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Between The Lines
Self Produced

Robbie Laws CD coverRobbie Laws is a Northwest guitar icon. That may be a little understated, but the fact of the matter is the man can flat out play a guitar like it’s his business . . . and it is. Fans have recognized Laws’ skills, honoring him with nine electric guitar Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association. But there seems to be no limitations to his prowess on six strings and that is highly evident on his latest recording Between The Lines.

For best proof, jump right ahead on the disc to “Coffee Grounds and Eggshells.” In his most Albert King like impression, this instrumental is a burn down the house intense slow blues number. The guitar cries out with feeling that makes you bite your lip with its every punctuation and a tone that is so sweetly rich it could give you diabetes. And yet, this is precisely the type of blues guitar work that those who’ve followed Laws’ career expect of him.

Plus there is no shortage of guitar mastery on this album. He pays homage to a number of avenues of the music world, be it the West Coast swing patterns on “Yazoo Slim Rides Again” that could make even Little Charlie Baty envious, or the jazzy lines a la Laws’ mentor Ronnie Earl that shows up on several tracks, or the easy-rolling Chicago style shuffle on “Jimmy Reed” paying homage to the song’s namesake and his partner Eddie Taylor.

A number of these songs are already familiar Robbie Laws fare as he has been performing them for a few years and they’re just now finding their way to disc. Numbers that served as backbone pieces of his International Blues Challenge sets such as “Gritz ‘n’ Greens” and “Shakin’ What Your Mama Gave Ya” are snappy tunes aimed at bringing the audience to the dance floor. And though he has covered B.B. King’s classic “Sweet Little Angel” in the past, it is the inclusion of Karen Lovely’s vocals that sets the bar for this take above a number of other renditions you may have heard before by many artists. There is just that extra layer of yes sir and uh huh that makes you know this is the way it was meant to be heard. Expressive and emotional, it takes it to that special level.

No matter what angle Laws throws out on the album’s selections, it is all emphasized by the solid rhythm of Benjamin Laing on bass and Randy Herbert on drums. The three can read each other’s next step and it makes the musical flow precisely in line with the way Laws has envisioned the material. Still, it is Robbie Laws’ feel on the guitar that drives Between The Lines. It just may be the finest display of his string diversity and skill yet to date. And it leaves you with the thought, where else can Robbie Laws take us that he has not explored before. It’s mind-boggling what the future may hold within his mind. Amazing, fresh and enticing, Between The Lines cuts to the core of Robbie Laws’ musical adeptness with expressive and memorable musicianship.

Total Time: 41:03

Mornin’ Noon and Night / That Woman Keepin’ House With The Devil / Gritz ‘n’ Greens / Shakin’ What Your Mama Gave Ya / Sweet Little Angel / Yazoo Slim Rides Again / Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You / Jimmy Reed / Coffee Grounds And Eggshells / Brother Can You Spare A Dime

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The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Portland’s (MSSP) fourth annual Blues 4MS concert is coming up on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at the Aladdin Theatre.  Great thanks to the Cascade Blues Association for co-sponsoring the event and an even greater thanks to CBA’s President Greg Johnson for putting together a spectacular line up.

The fun starts at 3 pm with The Fabulous Bad Cats. This five-piece outfit offers original and classic rock, funk and blues. These guys have one aim in mind, that’s to get you onto the dance floor and show you a good time.

Soul Cookin’ is an all-star line-up that has been hosting Wednesday nights at Blackwell’s for the past couple of years. Led by Oregon Music Hall of Fame members Lloyd Jones and Carlton Jackson on guitar and drums respectively, alongside bassist Dave Kahl (Paul deLay Band, Fiona Boyes) and keyboard master Louis Pain (Paul deLay Band, King Louie & Sweet Baby James). Expect to hear some funky cool tunes and steamy blues as this group sets the groove.

The Robbie Laws Band is the resident act for Blues For MS, having performed every year at this event. Cascade Blues Association Muddy Award winner twenty-one times over, including nine times for electric guitar player of the year, Robbie Laws is a true icon of the Northwest Blues scene. This performance helps celebrate the band’s latest release, Between the Lines.

The Rae Gordon Band is fresh back from a successful showing at The International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, where they advanced to the semi-finals. Rae was also named the recipient of the 2013 Duffy Bishop Female Vocalist of the year at the Muddy Awards and her latest CD Blue Lemonade was named one of the top CDs in the State of Oregon for the year by 1859 magazine.

Since taking second place overall at the International Blues Challenge in 2010, Karen Lovely has been on a steady rise toward the top of the blues world. With three Blues Music Awards nominations, appearances at some of the largest blues festivals and tours throughout the United States, Canada and into Europe, Karen is about to unleash her third CD to a highly anticipating audience. Her shows feature top-shelf musicians and cover not only her own material, but often what she terms as Prohibition Blues, exploring the female artists of the early years of the blues.

And to close the evening, be prepared to party New Orleans style, as one of the city’s most funky bands, The Roseland Hunters, promises to get you out of your seat and setting your backside into motion, Another all-star conglomeration that stretches across genres from Portland’s musical grab-bag of talent, with guitarist Michael Quinby leading the pack on guitar and vocals, alongside the talents of percussionist/drummer/vocalist Brian Foxworth, bassist Damian Erskine, keyboardist Chris Phillips and drummer Reinhardt Melz. This is a dream band that starts a party every time they perform.

A $10 suggested donation is encouraged.  Donations will remain in Oregon to support the local MS community.  MSSP seeks to improve the quality of life for those living with MS, including family members and caregivers.  We help take care of the here and now needs.

This year, we are raffling a fabulous Normandy electric guitar, hand signed by the Doobie Brothers.  Raffle tickets will be sold at $5 each or 6/$25. The winning tickets will be selected following the last set on March 2nd and the lucky ticket holders need not be present to win.

Come prepared to have a great time listening to some of the best blues talent around.  In the meantime, go to www.blues4ms.org or call 503 297-9544 for more information.

Robbie Laws - photo by Greg JohnsonRobbie Laws has a new CD he is about to unleash on blues lovers and he is going to throw a party to celebrate its release. Titled Between The Lines, Robbie is sure to showcase his stellar guitar playing which has helped to garner him twenty-one Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association, including nine as Electric Guitarist. This CD party is scheduled to take place at Duff’s Garage, 1635 SE 7th, on Saturday, December 28th, starting at 8:00 pm. He’s planning on having some special guests take part such as Karen Lovely and AC Porter, plus he promises there will be other noted artists as well as some give-away CDs and T-shirts during the night. Plus there will be cake to help celebrate the event, too. Robbie states the music will be a real walk through blues and jazz for a historical perspective. Sounds like fun.

Admission to the CD release party is $12.00. This is a Cascade Blues Association co-sponsored event, so make certain you bring your current membership card to receive a $1.00 discount at the door.

We recently posted this list on the CBA Facebook page. It received a thankful response from so many that we thought we would run it in the BluesNotes, too This list is a compilation of regional musicians who were nominated for the 2013 Muddy Awards. Though the final ballot is limited to only a few in each category, all of the following artists were recognized by our members in the ballots returned to us for nominations in the first round.

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Ben Rice

Ben Rice

The Kalama Blues Festival returns on Saturday, August 17th for another full day’s worth of terrific blues music featuring several regional bands and headliner Studebaker John & The Hawks. Just a short drive north of Portland, this event is located right on the banks of the Columbia River at Waterfront Marina Park. Food vendors will be on site including local wine and beer. Admission is only $8.00 and two cans of food to assist Kalama Helping Hands.

Studebaker John will bring his classic traditional Chicago sounds that have been fan favorites since the 1970s. Also on the line-up will be The Bill Rhoades Band, The Robbie Laws Band, The Ben Rice Band and The Vermen.

It all starts at 1:00 pm. Camping and lodging are available nearby. For more information check out www.cityofkalama.com.

Greetings friends! Hope all is well in your world. I can hardly believe festival season is upon us once again. I have been very busy with teaching, writing, recording, gigging and somewhere in there, finding some balance at our beautiful new home in the country. From all of this hard work does come the fruits of our labor and I am so happy to let you all know about what’s been going on.

Start your Waterfront Blues Festival day out right on Thursday, July 4th where you’ll find the Robbie Laws Band on the North Stage from 1:15-2:30 pm. It’s always such an honor and a thrill to perform at the best blues festival around and I look forward to seeing you there. We’ve also got an amazing event happening at the outdoor amphitheater on top of Mt. St. Helens (Johnston Ridge Observatory) on Saturday, August 3rd from 3:30-8:30 pm. This is a special benefit concert for the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater. The SLC is a great resource for schools, education groups and researchers interested in taking field trips and doing research at Mt. St. Helens. We’ve got quite a special line up for you with the Robbie Laws band featuring Dover Weinberg and Willis Moss, the fabulous Karen Lovely and one of our longtime favorites, Lloyd Jones. The mountain setting is unbelievably spectacular and this is a day you don’t want to miss, so come on up to the mountain and have a great time with us.

In other big news, I am super excited about the recent launching of my brand new website at www.RobbieLawsMusic.com. Of course you’ll find the standard fare of a music website, but what I’m most excited about is the introduction of ‘Online Live with Robbie Laws’ one-on-one web guitar lessons in addition to several new guitar classes and workshops held at my private studio in SE Portland. I’ll be holding a Songwriting for Guitar class every first Sunday of the month as well as several options for one day guitar workshops at the studio. Please do me a favor and check out the new site and let me know what you think. I want to give a special shout out to my man Chad Boston of designsbyboston.com for doing such a great job on the site. Highly recommended!

Lastly, the final touches are happening on the new album and we’re coming into the home stretch (“Thank God”). Between all of our hectic schedules, it’s been challenging at times to get this project completed. Fingers crossed, it looks like we’ll have an August release date later this summer, so keep your eyes out for that. I am feeling really good about this one.

I look forward to seeing you out and about enthusiastically supporting live music at our great local venues. Have a great time at the Waterfront Blues Festival!

Robbie Laws
www.RobbieLawsMusic.com

Over the years, The Cascade Blues Association’s Sweethearts Dance has become a Valentine’s weekend tradition, as we have brought some of the finest local talent to help celebrate the event. That talent has included the likes of  Mary Flower, Duffy Bishop, Robbie Laws, Bill Rhoades, The Strange Tones and one year we even had Blues Music Award winner Watermelon Slim drop by to help out while he was in town. Always a fun night of the blues and dancing with that special sweetheart, we’re hoping to have you join us again this year on Friday, February 15th at Vie de Boheme (1530 SE 7th). And we’re going to make this year’s event a showcase of local Women in the Blues.

We will open the night with a familiar face if you attended last year. Melissa Buchanan sat in with the Deep Blue Soul Revue last year and she was so well received we decided to invite her and her new band to play this year. The artful subtleties and straight, but powerful delivery of the vintage masters are inspiration to Melissa as she works to deliver a performance to remember. She employs several genres of music to fit the audience mood or event ranging from jump blues to smoldering torch songs. Melissa also has a swing and blues dance background, so when it comes to performing music, danceability is of utmost importance.

Making the trip from Eugene for the second set will be the Joanne Broh Blues Band. A past finalist in the Cascade Blues Association’s Journey To Memphis and a musical mentor with United By Music, Joanne Broh is also a recipient of the Rainy Day Blues Society’s Rooster Awards for Female Vocalist. Joining Joanne for the performance are several of the Eugene area’s finest players, including Jerry Zybach, Jim Badalich, Sean Brennan and John Bryson. Joanne has been known to offer a variety of music, from rock and funk flavors, but it is always steeped heavily with the blues in everything she does.

Headlining this year’s Sweetheart Dance will be one of the quickest rising stars on the international blues scene today, and recent transplant to the Portland area from Southern Oregon, Karen Lovely. Following her taking second place at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, representing the Cascade Blues Association in 2010, Karen has released two highly praised CDs, received seven CBA Muddy Awards and was nominated for three Blues Music Awards in 2011. And she has also been a favorite for festivals and concerts throughout North America and into Europe. Joining Karen will be her regular guitarist Leonard Griffie, making the trek up from Ashland for the event, and a yet to be named group of Portland area all-stars to compliment her performance.

Vie de Boheme is an urban winery with great food and plenty of room for dancing. Admission to the Sweetheart Dance is $10 per person or $15 for couples. Everything will start at 8:00 pm, so grab your sweetheart and come celebrate Valentine’s Day with three outstanding vocalists and good friends. Always one of the most fun nights on the CBA calendar every year. Hope to see you there.