The Cascade Blues Association’s 28th Annual Muddy Awards was held on Wednesday, November 2 at The Melody Ballroom to once again another full house of fans and musicians. Honoring those acts, performers, venues, events, recordings and performances who helped raise the bar on the Northwest’s blues scene over the past year in twenty-two categories.

Dave Kahl - "Paul deLay" Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dave Kahl – “Paul deLay” Lifetime Achievement Award.

Three artists were big winners taking home two awards each: Andy Stokes for the “Curtis Salgado” Male Vocalist and the “Lloyd Jones” R&B Act; the Ben Rice Band taking both the Contemporary and Traditional Blues Act awards; and Dave Kahl for the Bass award and the biggest honor of the night, the “Paul deLay” Lifetime Achievement.

Dave Kahl’s award noted not only his career as a bass player with a multitude of acts including the Paul deLay Band, Fiona Boyes & The Fortune Tellers, and the Ty Curtis Band, but also due to his tireless work to bring together the music community, seeking recognition from the City and means to make finding and connecting outlets for musicians through such efforts as

The Back What You Believe In Award was presented to CBA Vice President Wendy Schumer. This award notes those in a non-musician role that has made an impact. Wendy’s tireless efforts with the BluesNotes, various CBA events such as the Muddy Awards, a monthly blues emailing and daily posting of events in our area are just a few of the things that she has made her mark with.

The top CDs of the year were awarded to Lisa Mann for the Northwest Album of the Year with Hard Times, Bad Decisions and the National Recording of the Year also stayed at home with Curtis Salgado taking the prize for The Beautiful Lowdown.

Mitch Kashmar was also recognized for the Harmonica Award for the third consecutive year, placing him into the Muddy Awards Hall of Fame.

The Muddy Awards always has terrific music on hand and as tradition goes, we present sets from our Journey To Memphis winners. Band winners Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers opened the night and solo/duo winner David Pinsky played a mid-awards set bringing surprise guest Ben Rice for a dual acoustic guitar performance.

Every year the night closes with a Muddy All Star Band made up of past and present Muddy Award nominees and recipients. This year’s band leader was Ken DeRouchie who was handed the reigns to put together a group for the night, and he came through big time. The All Stars included Arietta Ward, Ben Turner, Brian Harris, Chris Lay, Dave Fleschner, David Chachere, Doug Rowell, Edwin Coleman III, Jeff Knudson, Jimi Bott, Lisa Mann, Noah Bell, Pat McDougall, Pete Petersen, Peter Dammann, Peter Moss, Rae Gordon, Rob Busey, and Timmer Blakely.

A big thanks goes out to The Melody Ballroom, Affordable Trophies, JBL Sound, Big Screen Productions, Cedar House Media, Photographer Tony Kutter, the CBA Board of Directors and all the volunteers who helped make this event happen, and to our membership, without whom none of this could occur.

Please note that we are aware that there were problems with the online balloting that we began this year. It is a first effort and we knew that there would be glitches. Thanks to CBA webmaster Buko and Wendy Schumer for assisting those who needed an extra hand getting their votes entered. We will make improvements next year on the process. But when it was all said and done, we actually received more returns for the final ballot than we have averaged over the past five years.

2016 Cascade Blues Association Muddy Award Recipients

Contemporary Blues Act: Ben Rice Band

Traditional Blues Act: Ben Rice Band

“Lloyd Jones” R&B Act: Andy Stokes

New Act: Thunder Brothers

Regional Blues Act: Hank Shreve Band

“Curtis Salgado” Male Vocalist: Andy Stokes

“Duffy Bishop” Female Vocalist: LaRhonda Steele

Electric Guitar: Alan Hager

“Terry Robb” Acoustic Guitar: Mary Flower

Bass: Dave Kahl

Harmonica: Mitch Kashmar

Keyboards: Steve Kerin

“Jimi Bott” Drums: Brian Foxworth

Horns: Peter Moss

Venue: The Lake Theater & Café

“The Hurley Award”: Barry McKinley

NW Event of the Year: United By Music North America at The Hotel Rose

NW Recording: Lisa Mann – Hard Times, Bad Decisions

National Recording: Curtis Salgado – The Beautiful Lowdown

Performance of the Year: (Tie) Kevin Selfe Buy My Soul Back CD Release Party at The Bossanova Ballroom / Karen Lovely at the Waterfront Blues Festival

Back What You Believe In Award: Wendy Schumer

Lifetime Achievement: Dave Kahl

New Muddy Hall of Fame inductee: Mitch Kashmar

AC Porter

By Laurie Morrisey

AC Porter is quite the character. In addition to being a great musician, when asked where he was born and raised, he responded, “I was born under the third ring of Saturn at a planetarium in Stockholm. Wait, that’s where I was conceived. I was born down the road apiece, in Eugene. Been in PDX since 1990—back when it was still a super cool lil’ city.”

AC says his music has “lots of room for improv within simple chordal structures, all blues oriented, even the slightly jazzy stuff.” His advice to other musicians is to “play it with dynamics, emphasis on interplay with an ensemble of great musicians, and above everything else, try to play with as much passion and emotion as you can connect with—they can be quiet passions, aggressive, frustrated, sexy, poignant, wistful, whatever—but put yourself inside it as much as possible. Hard to put into words, but an aware audience can feel it when you do it—so can the players.”

AC Porter is known around town as one of the great guitar player—mainly electric. “I could live a thousand years and not learn everything there is to learn about it, that’s for sure. Vocals are a work in progress—much more ‘naked’ when it comes to the voice.” He is a self-taught musician, and also taught by the examples from many other artists and fellow musicians. He had two years of theory that gave him some basics.

AC describes himself as a semi-pro musician. “I’ve been getting ‘paid’ to play for about 30 to 35 years. I think I likely used the fact that I made a bit of side money with music to justify my guitar habit, back in the day—I’ve got that much more under control these days. Probably because I can’t afford it.”

AC also has a day job. “Ever since I was 16 I have worked various jobs, and have had a union job in a healthcare facility the past 16 years. Lab work. Nothing fancy, but keeps the wolves at bay. Like I said, it costs a lot to play the blues these days. And since I’m not a trust fund/legacy/fortunate son, and I haven’t met that magical nurse with a purse, I will continue to work, and gladly. It’s good for the soul (sometimes!)—helps to keep a semi-pro musician with dreams of self-delusional grandeur humble and grateful. Keeps all that clapping and validation of one’s art in perspective.”

“I’d like to think I just love to play, whether it is for money or fun is of little consequence. I’ve evolved on that over the years, and believe if you can play at a level that people come out to see you, you SHOULD get paid—however, and this is not earth-shattering news—players are still getting the same pay, often, as they were getting from the clubs back in the 80’s and 90’s. Which means, of course, that due to prices and inflation, most musicians I know have been moving backwards as far as financial reward. It costs a lot to play the blues anymore—ironically.”

But even though music may not be profitable, it has always been a part of AC’s life. “I was always drawn to music. I literally grew up in a radio station from about 2 to 10 years old—KASH 1600. The building was the closest entity or structure to the Lane County dump back then. Very isolated, actually. My grandparents owned the station, and let my mom and I live in a small apartment on the property. I remember lots of sheep out there, and filbert trees. I also recall bugging the DJ’s and borrowing records. A lot. It’s part of Alton Baker Park now. Long gone.”

AC Porter says his musical influences include his dad, who was a jazz trombonist. “He named me after his favorite bone player, Curtis Fuller (the C in AC), and although he split when I was too young to remember him, he left behind some great jazz records—Coltrane, Miles, Monk, Ornette—and I listened to those cats and many other ‘discoveries’ I searched for—especially in high school, where I was surrounded by SERIOUS young, talented jazz players—many who would go on to thriving careers in playing and teaching at prestigious places. I was very lucky to be in that environment, as I didn’t have the skills, chops, or discipline, but I was definitely influenced by those co-students. Thank you, Matt Cooper! (Pianist extraordinaire). I still buy and listen to a fair amount of jazz from the 40’s on.”

“More conventionally, I was into Led Zep, Santana, Hendrix, Jeff Beck—- add the uniqueness of two of my fave artists of all, Zappa and Tom Waits, and that’s the early days of AC’s influences.”

“Then, about 21 or 22, I started hitting blues jams, and Bill Rhoades, Curtis Salgado, Lloyd Jones, Jimmy Cochran, Jim Wallace were all blowing this youngblood’s mind at Eugene blues haunts like Taylor’s and Max’s. Wallace and Rhoades really turned my head onto the real deal blues stuff, and I was a goner from the 80’s on. Got pretty heavy into The Kings, especially Albert and BB, Hollywood Fats, SRV and bro Jimmie, Albert Collins, and Magic Sam—you know the deal. A little late to the party, but I stayed for the duration!”


“Awards—best thing about them? A symbol of validation and recognition. But I struggle with the concept of them as well—I mean it’s impossible to quantify someone’s music or art as being the ‘best’, right? As Muddy himself said, ‘You can never be the best musician—you can only be a good one.’ That sums it up for me.”

“Now, having said my piece on that conundrum, I am the proud recipient of two awards from members of the CBA over the years—both for Best New/Reformed Act—one when I was with Bill Rhoades and the Partykings (shout out to his kings and queens he has playing with him these days) and one in 2011 for The Livewires—very nice. We were nominated this year for Best Traditional Act, and it went to that awesome guy Ben Rice, and deservedly so.”

“But the nomination I value most, was the year the CBA included me in the category for electric guitar. I was surrounded by players I absolutely love and look up to—Robbie Laws, Suburban Slim, and Jim Mesi that year—that was a gigantic honor, as a guitarist.”


AC doesn’t have any CD’s out, but he’s on a track or two of Norman Moody’s Moody Waters. “If, and it’s kind of a big ‘if’ at this point, I do a CD, I’d like it to be mostly live, with warts and all. A lot of blues albums these days, to MY ears, sound a bit too canned and ‘carefully crafted’ to the point that it strips away the soulful vibe that I absolutely am in love with on older recordings, even with their imperfections and ‘bad’ notes on occasion. Now, if I can have somebody make it sound like Mule Variations (Tom Waits) or Wicked Grin (John Hammond—produced by Tom Waits—see a trend? Lol) —then I’d be in heaven. Otherwise, I’ll let the live shows be those ‘moments in time’ that they were meant to be. Plus, I need to get off my butt and write more worthy tunes.”

AC Porter has played with a long list of local blues musicians. “It’s blues, so pretty much everybody that can lay claim to being a blues player in Portland. But pretty long ‘history’ with Bill Rhoades, definitely Jim Wallace, Stu Kinzel and Lynnann Hyde.”

He said he’s shared the stage with an abundance of local players. “It’s truly RIDICULOUS how much talent is right here. I’ve played with Whit Draper, both Johnny Moore’s, Jim Mesi, Timmer Blakely, John Neish, Duffy and Chris, Rick Welter, Kevin Selfe, Paul DeLay, Norman Sylvester, Doug Rowell, Big Monti, Lloyd Jones, Curtis Salgado, Don Schultz, Allen Markel, Dave, Kahl, Peter Dammann Jimi Bott, Suburban Slim, Jolie Clausen, Jeff Strawbridge, Katie Angel, Mitch Kashmar, Lisa Mann, Rae Gordon, Ashbolt Stewart…See? It’s getting kinda long in the listing department. I could go on for two more paragraphs, locally.”

“Also, I have sat in with Little Charlie Baty (The Nightcats) on numerous occasions over the years. One of my favorites, and memories I’ll cherish until dementia sets in. And Junior Watson (Well, he watched while I played his incredible gear with his bandmates…at least he was smiling.) Those two can put a lump in any normal guitarist’s throat, I’ll tell you that.”


“I’m super lucky to be surrounded in my lil’ ol’ band by stellar musicians who ‘get’ it, when it comes to playing blues, and really LIKE blues, not just using it as a means to a musical or economic end. I’ve played with guys like Whit Draper, who I think is the absolute most underrated roots/blues/swing guitarist in Portland. And as humble as anyone could ask for. Just outstanding talent and a great human. Timmer Blakely, who’s been playing almost every Tuesday night with us for a while—busy man, with multiple bands and one nighters—easy to hear why—great ears, and sensitive to what’s going on around him like few I’ve played with. John Moore—it just ain’t the Livewires without his crushing shuffle and enthusiasm EVERY time we play. On many Tuesdays at the Blue Diamond, Dennis Lusk will join us on keys, as well, which adds a different dimension to the ‘edge’ of the band.”

In Closing

In all his words, the line that may sum it up, “I’m a lucky guy when it comes to music around here.” No, Portland blues fans are the lucky ones.

Timothy James

Timothy James

The usual interview questions don’t work too well when talking to Timothy James. “Did you always want to perform professionally or if not, what did you want to be when you grew up?” 14-year-old Timothy’s response was, “I didn’t ever think ahead. I never thought about a job and I still don’t think about college.” He says his current jobs are “school and chores.”

Cascade Blues Association (CBA) President Greg Johnson describes Timothy as a “fourteen-year-old triple threat (guitarist, singer, and songwriter) [with] an incredible feel for the guitar with adeptness that belies his age. He recently competed in the Cascade Blues Association’s Journey To Memphis competition against the adult musicians and clearly held his own…You just know that he is going to be a sensational talent that we will be following for years, progressing through the same path that we have witnessed with past young musicians who have led successful musical careers such as Ben Rice, Mac Potts, and Ty Curtis.” Timothy will represent the CBA in the Youth Showcase at the International Blues Challenge in January 2017 in Memphis.

Timothy’s only been playing guitar for about five years and started playing professionally about three years ago. “Friends would invite me up to play when they took breaks (in their performance) and I guess the owners would ask my parents if I wanted to play there.”

In addition to guitar, Timothy plays a bit of piano and Alto saxophone. He describes his musical style as somewhere between blues and pop rock.

Timothy tributes a wide range of musical influences, from local musicians who play jazz, blues, or rock, to U2, Metallica and Steve Vai. “One of my biggest role models/influences is an amazing guitarist from the UK named Rob Chapman. He’s a self-managed musician and an extremely nice guy,” he said.

He is mainly self-taught. “I picked things up from people here or there, but a while ago I started taking lessons from Ken Brewer. He plays pretty much anything and is an amazing guitarist.”

Last summer Timothy placed third in the Clackamas County Fair Talent Show and then second in the Place 2 Be Singer/Songwriter Contest. He put out a 4-song CD in 2015 but isn’t releasing it any more for a couple reasons—“It’s out of date and doesn’t represent my work anymore, and I’ve gotten a lot better since then.” There isn’t a specific plan for a new CD, but he wants to get back in the studio. “I’ve got quite a few new songs that I’ve written and need to record them.”

Timothy has played with local musicians Gary Meziere, Rae Gordon, Brady Goss, and some others. He’s also played with Patrick Quilter of Quilter Amps and one of the owners of Badcat Amps.

To follow Timothy and see where he’s playing next, check him out on Facebook. You can message him there if you’d like to make a donation to his trip to Memphis for the Youth Showcase at the International Blues Challenge in January 2017.

By Cherie Robbins, Rummage Sale Chair

The Cascade Blues Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of blues and roots music in the Great Northwest. Formed in 1986, the CBA has since become one of the largest blues associations in the country, and it holds events to support our region’s musicians and bring the blues community together, such as the Journey to Memphis Competition, The Muddy Awards in November, many co-sponsored shows, monthly meetings with musical acts, the Red, White & Blues Dance, a merchandise tent at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, a members-only picnic, and a holiday party to name just a few. On Saturday, October 15, we held the rescheduled CBA Rummage Sale that helped raise funds for the CBA.

As chair this year, I want to thank Rae Gordon for starting the Annual CBA Rummage Sale — thank you for your vision, you’re a true Portland treasure, singer, entrepreneur, and you give back big time! I want to thank the Wong family for allowing us to move the CBA Rummage sale to their barn after being rained out in September. I want to thank the musicians, Kathryn Grimm, Justus Reece, Timothy James, and Gabe Cox for providing music, and thank you Robin Gibson for providing the PA. A BIG thank you to the volunteers, coming out both dates with heavy rain and storm warnings. Extra thanks go to the volunteers who helped with loading, unloading the U-Haul, set up and break down at barn, The Bomber and at Rae’s: Rae Gordon, Jimmy Wong and family, Gary Jaskowiak, Deidre DeMier, Al Hooton, Fred & Joann Morgan, Robin Gibson, Kristi Pierce and Greg Johnson. I am sorry if I left out anyone .

Thank you to the Cascade Blues Association board: Greg, Fred & Joann, Wendy Schumer, Jody Gunn, Brenda Docken and Merry Larsen. If anyone who isn’t a member of the CBA and wants to get involved please contact these people. You can also sign up online at The Cascade Blues Association or attend a monthly meeting.

Who would have thought it? The entire week prior to the date for this year’s Cascade Blues Association’s annual Rummage Sale the weather had been sunny and comfortably warm, but on the Saturday morning of our rummage sale, the rains came — big time. Our trusty Rummage Sale leaders Cherie Robbins and Rae Gordon, Board Members Greg Johnson, Wendy Schumer, Fred & Joann Morgan, and a handful of volunteers like Deidre DeMier & Al Hooten, Jimmy Wong & his family, and Gary Jaskowiak (on Friday for truck loading), were on hand to set up the sale, pop-up tents and tables were put up and a truck full of donated items were at The Bomber parking lot, but we were not able to set everything up before it was determined that it just wasn’t going to happen that day. Attempts to relocate to an indoor site were futile.

Thanks to Jimmy Wong for volunteering his barn in Mulino to store all of the items to save the CBA from the expense of continuing the U-Haul truck and finding a storage unit. Better yet, he has volunteered his barn to hold the rescheduled Rummage Sale indoors, plus he has an outdoor covered stage for performances (if the weather is good, inside the barn if not).

So . . .the Rummage Sale has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 15, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The location is 26412 S Highway 213 in Mulino, Oregon, directly behind the Mill Barn Espresso drive through stand. There will be music and plans are looking to hold another side event at the same time, so keep up to date by checking the CBA website and Facebook page.

A special thanks go out to all the musicians who were originally scheduled to perform at the Rummage Sale in September: Timothy James, Justus Reece, Kathryn Grimm, and Ben Rice, we will try to see if you’re now available for October. Thanks to Robin Gibson for bringing his PA system for set-up, plus all of his work with the moving of the sale items to Mulino. We will still need volunteers for the new date, so if you’re available to help, contact Rummage Sale chair-person Cherie Robbins at

Muddy Award

muddy_awardMark your calendars for Wednesday, November 2 as the Cascade Blues Association’s annual Muddy Awards celebration will return with a fun-filled night of excitement, recognition, and amazing music. It will take place at The Melody Ballroom, 615 SE Alder Street, upstairs in the main ballroom, beginning at 6:30 pm. Various music celebrities and CBA board members will present awards, as selected by our members, in a number of categories honoring the musical achievement from the past year.

Of course, the Muddy Awards would not be complete without musical entertainment. This year’s event will follow tradition set a few years back with an opening set from this year’s Journey To Memphis winning band Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers. Midway through the awards, we will have a short intermission set for the solo/duo Journey To Memphis winning act David Pinsky. And to top the night off in grand fashion, an All Star Set featuring many of past and current Muddy Award winners and nominees, put together and led by the soulful vocals and steamy guitar of Ken DeRouchie. Ken already has commitments from some of the best musicians in the region, so expect another over the top night with the All Stars.

The Muddy Awards is an all ages event and is free for CBA members with their current membership cards. Non-members are just $5.00 for one of the most anticipated nights of the year in Portland’s blues community.

rae-gordon-and-the-backseat-drivers-photo-by-cherie-robbinsRae Gordon is a familiar name in the local blues community. Not only for her music talent, but for her amazing support of musicians and their craft. Rae and her band, the Backseat Drivers, will be representing the Cascade Blues Association at the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January. This month, Saturday, October 8, Rae has organized a blues cruise fundraiser to help them get to Memphis. Rae and the band answered some questions to let us know more about them.

Who are the band members and what part do they play in the band?

  • Rae Gordon – vocals
  • Al Hooton – bass
  • Ed Pierce – drums
  • Kivett Bednar – guitar
  • Pat McDougall – keys
  • Scott Franklin – sax
  • Allan Kalik – trumpet

Rae – I started my music career in the piano bars and comedy clubs of Los Angeles, opening for comedians and running an open mic that brought the best of music and comedy together. It was an interesting but awesome start, where I learned to bring a little humor into my shows and be able to connect with an audience.

Bass player Al was a trumpet player in the Midwest earlier in life, spending a lot of time in funk combos and swinging big bands. But when he moved to the Pacific Northwest, he discovered how much fun it was to be back in the rhythm section and became a bass player and never looked back! Al uses both bass guitars and electric upright basses when laying down the foundational tones as a Backseat Drivers, and also delivers backing vocals.

Drummer Ed is a sought after player known for not only his boyish good looks, but his extreme versatility as a player. His ability to morph with any song thrown at him, from a soft jazz standard to a funky get up and groove, is well known. Ed grew up in Eureka, California, and started playing percussion at the age of 11. In high school and college he played drums in a variety of rock and jazz groups, as well as playing steel drums in the Humboldt State University Calypso Band. After graduating from college in 1996, he moved to the Portland area, where he has played drum set with many jazz, blues, and R&B groups for the last 20 years. In addition to the Rae Gordon Band, he has played at various times as the main drummer with some of the local legends including DK Stewart, Johnny Martin, Paul deLay, Lloyd Jones, Terry Robb, Geno Michaels, Roger Woods, and many others.

Guitarist Kivett is fast becoming known for his gracious grooves and ability and hails from Austin, Texas. He moved to Portland about 5 years ago and has been playing guitar in blues bands for 22 years. He graduated from the Berkeley College of Music in 2005. He currently also play in The Pining Hearts, a psych-surf band, that has been turning heads around the Portland Metro area. He became a Backseat Driver recently. In addition to playing music in multiple projects including Land of the Living, he is also an accomplished painter, who has had his artwork displayed in various galleries and shows around Portland and Austin, Texas.

Keyboard player Pat has performed with a long list of bands and artists, including his own blues/R&B outfits Runaway Train and Tall Static. He was the musical director for the Portland-based band supporting Tony Coleman (BB King’s drummer for many years), and a member of the Muddy Award-winning lineup of Bill Rhoades & The Party Kings. These days he can often be heard playing with Lisa Mann, Kenny Lavitz, Karen Lovely and Ben Rice. Pat has composed music for commercials, independent films, theatrical productions and corporate presentations; his compositions have won recognition from the Portland Music Association and Keyboard magazine. During the day Pat works in marketing communications – building websites, writing and editing copy, and developing technical documentation.

Sax player Scott was outstanding Senior in Music, Beaverton High School, 1978. All State Band, 3rd in State Solo Contest, 1978. Mt Hood Community College, 1 o’clock Big Band 1978-80. Clackamas Community College 1 o’clock Big Band 1982-3. He continued His music studies at Marylhurst University in the late 1980’s, and then at Portland State University, graduating with a B.S. in Music in 1992. Over the years he’s performed and/or recorded with: Dub Debrie, Ants in the Kitchen, Midnight Blue, The Coasters, Papa Salty, The Fabulous Farelanes, Franco Paletta and The Stingers, The Arnold Brothers, Smokehouse, The Jazz Pinheads, Luminos, The JC Rico Band, Billy’s Brass Band, and of course…..Rae Gordon and the Backseat Drivers!

Trumpet player Allan is one of the most active and in-demand commercial players in Portland and also one of the busiest private lesson teachers. He has been teaching privately since 1982 and was on the faculty of the University of South Florida from 1989 to 1991. He has been a clinician at dozens of schools throughout Oregon, Washington and Florida. Allan has performed with Ray Charles, Doc Severinsen, Al Hirt, Lew Soloff, George Adams, Jon Faddis, and locally performed with Uncle Phunk, Bob Miller Almost All Star Band, Caramel Chocolates, Deep Blue Soul Revue, Ants in the Kitchen, Department of R&B, Return Flight, The Swingline Cubs and Thunderfunk. Allan earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music at the University of South Florida.

Were you all born and raised in the Portland area?

Rae – I grew up in Southern California and spent a lot of my time in Riverside County.

The Backseat Drivers are a talented bunch of musicians from different parts of the US, who have decided to make the Portland area their home. Rae grew up in Southern California and in Tacoma, mostly in Riverside County, California. Ed grew up in Eureka, California; Al hails from the South Bend, Indiana area; Pat and Scott are Portland area raised—from Portland and Beaverton; Kivett headed this way from Austin, Texas; and Allan comes from a longer distance in Florida.

How long have you been performing together professionally and individually?

Rae – I started my music journey in the piano bars of LA, and opening up as a singing act for comedians.

I have long been a fan of every one of the musician that are now in my Backseat driving. When I decided to do another band project, it was so natural for us all come together and that was quick! The Journey to Memphis contest in June was our first official gig together and the response to what we were putting out was so appreciated by us all. I have admired these musicians all for years in their other projects and as people. Sax player Scott Franklin and drummer Ed Pierce were in my former project the “Rae Gordon Band” and they also strike me as really good men, the good guys you always hear about. I always liked Al’s laid back, everything-will-be-cool groove and his common sense that lays a good foundation for what we are doing. Pat and Allan have the sense of humors that won’t quit and are always at the ready to match wits with. Kivett is cooler than cool and is as approachable as they come. I recently rediscovered his playing at a jam and really dug his gritty sound and slide work. I had lost track of his whereabouts, musically speaking, for a few years and was delighted to hear him again and hear the sound I was looking for. He has a great attitude and also has a great singing voice. The others I have played with as special guests or sitting in. The best part of this talented bunch is their sense of teamwork, humor, honesty and humbleness.

Did each of you always want to perform professionally or if not, what did you “want to be when you grew up”?

Rae – I wanted to be a police officer, but I think all of us had music in our souls from the day we drew breath, sometimes it just takes a while, it’s about 50/50 on day jobs or not, but it’s obvious we would all want to be doing music 24/7.

Rae – I recently quit a day job where I was a marketing assistant for 10 years in tourism to do music full time. To help make ends meet, I also started a part time marketing and events consulting business that allows me to put music first and have flexible working hours helping other people live their dreams.

Who has influenced your music?

Rae – My biggest two influences growing up was Bette Midler and Aretha Franklin. It is something I inspire to take on stage with me always, the fun flirty audience friendly style of Bette and the grab your soul from your head to your toes of Aretha.

How would you describe your music?

Rae – I enjoy singing all kinds of styles that help me stretch and move around in my vocal range. But, the style I’m now working towards is a gritty soulful sound that makes you want to get up and dance.

Did you have any formal training or self-taught?

Rae – I have officially had 3 lessons in my life! One was Seth Riggs down in LA, the 2nd was Ellen Whyte and the 3rd was Mark Bosnian. I learned a lot from all three.

What CD’s do you have out?

Blue Lemonade and Dirty Flowers, co-written with Gaddis Cavenah. Music by Cavenah, lyrics by Gordon. The Blue Lemonade debut album made #10 in July of 2013 of the Billboard Blues Charts.

Any more CD’s in the works?

Rae – I am starting preproduction and writing of an original gospel album with a couple covers titled In Between as well as another blues album titled Better Than I Was.

Who have you played with?

Rae – I have been blessed and honored to have shared the stage with so many folks that I can’t even begin to thank. My last project I shared the stage with some amazing talented folk, like Gaddis Cavenah, who helped me develop a great band and was my first songwriting partner. He was the sole reason I was able to get my first album out. Joseph Conrad on bass, Ed Pierce and Edwin Coleman III shared the drum chair, Scott Franklin on saxophone is a mighty force and Joe McCarthy graced us with his tuneage now and again when I got to do a bigger band.

I have been a part of the rotating sisters of Sonny Hess’s Northwest Rhythm & Blues show and it is and has been a turning point in my life to have learned so much from Sonny and that group that include more of my influences locally like Lisa Mann and Lady Kat.

The 1st Sunday of every month has me playing with the likes of Ken Brewer, Jim Solberg and various guest artists for the 1st Sunday Gospel show at the Trails End Saloon in Oregon City. It’s an amazing way to get spiritual in a Come as You Are place.

After I took a break last year from having my own band project, I enjoyed so much doing some shared stage time with Big Monti Amundson. What an incredible songwriter and person. He really got me to dig deep and challenge myself musically as well as playing with different projects as a guest. As I move forward on my own band project again, I really appreciate bringing that along with me.

I also appreciate the time I had with the Etta James Tribute band with some powerhouse players like DK Stewart, Joe Conrad, Joe McCarthy, Peter Dammann, Ed Pierce, Chris Mercer and the wonderful women like Duffy Bishop, Lisa Mann, Lady Kat, LaRhonda Steele. I learned so much from them and was honored to have been asked to do those shows. Sometimes you look back at one gig, one moment and realized it changed your life forever. When DK asked me, it was one of those moments. I have moved on to work on another tribute close to my heart, Bette Midler and will be doing a combined show with LaRhonda Steele, Julie Amici and Melissa Buchanan at the Lake Theater November 14th, bringing the songbook to life.

Music and band projects have always been personal growth opportunities not only for learning music, but for getting to really know people, on stage and off, it is truly a blessed life for sure. I continue to appreciate the most, the people I have learned from that tell me to not stop learning. It’s not always easy, but it IS always worth it. I am forever grateful of the time that has been given to me by local musicians sharing and caring. Whether that was a moment, a minute, an hour, or years.

Are there any former band members you want to mention?

It’s been a journey to say the least, many people and musicians I have had the honor to play with starting with my first guitar player in my first band “the Rebounders” Bob Leitch, to recent musicians who will always have some of my heart. I appreciate what I learned and realize how blessed I was when I look back at all the good times since I started doing a regular blues band in 2001.

Closing comments from Rae:

The Backseat Drivers is the bigger version of my new band project. I will continue to play trios and have other fun projects in the works, including the original gospel project and new CD, but the Drivers are my main focus. Now that I am fully self-employed, I intend to fully stay musical busy! Stay tuned!

I have recently started travelling more and experiencing other blues communities, but always love coming home to Oregon and to the strong, beautiful community that is the northwest. The talent in the Portland Metro area is immense and to be able to call some of them my friends, has been a gift for sure.

The big thing now on the horizon is having RGB do good by Portland and by the Cascade Blues Association, and be able to do well in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge (IBC). Please save all the dates of our fundraisers. Once a month, we will putting the Fun in Fundraiser.

October 8th, please join RGB, Lisa Mann and Franco Paletta along with David Pinsky, 14-year-old Timothy James, on the Portland Spirit with music on all levels. Proceeds to help with lodging and travel expenses for the IBC. Lend support to the duo and youth acts at this year’s Portland Blues Cruise. Tickets are now on sale through for $25.00. Admission will be $30.00 on site, but best to buy in advance as this event will more than likely sell out.

November 3rd, will find me and other volunteers delivering bag lunches in Oregon City, with the proceeds going to feed the band.

December 3rd, plan to get your Christmas tree with some of the Backseat Drivers! Some of us will be on hand to help you pick and cut a tree with proceeds helping us while we are in Memphis.

Make sure to also come January 7th to the Trails End Saloon for the goodbye party and last chance fundraiser for multiple acts from the Northwest going to the IBC including Polly O’Keary from Washington State. This will also serve as another judging opportunity where the acts will showcase their Memphis sets and be able to have a look one more time on scores and make any final adjustments before heading to Memphis to represent the NW.

Thank you for loving live music!

To keep up with Rae and her upcoming shows visit her website at

The Ted Vaughn Blues Band photo by Peggy VaughnBy Laurie Morrisey

Playing with artists such as John Fogerty, Robben Ford, Corey Stevens, Doug MacLeod, Savoy Brown, and Big George Brock, The Ted Vaughn Blues Band is no stranger to the stage. They have been featured with everyone from John Nemeth to Kenny Loggins to Texas Blues Legends “Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King.

The band is heavily blues based, but they also venture into many other musical territories. “We play a mix of originals, old, and sometimes obscure blues songs that we rearrange, as well as some rockabilly and more modern blues rock. Something for just about everyone,” explains band leader Ted Vaughn.

The Ted Vaughn Blues Band includes Ted Vaughn on vocals and blues harp, Clay “Bone” King on guitars and vocals; Dave Stump on bass and vocals, and John King manning the drums. From time to time when he’s available, Leon-Forrest, plays keyboards and contributes vocals.

Ted is Texas born and raised, and he lived not far from the home of Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan. Clay is from Southern California and spent many years performing around L.A. Leon is from California as well and is a longtime resident and fixture on the music scene in Lincoln City. Dave Stump is from Monmouth, and John King hails from Salem.

Each band member has been performing since his early teens — either as a solo artist or in a variety of bands. Growing up they all had the desire to perform professionally, but sometimes life got in the way. “None of us ever wanted to grow up and most folks that know us would say we never have,” Ted comments.

When asked about their day jobs, Ted explains that, “because income from music is so inconsistent, we are also working stiffs.” Ted is a meteorologist and president of Southwest Weather, Inc. He contracts with the National Weather Service to run the upper air site in Salem, OR, gathering data from weather balloons.

Clay “Bone” is a psychotherapist in the mental health field and works with Kaiser Permanente. He also teaches guitar. Dave is the Regulatory and Food Safety Programs Director for Truitt Bros., Inc. John has been involved in several fields and currently works in the food industry processing game and meat.

Leon-Forrest runs his own studio and production company for music and video as well as the Harbinger Northwest record label. He has partnered with Paul Carlsen, who has worked with everyone from Greg Allman to Etta James and holds a platinum award for his work on Nirvanas Nevermind album.

Music Influences

“We have all been influenced by some of the same musicians, especially when it comes to blues,” according to Ted. He was influenced by a lot of the musicians in Texas and the south, from “Lightnin” Hopkins to Fats Domino and later, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Anson Funderburg. Harmonica wise, Ted was heavily influenced by Sam Myers and James Harman. “The list could go on and on…” he said.

Clay’s big influences are all over the map and would include everyone from Cream, Pink Floyd, Spencer Davis, and all of the early blues players — too many to mention. Dave was influenced by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Mars Cowling of Pat Travers Band, and Berry Oakley of the Allman Bros. John’s influences range from Bill Bruford to Phil Collins and Leon’s range from Leon Russell to Taj Mahal. Leon has been fortunate enough to work with many of his influences either in studio or at live shows.


All of the band members have had a mix of formal training and learning on their own. Ted studied music starting in grade school and was a trumpet player all the way through a stint in the Navy where he performed in the Navy Jazz Band, as well as getting vocal instruction in various choirs and singing groups. Clay studied with jazz greats Joe Pass, Warne Marsh, and Jimmy Wyble (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys). Dave started with basic music lessons and then took jazz and theory classes at OCE (now WOU) and Mt. Hood Community College. John studied under jazz drummer Herb Brennon and in L.A. at the Musicians Institute. Leon studied formally at many music schools as well as rubbing shoulders and absorbing knowledge from some of the world’s best known musicians.


All of the band members have recorded with a variety of bands through the years. Their current self-titled CD, The Ted Vaughn Blues Band, was released in 2012 and was nominated as CD of the Year in 2013 by Indie Music Digest. It was recorded at Leon- Forrest Studio and released on Harbinger Northwest Records and Paul Carlsen served as engineer. They’ll be back in studio in October to start their next CD.

Former Band Members

“Bob Jasper, who just passed away, was a good friend and an amazing guitarist. Bob was immensely helpful in getting the band off the ground. He leaves a huge void in the Portland music scene,” Ted said when discussing former members. “There have been other musicians that, although not members, have helped bring the band to where it is today—folks like Garry Meziere, John Pounds, Larry London, and several others. I am just amazed at the level of talent in this area.”

Closing Comments

“We just signed with Peter Holmstedt of Sweden for our European PR. Peter represented and managed public relations for the late Merle Haggard and currently represents acts such as The Indigo Girls, Judy Collins, Ginger Baker, Rodney Crowell, and Katey Sagal. Our radio play across the pond has exploded and I’ve done scores of interviews from Belgium to Germany, France, Sweden, you name it. We have been featured in some of the top music magazines as well, including Rootstime and Blues Matters. Looks as if we’ll hit Europe for our first international tour soon,” according to Ted.

For more information where to find them on this side of the pond, visit

Imagine making a big difference to your blues association while cleaning your closet of your unneeded items? And imagine having fun while you are making that difference! The annual rummage sale is coming up where you can donate your good used items and turn it into cash for the CBA and offer just a little bit of your time helping to run the sale and introduce new people to the CBA . The CBA is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization and your donation is tax deductible!

LIVE BLUES: Terry Robb, Timothy James, Justus Reece, and one more TBA!

BARGAINS: Furniture, tools, kids items, household, collectibles, antiques, musical instruments and more!

WHEN: September 17, 2016, 9am-3pm

WHERE: The Bomber Restaurant, 13515 SE McLoughlin Blvd, Portland, Oregon 97222

WHY: To help fund programs of the Cascade Blues Association and offer live blues music and bargains while educating the public on all that the CBA does and grow membership and awareness of the organization.

To make this year’s rummage sale a success, we need you and your stuff! You need to clean your house, garage, and tool shed now anyway, so this is the perfect time to do it — don’t wait until spring!

DONATIONS NEEDED: Furniture (dressers, shelves, small desks, coffee tables, etc. SORRY NO couches, but futons are okay), tools, kids items, pet supplies, collectibles, and musical instruments highly desired (no full size pianos, but consoles are welcome).

DONATION DROP OFFS: Please bring your good used items to The Bomber Restaurant parking lot before 9am on September 17, before the sale. If you will not be in town that weekend, but feel you have items that would sell well, please contact Cherie Robbins. If in boxes, consider bringing to CBA September meeting where a van will be made available to load items (no furniture at that time).

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED:More hands make for quick work, but more bodies make for more fun! To volunteer, please contact sale chair Cherie Robbins at

Volunteers are needed all day, but these are the most important times:

6:30AM – Oregon City Storage Location – load moving truck

8AM – The Bomber Restaurant Parking Lot, lots of help needed to unload truck as quickly as possible and place on tables.

9AM-3PM – Helpers needed to work with customers, help load customer vehicles and make things look pretty.

3PM – Loading truck to donate to charity Thrift Store & clean up restaurant parking lot. The more help for this makes it easier at the end.

There are often more people wanting to donate items, but cannot drop off themselves the day of the sale. If you can donate a couple hours to pick up some great items that will help make a big difference for the sale. Please let Cherie know.

The Bomber Restaurant offers a wonderful selection of breakfast and lunch items. Please consider stopping inside for a bite to eat when you come by the rummage sale.

The Cascade Blues Association is joining the twenty-first century — for the first time we will conduct the Muddy Awards nominations and final voting online. This will allow us to verify that only one vote is received per email address and will also make it easier for us to automatically tally the returns within a firm deadline. It will also save us a great deal of expense and time printing and mailing ballots. The first round nominations will open in mid-August. Watch our website, Facebook page, and CBA email blasts for further information.