1 – Do not select a person who has already been awarded a lifetime achievement award for this category. You can only win this once as you only have one life. Check the back of the ballot for the list.

2 – The categories that have artist names in front of them are honoring those individuals for the number of times they have received the award. In order to have one named after them, they must have received the award no less than 12 times and agree to no longer be eligible for that category. So, if the category is named after somebody (i.e. the “Duffy Bishop” Female Vocalist) please do not nominate that person.

3 – There is always confusion about Traditional and Contemporary. Traditional applies to acoustic blues or those performing in the classical electric styles of early regional styles like Chicago or Texas (i.e. Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, etc.). Contemporary is modern electric blues that may encompass newer genres like rock, metal, hip hop, etc.

4 – A Performance is recognition of a single artist or band for a gig that they played; this can be a collaboration of musicians for a single performance.

5 – An Event refers to a setting with multiple artists playing individual sets. This would include festivals, fundraisers, benefits, tributes, etc.

6 – A Venue is a location be it a club, store, theater or wherever that holds regular shows. It is not a location that is holding an event or a one-time scheduled show.

7 – Regional acts refers to those artists outside of the Portland metro area within Oregon, Washington or Idaho – if an artist is from Louisiana, California, Europe or anywhere else outside of the described region they are not eligible for this category.

8 – If an act was previously nominated for New Act then they’re not really a new act, are they?

9 – Albums to be counted for the ballot, whether Northwest or National, must have been released during the time period between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015. We will check on release dates.

10 – Do not enter an act more than once in a category, it will still only count as one nomination. (Yes, we do have people send in their ballots like this).

11 – If you enter more than three nominations in any one category, all will be voided and not counted for that category.

12 – Do not write in comments or complaints on the ballots. They are not going to be considered or read, so don’t waste your time with them here. We’re only interested in who your selections are.

13 – Please use your best judgement on your selections. If you’re unsure, you’re not required to enter all categories or all three permitted spaces. If you don’t know the artists in the categories, don’t just look back on past nominees, we want everybody deserving to have a chance, which means many newer acts or long-time acts who have been overlooked deserve the opportunity, too.

14 – Please fill out your own ballot. This is a benefit of being a member, only members are supposed to be voting. Do not give them to a friend or team up with others to “stuff” the ballots. Let’s make them meaningful as they’re meant to be. And don’t ask us, we have no intention of telling you who you should nominate. Make it open and fair to all.

15 – Consider everybody. Please go out and check out different performers along with your favorites when you decide to spend time listening to music. There are a lot of musicians, recordings, venues out there that are deserving, but we’re limited to who we can place on a ballot. Remember, the final selections come from our members. This is your choices. If you do not take the time to nominate, or if you’re not a member, you cannot complain about the outcome.

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Well, things are sure going to pot this past month, and I don’t mean anything about the legalization of marijuana in the state. I mean things are definitely going downhill. Quickly.

I thought my personal woes at the Waterfront Blues Festival were bad, tweeking my back the morning of July 2, right before heading out for the day and starting the four-day event. Oh what pain! I could barely move between the two stages I was announcing at and spent most of my time those first couple days in the VIP area sitting. Went through ice packs, medication, massage, lots of water, and adult alcoholic beverages available in the VIP area. But it was too much to handle much movement and I missed a good deal of the festival happening on the Brewery Stage. No Gregg Allman, no Jaimoe, no Dave & Phil Alvin, no King Louie’s Blues Revue or anything else I would have wanted to see. And I wasn’t able to hang out with my friends who show up once a year and that really smarted.

But it is nothing compared to the news the week before of the death of Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame member Jimmy Lloyd Rea. A good friend that due to his living on the opposite side of the state meant that we didn’t see much of each other. But I will never forget him and the stories he would tell me of things like the Ann Arbor Blues Festival and the musicians he had performed with. He saw a lot in me. Enough that he nominated me for and pushed my induction into the (online) Blues Hall of Fame. This was quite an honor, but I never felt comfortable with this recognition. The others who were inducted in Oregon were people like Lloyd Jones, Bill Rhoades and Jim Mesi for example. These people had given their entire lives and careers in performing the blues. I was just a writer, a photographer and a blues society president. I didn’t belong alongside these people. So I recanted my induction, assured if I were to ever change my mind that I would be reinstated. I still do not feel any differently. But thank you Jimmy Lloyd Rea. You were a top notch friend and I am going to miss you.

The second biggest blow happened right at BluesNotes deadline. We had heard the month prior about the confirmation of the rumor of the closing of Highway 99 in Seattle. Heaven forbid that such would befall a major venue in Portland. Halibut’s was closing but they seem to have a new location already found. But when word was received that The Lehrer was being forced to close their doors, it was like having all of the wind knocked out of you. This was the Muddy Award winning venue of the year. This was an owner that not only pushed for people to come to his club, but supported other venues by patronizing them and musicians by scouting them out before they made a pitch to play at his room. A friendly staff, a large dance floor, good food and great music. Why weren’t people coming out? Here or anywhere else? Sure, the summer months are busy, so much going on. But that doesn’t explain the rest of the year. Huge kudos to Brad Lehrer for making this a go-to spot. He did his best to survive, but anybody who has run a music venue knows already that you’re in it for the love, don’t expect to see profits. Yet he tried and alas we’re seeing another of the best venues in town close its doors.

Don’t bemoan another club closure if you didn’t help support those venues. It’s easy to sit back and say how bad it is that another one has closed. But they would survive if you would make the effort to go to the shows they offer. Brad Lehrer brought in acts, taking chances on little known in our area bands and touring acts that should’ve been seen. I have seen it other places as well. Ten people showing up to a national act playing in town for the first time, while venues offering a free jam pack the place out. You do realize that despite Portland’s reputation for being a blues city, a lot of the touring acts note this as well and decide that it might not be in their best interest to come here. Prevent that from happening, and prevent venues we love from closing. Get out there and see live music. Take a chance on somebody you’re not familiar with. Pay a little cover. You may find somebody that really rocks your boat. It is worth it.

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Summer sure is kicking off in a big way, especially in July. We all know about the Waterfront Blues Festival. Well, how can’t we? It is only one of the premier events in the blues world, and not just within our region. Four days of spectacular music every year and it just keeps getting more amazing every time.

But hold the phone Mabel, that is just a small part of what’s happening in Portland and the area in July. Reading the BluesNotes calendar is going to be quite impressive if you haven’t taken a look at it yet. This is a blues lover’s list of events to be certain with folks like John Mayall, Keb’ Mo’, Bobby Rush, Doug MacLeod, J.P. Soars and that’s only a small part of it people. Then there’s the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, Wintrhop up in Washington and something new called the Meier Farms Lavender & Wine Festival in Hillsboro on July 25 featuring Boyd Small and others to be announced. And watch for free concerts happening in the city parks, they always include a fair number of blues acts throughout the summer.

But all is not fun and games in the blues world. Life still goes on and our blues community lost a good friend this last month with the passing of my friend and sometimes partner in CBA events Jackson Lee. Jackson was the president before I took the role on when he stepped down. RIP Jackson, I will certainly be one of the many who will miss you.

In good news, however, I want to send out a huge congratulations to Tracey Fordice and Randy Yearout who decided to take the walk down matrimony lane, getting married in a ceremony at The Lehrer in June. In their normal ways, it was a humorous and very enjoyable ceremony and we wish them many years of life together and happiness.

So make the most of your summer everybody. There is plenty of live music going on in Portland all the time, but when the heat of the summer months come up, the music gets more plentiful, too. Must be something in the rain the rest of the year that fertilizes the music of summer. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then you’re just not looking hard enough. Enjoy everybody!

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

May certainly turned out to be a bittersweet month. I made my annual visit to Memphis to work at the Blues Music Awards and to see friends who I only have the chance to see maybe twice a year. This was my fifth year working as part of the stage management team for what is perhaps the biggest single night in the blues world. Getting to see and work with musician friends like John Nemeth, Doug MacLeod, Jarekus Singleton, Sugaray Rayford, EG Kight, Mark Hummel and Eden Brent, as well as legendary performers like Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond, Elvin Bishopand Keb’ Mo’ made for an awesome time. Then throw in Kevin Selfe, Lisa Mann and Jimi Bott into the mix and it was perfect.

Well, actually the perfect part came about as I got to be right there side stage as both Jimi Bott and Lisa Mann were honored as recipients of the Blues Music Awards in their respective categories. It was a time that made Portland and the whole Pacific Northwest shine with pride. And so many friends were there from the Northwest to share it, including Lisa’s husband Allen Markel, Jimi’s wife Laura, CBA Vice President Wendy Schumer, Cherie Robbins, Karen Lovely, Ben Rice, Lucy Hammond, Washington Blues Society PresidentTony Frederickson, Stacy Jones, Tim & Michelle Burge, Teri Wilson and others.

But May also brought some pain. First, on the Monday before the Blues Music Awards took place, Randy Chortkoff passed away. I knew Randy in passing. We would exchange hellos, but never really knew each other too well. But his label Delta Groove has been a West Coast leader and has recorded a number of musicians associated with Portland including Jimi Bott, Kevin Selfe, Mitch Kashmar and Franck Goldwasser.

The one thing that Randy once did that I will never forget took place when he was receiving the Keeping The Blues Alive Award for the label. He stood before the crowd at the Doubletree Hotel that morning and gave his acceptance speech, I believe I was standing next to Watermelon Slim as he spoke. He stated that there were some really good blues societies that have helped push Delta Groove over the years, and the Cascade Blues Association was one that had stood out as exceptional. I about fell over. Totally unexpected and very much grateful for his acknowledgement. I’ll never forget that day. Nor will I forget Randy for what he has done for the West Coast blues scene.

Even harder to take was the passing of BB King the day before BluesNotes deadline. How do you talk about an icon? Somebody whose very name means the blues to so many people world-wide. It is devastating to us all. Even though it had been announced less than two weeks before that he had been placed in home hospice. You never want to think the worst, but it will happen to us all someday. At least BB King left this world in a better state because he was a part of it.

I saw BB King more than twenty times over the years since the late 70s. I could not answer just how many times, but it is up there. I do regret that I never had the personal pleasure of meeting him. I was set up to do so several times, but for reasons out of my control it never happened. The last being a few years back when Tony Coleman was attempting to have me interview BB on his bus and photograph him. But that too fell through. It just wasn’t meant to be in this lifetime, much like the times I was to be set up to meet with John Lee Hooker. But I have no regrets. I have met my share of renowned artists over the years and will have the chance to meet these others and more in the ever after when we leave here ourselves. In the meantime, I will cherish the shows I saw, the albums I own, and the films I have seen. We were all blessed by having BB King’s presence among us, whether we met face to face or not.

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

You know life hits you the strongest when it brings loss. That certainly was the impact I felt when I received the news that Ted Todd had died this last month. Ted was not just another blues supporter. He was not just the former President of the Inland Empire Blues Society in Spokane. He was not just the editor of their newsletter. He was not just a radio host on his internet show Blowtorch Blues. He was a good friend. Not just of mine, though Ted and I knew one another for many years. But he was a good friend to everybody in the Northwest blues community and beyond. In fact I probably saw Ted more of the last few years in Memphis during the International Blues Challenge or the Blues Music Awards than I had in the Northwest. He supported what he loved. And he loved the blues.

I will never forget when The Blues Foundation announced that the Cascade Blues Association was receiving the Keeping The Blues Alive recognition for Blues Society back in 2003. Ted was the very first person to call me up to congratulate the organization for being honored. My response to him was, “Now let’s work at Inland Empire and all the other Northwest societies who do so much for the music to receive the same recognition.” Ted won this coveted award himself for radio with the Blowtorch Blues show, an award very well deserved.

Ted, the Northwest is going to miss you. Your smile and enthusiasm will live on with all the musicians and fans that you touched with your love of the blues.

On a happier note, I will miss the May meeting for the CBA. Well I guess I am not too happy about missing the meeting. But the reason is that I will once again be heading to Memphis to assist in the Blues Music Awards celebrations. I will be helping set up the Hall of Fame induction dinner on Wednesday, spending the whole day doing line checks for the performers on Thursday, then working as one of the stage managers for the actual show, my fifth year in this position. It really is a lot of fun being involved with what is surely the most important single event in the blues world every year. Plus I get to help root for our local nominees Lisa Mann, Curtis Salgado and Jimi Bott right from the side of the stage.

And don’t forget summer is coming and festival season is drawing nearer. So many events that we’re hoping the CBA will have a presence at this year. Besides the Waterfront Blues Festival we’re in the works of returning once again to the Cidar Summit and Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, plus looking at others like the Kalama Blues Festival and the Bronze Blues & Brews Festival. Who knows what else we may show up at. All this on top of the Journey To Memphis competition and the CBA Summer Picnic. So plan on getting your blues on this summer with the Cascade Blues Association!

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Hard to believe that it is April already. So many events have already happened in Portland just the first three months and we’re just now getting started on spring and the festival season is on the horizon.

The benefit for Tim “Too Slim” Langford was quite heartwarming. It was wonderful to see such a large crowd come together for one of our Northwest all-time favorites, and the volunteers and the musicians who all gathered truly showed the love held for Tim here. And words could not sum up the gratitude that Tim held as he made several personal phone calls to thank many of us involved. Make a point to come out and see Tim and his band, Too Slim & The Taildraggers, themselves at Peter’s Room at The Crystal Ballroom on Thursday, May 7.

I would like to welcome and thank new board members to the Cascade Blues Association, Fred & Joann Morgan, Barry Blackwell and Robert “Reggae Bob” Hamilton. Their willingness to step up and help out is very appreciated. There is a lot of work involved with keeping the CBA up to speed and planning new events and upgrading the old. Having four new sets of hands will be quite a relief from working with a bare bones staff for so long.

But it has not all been bare bones, mind you. Richard LaChapelle, though not directly a member of the board, has taken on the role of collecting volunteers for our various events that we are associated with or put on. Richard goes above and beyond any expectations and does just as much work as any of the board members. Thank you so much Richard, for your volunteering to keep our group vital.

There are so many extraordinary shows happening throughout the month of April, but I would like to suggest that everybody who can attend the fourth annual Inner City Blues Festival. This is important because it helps build awareness to Healthcare For All Oregons. Musicians do not make much money, unless they’re big time stars like Bonnie Raitt or Eric Clapton, and most live month to month making ends meet. They are part of the group that needs such Health Care to be affordable. But this program is not just aimed at musicians, it is for everybody. This cause is huge and one way you can show your support is to attend this incredible festival.

The CBA is already looking at summer time events — can never start too early — and we expect to be right back into the mix of things as the weather heats up, with the Waterfront Blues Festival, The Cider Summit and our own Summer Picnic among them. And who knows, with new volunteers we may just be present at more of the festivals around the Northwest as well.

I also hope to see some of you in Memphis the first week of May for the Blues Music Awards. I will be working as a stage manager again for the biggest night in the blues world. My role is shuffling those musicians onto the stage on time to present a gathering of acts that rival any festival or cruise in just one night. And so many blues heroes all in one place. Big shout out to our three local artists that are up for awards this year: Curtis Salgado, Lisa Mann and Jimi Bott. Good luck and see you there.

But if you cannot make it to Memphis, I will see you at the monthly meetings and in the clubs. Happy bluesing everybody!

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / Cascade Blues Association President

I want to reflect on a little more personal take this month as my trip to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge was a true life event that I will never forget. A couple years back I was approached by my very close friend Jenn Ocken about assisting her in putting together a book about the International Blues Challenge featuring her photography. I told her to count me in. The original idea was to have me write the lead in pieces for the various chapters of the book (i.e. explaining what the event was, the background of The Blues Foundation and the growth that it has seen over the past decade or so). This was to be accompanied by a series of quotes to go along with her photos that I would obtain from people who had performed, attended or volunteered during the nearly week-long event over the years. But those quick quotes began taking on a life of their own, with full-blown accounts from many people relating their experiences and what the event has done or meant for each of them.

Blues on Beale Street book coverAfter two years of gathering and compiling everything that went into the book, we were able to have it published and released during this last IBC in January. And when we were able to physically hold the book in our hands for the first time, it was quite an emotional scene. We did it! We had released our first book together titled Blues On Beale Street, Memoirs Of The International Blues Challenge.  

Response to the book was sensational, moving a great number of copies from the table we set up in Club 152 and by Jenn and her fabulous team of Jordan Hefler and Jessica Losee selling the book club to club during the night. Jenn appeared on local radio station KWAM and both of us sat in with Vinny Marini’s Music on the Couch internet radio show.

Without doubt the highlight of our week took place Thursday, January 22, as we held a special VIP book signing and release party at The Silly Goose Lounge, about a block off Beale Street from BB King’s and Blues City Cafe. We did not know exactly what kind of turn-out we would receive, but it exceeded anything we could have dreamed of as many friends, family and musicians showed up to give us their congratulations and support. Jenn had hired Jonn Del Toro Richardson and Sean Carney to perform, but it ended up being so much more, as friends Teeny Tucker, Lionel Young, Karen Lovely, Brandon Santini, Hawkeye Herman, Micah Kesselring and Michael Frank all sat in with Jonn and Sean. And there were so many other musicians who came out to share the day with us, too, including Ben Rice, Lucy Hammond, Paula Harris, Randy Oxford and Michele Seidman amongst them. From all of the photos taken during the party, it was quite obvious just how proud and grateful that Jenn and I were for all of the positive feedback and showing of love for the project and ourselves. There was an abundance of smiles and tears from the both of us.

As part of our pre-sales push, Jenn had created a program called “Buy a Book, Give a Book.” This was aimed at Greg Johnson Jenn Ocken with book - photo by Kelly Thorntonhaving donations obtained so we could place a copy of the book into the hands of every young musician who was participating in this year’s Youth Showcase during the IBC. Almost all the funds to date have been covered by donations and we gave books to 103 blues kids that week.

Our next step now is to push Blues On Beale Street, Memoirs Of The International Blues Challenge onto a national level. Sending out press releases and continuing with radio interviews to keep the book fresh in peoples’ minds. We’re working on having Jenn come out to the Waterfront Blues Festival this summer, so people in Portland will have a chance to meet both of us and are able to pick up a copy of the book we can each personally sign for you. In the meantime, I will have copies available as each shipment lasts that I am having Jenn send directly to me from Baton Rouge as needed. These have all been signed by Jenn and I will personally inscribe them for you as well. Let me know if you would like to pick up a copy.

You can also order the book directly from Jenn at documentingBlues.com/store/ and we are now available on Amazon.com. Just look up the title, Blues On Beale Street, Memoirs Of The International Blues Challenge. We hope that you seek out the book. We’re quite proud of it and we believe that you will enjoy Jenn’s extraordinary photos and the stories that go along telling what goes on behind the scenes, onstage and everywhere else at the IBC. Because you know, everybody who goes to Memphis for the IBC will come home with their own stories to tell.

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Well, it happened again this year. The International Blues Challenge (IBC) takes place shortly after the BluesNotes is going to press so we cannot give you any details right away about the outcome. And by the time you receive the paper chances are more than likely that word will already have spread on how our representatives for the Cascade Blues Association and the other outstanding acts representing the various Northwest societies fared. But I’m liking our chances and hopefully the word will be favorable for the musicians from our area.

This year’s IBC will not only feature nine acts from the Northwest, but for the first time a showcase will be held with all of the regional acts displaying their talent in one location. It is pretty much impossible to catch all the acts you want to on Beale Street during the event, so this gives friends and fans an extra chance to see our groups in Memphis.

For me, it is also a special week as the book that I have collaborated on creating with Baton Rouge photographer Jenn Ocken, Blues On Beale Street, Memoirs Of The International Blues Challenge, is being released with a special VIP party and live music from our good friends and past IBC winners Jonn Del Toro Richardson and Sean Carney. I cannot wait to see and hold a physical copy of this work that we’ve been busy putting together for the past two years.

I hope that everybody has a chance to attend this year’s Red & White Blues Dance at the Trail’s End Saloon. Originally titled the Sweethearts Dance, we changed the name because a number of people felt that they were not welcome to attend if they didn’t have a sweetheart. Well, we don’t want anybody to feel left out, thus the new name.

This event is one of only four that we regularly hold each year, other than the Journey To Memphis. It is also the only one we ask for admission for from our members. The purpose of this event was created to offer a winter time happening from the CBA, but also to try to recoup some of the heavy expenses we incur annually from the summer picnic, holiday party and Muddy Awards. We rely on memberships and BluesNotes advertising to make ends meet during the year, and we receive a good chunk of our income from our merchandise booth at the Waterfront Blues Festival. That Waterfront money is pretty much exhausted with the three late year events, so it is tight making ends meet without holding this show that really does not bring in too much our way, but every penny counts to keep the CBA in business. Believe it or not, the CBA does not roll in money, we wish that we did so we could offer more great events and to offer the musicians in town paid opportunities. We thank those acts who generously offer to perform for us, who tell us that they’ll always be available to us if asked.

Over the years the event has brought great performances from a number of artists. Among those, but by all means not everybody who has played, include acts like The Strange Tones, Duffy Bishop, Mary Flower, Boogie Bone, Atomic Gumbo, Too Scoops Moore, Robbie Laws, Bill Rhoades, Rollie Tussing, Madman Sam, and who could ever forget the set at the very first Sweethearts Dance that found our late pal The Original Snakeboy teamed up with Watermelon Slim. This year’s show will be another fun line-up with Rae Gordon & Gaddis Cavenah, the Bottleneck Blues Band, and Jesse Samsel & the East Wind Band.

We hope that you can make this show; it’s not just another night of great music, it is also a means of helping the CBA keep up with our expenses. And we want to thank you in advance for your support, at this show and all CBA events.

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Well, here we go, starting another year. Thank you so much for the confidence you have shown me by re-electing me to an unbelievable fourteenth term as Cascade Blues Association President. I’ll do my best to keep the organization’s standards to the highest quality possible.

I thought I would start this month’s column with a tradition that I’ve done the past couple years. The Washington Blues Society asked me to create a top ten list of my favorite albums from the year back in 2012 and again in 2013.  I also included that list for you in the BluesNotes each year. So here is my list of the albums I truly enjoyed this past year – not necessarily in the exact order mind you.

Topping off my list is an artist that I have had the pleasure of having play in the room I host during the International Blues Challenge three times over the past few years. Jarekus Singleton may have not every made to the final round in Memphis, but he certainly convinced me that he is one heck of a showman. Obviously, he convinced Bruce Iglauer, as well, who saw him play at the IBC and signed him to a recording deal. And the album that came out of that, Refuse To Lose is an undeniable superb release with many memorable tracks, all originals, and receiving three Blues Music Awards nominations. I guess I’m not the only one thrilled by this release.

Next up is another stellar album that could have just as easily been my top selection. By far the best album of his career to date, John Nemeth’s Memphis Grease continues to get non-stop airplay from me with its deep soulful numbers that also earned John a boatload of BMA nominations. And speaking of soul, next would be The Robert Cray Band’s In My Soul. This is Robert Cray at his absolute best, he is currently on a steady roll putting out some of the finest music in his already well-established repertoire. And I have to mention that Dover Weinberg on keys adds a lot to the sound, just listen to the song “Hip Tight Onions” to prove that fact.

Now this next one may surprise you, but let me tell you it had to be the most pleasing discovery of new talent I have heard locally to cross the threshold. That is Salem’s Gabriel Cox and his self-titled release. This is a guy that blows me away every time I hear him, either by listening to this album or on stage. Not traditional blues by any means, but damn good music. Clever songwriting, sharp musicianship throughout the band, and one flat out great soulful singer. Watch this kid, he should be going places.

It should not be any surprise, though, with the following disc. Both Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls are two of my favorite vocalists and each had their own individual recordings on my list last year – Otis actually taking the top spot then . so put them together and what do you get? One sensational soul groove that brings you back again and again. Just the updated readings on classics like “What Becomes Of  The Broken Hearted” and “Turn Back The Hands Of Time” on Soul Brothers are enough to make this a great disc, but it just doesn’t end there.

We cannot forget the ladies of the blues, and my next three choices all feature career topping performances to date. First, Janiva Magness made the bold move to leave a major label to form her own, and she came out with Original, perhaps her most personal and emotional disc yet. Lisa Mann also lit up the blues world with another terrific CD, but Move On is bringing the long-overdue attention outside of the Northwest she deserves. And speaking of emotional recordings, I love the music of Eden Brent and Jigsaw Heart really found a spot for me this past year with its beautiful and sometimes raucous piano playing and her moving voice.

I head right back to the soulful side of the blues with the inclusion of Dexter Allen’s  Bluez Of My Soul. This is Southern soulful blues to its very identity, with a little help from his Mississippi blues brother Bobby Rush joining in on the fun.

Closing this list of ten discs is something that I usually do not bother reviewing or including, and that is a best of collection. But this one proved to be more than just that, with a handful of new tracks included. And what can I say, it’s Too Slim & The Taildraggers and the output that Tim “Too Slim” Langford has created over the years collected on Anthology is the exception to break the rules.

It’s hard to put together a list of who you liked the best. That list can change from week to week, so I would like to mention just a handful that were on the cusp as I wrote this, but could be there the next time I think about it later: Joe Louis Walker – Hornet’s Nest; Linsey Alexander – Come Back Baby; JP Soars – Full Moon Night In Memphis; Dave & Phil Alvin – Common Ground: Play and Sing The Songs of Big Bill Broonzy; Elvin Bishop – Can’t Even Do Wrong Right; Johnny Winter – Step Back; or the Empire Roots Band – Music From The Film Harlem Street Singer. And that’s just a small sampling of so many other great albums from 2014. You cannot go wrong with any of them or so many more.

What do you think? I would love to see your lists. Post your top ten blues albums on the Cascade Blues Association Facebook page. Maybe you’ll turn us all onto something we have yet to hear.

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

I hope that you were all listening to Curtis Salgado when he was standing at the podium at the Muddy Awards. He was basically telling you the same thing I have been stating over and over again in this column for the past few years. Get out and check out some new music.

Curtis had spoken with me about a week before the Muddys and asked if he could be open about the awards show. I told him to fire away. He was concerned with seeing the same names year after year on the ballot when we have a world of talent within our region that is being overlooked. I told him I couldn’t agree with him more. Though the nominees selected are all worthy and deserving of the recognition, and most importantly they are the selections of our members, one can’t help but wonder why so many others working so hard night after night do not reach the ballot, too. When Curtis asked if I would mind his talking to the attendees at the Muddys, I told him I had no problem with that. Before the show started he cornered me and asked again just to confirm that there wasn’t an issue with his addressing his thoughts. Again, I told him to go for it, that I was behind him fully on this point.

There may have been some people upset by what Curtis spoke about, but he was only speaking the truth. And I would tend to believe that many of the people nominated over and over again would state the same thing. That is why we began retiring categories and naming them after those who have won at least a dozen times. This was started by request of some of the artists themselves as they felt that others should receive the recognition that they had received seemingly each year. Two categories next year will be retired and named for those with a dozen wins or more: R&B Act – Lloyd Jones and Drums – Jimi Bott. So, at least two categories should be offering new nominees.

Curtis wants to recognize his heroes, too. I saw him on stage at the Blues Music Awards where he said that he was up against the “real” blues men and that he’d give his award to Otis Clay if he could, because that was an influence for him and he felt deserving of the award for as many years as he has set our hearts afire with his soulful voice. That was the same thing he was talking about regarding local vocalist Andy Stokes. Here is a man within our own community who is a bone-deep soul man and entertainer and Curtis called Andy his vocal hero. Yet he is missing from the Muddy ballots. There was a smattering of applause in agreement with Curtis, BUT, if people would have stuck around until the end of the night, they would have also been true believers as Andy Stokes closed out the night and had those still there jumping with adrenaline. All I could say was WOW!!

All we are saying people, is there are a tremendous amount of talented musicians in our midst. You could probably attend a different show a few times a week for several months and not see the same act twice, there are that many. It’s always great to see names appear on the ballot that have been missed over the years, such as this year with folks like John Mazzocco, Doug Rowell, Dave Mathis and Ken DeRouchie. And I always get excited by the New Act category because it means you are paying attention to some acts you may not be familiar with.

Get out there and do yourself a favor, check out somebody new to you this month. Make a practice to do this regularly. Go to a new venue. You just might be surprised at what you discover out there. And maybe we’ll see some more names nominated along with your regular favorites. Lord knows there are enough out and about to make a difference.