On October 3, The Portland Spirit will again host the Cascade Blues Cruise with excited partygoers and the winners of Cascade Blues Association’s Journey to Memphis contest held this last July at the Waterfront Blues Festival: Sister Mercy, Rogue Rage Duo and Justus Reece (Youth).  The J2M contest sends acts every year to the International Blues Challenge (IBC), a renowned contest held every January on Beale Street in Memphis.  In addition to the acts that will represent the CBA, Rae Gordon (last year’s band winner & IBC Semi Finalist) and Karen Lovely (2010 2nd Place IBC Winner) will be aboard as well. The Spirit sets off from the Willamette waterfront at 3 pm.

People who missed the boat for last year’s cruise still talk about the party they missed,  but you won’t have to imagine what you missed since you will be there this time.

Help bring the Northwest blues scene international exposure and glory by supporting those acts the Cascade Blues Association sponsors and sends to the International Blues Challenge. Above all though, support live music by setting sail on October 3.

Last year’s Journey to Memphis winner Rae Gordon Band used the band’s prize money to rent the boat. The Portland Spirit was open to the idea of bringing some great exposure to Portland, its vibrant blues scene, and its dedicated blues association. RGB was able to use the money to pay guest bands and helpers on the cruise and best of all, send the bands to Memphis and pay for their lodging. When the Portland Spirit approached her to do the cruise again, even though she wasn’t competing, she jumped at the chance, as a musician helping musicians.  She knew all to well that the most important thing is for the acts to be able to concentrate on their musical performances in Memphis, not how to raise the money to get there.

So, mark your calendars now for October 3, but buy your tickets early as the Portland Spirit does have a guest limit and you don’t want to miss the boat! You can find more information on the Spirit here: http://www.portlandspirit.com. Tickets for the cruise may be purchased at www.casacadebluescruise2015.brownpapertickets.com. See you there.

Acoustic Blues Masters - press photoFor the second year, the Menucha Retreat and Conference Center in Corbett, Oregon will be hosting the Blues In The Gorge Acoustic Workshop, co-sponsored by the Cascade Blues Association. This year’s featured Blues Masters instructors are five of the world’s premier guitarists: Mary Flower, Pat Donahue, Josh White Jr., Scott Ainslie and Eleanor Ellis. The workshop unfortunately closes registration on September 9 and was sold out last year. But if you were unable to attend these special small intimate classes you’re still able to see these fantastic musicians perform live on stage.

All five musicians will be concluding the four day workshop with a special concert at the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland on Sunday, October 4. Each artist will perform individually and collectively throughout the concert. Show time is 7:30 and this event is open to minors when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Tickets can be purchased in advance at albertarosetheatre.com for $25.00, also available for $28.00 at the door, day of show. This show is also co-sponsored by the Cascade Blues Association, so when ordering your tickets online, use the code “CBA” (not case sensitive) to receive a $2.00 discount off the price.

Cooder White and Skaggs - press photoRy Cooder, Sharon White & Ricky Skaggs together may not necessarily be a blues event, but when it comes to rare opportunities to see one of the world’s finest guitarist who does not tour very often, jump on it. Ry Cooder has delved into a plethora of different musical genres, influencing countless musicians and winning accolades for all including blues. Here he’ll be joined by two sensational musicians, both who have dipped their own feet deeply into bluegrass, gospel and country realms, Sharon White and Ricky Skaggs.

This all star trio will be appearing at The Aladdin Theater on Tuesday, October 6 for an 8:00 pm show. Tickets are $75.00 and can be purchased in advance at TicketFly.com. This event is open to minors when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Daniel Castro - press photo“Daniel Castro is the latest and one of the greatest blues guitarists to come bursting out of the highly competitive West Coast scene. To the classic music of B.B. King, Albert King, and Albert Collins he has added the three T’s taste, tone, and technique. His raw passion warms your soul while his deep groove kicks your butt on fine, fresh originals and well chosen covers.” – Guitar Player Magazine

Describing Daniel Castro as a blues artist doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. A highly accomplishedguitarist and singer/songwriter with a strong musical point of view grounded in the very best blues traditions is more like it. Combine those talents with original blues-based material and you begin to understand Daniel’s strengths as an artist. Well-known for being a dynamic performer who “leaves it all on the stage” night after night, Daniel brings crowds to their feet with his blistering solos, soulful singing, and tight arrangements.

Touring in support of their most recent recording Desperate Rain, the Daniel Castro Band will be heading to Duff’s Garage on Thursday, October 8. Show time is 9:00 pm and this is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so make a point to bring your current membership card to receive a $1.00 discount on admission.

Then on Friday, October 9 the Daniel Castro Band heads out to The Birk for a 7:00 pm show. Located at 11139 Hwy. 202, in Birkenfeld, Oregon, The Birk is nestled in a scenic rural setting and inside a rustic building that feels quite intimate for live performances. It’s not that far out of town; well worth the drive for an early dinner show.

BluColin James - press photoesman Colin James has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, he has won six Juno Awards including Male Vocalist of the Year and an astounding seventeen Maple Awards including Entertainer of the Year in 2013. Mentored by the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, James has released 16 albums over the past 25+ years, his most recent being Hearts On Fire working with longtime friend and collaborator Colin Linden.

It has been a few years since Colin James last performed in Portland, so his show coming up at The Alberta Rose Theatre is a rare opportunity to see one of Canada’s most prolific and dynamic entertainers in our city. James will be playing at the theater on Thursday, October 8, at 8:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased at albertarosetheatre.com, $20.00 advance, $25.00 at the door day of show. There are also preferred seating available for $30.00 for the first few aisles front and center.

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson, CBA President

Where is 2015 going? This year has been flying by so fast. Summer festival season has passed us by and we’re getting closer to the end of the year. So with that noted, I want to remind you of two important things. Muddy Awards and Cascade Blues Association officer elections.

First of all, the Muddy Awards. By the time you receive this copy of the BluesNotes you should have found your final Muddy Award ballot in the mail. That is as long as you’re a member. Non-members are not permitted to vote, so make sure you turn your ballot in to make your selections count. Don’t turn it in; then don’t complain.

Over the past couple months I have received and purchased a significant number of new CDs from local musicians. This is outstanding seeing so much new material. They have included (but not limited to) releases from people like Kevin Selfe, Karen Lovely, Mary Flower, Tracey Fordice & The 8 Balls, The Sportin’ Lifers, Hank Shreve, King Louie & LaRhonda Steele and The Roseland Hunters. I bring this up while discussing the Muddy Awards because many of the new releases came out after the August 31 deadline for nominations and aren’t eligible for this year. But, those recordings that did come out beyond the date should not be forgotten when ballots come up next year. This happens so often. I hope that when you filled out your ballots your focus was not only on what has occurred within the last few months, that you think back to what went on all year long. And this does not only apply to recordings, but performances and events as well.

The other item at hand is the upcoming CBA Board of Directors Officer positions. This is extremely important and I hope that people consider running for these roles. But, and I want to stress this, these are not merely positions by name alone. They carry commitment, time and work. Not everything can be fun and games, we are running a business. Don’t get me wrong, we do have our share of fun. But we also require that if you take on a role that you are involved. There is only one board meeting a month, we expect you to be there consistently. We are staffed by volunteers, but the officers are elected by our members who have certain expectations that we keep the CBA viable. All board members should be attending our monthly membership meetings and events that the CBA host, but we know that is not always possible each and every time. But the officers and the board are the face of the organization and our members look for your assistance, whether it is receiving your membership card or being able to answer questions about where they can pick up a copy of the BluesNotes or who is performing at a meeting. It may not seem like much, but if the work is not kept up to date, we fall behind and then the entire board takes the hit of not appearing like a functioning unit. Believe me, that is the last thing we want to come across as.

You can submit your intent to run for an officer position by sending a note via email to CascadeBluesStaff@gmail.com or by mail to Cascade Blues Association, PO Box 6566, Portland, Oregon 97228-6566. Positions include President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and Membership Secretary. Please, if you do consider running, especially for Treasurer or Membership Secretary, we request that you have some background in finances and spread sheets. This is your Cascade Blues Association, so be active if you can and make your choices for the right people to run our blues society.

One last note on a more personal basis. We can also use writers to assist with the BluesNotes. I have noted this before, but we really do need your help. At this time I am personally writing the majority of the paper, with editor Laurie Morrisey taking on the feature article most months. What this does, for me especially, is cause a lot of time consumption and stress to make sure everything is reported, written and submitted on time. Believe me it is tough. I do have a full time job, a private life and would like to attend events that you’re going to yourself each and every mid-month. But it takes at least a couple weeks to prepare everything and I can use the help. Please let us know if you can offer that type of help.

Okay, enough of my soap box. Get out there this month and attend as much live music as you can. You know the drill: pay the cover, tip the band, buy food and drinks ….. and most of all, have fun, because that is what going to music is supposed to be all about.

Melody Ballroom, 615 SE Alder St., Portland
Wednesday, October 7, 7:00 pm
Members always Free – Non-members $3.00
Opening Acoustic Set – Justus Reece
Second Electric Set – Martin Henry and Freedom Street Band

After such a blistering hot summer we’re starting to feel a little briskness and chill coming in the air. Fall has descended upon us, but we know we do not have to look too far to find great blues music to help warm up those nights. And as always, the monthly general membership meeting of the Cascade Blues Association is the right spot to find just that.

Justus Reece - photo by Greg JohnsonOpening the night for us in October will be a young artist who has caught our attention a few times over the past few years. At only nineteen years of age, Justus Reece has appeared onstage at happenings like the Blues For MS concerts and participated in this year’s Journey To Memphis competition at The Lehrer. And he is going to Memphis this coming January to represent the Cascade Blues Association as our first entry in the Youth Showcase that has taken place the past few years at the International Blues Challenge.

Justus is quite an accomplished guitarist. Influenced and inspired by musicians like John Fahey, Mississippi John Hurt, Charlie Hunter, Gary Clark Jr, Lionel Loueke, Doug Smith, Michael Hedges, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jerry Garcia and Terry Robb, with who he has shared time on stage with and taken lessons from. He has been playing since he was eight years old and hopes that he can make a future with music. “The blues are my roots,” he states, “but all music is related.”

For our electric set, we feature Martin Henry and Freedom Street Band. The Martin Henry and Freedom Street Band - photo by Hocus Focusband is based out of the Portland area, comprised of a tight collection of accomplished musicians from throughout the Northwest, providing highly energized entertainment from a diverse set of songs ranging from rock, blues, country, and R&B.

Each of the band members brings years of dedication and skills in their craft. Band leader vocalist, percussionist and harmonica player Martin Henry with thirty years under his belt performing, vocalist Tracie Brown also contributes as a songwriter, dual guitarists Chad Van Dyke and Jim Presley, drummer Bill Ebert, and returning for the second straight month (she played with Drop Dead Red in September) is versatile bassist Joanne “Grandma Funk” Mead.

The Freedom Street Band is currently working on recording tracks for a demo CD at Angels Recording Studio, owned by and operated by Martin Henry as well as producing a music video. Expect to have nothing but a good time with this popular band.

And as usual, the meeting will include our member favorite free ticket drawing between sets, our multi-CD winner take all package, and we’ll inform you about events coming up in our area. Don’t miss out on the monthly meeting, you may find an act that you’re unfamiliar with that’ll turn your head in approval, and of course it’s always a great place to meet good friends. See you there!

Final ballots are out with the choices made by our members in the nomination round. The top three vote-getters (or more in the event of ties) are on the ballot for you to choose from. Please make your selections from those on the ballot only. Write-ins will not be counted.

In order for us to be able to count the votes and to place orders for the trophies for the winners, we need to receive your ballots back to us post-marked no later than Monday, October 12. You can turn them in directly to us at the October General membership Meeting.

Don’t delay, send them back as soon as you can!

Chuk Barber by Tony KutterI’m sure some of you have noticed that cowboy drummer hanging around the local blues scene. That would be Chuk Barber. Chuk is a busy man, but he stopped long enough to answer a few questions so we could learn more about him.

Q: Where were you born and raised? How long have you lived in the Portland area? 

A: New York City…The Bronx, specifically. By the time I graduated from high school, we had moved out to Westbury on Long Island. I’ve been living in Portland for 10 years. I came here from New Orleans—right after Hurricane Katrina.

Q: How long have you been performing professionally? 

A: I started playing the drums at age 11. Louie Bellson was my first drum teacher. He gave me my first three lessons as a favor for my dad. Then he and Pearl Bailey went on a European tour and he sent over his friend, Hal Blaine. He was my drum teacher for the next year. Then Jimi Hendrix came on the scene and my preoccupation with jazz went straight out the window. I was officially “A Rocker!” We started playing at high school events. I played a club when I was 14 for ten whole dollars! There was no stopping me after that.

Q: Did you always want to perform professionally, or if not, what did you “want to be when you grew up”? 

A: I never gave it much thought then. I was too busy caught up in playing music because “Chicks thought you were cool!” Ha, ha, ha! I really wanted to be a cowboy and got the chance several years later when I went to college in New Mexico. I went on a cattle drive on King Ranch up towards Raton, NM. I rode, roped, dipped, and clipped. I was 18.

Q: Do you have a day job—what is it and how long have you been doing that—or do you not want to mention this? 

A: For eight of the ten years I’ve been in Portland, I’ve taught Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Caribbean Drum and Dance to middle school children at G.R.E.S. Crianҫas de Zumbi Samba School. Before that, I taught in New Orleans at New Orleans Charter Middle School.

Q: Who has influenced your music? 

A: Everyone—from Miles to Stevie Wonder, the Doobie Bros. to the Allman Bros, Basia to Gilberto Gil, Ruben Blades to Sting. Personally, I’ve had some very good friends, mentors, and teachers through the years—my brother-in-law, Curtis Pierre; my best friend and brilliant percussionist, Kenyatta Simon, who use to play with the Crusaders and Dr. John; Moses Wheelock, Marvin Gaye’s old percussionist, who was the percussionist in War before me; Bill Summers (Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters) who stayed with me, Curtis and my sister, Carolyn, when he first moved to New Orleans from LA; Airto (Return to Forever); Don Elias(Joni Mitchell); Jai Johnny Jamison (Allman Bros.)’ Bear Bryant (Tower of Power); Bobby LaKind (Doobie Bros.); Mongo; Tito; Patato…I could go on and on.

Q: How would you describe your music? 

A: Definitely world music. I pull from everything I hear. Jazz, rock, reggae, samba, reggae ton, cha-cha, mambo, rumba, gospel, R & B, neo-soul…you name it.

Q: What instruments do you play? 

A: All drums and percussion instruments, except for Tabla (that shit is hard! Like a thousand different patterns.) If it has a “skin” on it, I can play it. I don’t know if you can call it playing but I can find notes on the piano…Ha, ha, ha!

Q: Did you have any formal training or are you self­-taught? 

A: For the most part, except for the very beginning, when I had lessons from two of the greatest drummers in history.

Q: What awards have you won? 

A: Does my middle school Samba School winning five ribbons in five years at the Jr. Rose Parade count? Of the five years, we paraded in the Fred Meyer Jr. Rose Parade here in Portland, we’ve won 1st place three times and 3rd place twice. Five ribbons in five years…not too shabby! I’m extremely proud of this.

Q: What CD’s do you have out? 

A: In 2007, I got together with some local musicians—Al Criado, Brian Ward, Cedric Wright, Tom Sandahl, La Rhonda Steele, and Michael Bard—in a band we called Indigo, and made a CD called Moist. Curtis Salgado even plays harmonica on the track “Spill the Wine”(WAR). I’ve played percussion on a lot of other people’s albums. Two just last month.

Q: Any more CD’s in the works. 

A: Lowrider Band is coming out with a new CD sometime in 2016. It will be the original members of WAR’s first CD in about 30 years.

Q: Who have you played with? 

A: Currently, the Lowrider Band and the California Honeydrops, but through the years I’ve played with Dr. John, the Neville Bros., Erma Thomas, Anders Osborn, Pin Stripe Brass Band, Old Dominion Brass Band, Steele Pulse, Bill Summers, Casa Samba, Kid Marv, AfroSkull, Jonas Risin’, Bonnie Raitt, Curtis Salgado, Patrick Lamb, LaRhonda Steele, Tyrone Hendrix, Sumo, Transcendental Brass Band, Michael Ray, SunPie Barnes, Big Al Carson, Lloyd Jones, Where’s Danny?, Indigo, and Duffy Bishop. I’ve traveled around the world with the Brazilian National Soccer Team (with Ronaldo and Ronaldinho) in their samba band.

Q: Your bandmembers—what instruments do they play, how long have they been with you, etc.? Are there any former band members you want to mention?

A: I just got off the road with The Lowrider Band, formerly known as WAR, which has four of the original members still playing their original instruments—Howard Scott, guitar and vocals, writer/composer of 80% of WAR’s iconic hits—“Spill the Wine,” “LowRider,” “Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” “Slipping into Darkness,” “The World is a Ghetto,” “All Day Music,” “City Country City,” etc.) I can’t put into words how much I love this man; Harold Brown, drums and vocals; B.B. Dickerson, bass and vocals; and Lee Oskar on harmonica. Rounding out the lineup is Lance Ellis, saxophones, flute and vocals, and Pete Cole on keyboards and vocals. I, of course, play percussion and sing. I have been with them 19 years, which is the same amount of time Papa Dee Allen, the original percussionist who died in 1988, was with them.

I want to give a shout out to all my boys in my former groups—AfroSkull, Jonas Risin’ and Sumo. Also to my newly “bestest” bandmates, the California Honeydrops!

Any Other Comments: 

I also am an author and a playwright. My latest novel is called Endangered Species about the last African on planet earth, and my play is entitled Dear Xango, which follows the life of a 15-year-old African girl named N’belle as she journeys from the motherland to the Caribbean and southern United States as a captive slave. Both are available for sale. Contact me at drchuk60@gmail.com.

If you would like to have your CD considered by the Cascade Blues Association for submission in The Blues Foundation’s Best Self-Produced CD competition, please send your disc to BSPCD c/o Cascade Blues Association, PO Box 6566, Portland, Oregon 97228-6566. You may also turn your submission in at the October Cascade Blues Association General Membership Meetings. No discs will be accepted later than October 7.

All discs submitted must have been released after November 1, 2014. A committee set up by the Cascade Blues Association’s Board of Directors will listen to each submission and like the Journey To Memphis will rate each on a series of catagories (blues content, instrumentation, vocals, art work and liner notes). Entries are only accepted by acts within the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Idaho and Washington). We must receive your entry no later than October 7. Please note, the entry that we submit to The Blues Foundation will require that we send them four copies of the disc for their judges. We will notify the appropriate act for  the extra copies needed to send.