By Laurie Morrisey

thadPicture a Portland, Oregon Christmas when a child was 11…“Under the tree, wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with a red ribbon was a long cardboard box containing a guitar bought from the local department store for $13.97. The strings were so far off the frets it took a pair of vice grips to make any discernible musical sounds. A year and 52 guitar lessons later I could play Aura Lee and Amazing Grace and had the grip of a journeyman mechanic. That same year I made my performing debut with my best friend at the school talent show. A disaster.” Thus starts the musical career of Thad Beckman.

“A year later, with money I made from my paper route I bought a Harmony electric guitar and a Kalamazoo II amplifier. It changed my life. The British invasion was upon us. Me and my buddies would strap on our guitars, turn up the stereo full blast and lip sync along with our favorite tunes from the likes of The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, and The Animals. It was glorious. Finally, we got up the courage to plug in our guitars and start playing the songs ourselves. I can’t say it was any good but there sure were a lot of thrills. Like the first time we figured out the chords to a song. It was The Last Train from Clarksville by The Monkees. We sat in my bedroom with a portable record player and moved the needle back and forth over the 45 until it was so scratched it was unlistenable. We finally figured it out though and we were on our way. Those were the days.”

Fast forward a few decades and you have Thad Beckman, a singer/songwriter with a blues bent. “I play nearly all my gigs with an acoustic guitar. My favorite being my 1935 Gibson L-00.”

He is a solo performer, but Kurtis Piltz plays harmonica with Thad often. “Though I don’t do a lot of band work anymore I’d like to tip my hat to Denny Bixby, Dave Kahl, Dave Captein, Jeff Minnick and Bryce Shelton (RIP). Denny, Jeff and Bryce appear on several cuts of Streets of Disaster and Me Talking To Me.”

“I’ve been performing professionally since I was in high school. I really committed to a career in 1980 and have been a full time musician since then. I think my first love was baseball but I injured my throwing arm when I was young. In the 70’s I studied psychology—I was always interested in the workings of the psyche. At the same time I started studying classical guitar and eventually music won out,” Thad said. In addition to performing, he teaches guitar one day a week.

When asked who his musical influences were Thad said, “This is always a tough question to answer. Major name influences would be Mississippi John Hurt, Otis Rush, Howlin’ Wolf, Charlie Patton, and nearly all of the old blues greats. Dave van Ronk was a huge influence. Hank Williams, George Jones, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, John Prine, Leonard Cohen. Robby Krieger of The Doors was a big influence in my high school days. (I actually got to play with him for an entire evening back in 1993) Bach, Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, Bill Evans.”

“As great as these influences have been I would have to say a lot of local musicians and friends have influenced me just as much. For instance, I saw Jim Mesi playing with Paul DeLay back in the late 70’s and that’s what got me into playing electric blues. Lloyd Jones, Steve Bradley, and Jon Koonce are three more local guys who had an impact. On the acoustic side of things I’d add Mary Flower and Terry Robb.”

Thad studied classical guitar for two years. During that time he took classes in baroque theory, jazz theory and jazz performance. Other than that he is a self-taught musician. He plays guitar, national steel, a little bass and dobro.

Throughout his career Thad has played with Bo Diddley, Tom Russell, Earl Thomas, Ruthie Foster, The Shirelles, and Mary Flower. He has performed on Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble and played The Weight with Levon on drums. He also played with the Late Show with David Letterman’s band in 2009 (playing guitar for Tom Russell.) He has opened for B.B. King, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Dan Hicks, Emmy Lou Harris, and Robert Cray, to name a few.

Additionally, Thad has seven CD’s out. From the latest to the first: Streets of Disaster (2015), When The Sun Goes Down (2013), Beckman–Under The Influence (2012), Me Talking To Me (2009), Blues Gone By (2006), Beckman (2002), and Carry Me Back (1998).

There are two more CD’s in the works. “One is called Born In Smoke and is a guitaristic CD—several solo instrumentals as well as some with lyrics but minimal support. Very blues oriented.”

“I’m working on another called Uprisings, Rebellions and Revolutions. Historical accounts of battles and or revolutionaries. For example: I have a song about Custer’s Last Stand; one about Zapata, the great revolutionary of the Mexican civil war of 1910; one about Gettysburg; and one about the executioner of Paris during the Reign of Terror (1790’s) that has the French Revolution as the background.”

Whether you pick up one of his CD’s or you go to a live show, this is one musician that you don’t want to miss. This month you can find Thad on Aug. 20 at Sweet Basil’s Café in Cannon Beach, and Aug. 21 at O’Connor’s in Portland. For more information on upcoming shows and a sample of his sound, visit Thad’s website at

I first became acquainted with Roger “Hurricane” Wilson through online blues discussion boards nearly twenty years ago. Roger Wilson book coverThrough these conversations I knew him as a touring musician and not much else at the time. Not too long down the road we had the opportunity to meet face to face at the International Blues Challenge. Roger would become a regular judge for the event while I was working as a venue coordinator. I became more aware of his music as he gave me a few of his CDs, including work that he had recorded with high school students at festivals as part of the Blues in the Schools program. He even made a trip to Portland, attending a Cascade Blues Association membership meeting and a jam at Duff’s Garage afterwards. So when he released his autobiography I was interested in finding out more about his musical life. But what surprised me was just how much more to his life there was beyond music.

Hurricane is easy to read, with short chapters reflecting on various times and occurrences in his life. It starts off with his family and his new-found interest in music. You follow him through his early studies with guitar teachers and his time in school bands in both New Jersey and Georgia. The friendships he developed, the bands he formed, and working at the Garden State Arts Center right out of high school witnessing performers like Bob Hope, Duke Ellington, Andy Williams, as well as pop acts of the day like David Cassidy and The Carpenters. It covers his dealings with the choice of becoming sober, and another interest that took on a major role in his life, broadcasting.

A lengthy career with various radio outlets as a programmer, DJ, air traffic control and various other positions, sometimes with multiple stations all at the same time spending long hours while trying to raise his own family, plus teaching  and performing music along with the hardships of traveling between gigs and assignments. And he covers the number of  years that he spent at CNN and the places it took him to, including a press conference at the Bill Clinton White House.

It is not only Roger’s life that we witness. It is the people he encounters along the way and the friendships he makes. We see the likes of Bruce Springsteen in his early days, the breaking out of The Allman Brothers and the influence of Duane Allman upon Roger’s own playing, the impact that Roy Buchanan had upon him, and encounters with acts like Doc Watson, The Indigo Girls, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Close friendships that developed between himself and TV commentator Andy Rooney, the long-time closeness with the legendary guitarist Les Paul, and his association touring and recording with blues man Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.

The book taught me more about my friend and made me more impressed with his accomplishments that are far from being finished. It is a very deep dive into his life and more than just an interesting read. It is the story of a man who has lived a full life seeking his dreams and living on his own terms.

Hurricane Roger Wilson, Author; eGenCo Publishing 2016, 209 pages. $19.95

By Laurie Morrisey

The Thunder Brothers are one of the final four bands competing in the Journey to Memphis competition during the 2016 Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. This is a group that has played with others locally and in other configurations, but joined together to compete this year. The finals will be held on Monday, July 4 on the Front Porch Stage, beginning at 11:30am.

“High energy, expertly executed, funky blues! We all have a blast playing this music…emotion–very simple…music is emotion…no fake stuff…all passion…and pure Thunder,” that’s how the Thunder Brothers describe their music. But you have to check them out yourselves to fully appreciate their sound that will have your toes tapping and your head bobbing.

Band Members

thunder brothers Photo by Ross William HamiltonThe Thunder Brothers include: Michael Quinby on guitar; Doug Rowell on guitar; Edwin Coleman III on drums; and Timmer Blakely on bass. All of the band members take their turn at vocals.

Michael Quinby—I have always wanted to be a musician. My father is a professional musician and a music teacher, so I come by it “honestly.” I’m a self-taught musician—in spite of my father’s best efforts. He really allowed me to learn my own way.

I played my very first professional gig at the age of 14 (seventy million years ago) at the Vintage Inn in Ashland, OR. I have been working to support myself as a musician ever since that debut.

I’ve played with Doug and Timmer several times over the last two years in support of Karen Lovely. Edwin subbed one time, three years ago, for the Roseland Hunters.

Doug Rowell—I have been performing professionally over 40 years. I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a guitarist. As a boy I had classical piano lessons. These laid a foundation for my “self-taught” guitar method. My training came from the bars and roadhouses I began playing at when I was 18 years old. I have been blessed to have made a living in the entertainment industry in many capacities.

I have performed in several different bands with Timmer over the past five years and with Michael in different settings for a couple of years. Edwin is the newest member, joining us a couple of months ago.

Edwin Coleman III—Growing up I wanted to be a professional boxer, football player or musician. Looks like music won. I studied piano and cello for many years but am self-taught on drums. During the day I work for PGE and also as a freelance cartoonist.

Before The Thunder Brothers, I played A few gigs with Quinby, but this is my first time with badass Timmer and badass Doug.

Tiamer Blakely—I’ve been playing professionally for nearly 38 years. I took piano lessons at the age of 5, band in high school and college, and years of learning anything anyone would teach me. Ironically, teaching has taught me a lot. Continuously explaining the theories and concepts through the teaching process inadvertently causes you to really see and understand how everything works together in music.

When I began performing at 12, I knew then that music would be my life.  I also teach bass, guitar, music theory, and overall musicianship at the Rhythm House in Vancouver and my private studio in Hillsboro. And I work freelance with a number of local, regional, and national bands.

Doug and I first worked together professionally a few years back with Franco and the Stingers. Then again last year with Karen Lovely. I met Michael playing with Karen as well. Michael introduced me to Edwin and The Thunder Brothers is my first project with Edwin.


Michael explains that the musical influences in his life were his father, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Nick Daniels III.

Doug cited his #1 influence as The Beatles. “As a child, their music was the inspiration for me to play music. The English Invasion exposed me to American blues. Led Zeppelin, Cream, early Fleetwood Mac all made an impact on me. The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix cannot be described in words. My introduction to the blues was through this window of artists covering the now legendary blues masters. I remember hearing Albert King and thinking he stole all of his stuff from Eric Clapton. Then I noticed the recording date,” he said, laughing.

Edwin says his professional jazz musician parents (Dad is a bass player, my mom sings) were his big influences. “I grew up listening to Dad’s blues, jazz and Afro Cuban records. He played with top Afro-Cuban bands, and my favorites being John Lee Hooker, Satchmo, Count Basie, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, and James Brown.”

Timmer says The Beatles were the main starting point for him. “My list of influences includes the usual suspects like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, SRV, Robben Ford, etc. I think that my biggest influences were all of Portland’s great bassists like the late Phil Haxton, Dave Kahl, Andy Strange, John Mazzocco, Jim Solberg, etc. I spent night after night listening to those guys. I’m sure that I stole most of my riffs from them.”


The Thunder Brothers will be releasing their debut EP at the 2016 Waterfront Blues Festival. They intend to add material to the EP for a full length CD to be released by the end of the summer.

Upcoming Shows

For more information on upcoming shows visit The Thunder Brothers on their Facebook page.

This year’s Waterfront Blues Festival will again welcome the United by Music North America Band. They will perform July 4 at 2:15p on The Front Porch Stage, July 1-4 from 11-1 at Hotel Rose, and on the July 3 “Sail on Sister” DME Blues Cruise.

UBMNA_CBA_United By Music_Jordi de JongeThe UBMNA Band is part of the international performance-based United by Music North America program offering the opportunity for exceptional musicians with intellectual challenges and developmental delays, such as autism, to be selected as UBMNA Artists and coached by UBMNA Mentors to expand their musical talent and learn how to perform as a professional band.

As producing director and co-founder Amanda Gresham explains; “through the equalizing power of music and mentorship provided by the UBMNA program, the artists transcend their challenges, feel worthy, identify as successful, achieve goals, make friends, and know they are valuable and as a result lives are enhanced and transformed daily.” President and co-founder Barbara Hammerman adds that “in North America, the core of our model is collaboration with other similarly-missioned groups to develop opportunities in performance.”

Please contact co-founders Barbara Hammerman and Amanda Gresham at 253.225.7655 or visit their website at for their complete story and information on how you or someone you know can become part of the United by Music North America family. You may also view their entire roster of UBMNA artists, mentors, and details on open mic auditions and upcoming performances.UBMNA United By Music LOGO 1-13-14 CS4

The artists of UBMNA invite you to visit with them, along with their presenting sponsor, in the The Delta Music Experience Louisiana Pavilion and learn more about the band and the program.

FLYING-HEARTCALL 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 and put “BLUE ROSE” in the subject line. All entries will be considered; a few will be chosen.

Barry Blackwell with friend Cliff Larson - photo courtesy of Cliff Larson

Barry Blackwell with friend Cliff Larson

It is with extremely heavy hearts and regret that we have to announce that Cascade Blues Association Board Member Barry Blackwell passed away on June 4. As a long-time volunteer and a devoted board member, Barry was always the first to step forward to help out. Willing to work long and hard hours doing event set-ups, merchandise tables, watching the stage access gates at the Waterfront Blues Festival, or any task that needed to be handled, Barry was always there. Diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer in December, he continued to attempt to attend meetings when he could despite his discomfort. Barry Blackwell was a good friend to Portland’s blues and music community, and he always had a smile for everybody. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and the Cascade Blues Association, but his memory will live forever within us all.

Lisa Mann - photo by Miri StibevkaLast month’s Blues Music awards in Memphis on May 5, found local musician Lisa Mann once again taking home the big prize for Instrumentalist – Bass for the second consecutive year. Twenty-four awards overall were handed out between musical sets by many of the nominees. This year’s biggest winner had to have been piano man Victor Wainwright and his band The Wild Roots, taking home both the Band of the Year honors and the top prize of the night, the BB King Entertainer of the Year. Buddy Guy, Cedric Burnside, Walter Trout, and the late Otis Clay who also received two awards each and the night.

The night before celebrated the inductees this year into the Blues Hall of Fame. Along with awards given to individuals for literature, recordings, and production, the Hall honored the entry of musicians Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Elvin Bishop, John Mayall, Jimmy Johnson and the Memphis Jug Band.

All of this year’s Blues Music Award recipients are listed below:

Acoustic Album: The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard – Duke Robillard
Acoustic Artist: Doug MacLeod
Album: Born to Play Guitar – Buddy Guy
B.B. King Entertainer: Victor Wainwright
Band: Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots
Best New Artist Album: The Mississippi Blues Child – Mr. Sipp
Contemporary Blues Album: Born to Play Guitar – Buddy Guy
Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Shemekia Copeland
Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Joe Louis Walker
Historical: Soul & Swagger: Buzzin’ the Blues by Slim Harpo (Bear Family Records)
Instrumentalist-Bass : Lisa Mann
Instrumentalist-Drums: Cedric Burnside
Instrumentalist-Guitar: Sonny Landreth
Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Kim Wilson
Instrumentalist-Horn: Terry Hanck
Koko Taylor Traditional Female Artist Award: Ruthie Foster
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Allen Toussaint
Rock Blues Album: Battle Scars – Walter Trout
Song: “Gonna Live Again” written and performed by Walter Trout
Soul Blues Album: This Time for Real – Billy Price & Otis Clay
Soul Blues Female Artist: Bettye LaVette
Soul Blues Male Artist: Otis Clay
Traditional Blues Album: Descendants of Hill Country – Cedric Burnside Project
Traditional Blues Male Artist: John Primer

By Karen Y. Spencer & Laurie Morrisey

Rose City Kings - Facebook photoCollectively, the band members of Rose City Kings have some 200 years of professional musical experience. Rose City Kings was founded in Portland Oregon in 2002. Then band leader, Dan Berkery formed KOLVANE in 2007. After an extended hiatus, he reconstructed Rose City Kings in 2014.

“This is an exciting collection of some of the top musicians in Portland, each capable of handling the spotlight on their own, but collectively bring a moving and passionate show that will leave you wanting more,” according to Cascade Blues Association President Greg Johnson.

The current configuration of the band is: Dan Berkery, lead vocals/guitar; Steve Kerin, keyboard/vocals (he is a three-time muddy award winner for best keyboards—2011, 2012 and 2014); Tim Shaughnessy, bass; Gary Keeney, drums; Katy Oberg, percussion/vocals; and David Lipkind, harmonica.

For the most part, all the band members always want to be musicians when they grew up, except for Tim. “I wanted to be a teacher, however I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”

The majority of the band members work in the music industry. Dan works full time as a recording artist/writer/producer. Steve works full time as a keyboardist. When he’s not performing live, he’s arranging productions or teaching music. When Gary is not keeping the beat, he works in the music industry at the locally owned CD Baby, the independent musician’s best friend. Music and singing are Katy’s passions. David can be found performing on almost any night of the week. He moonlights (or is that sunlights?) during the day as a home builder and renovator. Tim is an entrepreneur who owns an LED lighting company and an essential oil extraction company.

Most of Rose City Kings’ training has come from experiences in bands. However, Steve Kerin has a Master’s degree in piano performance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL). David is self-taught on the harmonica, but grew up taking piano and guitar lessons, and watching his grandfather, uncle, and cousin play harmonica.

Rose City Kings are influenced by Chicago Blues: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Earl Hooker, and Magic Sam. Their music is describes as fun, infectious grooves, original Blues and Americana, sometimes with a nod towards the past and sometimes with a nod towards the future.

Past Members

Rose City Kings’ lineup has evolved over the years. However, the goal of the band has always been consistent — to provide the best all-out performance possible. Former band members include drummer Roger Espinor and bass player Ron Camacho who are now with Sister Mercy, which represented the CBA in the 2016 International Blues Challenge. Also Joe Powers who is a well-known Tango harmonica player.


The Rose City Kings will launch their new CD next month. They have three previous CD’s: Holler Out For More, June 2005; Up On It, June 2004, and Delta Hop, May 2003. Under the name Kolvane, they released Kill These Blues, May 2008 and They Called Me Evil, October, 2007.


CASHBOX MAGAZINE: Cool Baby # 1 Single Roadhouse Blues & Boogie for December 2008 & January 2009 and in Top 5 for 5 months; Cool Baby peaked at #19 on Beach Music Chart with 7 weeks in its Top 40

ROOTS MUSIC REPORT TOP 50: Kill These Blues Top 30 Roots Rock (8/2008); They Called Me Evil debuted at #18 (11/2007) in Roots Rock; & Holler Out for More #30 in Roots Blues (8/2005),

REAL BLUES MAGAZINE AWARDS: Top West Coast Blues/Rock CD Up On It, Best Pacific NW Blues Band, Best West Coast Blues/Rock Band (September, 2005); Top 100 CDs Holler Out for More (November 2006)

RADIOWAVE MONITOR CONTEMPORARY BLUES CHART TOP 30: Biscuits & Gravy reaching # 5 (March & April 2006)

MUDDY AWARDS WINNER: Winner 2004 Best Contemporary & 2003 Best New Act; Finalist Best Contemporary 2007 & 2008

JOURNEY TO MEMPHIS COMPETITION WINNERS: Qualified the band to compete in the 2005 International Blues Challenge

More Information

To find out more about Rose City Kings and their upcoming shows, visit Rose City Kings has announced the launch party for its upcoming CD on June 24th. Check their website for more details.

By Laurie Morrisey

Local musician Mark Shark was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri. “I wanted to be a professional baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals,” he confessed. Lucky for us, he ended up being a musician. When asked if he has a day job, his answer was, “I’m a musician—I have several day jobs. Every day I am either composing, recording, transcribing, writing, or teaching,” Mark said.

mark shark pic“I moved to LA in 1979 to pursue music and spent the next 35 years in the studio, touring, gigging, teaching, and writing from my home there. I moved to Portland a year and a half ago with my wife Robin. Our daughter attends Reed College.”

Moving to LA in 1979 opened up a lot of opportunities for Mark. Meeting Jesse Ed Davis and playing with him led to meeting Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal, and Bonnie Raitt—these people all made a huge impact on Mark’s playing.

Mark has been performing professionally for 50 years if you count the school dances and bar mitzvah circuit he played in junior high and high school. “I started out in bands as the lead singer but wanted to play guitar too so I kept at it and here we are today.”

The Author

In addition to music, Mark is also working on a few books on alternate tunings and one for a friend of his. “I also teach guitar, mandolin, and banjo at Portland Music Company and Five Star Guitar.” His book, The Tao of Tunings (Hal Leonard) is available now, and coming soon from Inside Publications is The Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic Volumes I and II transcriptions.


To say that Mark comes by his talent naturally would be an understatement. Both of his parents were Julliard trained concert pianists. “They spent many years together touring, then my father spent years touring with Paul Robeson throughout the forties. During the McCarthy era in the early 50’s, Paul was blacklisted and his passport confiscated. My father then took a position with Washington University in St. Louis. He conducted the Gateway Festival Orchestra and University City Orchestra, which we attended frequently. My mother also introduced me to Pete Seeger and songs out of the Fireside Songbook, which we loved playing together.”

His older brother, Bill, introduced him to Howlin Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters records. “He was instrumental to my development as a music aficionado and guitar player. Living in St. Louis, Chuck Berry and Albert King were locals and accessible, frequently playing around town. They were a huge influence,” Mark said.

Other players who have influenced Mark are: Lowell George, Ry Cooder, David Lindley, Will Ackerman, Joni Mitchell, James Burton, Debashish Bhattacharya, Roger McGuinn, and George Harrison. “My latest inspiration is Esperanza Spalding who I didn’t know is a Portlander! I had the pleasure of hearing her talk, sing and play at Reed College last month.”

Music & Training

Mark describes his music as eclectic. “I have a wide range of musical tastes. I have always been drawn to roots music—blues, country and folk. I love rock n’ roll, Indian raga’s, jazz, soul, funk, new age, alternate tunings, native American/traditional indigenous music, world music, and classical music. In my own compositions I try to incorporate what inspires me. I often blend bits and pieces of different styles or genre’s of music to create something new. There are endless possibilities when it comes to composing and creating music that express whatever you want it to.”

Mark plays acoustic/electric guitar, mandolin, slide guitar, twelve string guitar, banjo, dobro, dulcimer, balalaika, and octave mandolin. “I began playing guitar in junior high and took lessons from my friend Doug Niedt. He was incredibly disciplined and by our third lesson he told me not to bother coming anymore. I was shocked and asked why and he said that he didn’t have time to waste on someone who wasn’t serious or committed to practicing and learning their instrument. He could tell I wasn’t doing what he asked. He knew I was just learning the Lovin’ Spoonful or Animals’ songs he was showing me and not doing the exercises and scales he laid out in my lesson plan. I begged for a second chance and he gave it to me. I practiced every day and learned the scales and the neck even though I was perfectly happy strumming a tune and not knowing what any of it meant or how it was all connected. Doug shamed me into being the musician I am today…I can’t thank him enough.”

“I continued on with private lessons and attended college. I finished my third year at Wichita State University Kansas with the incredible jazz guitarist Jerry Hahn. Sadly I left college after my third year to pursue life on the road with a show band and I’ve been on the road ever since. I regret not finishing my degree and it is still on my list of things to do,” he said.


Mark’s CD’s include The John Trudell Catalog, From the Heart, and Zydeco Party Band Catalog. Additionally he has several projects in the works right now. “I am currently working on the final recording for John Trudell and Bad Dog. We lost John to cancer in December and this will be our tribute to him. I also have two blues projects that will be out later this year.”

Fellow Musicians & Band Members

Mark has played with many musicians: John Trudell, Jesse Ed Davis, Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes, Bob Dylan, Terry Evans, Teresa James and Terry Wilson, Tony Braunagel, Johnny Lee Schell, Doug Legacy, Hutch Hutchinson, Kirk Fletcher, Todd Robinson, Jimmy Z, Bob Weir, Crosby Stills and Nash, Stephen Hodges, Pete Fahey, Jeff Turmes, Debra Dobkin, Ricky Eckstein, Billy Watts, Quiltman, Hani Nasar, Wally Ingram, Ulali, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Van Dyke Parks, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Ferguson, Freebo, Billy Block, and more.

“Since moving to Portland I have been fortunate to have played with Lloyd Jones, Curtis Salgado, Chris and Ian Miller, Jake Ray, Miller Sasser band, Julie Amici and Dean Mueller, Karen Lovely, Lauren Sheehan, John Lowell Mitchell, Carlton Jackson, Dave Kahl, Denny Bixby, Jimmy Bott, Hilary Hanes, Adlai Alexander, Hershel Yatovitz, Buzz Holland, Joe Kerry New, Scott Pemberton, Joe McCarthy, Ben Rice, Ken Scandlyn, and Jesse Samsel and so many others who have welcomed me here in the beautiful City of Roses.”

Mark has known and worked with many musicians in various capacities over the last 30 years. “Many of them are well known players in LA and we lend our services to each other whenever possible. Many of them also overlap into other projects such as John Trudell and Bad Dog, the Zydeco Party Band, and Mark Shark and the Hammerheads.”

Band members he works with are: Ricky Eckstein, keyboards, bass and drums; Billy Watts, guitar: Gary Ray, drums; Doug Legacy, accordion/piano; Van Dyke Parks; Quiltman (Milton Sahme), Indian chanting/drumming; Gary Ferguson, drums; Todd Robinson, guitar; Teresa James, keyboards/singer; Terry Wilson, bass; Debra Dobkin, percussion; James Cruce, drums; Jerry Peterson, horns; Terry Evans, singer; John Juke Logan, harmonica; David Jackson, bass; and Danny Timms, keyboards.

To find out more about Mark’s upcoming events visit his website at

early blues jas obrecht

Much like baseball, the origins of the blues often lie along the crossroads of a hazy and mythic history. Fortunately though, Jas Obrecht’s handsome little book, Early Blues: The First Stars of Blues Music, lifts the mist a bit and shepherds us through the lives and musical biographies of nine of the foundational guitarists for what we now call “blues music.”

early-blues-jas-obrechtCombining perceptive musical analysis with tight, frugal storytelling, Obrecht, a former staff editor for Guitar Player and a well-established music journalist, traces the roots of the blues through the musical development and recording history of early innovators such as Sylvester Weaver, Blind Blake, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Mississippi John Hurt. Throughout his book, Obrecht occasionally questions the popular myths of these musicians’ lives as well. For instance, he reveals the oft-told story of Blind Lemon Jefferson freezing to death at the age 45 on the streets of Chicago as a fable (see Francis Davis’s The History of the Blues, page 95, for a retelling of this tale) — apparently heart failure was the real culprit, not exposure.

Obrecht adds to the mix many insights from contemporary musicians — Albert King, Ry Cooder, and John Hammond, Jr all contribute to the book — to show the influence of these guitarists’ musical approaches and playing techniques. Obrecht also includes a number of illustrations, often depicting racial stereotypes, from record companies advertising copy and promotional information for what was then often referred to as “race records.”

While the research in the book is extensive and impeccable, the only slight quibble I’d have with Early Blues lies with its structure. Each chapter reminds me a bit of thoroughly researched liner notes for each musician, and this threatens to erode the book’s narrative momentum. Yet, this is a small complaint; taken as a whole, Obrecht’s book provides an excellent primer for anyone, from casual fan to hard-core aficionado, interested in the cultural and musical world that birthed the blues and its first guitar heroes. It’s an impressive home run.

Early Blues: The First Stars of Blues Guitar,

Jas Obrecht, Author. University of Minnesota Press, 259 pages. $22.95.