Live at the Greek Theater
J&R Adventures

Reviewed by Jeff Levine

This CD/ DVD is Joe Bonamassa’s tribute to the Three Kings of the Blues: BB, Albert, and Freddie. Recorded in the historic Los Angeles Greek Theater at the end of  2015, it features a full band with horns and singers. Anton Fig (drums), Michael Rhodes (bass), Reese Wynans (piano, Hammond organ), Lee Thornburg (trumpet, horn arrangements), Paulie Cerra (saxophone),  Ron Dziublia (Tenor Saxophone) Kirk Fletcher (Rhythm Guitar), with Mahalia MacRae and Juanita Tippins (vocals).

Joe Bonamassa’s started his career as a child and played with B.B. King on stage at 12. He has released 16 solo albums in the last 14 years on his own label, J&R Adventures. His 2014 release, Different Shades of Blue, was nominated for a Grammy award. Joe is also an avid vintage guitar collector and regularly writes about collecting.

The video was on TV a few months ago. Once I saw it, I was hooked! It was a departure from Joe’s contemporary rock based interpretation of the blues. These “Kings” classics retain their original structure and feel, but with a twist.  Joe adds his amazing, blazing guitar solos, while the horns and background vocals keep the original song character. The song list features “Kings” classics that all blues lovers should recognize.

Here are a few of my favorites: “Going Down” has just enough guitar grit. “I’ll Play the Blues for You” has a wonderful sultry vibe especially with the horns and singers. “Cadillac Assembly Line” re-tells electric blues story, when the players made their way up north to find high paying factory work. Joe nails the vocals in “Hummingbird.” You can hear BB’s influence. The encore features top “Kings” blues hits: “Hideaway,” “Born Under a Bad Sign” and probably the #1 blues hit of all time, “The Thrill is Gone.” I’ve listened to the originals a lot, and even tried to play them. In Joe’s interpretation you hear how he has studied the Kings, staying true to the originals and adding a his own interpretation.  Joe closes it out with “Riding With the Kings”, a very fitting ending.

If you have not listened to Joe before, this is a great starter. And if you are familiar with his work, I think you’ll appreciate this take on the classics.

Total time: 2:05:18

See See Baby/Some Other Day, Some Other Time/Lonesome Whistle Blues/

Sittin’ on the Boat Dock/You’ve Got to Love Her With a Feeling/Going Down/I’ll Play the Blues for You/ I Get Evil/ Breaking Up Somebody’s Home/ Angel of Mercy/ Cadillac Assembly Line / Oh, Pretty Woman/Let the Good Times Roll/ Never Make Your Move Too Soon/ Ole Time Religion/ Nobody Loves Me But My Mother/Boogie Woogie Woman/ Hummingbird/ Hide Away/Born Under a Bad Sign/The Thrill Is Gone/Riding With the Kings

Journey To Memphis

The Journey To Memphis is the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition to select the acts that will represent our organization and region in next year’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, held in early 2018. More than 250 acts from around the world converge on Beale Street to perform before music industry representatives who are 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 be held 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 5 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.
What’s on Tap for General Membership Meeting

Melody Ballroom, 615 SE Alder Str., Portland
Wednesday, February 1 – 7:00 pm
Members always Free – Non-members $5.00
Opening Acoustic Set – Ken West
Second Electric Set – Sheila Wilcoxson

It’s February, and as of yet there is no change for the location of our monthly General Membership Meetings. So we’re hoping that you can all come on out to The Melody Ballroom and celebrate another month of fun times and blues music with us. Always the perfect spot to start your month of listening to the very best musicians that Portland and the region has to offer.

Opening this month we will be featuring Ken West, a guitar and mandolin virtuoso. Originally from Central Florida where he played as a solo artist and in support of other musicians for 30 years and was a founding member of the popular Florida Blues Band, his music has taken him across the country, from Florida to Alaska, finally settling in Portland for the past several years. The Rose City has found Ken continuing to work as a solo artist and side man in a variety of musical ventures. He can often be found playing in a duet with James Clem on guitar and mandolin, and with the cowboy band Lonesome Dewey and the Coyotes playing mandolin and steel guitar.

Ken’s passion has always been music. Currently his focus is on the various styles and artistry of the early 20th century, including blues, jazz, folk, and country.

The second set of the night is going to be a real treat for all long-time Cascade Blues Association members and true blues fans everywhere as we will present the long overdue return of Sheila Wilcoxson to perform for us. This multi-talented artist is an outstanding vocalist, guitarist, pianist, and terrific songwriter. Starting in the late 1970s Sheila has been commanding stages in the Portland area, first with Sheila & The Boogiemen, then with Back Porch Blues alongside guitarist White Draper and the late Jeffrey Dawkins on harmonica. For five straight years (1989 – 1993) won consecutive Muddy Awards as Traditional Blues Act garnering themselves entry into the CBA Muddy Hall of Fame. The following years saw her work with another stellar outfit, Sheila and Backwater Blues, before taking on her own solo career. In 1997, Sheila released the album Backwater Blues and was nominated for a WC Handy Award (now called Blues Music Awards) in the category Traditional Female Artist of the Year. During the ensuing years, Sheila’s music has taken her around the world. She has appeared on some of the biggest stages in venues and festivals and has shared those stages with some of the biggest stars in the blues.

Sheila’s appearance at the CBA meeting is a celebration of her recent 66th birthday on January 8, the same day as Elvis. “I am going to enjoy the music I love, Blues.” She says. “I will sing from acoustic to jazz. Like a Bird when I am happy I sing. I retired at 62, went to Hawaii, the coast, San Francisco, Spirit Mountain, Vancouver. Hung out on my front porch doing music with my friends for a few years. Now it is time to live my life only doing music, not a single parent with two jobs or a supervisor of 3 shifts. Come and help me celebrate. I’m living my life like it’s golden.”

Sheila Wilcoxson is ready to take the Portland blues scene by storm once again, she will be playing the CBA meeting with a superb line-up of musicians behind: Jesse White on guitar, “Cordless” Cliff Ashmon on harmonica, David Lee Bassett on piano, and Reed Warrington Bunnell on bass. It is time for Sheila Wilcoxson’s voice to soar on stage again! Come help her celebrate!

This is certainly a meeting not to miss! Remember to pick up your free ticket at the door your chance to win CDs and other great prizes. We’ll also have our winner take all drawing of multiple CDs that you can win by purchasing $1.00 tickets, with all funds geared at helping the CBA in a number of ways. Best of all, though, you’re going to be treated to two fantastic sets of music with friends. There’s no better way to start each and every month out.

For twenty-six years, two-time Blues Music Award winner, Grammy nominee and harmonica ace Mark Hummel has been organizing his Blues Harmonica Blowout showcase and touring it around the country to great reception. Over the years he has offered the absolute best harmonica players in the blues, but this year’s version is so spectacular and offers a variety of artists known through various genres that he’s renamed it “The Ultimate Harmonica Blowout.” This not-to-miss event will be coming to Portland on Tuesday, January 24 at The Alberta Rose Theatre.

The harp players lined up for this event aside from Hummel himself include: Jason Ricci, Howard Levy (Bela Flek, Kenny Rankin), Corky Siegel (Seigel-Schwall, Chicago Blues Reunion), and Canada’s Son of Dave (Crash Test Dummies).

And if this line-up was not incredible enough, Hummel will be bringing along renowned award winning guitarist and producer Duke Robillard (Roomful of Blues, The Fabulous Thunderbirds).

The Alberta Rose Theatre is located at 3000 NE Alberta Street. Show time for this event will be 7:30 pm. Minors are okay when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets may be purchased in advance at for $30.00 or at the door day of show for $35.00. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so use the code “CBA” when ordering online and receive a $2.00 discount .

Mark Hummel’s Ultimate Harmonica Blowout will also appear in Eugene at The Shedd Institute, 868 High Street at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, January 25.