ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson, CBA President

Beware, rant ahead.

Over the years I have heard it said many, many times regarding shows, from fans, venue owners and musicians, “Where are all the CBA members at such and such a show?” People, it is not the responsibility of the Cascade Blues Association to tell our members what shows that they have to attend. If you look at our monthly calendar, there are a crazy number of venues in this city offering shows seven nights a week. Compare this with many other cities, many with far greater populations, which do not have such a plethora of performances and venues to choose from night after night. And even with all of those venues who report their calendar dates to us, this is by no means all that are out there with live blues music happening regularly.

The CBA is here to inform you what is going on. We try to include all that we’re aware of. It is not solely our job to find out from everywhere what is going on. That responsibility still has to come from the artists and venues if they want to inform potential audiences to attend. Just because we may do co-sponsorships on a number of shows, this is also not a guarantee that it is going to pull in a full house every time. It is an incentive for our members to attend by offering discounts for these events. And we fully intend on continuing doing these as it helps to spread the word on what may be going on that you may want to consider. But the bottom line for all shows is that it is up to the members to decide who they’re going to see and where they’ll spend their hard-earned money.

The competition for your dollar is incredible. There may be touring artists hitting town on occasion, but we are insanely overwhelmed in Portland with top-shelf musicians who live and play here regularly. And those local artists have their own followings who will choose to go to their shows every time the chance arises. There is nothing wrong with that. Support our local musicians every chance you have. But do not place the blame on CBA members if there is not a large crowd every night they play. We are one of the largest blues societies in the country, but that only amounts to around 1000 people. And 1000 people are not going to fill every venue in this city every night. We are talking about a city with about 2.5 million people living in the metro area. 1000 members is just a drop in the bucket when compared with the numbers of that population who attend music events, not only blues, routinely.

I have asked many times over the years, “How do you know that CBA members are not in attendance? Do you know each and every member by name or sight?” I certainly don’t. There are only eight board of director members in the CBA, so if you’re judging attendance by the CBA from the board appearing at these shows, there is simply no way that they can be everywhere they’d like to be. And like the rest of you, the board has to pay for their admission, too. We also have to pick and choose who we can afford to see. And also like all of you, they’re going to have their favorites that they’re most likely going to go out to see as well.

Another point. You also cannot assume that because there are not a lot of people requesting the discount for co-sponsored events at the door that CBA members are not there. I have been told by one venue owner that even though we offer the discount there is only a small number that actually ask for it. And looking through the crowd at many of these shows I have recognized a great number of our members that I know. I do not always ask for it and I know of several others who do not as well.

What it all comes down to is we are quite spoiled in this city when it comes to blues performances on just about any given night. Go out and see all that you can. Check out new acts if you want. Try to attend events with touring acts so we can keep seeing them make plans to stop on Portland when they’re in the area. But if the crowds are not there, please do not point fingers at CBA members for not being there. Chances are that they’re probably at another show showing their support for the blues. We cannot be more than one place at a time; as much as we’d like to be.

Thanks to all of you, fans, musicians and venues, for making Portland a world class blues city. Keep on supporting the music you love by seeing those you select. There is no wrong decision.