On Wednesday, November 4, the Cascade Blues Association presented its annual Muddy Awards show at The Melody Ballroom. Hosted onstage by CBA President Greg Johnson and Vice President Wendy Schumer, the show announced various winners in twenty-two categories, including best performers, recordings, venues, and events of the last year, as selected by the members of the CBA. The biggest winner of the night was Rae Gordon, who took home three awards and was also inducted into the Muddy Award Hall of Fame for taking home the Duffy Bishop Female Vocalist of the Year award for the third straight year. Other highlights included first-time winners John Mazzocco, Andy Stokes, and Brian Foxworth, and a “Paul deLay” Lifetime Achievement award presented to the late Linda Hornbuckle. Linda’s close friends, Brian Foxworth and LaRhonda Steele, accepted the award.Rae Gordon

Congratulations go out to all the Muddy Award recipients and nominees!

It could not be a night of celebration of the blues without live music and we were treated by sets from the CBA’s Journey To Memphis winners Sister Mercy and the Rogue Rage Duo. Ben Rice led an all star grouping that he pieced together that was a fine showing of many of the Northwest’s best players and a short preview of Dave Fleschner’s The Blues Cabaret with fellow vocalists Earl Thomas, Billy Mixer, and Jimmy Wilcox. The overall All Star band consisted of: Alan Hager, Allen Markel, Ashbolt Stewart, Ben Rice, Dan Gildea, Dave Fleschner, Dave Melyan, Dean Mueller, Doug Rowell, Earl Thomas, Ed Neumann, Gabe Cox, Jason “JT” Thomas, Jeff Hayes, Jimi Bott, John Mazzocco, Josh Makosky,  Julie Amici, Karen Lovely, Kevin Selfe, LaRhonda Steele, Lisa Mann, Naomi Tatsuoka, Rae Gordon, Rich Layton, and Steve Kerin.

Special thanks go out to the folks at The Melody Ballroom for providing their grand ballroom once again this year, JBL Productions for the stage work, lights, and sound; Affordable Trophies, Big Screen Productions, and Cedar House Media; Wendy Schumer for creating the slide show and program design; Greg Johnson, Jim Dorothy, and Tony Kutter for their photography; Cherie Robbins for assisting in handing out trophies on stage, Sandy Forst for working the door, and Brenda Docken for assisting with merchandise sales; and finally to the CBA Board of Directors for their work in making this event take place, and of course all of the presenters.

This years Muddy Award Recipients are:

Contemporary Blues Act: Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes
“Lloyd Jones” R&B Act: Norman Sylvester Band
Traditional Blues Act: Ben Rice Trio
Regional Blues Act: Ty Curtis Band
Best New Act: Bottleneck Blues Band
“Duffy Bishop” Female Vocalist: Rae Gordon
“Curtis Salgado” Male Vocalist: Andy Stokes
Electric Guitar: Phil “Suburban Slim” Wagner
“Terry Robb” Acoustic Guitar: Alan Hager
Bass: John Mazzocco
Harmonica: Mitch Kashmar
Keyboards: Dover Weinberg
“Jimi Bott” Drums: Brian Foxworth
Horns: Peter Moss
Venue: The Blue Diamond
“The Hurley Award”: Steve Gross
Northwest Recording: Rae Gordon – Dirty Flowers
National Recording: Sugaray Rayford – Southside
Northwest Blues Event: Bronze, Blues & Brews
Performance of the Year: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram at the Waterfront Blues Festival
Back What You Believe In: Rae Gordon
Lifetime Achievement: Linda Hornbuckle

Terry Robb with Alan Hager Rae Gordon Phil Suburban Slim Wagner Peter Moss Norman Sylvester (1) Mitch Kashmar Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes John Mazzocco Brian Foxworth Bottleneck Blues Band Ben Rice Andy Stokes

California Honeydrops - press photoThe California Honeydrops don’t just play music — they throw parties. Drawing on diverse musical influences, from Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, and New Orleans second-line, the Honeydrops bring vibrant energy and infectious dance-party vibes to their live shows. With five albums and Blues Music Award nominations under their belts, they’ve taken the party all over the world: to Europe and Australia, featured festival performances at events like the Waterfront Blues Festival, Monterey Jazz, and the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Plus they’ve also been announced as the opening act with Bonnie Raitt for her upcoming World Tour. Whether in those high-profile performances or in more intimate venues where the band itself can leave the stage and get down on the dance floor, the California Honeydrops’ shared vision and purpose remain: to make the audience dance and sing. Add to the mix the inclusion of Portland’s own New Orleans connection, Chuk Barber, and you know that the rhythmic pulsations are going to hit another notch of potency.

The California Honeydrops will be heading back to Portland for two nights at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Avenue on Friday, December 18 and Saturday, December 19. Showtime each night is 9:00 pm. This is a 21 and over only show. Tickets are available through www.TicketFly.com, $17.00 advance or at the door day of show for $20.00.

Polly OKeary & The Rhythm Method - press photoThe Washington Blues Society named Seattle Bassist Polly O’Keary the Best Female Vocalist and Songwriter, and aside from leading her own band, she’s also performed with Too Slim & The Taildraggers and The Randy Oxford Band. She’ll be joined by Clint “Seattle Slim” Nonnemaker on guitar and Tommy Cook on drums, two of the fines players in the Puget Sound area. Touring in support of their latest release Compass, this band is always a fiery and entertaining act.

The band will be playing at Duff’s Garage, 2530 NE 82nd, with a 9:00 pm show on Friday, December 18. This is a CBA co-sponsored event, so make sure to show your current membership card at the door to receive a $1.00 discount on admission.

If you can’t make it on Friday night because your plans take you elsewhere or you just want to catch the band a second night, head out to The Birk, 11130 Hwy 202, Birkenfeld, on Saturday, December 19 for a 7:00 pm performance. Admission is only $5.00, a steal for one of the Northwest’s most exciting bands.

The fifth annual Soulful Christmas concert is a celebration of the holiday season featuring gospel and soul music that will be held on Monday, December 21 at The Lake Theater & Cafe. Singers Arietta Ward, MaryEtta Callier, Mary Tucker, John Gainer, and LaRhonda Steele will fill your soul with the love and joy of the season with selections from artists such as the 5 Boys Of Alabama, Janice Marie Scroggins, Mavis Staples, the Amazing Clark Sisters, and more. Backed by Mark Steele on piano and Tyrone Hendrix on drums, The Lake Theater will be filled with joy.

The Lake Theater & Cafe is located at 106 N State Street in Lake Oswego. Tickets for this show are $20.00 and available in advance at laketheatercafe.com. Show time is 7:00 pm. Please join us in our “Soulful Celebration!”


Must Be Crazy
EllerSoul Records

Andy Poxon CD coverMust Be Crazy is the third release by guitarist Andy Poxon. Today, the word “prodigy” is too commonly thrown around to describe young artists — but in Poxon’s case, it fits. This is a guitarist who’s been playing professionally since the age of nine. His first release at age 18, Red Roots, was produced by the always on-the-money supervision of Duke Robillard. And the Duke’s influence may have played a key role in Poxon’s development of the past few years. Like Duke’s own work, the young Poxon has the means and the know-how to work in a host of bluesy guitar approaches, and all of them are spot on!

Now twenty-one years old, it’s hard to believe that Poxon possesses the talents of such a seasoned songwriter at such a young age. All of the songs on Must Be Crazy have his hand behind the penmanship, with a handful co-written by Delbert McClinton keyboardist Kevin McKendree, who also co-produced the album.

Aside from McKendree, the sidemen on this disc are all top-shelf — Kenneth Blevins on drums, Steve Mackey on bass and Jim Hoke on sax. There’s even another youthful contribution to the track “Rebound” from nine-year-old Yates McKendree as he and his father help throw down a brilliant Booker T-like delivery.

Other fun numbers on this outstanding album include the New Orleans R&B styled “Don’t Tell Your Mama,” fun jump blues with “Next To You,” the jazzy, horn-drenched “I Want To Know” that sounds like it could have come directly from the Roomful of Blues songbook. “Too Late” also has a jazz touch with nice interplay between the soft guitar strumming and McKendree’s piano, and on the other end of the realm the opening title track sends out some gritty Elmore James’ fashioned slide guitar. Backing vocals from Chloe Kohanski and Nashville’s renowned The McCrary Sisters are all sensational, especially by the latter on “Give Me A Chance.”

There are players that truly show remarkable knowledge and skill at an early age with the blues. People like Mike Welch and Sean Costello come to mind as such who continually developed as their career progressed. Throw Andy Poxon into this mix. He is deep, soulful, and quite toneful. If he continues to grow as an artist at the rate he’s moving, we definitely have someone to watch closely. Guitar, vocals, songwriting, he’s got the full package here.

Total Time: 58:45

You Must Be Crazy / Living Alone / Next To You / Give Me The Chance / Cold Weather / Don’t Tell Your Mama / Harder Everyday / I Want To Know / Already Gone / Making A Fool / Don’t Tell Me What To Do / Too Late / Rebound

Just because it’s Christmas is no reason not to have the blues. Not when it includes an amazing line-up of local musicians appearing on TV. The Oregon Food Bank, Waterfront Blues Festival, KOIN TV, and KINK FM are joining forces to present “Blue Christmas” television special airing on both Christmas Eve, December 24 and Christmas Day, December 25.

Artists featured in the program will include Duffy Bishop, Ural Thomas, Charmaine Neville, Reggie Houston, Terry Robb, Mary Flower, Sean Holmes, LaRhonda Steele, and Alonzo Chadwick. They will be backed by a terrific band with Louis Pain, Ben Jones, Brian Foxworth, Chris Carlson, and Peter Dammann.

The program’s repertoire will include a few classics and some other more obscure holiday material, secular and gospel, acoustic and electric. So check your television listings for broadcast times and tune in to enjoy some of our area’s finest blues musicians as they celebrate the season.

by Wendy Schumer

Greg Johnson Jenn Ocken with book - photo by Kelly ThorntonEvery year the Blues Foundation recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to blues music. The Keeping Blues Alive Awards ceremony is held in January in conjunction with the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.  The KBAs are decided upon by a select panel of blues professionals and focus on honoring individuals who have made a difference with their lengthy commitment to the blues.  This is one of the highest honors bestowed by the Blues Foundation – to be selected to receive this award. This year 15 winners were announced and guess what!  Our very own CBA President — Greg Johnson — was selected this year to receive this award.

You all know how hard Greg works to promote and preserve blues music in our community, his dedication each month to writing 99.9% of the articles in our Bluesnotes as well as the extra volunteering he does for events in Portland as well as in Memphis.  We are truly blessed to have him as part of our community. Please join me in congratulating Greg on this great achievement.

To read more about the KBA and see the official announcement — see this link. http://www.blues.org/2015/11/the-blues-foundation-to-honor-blues-patrons-at-january-awards-ceremony-in-memphis

Billy D

Hi everyone — Billy D here. We don’t submit to bandstand that often, so first, congrats to all the Muddy winners and nominees. There’s a lot of great music and musicians in Portland and the surrounding area. I’m honored to be part of it. The current line-up in Billy D & The Hoodoos is myself, Mark Nerby on drums, and Joe Casimir on bass and vox. We have two upcoming shows, at our absolute two favorite venues. Our Christmas Party will be on Saturday December 19, at O’Connors, then New Years Eve at The Trails End Saloon. After two years together, these will be our last two shows—no big drama, just different phases of life happening for people. I have truly enjoyed playing with these dudes and will miss it but am also looking forward to making a new CD after the first of the year and coming back in spring, or so, with a new album and new Shows.

I’ve been traveling—played Chicago, L.A. and the southwest this summer. All awesome and with great musicians who took the time to learn my tunes and play them with feeling. I’m looking forward to more of that, including heading to the UK in May.

Thank you guys! Hope we see you at one of these holiday shows and at the new CD release next year. Happy and safe holidays to all.

Keep Rockin’ my friends!!!
Billy D

The Strange Tones

Happy Holidays everybody! We wanted to spread the word that we will be playing a couple of Christmas shows this year! We decided to try something a little different and do two shows in two great local venues. “A Cozy Crime-A-Billy Christmas” will take place in the intimate confines of Duff’s Garage and the Skyway Bar & Grill. We picked these venues because they are two of our very favorites in the area, and they’re about as comfortable as sitting home, next to the old toasty yule log. Saturday, December 12 will be at Duff’s and Saturday, December 19 will be at the Skyway. We look forward to spreading a little holiday cheer and sharing the holiday spirit in these two great locations. Both shows will feature our partners in Crime-A-Billy, the lovely Volcano Vixens and many other special guests and surprises.

So as Elvin says, “Reach out and take the hand of Crime-A-Billy!”

–Guitar Julie, Andy Strange, Suburban Slim, Andy Gauthier

Dean Mueller

As most of you know, I am booking the Music Mondays at Lake Theater and Cafe and helping bring world class music to a world class venue. Although I book a variety of styles at the theater, and quality is of the utmost importance, attendance and a full house are also important. My heart is closest to the blues and my fellow blues musicians are my family. In addition to local greats we have booked touring acts such as Janiva Magness, Rich Delgrosso, Doug MacLeod, and Nathan James. These folks love the venue, the sound, the food, and the first class treatment that they get. Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple performances a year, the attendance at these shows is lower than much of the other styles of music I bring to the theater. Last month’s show with Nathan James and Ben Rice deserved to been seen, and it needed support from CBA members. It was a great show, but the attendance was very disappointing. As blues fans we need to go out and support live music or the venues will die out, and so will the musicians.

December will be amazing for blues fans at the theater with performances from Duffy Bishop, LaRhonda Steele, Terry Robb, and Mitch Kashmar. Please check the calendar and get out and support the music you love. I’ll continue to do my best to bringing great blues to Lake Theater & Cafe and you should check it out, you will not be disappointed.

Julie Amici

Julie Amici would like to thank the CBA members and all of the great musician friends that have helped along the way. The Muddy nomination for Best New Act was an honor and I very much appreciate the support. Congratulations to Sister Mercy for their nomination, and to the Bottleneck Blues Band for taking home the award!

The morning after the Awards, I received a very special phone call telling me not to be discouraged by not winning. They told me this was my introduction into this blues community and to keep going. I feel like I have been told that by members over and over again, keep going! Keep doing what you love, because “we” need it. This support is truly the only thing that will keep me going, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven’t had a chance to catch a Julie Amici show, I invite you to do so. Thanks again and look forward to meeting you!

Bolt Upright

I want to take a moment to thank Greg Johnson and the CBA crew for all the hard work they put in every month to promote Portland Blues!  Also, thanks to Ben Rice for including me in the All Star JAM at The Muddy Awards, and congrats to my great friend Norman Sylvester and his band for finally taking home the R&B award. I’ve had a very eventful 2015 including celebrating 14 years co-leading the Bolt Upright Band with my wife, Susie, and playing the Waterfront Blues Fest and Lil Lou’s in CA. with my Beats Workin’ project, (with me as the frontman). As the year winds down, I’ve joined four new projects: Honeybaked & Choice Cuts (with Daniel Hamm); Billy Hagen’s The Trip; The Pollinators (w/Kenny Lavits); and Where’s Danny (with Silky Mayer). When you see these names in the CBA calendar, please stop in and support fresh faces and sounds on the Portland Blues Scene. Also, please support new clubs (and old clubs) that believe that live music makes a difference!  Peace & Pulsation in 2016!

Bolt Upright

 Rae Gordon

They say things come in threes….I believe it now after the Muddys!  It was an honor in itself to be nominated by CBA members for 2 awards and then one by the CBA board and another honor to be on the list along not only some of my favorite musicians, but favorite people.  So to receive them all, was an overwhelming moment….well….three overwhelming moments to be exact.  Thank you CBA and members for all your hard work to support the musicians.  I want to call out in particular the award form Best NW Recording.  Dirty Flowers was a team effort for sure.  Special thanks to Gaddis Cavenah who wrote the music and worked hard and the other guys who made it possible for the 2nd CD from the Rae Gordon Band project happen.  Special shout out to Ben Partain, Joseph Conrad, Scott Franklin, Ed Pierce, Edwin Coleman III, Kevin Nettlingham Audio and Kathy Rose for the cover photography.  It was so fun to bring that concept to life!  And thanks to all the people who waited patiently for it to happen.

Now the hard but happy work….to live up to it!  December will give me a chance to continue to hopefully “bring it” to live music lovers with Christmas Joy all month.  December 6th A Youthful Christmas has me sharing the stage with some kids for the 1st Sunday Gospel Show at Trails, then joining Sonny Hess in her incredible annual offering of the best in the northwest Women in Blues Christmas on Dec 10 and 13.  And I hope you join me and WE THREE KINGS December 19th for a Christmas show like no other at the Trails End Saloon.  Guitar kings Robbie Laws, Ben Rice and Lloyd Jones will bring gifts of groove to the stage along with featured artists Big Monti Amundson, Ben Partain, Joseph Conrad, Ed Pierce and the Holy Horns of Joe McCarthy and Scott Franklin.  Ol’ Saint Nick will also be stopping by to sing and bring joy and a comfy lap.  Please bring a good used coat to donate to needy and you will get a chance to win a prize.

As we head nearer to a close on the year 2015, it has truly been a blessing to be able to play in such a rich soil that makes us all grow as musicians and most importantly, as people.

Aside from the annual Northwest Women R&B Christmas Concert taking place on Sunday, December 13 (see separate article), the Trails End Saloon, 1320 Main Street, Oregon City, has a number of superb shows happening during the month of December. Check these out:

On Sunday, December 6, Rae Gordon will be presenting a Youthful Christmas at 2:00 pm. This will happen during her regularly scheduled monthly Gospel Sunday show, this month featuring the talents of three young artists who’ll be sitting in.

Friday, December 12 will see the return of Men In Blues. This will be an 8:30 show and will feature a bevy of local blues greats Michael Quinby, Doug Rowell, Kevin Selfe and The Thunder Brothers — Justin Matz and Timmer Blakely.

Rae Gordon will be back at it again on Saturday, December 19 at 8:30 pm with a show titled We Three Kings Christmas Show. Originally titled as such to note the three guitarists to be showcased: Ben Rice, Lloyd Jones, and Robbie Laws, plus yet another guitarist, special guest Monti Amundson. The show will also include Joseph Conrad, Ed Pierce, Ben Partain and The Holy Horns of Joe McCarthy, and Scott Franklin.

And come by the Trails End for your New Year’s Eve celebration as Billy D & The Hoodoos will kick things off at 8:30 pm and will take you into the early hours ringing in 2016.

By Laurie Morrisey

Justus Reece - photo by Greg JohnsonThe local blues scene is no stranger to young talent. In fact, I’d say Oregon is doing a pretty fine job of keeping the blues alive through our youth. One of the newer artists is 19-year-old Justus Reece. He will be representing the CBA at The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase in Memphis next month. This is the first time the CBA has been represented in the youth showcase.

According to CBA President Greg Johnson, “Justus will be able to meet other young blues artists from around the world, participate in jams for both young musicians and those hosted by recognized touring musicians, as well as being able to explore Beale Street, Memphis, and the Delta firsthand.”

Justus was born in Portland and raised in Hillsboro. He started playing music in front of people at the age of nine when he started taking music lessons. He joined his church band when he was 12, and for the past four years he has been a student of Terry Robb.

Music is a part of nearly every aspect of his life. He is currently a part time student at Portland Community College. “As a kid I wanted to be some type of counselor. I’m working on becoming a music therapist.”

“I don’t remember ever not really being into blues music, I’ve always loved music. I’m thankful I grew up around it. Neither of my parents are musicians, but as a child, there was always music playing. I perform when I have an opportunity to.”

Justus style and influences are varied. “My music comes from many places–from the Delta to India. Some of my favorite musicians are Frank Zappa, Charlie Hunter and Jimi Hendrix.”

He plays a few different stringed instruments, as most players do, but when he performs, he only plays guitar. He’s fairly new to performing professionally, so he hasn’t played with many musicians as he’s had few paid gigs. “I have had the honor of sitting in with Franco Paletta and Barney Murnin of Get Down Jones.”

In 2011 Justus won a Fender Stratocaster at the Blues for MS fundraiser. “I still own the Strat and play it nearly every day. I already had one, but nothing compares to the one I own today. I am thankful for that.”

Justus held a fundraiser to help with expenses for The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase in Memphis next month. For those who weren’t able to attend, but are interested in donating, money can be mailed to Justus Reece, 172 NE 34th Ct., Hillsboro, OR 97124, or through his pay pal account at reecegp@msn.com.