Greg Johnson / CBA President

Every May for the past few years, I have been honored to be a key part of what is without doubt the biggest night in the blues world, the annual Blues Music Awards. Working as part of the stage management team means keeping the entire show rolling smoothly and on time. I take a lot of pride in doing this with my good friends Joe Whitmer and Paul Averwater. Unfortunately, my wallet said that I could not afford the trip this year and it left me a little heartbroken. Not only because I couldn’t work the event, but because there are so many close and personal friends that I will miss seeing who we only have the chance to do so once or twice a year.

Then, there are the musicians themselves. The nominees this year include so many close friends, locally and internationally. I want to congratulate our nominees from the Portland area, Lisa Mann, Curtis Salgado, Jimi Bott, Karen Lovely, and Mary Flower. I hope that you all take home the prize and would certainly like to be there to see it happen. And then there are the others who’ve become good friends over the years who are also nominated, like Doug MacLeod, Fiona Boyes, Brandon Santini, Rich Del Grosso, John Nemeth, Andy T & Nick Nixon, Jarekus Singleton, Sugaray Rayford, Patrick Rynn, Diunna Greenleaf, and too many others to name. Knowing that so many friends are up for the awards makes it doubly hard to miss the event.

But I look at it in a positive light. This is just a set-back. It does not mean that I will not be back. My heart is with everybody in Memphis and I will see you all the next time around.

But on another note: I often hear people bemoan that the blues scene is dwindling in Portland and our area. There are not as many venues as there once was. I want to call this out and state it is not precisely true. Sure, we may have lost some major venues that we liked to call home over the years. But don’t miss the fact that every time it seems one place closes another is there to pick up what was lost. In the past couple years alone we have seen new places like Billy’s Blues, Spud Monkeys, Area 52, the remodeled 45th Street Pub, and larger venues like Revolution Hall picking up touring acts along with the recent opening of The Rose Room which looks pretty promising, too.

I can also tell you that writing up all the shows coming through our area in the BluesNotes has gotten a lot more burdensome to accomplish (and I don’t mean that in a negative way). If you don’t believe me, look over the past few issues of the paper. It takes me a lot longer going through the venue schedules online than it once did. What used to seem like the load during the summer touring season seems to be going on year-long now.

It’s not even the end of spring yet, but look at who has come through the city and region to date this year alone: Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Gary Clark Jr, Sonny Landreth, Doug MacLeod, Janiva Magness, Dana Fuchs, Shemekia Copeland, Tinsley Ellis, Tommy Castro, Fiona Boyes, Sugaray Rayford, Mark Hummel’s Harmonica Blowout. These are just a handful, yet my God, this is prime time blues featuring the best to be found anywhere. And we’re not even taking into consideration the talent we have living here that we can catch weekly.

So don’t tell me that the blues is fading around here. I have told everybody before, and I will continue to say it: we are spoiled. Portland is a blues haven, don’t take it for granted.

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

Blind Lemon Pledge – Pledge Drive (OFEH Records)
Curtis Salgado – The Beautiful Lowdown (Alligator Records)
David Day – Sound The Bell (Self Produced)
Debbie Bond – Enjoy The Ride ( Blues Root Productions)
Debbie Davies – Love Spin (VizzTone)
Golden State-Lone Star Blues Revue – Golden State-Lone Star Revue(Electro-Fi Records)
Jeff Jensen – Live: The River City Sessions (Self Produced)
Joanne Broh Band – Wicked Cool (Double YY Records)
Johnny Tanner – Juke Joint Rambler (Self Produced)
Jon Spear Band – Live Music Is Better (Self Produced)
Mac Arnold and Plate Full O’ Blues – Give It Away (Plantation #1 Productions)
Mariya May – Call Me Back If You Can Dig The Music (Ten Dollar Recording Co.)
Mark Cameron – Playing Rough (Cop Records)
Randy McAllister – Gristle To Gold (Reaction Records)
Shari Puorto – My Obsession (Lightning Productions)
The Texas Horns – Blues Gotta Holda Me (VizzTone)
The Wayne Riker Brotherhood – Blues Convocation (Fretfull Records)

Juke Joint Rambler
Self Produced

Johnny Tanner CD coverIf you’re looking for pure down-in-the-alley, traditional blues played by masterful musicians in the right vein, look no further than Johnny Tanner’s debut recording Juke Joint Rambler. This is a spot-on, straight-to-the-core collection recorded over two sessions in California, and what’s most amazing about this is that these studio sessions took place back in 1997 in Pasadena and 2001 in Berkeley. Both feature stellar artists who are in themselves household names in any blues lover’s world: Junior Watson, Rusty Zinn, Billy Flynn, Fred Kaplan, Richard Innes, Larry Taylor, Randy Bermudes, and Jeff Turmes. Harmonica ace Johnny Tanner is no stranger himself, as a major force on the Phoenix blues scene, and in Seattle before that, he has put in more than forty years plying his trade. How in the world did these recordings sit on the shelf for more than fourteen years?

Song selections include a few of the standard fare when it comes to classic harmonica-fueled blues. There’re your Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf numbers, but Tanner really comes through with his original material. The pace bounces between West Coast jump and Chicago classic. The highlight of which must be his instrumental “Blue Vapor,” a slow, haunting tune perfect for a close-up-to-your-partner dance that can also send chills down your spine it is so spell-binding. “Run Around Woman” is about that partner that no matter how much you try to please or give to her, she is always  telling you that you’re doing her wrong and she’s out all night making you want her back home. The original “Searchin’ The World Over” offers a distinct Jimmy Reed feel with its high harmonic tone. And how can you possibly look past the harmonica-piano duet of Tanner and Kaplan on Sonny Boy’s “Stop Breaking Down”?

This is a fine collection that runs the gamut of post-war blues to perfection. Nothing that will come across as new (after all these recordings have been on the shelf for fifteen plus years and are mostly covers), but it is highly enjoyable and will satisfy the most stringent of classical blues lovers and may make some new fans along the way, too.

Total Time: 44:40

I Got To Go / Lovey Dovey / Searchin’ The World Over / Bring Her Back To Me / I Done Got Over It / It Ain’t Right / Blue Vapor / Checking On My Baby / I Didn’t Know / Stop breaking Down / Run Around Woman / Nobody But You / Lighthouse For My Soul / Out Arizona Way

By Karen Y. Spencer & Laurie Morrisey

Rose City Kings - Facebook photoCollectively, the band members of Rose City Kings have some 200 years of professional musical experience. Rose City Kings was founded in Portland Oregon in 2002. Then band leader, Dan Berkery formed KOLVANE in 2007. After an extended hiatus, he reconstructed Rose City Kings in 2014.

“This is an exciting collection of some of the top musicians in Portland, each capable of handling the spotlight on their own, but collectively bring a moving and passionate show that will leave you wanting more,” according to Cascade Blues Association President Greg Johnson.

The current configuration of the band is: Dan Berkery, lead vocals/guitar; Steve Kerin, keyboard/vocals (he is a three-time muddy award winner for best keyboards—2011, 2012 and 2014); Tim Shaughnessy, bass; Gary Keeney, drums; Katy Oberg, percussion/vocals; and David Lipkind, harmonica.

For the most part, all the band members always want to be musicians when they grew up, except for Tim. “I wanted to be a teacher, however I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”

The majority of the band members work in the music industry. Dan works full time as a recording artist/writer/producer. Steve works full time as a keyboardist. When he’s not performing live, he’s arranging productions or teaching music. When Gary is not keeping the beat, he works in the music industry at the locally owned CD Baby, the independent musician’s best friend. Music and singing are Katy’s passions. David can be found performing on almost any night of the week. He moonlights (or is that sunlights?) during the day as a home builder and renovator. Tim is an entrepreneur who owns an LED lighting company and an essential oil extraction company.

Most of Rose City Kings’ training has come from experiences in bands. However, Steve Kerin has a Master’s degree in piano performance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL). David is self-taught on the harmonica, but grew up taking piano and guitar lessons, and watching his grandfather, uncle, and cousin play harmonica.

Rose City Kings are influenced by Chicago Blues: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Earl Hooker, and Magic Sam. Their music is describes as fun, infectious grooves, original Blues and Americana, sometimes with a nod towards the past and sometimes with a nod towards the future.

Past Members

Rose City Kings’ lineup has evolved over the years. However, the goal of the band has always been consistent — to provide the best all-out performance possible. Former band members include drummer Roger Espinor and bass player Ron Camacho who are now with Sister Mercy, which represented the CBA in the 2016 International Blues Challenge. Also Joe Powers who is a well-known Tango harmonica player.


The Rose City Kings will launch their new CD next month. They have three previous CD’s: Holler Out For More, June 2005; Up On It, June 2004, and Delta Hop, May 2003. Under the name Kolvane, they released Kill These Blues, May 2008 and They Called Me Evil, October, 2007.


CASHBOX MAGAZINE: Cool Baby # 1 Single Roadhouse Blues & Boogie for December 2008 & January 2009 and in Top 5 for 5 months; Cool Baby peaked at #19 on Beach Music Chart with 7 weeks in its Top 40

ROOTS MUSIC REPORT TOP 50: Kill These Blues Top 30 Roots Rock (8/2008); They Called Me Evil debuted at #18 (11/2007) in Roots Rock; & Holler Out for More #30 in Roots Blues (8/2005),

REAL BLUES MAGAZINE AWARDS: Top West Coast Blues/Rock CD Up On It, Best Pacific NW Blues Band, Best West Coast Blues/Rock Band (September, 2005); Top 100 CDs Holler Out for More (November 2006)

RADIOWAVE MONITOR CONTEMPORARY BLUES CHART TOP 30: Biscuits & Gravy reaching # 5 (March & April 2006)

MUDDY AWARDS WINNER: Winner 2004 Best Contemporary & 2003 Best New Act; Finalist Best Contemporary 2007 & 2008

JOURNEY TO MEMPHIS COMPETITION WINNERS: Qualified the band to compete in the 2005 International Blues Challenge

More Information

To find out more about Rose City Kings and their upcoming shows, visit Rose City Kings has announced the launch party for its upcoming CD on June 24th. Check their website for more details.

Golden State Lone Star Revue
Electro-Fi Records

Golden State Lone Star Revue CD coverAs a little history lesson, during the war years there was a migration of many African Americans looking for better income and life-styles from the South to places like Chicago and Detroit in the Midwest, but there were many other who looked west as well towards California, with its industries, such as ship building, for employment. Among those making the change of residence included many of the great musicians of our time. Moving from Texas to California were the likes of T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, Charles Brown, Sonny Rhodes, and Jimmy McCracklin. From these musicians and the others who followed developed a unique sound emerging from cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco — a sound that did not fall too far from the original, Texas-based blues family tree.

With that said, it is not surprising how well the blend of Californian and Texan musicians can still sound so right nowadays. To prove that, one listen to the Golden State Lone Star Revue will be more than convincing. Harmonica ace Mark Hummel fronts this grouping, blowing his always sensational harmonica and providing vocals. But when you throw in two of the most monstrous guitar cats ever in Little Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh things really get brought to a boil that makes you crave this swinging groove of blues. And don’t forget the blend of rhythm section RW Grigsby and Wes Starr that drives the whole of the sum. This is an all-star band if ever there was one.

Hummel provides some of his classic songwriting on a handful of tunes that speaks traditional-styled blues to a tee. They make you start finger-popping and head nodding from the get-go with tracks like “Prove It To You” or “Lucky Kewpie Doll,” or the smooth slow blues in “Cool To Be Your Fool” that makes you kick back and listen that might bring thoughts of Charles Brown, especially with the piano work of guest Jim Pugh. Bassist Grigsby also brings his tune “Detroit Blues” to the mix. Along with the originals, there are plenty of covers of great Texan musicians such as Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s “Midnight Hour,” Lee Allen’s “Walking With Mr Lee,” Lowell Fulson on “Check Yourself,” and Jimmy McCracklin’s “Georgia Slop.” Funderburgh offers a nice BB King-styled tribute to the late BB King on the traditional number “Pepper Mama” with strong vocals from Hummel.

This sensational offering of blues done right was crafted at Kid Anderson’s Greaseland Studios. For anybody who loves their blues presented straight-forward and with class the Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue is exactly what you’re looking for.

Total Time: 57:00

Midnight Hour / Here’s My Picture / Prove It To You / Cool To Be Your Fool / Check Yourself / Stop This World / Take A Chance / Lucky Kewpie Doll / Pepper Mama / Walking With Mr Lee / Detroit Blues / Georgia Slop / Dim Lights / End Of The World

Lisa Mann
Greetings BluesNotes readers! If you are reading this, it means you care about the blues in the Pacific Northwest, and I want to thank you for all of your support. If we blues artists had no one to perform for, and no one to listen to our CDs, we’d be pretty damn useless, so thank YOU for making the music scene happen.

It’s been a crazy busy year, with gigs in FL, MA, RI, CT, CA, AZ and TX, and of course in good ole OR and WA. By the time this issue is out, I’ll be headed to Memphis for the Blues Music Awards. I’m blessed to have received another nomination for bass, and blessed to be in the same nominee boat with NW greats like Karen Lovely, Jimi Bott, Mary Flower (with Ragpicker String Band), and former PDX-er Fiona Boyes. Big thanks to those of you who joined the Blues Foundation and voted for us! I wish I could put every one of you in my bags and bring you to Memphis too, although I WILL see some of you there.

Soon after I return (empty-handed or not), my latest CD Hard Times, Bad Decisions will be unleashed upon the world. It features Jason “JT” Thomas on guitar, Michael Ballash on drums, Brian Harris on keys, as well as many special guests including Kirk Fletcher, Andy Stokes, Dave Melyan, Alex Shakeri, Sonny Hess, and Vinny Appice (yes, that Vinny Appice). It was recorded, mixed and mastered at Opal Studio by engineer Kevin Hahn. In Portland, we’ll have a “YUGE” CD RELEASE PARTY at the Rose Room Bar & Grill on Friday May 13. It’s an incredible new venue, literally just a minute off of I-205, with the high traffic vinyl dance floor of your dreams, ample parking, and a great stage and sound system. Ben Rice, Louis Pain and soul-man Andy Stokes are among our special guests. On Saturday, May 14 we head up to Seattle’s juke joint Highway 99 for a smash up show, so tell your northerly pals we’re coming!

Then we’re playing at the Rally at the Border in Oroville, WA on Sat. May 21, and headed to Coos Bay for BBQ Blues & Brews on May 28 & 29. We’ve got LOTS of travel plans later this year, including California in June, Idaho in August, Florida in October, and I’ll even be heading to the UK in July, backed by British guitar phenom Dudley Ross and his crew.

Again, I must say none of this would be possible without the support of blues fans like you, so give YOURSELVES a round of applause!

With gratitude,
Lisa Mann


Lloyd Jones
“Before we head off to summertime touring to Europe and the East coast in June, California in August, I’d like to invite ya’ll to my special “Belated Birthday, Bon Voyage, Full Band Dance Party, Beginning of Exotic Summer Touring, Full Band Extravaganza with special guests at Duffs Garage Friday, May 20!!!!!!

Gonna hit the road in a flurry of balloons, cake and beer! Need your help spread the “Swampified Funkstivity” , so I’m also inviting all you “Blues Dancers” I’ve heard so much about. This one’s for YOU. You’re ready to graduate beyond the DJ and go LIVE baby!

While I’m in full babble mode, please let me mention to those in Washington, that we are going to play the Lincoln Theatre (Mt. Vernon) on May 28 with the full Band and…AND feature the magnificent LaRhonda Steele in the show to promote her brand new CD!!! Check our website for more details at

Lloyd Jones


Live: The River City Sessions
Self Produced

barry levenson The VisitJeff Jensen may arguably be the most energetic guitarist in the blues world today. The man is in constant motion as he plays, and he lets the music take over and reflect his onstage intensity. It is something that carries over to his audience, bringing him legions of fans everywhere. So it is no wonder that a live recording was something that would be on the horizon. With Live: The River City Sessions, Jensen’s passion and stage presence comes through in this vivid performance. If you’ve witnessed a Jeff Jensen show, it immediately bring visions of that non-stop, high-powered, fasten your seat belts ride that only he can take you on.

Like any performer, Jensen feeds off his audience. So when he decided that it was time to make a live recording, he put the invitation out to his most stalwart and devoted fans to join him in the making of the disc. And he could’ve chosen to do so in any of a number of venues in his home of Memphis. But instead he selected the ingenious path of bringing his audience into one of the world’s finest recording studios, Ardent, where the sound could be captured to perfection.

To truly appreciate Jensen’s drive in his music, you also need to have accompaniment by partners who also bring out that same thirst and fury. That is brought forth successfully with drummer Robinson Bridgeforth and Jensen’s longtime bassist Bill Ruffino.

The tracks contain a handful of selections from his previous acclaimed release Morose Elephant including “Ash and Bone,” “Make It Through,” “Empty Bottles,” and the fiery instrumental “Elephant Blue.” A couple from the Road Worn and Ragged disc, “Brunette Woman” and the always popular cover of Tom Waits’ “Heart Attack and Vine,” plus Jensen digs deep to his first recording with a pair of numbers, “Can’t Believe We’re Through” and “Find Myself All Alone” that displays the in-depth guitar prowess and attack that Jensen is noted for. The album is a fast-paced and entertaining performance climaxed by a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” utilizing the Jimi Hendrix take more so than the songwriter’s.

Live: The River City Sessions is the perfect way to relive a Jeff Jensen show again and again. Whenever you feel the desire to get up, jump and dance to a good time roadhouse blues disc, this is one you’re going to reach for.

Total Time: 66:46

Introduction / T-Bone Shuffle / Make It Through / Empty Bottles / JJ Boogie / Find Myself All Alone / Brunette Woman / Elephant Blue / Heart Attack And Vine / Can’t Believe We’re Through / Band Introduction / Ash And Bone / All Along The Watchtower