Journey To Memphis

Journey To MemphisThe Journey To Memphis is the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition to select the acts that will represent our organization and region in the next year’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, held in early 2017. Up to 250 acts from around the world converge on Beale Street to perform before the music industry searching for new talent, with the chance to win recognition and prizes that include major festival performances and more. But the only way an act may participate is to win a regional competition held by one of The Blues Foundation’s affiliated societies like the Cascade Blues Association.

The Journey To Memphis competition consists of two rounds. The opening round will in early June at a venue to be determined.  The event may take place over more than one night depending on the number of acts wishing to compete. Acts are scored by a trio of judges selected for their backgrounds and knowledge of the blues. The highest scoring acts from each night of competition (up to four acts)will advance to the finals held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4th.

Applications to participate in the competition will be accepted from now until Wednesday, April 6 at the Cascade Blues Association membership meeting. No late applications will be accepted. All eligible acts that meet our criteria as described below will be able to compete. The performance schedule for the competition is drawn at random.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Entry fee is $25.00
  • Each act must have at least one person in the band who is a member of the Cascade Blues Association.
  • Only acts located within the region of Oregon, Washington or Idaho are allowed to enter the Journey To Memphis.
  • Any act that has been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation are ineligible to compete.
  • Any act that has competed in the International Blues Challenge two consecutive years, regardless whether with the same society or as a solo/duo or band act, must sit out a year before being allowed to compete again.
  • Along with your $25.00 application fee, send an up-to-date band bio including names of all members, a 300 dpi photo of the band, full song samples of the band’s music (this may be used on a radio broadcast to promote the event), and we need to be made aware of any band member who may be under 21 years of age at the time of the competition so the venue is aware ahead of time for Oregon or Washington Liquor Commission laws.
  • We require that any act that moves forward in the competition must use the same band members that they won the rounds with. In other words, if you won with a certain bass player or drummer at the Waterfront Blues Festival, that bassist and drummer must be in your band to compete in Memphis. Exceptions will made in rare circumstances when not under control of the act, such as health issues.
  • We do not prevent acts competing with the Cascade Blues Association from doing so with other societies. All that we ask is that if you win another group’s competition before ours is held, or if you win ours before theirs, please remove yourself from further competitions to allow other acts the chance to win the right to go to Memphis.

Drop Dead Red and Martin Henry & Freedom Street Band

Both of these bands would like to thank all of our followers, family, friends, and all the wonderful venues we played during 2015. We appreciate you all so much!
A big thank you to the Cascade Blues Association for having both of these bands perform during September and October. The audience was so appreciative and with lots of dancing, it made for wonderful fun-filled evenings!
We wish you all a healthy, happy and joyful holiday season and hope to see you out and about in 2016.
Check out the BluesNotes calendar and our websites for upcoming 2016 events!


The Ventilators

We had a good year in 2015 and hope you did, too. Thanks to Biddy Mcgraw’s, Duff’s, the Lehrer, Tigardville Station, and Division Sports Pub for booking us over the past 12 months. Thanks to Arthur “Fresh Air” Moore, Scott Clancy, and Bernie Keough for joining us on stage and for all the support. Thanks to Eric Thurber for keeping time. Thanks to Michael Bowman for engineering. And thanks to everyone who came out to hear us and dance.

Now The Ventilators are back after a productive hiatus. We’ve added Portland native and veteran drummer Kevin Shoepe to our lineup. We’ve written some hot new songs. And we’ve pulled some distinctive covers out the hat. Join us for the return of The Ventilators on January  at Montavilla Station.

All the best to you and yours for the New Year!

Bill, Bruce, Kevin, Randy, Tom, and Tom


Happy Holidays everybody!

From Tracey Fordice and the 8-Balls, we wish you all Peace and Happiness through this wonderful season.

We had a ball at the CBA Holiday Party, and thank everybody involved for inviting us to perform with all the other great talent that gave of themselves to make your Holiday Spirits bright! Also thanks to the Spare Room & their staff, as well as James Patrick Hurley and his crew at JBL Productions for providing the super sound!

There were so many 8-Balls hanging on the stage, the stage looked like a decorated Christmas Tree. Thanks to David Alvey, our producer of our recent CD “Out Of The Blues”, for providing some super guitar licks and background vocals. Thanks to Franklin Spicer for laying down the organ parts he so tastefully put down on the CD! Thanks to Jim Toussaint for helping out on our only Christmas song performed that day, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, and others. Which, by the way, is no reflection on his own personality! He’s a pretty nice guy and his fiddle adds a unique touch to our sound! Thanks to Randy Yearout and Johnnie Corrie, and to our new bass player, Todd Ommert, for putting down the signature mark on our music! And, last but not least, thanks to Mac Potts for joining us on saxophone. He filled in nicely on our tune “Mojo Bag”!

So, if you want to purchase on of our new CDs direct, just send a check made out to Randy Yearout for $21 (this also covers shipping and handling) to the following address and we’ll send one out to you right away.

Tracey Fordice and the 8-Balls
14845 SW Murray Scholls Drive
Suite 110 PMB 153
Beaverton, OR 97007

You can also pick one up at Music Millennium here in Portland, or go on line to CD Baby or iTunes, and most other online distribution sites.

By now you have all shaken off the Holiday Cheer and sang in 2016 with Auld Lang Syne, so once again we hope to see out in the local and regional music venues, supporting local live music throughout the New Year!

Blues to You!

Tracey Fordice and the 8-Balls


 Dean Mueller

I wanted to shout out a big congratulations to all the BMA nominees from the area. They are all very well deserved and we are so fortunate to be in a place with such a high concentration of talent. It’s also been a great year for Julie Amici and the Lake Theater & Cafe and I thanks you much for the support. Happy holidays to you all and best wishes for a great 2016!

New Music to Note

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

Amanda Fish – Down In The Dirt (Self Produced)
Andy Cohen – Road Be Kind (Earwig)
Andy Santana And The West Coast Playboys – Watch Your Step! (Delta Groove)
Anthony Geraci And The Boston Blues All Stars – Fifty Shades Of Blue (Delta Groove)
Billy Walton Band – Wish For What You Want (VizzTone)
Blinddog Smokin’ – High Steppin’ (Silver Talon Records)
Blue Largo – Sing Your Own Song (Self Produced)
Bob Margolin – My Road (Steady Rollin’ Records / VizzTone)
Calvin Conway – Dark Horse Deluxe (Tone Royale)
Charlie Musselwhite – I Ain’t Lyin’ (Henrietta Music)
D’Mar & Gill – Take It Like That (Self Produced)
Georgie Bonds – Hit It Hard (Roadhouse Redemption Records)
Hank Mowery – Excuses Plenty (Blue Bella)
Jewel Brown – Roller Coaster Boogie (Dynaflow Records)
John Clifton – Let Yourself Go (Rip Cat Records)
Josh Smith – Over Your Head (Self Produced)
Kim Nalley – Blues People (Self Produced)
Lara & The Bluz Dawgz – Howlin’ (Lock Alley Music)
Les Copeland – To Be In Your Company (Earwig)
Little Boys Blue – Bad Love (Jaxon Records)
Mark Telesca – Heavy Breathing (Self Produced)
Morry Sochat & The Special 20s – Dig In (Galaxie Records)
Pete Karnes Blues Band – Bar Room Blues DVD (Self Produced)
Sherwood Fleming – Blues Blues Blues (Dynaflow Records)
Sonny Terry – The King Of Blues Harmonica (Wolf Records)
The Jimmys – Hot Dish ( Brown Cow Productions)

Billy The Kid and The Regulators CD cover

Billy The Kid and The Regulators CD coverI Can’t Change
Self Produced

While working at the International Blues Challenge over the years, there have been a number of acts that have truly stood out and garnered my attention on the finals stage. Billy The Kid & The Regulators is certainly one of those. So when I received a copy of their latest recording, I Can’t Change, I immediately popped that disc into my player and was instantly reminded of what made this band so special in my mind from their performance. This six-piece outfit hailing from Pittsburgh is led by triple threat Billy Evanochko, a powerful guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. The Steel Town Horns add an additional punch to the band’s sound on a trio of tracks, and guests including harmonica ace Jason Ricci, vocalist Yolanda Barber, guitarists Sean Carney, Damon Fowler (who also produced the disc), and young Micah Kesselring.

The songs included on I Can’t Change are quite memorable. Along with Evanochko, band members Jon Vallecorsa and James Dougherty also were involved with penning a number of the tracks. Excellent covers of Jimmy Reed’s “Can’t Stand To See You Go,” Bernard Roth’s “Who” and especially Robert Johnson’s “Me And The Devil Blues” stand out, and the latter featuring strong acoustic playing from both Ricci and Kesselring alongside Evancohko’s easy going singing. It certainly draws a picture of Southern living that is quite inviting. Of course I have always been drawn to the slow blues, so “Slender Man Blues” hits me right in the core. But the originals truly shine throughout. There is perhaps no let down throughout the entire disc when it comes to musical presentation and lyrics. And whether humorous, like “That Darn Cat,” or punchy like “Saturday Night” and “Ain’t Gotta Prove Nothing,” you pay attention every step of the way. And the one track I keep returning to over and over is “What Are We Fighting For,” as Evanochko ponders just what is going on between him and his partner.

From soulful and funky to outright rockin’, this is an album that can appeal to many tastes — all of them pleasing and full of flavor.  Very much recommended if you want to hear an artist that deserves attention. Onstage or on disc, Billy The Kid & The Regulators is worth checking out and with strong releases such as I Can’t Change it should be a sure bet that we’re going to be hearing a lot more from this band for some time to come!

Total Time: 40:18

I Can’t Change / Ain’t Gotta Prove Nothing / What Are We Fighting For / Story of The Blues / Who / That Darn Cat / Slender Man Blues / Can’t Stand To See You Go / Saturday Night / Me And The Devil Blues

Bey Paule Band CD cover

Not Goin’ Away
Blue Dot Records

The Bey Paule Band offers one tight, eight-piece band featuring a number of musicians who have worked with some of the best, including Bey and Paule, with keyboardist Tony Lufrano (Boz Scaggs), bassist Paul Olguin (Elvin Bishop), drummer Paul Revelli (Joe Louis Walker), saxophonist Nancy Wright (Elvin Bishop), and trumpeters Tom Poole (Tommy Castro) and Mike Rinta (Tommy Castro). The disc was produced by Paule, Revelli along with Christine Vitale and Kid Anderson who also adds his own guitar work on a couple of numbers.

The album opens strongly with an autobiographical piece about Frank Bey  titled “Black Bottom” that guides you through his falling in love with music while listening to Southern radio stations, followed by the encounters with musicians that led to his own career performing. But as he states, he is still that same kid from Black Bottom singing the blues with a lot of soul.

Follow that number up with “Kiss Like You Mean It” with the powerful horn section and organ from Lufrano driving the track that seems to invoke the spirit of Otis Redding from within Bey where he states, “you got to, got to, got to hold me tight, don’t let me go, don’t turn me loose . . . “ Or maybe it’s Solomon Burke or Sam Cooke he’s after as he pleads soulfully for his love knowing he’s hurt her and he’ll always hold her words “Next To My Heart.” His sorrow continues in the song “Don’t Ask Me How I Feel.” If you ask he just might break down in tears. You can feel his sadness in his delivery, and Paule’s guitar stresses it even more.

There is no losing track to be found on this fine album. Everybody in the band is spot on fantastic with their playing, clearly stated on the instrumental piece “Noel’s Haze.” And all of the numbers are originals save for two covers that are presented with utmost attention that shines perfectly: Candi Staton’s “Someone You Use,” and the closing selection “If I Could Reach Out” a feel-good number originally recorded by Otis Clay.

In a year that has seen a lot of excellent soul blues recordings, Not Goin’ Away stands out highly. The Bey Paule Band hits it home here and once you listen to this album you’re going to be playing consistently for some time to come. Yes, it’s definitely a keeper.

Total Time: 50:44

Black Bottom / Kiss Me Like You Mean It / Right In Front Of You / Next To My Heart / Someone You Use / This Party’s Done / Nobody’s Angel / Not Goin’ Away / Ballad Of The Lover Man / Noel’s Haze / Don’t Ask Me How I Feel / If I Could Reach Out

Fantastic Negrito

Fantastic NegritoFantastic Negrito (Deluxe Edition)
Blackball Universe

When I first began listening to Fantastic Negrito disc, I felt that I was hearing the sounds of a performer from Mali or one of the other musically rich regions of Western Africa. It had that raw feel to it that helped spawn the music that would come to America and give birth to the blues — very intense. Kind of the same feeling I had when I first started to hear the music of the hill country of Northern Mississippi. It is music that is filled with passion and perhaps a dark pain that can only be reflected through song. The more that I listened to it the more hypnotized I became and had to dig deeper into the person behind it as there was no liner notes to give me details about just who this Fantastic Negrito really was.

What I found surprised me. Fantastic Negrito is the moniker taken by Xavier Dphrepaulezz, who grew up in Massachusetts and had moved to Oakland in 1979. Fascinated by the music of Prince, he took up playing piano and caught the ears of a major label who in turn signed him to a million dollar contract, releasing a studio album titled X Factor. The music was derived from what he had heard through Prince mixed with soul and hip hop. He was sitting on top of the world, and then it all caved in around him as a car accident in 1999 placed him into a coma for three weeks and he awoke to mangled hands and arms and the deal with the label was gone. Worse yet, he did not know whether he would ever be able to create music again.

But the drive to succeed never left him and he discovered something in the sounds of the Delta blues that touched him. Combining his soulful background, he developed his own musical style that spoke to him as the continuation of black musical culture in America. Something that he often refers to as “blues with a punk attitude.” He literally took those sounds to the streets of Oakland, busking and playing wherever possible. He caught the attention of NPR through their Tiny Desktop Concert contest amongst around 7000 entries and has been on an upward surge since, even performing at SXSW and gaining rave responses.

The self-titled seven-song EP Fantastic Negrito is filled with personal expressions. Percussive hand clapping make the flow of the disc feel authentic to the music of the past, as does the often mournful moans. But it digs between the intensity of the themes behind the lyrics and comes out from the start like field hollers that by the end of the disc becomes very soulful and even funky. This is modern blues with a direct link to the roots, though it may be sitting more on the modern edge of today’s music. It’s definitely interesting and inspiring.

Total time: 26:22

Lost In a Crowd / She Don’t Cry No More / An Honest Man / Night Has Turned To Day / The Time Has Come / A Long Long Road / A New Beginning

Anthony Geraci CD cover

Anthony Geraci CD coverFifty Shades of Blue
Delta Groove     

If you’re a true blues lover and the name Anthony Geraci isn’t familiar to you, then just think of acts like Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters or Sugar Ray & The Bluetones. Geraci was an original member of both and provided the signature keyboard sound so important to each band.  He has also played with numerous legendary musicians such as BB King, Big Mama Thornton, Duke Robillard, Big Joe Turner, Hubert Sumlin, John Hammond, and countless others you’re going to recognize as well. And if those credentials aren’t enough to convince you, then listen to his latest release Fifty Shades Of Blue and all doubt will go right out the window.

Just take a look at the people working on the album with him and it’s quite obvious why they’re called the Boston Blues All Stars. This is an assortment of some of the very best blues musicians to be found in Boston, the Northeast, the East Coast, or anywhere else for that matter. This is an impresive line-up indeed, with people like Mike Welch on guitar, Mudcat Ward on bass, Darrell Nulisch on harmonica and vocals, and a handful of talented singers including Michell “Evil Gal” Willson and Toni Lynn Washington. In other words, there was no fooling around when they put together this cast. Can you say, “Wow?”

Fifty Shades Of Blue is an outstanding collection of songs, all written by Geraci. He sets a variation of moods through the album that are perfectly presented in each of their formats. I am consumed with the beauty of “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” with vocals from Norcia and Geraci laying down some of the finest soft piano work this side of the late Charles Brown. Norcia and Michelle Willson provide some laughs behind the kinkiness of the title track “Fifty Shades Of Blue,” and there is a country-like, or perhaps maybe a little Warren Zevon kind of delivery, on “Too Late For Coffee” (too late for coffee, too early for beer . . . ). Norcia and Geraci seem to pull from a Ray Charles influence on “Your Turn To Cry” and it comes across nicely, impacted even more by a harmonica solo from the former. On the instrumental “In The Quicksand, Again” Geraci trades driving piano matched to a tee with ferocity from Welch on guitar. The album closes with yet another instrumental, the lengthy six-plus-minute “Blues For David Maxwell.” It is a beautiful tribute to the late pianist and quite moving, again with the emotional keyboard work enhanced strongly by Welch’s tear-inducing string work and the rhythms of Ward and drummer Marty Richards. The song starts out quite bluesy and closes with jazz overtones. Outstanding, and the essential way to close this strong collection.

Fifty Shades Of Blue is an album that I’d suggest running out and picking up. It just may be one of the best blues recordings of the year. Can I smell Blues Music Awards with this one. I surely would not be surprised!

Total Time: 54:28

Everything I Do Is Wrong / Fifty Shades Of Blue / Sad But True / Heard That Tutwiler Whistle Blow / If You Want To Get To Heaven / The Blues Never Sleeps / Too Late For Coffee / Diamonds And Pearls / Cry A Million Tears / In The Quicksand, Again / Your Turn To Cry / Blues For David Maxwell

Pete Karnes Blues Band DVD coverBar Room Blues: Just Like The Old Days
Self Produced

For all of the long-time Portland blues lovers who remember the days of The White Eagle when it was one of the premier venues in the city, this is certainly going to be something that will bring back a lot of fond memories. Pete Karnes Blues Band was a house band at The White Eagle, filling the place with eager fans wanting to hear great tunes and to quench their thirst for adult beverages. After a lengthy departure from the city, Pete Karnes made a rare trip back to the club in September of 2014, bringing with him members of his current Florida-based band and reuniting with several of the key players from his original Portland band, and they mix well together. This DVD video release, Bar Room Blues: Just Like The Old Days, is the companion piece to the previous released CD under the same name. Most of the same tracks are available here, filmed by David Jack Jester using multiple cameras throughout the room. But what makes this indispensable for any fan of the Pete Karnes Blues Band is the interviews inserted through the disc with Karnes and band members recalling the times they experienced on the stage, the road, and the well-renowned artists that they worked with or brought into the city to showcase. He even offers examples of the harmonica style many of his old friends used.

Original band members Michael Mendenhall, Doug Smith, Richard Englund, and Johnny Moore are all on hand, telling their tales and performing. The set-list is standard blues classics popular from the era and still nowadays, plus a couple Karnes originals “How Did We Let It Go This Far” and his tribute to his late wife “Rayma’s Song.”

Owning both the CD and DVD is worth the extra expense. Not only with the visual quality and enjoyment of seeing the band onstage at The White Eagle, but as mentioned there are tracks only available on one format or the other, such as the inclusion on the DVD of a Jimmy Reed Medley and John Lee Hooker’s “Big Leg Boogie.” And speaking of Hooker, Karnes not only performed with him but also recorded with the late master. His style of boogie playing is a heavy influence on Karnes’ music as is all traditional classic blues, which you will never hear this band stray from.

Whether you were there for the old times or came out for this show, it is a great souvenir of blues memories recalling the greatness of Portland’s early club scene days and the people who ruled the stages at the time.

Total Time: 1;29:59

I’m Ready / Play With Your Poodle / Boogie All Night / Ain’t Nobody’s Business / Jimmy Reed Medley / Mama Talk To Your Daughter / Help Me / Rayma’s Song / Chicken Shack / Yonder Wall / How Did We Let It Go This Far / Big Leg Boogie / My Last Meal / Back Door Man

The Blues Foundation announced the nominees for the 2016 Blues Music Awards on Tuesday, December 15, and four of our local Portland artists found themselves amongst the mix. Drummer Jimi Bott is a perennial nominee, following his first time receiving the award last year this is his seventeenth nomination. Lisa Mann, who also took home the award last year for bassist, once again finds herself on the list for the same category. Mary Flower is no stranger to the awards and her latest release The Ragpicker String Band with partners Rich DelGrosso and Martin Grosswendt has earned a nod for the Acoustic Album of the Year. And Karen Lovely has also been given recognition for the Contemporary Female Artist of the Year, her first nomination since 2001 when she received three. Congratulations and good luck to all of our local nominees.

The complete list of all nominations is as follows:

Acoustic Album
Doug MacLeod – Exactly Like This
Duke Robillard – The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard
Eric Bibb – Blues People
Guy Davis – Kokomo Kidd
The Ragpicker String Band – The Ragpicker String Band

Acoustic Artist
Doug MacLeod
Eric Bibb
Gaye Adegbalola
Guy Davis
Ian Siegal

 Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars – Fifty Shades of Blue
Buddy Guy – Born to Play Guitar
James Harman – Bonetime
The Cash Box Kings – Holding Court
Wee Willie Walker – If Nothing Ever Changes

Andy T – Nick Nixon Band
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones
The Cash Box Kings
Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots

B.B. King Entertainer
 John Németh
Rick Estrin
Shemekia Copeland
Sugaray Rayford
Victor Wainwright

Best New Artist Album
Eddie Cotton – One at a Time
Igor Prado Band – Way Down South
Mighty Mike Schermer – Blues in Good Hands
Mr. Sipp – The Blues Child
Slam Allen – Feel These Blues

Contemporary Blues Album
Buddy Guy – Born to Play Guitar
Eugene Hideaway Bridges – Hold on a Little Bit Longer
Shemekia Copeland – Outskirts of Love
Sonny Landreth – Bound by the Blues
Sugaray Rayford – Southside

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Beth Hart
Karen Lovely
Nikki Hill
Samantha Fish
Shemekia Copeland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Brandon Santini
Eugene Hideaway Bridges
Jarekus Singleton
Joe Louis Walker
Sugaray Rayford

Historical Album
The Henry Gray/Bob Corritore Sessions, Vol. 1, Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest on Delta Groove Records
Hawk Squat by J. B. Hutto & His Hawks on Delmark Records
Southside Blues Jam by Junior Wells on Delmark Records
Buzzin’ the Blues by Slim Harpo on Bear Family Records
Dynamite! The Unsung King of the Blues by Tampa Red on Ace Records

Charlie Wooton
Lisa Mann
Michael “Mudcat” Ward
Patrick Rynn
Willie J. Campbell

Cedric Burnside
Jimi Bott
June Core
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

Anson Funderburgh
Kid Andersen
Monster Mike Welch
Ronnie Earl
Sonny Landreth

Billy Branch
Brandon Santini
James Harman
Jason Ricci
Kim Wilson

Al Basile
Doug James
Kaz Kazanoff
Sax Gordon
Terry Hanck

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)
Diunna Greenleaf
Fiona Boyes
Ruthie Foster
Trudy Lynn
Zora Young

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Allen Toussaint
Anthony Geraci
Barrelhouse Chuck
John Ginty
Victor Wainwright

Rock Blues Album of the Year
Joe Bonamassa – Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks
Joe Louis Walker – Everybody Wants a Piece
Royal Southern Brotherhood – Don’t Look Back
Tinsley Ellis – Tough Love
Walter Trout – Battle Scars

“Bad Feet/Bad Hair” written and performed by James Harman
“Fifty Shades of Blue” written by Anthony Geraci and performed by Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars
“Gonna Live Again” written and performed by Walter Trout
“Southside of Town” written by Sugaray Rayford and & Ralph Carter and performed by Sugaray Rayford
“You Got It Good (and That Ain’t Bad)” written and performed by Doug MacLeod

Soul Blues Album
Bey Paule Band – Not Goin’ Away
Billy Price & Otis Clay – This Time for Real
Jackie Payne – I Saw the Blues
Tad Robinson – Day into Night
Wee Willie Walker – If Nothing Ever Changes

Soul Blues Female Artist
Bettye LaVette
Dorothy Moore
Missy Anderson
Toni Lynn Washington
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
Frank Bey
Jackie Payne
Johnny Rawls
Otis Clay
Wee Willie Walker

Traditional Blues Album
Andy T – Nick Nixon Band – Numbers Man
Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars – Fifty Shades of Blue
Cedric Burnside Project – Descendants of Hill Country
James Harman – Bonetime
The Cash Box Kings – Holding Court

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Cedric Burnside
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin
James Harman
Jimmy Burns
John Primer

Ramblings On My Mind

Ramblings On My MindGreg Johnson / CBA President

As we roll into 2016, I want you to take a close look at the header on the front page of the BluesNotes. Right there where it says Volume 30. Yes, everybody, that is correct. The Cascade Blues Association will turn thirty-years-old this next year. And though it doesn’t occur until late in the year, let’s find reason to celebrate the fact the entire year long. Your board of directors will come up with ideas to help note this occasion, and I am certain that as we have in past anniversary dates we will have to put together a special event to truly mark this plateau.

There have been a lot of peaks and valleys throughout the existence of the CBA. More good than bad, but that is pretty much the nature of any business. And we are indeed a business. As the song goes, “The blues is our business and business is good!” We might see pitfalls with venues closing or the passing of a beloved musician every now and then. But Portland really does remain vital in the blues world. We have residing amongst us some of the finest musicians in the world, who keep popping up in award shows like the Blues Blast or Blues Music Awards. And despite losing a venue here and again, look at our calendar each month and compare it with most cities that have blues organizations and you’ll recognize that we have far more going on than a lot of places out there. A lot of that has to do with you, our members, who go out and support our artists and clubs.

Personally I have been a member of the CBA for most of those thirty years. I was approached by a friend involved with the creation of the group who asked me to join way back that first year. Unfortunately, I was working two jobs at the time and felt that I had little time to offer, but still attended meetings and events when the time would allow. I started getting more involved in the early 1990s and by the last few years of the decade was spending a great deal of more time around the organization, first writing articles for the BluesNotes, then under the suggestion of both then President Rick Hall and Vice President Val Davis made the plunge to join the board. It was during the tenth year celebration period when I did and taking on the President position myself a short few years later, found myself presiding over the fifteenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth and now looking at the thirtieth anniversaries. 2016 marks my fifteenth year as President, something that when I first took it on I felt that I didn’t have the time to sufficiently give. Former President Erroll Shervey told me that first year that now you’re in it you’ll never be able to give it up. Of course I laughed at the remark at the time, but oh my, here I am now and still in the position. No complaints mind you, it is a pleasure to be recognized with such a fine organization. And, of course, I really still don’t have the sufficient time, but I seem to be doing more and more every year. Go figure?

I am hoping that 2016 is the beginning of yet greater things to come with the CBA, for instance, revitalizing our Blues in the Schools program. Bringing the attention of the blues, or any music for that matter, is vital in our school education system. We must not let it get away from us. But we need people who wish to handle the program. We can also use more people involved with our board of directors. At the moment there are only eight of us, and we cannot tackle everything we’d like with a small group. You do not have to be on the board for that matter to get involved. We are a volunteer organization and if you would like to assist in our programs but not be on the board we can surely use your help that way, too. Remember, the Cascade Blues Association belongs to everybody. And the more involved the stronger it can become. There is no elitist group that determines who belongs and who does not. You’re all welcome. And we intend on supporting everyone as well, musicians and venues alike. Nobody has the taste to like everything they hear, but that is okay, we’re not hear to judge one over another, our job is to let others decide what they like and to let them know where they can find it. That is why we have the BluesNotes Calendar and the Bandstand features, so you can let people know yourself. And it’s all free to use, just report your information to us by the 15th of each month and we’ll get it in there for you. Please let us work for you. It’s a win-win situation for all.

2016 is going to be a good year for the blues. Especially if we support everybody! Let’s make it happen and who knows, we just may be celebrating the beginning of another thirty years of the Cascade Blues Association. But I will tell you right now, I don’t intend to being around as your President thirty years from now. But I am enjoying it while it goes on.