Got to say, I really think the Blues Music Awards is getting better every year. The performance line-up continues to be stellar and this year having sets from Ronnie Earl with guests Kim Wilson, Dave Keller and Bob Margolin; James Cotton with Elvin Bishop; Beth Hart; Brandon Santini with a very animated Jeff Jensen; Anson Funderburgh; and the tremendous grouping for the Remembering Little Walter set, just clicked from out of the gate. And yet, this was just a drop in the bucket of all the terrific music on hand for the night. Once again, I was privileged to work as one of the stage managers. Hanging out with the artists all day, making new friends, and then their utmost professionalism during the event made this quite an easy job this year. Not a glitch to be had.

I have said it before, these trips to Memphis are more about catching up with friends. We may be working, but we find the time to have a little fun, too. A huge thanks once again to The Blues Foundation for letting me be a part of their premier event and the biggest night in the blues world.

But back at home, we need to keep things real here. Rumblings of one of the top venues having hard times and thinking of closing is always a hard pill to swallow. We need these rooms people, go out and support the venues that offer us the music we want to hear. Sometimes it might mean having to drive across town, but the owners are trying to bring you the best around and that little drive every now and then is definitely worth it to keep our multiple options open week after week.

Hope that you’ve had the chance to check out the new digs for Duff’s Garage as Jon and Jennifer continue to bring in the best of local players as well as a rolling line-up of touring acts. I have yet to check out The Tillicum since the new owners have taken over, or to make it out to The Birk, but both are definitely in my sights and plans, as are making trips to some of the older locations I have not hit in a while.

And the summer is also coming on strong. Lots of festivals happening in the Northwest, including the biggie for us, the Waterfront Blues Festival. Thanks to all who have volunteered to help out for both the CBA and the Oregon Food Bank. The line-up is once again coming together with an incredible group of acts; got to hand it to Peter Dammann, who amazes me year after year.

But don’t forget about the Journey To Memphis competition. The first Friday and Saturday in June, we’re going to kick things off to find out who will represent us in Memphis next January. Whoever it ends up being, we know that we’ll be sending some of the best of our region and they’ll give a nice shake-up on Beale Street.

Lots of fun ahead over the next few months. Get out there, hear some music and support our local blues scene. It is one of the best things going when it comes to living here. Keep it vital and magical!!