checked out these Monday night
shows please give it a shot, the acoustics and the setting are ideal and you really get to hear, and see the musicians shine. Thanks much for your support as we get things ramped up and we look forward to seeing you much more in 2015!

Best, Dean & Julie

The Pacific Northwest Blues Societies have developed a strong tradition of sending some of the finest acts to Memphis each year to take part in the International Blues Challenge. Though this is a competition being held in Memphis, the competitors are all supportive of one another, cheering for one another at the IBC as well as helping each other out to help raise the needed funds for everybody to be able to get to Tennessee beforehand.

This year, five Northwest Blues Societies will be sending a total of nine acts and one youth band. Two huge fundraising events have been scheduled in December, featuring several of these winning acts at both.

The first will be held in Portland at Duff’s Garage on Friday, December 12th, starting at 7:30 pm. This show will feature the Cascade Blues Association’s representatives The Rae Gordon Band and David Pinsky & Phil Newton, Washington Blues Society’s solo entry Nick Vigarino, South Sound Blues Association’s CD Woodbury Band, Rainy Day Blues Society’s Randy Oxford Band and Walker T. Ryan, and the Ashland Blues Society’s solo/duo entry Ben Rice & Lucy Hammond. Admission to this event is $15.00 and a silent auction and raffle will also be held to raise extra funds. Duff’s Garage is located at 2530 NE 82nd.

Then on Sunday, December 14th, Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle, 1414 Alaskan Way, will host another IBC fundraiser featuring many of these same acts, with the Washington Blues Society’s band winners The Rafael Tranquilino Band and Ashland Blues Society’s Tracey Fordice & The 8 Balls joining in.

Please support all of the Northwest IBC acts as they continue to raise the money to cover their travel, hotel and meal expenses to get back to Memphis. These two events are a great way to help out.

Come out and celebrate a yearly holiday tradition with the 16th Annual  Northwest Women Rhythm & Blues Christmas Concert Gala. Join nine of the region’s finest blues women for an extravaganza on Thursday, December 11th at the German American Society, 5626 NE Alameda Street, for a night filled with good tidings and holiday cheer. Featured this year will be Karen Lovely, Lisa Mann, Sonny Hess, Vicki Stevens, Lady Kat, Rae Gordon, Ellen Whyte, LaRhonda Steele and Nayibe Rojas, along with Kelly Pierce on drums.  And best of all, this event will benefit The Candlelighters Organization’s Kids with Cancer program.

Tickets for this event may be purchased in advance at nwwomenblues.com for $20.00 general admission or for the dinner tickets for $37.50 with plenty of reserved seating available. Doors open at 6:00 pm. A silent auction and raffle will also be held.