Jim Gustin and Truth Jones - Lessons Learned

Jim Gustin and Truth Jones 

Lessons Learned

By John Taylor

After four decades of singing the blues up and down the West Coast, Jim Gustin and Truth Jones are ready to impart some of the wisdom they’ve gained along the way – and it’s wisdom well worth hearing. 

Pay close attention, because here are a few examples of what we can pick up from the Southern California duo’s third album: 

Drinking can lead to bad decisions that you’ll regret the next day. “I’d Been Drinking” recounts some vivid and instructive examples. 

If you treat a woman badly, you’re apt to regret it. “She might forgive you … but she’ll never forget,” the band warns in “Never Forget.” 

And no matter how far you think you’ve come, “Never Too Big for the Blues” reminds that pain and loss can track you down and make you hurt. 

We don’t mean to lecture, though. “Lessons Learned” is the work of some seasoned pros who know how to make some unapologetic blues. Wisdom aside, the music absolutely stands strong on its own. It’s easy to see why this band made the semifinals at the 2020 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. 

Gustin’s powerful voice sounds like aged-to-perfection whiskey, pairing perfectly with the versatile Jones, who makes everything from soulful blues to gospel seem effortless. 

Meantime, bassist Scott Duncan, drummer Chuck Strong, keyboardist Steve Alterman and saxophonist Lawrence Tamez are the backbone of the band, while a notable array of special guests flesh out an impressively well-rounded album. Listen for the contributions of trumpeter Lee Thornburg from Tower of Power, Harp Attack man Chris LeRoi Hansen, guitarist Tommy “Crooked Eye Tommy” Marsh and sax guru Jim Scimonetti. Jones’ daughter, Jill Hormon, sings along on a few tracks, too. 

Gustin produced the album, while Terry Wilson co-engineered, mixed and mastered it. 

When it’s all said and done, the instrumentation and unflinching vocals add up to a full-on sound that’ll have you longing for a night of live music, or at least maxing out your earbuds. 

Through all 11 songs on “Lessons Learned,” the band stays true to the motto inscribed on their logo: “Verum quaero” — to seek truth. And yup, you’ll find some true blues here. Perhaps even a helpful reference when you’re seeking your own truth. 

Keep this one handy. It’s gonna grow on you. 

Total Time: 42:47 

I’d Been Drinking / I Heard About You / The Truth / When This Ship Sails / I Hate to  See You Go / Never Forget / All You Ever Bring Me Is the Blues / Never Too Big for the Blues / Rockslide / My Love Is True / Three Things 




The Summer Performance Project Committee has worked hard for the past several months to arrange for performances in various Portland parks, and are very pleased to announce that Part 1 of the project is complete!

Portland Parks & Recreation hosted ten gigs for the CBA, and we were able to pay the 22 musicians who played. The participating musicians were Julie Amici Trio, Ken Brewer, Joanne Broh Trio, (with Kathryn Grimm and Sonny Hess), John Bunzow (with Denny Bixby), Mary Flower, Robbie Laws, Mojo Holler, Jenny Moriarty Experience, Lauren Sheehan Trio, LaRhonda Steele Trio.

This project came about because of the COVID-19 shutdowns, and the pandemic continues to affect our lives, our livelihoods, and this project. When we started planning this together with Portland Parks & Rec, we all expected to be in Phase 2 when we started doing the lunchtime gigs for families arriving to pick up food.

Unfortunately, pandemic numbers persist and Portland remains in Phase 1, so we had to follow health directives and change up our plans. Our careful ‘lottery’ system of scheduling performances went partway out the window as Parks & Rec mandated over half the gigs be struck off the schedule.  Many thanks to the musicians who hung in there through so many schedule change-ups!

We also want to recognize all the volunteers and the volunteer committee, including Richard LaChapelle, Jeanette Aglipay, and Belinda Clark, who offered their assistance when we put out a call for it. Unfortunately, we had to put them all on standby in keeping with the health directives that limited the number of people involved. We will be calling on them again when we are ready to schedule the Part 2 performances, though!

Our intention was to be able to share the schedule with members, friends and family, so those who weren’t comfortable going inside venues to hear live music could join us at the parks.  Because we had to severely reduce the number of bodies present for the gigs — which included Parks staff and volunteers, their partners on site, the band members, AND the families arriving for the program — we couldn’t share the locations with our members.

As it was, the committee members slipped into each park ahead of the Free Lunch + Play program opening to set up a spot to perform, erecting a canopy and providing power source, PA, and water if required. Often, it became necessary to slip away from the area in order to keep the numbers under the maximum permitted. The benefit of the same few of us being at all the events was greater efficiency; we could pack up the site in less than 10 minutes!

Circumstances around the pandemic drove our timeline for Part 1 and will continue to determine how and what we can do for Part 2. We still plan on scheduling gigs for the remaining musicians — with Friends and Family invited — and holding these at less-risky ‘safer’ locations. However, we don’t yet know when we’ll be able to do that. We reassess and weigh our options weekly, daily even, and will let everyone know the What, When and Where’s as soon as we figure it all out. In the meantime, we ask that you please bear with us.

The performers pictured in the collage are (clockwise): LaRhonda Steele, Julie Amici, Joanne Broh, Lauren Sheehan, John Bunzow, Mojo Holler, Mary Flower, Ken Brewer, Robbie Laws, Jenny Moriarty Experience. Many more artists yet to come!

📷 Photos by Marie Walters

GOFUNDME CAMPAIGN:   https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/2020-performance-venue-project

Inaugural Village Blues Festival 

Inaugural Village Blues Festival 

Eugene’s Rainy Day Blues Society presents the first Village Blues Festival to be held in Cottage Grove, Oregon, on Saturday, September 5 at The Village Green. Eugene is located in a county who have moved beyond phase one of the Covid-19 regulations, so they’re able to hold outdoor events that can allow larger crowds. This event will be socially distanced and safety precautions will be in place. 

Performing at the event will be a multitude of Northwest favorites, headlined by Portland’s Anni Piper; the Pacific NW Women’s Blues Revue with Sonny Hess, Joanne Broh, Kathryn Grimm and Theresa Fratto; and Fret Logic with Jerry Zybach, Stan Welch, Rick Markstrom and Mike Hatgis. The day’s festivities will be hosted by Froggy. 

Village Blues Festival, Saturday, September 5, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm. The Village Green, 725 Row River Road, Cottage Grove. Advance General Tickets $40.00 ($30.00 for Rainy Day members) at Rainydayblues.org 



11:00 am – Froggy 

11:45 am – Henry Cooper Trio 

12:50 pm – Lloyd Tolbert Band 

2:00 pm – Jimmy Haggard Band 

3:15 pm – Fret Logic 

4:30 pm – Pacific NW Women’s Blues Revue 

5:45 pm – Anni Piper 


Gorge Acoustic Blues Masters

Blues in the Gorge Now An Online Camp 

Like so many other performances and events during the time of pandemic, the Menucha Blues In the Gorge has also had to adapt. But rather than cancelling or postponing as many have done, they’ll still be holding their acoustic guitar classes, but it’ll happen online.  

Since the class size for this camp has always been limited, with so many students per each class and instructor, all will be held through the magic of the Internet. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in a long weekend of classes, conversations, and music-making with four world class blues players/teachers. You’ll be able to attend up to 12 classes via Zoom AND you will have access to the other 12 class recordings for a year! That’s 24 classes! Each teacher will teach 6 different classes (we’ll have the descriptions up soon). 

As always, the instructors are world-class, led by Portland’s own Mary Flower, she will be joined by Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Jim Kweskin and Kristina Olsen 

It’ll all take place ther weekend of October 7 – 11. Enrollment is $300.00; though the classes may already be filled, go to https://menucha.infusionsoft.app/app/form/blueswaitlistform?cookieUUID=9e7a5b2a-0be5-4183-9e42-8eed32ff44dc for further information as often they have cancellations. 

Co-Sponsored by Cascade Blues Association 

2021 Best Self-Produced CD Competition

2021 Best Self-Produced CD Competition


UPDATE: The Blues Foundation has cancelled the 2021 International Blues Challenge and all the events, including the Best Self Produced CD competition, due to the pandemic crisis. They look forward to holding the event in 2022.


Since 2005, The Blues Foundation has annually held a competition to recognize excellence in independent blues recordings. The Best Self-Produced CD competition is open to affiliated blues societies from around the world to submit one entry each, preferably selected by a regional competition. 

The Cascade Blues Association has taken part in this event since its inception and submitted the overall winner chosen in 2011 — Joe McMurrian’s Get Inside This House. Last year’s entry, Rich Layton & Tough Town’s Salvation Road was one of the top five finalists. 

The CBA is now accepting submissions for this year’s competition. All are welcome to enter with the exception of artists who have been nominated for or received a Blues Music Award, or recordings on labels that have been nominated or received a Blues Music Award. No compilation discs, and only artists from Oregon, Washington or Idaho will be accepted. Only CDs released between November 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020 are eligible.  

Entries will be judged on Blues Content, Musical Performance, Audio Quality and Production Value of the Recording, Professionalism and Visual Appearance of Cover Art and Design, and Credits and Liner Note Information by a local committee. The winning local disc selected will be submitted to The Blues Foundation for the international competition, with the winners announced during the finals at the 2021 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. 

Mail your entries to: BSPCD c/o Cascade Blues Association, PO Box 6566, Portland, Oregon 97228. All entries must be received by Wednesday, October 7, postmarked no later than October 6. Depending on the status of the pandemic situation, if we are able to hold general membership meetings, entries may be dropped off in person at those through October7. 

New Music to Note-September 2021

September New Music Releases 

There is so much good music out there. To help sort through it, we recommend starting here. 

Anthony Geraci – Daydreams In Blue (Shining Stone Records) 

Bai Kamara Jr – Salone (MIG) 

Cary Morin – Dockside Saints (Self Release) 

Crooked Eye Tommy – Hot Coffee And Pain (Blue Heart Records) 

Eric Johanson – Below Sea Level (Nola Blue Records) 

JD Taylor – The Coldwater Sessions (VizzTone) 

Jim Gustin and Truth Jones – Lessons Learned (Self Release) 

John Lisi & Delta Funk –  (Rabadash Records) 

Johnny Iguana – Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular (Delmark Records) 

JW-Jones – Sonic Departures (Solid Blues) 

Kat Riggins – Cry Out (Gulf Coast Records) 

Kristen Thien – Two Sides (Screen Door Records) 

Lisa Mann – Old Girl (JayRay Records) 

Paul Gillings – Invisible Prison (Self Release) 

Savoy Brown – Ain’t Done Yet (Quarto Valley Records) 

Scott Weis Band – Simmer Me Down (Self Release) 

Shirley King – Blues For A King (Cleopatra Records) 

The Lucky Losers – Godless Land (VizzTone) 

Tom Principato – House On Fire (Powerhouse Records) 

William Purvis & The Seventh Sons – Blues Memories . . . I Recall (Self Release) 

William Purvis & The Seventh Sons – That Woman’s Something (Self Release) 

Wily Bo Walker & Danny Flam – Ain’t No Man A Good Man (Mescal Canyon Records) 


Too Slim and the Tail Draggers 

The Remedy

By John Taylor 

Sure, they favor cowboy hats, tuck their pants into their boots and called Tennessee home for a while. But Too Slim and the Tail Draggers aren’t all hat. They’ve been delivering genuine blues/rock with a distinct Northwest accent for more than three decades now. 

The band born in Spokane and now headquartered in Boise has just rolled out its 15th studio album, making it an even 20 when you count five live albums. And they’ve proven up once again with “The Remedy,” a deliberate blend of blues hammered out of rock rhythms and riffs. 

With a lineup of Tim “Too Slim” Langford (lead vocals and guitar), Zach Kasik (bass, vocals and banjo) and Jeffrey “Shakey” Fowlkes (drums and vocals), the band’s latest packs a wallop.  

Guest harmonica men Sheldon Ziro, Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt and Jason Ricci add some extra edge to this bust-you-in-the-chops follow-up to “High Desert Heat,” which was nominated for a 2019 Blues Music Award. 

Turbocharged guitars, slides, harmonica and even some banjos power this one through 10 original songs and an Elmore James cover (“Sunnyland Train”). Echoing everyone from the Allman Brothers to ZZ Top, Too Slim and the Tail Draggers continue to confidently ride the line between straight-on blues and rock. 

OK by us. 

Best enjoyed outdoors (with a beer tent and a dance area nearby), they’ve been one of the most popular road acts around these parts for years – a mainstay at many community festivals and concert series. 

The songs on “The Remedy” will only add to their repertoire if we ever get past the pandemic and back to enjoying ourselves in crowds. 


After kicking off the album with “Last Last Chance,” reminiscent of some 1970s Rolling Stones classic rock anthems, the band lays down “She’s Got the Remedy,” with a driving blues beat that could be the soundtrack for a nasty hangover. 


A thick stew of heavy guitar work is brewing on “Devil’s Hostage,” followed by “Reckless,” a harp-spiced trip “down to rock bottom, where I belong.” 


As you make your way down the playlist, you’re not likely to find any throw-aways. From the raucous “Keep the Party Rollin’” to the aching loneliness of “Half a World Away” to the band’s first-rate take on Elmore James’ “Sunnyland Train,” this album is sealed with solid workmanship. It’s what we’ve come to expect from some guys who have honed their craft to a point that they have nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. 


When you’re this comfortable in your own skin, you can wear whatever boots and hats you want. 


Total Time: 53:42 

Last Last Chance / She’s Got the Remedy / Devil’s Hostage / Reckless (feat. Sheldon Ziro) / Keep the Party Rollin’ (feat. Sheldon Ziro) / Sunnyland Train / Sure Shot / Platinum Junkie (feat. Jason Ricci) / Snake Eyes / Think About That (feat. Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt) / Half a World Away 


October 2020 cancelled

September 2020 General Membership Meeting 

Please be advised that at this time all of our General Membership Meetings are on hold. They will continue once we’re able to safely gather in a location that can provide enough space for all with proper separation of social distancing. Most of all we want our members, musicians, volunteers, sound crew and venue personnel to feel comfortable and safe. We miss being able to spend our time with you and to bring you the music we all love and crave. It will be back. We just need to practice patience in the meantime. Thank you for understanding. 

Bai Kamara Jr & The Voodoo Sniffers - Salone

Bai Kamara Jr & The Voodoo Sniffers 


Based in Belgium for the past couple decades, Bai Kamara jr was born in Sierra Leone in West Africa and grew up in England. Deeply influenced by the music of his homeland, he found a distinct connection with American blues that he fell in love with during his school days. The rhythmic patterns between the two, despite the geographic separation, has always held ties that stretches back to the slave trade and the music brought to America by those in bondage. It is from those West African nations that the blues was truly born and the sound still prevails in the music today. 

It is easy to hear comparisons of Eric Bibb, Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal and even Habib Kote, listening to Kamara’s guitar playing and his casual baritone vocal inflections. The themes of many of the songs cross borders as well as they’re also universal; heartbreak from failed relationships, pain and hard times. These are expertly displayed on songs like “Cry Baby,” “Black Widow Spider,” “Cold Cold Love” and “I Ain’t Lying.” 

Although the album is credited alongside his band’s name, The Voodoo Sniffers, Kamara wrote all fifteen of the tracks and performed all the instrumentation and vocals himself. Salone is truly a piece of art and arguably one of the best acoustic blues recordings of the year. 


Total Time:  

Can’t Wait Here Too Long / Lady Boss / Black Widow Spider / Homecoming / Morning School Run Blues / Cold Cold Love / The Rest Of Everything / Cry Baby / I Ain’t Lying (Can’t Give You What I Ain’t Got) / Don’t Worry About Me / Naked Girls On The Merry-Go-Round / Time Has Come / Fortune / Riverboat Blues / Some Kind Of Loving Tonight 

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind – September 2020

Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President 

As we continue to push our way through these times of pandemic, some things seem so far away in the past or further into the future. Such is the feeling I have regarding the status of live music. Every one of us wants Covid to just go away as soon as possible; but facts are that it will probably be around longer than we wish. There are some forms of live music that are taking place. It is your decision whether you want to possibly be exposed to somebody carrying the virus. 

I have made it to a few live happenings. It is just second nature for some of us to yearn for that gladness inside of ourselves to see and listen to our friends perform. But I have limited myself. I do not attend anything in indoor venues, let alone eat in most restaurants that do not have outdoor, separated seating. For the most part, I have limited these to very few outings, and three have been to watch from somewhere such as a friend’s driveway while doing live simulcast over the internet. The attendance at such may have been ten people at the most in any situation. I have ventured to Kathken Vineyards a couple times. They have been quite careful, setting up their picnic tables with great distances between, while having you fill out tracing papers in the event anybody reports contracting the symptoms of the virus. The stage is elevated away from the audience, as are some of the other venues offering live music (Tavern on Kruse also has such a set-up for the band). 

Regardless, it is up to each and every one of you to decide if you will go to see live performances. Nobody will judge you if you decide to stay at home. There are plenty of live feeds happening daily and you can always help out by throwing a little monetary sum to the artists’ paypal, venmo or other accounts. 

I repeat myself from last month as well, when it comes to expressing appreciation for all of the musicians, limited volunteers and our board committee staff who have been holding the shows for the kids lunches with Portland Parks & Recreation. Though we cannot let people know where they’ve been taking place to avoid crowd sizes that would bring the event at the time to be closed, we are quite pleased with the response we’ve had from our members and friends to help foot the cost. At this time we’ve had sets from people like John Bunzow & Denny Bixby, Ken Brewer, Lauren Sheehan, Mojo Holler, Julie Amici & Dean Mueller, Alan Hager, Mary Flower, JME Jazz Trio, LaRhonda Steele, Sonny Hess, Joanne Broh, Kathryn Grimm, and Robbie Laws. Ten events in all for Phase One of the regulations that we must abide by for the pandemic; we’re hoping that Phase Two will allow us to do more in the near future. Huge thanks to Marie Walters, Brad Bleidt and Shelley Garrett  for their hard work at making these take place. 

The other project that the CBA involved themselves with this month was the Walk A Mile In Our Shoes, with views, stories and music celebrating the music from our Black community in Portland. We were proud to help sponsor this event and to be able to create an ad under the creation of Marie Walters and myself. 

We do not know what is ahead for us. We don’t know if there will be any membership meetings in the near future or if we’ll be able to hold the Muddy Awards. We are at the beck and call of the pandemic. I do wish to thank those who have offered locations or ideas. The main focus is we want a convenient space that is centralized for everybody and in a space that is safe. 

Hang tight everybody. This too shall pass sometime in the future and the CBA will return to our regular routine that you all expect. In the meantime, please be safe and support our musicians, venues and sponsors any way that you can.