BB King may have physically left this world in May 2015, but his music will live on forever in the hearts of all blues musicians and fans world-wide. September 16 would’ve been BB’s 91st birthday, and to show everyone that he still impacts us all, a group of some of Portland’s finest musicians will be gathering on Saturday, September 17 at the Trails End Saloon to celebrate his life and music.

Guitarist Sonny Hess, for the second year running, has organized pals Lisa Mann, Lady Kat, Jim Mesi, Rae Gordon, Ken DeRouchie, Vicki Stevens, Peter Dammann, and Kelly Pierce to let everybody know that the thrill is still here. A line-up befitting “The King” for certain!

This birthday celebration of BB will take place at 8:30 pm. The Trails End Saloon is located at 1320 Main Street in Oregon City. Admission is $15.00. Seats can be reserved in advance by contacting the Trails End at 503-656-3031.

Nikki & Matt Hill - photo by Greg Johnson

With a no-filter energy and explosive live show, Nikki Hill delivers a sound that will make you believe in rock ‘n’ roll again! Her unique voice, with raw rock and soul dynamics mixed with the strength, passion, and honesty of blues shouters of the past, steers the driving guitar of husband and Blues Music Award winner Matt Hill and a tight rhythm section to create a breath of fresh air with their fast forward approach to American roots music. Nikki Hill’s self-titled, independently released EP in June of 2012 created a heavy and sudden international underground buzz that the band has traveled with across America and overseas to Europe and Australia. Those four tunes, along with the two full-length albums that followed, 2013’s Here’s Nikki Hill and 2015’s Heavy Hearts Hard Fists, along with her memorable live performances, have drawn a wide range of people from every avenue and musical taste to their shows. Her enthusiasm for music is simply contagious.

Nikki & Matt Hill - photo by Greg JohnsonPortland blues fans great fondness for Nikki Hill began with a sold out debut at Duff’s Garage in 2012 and grew even stronger following a couple of searing sets at the 2013 Waterfront Blues Festival. The band will be returning to town for a special night at Dante’s, 350 W Burnside, on Thursday, September 15, for a 9:00 pm show. Tickets for this 21 & over show are available for $15.00 through

There will also be a short performance on Wednesday, September 14 at noon at the Skype Live Studios, 1210 SW 6th Avenue. Seating is limited so make your reservations early. Or sign-up at and watch the performance live online.

Tom Rush - photo by David GahrTom Rush is a gifted musician and performer whose shows offer a musical celebration — a journey into the traditions of what music has been, the promise of what it can be, and the scope of what it may become. His distinctive guitar style, wry humor, and warm, expressive voice have made him both a legend and a lure to audiences around the world. His shows are filled with the rib-aching laughter of terrific story-telling, the sweet melancholy of ballads, and the passion of gritty blues. Rush’s impact on the American music scene has been profound. During his more than fifty-year career, he’s helped shape the folk revival in the ’60s and the renaissance of the ’80s and ’90s, influencing countless musicians such as Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Shawn Colvin.

Tom Rush will be performing in Portland at the Alberta Rose Theatre on Tuesday, September 13 at 8:00 pm. This is an all ages event with minors welcome with either a parent or legal guardian. Tickets are $25.00 advance, $30.00 at the door, with preferred seating available for $40.00 (first five rows in the center section – available in advance only), and can be purchased through the venue’s website at The Alberta Rose Theatre is located at 3000 NE Alberta Street.

RB Stone - press photoCritics have dubbed RB Stone a Blues Cowboy, Country Bluesman, Americana Artist, and Roots Rocker, and he agrees with each label. Stone is based in Nashville and has released seventeen albums throughout his career, with his latest, Some Call It Freedom (Some Call It The Blues), reaching the #1 position on the Roots Music Report charts this past spring. Stone’s music rings with the authenticity of a bluesman who has been there and has done that — nothing is forced or contrived. He has been down all sorts of gravel roads, often face-first and it turns out this bluesman has a whole lifetime of Americana and country music in his background. Every bit of Stone’s work, from his achy vocals to his honky-tonk harmonica solos rings with the legitimacy of life’s experiences, the passion, darkness, heartbreak, and tragedy that are the blues.

Consistently on the road, RB Stone will be making a stop in Portland at Duff’s Garage, 2530 NE 82nd, on Friday, September 9, for a 9:00 pm CD release party for the Some Call It Freedom (Some Call It The Blues) album. Admission is $10.00.

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds - press photoSinger/songwriter Arleigh Kincheloe describes her band Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds as, “loud, fun — and it’s supposed to make you feel good. That’s the goal.” They certainly accomplish that goal tenfold with a saucy, sonic brew of rock, blues, gospel, and soul. Claimed as the best-kept secret in the Catskill Mountain for eighteen years, Kincheloe then moved to New York City and started the band in 2008.

“The band may be from Brooklyn, but the fiery brass and gospel-infused funk emanating from Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds is rooted in Memphis soul,” writes The LA Times. “Their rhythmic wheelhouse combines big-city grit and down-home sweetness with a little bit of Americana twang.”

With three studio albums in their repertoire, the group is set to release their first live recording, Fowl Play, that is set to capture all of the excitement of their fiery performances. But you don’t have to wait to witness this band in action as they’ll be returning to Portland for one night only at Mississippi Studios on Thursday, September 15. Tickets can be purchased in advance for this 21 & over show through for $13.00, or $15.00 day of show at the door. Mississippi Studios is located at 3939 N Mississippi Avenue and show time is 9:00 pm.

Opening the night will be KOLARS. The music of the duet of guitarist Rob Kolar and percussionist Lauren Brown is described as a sonic world that straddles self-described genres such as desert disco, R & Beyond, space blues, and glam-a-billy .

Bonnie Raitt

bonnie-raittRock & Roll Hall of Famer, and one of our most beloved blues-based musicians, Bonnie Raitt makes an encore performance in Portland following her recent appearance at the Keller Auditorium last April. Celebrating her twentieth release with Dig In Deep, Raitt will be taking the stage at McMenamin’s Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn series on Saturday, September 17. The new record illustrates the delicate balance of consistency and risk-taking that has defined Raitt’s remarkable career for more than forty-five years. Raised on blues with influences such as Mississippi Fred McDowell, Son House, Muddy Waters, Sippie Wallace, and John Lee Hooker, she has long showcased her deft skills as an extraordinary guitarist with the ability to hold an audience on the edge of their seats.

McMenamin’s Edgefield is located at 2126 SW Halsey Street, in Troutdale, Oregon. Gates open at 5:00 pm, show time is 6:30 pm. Unfortunately, this date has been sold out for some time. But tickets can be found online through several brokers, but do take precautions and verify the authenticity of these brokers, and expect high prices.

John Nemeth - photo by Jon PearsonJohn Nemeth has worked his way to the very top of the blues world — something that might not be as easy as it sounds when you take the fact that he had his start in Boise, Idaho. But throughout the years he took his original take on soul and traditional blues from the Northwest to San Francisco for a few years and eventually making the move to Memphis. Over that time he has released several outstanding albums, including Memphis Grease that took home the Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Album of the year in 2015. Speaking of Blues Music Awards, Nemeth has had eighteen nominations during his career, also receiving the Soul Blues Artist in 2014. But even more impressive, especially if you’ve not seen Nemeth in performance before, he has been nominated four times for the coveted BB King Entertainer of the year. With his smooth, soulful vocals, strong harmonica work, and songwriting that is amongst some of the absolute best today, this is definitely one performer not to miss. He just keeps getting better year in, year out.

John Nemeth will be making a long overdue return to the Portland area with a show happening at Duff’s Garage, 2530 NE 82nd, on Thursday, September 22. Show time is 9:00 pm with a $15.00 admission.

Then after a couple dates up in Tacoma and Seattle, John Nemeth will be returning to Oregon for an afternoon appearance at The Birk, 11139 Hwy 202, Birkenfeld, on Sunday, September 25. Show time will be 2: 00 pm tickets, with tickets available in advance for $10.00 and $15.00 at the door day of show.

dust-bowl-revivalMississippi Studios welcomes The Dustbowl Revival to their stage on Thursday, September 22. This is a hot up-and-coming young band that covers a wide range of musical styles, from bluegrass, swing, hot jazz, Pre-War blues, Southern soul, and New Orleans funk. With eight full-time members, they are truly an American roots orchestra and they play it all, mashing the sounds of traditional music into a genre-hopping, time-bending dance party that coaxes fresh fire from familiar coal. But The Dustbowl Revival isn’t a throwback band; it’s a celebration of the sounds that have kept America moving for more than a century, performed with all the flair of a medicine show and rooted in the sweat and swagger of a juke joint song swap. Their latest album, With A Lampshade On shines brightest in that middle ground, the place where jazz, folk, gospel, and blues all intersect. This is a band that is participating in the evolution of American roots music, tipping a hat to what has come before while looking ahead to what’s on the horizon.

Show time for The Dustbowl Revival is 9:00 pm, 21 and over only. Tickets are $13.00 advance through or $15.00 at the door day of show. Mississippi Studios is located at 3939 N Mississippi Avenue.

La Rhonda Steele Etta James Tribute Show @ Jimmy Mack's
La Rhonda Steele Etta James Tribute Show @ Jimmy Mack's

La Rhonda Steele
Etta James Tribute Show @ Jimmy Mack’s

When it comes to a list of the true divas of Portland’s soul, blues, and jazz world, no roster is complete without including LaRhonda Steele. LaRhonda, along with the Adrian Martin Sextet will be taking command of the stage at Jimmy Mak’s on Friday, September 23 to pay tribute to one of the most unique and talented artists of the past century, Ms. Nina Simone, in a show that could only be titled, “I Put a Spell on You.”

From the sultry “Sugar in my Bowl” to the powerful “Mississippi Goddam,“ you will hear and experience many of the classics that Ms Simone imprinted in our hearts. Nina Simone earned the title “High Priestess of Soul” because of her magically musical presentation of extraordinary soulful, seductive and hypnotic songs.

LaRhonda Steele’s personal music has a deep background in Gospel, but she has deftly earned her place amongst the best singers in blues, jazz and soul in the Northwest. Over her career she has worked onstage with such local luminaries as Curtis Salgado, Linda Hornbuckle, Thara Memory, Norman Sylvester, Ken DeRouchie, Obo Addy, Paul deLay, and Janice Scroggins.

The Adrian Martin Sextet includes Adrian Martin (guitar), Mark Steele (piano), Leah Hinchcliff (bass), Michelle Meddler (saxophone), and Mike Snyder (drums).

Tickets for this 8:00 pm show are $17.00 reserved and $15.00 general admission and can be purchased through Jimmy Mak’s is located at 221 NW 10th

This night will be soul stirring! Don’t miss it!

One of the top musical happenings on the coast every year is the annual Ilwaco Blues & Seafood Festival. The Muddy Award nominated event returns this year on Friday and Saturday, September 23 & 24 at Tjim-thackeryhe Port of Ilwaco, Washington, and again it’s featuring a spectacular line-up.

Headlining this year’s festival will be blues guitar legend Jimmy Thackery. Whether he headlines a festival or jams for hours in one of numerous blues bars that dot the musical landscape, he’ll always unleash an intense volley of rockin’ blues guitar guaranteed to leave crowds emotionally spent. His double edged guitar dynamics allow him to fire off tracer missiles, bend a note so it will fit under a limbo bar, run off dive bomber riffs, and find space within the trembling of one stinging note. Thackery will close out the festival on Saturday night.

On Friday, audiences will be treated to performances by 2016 Cascade Blues Association Muddy Award winners Bottleneck Blues Band, International Blues Challenge participants The Tracey Fordice Band, the ever-popular North Coast Blues with The Cadillac Horns, and a special performance from the Ilwaco High School Jazz Band’s All Star Jam.

Saturday’s showcase features alongside Thackery, Portland’s own Billy D & The Hoodoos, and Oregon Music Hall of Fame inductee The Norman Sylvester Band.

Blues duo Natty Bone with guitarist Natty O and harmonica player T-Bone Stone will entertain both days during set changes.

An after-party jam is scheduled to take place at The Sea Hag Bar & Grill, 209 1st Avenue S., following the festival.

Tickets for the Ilwaco Blues & Seafood Festival are $15.00 for Friday, $25.00 for Saturday, or $35.00 for a combo ticket for both days. The festival will run from 3:30 pm until 10:00 pm both days. There will be a selection of northwest beers and wines available along with a variety of seafood vendors on-site.

The festival location returns to The Port of Ilwaco Marina, but it’s in a slightly different spot this year — still along the waterfront but with more available parking. Check out the festival website at for more information.