For the 18th year, Sonny Hess will be hosting two nights of the NW Women Rhythm & Blues Christmas Concerts benefiting The Candlelighters, an organization aimed at aiding children with cancer. As a cancer survivor, this is an event that means a lot to Sonny and she is bringing in many of her closest friends once again to help with the very worthy cause. This annual event always has a spectacular line-up of the most talented blues women in the region, but this year will be made even more special as they welcome special guest Claudette King to join in the holiday celebrations.

Claudette King has been called “The Queen of the Bluz.” She is the youngest daughter of perhaps the most widely recognized blues artist of all time, BB King. Claudette King can be described as dynamic, amplified, and downright sassy. She exudes a confidence that perhaps was born of her struggle to prove who she is and at the same time carve out her own identity. Inheriting her father’s gift for music, Claudette sang in glee clubs and the choir of Reverend Brown’s Baptist church growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. “My inspiration is my dad,” says Claudette, who was also mindful of how her father was constantly on the international concert circuit as the tireless Ambassador of the Blues. Listening to the radio and her mother’s collection of record albums, she soaked up the joyous singing of notables like Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, and Mahalia Jackson.

King brings a nice touch to this event, but our local ladies are more than just filler; they each bring home a stage show that is energetic, soulful, and entertaining, individually filling up venues on a nightly basis. Combining the talents of Sonny Hess, Ellen Whyte, Rae Gordon, Kimberly Hall, Arietta Ward, Lady Kat, Kelly Pierce with recent Muddy Award winner LaRhonda Steele and two-time Blues Music Award winner Lisa Mann is far above any price of admission and makes these two nights not to be missed! But don’t hesitate, because they will sell out quickly!

The first show will be held on Thursday, December 8, starting at 7:00 pm, at The Trails End Saloon, 1320 Main Street in Oregon City.  The second show will be held on Sunday, December 11, at 6:00 pm at Carvlin Hall, SE 16th & Division. Tickets are $22.00 – $39.50 and can be purchased online at

I’m A Bluesman
Iron Man Records

michael-burks-cd-coverThere are always losses in life, but when you lose one who meant so much the loss hurts double knowing that you will never be able to share time together again. That is exactly how it felt when guitarist Michael Burks left us suddenly just a few years ago. Burks was a shining light in the blues world. His playing was spectacular and his personality on and off stage infectious. He made his name in the genre and it will forever be rock solid therein.

That is why it is so appealing and welcoming that these lost recordings from Burks’ early days have surfaced to share with all of his legions of followers. Recorded in 1998 at Kingsnake Studios, Im A Bluesman captures Burks’s creativity displaying all of the talents of his songwriting and performing before he became the established and renowned international artist a few short years later. Burke was joined in the studio on this recording by some of Kingsnake’s ace sidemen like Ace Moreland, Warren King, and Bob Greenlee, and this stellar outing sits proudly alongside any of Burks’s later material.

A dozen tracks filled with his burning guitar work. It is a mix of originals and some very well-represented covers from people such as Greenlee, Lou Pride, Joe Louis Walker, and even a very slow, bluesy take on the Hall & Oates hit “Sara Smile.” Burks also possessed a very soulful voice that could come across strong or soft. The latter really comes across nicely on his take of Mike Griffin’s “Blues Will Never Die” and his own “My Little Girl” that has great accents from a horn section. The album closes with an auto-biographical piece, “Raised Up In Arkansas,” where he recounts his father telling him that to achieve what he is after he has to pay his dues. Lucky for us all, he chose the blues to pay his dues within and we’re all so much better for his decision.

Extraordinary guitar work, great song selections and well executed blues performances throughout, I’m A Bluesman is a reminder of all the talents that Burks brought to the world. He may be gone from us, but he’ll forever live within our memories with the outstanding recordings he left behind. Thankfully, we now have these to marvel and enjoy as well.

Total Time: 50:58

What Are You Doin’ To Me / Home Of The Blues / Love Disease / Sara Smile / Broken Wing Woman / I Didn’t Take Your Woman / You Ain’t Slick / Blues Will Never Die / My Little Girl / Game Two Can Play / That’s What I Am / Raised Up In Arkansas

Third Annual Stumptown Soul Holiday Spectacular

stumptownStumptown Soul is back on Saturday, December 10 for their third annual holiday spectacular featuring performances by an all-star cast of Portland blues, jazz, and soul musicians. Included in this amazing event will be Ural Thomas, LaRhonda Steele, Karen Lovely, Steve Kerin, Jennifer Smieja, Dan Berkerey, Michael Quinby, Jim Quinby, Katy Oberg, Kris Deelane, Lewi Longmire, Aundria Lauren, Joe McCarthy, Pete Moss, Lefty Head, Peter Dammann, Mark Bowden, Jim Wolfe, and Tim Shaughnessy.

This year’s show will be at the Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Avenue, with a 8:00 pm show time. Tickets can be purchased in advance at for $15.00 advance or day of show at the door for $20.00.

Proceeds from Stumptown Soul will benefit for Shriners Hosptials for Children, Portland. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Shriners Hospital for Children patients! Shriners Hospital, is a 90-plus-year providing care to children with orthopedic issues, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. The Portland hospital has been instrumental in helping children defy the odds of disability, as well as pioneering education and research to improve lives for generations. Please come out and support this event and to bring some holiday cheer to the children patients.

ca-dropsThe California Honeydrops don’t just play music — they throw parties. Led by dynamic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lech Wierzynski and drawing on diverse musical influences from Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, and New Orleans second-line, the Honeydrops bring a vibrant energy and infectious dance-party vibe to their shows. They’ve taken the party all over the world, playing festivals of all kinds and touring widely across North America, Europe and Australia. In 2016 the Honeydrops were honored to support Bonnie Raitt on her North America release tour — and in the past have been privileged to support the likes of B.B. King, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Guy, and Dr. John. Joining them in their Portland engagements will be local percussionist, Chuk Barber, from The Lowrider Band. 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.

The band will returning to Portland for a two-night stand, Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3, at The Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Avenue for 9:00 pm shows with opening act Steep Ravine. Tickets are available in advance through for $20.00. This is a 21 & over only event.

LaRhonda Steele

Every year around Christmas, Music Mondays presents “Holiday Showcase at Lake Theater & Café.” This year’s event will take place on Monday, December 19 and will feature the vocal talents of LaRhonda Steele and Julie Amici. An All-Star band of Dean Mueller, Dave Fleshner, and Dan Gildea will back up these talented ladies, and expect other surprise guests.

The Cascade Blues Association honored both Julie and LaRhonda this year. Julie was nominated for Best Traditional Act and LaRhonda won the “Duffy Bishop” Female Vocalist award. The Lake Theater & Cafe was also a winner, receiving Best Venue award, and that makes this an excellent pairing! They will be showcasing various styles of Jazz, Blues, R&B, Soul, and a touch of Christmas, this cast of Portland’s finest make this a very special one-time Music Monday indeed.

Lake Theater & Café is located at 106 N State Street in Lake Oswego. Show time is 7:00 pm. Admission is $20.00 and can be ordered in advance online at Laketheatercafe-com.

Bring in the New Year with a sensational double header at Duff’s Garage as Cherie’s Blues Highway presents the Ben Rice Colossal Group and Sister Mercy together for the first time. Each band will be performing complete individual sets and then come together on stage for a party bringing in 2017 with a perfect celebration.

Ben Rice photo by Greg JohnsonBen Rice has been tearing up this country and Europe with his blues performances, working with people like Karen Lovely, Lisa Mann, or with his own bands. A two-time International Blues Challenge finalist and the recipient of two 2016 Muddy Awards, Ben Rice is recognized for his adept skills on electric, bottleneck and cigar box guitars as well as his sensational vocals.

Sister Mercy won the 2015 Cascade Blues Association’s Journey To Memphis competition and represented the region at the International Blues Challenge in 2016 where they advanced to the semi-final round. Nominated for the Best New Act Muddy Award in 2015, the band is fronted by the incredible vocal skills of April Brown and its members have deep roots within the Portland blues community.Sister Mercy - Journey To Memphis winners - photo by Greg Johnson

Duff’s Garage is located at 2530 NE 82nd Avenue. The night will kick off at 9:00 pm with Sister Mercy, and the Ben Rice Colossal Group at 10:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased in advance through for $12.00 for a reserved seat or $10.00 for general admission. Admission at the door day of show will only be for general admission at $10.00, reserved seating only available online in advance.




lee-fields-press-photoApologies to the late, great James Brown, but you’d be hard pressed to find another singer who’s ever worked as hard as Lee Fields — a man who’s been making soul and funk anthems since 1969. Since that time, he has toured the world with musical legends like Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal; he’s recorded with French house DJ/producer Martin Solveig, and somehow has found a newer, younger audience, becoming more prolific as the years transpire. Fields flexes those strengths on his most current recording Special Night, where you’ll find some JB-style funk and hints of Stax, Chess, Fame, and Motown. But this is not a throwback. Fields possesses a voice that’s equally raucous and tender, and crafts a truly honest, soulful work.

Lee Fields and the Expressions return to Portland for a 9:00 performance at The Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Avenue, on Monday, December 5. Tickets for this all ages event are $16.00 advance through or $18.00 at the door day of the show. Opening that night will be Atlanta’s Lady Wray.

Acoustic Guitar Summit

The Acoustic Guitar Summit is celebrating its 22nd Annual Christmas Concert Series with a performance at the Lake Theater & Cafe on Monday, December 14. Composed of three award-winning, master fingerstyle guitarists, Doug Smith, Terry Robb, and Mark Hanson, the concert will feature songs from their acclaimed Christmas album, O, Christmas Three, along with other holiday favorites. Each of the guitarists is a master of the strings on their own, but whenever this trio performs together it is a vision to behold and a treat to the ears.

Acoustic Guitar Magazine said of the O, Christmas Three album, “This festive offering is as rich and heady as a rum-spiked eggnog laced with varied spices. There are traditionals, such as the stunning “Oh Holy Night,” blues-and-swing variations of such holiday favorites as “Boogie Woogie Jingle Bells,” and arresting originals.”

Tickets for this holiday tradition show are available online at Laketheatercafe-com for $20.00 for this open seating event. Show time begins at 7:00 pm and is open to all ages. The Lake Theater & Café is located at 106 N State Street in Lake Oswego.

Ben Hunter and Joe SeamonsSeattle-based duo Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons truly made a mark for themselves when they captured the solo/duo competition title at the 2016 International Blues Challenge. Their delivery of classic pre-war American roots music and early blues in its truest form was a breath of fresh air. Their commitment for historical music takes on the flavors of jug bands and street performers to the earliest takes on folk, and they execute it masterfully with multiple instruments. Recently they have been working on the Woody Guthrie songbook that he created while working for the Bonneville Power Project seventy-five years ago, along with Joe’s other outfit Timberland. Witnessing a show by Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons is like a throw-back to a happier time. Entertaining, jovial and they just might get you to sing-along.

The duo will be presenting music from Woody Guthrie and other pieces of roots and blues when they appear at Artichoke Music, 3130 SE Hawthorne Street, on Sunday, December 11. Tickets for this 7:00 pm performance are available from for $15.00.

Andy Stokes - photo by Greg JohnsonLegendary vocalist Andy Stokes and his band will be returning to Jimmy Mak’s on Saturday, December 10 to ring in the season with their ultra-funky grooves. Stokes’ incredible vocals earned him the Cascade Blues Association’s “Curtis Salgado” Male Vocalist Muddy Award for the second consecutive year, and he will be backed up by his Muddy Award winning band including guitarist Doug Lewis, bassist Ricky Varnado, and drummer Rusty Cox.

With his new single, “Promise,” and his recently released EP Full Circle shooting up the charts, Andy’s career is on fire. Andy’s musical lineage includes tearing up NW clubs as the lead vocalist with the legendary funk band Cool’R, recording for A&M Records, world-wide tours, as well as many familiar voices on radio and television such as the California Raisins.

His performances are riveting; as The Oregonian put it, “Andy Stokes sings with an earthy intensity that matches the magnetism of his extroverted showmanship on stage.”

Jimmy Mak’s is located at 221 NW 10th Avenue. Show time is 8:00 pm. Admission for this holiday performance are $12.00 at the door, but you can guarantee seating with a dinner reservation by calling the club at 503-295-6542.