Jimmy Lloyd Rea - photo by Greg Johnson (2014)When it came to straight-ahead, pure blues, Jimmy Lloyd Rea would never think of playing anything else. And when he did play the blues, you just knew that it was going to have that strong boogie feel behind it. Bassist Jimmy Lloyd Rea was one of the most popular blues artists in the Pacific Northwest, but the devastation of diabetes cut a lot of his touring over the past few years following the amputation of a leg. But that did not stop him from continuing to lay down his sound and it even took him across the Pacific to play with friends in Australia at one point.

Raised in Eastern Oregon in Baker City, Jimmy Lloyd Rea made his mark in the blues world as a musician, songwriter and band leader of the fan favorite group Jimmy Lloyd Rea & The Switchmasters. The band featured a number of the Northwest’s premier players, including the likes of Bill Rhoades, Doug Rowell, Randy Lilya, Vince Hozier, Mike Moothart and Rev. Danny G. A member of the Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Awards Hall of Fame, Rea also was a core member of the all-star blues group The Strat Daddies alongside stellar guitarists like Rowell, Jim Mesi, Robbie Laws, Terry Robb and Kenny “Blue” Ray. But his credentials ran even deeper, as a teenager in high school he played with Paul Revere & The Raiders and prior to forming his own stellar outfit, Rea was bassist and vocalist with the popular Pete Karnes Blooz

But Jimmy Lloyd Rea did not just work with Northwest artists. He had shared the stage along with world renowned acts like BB King, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Freddie King,  Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Big Walter Horton, Willie Dixon, Otis Rush, among many others. John Lee Hooker in fact referred to Rea as “The New Boogie Man.” And that was exactly what Jimmy Lloyd Rea was — A boogie man. His final recording was aptly titled, American Boogie Man. Jimmy Lloyd Rea was the authentic bluesman laying down the boogie in all of its shapes and forms. The real deal. He played nothing else and would never dream of straying from what he considered “real blues.”

Jimmy Lloyd Rea passed away on June 30 in a hospital in Nampa, Idaho. He was 63 years old. The Northwest lost one of their favorite sons that day. May he rest in peace and carry on that boogie beat in the hereafter.

Road’s Gettin’ Muddy
Self Produced

James Clem  CD coverLast April, James Clem released a sensational recording of ukulele songs, Sugar Moon, that was outright fun and definitely a keeper for any lover of old time standards and blues from the first part of the previous century. Well, at the same time he was laying down those ukulele numbers, he was also pulling out his guitar every now and then. During those same sessions at Nettleingham Audio, Clem used the same core trio of himself, Ken West on mandolin and Craig Snazelle on bass, along with a multitude of good friends Mary Flower, Don Campbell, Ron Rogers, Fred Ingram, Jeff Masters, Darka Dusty, and Robert Burgeni, to provided us with yet another exceptional release with Roads Gettin Muddy.

Once again recording live in the studio on analog tape, Clem covers a number of old-time blues from greats like KC Douglas, Sonny Boy Williamson, Rev. Robert Wilkins, Frank Stokes, and Little Walter for example, but he also takes on folk and country artists like Leadbelly and The Carter Family. While Clem gives us many familiar numbers, such as “Mercury Blues,” “Nobody’s Business,” and “TV Mama,” he also offers a little run of twanging surf guitar on his own original “Shadow Orbit.” There’s plenty to like on this disc, especially the duets with Mary Flower on the aforementioned Carter Family’s “My Dixie Darling” and the trade-off between the two on Lonnie Johnson’s “You Had Too Much.”

James Clem is not only an amazingly under-recognized guitarist and ukulele player, he is also a superb vocalist that carries these tracks on Roads Gettin Muddy brilliantly with his rich sound. Paired with Ken West’s backup vocals (and mandolin work) the numbers are memorable and keep you coming back for repeated listens. Did I say repeated? In my own opinion, both Sugar Moon and Roads Gettin Muddy are two of the finest releases by any artist in the Northwest this year. Northwest? I would put them up against anyone anywhere. They’re that good.

Total Time: 49:04

That’s No Way To Get Along / My Little Machine / My Dixie Darling / TV Mama / Mercury Blues / How Long / Jack Of Diamonds / Milwaukee Blues / You Had Too Much / Shadow Orbit / It Ain’t Right / Hello Stranger / Bye Bye Baby Blues / On A Monday / Nobody’s Business

James Clem

Hi friends,

It was great playing the Waterfront Blues Festival last month, and my new blues CD Road’s Gettin’ Muddy was released the morning of the festival. I am getting some really good feedback about that CD. If you are expecting just solo acoustic guitar on this, think again, as this was planned with an ensemble sound from the get go. Recorded live in the studio to analog tape by recording whiz Ron Rogers. We had a smokin’ hot rhythm section with some very special guests such as Mary Flower, Darka Dusty and my old buddy Jeff Masters who came up from LA to play some killer harmonica. We even did an electric slide surf instrumental I wrote called “Shadow Orbit”. From 1920’s country and Delta blues to some Carter Family vintage country, and lots more, this was a project we put a lot of time into to get a variety of bluesy material on tape. You can pick up a copy at Music Millennium or downloads and mail order CD’s at CD Baby. Should be on iTunes very soon.

My recent swing/blues ukulele CD, Sugar Moon, is now being played on Pandora so give a listen. This CD is also available at the above locations, iTunes, and at my gigs. If you think what could be more boring than a ukulele CD, you might want to rethink that as we got a lot of experienced players doing some cool western swing tunes, blues, and vintage jazz. People just really like this recording. They burn copies for their friends they like it so much. Burn copies? How about buying one pal?!  Nobody wants to pay for music anymore.

Teaching guitar and uke helps keep me off the streets so contact me through my website if you are interested. Also, I am always looking for new venues to play so get in touch. Keep diggin’ the blues.

James Clem

Bolt Upright

I want to give a public thank you to Peter Dammann for hiring my band, Beats Workin’, to play this year’s Waterfront Blues Fest. Thanks to Steve Ehrmann, Aki Kumar, and Kid Andersen for driving up from the Bay Area to play this year’s festival and for joining me on my CD and on the Crossroads stage. Thanks to Scott Van Dusen for covering the drums while I jumped around and sang out front. Also, a big shout out to John Blues Boyd who sang a great BB King tune with us. Ryan McKenzie captured our performance on his camera.

Beat’s Workin’ will be playing gigs around Portland this year, so please look for us. The CD is available through CD Baby, Music Millennium, and at Bolt Upright gigs. Bolt Upright just celebrated four years of running the Nite Owl Jam, 9PM-1AM, at Montavilla Station. We will celebrate one year of running the Early Bird Jam at AREA 52 in August. Thanks to all the jammers and friends and fans that show up every week. Beat’s Workin’!


CBA sponsor Columbia Crossings Marina, located at 515 NE Tomahawk Island Drive, Portland, is once again the beautiful setting for this year’s CBA Summer Picnic, Sunday, August 2 from noon-6:00 pm. The event shows appreciation for the loyal CBA members who support live music venues and musicians throughout the year by paying admission and buying CD’s, and who support the CBA through dues, volunteering, and buying raffle tickets.  With the gorgeous  Columbia River as a backdrop, this members only, private event remains close to its traditional, “old fashioned get together” roots with everything from a stage overflowing with talented performers, to burgers grilled by loyal volunteers, to a giant food tent full of potluck dishes and good company, delicious dogs and sausages generously donated again this year by Dan Harrington of Dano’s Dogs, ice cold sodas, and a beer garden.  Children accompanied by a parent or guardian will enjoy playing in the FunZone, with free activities such as face painting, balloon artists, etc.

There’s a stellar lineup of entertainers who are donating sets for this year’s show, and we are extremely grateful for their generosity.

At noon, the opening act will be the JT Wise Band.  JT Wise’s musical influences read like a Clapton Crossroads Festival, including the full guitar spectrum from Clapton, to Billy Gibbons, to Vince Gill, Robben Ford, with a touch of Garcia and Betts thrown in as well.   

The second act, at 1:05pm, is the hard rocking Portland blues group the Robin Gibson Band.

At 2:10pm, well known NW artist Franco Paletta, a former International Blues Challenge competitor in Memphis, brings his harmonica into the mix and may have some surprise guests up his sleeve.

2015 Blues Music Award winning “Instrumentalist-Bass” Lisa Mann takes the stage and raises the roof at 3:30pm. She has earned multiple CBA Muddy Awards and is one of PDX’s most exciting and respected performers.

Topping off an incredible day of music, the Jim Mesi Band turns up the heat with an opener of Jim’s music, followed by special guests Big Monti Amundson and Ty Curtis joining them for a guitar extravaganza grand finale.  You never know who could end up on stage with these guys.

The CBA is furnishing burgers, dogs & sausages, soda, water, and adult beverage tokens as well as the plates, napkins, and utensils.  There will be plenty of chips on hand, so please bring a casserole, side dish, salad, fruit, dip, or dessert to share.

President Greg Johnson will MC the event and Treasurer Merry Larsen will chair the raffle sales and drawing.  The merchandise tent will have raffle tickets for sale for both the Celebrity Signed Guitar ($1 each) and for the McKenzie River Raft Trip Raffle, sponsored by River Trail Outfitters and Mac’s Restaurant & Nightclub, both from Eugene ($5 each or two for $20).  The drawing for both raffles will be held at the end of the day at the picnic, and you needn’t be present to win.

If you would like to donate an item to the silent auction, or volunteer to work at the event, please contact us at volunteer@cascadebluesassociation.org .  We are in need of a sponsor for the kid’s FunZone—if you know of a high school or college organization that needs community service hours, this would be a fun way for them to earn them, contact us at volunteer@cascadebluesassociation.org

As the June issue of BluesNotes was about to go to press, the great blues legend BB King passed away. Rather than trying to come up with a quick tribute to perhaps the greatest bluesman of all time, the Cascade Blues Association decided a more fitting memorial to such a widely beloved musician was to allow our own regional artists a chance to offer their memories of “The King of the Blues” and what he meant to them personally, either through having the experience of playing alongside or opening shows for him, or just talking about his influence.

Monti Amundson: My parents took me to see BB King on my 13th birthday at a nightclub in Montecito, California. I was the only kid in the room. Noticing this, BB talked directly to me from the stage twice. “Young man, you’re a guitar player ain’t you?” Yes, I said feeling my face flush red. “Well I got a song for you, you might have heard before, It goes something like this.” The band launched into “The Thrill Is Gone.” It is impossible to overstate how important he was to me over the course of time, but especially on that day, when it was made clear what I would do with the rest of my life. The man was a class act. Rest in peace Mr. King.

Gene Houck: When I was 16 I saw his show in San Francisco. Although I have never been an autograph hound even back then, I felt I had to ask for his autograph so I approached him after the show and asked him. He graciously said yes. I didn’t have anything to write on so I pulled out one of my band cards. He said, “You have a band?” I said yes. He started asking me about all about the band and what I played. Then he said, “I tell you what…I will only give you my autograph if you give me yours!” He left with my autograph and I left with his, feeling like a million bucks.

I was always moved by his music and talent but that evening I was moved by his encouragement and graciousness.

Randy Oxford: I never opened for BB but I was able to meet him after a show near Seattle not long ago. He was most gracious as I had heard he always was, and he took the time to ask about my music career and my band. He was thrilled to hear that I was a Trombone player leading my own band in the blues world. He, of course, had only admiration and encouraging words to say. I’ll never forget his smile and the good feeling he left me with. After all, he was THE KING!

Michael G. Kelly: I opened for BB King a couple years ago while playing in the Jimmi Lund Band . The gig was in the gorge at the amphitheater. It was a beautiful day but very, very windy. We got to meet the band before our sound check. They were all very cordial asking us a lot of questions about the band and what kind of music we did. This was really great, but we all wanted to meet BB, but they told us he wasn’t feeling well and needed to rest . We all agreed that this was cool because we wanted him to be able to put on a great show. Well, the rest is history and we did a great show considering that our Bari player’s sax was damaged by the wind — that’s another story in itself. But BB King put on a hell of a show and we all had great seats to watch.

Chris Alexander: One of several times I was involved with bringing BB to Alaska it fell on my daughter Lydia’s 20th birthday. BB, by his contract rider, did not allow females under 21 in his Green Room. As one of the promoters I was backstage with daughter in tow. I asked if she could come in the Green Room where he immediately acknowledged her as the “birthday girl”. He sang “Happy Birthday” to her as she sat close, then he asked “How old are you?” She said “20” and he almost dropped her. I reminded her that (wink) it was her 21st birthday but everyone in the room realized otherwise. He was gracious, as always and wished her many happy returns. Not many people have had BB King sing “Happy Birthday” to them — a memory we will both always enjoy.

David Kahl: As a fan, I saw BB many times over the course of about 45 years and, to be honest, it’s like asking me which type of candy do I like more, nuts or chews?!? There was — is — only one BB King and there are no substitutes.

Norman Sylvester: BB King was the first electric Bluesman I was permitted to listen to when I was a child in Bonita Louisiana. My cousin Jetty Mae had a Café in Bonita with a Seeburg jukebox filed with 45 rpm records: BB’s “Sweet Little Angel,” “Sweet Sixteen” and How Blue Can You Get” were my Uncle’s favorite songs to listen while we dined on the best grilled Hamburger in the south. BB was a true dedicated Pioneer of the Blues, he will be missed, but his Legacy will live forever.  BB King (Ambassador of the blues) RIP in God’s embrace.

Fast Jimmy Hale: As a young guitarist into Jimi Hendrix in particular and hard rock in general, I came across a Mel Bay book that had 12 blues songs in it, each in a different blues style. I fell in love with the book, hard, which ended up sending me to Music Millennium to get my first blues record. The person I asked at the counter recommended BB King, “Live In Cook County Jail.” I got home, put the record on the player, put on the headphones, cranked it up, laid down on the couch, and basically stayed there for at least three hours. There were so many things on that record that hit me like a ton of bricks: this is it, this is where it all comes from, this is what all the players and commentators I’ve read were talking about when they said it all started with the blues. Obviously I wasn’t actually at the head waters at that point, but that was my first experience with the power of the blues, particularly live blues. The thing that hit me most was the vamp on the last half of “The Thrill Is Gone,” where the tempo and the dynamics go up and down, and the riffs go from quiet pleading to sledge hammer fist pounding. Those single notes where the vibrato is so massive it sounds like he’s playing a double stop; I just kept putting the needle back, wanting to feel the strength of that emotion over and over.

Listening to that record changed the course of my life that night. It radically altered my outlook on music, and set me on a path that led to the Cascade Blues Association and the folks in the local blues scene. It was a “now for something completely different” moment. I just don’t know how to describe that.

Larry Pindar: Mike Cross, myself and a bunch of other guys had a band in the early 70’s called Eclipse. We were an all-original 8 piece Jazz-Rock-Blues outfit that never got a deal but gained enough notoriety to be a major opening act for national headliners like Steve Miller, Alice Cooper, Albert Collins, Ravi Shankar, etc. You get the picture.

Mike Cross and I were fanatics about the “3 Kings” (BB/Albert/Freddie) and we were thrilled when we were offered to open for BB at Springer’s Ballroom near Gresham. Well, we played the show and after we finished and the sound techs were changing out the stage I was packing up my bass and I heard a voice behind me say” You’re a good bass player young man” I said thanks as I was turning around and low and behold it was God himself: BB King! And then he said, ”That we had a very good and interesting band that was different than most he saw” I was so stunned I couldn’t hardly respond and mumbled something like: “Uh…gee, thanks…that means so much coming from you” and then he was gone backstage to get ready and of course the tore the house down like he always did. I mean I was just a skinny punk white boy that didn’t know shit and that exchange entirely blew my mind….Still does.

Many years later I was involved in music retail and was part of a team that sponsored an afternoon Gibson guitar clinic with BB at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion and was able to spend the whole day with him in pretty close proximity. I was able then to recount the previous incident and tell him just how much he had been a part of my life and inspiration as well as most of my fellow musicians. Then we talked about flying as he was a pilot and so am I. He loved flying as much as music but as a diabetic he had to have a check pilot fly with him. I told him I would, but we never got around to it. That guy was a major Road Dog so he was always moving around.

Of all the big-time musicians I have met in 50 years in the business I have never met anyone cooler, warmer, more humble and inspiring as BB King to this day. He is irreplaceable as America’s Ambassador Of Blues Music to the rest of the world. There are few that can still do what they love long into their 80’s and at the same time spread so much goodwill to the entire world in the process. I can’t imagine that he ever had an enemy on this planet. He lived a QUALITY life to its fullest and I will miss him always….

Tom Bacon: When I was 15 and just discovering the blues an older guitar player turned me on to BB King. In a few months after this revelation I saw where BB King was playing at this psychdelic club in San Diego – where I lived. I went pursuing tickets just to find out that this club was a bar and minors were not allowed!!! And the guy who informed of this told me even if I was of age I shouldn’t go as this show because this was gonna be a club “fulla brothas and sistahs” and my skin color might be an issue. Undaunted I got tickets and me and my friend Robert (a couple of middle-class, nerdy white kids if there ever was) found some urban clothes and hats and snuck out without our parents knowledge. Upon arrival the fear started to set in – as we couldn’t just go in the front door — when lo and behold I spotted this guy I knew who was doing sound that night. After much begging, 20 bucks, and all our weed, he agreed to get us in. Wow … what a show! Great band and BB was on the top his game. This was 1969/70. That night added a whole new path of discovery in my musical education. His passion, cool, and soulful playing will inspire for generations to come — every blues solo you hear owes something to BB.

Rob Shoemaker: In the summer of 1991, BB King headlined an outdoor concert at Alton Baker Park in Eugene. There were two opening acts, Buddy Guy and the Norman Sylvester Band. We got there very early for a soundcheck, and had a lot of time on our hands before the show.

While we were lounging around, Dave Clingan, owner of Rockport Records, a big supporter of local music and a true blues lover, was chatting with Norman. As the two were standing outside the hospitality tent, a shiny new 12 passenger Ford van with Illinois license plates drove by and parked by the stage. As the van emptied, Norman’s usually impeccable southern manners temporarily deserted him, the only time I ever witnessed that happening in the 35 or so years I have known Norman. Norman had spotted Buddy Guy, and in mid-sentence ended his conversation with Dave and trotted off to shake the hand of Buddy, with whom he was slightly acquainted. Norman and Buddy stood there chatting away and soon BB King’s tour bus arrived, closely followed by a stretch limousine carrying BB himself. When BB got out of the limo, the scene repeated itself with Buddy abandoning Norman in mid-sentence so he could go greet King before he disappeared in the star’s private tent.

The gig turned out to be one of the most fun shows we ever did. We were allowed to watch the Buddy Guy and BB King sets from the wings of the stage, so were close enough to hear what was being said by the band members off-mike and see the littlest details of how the masters of blues music went about their job.

James Grant: BB King was one of my first earliest influences on guitar. My father was the first violinist in the Montreal Symphony and had big plans for me being a violinist. It was BB King that made me flip that violin like a guitar and never turned back ever. His voice was awesome but being a guitar player it was those big singing notes he wrenched out of Lucille that drew me to him. He was the first to ever bend and do vibrato on guitar — he will be missed.

Tommy Hogan: BB King was such an inspiration and a mentor to me in my life. I was totally drawn to his music and guitar playing style as a young child and still today. I would sit in my room for hours listening and learning from BB King’s CDs, the elements to his beautiful music.

I went to many of his shows as a young kid and one particular show I went to, I was standing first in line and in the rain, waiting to get into the show. I saw his tour bus pull up and I went around the back of the theater in hopes to maybe get a glimpse of the iconic artist or maybe even an autograph? It would turn out even better than that. I got to open the entrance gate to the back of the theater for BB’s tour bus, as the gate guy was not there to do it I climbed over the fence and opened the gate. As he and his band unloaded, I was so touched as he and his whole band on the bus thanked me personally and they were all so awesome to me. That was huge for me for many reasons and after that show I even wrote him a hand written personal letter telling him how much his music meant to me. He was so nice to me. That whole experience really moved me, it really meant something special to me, like magical special.

I was fortunate to see him many times over the years and as a blues artist now myself, I have even been fortunate enough as to have played on the same billing at some music festivals with BB King over the years of performing, as well. At one BB King show I attended, he gave me a gold necklace that he was wearing on his tour at the time; I still have it of course. I also have many of his autographed CDs and ticket stubs from shows I saw him at. I was moved by BB King in my life, as he was on this planet with me and I am moved and sad that he is now gone. His music, his love for the music, his true kindness and his epic road touring resilience is truly amazing and inspirational. RIP BB King — with unconditional admiration and gratitude, forever.

Jimi Bott: I first met BB when I was with Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. We opened for him in Arizona or New Mexico, and he was very complimentary. After the show I was very impressed when he stayed and backstage it seemed like an endless line of people were escorted to his dressing room where he signed and said hello to every last person. It was inspiring.

Years later, playing with The Fabulous Thunderbirds on the BB summer tour, I met him again in Reno Nevada.   It was very late after the show. I decided to go out to our tour bus to see what I could “rifle”. Heading back into the hotel I was sneaking through a private service parking area when BB’s limo pulled up. As he stepped out of the limo I approached him and two very large, very intimidating men (I assume were his body guards) blocked my way. It was a scary tense moment as I was not supposed to be there and it was obvious they intended to “remove me.” I said nervously “BB, I’m Jimi Bott the drummer in The T-Birds, I just wanted to thank you for having us on your tour.” He motioned to his guys and like Moses parting the Red Sea they silently stepped aside. What happened next was a treasured moment for me in my life. I found myself talking to the King of the blues one on one for some time; it was surreal. After a bit he said “well son I’m mighty tired and we have a long tour ahead of US. We’d better get some sleep don’t you think young man?”

“Yes sir” I said in what was probably a rather child-like voice I’m sure.

We shook hands again and off I went to my room walking on a cloud. We did 2-3 more of his summer tours over the years. He was always dignified, gracious and a gentlemen. Those were some of the best summers of my life. I’m so glad I met him. Such a loss for the world may you rest in peace BB.

Ellen Whyte: I met BB when I was 19 years old. BB King’s never ending road tour and my early years as a musician intersected at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte back in September of 1973. It was in the days just before I was scheduled to be inducted into the Army, and I was staying on campus with my friend Diane. She had tickets to see BB King. I was thrilled, as BB was one of my musical heroes, and I had never seen him perform.

When the big night came, Diane and I went to the campus auditorium. There was a lot of excitement in the audience, as the people seemed to sense that they were in for something special. Some of us were beginning to discover American roots music, and we came to understand how our love for British invasion bands had its ultimate origins in the fields of the old South.

His eight piece band came on stage, along with the master himself. I heard the blues in a new way — something touched my soul that night. The band moved from song to song with grace and style, but it was the powerful vocals and that unmistakable series of single bending notes on the legendary Lucille that confirmed every bit of my anticipation.

Well, I was truly in awe. And coupled with the fact that I was young and even a bit brash I turned to my friend Diane and said: “I want to meet him.” She laughed at my naïve idea and wished me luck and went back to her dorm room. I slipped outside the auditorium and studied the layout, and worked out a theory that he would come out near the loading dock in the back of the auditorium. I saw a limousine parked nearby and knew it must be there for BB. The place was otherwise deserted.

There was nothing to do but sit down on a pile of pallets and wait. And wait. And wait some more. And smoke a few cigarettes. It was probably only a half-hour, but it seemed like an eternity. Suddenly, I heard some laughing and talking and a whole group came out of a door and began walking toward me. It was BB and his band.

I summoned up all the courage I could and introduced myself to the man. He smiled that broad signature smile, and sat down with me to talk. We smoked a couple of cigarettes and I talked about how I wanted to make it someday in music. He was very encouraging and supportive. I told him I would love to play with him someday. He said: “Let’s make that happen, girl!” He gave me a big hug and then he was on his way.

I never did get a chance to play with him, but I have followed his career, bought his records, and brought that hopeful sense he gave me into my own career. And I learned something special that night so long ago. You need to listen and reach out to your fans. They make this work we call play possible. And to this day, I still sing a cover of “The Thrill Is Gone,” one of my favorite songs, as a tribute.   And I can still feel the awe of that 19 year old girl in every note.

Joey Scruggs: It was in the late ’80’s, within a year or two of the formation of the Cascade Blues Association and the debut of what has grown to become the Waterfront Blues Festival. Someone at one of the CBA meetings mentioned that we should have our own newsletter, and we decided to call it BluesNotes. Then, they asked for a show of hands for members that would like to contribute, and I raised my hand — what the heck, my Creative Writing professor in college had told me I had a gift for writing.

I set my goals high, and decided it would be nice to interview BB King and review his upcoming concert at the newly remodeled Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. I called BB’s manager, an English gentleman named Charles Come, and he told me where BB King would be staying the night of the show (The Heathman Hotel). Mind you, I was living in Washougal, Washington, in a cabin along the Washougal River. I’d just gotten a job as a sales person at Homestead Stoves (selling wood stoves), and it was a little bit slack that day with no customers. So, I decided to call the Heathman Hotel, from Homestead Stove, asking for BB’s road manager’s room, and hope a customer didn’t walk in to buy a wood stove.

“Hello, this is the Heathman Hotel,” the hotel receptionist said. “How can I help you?”

“Yes, I am looking for BB King’s road manager.”

“Just one moment…BB King – Okay.”

A man picked up the phone and said “Hello?” I was pretty nervous – this was my first article, and I was hoping that BB King’s road manager could get me into the show, and then set up an interview.

“How may I help you?” the man on the other end of the phone said.

“I’d like to speak to BB King’s manager (I mistakenly said manager instead of road manager)”.

The voice on the other end of the phone says, “I’m sorry, but BB King’s manager is in New York City.”

I thought I’d blown my chance to see BB and maybe get that interview, when the voice on the other line said, “Young man, do you know who you’re speaking with? This is BB King.”

My jaw instantly dropped, I was so surprised.

“Okay, I know about you and your Blues Society, and yes, I would love to do an interview with you after the show. When you get to the theater, go to the Stage Door and I’ll have a ticket waiting for you. After the show, come backstage and we’ll talk.”

I was so excited! I had just talked to BB King – and I was hoping none of my co-workers had overheard. I didn’t want to get fired, you know?

I picked up the ticket at the Stage Door and found my seat. The show was fantastic! I went up onto the stage after the show, and joined about 75 others up there. I introduced myself to BB, and he said “Wait until I take care of these other folks, and then you and I can talk.”

To me? It seemed like it took forever. Yes, he talked and visited with every single person onstage, then he came over to me. BB was ‘down home’ and relaxed. During our conversation, I decided to just let BB talk about himself, without asking a lot of questions. He went on to tell me how he built up his own career after busking on street corners as a teenager in Memphis, and that he was pretty much a self made man.

“I produced all my own records and had control over my own career,” which surprised me.

He talked about having CONFIDENCE in yourself, and its importance. “If you don’t believe you can accomplish what you set out to do, you might as well give up — you have to believe in yourself, and that you can do it.”

We talked about his guitar Lucille, and he told me how his guitar got her name. Then, we started to talk about ‘the possibilities for change in the world,’ and how he believed that positive change could happen on a bigger scale than you could ever imagine.

“Why, 2 weeks ago I played a concert in West Berlin, right next to the Berlin Wall. We could hear the audience cheering, over on the East side of the Berlin Wall…and I thought They are going to tear that wall down.”

Our interview had ended, and I was pretty impressed: BB King was several steps above the normal person, and very conscious about helping people and entertaining his audience. I set about transposing the interview from tape, so I could submit my article – I was just glad I got to talk to the man.

The real kicker? Two weeks after we talked, they tore down the Berlin Wall, and so West Germany and East Germany would become one again. Communism in Europe waned, and then Russia even disposed of Communism. All I could think was, “Just like BB King told me: you have to believe you can accomplish your goal. Believe in yourself, and your mission, and you can achieve your goal.”

I think of those nuggets of wisdom BB gave me, every day. It really helped me become the person I am, and I’ll never forget that night. “Thanks a lot, BB!”

Hawkeye Herman: I was fortunate to have seen BB King perform a number of times over the years. The first time I saw BB was at what is now considered his ‘major cross-over’ performance, at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West, in San Francisco, in June of 1968. As the album from that performance attests, it was a great show, and it certainly marked the onset of BB’s ascent as a major draw with rock audiences.

In the late 1970s I saw BB King in tandem with Bobby “Blue” Bland, his longtime good friend from their  ‘early days’ together as young musicians on Beale Street in Memphis in the 1940s. This  show was at the Circle Star Theatre, in San Carlos, CA, a venue that featured ‘theatre-in-the-round’ seating, with a slowly revolving large stage that allowed the entire audience to see, hear, and experience the show extremely well from every seat in the house. Both of these superb blues artists, as always, gave excellent performances, highlighted by their sharing the stage for a couple of classic blues tunes together to close the show.

BB always gave his audiences a great show, but my ‘favorite,’ most memorable performance of his was not at a concert featuring his own music. On January 27, 2010, BB King was one of the ‘special guests’ invited to perform at his old friend Bobby “Blue” Bland’s 80th birthday party, for a sold out crowd of 2,000 friends and ‘home folks,’ in Tunica, MS. BB King sat at a table, down front, in the audience and obviously was enjoying the evening’s festivities and the music of Clarence Carter, Millie Jackson, Denise LaSalle, and other guest performers. About halfway through the show, BB came on stage and played and sang just one song, and then he and Bobby “Blue” Bland sat comfortably together at center stage. BB was on hand to honor and celebrate his old friend, and he did just that, to the utmost. He drew Bobby Bland into on-stage chit-chat just like they were sitting together privately backstage. The two of them cordially and cheerfully reminisced about their many years as friends and fellow musicians, sharing stories about good times and bad times, and even singing snatches of a few of their favorite songs together. It was a most memorable night with so many great blues and R&B performers on hand to honor Bobby “Blue’ Bland’s birthday, but the highlight for me was BB King’s sincere, gracious, and thoughtful kindness in helping to make his old friend’s 80th birthday party really special … for everyone.

Dave Fleschner: I had the great honor of playing with B.B. King at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. I was in the Curtis Salgado band at the time, and Curtis and Dave Duncan were nominated for best song for “Twenty Years of B.B. King,” which is a very clever song linking lyrics of B.B.’s lyrics together to create a new song.  B.B. King was supposed to come play with us on that song, and they have clocks on the stage telling you when you need to be done, so when B.B. King didn’t walk out and play the solo, Josh Fulero stepped in and killed it.  Our time ran out and we all looked around wondering what was going to happen.  Well, they stopped the clock and B.B. King came out and Curtis counted off, “Waiting on You.”  We played an impromptu version of that B.B. King tune.  It was slamming, and we all had the pleasure of being in the presence of greatness.

Jim Mesi: BB King told me these stories while we were touring.

When BB King’s children were young, they lived with his sister and her kids.  Her kids called him Uncle B.  He was on the road so long and so much that when he came home his own kids called him Uncle B.  Our running joke on the road was calling him Uncle B.

Also, BB King road show had a running contract with Holiday Inn Hotels.  The rooms all had pretty much the same floor plan.  In the middle of the night, he got up to go pee with his eyes not very wide open, closed the bathroom door behind him, opened his eyes and realized, he was standing in the hallway…naked…and the door was locked.  His Manager (B Bop) fortunately was staying in the same room and got up and let him in.

If you looked up the word Gentlemen in the dictionary there should be a picture of him.  He was the must humble and kind man you could imagine.  We played guitars together and he treated me like an equal.  He actually bowed down to me after one of my solos.  He was the first electric blues guitarist I ever saw…when I was 17 and instantly became my new guitar idol.  I studied his old records over and over so that I could play just like him.  It still didn’t sound ‘just’ like him cause he had that touch that nobody does.  Electric blues guitar players owe him a lot!

 Lloyd Jones: Back in ’89 I played several dates opening for BB King in the NW. He was kind, gracious and a joy to meet. While setting up for our first night, Burnett (B.B.’s road manager) says “Feel free to use any of our gear if you’d like.” Unheard of from a headliner! (we did)

The second night, I asked B.B. to tell me a flying story (knowing he and I both had pilots licenses and pilots love to tell flying stories). As B.B.’s band starts the opening number, Mr. King starts telling me about getting lost on his solo flight over O’Hare airport in Chicago. He radio’s the tower and they guide him in by asking him to “wiggle his wings.” Just then BB’s walkie talkie announces for him to “hit the stage”. I’ll always remember B.B. King standing on the edge of the stage facing me with his guitar on and his arms waving outstretched to be the airplane “wiggling his wings” as he is being introduced to the stage over the microphone!!

The third night, I brought my favorite BB King album “Live in Chicago” to get signed. He took one look at it and said… “You know I never liked that record.” He went on to tell me about breaking strings and having to borrow an awful guitar and all the problems that went on that night.

Then he signed… “Lloyd, great pickin’ with you. Hope we can do it again sometime!” B.B. King.

It’s still my favorite B.B. King record!

Ben Rice: This last year I was honored to open the show for B.B. King. It was the last time he’d come to Oregon at the Elsinore Theater in Salem. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done musically and an incredible honor. I had dreams about this growing up and more recently had resigned to the fact that the possibility had already passed me by. I was really surprised and taken back when it came through.

My sister gave me my first B.B. King CD when I was 12 years old titled “Paying The Cost To Be The Boss” She apologized because it wasn’t brand new. Little did she know through the years I spent a lot of time listening to the CD, learning all of the songs and licks. Each note was a piece of wisdom being uncovered and passed along. It shaped the musician I’d become and still to this day when I am playing with others I listen and try to recreate the sounds that I had heard in those first B.B. songs.

When B.B. passed it was very sad to think of what we had lost. At the same time there was such an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness for what he had shared with the world. Having a performing and recording career that spanned almost six decades and impacting almost every musician I know in any genre.

There were many pictures of the crowd of the folks on Beale Street as B.B. made his final pass to Indianola, MS, where he’d be laid to rest. Those photos made me understand that the weight B.B. and his music held in my life was the same with all the other blues fanatics and musicians. We were in these moments unified in giving the man the respect he deserved and paying homage to his legacy in which we were all part of.

This last year I was honored to open the show for B.B. King and after hearing me perform a friend of mine backstage heard him say, “he’s pretty good.” B.B. King you’ve taught me well, you’ve taught us all well. From my heart to yours thank you.

Note: Tony Coleman (BB’s longtime drummer) and Kingfish Ingram will be doing a set on the Crossroads Stage at the Waterfront Blues Festival on Friday, July 3 talking about and demonstrating BB’s influence and legacy

The Keeping the Blues Alive Award winning Winthrop R&B Festival returns for its 28th season featuring one of their best line-ups ever! Located in Winthrop, Washington, the festival will run from Friday, July 17 – 19.

Plenty of big time talent will be on hand as Elvin Bishop, who performed at the very first Winthrop R&B Festival returns, along with Grammy Award winning Los Lonely Boys, Southern soul blues master Bobby Rush, The California Honeydrops, Kenny Neal, acoustic guitar great Mary Flower, Studebaker John, Samantha Fish, Stan Street, and Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble. Northwest favorites Too Slim & The Taildraggers, Duffy Bishop, Ayron Jones & The Way, Polly O’Keary, and Lady A will also perform.

Festival Admission: $90 in advance, $100 at gate. Camping is available for $45. Friday Night show featuring Ayron Jones & the Way, The California Honeydrops, and Too Slim & the Taildraggers benefits the Cove Food Bank in Twisp, Washington, with an admission $10 or free with festival pass. For more information, tickets, and camping visit www.winthropbluesfestival.org or contact our ticketing partner www.TicketTomato.com at 800-820-9884.

The 19th Bronze Blues & Brews Festival is set for Friday, August 7, and Saturday, August 8. The event will be held at the Joseph City Park, Joseph, Oregon. For the Friday Jam Night gates open at 5:30pm with music from 6-10pm. On Saturday, the gates open at noon with music from 12:30-10pm. All ages welcome. Kids 10 and under free.

This year’s event will feature Royal Southern Brotherhood, Sultans of Slide, Roseland Hunters, Polly O’Keary & the Rhythm Method, and Ben Rice & Lucy Hammond.

Tickets are available for presale for $30 or at the gate for $35. For more information visit the website at www.bronzebluesbrews.com.

Bronze Blues & Brews has supported the local Joseph, Oregon, community in many ways over the past 19 years.  Here is just a sample of some of the things they have accomplished: Donated over $22,000 to the City of Joseph for improvements to the City Park; Secured partial grant funding for underground power to lower end of City Park; Secured partial grant funding for permanent safety fencing in City Park; Donated over $12,000 to local High School Sports & other programs; Donated over $8,000 to Local High School Arts & Music programs; Established the “Karen Jackson Memorial Award” donating over $4,000 to local charities; Established “Arts & Music Scholarships” to local students and donating over $6,000; and $4,374,000–Conservative estimate of dollars spent in Wallowa County, Oregon over 19 year span by Bronze Blues & Brews non-resident ticket buyers.


Coinciding with the 28th Annual Waterfront Blues Festival, blues & jazz portraits by Portland artist Diane Russell Diane Russell WaterfrontBlueswill be on display Thursday, July 2 through Sunday, July 5 in the Oregon Ballroom at the Marriott Downtown Waterfront during the Waterfront Blues Festival After Hours concerts.  The Marriott is located at 1401 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, Oregon.

The solo exhibit will feature Diane’s latest portrait of Blues Festival headliner Buddy Guy, plus many other musicians who have performed at the festival.  Also featured will be Diane’s painting of the Waterfront Blues Festival’s 25th anniversary.

Diane Russell is a Portland artist specializing in oil paintings and pencil drawings from her photos of blues and jazz musicians.  In addition to being commissioned for the October 2013 Legendary Blues Cruise poster, her work has been featured on the 2007 Legendary Blues Cruise poster, the 2005 WC Handy Awards poster, Northwest Gospel Project’s CD “Heavenly Brother,” and Linda Hornbuckle’s CD “Clearly”.  Diane’s portraits are also on display at Jimmy Mak’s Jazz Club in Portland.

Thank you so much for your listing of this event.


Diane Russell

Ian Siegal CD coverThe Picnic Sessions
Nugene Records

Once again Ian Siegal returns to the Mississippi Hill Country, teaming up with his pals The Mississippi Mudbloods. Back in the United States for the annual Mississppi Hill Country Picnic, they decided to take the opportunity to head into Zebra Ranch Studio in Coldwater and lay down a few tracks. But the direction taken this time out is unique and comforting. Instead of the usual studio path of recording multiple takes in sound enhancing rooms to get things just right, the guys sat in a semi-circle, camp-fire style, and laid down songs that came to them at the spur of the moment and picking up the nearest instruments at hand, which also adds to the flavor and intimacy of the album.

On the The Picnic Sessions, British blues guitar/songwriter Ian Siegal is joined by renowned modern Southern bluesmen Alvin Youngblood Hart, Cody Dickinson, Luther Dickinson and Jimbo Mathus. As seen on the last two releases that Siegal has put out with The Mississippi Mudbloods, he fits in perfectly with this bunch.

Only four songs on this album have been released previously by Siegal, “How Come You’re Still Here,” “Beulah Land,” “Gallo Del Cielo,” and “Hard Times (Come Again No More).” The cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Heavenly Houseboat Blues” is a true gem in the mix. A gentle flowing song led by Siegal’s raspy vocals backed by the hums and choruses of the full group. The remainder of the tunes are all new and showcase his varied range of musical approaches, including the humorous spoken-word story he relates for “Talkin’ Overseas Pirate Blues,” the Delta blues derived “Keen And Peachy,” “Stone Cold Soul,” or the soft country feel of “Wasted Freedom.”

Ian Siegal proves that despite being a foreigner, he certainly knows a thing or two about laying down some truly deep rooted blues and Americana sounding music. And The Picnic Sessions is a personal love letter written by Siegal and his friends just sitting around having a little fun while the tape rolled in the studio. It is a feel good recording for certain.

Total Time: 39:46

Pistachio Anyone? / Stone Cold Soul / How Come You’re Still Here? / Sweet Pea / Heavenly Houseboat Blues / Beulah Land / Turn Around And Show It To Me / Keen And Peachy / Wasted Freedom / Herman Sings / Gallo Del Cielo / Hard Times (Come Again No More) / Talkin’ Overseas Pirate Blues / Now It’s A Party / Only Tryin’ To Survive / Appreciation

Bottleneck Blues Band
2015 has been the year of Bottleneck Blues Band. After the release of our first CD, Twenty First Century Blues, in December, the band took off. The first big event was performing at the Winter Blues Fest which led us to a slot at the Gorge Blues Fest. The band comes off a win at the first round of the Journey to Memphis and is flying high into the Waterfront Blues Fest at noon on the 4th of July at the Backporch Stage for the second round. August is shaping up to be a great month for us as well. We are headlining the Crawdad Fest at The Skyway Bar in Zig Zag on the 16th at 7:00PM followed by a big show at Director Park in Portland on the 18th at 6.30PM. At the end of the month, on the 29th at 7:00PM, the band is the featured artist at The White Salmon Concert Series in White Salmon, WA. The real blues are alive! Come dance with us! Find the Bottleneck at http://www.bottleneckbluesband.com See you soon and thanks for your support!

Lloyd “Have Mercy” Jones
Europe in July…So sorry to miss our magnificent “Waterfront Blues Festival” this year. It is truly one of the greatest in the country.

The good news is, I’ll be playing other wonderful festivals for several weeks in July throughout Denmark, Holland and Germany! For more details please visit www.lloydjonesmusic.com. I’m proud and pleased to be able share this music around the globe and look forward to returning next year to be a part of this great musical community at home.

Ya’ll have a fantastic 28th Annual Waterfront Blues Festival and I want to hear all about it when I get back!

The Thunder Brothers
The Thunder Brothers (Timmer Thunder and J.M. Thunder) would like to thank everyone for your support on the launch of our new product, the Thunder Brothers Rhythm Section. After nearly two decades of backing national and regional blues acts together, it’s time for us to have our own identity. A special BIG thank you goes out to Jason Ricci, John Lisi, Karen Lovely, and Doug Rowell for so enthusiastically introducing us on such a large scale. In addition to continuing to back many of the Pacific Northwest’s finest artists, we will also be backing visiting regional and national artists in need of tour support. You will find our dates listed in the BluesNotes calendar section. Find and like us on Facebook to stay updated on events as they come in. And coming soon, Thunderwear!

JT Wise Band
We appreciated the supportive audience and dancers at the CBA General Membership meeting in February. Slim told us it was an exciting show and people raved about it. The videos that were taken have a lot of oohhs and aahhs — how nice and thank you. We are happy to report that we will be performing at the CBA picnic on August 2nd. It will be great to see you again!

For those of you who missed the February performance, JT’s musical influences read like a Clapton Crossroads Festival including the full spectrum from Clapton, to Billy Gibbons, to Vince Gill, Robin Ford, with a touch of Garcia and Betts thrown in as well. Band members include JT Wise on guitar, Margaret Wise on bass, Jim Stein on slide guitar, and Ken Woodside on drums.

We play mostly original rock’n blues and Americana.

Summer is a busy time for us and some highlights besides the CBA picnic will be performances at the Central Hotel in St. Johns, Saturday, July 25, from 7 to 9 PM; White Eagle, Thursday, July 30, from 8 to 10PM; Music Millennium Customer Appreciation Barbecue, August 8 at 11AM; Arts on Mainstreet Wednesday, August 12 from noon to 1PM; and Buffalo Gap Saloon and Eatery on Macadam, Saturday, August 15 9PM.

This will be our first time playing at the Central Hotel 7/25 at 7PM and Buffalo Gap Saloon and Eatery 8/15 at 9PM, please try to make it out if you can. We would love to see you! The Central Hotel has amazing cocktails and outdoor seating and the Buffalo Gap is known for their food, liquor selection, and atmosphere. No cover charge to boot.

We look forward to being part of the CBA and hopefully next year participating in the Journey to Memphis competitions. If all goes well, we will have a self-produced CD available later in the year. Wish us luck.

JT and Margaret Wise

James Clem
Hi friends, Proud to say that I will be performing at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 2. I will be kicking things off on Thursday with a set on the Front Porch Stage from noon to 1 pm. That same afternoon will find me on the Crossroads Stage giving a slide guitar workshop and performance from 3 to 4 pm. Harmonica man Stan Street from Clarksdale, Miss will join me for part of the set. Should be a fun time.

My new Blues CD Road’s Gettin’ Muddy was released at the end of June and will be available at Music Millennium and at their booth at the blues fest. Also, go to CD Baby for downloads and CD’s by mail. This CD has the hot rhythm section of Ken West and Craig Snazelle and we have lots of special guests. Mary Flower and I do good old blues duet on Lonnie Johnson’s “You Had Too Much” and she joins me on vocals and dobro on a vintage Carter Family tune. Lots of surprises on this recording like an electric slide surf instrumental and producer Ron Rogers out did himself dialing in the sound on this live in the studio all analog recording.

My other recent swing/blues ukulele CD Sugar Moon is getting great reviews and is now available on iTunes and Amazon for downloads and CD Baby for mail order sales. I just got word that Pandora Radio is also going to be playing tunes from the CD so it may be up and running by the time you read this.

Anyway, stop and say hi at my gigs or at the blues fest and check out some song samples from my new recordings on my website or at the sites I mentioned above. Keep supporting the blues (tell a friend)!


James Clem