Melody Ballroom, 615 SE Alder St., Portland
Wednesday, March 4, 7:00 pm
Members always Free – Non-members $3.00
Opening Acoustic Set – Missi & Mister Baker
Second Electric Set – Tracey Fordice & The 8 Balls

They say that March blows in like a lion. Well, that just may be true when it comes to great blues happening this month at the Cascade Blues Association meeting, as we provide another pair of terrific blues acts to open the month just right.

Our first act of the night will be the acoustic duo of Missi & Mister Baker. Missi Hasting and John Baker are a Portland based roots, blues and rock pairing specializing in acoustic guitars with a hefty dose of slide.

Missi grew up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Maryville, TN, where she began singing as a child in Baptist gospel choirs and as a duo with her stepfather, a minister and talented guitarist. She also learned to harmonize at the feet of Tennessee musicians who cared as much about crafting instruments as they did about the songs themselves. Relocating to Austin, Missi developed a deep love for the blues and promoted shows for the city’s only remaining Chitlin’ Circuits-era blues at The Victory Grill before migrating to Portland after her children had grown.

Mister Baker is a soulful practitioner and interpreter known for his lap steel and bottleneck work on traditional roots music including blues, old timey, folk, country, Hawaiian, and rock. He considers himself a musician’s musician and a guitarist’s guitarist. He prefers to keep quiet and play the guitar, and he utilizes a number of different style guitars in his performances, including a Dobro, and a homemade Hawaiian koa wood Weissenborn-style lap guitar with a hollow neck. The duo format with Missi allows him to be more front and center, rather than just lurking in the shadows. John has played in several local bands over the years as a sideman and under the radar.

Missi and John met in 2011.  On their first date while walking along the Willamette River, a large fireball fell directly in their line of vision. “We both felt like it was some kind of sign,” says Missi. Later that evening they started playing guitars together and they’ve been making music ever since. The pair released their debut EP, Where Black Ravens Flew, in 2014, a collection of original songs along with two obscure roots tunes.

Tracey Fordice & The 8 Balls - press photoThe second set of the night will bring back the 2014 Muddy Award winners for Best New Act, Tracey Fordice and the 8 Balls. Fresh off their trip to the International Blues Challenge, where they represented the Ashland Blues Society, this dynamic four-piece band is set to deliver a sound unique in the Portland area.

Their main attraction is Tracey Fordice! Her vocal delivery and stylish piano playing is smooth, yet powerful, and gives emotional depth to every song she performs, from a soulful ballad to a rockin’ Blues tune. Backed by the fiery guitar work of Randy Yearout, along with the powerhouse rhythm section of Steven Mills on bass and Johnnie Corrie on drums, the group works to produce a fresh and original Blues sound that is sure to please audiences both young and old.

In addition, guitarist/vocalist/producer/recording engineer David Alvey will be joining the band for the performance at this month’s CBA meeting. David is co-producing their upcoming CD of all new original material which should be out in late March or early April. Both Tracey and Randy are very talented songwriters in their own right, but in this project they are collaborating together in many of the tunes. Steven Mills is also contributing his songwriting talents in this project. This show will be featuring many of the songs from the new CD.

As a Blues Band, Tracey Fordice and the 8-Balls strives to create fresh, new material that is rich in “Blues” content and styles similar to traditional Blues, but with their new, contemporary twists added to it, along with creative, and topical lyrics. They have always branded themselves as Blues/Rock, but they are influenced by many other genres and it shows in their musical presentation. Their goal is to be contemporary, and to perpetuate the Blues genre into the future without simply repeating its past.

The band has a regular standing Tuesday night jam that they host at The Lehrer, so if you cannot get enough of this fun group, swing out to the West Side every Tuesday night and check them out.

So make sure you head out to The Melody Ballroom on Wednesday, March 4 for another fun night with friends and blues. Free ticket drawings and our multi-CD winner take all raffle will be held as usual. It’s the best way to start out every month if you’re a blues lover in Portland.

Tower of Power guitarist Bruce Conte will be joined by some of Portland’s funkiest musicians for a very special event at Jimmy Mak’s (221 NW 10th). Two shows, one night, on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm.

Bruce, who played for Tower of Power on seven albums over seven years, is known for his uniquely funky guitar playing on such Tower Of Power classics as “What Is Hip,” “Don’t Change Horses In The Middle Of The Stream” and “Sqib Cakes.” Today, he continues to face on-going financial difficulties stemming from his leukemia and diabetes treatments. Now, for the second time, Bruce’s Portland friends and admirers are pitching in to help. Artists appearing at this event will include Andy Stokes, LaRhonda Steele, King Louis Pain, Brian Foxworth and a special appearance by Ty Curtis. Other great performers are expected to join as well.

This event, like previous benefits staged for Bruce in Portland (“What is Hip,” 2012) and Oakland, CA (“East Bay Grease,” 2013) is being produced by Muddy Award-winning Soul Sisters Productions, owned by Tracy Turner-Pain and Susan Mills. Soul Sister Productions produces various types of events, with a focus on helping musicians facing serious medical issues.

Tickets are $15.00 for guaranteed reserved seats and $12.00 general admission. They are available at www.TicketTomato.com.

Alyssa Lily and Cancer TeeAlyssa Weiser-Lily (Alyssa Lily) is definitely a fighter. Two years ago the blues community first became aware of her fight with cancer and the friendship between her family and award winning musician Lisa Mann. Alyssa continues with her battle, having gone through surgeries, chemotherapy and infections, and now she and her family need financial assistance to not only help with her medical needs, but also to keep their daily lives in order.

And that is where the local blues and roots community is once again stepping up to help out. Please keep the date Sunday, March 1 open and make plans to be at the Trails End Saloon (at the corner of !4th & Main in downtown Oregon City) starting at 2:00 pm. A full day’s worth of music is planned and at only a suggested donation of $10.00 (but you will not be turned away if you’re unable to afford this amount) you’re not going to find a better spot to be on a Sunday.

Musicians schedule to appear at this time are: Gospel Blues with Rae Gordon, The Rae Gordon Band; Bigger Yellow Taxi; Sonny Hess Band with Lisa Mann; Men in Blues featuring Robbie Laws, Doug Rowell and Big Monti.

There will also be a silent auction and donations for the auction are being accepted at The Trails End Saloon prior to the event.

SAVE THE DATE – Sunday, March 1st, Trails End Saloon along with many local musicians will be having a benefit for Alyssa Lilly. This will help the family pay expenses while they continue to battle the cancer Aly has been fighting. Full details later this week!!

Right now, we are looking for DONATIONS for the silent auction. Drop any donations off at Trails End Saloon, corner of 14th & Main Streets in downtown Oregon City. Feel free to share this post. Thank you!!

The Journey To Memphis is the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition to select the acts that will represent our organization and region in the next year’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN that will be held in early 2016. Up to 250 acts from around the world converge on Beale Street to perform before the music industry looking for new talent, with the chance to win recognition and prizes that include major festival performances and more. But the only way an act may participate is to win a regional competition held by one of The Blues Foundation’s affiliated societies like the Cascade Blues Association.

The Journey To Memphis will be held in two rounds. The opening round will take place over two nights at The Lehrer on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6. Acts are scored by a trio of judges selected for their backgrounds and knowledge of the blues. The two highest scoring acts each night advance to the finals held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4.

Applications to participate in the competition will be accepted now until Wednesday, April 1 at the Cascade Blues Association membership meeting. No late applications will be accepted. All eligible acts that meet our criteria as described below will be able to compete. We will adjust the time schedule to ensure all are included. Each act will perform either Friday or Saturday and are scheduled as drawn at random, so we request that you do not schedule other gigs until you know which night you are scheduled.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Entry fee is $25.00 (This is an increase from last year and is the first time we have raised the fee in more than ten years. This is to stay consistent with what  other societies have been charging – though still less than many – and all fees collected go to the prize money to the competition’s winners to help cover travel expenses.)
  • Each act must have at least one person in the band who is a member of the Cascade Blues Association.
  • Only acts located within the region of Oregon, Washington or Idaho are allowed to enter the Journey To Memphis.
  • Any act that has been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation are ineligible to compete.

Any act that has competed in the International Blues Challenge two consecutive years, regardless whether with the same society or as a solo/duo or band act, must sit out a year before being allowed to compete again.

Along with your $25.00 application fee, send an up-to-date band bio including names of all members, a 300 dpi photo of the band, full song samples of the band’s music (this may be used on a radio broadcast to promote the event), and we need to be made aware of any band member who may be under 21 years of age at the time of the competition so the venue is aware ahead of time for Oregon Liquor Commission laws.

  • We require that any act that moves forward in the competition must use the same band members that they won the rounds with. In other words, if you won with a certain bass player or drummer at the Waterfront Blues Festival, that bassist and drummer must be in your band to compete in Memphis. Exceptions will made in rare circumstances when not under control of the act, such as health issues.
  • We do not prevent acts competing with the Cascade Blues Association from doing so with other societies. All that we ask is that if you win another group’s competition before ours is held, or if you win ours before theirs, then you remove yourself from further competitions to allow other acts the chance to win the right to go to Memphis.

Applications can be sent to Journey To Memphis c/o Cascade Blues Association, PO Box 6566, Portland, Oregon 97228-6566. All entries must be received no later than April 1.

It was another great experience in Memphis during this January’s International Blues Challenge. And for all those who stayed away because they were afraid of the bitter cold that we experienced last year, you missed out on the mild weather that was had this year. What’s even better? The Northwest Blues Societies’ acts are really beginning to make more of a mark on the international scene each year.

Five blues societies from the Northwest sent nine acts and a youth group to Memphis. Five acts, one from each of the societies, made the semi-finals, and one made it all the way to The Orpheum Theater for the finals. All played their hearts out and gave performances that we should be proud of. As I have stated many times, it is not about the winning the competition that is most important — it is the impact you make for yourself. Winning would be great, but it is something that is not going to happen very often. There were more than 250 blues acts from all around the world, and only one of them can be named as the winner. And all of those acts are out of this world good.

The acts that represented the Northwest were: Ben Rice & Lucy Hammond (solo/duo) and Tracey Fordice & The 8 Balls (band) from the Ashland Blues Society; David Pinsky & Phil Newton (solo/duo) and the Rae Gordon Band from the Cascade Blues Association; Walker T Ryan (solo) and the Randy Oxford Band from the Rainy Day Blues Society; CD Woodbury Band from South Sound Blues Association; and Nick Vigarino (solo) and the Rafael Tranquilino Band from the Washington Blues Society.

Ben Rice & Lucy Hammond, the Rae Gordon Band, the Randy Oxford Band, the CD Woodbury Band, and the Rafael Tranquilino Band all made it through to the semi-finals after the first two nights.

The finals were held in The Orpheum Theater early Saturday afternoon. The only NW act to make it to this level was Ben Rice & Lucy Hammond. They were the third act second act (not sure which here) scheduled for the day and delivered a masterful set that made the entire region proud.

But when it comes down to the end, the judges selected the following as the 2015 International Blues Challenge winners: Band competition 1st place: Eddie Cotton (Vicksburg Blues Society), 2nd place: Noah Wotherspoon (Dayton Blues Society), 3rd place: Nico Wayne Toussaint’s Mighty Quartet (Southern California Blues Society. Solo/Duo competition: 1st place: Randy McQuay (Cape Fear Blues Society), 2nd place: Brian Keith Wallen (Dayton Blues Society).

Individual awards were also handed out to the Best Self-Produced CD to Altered Five Blues Band for their disc Cryin’ Mercy; the Lee Oskar Harmonica Player award to Nico Wayne Toussaint; the Gibson Guitar award for band guitarist to Noah Wotherspoon; and the St Blues

Cigar Box Guitar award for solo/duo guitarist went to our own Ben Rice! Congratulations Ben Rice!!

There are many other events that take place during the International Blues Challenge, including the Keeping The Blues Alive awards. And this year’s recipient of the KBA for best festival went to Erika Olsen for Washington’s Winthrop Blues Festival! Erika was on hand along with the Waterfront’s Peter Dammann not only to pick up this honor, but obviously to scout out new talent for their festivals.

A new event that was put together this year for the first time was the Pacific Northwest Showcase. The brainchild of Washington Blues Society president Tony Frederickson, it was held at Club 152 on Beale Street on Friday afternoon, hosted by Tony, Cascade Blues Association president Greg Johnson, and South Sound Blues Association president Jane Henderson. Each of the nine acts from the Northwest took part in this showcase, along with South Sound’s youth act Emily Randolph & Oaklawn, and special appearances by past contestant Sammy Eubanks and 2010 second place winner Karen Lovely who was joined by Houston’s Jonn Del Toro Richardson on guitar. This was an exciting and popular day, so hopefully it can be done again.

Overall, the 31st International Blues Challenge proved once again that it keeps growing and getting better every year. And the Pacific Northwest is right in the thick of things, turning a lot of heads with the incredible musicians we possess in our little corner of the country. Make plans to attend in Memphis next year, but between now and then make it a point to support all the acts attempting to go in 2016, the regional competitions and the fundraising to help them get there. It’s not easy to reach that level, but once there you’re among some of the very best.

Lucky Peterson - photo by Jean Marc LubranoLucky Peterson has been amazing audiences since he was discovered as a child prodigy at the age of three by Willie Dixon. The son of blues man James Peterson, Lucky grew up surrounded by the blues and has shown his adeptness at guitar and keyboards, as well as his outstanding vocals and songwriting, for over four decades. His music fuses the blues with soul, gospel, R&B and rock, he is a versatile musician whose talents have been termed as mind- boggling.

Touring on the recent release of his latest album, The Son Of A Bluesman, Lucky Peterson brings his electrifying performance to The Aladdin Theater for one night only on Sunday, March 1 as part of the PDX Jazz Festival. Show time is 8:00 pm and The Aladdin is located at 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave. Minors are welcome when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets are available at The Aladdin Theater box office or through www.TicketFly.com for $30.00 advance, $35.00 day of show.