Dave Keller

Dave Keller

You Get What You Give
Tastee Tone Records

Review by Greg Johnson 

Like so many of us, witnessing the murder of George Floyd by the police on a Minnesota street last March brought about fury and disbelief in our public services and government by their actions, and non-actions, following the event. It was one of way too many such occurrences that have taken place over time.  

Vermont-based Dave Keller, arguably one of the finest soul and R&B vocalists of our time, was among those who were outraged. Though a white artist, Keller recognizes that the origins of his career and the music he performs is wholly based in the black community. He wanted to respond in a manner that could not only pay tribute to that fact, but could also help movements such as Black Lives Matter. And being an artist, he saw that route with his music. So he recorded an album featuring duets with many of his favorite friends, with all proceeds resulting from its sales going to groups working for racial justice and equality. 

The idea was widely accepted and he had many people wishing to help with the project. But being 2020 and living in times of public shut-downs, having many of those friends being able to record directly in a studio with him was next to impossible. But he gathered his working band and some of his regional buddies were able to show up to lay down tracks. Others, living farther cross country, were sent recordings of Keller and the band which they in turn offered their parts to the mix, which was all pieced together back in Vermont. It all comes across seamlessly, sounding as if they were all in the same room with one another. 

Participating friends include blues legends like Joe Louis Walker and Johnny Rawls, highly regarded vocalists like Trudy Lynn, Annika Chambers, Dawn Tyler Watson and Minnesota’s Annie Mack. Lesser known artists across the country include New England religious performer Brother Bob White and spoken word artist Toussaint St Negritude. 

Everything comes together through Keller’s stellar songwriting and his voice leading the charge. This is an amazing recording, and despite the reason behind its making, it stands proudly beside his earlier, highly acclaimed releases. Thank you, Dave Keller, for such an enlightened project and for music we want to hear again and again. 

 

Total Time: 56:17 

One More Tear / That Thing We Do / You Get What You Give / The Evil That Men Do / Scratchin’ At Your Door / Your Kind of Fool / God Is Love, Love Is Everything / The Spark / Make It to Tomorrow / Land of the Lonely / Precious Lord Take My Hand / The Kiss I Want / I’m Gonna Let It Shine 

Danielle Miraglia

Bright Shining Stars
VizzTone

Review by John Taylor 

If Danielle Miraglia says she can walk through barbwire, outrun the hound dogs or give a shining star a new home, we’re inclined to believe her. The Boston guitarist and singer, whose fifth album is becoming her most successful (it hit No. 15 on the Billboard Blues Charts) has just released an acoustic collection that we can’t get out of our heads.

We’re not sure we want to, either. Putting her own subtle twists on traditional classics like “C.C. Rider” and “When Things Go Wrong (It Hurts Me Too),” covering Janis Joplin’s “Turtle Blues” and Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” and adding some fresh new compositions of her own, she’s tied together an album that’s tough as rawhide, but smooth as blended whiskey.

Her website bio says she holds a “strong steady thumb on an old Gibson and an infectious stomp-box rhythm.” Her music says she embodies the best of Bonnie Raitt, Etta James and Joplin herself. By turns, she’s playing blues with elements of country, folk, roots and rock.

She gets some help from Laurence Scudder (a member of Boston-based Glory Junkies band) on viola, Peter Parcek on guitar and Rich “Rosey” Rosenblatt on harmonica. But Miraglia’s talents carry this one. 

 Her versatile voice is riveting, and her lyrics are spellbinding — chilling sometimes. 

Take these menacing lines from “Pick Up the Gun,” for example: 

   I pray every day 

   I don’t need to repent. 

   It’s no sin if it’s self-defense 

   — so go on, kid, pick up the gun 

   Gimme a reason to shoot. 

Or this line from “You Can Love Yourself:” 

   When nobody loves you 

   You’re feeling like dust on an empty shelf. 

This a recording that’ll have you hitting the repeat button repeatedly — it’s a work to savor, share with your friends and then listen to all over again. 

And it’s one that makes us eager to see what Miraglia will come up with next, because it sounds like she’s just getting started. 

 

Total Time: 36:11
 

Sounds Like Home / C.C. Rider / You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go / Pick Up the Gun / Turtle Blues / Famous for Nothin’ / You Can Love Yourself / Meet Me in the Morning / When Things Go Wrong (It Hurts Me Too) / Walkin’ Blues / Bright Shining Stars
 

 

 

Bob Margolin

Star of Stage and Screens
VizzTone

Review by John Taylor 

The pandemic is still on, and Bob Margolin is still sitting at home … brooding about it. 

Fortunately for us, he has a 1930s Gibson and a National steel guitar handy. He uses both to express his frustrations and fears in his 12th solo album, a raw, acoustic EP titled “Star of Stage and Screens.” 

When “Steady Rollin’,” as he’s known, talks screens, of course, he means phones. Unable to perform on a live stage since March, the 71-year-old award-winning bluesman who spent seven years backing Muddy Waters has been reduced to singing in front of electronic devices, reaching out to audiences via social media. 

Like the rest of us, he’s had plenty of time to dwell on the bygone days, the importance of the people and things that he loves — and who’s to blame for this whole debacle. 

It’s clear that among the great loves of his life are the audiences for whom he’s performed for nearly 50 years. “I’d love to turn off my phone and grip the neck of my guitar and play all night for you,” he sings on the title song. But for the moment, he notes sadly, “House party means my house.” 

With “For My Teachers,” Margolin reaches deep into his past for the wisdom he’s learned from people who’ve passed through his life and helped shape and guide him. “I think of all those passingsand I think I understand at last,” he sings. 

He offers some wisdom of his own on songs like “Let It Go:” “You can’t make it better, but you sure can make it worse,” he cautions. His advice to people chafing at everyday annoyances and injustices: Take a breath and let it go. 

At the same time, he’s no advocate for rolling over. His “March 2020 in Stop Time” makes clear who he blames for the country’s current predicament: “How did it get so bad? Just follow the money.” 

He sounds some of the album’s most hopeful notes on “After Party,” which conveys his wishes for a not-too-distant day when all of this might be behind us, and we can savor the gatherings we once took for granted. “I stay at home,” he sings with a hint of defiance, “but I still play.” 

Besides a revealing portrait of how painful 2020’s isolation has been for artists who crave crowds and live to share their art, “Star of Stage and Screens” is a masterful display of musicianship from a guy who doesn’t need to prove much of anything anymore. It’s an intimate visit with a man who understands his art — and himself. And he understands he needs to get back out on the stage. 

Yeah. We’re ready for that “After Party,” too. 

 

Total Time: 23:26 

Star of Stage and Screens / Love and Thanks / Let It Go / The After Party / For My Teachers / March 2020 in Stop Time 

Adam Scramstad

It’s a Long Way to Go
Djangosfire Tunes

 review by Greg Johnson

The one thing you need to remember when it comes to solo acoustic musicians: Nobody else is playing alongside you to hide if you happen to make a wrong note or some other mistake. Of course, those can always be mended inside the studio during editing. 

But you need not worry about anything like that when you’re talking about, or more so listening to an artist like Adam Scramstad. Each note, every time he picks up his instrument, is always spot-on perfect. 

It takes meticulous practice to create this perfection. And if you’re throwing in your voice singing your material, too, it also has to be right on target. And again, Scramstad is right there. His voice sounds like a second instrument accompanying the music. Exactly as it should be. 

It has been a long time since his 2006 debut release, No Sun Around Blues, but rest assured he has not been idle during those years. Working on his music and playing with friends, he has put together a new disc that proves he is an artist ready for worldwide attention. That disc, It’s a Long Way to Go, easily stands among the absolute best acoustic blues and Americana releases. Simply said, it’s that good and more. 

Scramstad’s songwriting is just as on par as his instrumentation. The songs are memorable and meaningful. The opening number, “Dreaming Of The Blues,” is a whimsical piece finding him in all kinds of favorable situations, only to wake up finding he was actually just dreaming. He closes the album with another great tune, “It’s Just Right.” Here he describes how everything in his life is just right because he has found the person who makes it all worthwhile. 

There are a trio of cover tracks that give justice to the originals while still making them work as his own. These are Elizabeth Cotton’s instrumental “It Ain’t No Lie,” Willie Brown’s classic “Future Blues” in a duet with his longtime mentor Terry Robb, and Muddy Waters’ “Louisiana Blues” with Scramstad playing slide resonator, again with Robb and harmonica ace Dave Mathis. 

Most of the selections are just Scramstad playing solo, giving him the opportunity to show us just how spectacular his string work shines, whether fingerpicked or slide. Take note of this on the instrumental “Transitor Radio,” a piece that brings to mind guitar greats like John Fahey and early Leo Kottke. A piece like “In Memory” is the exact example of how his voice works as a second instrument. Other guests include harp player Ben Small working as a duo with Scramstad on “Hot Rod Tracy.” And the Terry Robb Band with bass master Dave Captein and drummer Gary Nolde bring a jazzy note to “Sad & Lonely State Of Mind.” 

Perhaps my favorite track of the album is another instrumental, “Blues Bring Hard Times,” again played on the slide resonator. This song sounds so right in performance, it feels like it is taking you to a completely different place where you are alone with the guitarist and his notes are hypnotizing into a soothing, relaxing zone that feels so right 

It’s a Long Way to Go may have taken a while to be completed, but for what is delivered here, it’s just right and more. This is a master work from one of the best acoustic musicians to be found. And I repeat one of the best anywhere. 

Total Time: 33:16 

Dreaming the Blues / Oh Babe It Aint No Lie / It’s a Long Way to Go / Hot Rod Tracy / Future Blues / Sad & Lonely State of Mind / Transistor Radio / In Memory / Louisiana Blues / Blues Bring Hard Times / It’s Just Right  

 

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind – 2020 in Review and What Lies Ahead 

Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President 

Reflecting back on 2020, we have witnessed without doubt the single toughest year we have ever faced as an organization. COVID-19 shut down so many of our events and saw musicians and venues around the world suffer along with every other business out there. 

We took extreme hits, including the first time in 32 years there were no Muddy Awards, no Holiday Party and the BluesNotes that’d been in print nearly since the inception of the CBA had to be suspended from its print form, moving to a monthly email blast and content posted on our website. One of our signature events, the Journey to Memphis also had to be put on hold after 20 years as The Blues Foundation was forced to cancel the event in 2021 —  which also meant no Best Self Produced CD competition for the year either. 

Our monthly membership meetings also had to be placed on a back-burner as the state shut down venues and limited gathering sizes. When it all clears up, rest assured that we plan on resuming these meetings, but we will be looking for a new location as The Eagles have permanently closed the Hawthorne location where we met. 

The Waterfront Blues Festival was canceled this past summer, as were most festivals. This hurt us deeply as it is the one event of the year where we bring in our highest number of new members and renewals, not to mention our biggest income due to merchandise sales. It is also highly anticipated by our members, who make up a great deal of the volunteer force filling roles at the festival stages.   

Though shut-downs limited us from holding in-person board meetings, they did not stop us from proceeding as need be, with several email communications that we held with voting that led to many of the difficult decisions we made this past year as noted already. It also helped us to look at other avenues that we may be able to focus upon to help impact our community. 

One of those major outlets was the Portland Venue Project we held this past summer alongside the Portland Parks & Recreation Commission. The Cascade Blues Association hosted private, for-family-only lunch performances for the city’s kids lunch program. We also made arrangements if the shut-down phase limits changed before the end of the summer when we would be able to hold concerts in the parks. The spots to play the kids lunches and the evening park shows were held by lottery, and all were paid slots. Even though the evening concerts were not permitted to take place, the acts were still paid as expected. 

Recently we have started a streaming monthly live show in partnership with Artichoke Music, another local nonprofit. We have completed two events to date, starting with Kim Field & The Perfect Gentlemen in November, followed in December with Steve Cheseborough.  Though the pay for these performers is totally through their own online payment sources promoted through the show, the CBA provides the cost for the sound/video and stage use. We are not sure how much they may make through the online donations, but the audience is there. Bob Howard from Artichoke reported that more than 900 people tuned into the broadcast during Steve Cheseborough’s set from across the country. And Artichoke produces a video stored under their account on YouTube allowing for replays and sharing long after the show is over. On Jan. 6 we will present Mitch Kashmar & Alan Hager, then on Feb. 3, Mary Flower will take the stage. We are looking forward to continuing this monthly event as it is a means to bring you music from artists that you are currently missing. 

Fortunately for the CBA, we held a rainy-day balance in our bank accounts to make sure to cover unexpected emergency expenses. This year certainly saw the need for that and then some. But with our cutbacks and budgeting we have made ends meet and hopefully will be able to stretch through the end of the pandemic with what we still have on hand. 

Early this month we are planning a board meeting (most likely via Zoom) to detail plans and to brainstorm on how to move forward. As COVID keeps stressing our music community, we want to find new avenues to help promote our beloved musicians, longtime retail sponsors and venues. With new vaccines coming to aid us with the pandemic we may be seeing an end sometime in the future. But we don’t foresee it being anytime within a couple of months and anticipate we will still have more to go through before everyone feels safe once again to gather, or as the state allows. 

With that in mind, as members do you have any thoughts that might help us assist our local blues community move forward as we continue through these hardships? We want to hear your ideas, but please remember we are just a small group of volunteers and may need your assistance in carrying forth any plans that we come up with. Contact us on our website at https://cascadebluesassociation.org/contact-us/ 

Please note that we are still in need of a permanent treasurer. If you are interested in volunteering to join our board of directors, let us know. The duties include keeping the checkbook, paying bills and communicating end of the month expenses to the bookkeeper who will enter everything into Quickbooks and prepare the taxes. All you need is attention to detail, a willingness to communicate to the board and a love of the blues!   We are also interested in at-large members for our board and have open spots to fill. 

Music has a way of surviving. Let’s make sure those who bring it to us can make it, too. We’re planning on being there; hoping we’ll be right there along with all of our friends. Working together, we can do it. 

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

Straight To You Live
Provogue

Review by Greg Johnson 

 

During this time of COVID and the lack of being able to attend live events on this scale, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band releases this much-needed live performance on both audio and video formats. Taken from a live set at Germany’s Leverkusen Jazzstage in 2019, he captures the band at full dynamic strength, easily displaying why they have been one of the most appreciated live concerts going. The band starts out on fire and just becomes more incendiary as the performance progresses. 

 Shepherd may be front and center with his guitar prowess that absolutely shakes the stage throughout one song after the other, but he is backed by a tight-knit group that complements one another as one cohesive unit to perfection. Chris Layton on drums, Joe Krown on keys, Scott Nelson on bass, with saxophonist Joe Sublett and trumpet player Mark Pender rounding out the instrumentation. And then there is Shepherd’s ever-present, longtime partner Noah Hunt on lead vocals, which he often hands over to Shepherd or they work as a vocal tandem, sharing words on the same song. It has been a masterful pairing that continues to get stronger with every release or performance. 

Recorded during the tour promoting their last release, The Traveler, the band delivers stunning interpretations of some of their best material from that disc such as “Woman Like You,” “Long Time Running” and his covers of Joe Walsh’s “Turn To Stone” and Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul.” There are also older classics from earlier discs, such as “Shame, Shame, Shame,” “Diamonds & Gold,” “Blue On Black” and “Heat of The Sun” that drive the intensity of the show ever upward. 

The concert also puts together some terrific takes of well-known covers that stretch the band into overdrive: Elmore James’ ”Talk To Me Baby,” Slim Harpo’s “I’m a King Bee” and the closing dynamo of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” giving Shepherd one more opportunity to set off guitar fireworks before ending the night. 

For those missing out on large-scale live events, having this recording will surely hold you temporarily smiling, at least until we can experience the real thing again. Straight To You is without doubt a sensational live presentation of a band that continues to amaze us every time out. Check it out now! 

 

Total Time: 1:10:27 

Woman Like You / Mr. Soul / Long Time Running / I Want You / Diamonds & Gold / Talk to Me Baby / Heat of the Sun / Down for Love / Shame, Shame, Shame / Turn to Stone / Blue On Black / I’m a King Bee / Voodoo Child (Slight Return)  

 

Ole Frimer Band 

Ole Frimer Band 

Live in Eppingen
Katti Records 

Review by Randy Murphy 

I listen to a lot of new music, and most of it is fine, solid blues and blues rock produced by musicians dedicated to keeping blues-oriented music alive and culturally relevant. I will admit, however, that it takes quite a stirring album for me to think–yeah, I’d buy this. The Ole Frimer Band’s new release, “Live in Eppingen” fits that bill dead on. The fact that these guys hail from Denmark (not Denmark, Oregon—the other Denmark) makes this recording all the more remarkable since it testifies to the lasting power of blues rock to pick up sticks, move to Europe, and not miss a (guitar) lick. 

My own blues prejudices lean toward the traditional, so it’s difficult for more rock orientated blues bands to gain traction with me, but when the music’s this compelling and so well preformed and of such high quality, there’s no chance it wouldn’t win me over. Ole Frimer supplies the guitar and lead vocals, and his band mates, Niels Ole Thorning on keyboard and organ, Jesper Bylling on bass and Claus Daugaard on drums (Bylling and Daugaard also supply backing vocals) are a tight little outfit equally at home with a bit of straight-ahead rock (“Sheltered Roads”), lethal blues ballads (“Single City”), or boogie-infused madness (“Got A Mind To Travel”). These are all ace musicians, and while there’s not a clunker cut on the album, the highlight is their rendition of Eric Clapton and Robert Cray’s tasty “Old Love.” The whole band shines on this classic blues number, particularly Thorning’s subtle, soulful piano handiwork, which is some of the finest, most sensitive playing I’ve heard on a blues album in quite a while. Bravo! 

This is just one terrific record I recommend highly—it’s a keeper–and yeah, I’d buy it. You should too. 

Total Time: 49:10 

The Clearing / Sheltered Roads / The Blues is Here to Stay / Why Are You Stayin’ / Single City / Old love / Got A Mind to Travel / Brush with the Blues 

 

 

 

 

 

Cascade Blues Association / Artichoke Music Present Mary Flower

New Music Courses through Artichoke Music Begin in January 

With the new year, a new series of classes for musicians, both new and experienced, begin at Artichoke Music. These online courses are designed to appeal to a number of individuals looking to learn various instruments and musical genres from renowned local/national artists. 

For those interested in classes aimed toward blues, the following courses beginning in January may interest you (listed by instructor): 

Adrian Martin: 

Beginning Guitar: Mondays for six weeks, starting Jan. 4, from 5-5:30 p.m., $75. 

Lead Guitar for the Rhythm Guitarist: Tuesdays for six weeks, starting Jan. 5, from 5-5:45 p.m., $100. 

Intermediate Guitar: Mondays for six weeks, starting Jan. 4, from 6-6:45 p.m., $100. 

Anne Weiss: 

Sing More Better and Feel More Better: Mondays for seven weeks, starting Jan. 4, from 6-6:50 p.m., $120. 

Getting Ready for the Blues: Wednesdays for seven weeks, starting Jan. 6, from 6-6:50 p.m., $120. 

Steve Cheseborough: 

Blues Harp from the Heart (all levels): Mondays for six weeks, starting Jan. 11, 6-6:50 p.m., $100. 

Muddy’s Blues: Mondays for six weeks, starting Jan. 11, 7-7:50 p.m., $100. 

 

Registration for all of these courses and more can be filled out at ArtichokeMusic.org. 

March 2021 New Music Releases

January 2021 New Music Releases 

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

 

Adam Scramstad – It’s A Long Way To Go (DjangofireTunes) 

Bob Margolin – Star Of Stage and Screens (VizzTone) 

Danielle Miraglia – Bright Shining Stars (VizzTone) 

Dave Keller  You Get What You Give (Tastee Tone Records) 

David Grissom – Trio Live 2020 (Wide Load) 

Ed Neumann & Friends – Mr. Blue (Roseleaf Records) 

Erin Harpe – Meet Me In The Middle (VizzTone) 

Harmonica Shah & Howard Glazer – Ain’t Gonna Worry About Tomorrow (Electro-Fi Records) 

Jeremiah Johnson – Unemployed Highly Annoyed (Ruf) 

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – Straight To You: Live (Provogue) 

Kevin Burt – Stone Crazy (Gulf Coast Records) 

Selwyn Birchwood  Living In a Burning House (Alligator) 

Ted Drozdowski’s Coyote Motel – Still Among The Living (Dolly Sez Woof Records) 

Cascade Blues Association / Artichoke Music Present Mary Flower

Cascade Blues Association / Artichoke Music
Present Mitch Kashmar & Terry Robb
 

Mitch Kashmar photo by Greg JohnsonThe new year is rolling forth, but the pandemic doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. But the Cascade Blues Association and Artichoke Music are not going to slow down as we plan on bringing a special night featuring a pair of the West Coast’s finest blues musicians: Mitch Kashmar & Terry Robb. 

Mitch Kashmar is renowned as one of the premier harmonica aces who have made their mark on the Left Coast following a long line of masters like George “Harmonica” Smith, William Clarke, Kim Wilson and Paul deLay. From his beginnings in the early ‘80s fronting his band The Pontiax, Kashmar’s reputation continues to grow, with a successful solo career with multiple superb recordings, to a short stint blowing harp for the rock band War. He has garnered two Blues Music Award nominations and repeated Muddy Award wins for best harmonica and induction into the CBA’s Muddy Awards Hall of Fame. 

Terry Robb is a West Coast legend. Considered one of the premier acoustic guitarists performing today, he is just at home on the electric. His technique is fluid and precise, with string work that is dazzling to behold and a pleasure to listen to. He has played in the Portland area for decades and has received induction into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. With the Cascade Blues Association he has won so many Muddy Awards, including more than 20 straight years taking home the Acoustic Guitar Award that his name now adorns that award, retiring him from the field. But that does not stop him from other categories, as shown with his 2019 recording, Confessin’ My Dues, which won the Muddy Award for Northwest Recording of the Year. It also received a nomination from The Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards for Acoustic Album of the Year. 

When you team up two artists of such high caliber, you know that sparks are going to fly from the Artichoke stage. Join us at Artichoke’s Facebook page at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6. Share the event, let all your friends know, and please tip the band. 

Join in and go to the Mitch and Terry’s online payment sources to help these fine musicians make ends meet during these trying times of limited performance opportunities.  

Mitch Kashmar – www.Paypal.me/mitchkashmar 

Terry Robb – www.Paypal.me/terryrobbguitar or Venmo @terryrobbguitar 

You can also join or donate to the Cascade Blues Association and Artichoke Music (both are not-for-profit organizations).
www.cascadebluesassociation.org
www.artichokemusic.org 

 

Coming in February – Mary Flower. 

 ***special note to CBA Members…watch for the January newsletter to find instructions on how to win CD’s during the live stream!