Here’s the right way to kick off Mother’s Day this year: a special showcase of the Women In Blues gathering performing the night before, on Saturday, May 9. This is a conglomeration of some of the finest, most talented ladies performing blues in the region, and though these shows may be more familiar taking place during the Waterfront Blues Festival or during the holiday season, they getting together this month as a treat for all moms.

The line-up for this event will include six powerhouse female vocalists: Ellen Whyte, Rae Gordon, Vicki Stevens, Lady Kat, Sonny Hess, and Lisa Mann. Lisa will be returning back from Memphis just before this show where she will be attending the Blues Music Awards and she is nominated for the best bass category. Hopefully, this show will be a celebration of her winning.

The Women In Blues Mother’s Day Special will be held at the Trails End Saloon, 1430 Main St., Oregon City. Start time is 8:00 pm and admission is $12.00. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so show your membership card at the door for a $1.00 discount.

Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps - press photoTeresa James may live in Los Angeles these days, but you can never take that pounding Texas boogie piano from her heart. Flat out one of the finest blues piano players going these days, James light up a room with her driving keyboard energy. James has a handful of CDs to her credit and has worked with various artists including greats like Delbert McClinton, Tommy Castro, Marcia Ball and Levon Helm. Her band The Rhythm Tramps boasts some of the most talented musicians in Southern California whose credentials list many of the most popular artists of today.

Teresa James will be returning to the Portland area on Friday, May 15 for a special double header show with Rich Layton & The Troublemakers at The Lehrer, 8775 SW Canyon Lane. Rich Layton and his band are one of the city’s finest roots blues rockers, with their music strongly steeped in the waters of the Gulf Coast, nicely blended with the Pacific Northwest feel. Showtime for this event is 8:00 pm. Admission is $10.00. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so bring your membership card for a $1.00 discount on entry at the door.

James Clem

Hi friends,

My new CD, Sugar Moon, is out now and available at Music Millennium, online for downloads, and CD sales at It should be on iTunes as well by the time you read this. Give a listen to the sample tracks if you can. You can also hear some complete tracks on my website. I am getting a lot of really positive reaction to this recording.

This was a long term project where producer/engineer Ron Rogers and I got some of Portland’s best musicians–such as Reggie Houston, Mary Flower, Johnnie Ward and lots more–and put them together with the hot rhythm section of Ken West and Craig Snazelle. We recorded them live in the studio onto analog tape.

There are two things that are bit out of the ordinary for CD’s that are reviewed in the CBA BluesNotes. First, it is more swing and western swing than blues, all though all the tunes are bluesy. Second, I am playing ukulele rather than my main instrument, the guitar. Actually, you could listen to this disc and not even be that aware that that is a uke and not a guitar, as they can sound pretty similar. There are some straight blues and ragtime on the disc so blues lovers should find a lot to like on this.

At the same sessions for Sugar Moon, we were recording an all guitar CD to be titled Road’s Gettin’ Muddy that will be out in late May. Pretty much the same great players I listed above on that CD. This disc is all blues but there are a few vintage country tunes from the Carter Family to give it some variety and even an electric surf instrumental I wrote.  So I hope you can look out for these and you will be hearing some of the tracks on Portland radio as well.

See you around and keep diggin’ the blues.

James Clem



Hello fellow blues fans! Firstly, thanks to all the jammers and blues folks that continue to support our Bolt Upright weekly jams. I want to inform everyone about a couple of things happening in May. I’m going to trot out a new project I’m calling Beat’s Workin’ with me singing and leading the band from the front for a change. I’ll be singing tunes from my latest CD.  I’m going to have my friend, Scott Mecalis, play drums (also harp/vocals and bass) along with Susie McDonald on bass/vocals, and Scott Steele on guitar and vocals. We’ll be showcasing this on the last weekend in May. May 29th at Cadigan’s Corner and May 30th at AREA 52. Please check us out.

Also, on May 30th, Susie and I will be co-hosting a blues show on KBOO radio with Joan Semprebon from 5PM-7PM. This program will feature all local talent, so if you want to be included, please get me some fresh tracks to play.

Bolt Upright with Lynn Axtell continues to host the Sunday Jam at Montavilla and most weekend shows. We have Scott Steele join us at AREA 52 and the The Lehrer. They each sound excellent. We’ve also added a new jam on Mondays at AREA 52 from 6PM till 9PM.

Please continue to support live music every chance you get! Thanks!


Rich Layton & The Troublemakers

Dear CBA Community

It’s time to answer that age-old question: “What kind of music do you play?” Truth be told, we’re not a blues band per se – we’re more like that older first cousin who was always getting you into trouble growing up. On any given night, RLTM takes the blues out to a rockabilly barn dance, drags them though the Louisiana swamp, gets them liquored up at a Texas roadhouse and leaves them crying in their beer at a seedy dive just outside Memphis.

If you dig Dave & Phil Alvin, Marty Stewart, Delbert McClinton and JD McPherson, you’ll dig us. Like those artists, we are keepers of the flame for American roots music, blues included. We play a high-octane mix of classic and original songs that echo the sounds of Slim Harpo, Bo Diddley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and all their musical descendants. It’s the proud tradition of three chords and a bad attitude.

So look for us down at the crossroads of twang & tremolo. We’ll save you that special table under the broken Lone Star beer sign.

PS- can’t wait to spend the evening with our old Texas friends by way of LA, Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps, May 15th @ The Lehrer. Get ready for spine tingling vocals and a groove that will swallow you whole. Not to be missed!

Achilles Wheel - press photoAchilles Wheel is a high energy roots and world music band that mixes rock and blues into its style. Hailing from Northern California, the band members play numerous stringed instruments and more drums than you can shake a stick at. With the release of their second album, Stones To Sand, the band has broken out from their California roots to find themselves on stages throughout the United States and enjoying radio play in Europe. Of course they are foster children of the Grateful Dead, but what makes them unique is the laid back nonchalance and how they perform their songs! Achilles Wheel celebrates musical ideas that other bands explore for mere seconds by taking their music apart note by note and then putting it back together. This is beautiful, old school country jam rock, which almost nobody else plays anymore nowadays! The fiery epicenter of Achilles Wheel’s sound is Jonny Mojo on lead guitar and vocals, surrounded by Paul Kamm and Shelby Snow on rhythm, bass and vocals, and Gary Campus and Mark McCartney on drums and vocals.

This up-and-coming band will be playing at The Birk on Saturday, May 16. Doors open at 5:30 pm, showtime is 7:00 pm. Tickets are $17.00 – $20.00. The Birk is located at 11139 Hwy 202, Birkenfeld, Oregon. Please call 503-755-2722 for further information.

Cherie’s Blues Highway’s monthly showcase at The Lehrer will once again take place on Sunday, May 17 with an eclectic grouping of two of the West Coast’s rising acts, the Bay Area band The Highway Poets and Portland’s own Kivett Bednar. Producer Cherie Robbins has combined two acts that have both taken on their own up-dated stylings of the blues as she continues to offer combinations of West Coast talent that likely would not come together outside of a festival setting.

The Highway Poets - press photoFormed in the hills of small town Petaluma, the award-winning band The Highway Poets, began fusing their Rock/Funk//Blues-sound with Folk instruments and soul inspired song crafting. The sound that they created was a fresh, creative, eclectic sound that can only be narrowed down in the music industry to Rock Indie Americana. The band is made up of Sebastian Nau on guitar, Taylor James on bass, Shane Schlick on drums, mandolin and banjo, and Travis James on guitar, banjo and mandolin. All four contribute vocals.

“Banjo, fiddle, and mandolin blend with guitar, upright bass and the occasional ukelele for a fresh sound…….They might have to quit their day jobs.” – Press Democrat

In the past 5 years they have recorded and released 3 full length albums out of their own homes, including their latest from 2014 In With The Old, toured throughout the Midwest and west-coast extensively, and have shared the stage with many nationally acclaimed acts including Johnny Winter, Lucinda Williams, The California Honeydrops, Foghat, Jackie Greene, and many others. With a new Remix-Compilation album recently released and a full length album of fresh material currently being recorded, their music continues to grow through their hard work and travels, and they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon

“What a fun and fresh sound. Easy on the ears, Engaging. If Johnny Cash, Mumford & Sons, and Joe Cocker got into a bus accident…The Highway Poets would be the product of that crash. They are humble and hungry for recognition. They’ll get ‘there’, no doubt.” – ~ Ryan Spain, The Bohemian

Also on the bill is Portland guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Kivett Bednar. Originally from Austin, and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Bednar moved to Portland in 2012 and is the leader of the alternate blues band Land Of The Living. Bednar blends metal with the blues, with perhaps a little touch of gangsta rap thrown in for enhancement. From the opening chords of the distorted guitar and into the pounding heavy pace you know that this is not going to be your standard traditional blues music. But he is also adept at performing traditional sounds on acoustic guitar. Bednar’s music is unique and his songwriting outstanding. And when everything is said and done, it’s all based solidly in the blues.

The Lehrer is located at 8775 SW Canyon Drive. This is an all ages event, starting at 3:00 pm. Admission is $10.00. A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon by catching two blues-based acts that are on a fast pace to make their marks in today’s music world.

JJ Grey - fansite photoFrom his days of playing greasy local juke joints to now headlining major festivals, JJ Grey remains an unfettered, blissful performer, singing with a blue-collared spirit over the bone-deep grooves of his compositions. His presence before an audience is something startling and immediate, at times a funk rave-up, other times a sort of mass-absolution for the mortal weaknesses that make him and his audience human. When you see JJ Grey and his band Mofro live, the man is fearless. Onstage, Grey delivers his songs with compassion and a relentless honesty.

JJ Grey & Mofro return to Portland for a show at the city’s newest music venue, Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark #110 on Friday, May 29. This is a 21 & older show only. Tickets are available through for $25.00 general admission. Show time is 8:00 pm with the Ethan Tucker Band opening.

Here’s a list of new music received at the CBA office or purchased personally this past month that should be noted:

Breezy Rodio – So Close To It (Windchill Records)
Chris Daniels & The Kings – Funky To The Bone (Moon Voyage Records)
Hambone Wilson – Thayer Hambone Wilson (Self Produced)
Hippie Love Slave – God Is Testing Me (Real Music Records)
James Clem – Sugar Moon (Self Produced)
Jon Spear Band – Old Soul (Self Produced)
Leah Tussing & Chris Hyde – The Flat Hat Sessions Take One (Flat Hat Productions)
Ray Goren – Save My Soul (RJ Ray Entertainment)
The Lucky Losers – A Winning Hand (West Tone Records)
Voo Davis – Midnight Mist (Butter & Bacon Records)

Thayer Hambone Wilson
Self Produced

Hambone Wilson CD coverOriginally from Virginia but now residing in Washington, Hambone Wilson is an eclectic musician whose music covers the full spectrum of Americana, from the blues to rockabilly to country to R&B. All this rootsy material comes out splendidly on his latest recording, Thayer Hambone Wilson. The man knows his route around a guitar fretboard and plays some mighty dangerous slide work, too. You can feel the influence of his background in Virginia and the Washington, DC area as this album echoes with the sounds of regional greats like Roy Buchanan and Danny Gatton.

Wilson surely celebrates all aspects of roots and brings along some mighty heavy hitters to help him out. Bass player Kenny Gadney of Little Feat fame, Rainbow’s Dave Stone, Parliament-Funkadelic saxophonist Greg Thomas and piano player Willie MacCalder from the Powder Blues Band are all among the musicians on hand to help out.

The album’s selections are quite diverse. It opens with a Rolling Stones’ kind of edge with jumpy “Dance, Dance, Dance” that features Greg Thomas blowing some dynamic sax. Wilson’s trademark blistering slide guitar is prominently displayed in tracks like “Murder Me” and “Born To Rock,” and it then takes a country blues feel on “Two Mules” or swampy flavoring on “Run To The River” where he just might save his soul. “Torn, Twisted And Blue” has a Dylanesque feel, while “Wasting Time” with John McLung on pedal steel and “Tumble Weed” are just good old country numbers.

Wilson has a knack for delivering memorable songs in short bursts. None of the songs on the disc surpass the four-minute mark, with most hitting under just three minutes. But he says a lot within the time frame, which in itself is also somewhat of a throwback to old radio play and the length of what could fit on an old shellac pressing.

Overall, Hambone Wilson has pieced together a terrific mix of music that should appeal to most anybody in one form or another. He should not be labeled as a specific genre. No musician with this type of mettle that can stretch easily between styles should be pigeon-holed. Thayer Hambone Wilson is flat out a nice collection of fun songs that should have your toes a-tappin’ and your fingers a-poppin’. Enjoyable start to finish.

Total Time: 41:16

Dance, Dance, Dance / Cheating And Lying / Sweet Virginia / Tunble Weed / Rocking My Blues Away / Torn Twisted And Blue / Murder Me / Sue Who? / Two Long Arms / Born To Rock / Run To The River / Two Mules / Wasting Time / Good Grief / Virginia Creeper / Blue Boy

Way Down South
Delta Groove Music

Igor Prado CD coverThis is some of the most fun, jumping West Coast sounding blues that has come out in some time, and the funny thing is that the band is actually from Brazil. The Igor Prado Band released a sensational debut on Delta Groove a couple years back that set the tone, proving that these guys have studied and practiced this American music form for some time. They know how to do it right, and Delta Groove has backed them for their sophomore disc, Way Down South, with a bevy of heavy hitting blues masters.

These guys kick out the doors with a variety of blues approaches and hit their target with every one they go after. The album is filled with great cover material from artists like Ike Turner, Jimmy Rogers, Muddy Waters, Paul Gayten and Elmore James among others. The guest artists thrive throughout the recording too, with harmonica players leading the pack, including Mitch Kashmar, Rod Piazza, Omar Coleman, Randy Chortkoff, Wallace Coleman and the late Lynnwood Slim. Throw in some mean vocalists with Kim Wilson, Mud Morganfield, J.J. Jackson and Sugaray Rayford, and add guitar monsters Junior Watson and Mike Welch and you have a killer grouping, but they’re all there to support the Igor Prado Band, who are terrific in their own right.

Bandleader Igor Prado is a guitarist and vocalist who signs lead on a couple of tracks — Jr. Walker & The All Stars “Shake & Fingerpop” and Joe Tex’s “You Got What It Takes. His guitar playing is over the top, with mixes ranging from swing to jazz to deep, back-in-the-alley blues. His brother Yuri Prado fills the drum grooves and Rodrigo Mantovani works the bass lines while sax man Denilson Martins blows some fine licks on a handful of numbers.

The mix of selections on the disc cover a lot of ground, but truly does keep within West Coast and Chicago blues patterns. Highlights are many; the whole album is stellar. Of special note is Mud Morganfield’s reading of his daddy’s song “She’s Got It,” with the Igor Prado Band sounding as if they grew up in Chicago rather than Sao Paulo. Mitch Kashmar does some outstanding harmonica work along with great vocals on Jimmy Rogers’s “What Have I Done.” And the acoustic duet between Igor Prado and harmonica man Omar Coleman on “Trying To Do Right” at the end is worth the price of the disc alone. This sensational album shows that while this music may be American by birth, the rest of the world is getting ahold of it as well. This is one album worth hearing!

Total Time: 53:22

Matchbox / Ride With Me Baby / She’s Got It / Baby Won’t You Jump With Me / What Have I Done / Shake & Fingerpop / Talk To Me Baby / If You Ever Need Me / You Got What It Takes / Big Mama Blues / You Better Believe It / Rooster Blues / Trying To Do Right

Sugar Moon
Self Produced

James Clem CD coverJames Clem, highly regarded for his guitar work and love for traditional, Piedmont and Delta style acoustic blues takes on another of his passions in his latest recording, playing the ukulele. Over the years he has performed both locally and internationally at ukulele festivals and showcases, so it should be no surprise that he has put together a collection of old time favorites, including standards, westerns, and blues, mostly from the 1920s and 30s, and these numbers really swing. They’re fresh and delightful, and you may recognize a number of the tracks instantly, but there are also new takes on other numbers where the ukulele would be the last instrument that you’d guess could take them on.

The album, Sugar Moon, was recorded live in the studio direct to analog tape at Nettleingham Audio in Vancouver, WA with all the musicians playing alongside one another. Ron Rogers engineered and mixed the album and also provided his own guitar work, back-up vocals on a few numbers, and even shared a little kazoo with Clem on the Jesse Fuller classic “San Francisco Bay Blues.” Kevin Nettleingham completed the mastering.

The musicians involved with the project are all sensational. The core band included Ken West offering rhythm guitar and mandolin, while Craig Snazelle worked out the stand-up bass. Guests artists found Don Campbell on bass for “Truckin’ My Blues Away,” Darka Dusty playing accordion on “Fat Cat,” and both Johnnie Ward and Reggie Houston on saxophone. Perhaps my favorite selection on the album is “Swing, Brother, Swing” where Mary Flower joins Clem on alternating vocals and who also showcases her delightful guitar work alongside his ukulele.

Other fun pieces are nice readings of “Chinatown, My Chinatown,” “Caught Us Doin’ It,” “That’s My Weakness Now,” Bob Wills & Cindy Walker’s “Sugar Moon,” and Merle Travis’ “Fat Gal.” But as a whole, this is a splendid recording to hear and will surely find you smiling and singing along. Don’t be fooled that the ukulele is a lesser instrument, like anything else in the right hands it can sound like a million bucks. And in James Clem’s hands that is exactly how it comes across. Fun, fun, fun, Sugar Moon is a welcome refreshing breath of air.

Total Time: 42:09

My Window Faces The South / Swing, Brother, Swing / I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter / Fat Gal / Low Down Dog / On The Sunny Side Of The Street / Sugar Moon / Chinatown, My Chinatown / Cow Cow Boogie / San Francisco Bay Blues / Exactly Like You / Caught Us Doin’ It / I’m An Old Cowhand / That’s My Weakness Now / Truckin’ My Blues Away