CALL FOR BLUES ARTIST SUBMISSIONS: Portland independent label Flying Heart Records is planning a second volume of the “Taste of the Blue Rose” sampler of Portland-area blues artists. The first CD, “A Taste of the Blue Rose,” featured Mel Solomon, O.C. Thomas, Bob Shoemaker, Johnnie Ward, along with several others, and was very well received. We are looking for ORIGINAL material from established or unknown Portland-area blues artists. If you are interested in having your song (or two songs) on the next Blue Rose sampler, please send a CD or cassette to Jan Celt, Flying Heart Records, 4015 NE 12th Ave., Portland OR 97212. Or email Jan at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “BLUE ROSE” in the subject line. All entries will be considered; a few will be chosen.
Shawn James hails from Fayetteville, Arkansas and is the leader of the successful band The Shapeshifters whose music encompasses a unique mixture of heavy rock, bluegrass, and folk. The band tours seemingly endlessly across the country (recently playing Portland at Dante’s in May). But for his latest recording, “On The Shoulders Of Giants,” Shawn James went into Memphis’ famed Sun Studios and laid down a collection of intense and sometimes haunting original and live solo tracks.
The originality behind his music is showcased by how well his vocals and instrumentation matches one another. Both come across quite mournful at times and the selections are raw. James provides all the accompaniment to his singing with resonator guitars, kick drum and tambourine. And in the case of the closing number, “Preacher Foretold,” it is a cappella, just his voice and clapping hands.
But as dark as the music may seem, it still filled with bluesy overtones that just may bring to mind early artists of the genre like Robert Johnson, Son House, and especially Blind Willie Johnson. The latter Johnson’s best-known song “The Soul Of A Man” seems almost to be a theme to several of the pieces on the album. And there is often religious inspiration (“Delilah”) and tales of personal demons and tribulations (“Belly Of The Beast” or “When It Rains, It Pours”).
The music is spell-binding, somber and maybe a little foreboding. But there is something about its hypnotic trance and haunting presentation that continually mesmerizes and draws you back into its fold.
Total Time: 32:33
Hellhound / Belly Of The Beast / When It Rains, It Pours / Snake Eyes / Delilah / Back Down / Lift Us Up / Captain Stormalong / Preacher Foretold
Take note — sound-wise, Live At The Brick Cottage 1972-1973 may not come across as the best recording that you’re going to hear of a live performance. After all, it was recorded using an old reel-to-reel tape recorder in a crowded bar in Cleveland during a couple of shows back in 1972 & 1973. It also was never meant for official release when these shows were taped. But what you get here is a showcase of stellar proportions featuring one of the legends of the Cleveland blues scene, Bill “Mr. Stress” Miller. He may not be a familiar name outside of Ohio, but he was one of the first white performers in the city playing the blues and drawing crowds.
These dates were recorded at The Brick Cottage in Cleveland where the Mr. Stress Blues Band held regular weekly stints. The music offered on this album are all covers, mostly of the Chicago blues brand and are familiar to any blues fan. Numbers like “Sweet Little Angel,” “Crosscut Saw,” “Big Boss Man,” “Rock Me Baby,” “Help Me” — you know, the standards. Miller was an avid fan of Paul Butterfield, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Little Walter, and his own playing reflects that to a tee. Among the musicians who passed through the band over the years were many of the city’s biggest artists, such as Peter Laughner (Pere Ubu), Anton Fier (The Golden Palominos), and Vito San Filippo (Tower of Power). The band on these recordings features the fiery guitar playing of Chuck “Pontiac Slim” Drazdik, Tom Rinda on bass, Mike “The Professor” Sands on piano, and the drum duties are split between Dr. Pete Sinks on the 1972 dates and Kenny Ruscitto on the 1973 sessions.
Mr. Stress passed away this last year after blowing his harp for more than five decades as one of Cleveland’s best blues artists. Sadly, his prominence never really traveled beyond the city and he was unfortunately under-recorded. Gotta say though, this is some downright, greasy, deep-in-the-alley harmonica work backed by a heavy blues band that understandably brought in devoted followers to their shows for many years. I know I would’ve been right there to listen to these guys myself had I lived in Ohio. Also, glad to see quite an extensive history about the musicians and the band included in this release obviously painstakingly compiled by Nick Blaky. Bill “Mr. Stress” Miller may be gone now, but hopefully this posthumous release brings some attention to a very deserving musician who laid groundwork to make Cleveland’s blues scene shape and grow.
Total Time: 1:15:30
How Many More Years / Walkin’ Through The Park / Good Time Charlie / Scratch My Back / Chicken Shack (Break Song #1) / Get Out Of My Life Woman / Big Boss Man / I Feel So Sad / Sweet Little Angel / Rock Me Baby / Crosscut Saw / Help Me / Black Night / Chicken Shack (Break Song #2)
Over the length of his career, Tim “Too Slim” Langford has delivered us with a multitude of directions he’s pursued on the guitar. Whether it’s slide, swampy, rockin’, psychedelic, acoustic, or back porch country blues, he delivers all in the same splendid fashion that keeps our ears in tune. Now I have heard over the years that he sounds just like this guitarist or that guitarist. Pointing to one person sounding like another is a bit easy at times to do. But perhaps that is because Langford can be so chameleon-like and possesses the skills of his craft to come across exactly in any direction he wishes. They say that imitation is a form of flattery. But just wait a minute, maybe it’s those other guitarists who are trying to sound like Langford.
Case in point, just take a look at the most recent recordings of the Too Slim and The Taildraggers discography. This past decade has seen great releases, from Fortune Teller, Free Your Mind, Shiver, Broken Halo, and Blue Heart, with the band jumping across many musical pathways. Each of them are awesomely fantastic with directions showing so clearly and true. It’s as if they keep reinventing themselves and get better every time out. If that’s possible for a band that has brought home the goodies every time already.
Underworld Records has just released Blood Moon. It is the band’s nineteenth recording. And guess what? It is another exemplary collection of enchanting tales with descriptive lyrics that set you on the edge of your seat. And these stories truly do capture your mind. The onset of death is prevalent on “My Body”(“don’t want no wood box wrapped around my bones”). There’s the “Gypsy” who cast her spell causing our hero to fall in love with her. And the traits of the most despicable of people noted in “Evil Mind” who just want you to fail or to be looked down upon for their own pleasure. The humor behind the man waiting for his baby to get ready to go out on the town, but she keeps him waiting and waiting in “Get Your Goin’ Out On.” But in the end he thanks his friends for being there in a “Letter” and after years of traveling and playing around the globe it just does work out sometimes that “Good Guys Win.”
Blood Moon is another masterful recording for Too Slim & The Taildraggers. Musically and lyrically this disc has it happening. So “come on giddy up giddy up giddy up” and get out and pick up your copy of Blood Moon right away. It’s going to make want to you play a little air guitar along with a smile on your face all day long! Fun indeed!
Total Time: 48:43
Evil Mind / Blood Moon / Twisted Rails / Get Your Goin’ Out On / Gypsy / My Body / Dream / Letter / Good Guys Win / Twisted Rails (Slight Return)
Promised Land Or Bust
Band co-founder and guitarist Aaron Moreland describes Moreland & Arbuckle as “gritty blues and roots rock from the Heartland.” Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, they couldn’t be more centrally located in America’s Heartland and they’ve developed their own unique sound that could also be viewed as Kansas Hill Country (with apologies to Mississippi for the term). Influenced by artists stemming from Mississippi like Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside, alongside Chicago legend Hound Dog Taylor, a hint of The Black Keys and even a slight dose of punk, the trio takes raw energy and blends it with clever lyrics inserted with their own reflections and perhaps an occasional touch of humor. And as the years roll forward, this band consistently gets better.
Moreland & Arbuckle’s latest release, Promised Land Or Bust, is their seventh recording and their debut on the Alligator label. They’re the perfect mix for the label who have been at the forefront of exposing new acts and sounds as well as developing established artists to an even higher plateau. The band brought back renowned producer Matt Bayles who helmed their previous release 7 Cities. Bayles also contributed his own playing on a couple tracks on guitar and keyboards. Alongside Aaron Moreland’s exceptional guitar work on electric, acoustic and cigar box, Dustin Arbuckle’s harmonica, and Kendall Newby’s drums, the album also features guests Scott Williams on keys and Mark Foley on bass.
Promised Land Or Bust is filled with tunes that tell the tales of a variety of unsavory characters. The lowest of society (“Mean And Evil”), the cheaters and betrayers (Long Way Home”), jealous lovers who take things to the extreme (“Hannah”), and other people that should be avoided at all costs. It’s greasy and often filled with sexual tension and strutting (“When The Lights Are Burning Low”). And the music delivers in spades! Listen to the intensity of the guitar and harmonica pairing on Slim Harpo’s “I’m A King Bee” and the cover of fellow Kansas native Lee McBee’s “Woman Down In Arkansas” is exemplary or spot on target.
When people speak of how music must evolve to bring in newer audiences then Moreland & Arbuckle just may be the group to best display exactly that. They began following the patterns of those who influenced them, but they’ve expanded into their own sound that reflects Americana and roots music’s new directions, but still maintain their true base in the blues. Powerful and magnificent, Promised Land Or Bust is another winning disc from Moreland & Arbuckle.
Total Time: 39:01
Take Me With You (When You Go) / Mean And Evil / Hannah / When The Lights Are Burning Low / Woman Down In Arkansas / Mount Comfort / Long Did I Hide It / Waco Avenue / I’m A King Bee / Long Way Home / Why’d She Have To Go (And Let Me Down)?
Cascade Blues Association Muddy Award Hall of Fame member Duffy Bishop is one of the most beloved musicians hailing from the Pacific Northwest. Since she and her guitar-playing husband Chris Carlson moved to Florida they have been sorely missed, but they still make the occasional trips back home and when they do they draw sold-out attendances from fans who just cannot get enough. Duffy Bishop is a force of nature, a powerful blues blaster, a sultry soul singer, and a presence who connects with her audience in a deeply personal way, be it in an intimate club or huge festival
On Monday, July 25, Duffy and Chris will return to Portland for an intimate appearance at The Lake Theater. Past performances here have sold out quickly, so make certain to order your tickets right away. Joining them will be long time band members Dean Mueller on upright bass and Carlton Jackson on drums. Tickets may be purchased in advance through Laketheatercafe.com for $15.00 general admission and $80.00 for a VIP table close to the stage that will seat four people. The Lake Theater is located at 106 N State Street in Lake Oswego. Show time is 7:00 pm.
July 4 at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival — you know it’s going to be packed to the extreme. People coming for the great musical line-up and the fireworks staking their claim of space in the bowl right from the gate’s opening in the morning. But once you have found your ground for the day, make it a point to head directly to the far north end of the festival, to the Front Porch Stage, to witness one of the greatest and most fun happenings of the festival every year, the Cascade Blues Association’s competition, Journey To Memphis finals. Four bands will be competing to claim the right to travel to Memphis Tennessee this coming January to take part in the world-renown International Blues Challenge, which can lead to international recognition and prizes including spots at many high-profile festivals and venues.
The 2016 Journey To Memphis began in early June when eighteen acts performed before a set of judges at The Rose Room over two nights. And those acts fielded one of the strongest line-ups in the history of this event. They were: Beacon Street Titans, Ben Rice Band, CD Woodbury Band, David Brothers, David Pinsky, Eric Sugar Larsen Group, Holfar Blue, Joanne Broh Band, JT Wise Band, Julie Amici, Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers, Randy Morrison’s Party Bus, Rogue Rage Duo, The England Trio, The Thunder Brothers, Tim Connor, Timothy James, and William “Froggy” Hyland. Each played twenty minutes with the top two highest scores from each night moving on to the finals at the Waterfront Blues Festival.
The event mimics the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in its structure, with each act being scored in five categories: blues content, talent – vocals, talent – instrumentation, originality, and stage presence. Our judges for the first round were three adept individuals with a wealth in backgrounds of music education, theory, promotion, teaching and performance: Darlene Solomon-Rogers (aka Blacque Butterfly), John Jaqua, and Herb Kanne.
Congratulations to David Pinsky, who will represent the Cascade Blues Association in Memphis as our solo/duo entry. Each affiliated blues society of The Blues Foundation is allowed to send a band, a solo/duo and a youth act to the International Blues Challenge. As our highest scoring solo/duo act over the two nights at The Rose Room, David has won the right to participate in Tennessee. Timothy James as the only under-age act of the competition has been invited to take part in the Youth Showcase in Memphis.
This will be the Cascade Blues Association’s eighteenth year been sending acts to the International Blues Challenge for eighteen years and holding the Journey To Memphis competition for seventeen. A few of the acts that we have sent include Junkyard Jane, Robbie Laws, Bill Rhoades & The Party Kings featuring Michael Osborn, Franco Paletta & The Stingers, Ty Curtis Band, multi-Blues Music Award nominee Karen Lovely, and two –time Blues Music Award winner Lisa Mann.
Set times for this year’s Journey To Memphis Finals are as follows:
11:30 – The Thunder Brothers
12:10 – Beacon Street Titans
12:50 – Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers
1:30 – Ben Rice Band
“Legendary,” “A blues/rock institution,” “True innovators” — these are just a few of the adjectives music critics and fans have used over the past fifty years to describe Savoy Brown Featuring Kim Simmonds. One of the earliest bands to emerge from the British blues scene, Savoy Brown, with founder guitarist Kim Simmonds at the helm, helped launch the 1967 UK blues boom movement that brought blues music back to the USA invigorating the style forever. In the process, the band became part of the framework that launched the rock and roll music of the 1970’s. Their influence now stretches into modern rock as we know it today. Celebrating more than 50 continuous years, 44 albums, including their current The Devil To Pay, and more than 5,000 gigs from Carnegie Hall, to both The Fillmore East and West, to Portland’s Aladdin Theater, Simmonds and his band are not living in the past; they’re challenging themselves to reach new heights and find higher ground.
On Thursday, July 28, Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown will once again be appearing at The Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Avenue, for an 8:00 pm show that is open to all ages (minors permitted with a parent or legal guardian). Tickets are $35.00 both in advance and day of show and can be purchased through Ticketfly.com.
When you hear the California-based Chase Walker Band for the first time you know for sure that the next generation of rockin’ blues roots music has come calling! This talented trio of musicians from Southern California are all still in their teens, but have been garnering critical acclaim and attention throughout the music world for the past few years. Led by the young triple threat Chase Walker, who is already an award-winning guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist who creates and performs rock, blues, and jazz with equal command, the band is also consists of Matt Fyke on drums and Randon Davitt on bass. With echoes of bands like The Black Keys, The Black Crowes, Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies, and Humble Pie, The Chase Walker Band play soulful original music and powerful adaptations of classic blues and roots songs that have been bringing audience members across the country to their feet. Named by Guitar World Magazine as one of the top ten musicians under 18 you should know in 2015, the Chase Walker Band released their second album this last April — Not Quite Legal.
The Chase Walker Band will be appearing at The Birk on Friday, July 29 for a 7:00 pm show. Admission is $10.00 at the door and includes a pasta dinner special. Chase Walker will also be doing a short acoustic performance on Saturday, July 30 at The Birk opening for A.J. Croce at 7:00 pm. The Birk is located at 11139 Hwy 202 in Birkenfeld.
LeRoy Bell comfortably embraces a wide range of genres. He’s a passionate Soul/R&B singer, a powerful blues/rocker, and equally at home as an acoustic folk/soul singer. Regardless of the genre, Bell is always capable of captivating an audience with intimate performances. Finishing number eight on the debut season of XFactor USA, gained Bell millions of fans all over the world who fell in love with his soulful vocal sounds and timeless style. As a young staff writer for his uncle Thom Bell’s Mighty Three Music publishing company, he teamed with Casey James and wrote songs that would later be recorded by The Spinners, The O’Jays, The Temptations, Rita Marley, and most notably Elton John. The reception to LeRoy’s original music has also been spectacular. He and his band, Leroy Bell & His Only Friends, have performed with such stellar artists as Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow, B.B. King, Etta James, Steve Miller, Beth Hart, Joe Cocker, Al Green, Mavis Staples, Keb Mo, Taj Mahal, Leon Russell, Sonny Landreth, Charlie Musselwhite, and Los Lobos among many more.
Leroy Bell & His Only Friends will return to Portland for an intimate show at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Avenue, on Saturday, July 30. This 21 & over show will begin at 7:30 pm, with tickets available in advance for $20.00 at Ticketfly.com, or $22.50 day of show at the venue.