Kyle Jester - photo by Wes DavisBay Area guitarist and vocalist Kyle Jester will be bringing his interpretations of West Coast blues to Portland for three nights in June. This is high-paced music that blends traditional blues with early rock & roll — all served with a helping of swing. He recently released a terrific album, After All This, recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose. This album was produced by The Paladins’ Thomas Yearsley and Jester was backed by some of California’s tightest blues musicians. Apart from his own outstanding solo projects, Jester spent a number of years with the Freddie Brooks Band and as bandleader for the Candye Kane Band and has worked with Earl Thomas.

On Thursday, June 18, Kyle Jester will be backed by the Ben Rice Trio for a 9:00 pm performance at Duff’s Garage, 2530 NE 82nd (please contact venue regarding cover charge 503-234-2337). On Friday, June 19 he will be performing at The Starday Tavern, 6517 SE Foster Rd., with support from Dallas Breed on bass and Dave Melyan on drums. Showtime is 9:00 pm. Then on Saturday, June 20, Kyle Jester will once again be joining the Ben Rice Trio at The Lodge, 6605 SE Powell Blvd. for an 8:00 pm show.

Three great opportunities to catch this superb West Coast guitarist and vocalist. Don’t miss out.

For anyone looking for a special outing for dad on Father’s Day, consider attending the monthly Cherie’s Blues Highway event at The Lehrer as she presents an afternoon of good old fashioned traditional blues with Michael Osborn & The Drivers.

Michael Osborn spent thirteen years as the bandleader and guitarist for John Lee Hooker as well as working with the Charles Ford Band and Sista Monica before relocating to Portland. He has released a handful of recordings, including his latest Driven By A Sound with his band The Drivers. Robben Ford described Osborn as “one of the most authentic blues guitarists around today. His style goes straight to the heart of the blues . . ..”

The Drivers is made up with a trio of exceptional musicians who have each made their mark in the West Coast blues scene. Drummer John Moore has worked with such greats as William Clarke, Albert Collins, Bill Rhoades and George Harrison. Bassist and vocalist K.G. Jackson is a Muddy Award winning band leader in his own right and has been nominated as best vocalist in the awards, too. Dave Mathis has been a mainstay on the Portland blues scene for more than thirty years, working with people such as Sheila Wilcoxson, Kelly Joe Phelps and Steve Cameron. Also a Muddy Award winner and a Hall of Fame member, he is an adept vocalist and much sought after harmonica player, and if this was not a strong enough band to celebrate Father’s Day, throw in special guests Bill Rhoades and Peter Dammann.

Bill Rhoades is affectionately named the “Godfather of Oregon Blues,” and for good reason. He has been at the forefront of the blues scene in the Pacific Northwest for more than four decades providing the region with the best of traditional blues harmonica, while also helping form both the defunct Oregon Blues Society and the Cascade Blues Association and helming his own radio shows for a number of years. Rhoades is true blues historian who has performed with many of the greatest blues musicians of all time.

Peter Dammann may be best known as the talented man behind the Waterfront Blues Festival, but he is also one of the premier guitar players in the Northwest. Raised in Chicago, he was influenced by the very best blues musicians and after relocating to Portland was the driving force on guitar behind the Paul deLay Band for more than twenty years and can be found playing with a number of various outfits today.

Cherie’s Blues Highway’s Father’s Day show with Michael Osborn & The drivers starts at 3:00 pm on June 21 and is an all ages event. Admission is $10.00. The Lehrer is located at 8775 SW Canyon Lane.

The Blues Cabaret (bio by Wayne Harrel)

The Blues Cabaret is a dynamic new song cycle about a wistful musician who finally walks the road not taken – years too late. It’s a heart-rending, knee-slapping ride through love lost, gained and then squandered, told through sixteen-plus songs, four soulful singers and one swinging band.

Blues Cabaret - press photoThe two-set show is the brainchild of Dave Fleschner, writer, composer, arranger, singer, and serious pianist. A Portland, Oregon native, Dave’s toured internationally with Curtis Salgado, played with B.B. King and written for plenty of others. “But this,” he says, “this is what I’ve been wanting to do since I was sixteen years old: tell a story from my own heart with my very own tunes.”

Dave’s the genius behind The Blues Cabaret, which is why he smartly enlisted San Diego’s top blues belter, Earl Thomas. Earl has songwriting and singing credits you just have to scroll through – Etta James, Montreux Jazz Fest, Grammy nominated, etc., but his voice on a Fleschner tune is a revelation. “When I first heard Dave’s songs,” says Thomas, “they were so good I thought maybe I’d written them myself!”

Stepping into the mix are two soloists from the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. Dapper, willowy crooner Jimmy Wilcox brings the sugar with a swing and a smile reminiscent of Frank Sinatra still in Jersey. And Nashville session man Billy Mixer spreads the salt, deliciously so, through a savory mix of altar boy cherub channeling his inner Patti LaBelle. Flanking Earl center stage, they make an inverse Oreo with bite.

Or a hot “Chicken Pot Pie,” one of the many tunes they groove to in four-part harmony. There’s a rent party feel to this funky gig  as they reminisce about “That Night on the Rooftop,” savor “The Thrill of the Chase,” or ask the eternal question, “Was This Love Written in the Stars? (Or was it just tagged on a wall?)”

“Love is a Merry-Go-Round,” writes Fleschner in this soulful new show. That’s a good thing, because The Blues Cabaret deserves multiple spins.

The Blues Cabaret will be performed at The Lake Theater & Café, 106 N. State Street, Lake Oswego, on Monday, June 22 for one show only. Tickets are $15.00.

Also happening in June at The Lake Theater & Cafe:
Duffy Bishop Homecoming Show!

Duffy Bishop (photo by Greg Johnson)Duffy and Chris are certainly missed around here and the Lake Theater & Cafe will be celebrating their return to the Pacific Northwest on June 1 with a Duffy Bishop Trio performance. The pair will be teaming up with long time band member Dean Mueller on the upright bass for a reunion that is sure to be inspiring. Duffy is a favorite at the venue so advanced ticket purchase is recommended through the Lake Theater & Cafe website. Tickets are $15.00

Julie Amici to Celebrate One Year of Music Mondays at Lake Theater & Cafe on June 8

Dean and Julie - press photoLast year during the second week of June in 2014 the Lake Theater & Cafe teamed up with Dean Mueller with the goal of creating a music experience for performers and audience that was intimate, unique, and always top notch. The Theater is proud of the reputation it has gained and is celebrating its one year anniversary with a June 8 show featuring the first artist to perform at the Theater, The Julie Amici Trio. Julie possesses a strong, yet sweet voice reminiscent of the 50’s female singers who ruled the jazz and blues world of music. Her repertoire combines the jazz of Billy Holiday with the soul of Nina Simone and the sophisticated country of Pasty Cline. Julie will be backed up by Dean Amici Mueller on Bass, and Chris Carlson on guitar. Come celebrate and catch Julie Amici in this old school dinner club environment to experience a fresh take on a bygone era that is intimate, alluring, and hauntingly beautiful. Tickets are $10.00.

All shows at The Lake Theater & Café are all ages events. Doors open at 6:00 pm and showtime is 7:00 pm. Please contact The Lake Theater & Café for tickets and reservations at

Cee Cee James - photo by Margene SchotzIf you have ever caught Cee Cee James onstage, you know that she is a force of nature. With vocal power ready to explode and catch you breathless, this is a driving performer who commands her audiences every time she steps to a microphone. Her music is personal, as all great blues should be. The winner of the Blues Blast Award in 2013 for her song “I Got A Right To Sing The Blues,” co-written with her husband and guitarist Rob “Slideboy” Andrews, is just one example of the talented repertoire she possesses. Her interaction with her audiences also makes for an engaging show not to be missed.

Cee Cee James returns to Portland for a show at Duff’s Garage on Friday, June 26 starting at 9:00 pm. This is a special fundraising event for her next CD project, and also a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event. Show your current membership card and receive a $1.00 discount at the door. Duff’s Garage is located at 2530 NE 82nd. Admission price is $10.00.

Mark your calendars and make your plans to head up the Columbia River Gorge for this year’s Gorge Blues and Brews Festival Saturday, June 26 in Stevenson, WA. It all starts at noon with seven great sets of music along with sixteen craft breweries, regional wineries and food on hand to make it for a fun-filled day. Taking place on the Skamania Fairgrounds, there will be onsite camping available. Admission is only $20.00, with beer & wine tokens being sold for $1.00 each. This is a 21 & over event only.

The music starts at noon on Saturday with the Bottleneck Blues Band, followed in order by Bill Rhoades & The Party Kings/Queens with special guest DK Stewart, Lloyd Jones & The Struggle, Patrick Lamb & The Funkified Band, Jimmy Lloyd Rea & The Switchmasters featuring Robbie Laws on guitar, Rae Gordon & Big Monti, and JR Sims.

Also, there will be a special jam night taking place on Friday, June 25 from 6:00 – 10:00 pm. Admission for Friday is free.

For tickets and further information, visit or call 1-800-820-9884.

Andy Stokes - photo by Greg JohnsonLegendary NW soul singer Andy Stokes’ amazing renditions of the Marvin Gaye classics “What’s Going On” and “Let’s Get It On” invariably bring down the house. So imagine a full concert of Andy singing nothing but Marvin Gaye’s material. On Saturday, June 27, you’ll have two opportunities to catch Andy Stokes do just that, as he’ll be performing two complete shows at Jimmy Mak’s, 221 NW 10th Ave. at 7:30 pm and again at 10:00 pm.

For this very special show, Andy and an All-Star backing group will play an entire set of Marvin Gaye songs! From early hits like “How Sweet It Is” to later ones like “Sexual Healing” to soulful duets like “You’re All I Need To Get By,” Andy will sing all your Marvin Gaye favorites like no one else can!

Andy Stokes has been wowing audiences since his days as lead singer with the nationally renowned Portland soul band Cool’R. For this show, he’ll be joined by organist/musical director Louis “King Louie” Pain, guitarist Dave Iula, bassist Errick Lewis, drummer Brian Foxworth, saxophonist Andy Warr, and vocalist Lisa Mann.

Admission is $15.00 guaranteed reserved seating and $12.00 general admission. Tickets can be purchased in advance through

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

Amy Black – The Muscle Shoals Sessions  (Reuben Records)
Anthony Gomes – Electric Field Holler (Up 2 Zero Entertainment)
Deb Ryder – Let It Rain  (Bejeb Music)
Delta Moon – Low Down  (Jumping Jack Records)
Henry Townsend – Original St. Louis Blues Live (Wolf Records)
Ian Siegal – The Picnic Sessions (Nugene Records)
Still Water Vibes – Still Water Vibes (Self Produced)
Sugaray Rayford – Southside (NimoySue Records)
The Mike Henderson Band – If You Think It’s Hot Here……   (Eller Soul Records)

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

May certainly turned out to be a bittersweet month. I made my annual visit to Memphis to work at the Blues Music Awards and to see friends who I only have the chance to see maybe twice a year. This was my fifth year working as part of the stage management team for what is perhaps the biggest single night in the blues world. Getting to see and work with musician friends like John Nemeth, Doug MacLeod, Jarekus Singleton, Sugaray Rayford, EG Kight, Mark Hummel and Eden Brent, as well as legendary performers like Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond, Elvin Bishopand Keb’ Mo’ made for an awesome time. Then throw in Kevin Selfe, Lisa Mann and Jimi Bott into the mix and it was perfect.

Well, actually the perfect part came about as I got to be right there side stage as both Jimi Bott and Lisa Mann were honored as recipients of the Blues Music Awards in their respective categories. It was a time that made Portland and the whole Pacific Northwest shine with pride. And so many friends were there from the Northwest to share it, including Lisa’s husband Allen Markel, Jimi’s wife Laura, CBA Vice President Wendy Schumer, Cherie Robbins, Karen Lovely, Ben Rice, Lucy Hammond, Washington Blues Society PresidentTony Frederickson, Stacy Jones, Tim & Michelle Burge, Teri Wilson and others.

But May also brought some pain. First, on the Monday before the Blues Music Awards took place, Randy Chortkoff passed away. I knew Randy in passing. We would exchange hellos, but never really knew each other too well. But his label Delta Groove has been a West Coast leader and has recorded a number of musicians associated with Portland including Jimi Bott, Kevin Selfe, Mitch Kashmar and Franck Goldwasser.

The one thing that Randy once did that I will never forget took place when he was receiving the Keeping The Blues Alive Award for the label. He stood before the crowd at the Doubletree Hotel that morning and gave his acceptance speech, I believe I was standing next to Watermelon Slim as he spoke. He stated that there were some really good blues societies that have helped push Delta Groove over the years, and the Cascade Blues Association was one that had stood out as exceptional. I about fell over. Totally unexpected and very much grateful for his acknowledgement. I’ll never forget that day. Nor will I forget Randy for what he has done for the West Coast blues scene.

Even harder to take was the passing of BB King the day before BluesNotes deadline. How do you talk about an icon? Somebody whose very name means the blues to so many people world-wide. It is devastating to us all. Even though it had been announced less than two weeks before that he had been placed in home hospice. You never want to think the worst, but it will happen to us all someday. At least BB King left this world in a better state because he was a part of it.

I saw BB King more than twenty times over the years since the late 70s. I could not answer just how many times, but it is up there. I do regret that I never had the personal pleasure of meeting him. I was set up to do so several times, but for reasons out of my control it never happened. The last being a few years back when Tony Coleman was attempting to have me interview BB on his bus and photograph him. But that too fell through. It just wasn’t meant to be in this lifetime, much like the times I was to be set up to meet with John Lee Hooker. But I have no regrets. I have met my share of renowned artists over the years and will have the chance to meet these others and more in the ever after when we leave here ourselves. In the meantime, I will cherish the shows I saw, the albums I own, and the films I have seen. We were all blessed by having BB King’s presence among us, whether we met face to face or not.

The Renegade Blues series at The Lehrer continues every Thursday evening in June, offering acts that present modern variations and interpretations of the traditional blues genre.

All music must evolve to survive the ever-changing tastes of audiences and to attract younger listeners, and the blues is no exception. Over the last hundred years or so, the blues has changed multiple times, from the solo performer playing in the turpentine camps, juke joints, and brothels in the deep South, to electrifying the sound and migrating to Chicago or the West Coast, even to the rock musicians carrying into the clubs of Europe. And it will continue to evolve in the future.

During June, The Lehrer presents an exciting medley of blues renditions that is sure to find favorites for everyone.

On Thursday, June 4 Blues Music Award winning bassist Lisa Mann brings Her Really Lisa Mann - press photoGood Band to perfectly kick off this month’s shows. With a background that has taken her through a variety of musical genres, Lisa has found a home with the blues and has become one of the region’s most beloved acts. A Muddy Award Hall of Fame member and the winner of the Blues Blast Sean Costello Rising Star Award, Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band are guaranteed to bring in a crowd. Get there early for this one.

The following Thursday, June 11 offers Land Between The Lakes. Though this band does not perform as often as they used to, with members involved in other projects, they are the epitome of exactly what Renegade Blues is all about.  Led by the Reverend Barry Winfield on guitars, this band originally from Kentucky also includes Salim Sundiata Sanchez on percussion and Shawn Davis on bass. Their music is described as Afro-Punk, Southern Gothic, Folkadelic Soul, or… Transcendental Junk yard Blues Music from Beatnik Kentucky Voodoo Renegades. It often comes down to call and response vocals with stomping and yelling. As a whole, the group gives a refreshing sound to the music of the Deep South. And when you see them live, you take away an experience like you’ve never had or will ever forget.

Thursday, June 18 will offer the Pat Stillwell Band who delivers a soulful funky brand of blues, brought to life by the band’s unique musical chemistry. The chemistry set consists of Pat on guitar and vocals, Travers Kiley on keys and vocals, Scott Van Dusen on drums, and Dave Smith manning the bass.  Together they bring to the stage a high level of musicianship, energy, and infectious interplay.   The repertoire is an ever changing mix of classic & contemporary blues, originals, and an assortment of offerings from such diverse artists as Dave Matthews, The Band, Little Feat, Pink Floyd, Herbie Hancock, and Les McCann.

Things promise to get quite soulful on Thursday, June 25 as The Soul Commanders return to The Lehrer. This band puts the funk into the mix and does it with the best of them. A line-up of well established Pacific Northwest musicians including John Mazzocco on bass, Ramsey Embick on keys, Tony Carr on guitar, Johnnie Lenn Russell on drums, Scott Wardinsky on percussion and Michal Angela Wilson handling vocal duties. In the today’s world of popular music with all of its computerized tricks and digitally enhanced performances Soul Commanders genuine, organic sound is like a breath of fresh air.

All Thursday evening shows start at 8:00 pm and admission is $5.00.

On Sunday, June 28, the monthly Sunday Renegade Show takes place with an all ages workshop, performance and jam. This month’s host will be Gabriel Cox, the sensational soulful blues artist from Salem with his always tight band. A true songwriter at heart, this multi-talented artist is far from the traditional blues you may be used to. His music blends elements of blues, rock, pop, funk, and soul, into a quality sound that you will love! Nominated for a 2014 Muddy Award from the Cascade Blues Association for Best New Act, Gabriel Cox has been described as a mix between John Mayer and Jack White. This special Renegade Blues afternoon starts at 4:00 pm and admission is $10.00.

The Lehrer is located at 8775 SW Canyon Lane and offers a large dance floor and a full menu. Come out and experience blues in today’s world and the future.

Cigars, Billiards & Lunches
Self Produced

Okay — I’ll just get this over with right from the start. I Love This CD! Finally, a 99% original blues recording that doesn’t rely upon blues rock, high volume, and phrases repeating over and over! This album refreshing and real, thought out, group of selections recorded within a blues framework that totally works. I’m talking about the The Sportin’ Lifers new CD. The promo copy I received is called Jumpin’ Rhythm & Blues!

This is Whit Drapers baby and he deserves a ton of credit for such an outstanding piece of work. Out of 14 tunes his name is on the credits for 13 of them! His guitar work is flawless and his lyrics are hip, make sense, and fit each tune or groove — Texas, West Coast, Mickey Baker, Lonnie Mack, Gatemouth guitar throughout!

Vocalist Erin Wallace is also on the credits with Whit for 3 tunes and is an outstanding writer herself. Her  ability to interpret Whit’s lyrics is the sign of a gifted singer. I first heard Erin about 6 or 7 years ago at a Journey To Memphis competition at Trails End in Oregon City and she blew me away! She even takes on a Little Esther tune “(I’ve Got A) Longing In My Heart” which is no easy chore. There’s fabulous singing on every tune!

Let’s not forget the rest of the fine band. Steve “Thousand Dollar” Cleveland (should be more than $1,000.) on keyboards does a solid, tasty, creative job on every tune. Loved his piano work and check out the organ intro and solo on “You Sure Look Good In The Dark.”

Veteran Sax Man Brad Ulrich also contributes really cool horn lines and solos. Brad really has an understanding of many styles on his horn (Jazz, Blues, Oldies, Honkers, New Orleans) and his playing really contributes to this CD’s sound. He’s a pleasure to hear!

Another couple vets in this band are bassist Don Campbell and drummer Fred Ingram. Both have been playing here in the Northwest for decades and it shows. Don plays string bass on the whole recording and (with Fred) even leads off intros on 3 tunes. They both get a little solo action on “Flaneur’s Blues” and are responsible for solid playing on every song!

This band sounds like it has a ball every time it gets together — what a great mixture of talent, and they don’t play loudly! You can hear what the musicians are doing and how they fit in.

I would like to tell you about every tune on the recording (I liked all of them) but I’m just going to throw out some of the key phrases from my notes when I listened to it. Lyrics! New Orleans sounds. Hip changes. Great Vocals! West Coast guitar. Ballads! R&B! Jump Blues! Jazzy! Moody. Well thought out! Sweet vocals! Cool Horns! Piano! Organ! Old Rock sound! Sax Solo! Tasty! Sassy! Heartfelt Vocals! Funky! Guitar Damn! Clarinet! Stroll! Blues!

I think you get the picture! Sportin’ Lifers! Check them out Live and get this recording! WOW!

Total Time: 51:29

Bad Idea / (I’ve Got A) Longing In My Heart / Count On Me Baby / Born At Night / Up To You  / If You Wanna / Take A Number / I’m Just Lookin’ / I’m Never Blue / Seasick / Don’t Tell The Neighbors / My Baby Broke My Heart / You Look Good In The Dark / Flaneur’s Blues

By Bill Rhoades