ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

March is a month that is extremely abundant with special events happening. There is no way possible to try to  make everything going on. Well, you could actually say the same thing almost every month with the number of local musicians out there every night at various venues. We live in a city that has far more blues music going on than most places in the country. We’re very fortunate that way. But this month there are two events happening that have meaning to me more than just a festival, jam or touring musician. They involve friends and organizations that I have been involved with myself for events myself.

The first without needing any reason that I highly recommend is A Life For Lynn. This benefit for Dave & Lynn Kahl is a massive all-star laden event to assist the pair in their day to day lives as they face the continued struggle of Lynn’s multiple sclerosis. I have been fortunate enough to work with the Multiple Sclerosis Society organizing three Blues For MS concerts. It is one of the events that I have been the most honored to have been involved with. I even mentioned it in my Keeping The Blues Alive Award speech in Memphis as something that I was most proud. The past two events I made a point of Dave Kahl being included, once as a performer and the second time to relate to the audience what it means to live with MS daily and how the MS Society helps.

Even if this was the only reason to attend A Life For Lynn it would be enough. But to me it is more personal. Dave and I have exchanged times of loss and questioning between ourselves and helped each other through. At a time when I questioned my value in what I was doing with the CBA and the blues community in general several years back and I thinking of walking away, it was Dave who convinced me otherwise. He told me what I was doing was valuable and that so many people appreciated it. Without his words I would have never continued. And it works both ways. With the death of Paul deLay Dave too questioned whether he desired to continue playing music. This concerned me because he offers way more than just a performer. He is an advocate and a voice of reason in the music community in Portland. I was contacted by Steve Clarke telling me that his wife Fiona Boyes was looking to move to Portland and if I knew of any bass players she might be able to hook up with. I saw this as a golden opportunity for Dave and though he was not sure if he wanted to do it, I convinced him to give it a shot. As everybody knows it developed into a regular position with Fiona with her band at the time and whenever she returns to town.

Imagine a scene without Dave Kahl. There would be no MyGigNet, there would be no voice in City Council meetings working to bring more attention to local musicians whether as a tourist attraction or the development of a music district. He may not have been around as a player to become Ty Curtis’ bassist either. He is a man of dreams with a huge heart open to everybody and he is always the first to offer his services to help a musician or a friend in need. Make it a point to return the favor and attend A Life For Lynn.

Another organization that I had a chance to work with not as directly as the MS Society was the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Guitarist Thomas Quigley put together a couple benefit shows for the group and asked me if the CBA and myself would help out. The second of these took place at The Refectory with people like Kevin Selfe, Chad Rupp, Madman Sam, and guess who, Dave Kahl all taking part. It is such organizations that have made me that working to make these events happen is more than beneficial for many.

In March, at The Trails End Saloon there will be a concert to help raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphona Society and their work at finding a cure for this form of cancer, called Give Cancer The Boot. It is another all-star affair that crosses genres and even includes touring Texan musician Randy McAllister. But what makes it even more special to me is that the show was created by good friends Rick & Shelley Layton, and they asked my girlfriend Cherie Robbins to produce the event through her Cherie’s Blues Highway. Rick and Shelley mean a lot to us as when we were between homes waiting for our new apartment to become available, they put us up in their own home and have become very close friends. Shelley is running a marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which this concert is also about bringing awareness, too. Please make this event another destination of choice this coming month.

What it all boils down to is that way too often benefits and festivals are put together because of health issues or social needs like homelessness. Whether it is A Life For Lynn, Give Cancer The Boot, the Waterfront Blues Festival, the Winter Blues Festival, the Inner City Blues Festival, or any other such happening, it is almost always the music community that comes together to make a difference. It is true. Music does have the means to heal, in more ways than one. I wish that such events were not necessary, but until a cure for all such issues and illnesses can be found, thank God for such kind hearts as we have in our musicians. Please do your part and help by attending.