ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Well it is December, which means it is time to select your elected officers for the year 2014. It also means that I need to get back on my soapbox and appeal to our members the need for help. The Cascade Blues Association is recognized as one of the largest blues societies in the country, yet the people behind the scenes handling the day-to-day business is quite a small number (actually it amounts to far less than 1% of all members). This means that the same people are doing all the work to make sure this operation continues to run and that we are able to put on the events and programs that you want us to. I receive a lot of great ideas from members on what the CBA should be doing or how we can Read more

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson, CBA President

Every year we seem to receive a lot of criticism on how we handle the Muddy Awards. It’s always the same people nominated is usually the biggest comment. We hear this time after time. But here is the bottom line. We will continue having the awards nominated and voted in the same manner. Why? Because the Cascade Blues Association is a fan-based organization and t Read more

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

You know the one thing I truly hate about summertime in Portland? There is just too much happening in town and around the region to keep up trying to see it all. There is just no way that can happen, physically and financially. But I have to get out there as often as I can to see what I can. Thankfully, summer is coming to a close and things will lighten up . . . not a chance. This is Portland after all and we have been blessed with such a great scene for the blues and music. It never lets up. Just check out the upcoming events and the CBA calendar.

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ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Shortly after we went to press for the July issue last month, the blues world was struck a terrible blow with the loss of Bobby Bland. Without doubt one of the most important figures in post-World War II blues who helped usher in the modern sound and kept at it right up to the day he passed. So much unforgettable music and so many musicians that he influenced. It just seems inconceivable that he is no longer with us.

I had the chance to meet Mr. Bland a couple times with my visits back to Memphis. He always came across as such a polite and nice individual. I had the opportunity to do the stage introduction for Mr. Bland the last time he played at the Aladdin Theater in Portland. What a thrill! But it quickly turned into embarrassment for me as I announced to the crowd to please give a big welcome to “Bobby Blues Band!” Argghh!! The words Read more

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Sometimes change comes about when you least expect it. It may not always be what you wanted at the time, but there is always the chance that it works out for the better in the long run. We’ll see.

The Cascade Blues Association had some hard times a few years back when the Market plunged and a lot of small businesses went under. We came close to being one of those, but thanks to our members with two fundraisers at the time and the quick thinking of the CBA Board of Directors, we were able to avert that disaster. One of the key events that took place at the time was when former Board Member John Etten was able to secure storage space and a place to hold our board meetings rent-free. He worked out a deal with his friends at the United Food and Commercial Workers Union building in Tigard where we have been since. Recently we received word from UFCW that with changes happening within their building we would no longer be able to continue to use their space. The CBA wishes to thank the UFCW for their kindness and generosity over these last few years.

But that leaves us in a position as to where do we go now? First things first, we will most likely move our office equipment and merchandise into storage space until we are able to locate something more permanent that meets our needs to avoid excessive expenses. The search is on, and we are open to anybody who may be able to offer us some assistance in locating something a little more centralized, preferably somewhere close to The Melody Ballroom or that general area of Portland.

The other major change we have had is probably something you may already be aware of. Our web host for the Cascade Blues Association’s website had been cyber-attacked which caused our site to be unstable, slow and absolutely unresponsive at times. We heard you complain about the difficulties and had been planning on creating a new site altogether which had been in the works for several months. But recent attacks on our host continued to worsen to the point that they could not guarantee us the site would stay up for too lengthy a time and that it could be quite a bit of time before it would be resolved – if ever. With this news we decided to put the new site out there for everybody. We had not planned on doing so for a couple of months, but the latest developments from the original host made it necessary to do so right away. So, visit us at www.cascadebluesassociation.org and check out the new look website. Let us know what you think. It is still a work in progress, but we’re getting closer so please be patient. We think you’ll love the new look calendar. A huge thanks to our webmaster Bruce Gifford and Vice President Wendy Schumer, your IT committee members.

It is summer by the way, so hope you get your blues grooves going. Start at the Waterfront Blues Festival in July and work your way through as much music with local artists and travelin’ bands as you can. That is, after all, what makes Portland so great in the summer time!

Ramblings on My Mind by Greg Johnson - CBA PresidentI’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t enjoy my recent trip to Memphis to assist with The Blues Foundation once again at the Blues Music Awards. I arrived Wednesday morning around 9:00 am and Deputy Director (and one of my closest friends) Joe Whitmer had me working as soon as I stepped foot through the office door. And it didn’t end until the awards show ended late Thursday night (or should I say Friday morning). But I loved every minute.

My main role at the Blues Music Awards the past three years has been working as a stage manager with Paul Averwater. Paul is one of the best in the MidSouth and always in demand. We spent all day Thursday doing line-checks with the performers and then returned less than an hour-and-a-half later to run the stage for the show for the next six-to-seven hours. It is my job to make sure that all the artists are ready to go on stage well in advance and have them in place so when one act ends, the other starts immediately. Kind of like the way the Waterfront Blues Festival runs the two main stages in the bowl, alternating back and forth. But this is one large stage divided into two parts, and I am running back and forth to opposite sides, changing acts every ten minutes. Always great sets delivered by the showcased acts. If I had to pick and choose my favorites this year I would have to top it off with Victor Wainwright’s extraordinary solo piano that brought the entire audience to a hush to listen closely. The Heritage Blues Orchestra was sensational, even more so when they had Eric Bibb sit in for a number. Joe Louis Walker has always been a favorite and having him trade guitar licks with Murali Coryell was superb. As was Mud Morganfield backed by one of the tightest Chicago all stars bands running. Curtis Salgado burned the house down with his soulful set. As did John Nemeth. And Royal Southern Brotherhood was the perfect act to close the night leaving the audience wanting more after a terrific cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” had them on their feet.

 Aside from the Blues Music Awards, I was fortunate to catch many fantastic artists that I do not get a chance to see too often like Greg Nagy, Gina Sicilia, Diunna Greenleaf, JW-Jones, EG Kight, Lisa Biales, Paula Harris, Dennis Gruenling, John Primer and more. Of course there are long-time friends I always try to catch up with like Jeff Jensen, Brandon Santini and Eric Hughes.

 But the best times are always those spent with close friends, not necessarily at a show. Being able to hang out with Henry Gavaldon . . . these are the people who make memories special. Big thanks to Joe, Sara, Jay Sielman, Priscilla Hernandez and Cindi James for making me feel as part of The Blues Foundation family. Cannot wait to head back again.

 But back to home, and the first matter of business is the Journey To Memphis competition. We have another strong line-up this year, so we hope to see you come out to the Trails End the first full weekend of June to help us select our next International Blues Challenge representatives and to raise some funds to help them get back to Tennessee. This is always one of the most fun events that the CBA holds, so hope to see many of you there. The summer just does not start right until the Journey To Memphis begins.

 Alas, as I did last month with the passing of my good friend, drummer Pete Muir, it is my unfortunate position to let you know that we lost another friend and musician right at the BluesNotes deadline arrived. Most people may remember Henry Gavaldon as the longtime bassist with Boogie Bone and those who knew him will forever remark what a kind, wonderful person he truly was. Henry passed following complications from surgery. Godspeed Henry. It surely is only the best who seem to be taken away from us way too soon. Sending my deepest condolences and best thoughts to Henry’s family and friends.


Ramblings On My Mind

Ramblings On My MindGreg Johnson / CBA President

Wow! Putting together the BluesNotes for February I am overwhelmed by the number of shows happening throughout the month. And that is on top of all the great local music that takes place every single night of the week all year long. I for one have to say I need somebody to give me a loan, because there is just no way I can afford to make all of these events, let alone having the time to see them all. Unless somebody has one of those “Way Back Machines” from the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons so I can time travel and hit them all.

My month really starts out busy, though, away from home. I will once again be traveling back to Memphis to help The Blues Foundation with the International Blues Challenge. This is always a privilege for me as I get to assist my good friends in Tennessee, while being able to see lots of great acts I may have never heard of or only seen a few times. Plus I get to be around first-hand for our own entries in the competition, Franco & The Stingers and The Muddy Sons. Let’s wish them great success in Memphis. If not coming home as the winners, which we hope they do, they will also make top contacts that will help to further their careers.Go get ‘em guys!!

As happens quite often in a city filled with so many wonderful musicians and events taking place all the time, many happen on the same date. That occurs this month with the CBA’s Sweetheart Dance and the Winter Blues Festival and again in early March with B.B. King and Bill Rhoades’ Harmonica Summit. The CBA is not going to recommend one event over another, even if it is our own. We want you to decide what shows you want to see. Our job is to let you know about all of the blues happening in our area so you can make a thought-out decision on what to attend. You really cannot go wrong with any choice you make. And maybe you’re a brave and challenging soul, like I have been known to be, and find yourself bouncing from one venue to another trying to take in as much as you can. But at least we have this option here as many cities across the country, and many far larger than Portland, do not have the number of choices we do on a regular basis.

Which leads me once again to state to all of you performers and venues out there, please submit your dates to the BluesNotes (by the 15th of the month) so we can include them in our calendar. If people don’t know, they’re not going to show up to see you. And isn’t it a lot more fun when you can have a crowd in a room to hear you perform?

Anyway, after February is over with and trying to see as many acts as possible, it might be time to take a nap to catch up on some rest . . . but I am more than certain March will be just as exciting, and then April, May and so on. Don’t you just love how much blues there is in our little Northwest corner of the country? See you out there and enjoy!!