Franck L. Goldwasser

“Going Back to Paris – The Paris Slim Mountain Top Session 1998-1999”
Mountain Top Records

Review by Greg Johnson

At the time that these tracks were laid down at Mountain Top in the late 1990s, Franck L Goldwasser, then going under the moniker Paris Slim, had already made a home for himself in the West Coast blues scene for 16 years. Encouraged by visiting blues men to his home in France, where he often found himself playing alongside the likes of Sonny Rhodes, he took their advice and traveled to California, landing in the very hot blues bed of Oakland. Over the course of the following years, he worked in bands fronted by people like Troyce Key, Percy Mayfield, Jimmy McCracklin and Lowell Fulson before taking on his own bands.

It’s really hard to believe that these recordings were kept on the shelf for the past 22-plus years. This is really spectacular music here as Franck is partnered alongside some amazing session musicians, including Rusty Zinn, Jimmy Pugh, Johnny Ace and Gary Smith, with a rhythm section of bassist Leonard Gill and drummer John Hanes rounding out the group.

The guitar work, especially the interplay between Zinn and Goldwasser is spot-on incredible. It’s this guitar playing that has proven Goldwasser one of the premier string benders going today. The song selections are crafty and well-chosen originals and covers, all done in an original flavor, making it speak in Franck’s voice altogether. And he just doesn’t showcase his guitar, he gives a stunning piece of harmonica playing on “Harp De Triomphe.”

If you like your guitar playing bluesy, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find anything as over-the-top as what is being offered here. This is exactly the type of blues that cemented Oakland and the Bay Area as a birthing ground for the West Coast’s absolute best. It is truly criminal that these recordings were held back for more than two decades. They’re every bit as essential now as they would’ve been then. Franck Goldwasser strikes gold with each and every track on this fantastic album. Cannot recommend it enough!

Total Time: 1:10:31

Gonna Move to Texas / Rollin’ Stone / Love is Just a Gamble / Harp De Triomphe / Lowdown Dog Blues / It’s a Sin / Can’t Raise Me / House Full of Blues / That’s What You Do to Me / Death Letter Blues / Tell Me Baby / Slim’s Business / Going Back to Paris / Four Walls / 3829 Grove / Sixth Avenue Meltdown

Selwyn Birchwood - Living in a Burning House

Selwyn Birchwood

Living in a Burning House
Alligator Records

Review by Randy Murphy

Selwyn Birchwood’s one of those kind of musicians, quite rare nowadays, whose music always manages to sound sharp and interesting. His third release on Alligator Records, “Living in a Burning House,” deftly blends blues with rock to create an edgy and aggressive miscellany of sturdy, rough-hewn tunes.

In 2013, Birchwood won the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge and also took home the Albert King Guitarist of the Year award. Recently, the Blues Music Awards nominated Birchwood for Best Contemporary Blues Male Artist, and this new album utterly validates that nomination. Birchwood’s guitar playing here is simply combustible and his voice possesses a coarse authenticity and smokey weariness that embellishes the earned anguish of his music. Although, I must admit, the occasional clichéd lyric does annoy—“serious as a heart attack” is a bit shopworn—but Birchwood’s honest rendering of his music redeems any quibble one would have with it’s lyrics. This album is all about finding redemption, or something close to it, through music.

Two tracks stand out on the album. First, “You Can’t Steal My Shine” is a rocking stomp of a song that features some of Birchwood’s best, fiery guitar work on the album, and the title track, “Living in a Burning House” which offers up that nagging question that many blues tunes have tried to answer: what does one do when he “smells smoke” and fears his house has been set aflame, only to realize there’s no way out. Highly Recommended.

Total Time: 50:23

I’d Climb Mountains / I Got Drunk, Laid and Stoned / Living in a Burning House / You Can’t Steal My Shine / Revelation / Searching for My Tribe / She’s a Dime / One More time / Mama Knows Best / Freaks come Out at Night / Through a Microphone / Rock Bottom / My Happy Place

News from the CBA Board of Directors May 2021

 

The last few months the Board of Directors has met via Zoom. We want to update everyone on some of the things that we are working on:

 

  • We are excited about the return of the Waterfront Blues Festival this summer, and we’ve reached out to the organizers to find out how the CBA can best support the festival.
  • We are looking at how we might be able to move forward with the Journey To Memphis competition in 2021. There are still a lot of moving parts and things to sort out, but we’ve committed to try, and the discussions and planning have begun!
  • Socio-political events nationwide over the past while have confirmed what we’ve long suspected, and we have begun collaborating with other nonprofit organizations to become a more inclusive association and to better reflect the broad diversity of our blues heritage.
  • The closures and disruptions of the past year have hugely impacted our cash flow. The Board members greatly appreciate everyone who has continued to support our efforts either through new memberships, renewals or donations. The Board of Directors has been working diligently to learn, discuss and try out innovative ways to keep our expenses as low as possible so that we can remain effective and relevant despite the decrease in income.

 

After several years of service on the CBA Board of Directors, Kim Allmaras has resigned her at-large position for personal reasons. We appreciate everything she brought to the organization and thank her for all of her contributions. Kim’s input has been invaluable, we will miss her and would welcome her back at any time.

 

As always, thank you all, our members, for your continued support. We literally could not do what we do without you!

 

 

Your 2021 CBA Board of Directors (Greg Johnson, Shelley Garrett, Marie Walters, Mike Todd, Randy Murphy, Brad Bleidt, Ron Johnson)

Chris Cain - Raisin’ Cain

Chris Cain

Raisin’ Cain
Alligator Records

Review by John Taylor

Let’s just cut to the chase; This album smokes.

With his 13th album (his debut with Alligator Records), Chris Cain isn’t just raisin’ Cain, he’s raisin’ the bar.

Guitar licks that flicker from blistering to blissful, soul-melting keyboards and Cain’s comfortably seasoned voice – this is a collection that B.B. King himself would’ve envied.

At 65, the native Californian’s writing is authoritative and his musical craftsmanship is flawless. But his creative fire still burns brightly.

The 12 original songs here are authentic and filled with recognizable feelings.

A West Coast blues favorite since the late 1980s, Cain sings of enduring the nicks and cuts of everyday love and its shortcomings, the aches of loss and betrayal and the hollowness of affairs that have reached their inevitable endings.

Starting off the album with the blazing guitar work of “Hush Money,” Cain lays out wise takes on keeping your spouse happy … and yourself out of trouble. He pays “hush money” to his love, he explains, to “keep my house all happy and quiet.”

But guitars aren’t the only things that Cain can raise. Horns, harps and keyboards carry their share on songs like “Too Many Problems,” “Down on the Ground” and the instrumental ”Space Force.”

That’s where Cain’s longtime band – including bassist Steve Evans and keyboardist Greg Rahn – comes in. Sky Garcia and D’mar Martin man the drums, Michael Peloquin supplies the saxophone, Doug Rowan adds baritone sax, Jeff Lewis plays the trumpet and Mike Rinta slides in some trombone.

This is one of the most complete and thoroughly enjoying records we’ve reviewed in some time. It’s house-rockin’ blues that echoes – and at times, equals – the all-time greats.

Easy call on this one: Just go get it.

Part Total Time: 39:17

Hush Money / You Won’t Have a Problem When I’m Gone / Too Many Problems / Down on the Ground / I Believe I Got Off Cheap / Can’t Find a Good Reason / Found a Way to Make Me Say Goodbye / Born to Play / I Don’t Know Exactly What’s Wrong With My Baby / Out of My Head / As Long as You Get What You Want / My Space Force

Keb’ Mo’ – Livestream From City Winery New York City – May 5th

Keb’ Mo’s self-titled release under his coined Keb’ Mo’ moniker, reached its quarter-century milestone in 2019, and over the years, Keb’ has proven that he is a musical force that defies typical genre labels.

Album after album, 14 in total, he has garnered 5 GRAMMY awards, including his most recent 2019 release, “Oklahoma,” which won in the Best Americana Album category.

Keb’s list of GRAMMY recognitions continues with 12 GRAMMY nominations, in total, including his 2014 self-produced release, BLUESAmericana, earning three nominations on its own as well as a producer/engineer/artist GRAMMY Certificate for his track on the 2001 Country Album of the Year Hank Williams tribute, “Timeless.” In celebration, he will be performing two simulcasts from the City Winery in New York City.

Wednesday, May 5, at 4 p.m. and Thursday, May 6, at 6:30 p.m. $20 available at Boxoffice.Mandolin.com

Waterfront Blues Festival July 2-5, 2021

As some of you may know, the Waterfront Blues Festival will be taking place this year, but in a new location and a much different format.

Things are changing at a very rapid pace, as the organizers keep abreast of the changing rules to try to make this work.

The Cascade Blues Association has been an integral part of the festival since its inception. We don’t know what that’s going to look like this year, but we are in close contact with the festival leadership.

Do know that the CBA is ready to support them, even though we won’t be able to gather in person in the way we have been in the past. A big thank you to all of our members who pay dues, so that we can funnel their contributions to support this signature Portland Blues event.

At this point a CBA Merchandise Booth is up in the air and we probably won’t need any volunteers to man the access points for the stage.

I’m going to provide the current information here, but do encourage you to use the links at the bottom of this article for the most up-to-date information.

From their website 4/28/21

DIFFERENT LOCATION. SAME AMAZING VIBE.

Music lovers and fans will come together again July 2-5, 2021 for the Waterfront Blues Festival “Upriver!” We are returning with an unforgettable, in-person and socially-distanced event that will be a Waterfront Blues Fest like no other.

With safety at the forefront of planning, the festival is moving less than a mile “Upriver” to The Lot at Zidell Yards, Portland’s premier socially-distanced, outdoor performance venue, located in the South Waterfront neighborhood. Each day of the festival will include two separately ticketed shows, featuring several performances from amazing local, regional and national artists. Livestream tickets will also be available so our fans near and far can join the fun.

Plans, tickets and artists will be announced in May, so stay tuned!

Health and safety remain our top priority, so all events will be in full compliance with current local and state gathering guidelines. To ensure the safety of our fans and our community, we will be offering socially-distanced seating pods for your quaran-team. Tickets will be purchased by the pod (2, 4, and 6-person pods), instead of individual tickets. Your pod will become your festival home where you are free to dance, sip on a cold beverage, and enjoy the music. Full safety measures will be published prior to tickets going on sale in May.

At this time, we are offering refunds for all 2020 pass holders. 2020 purchased tickets will not roll over for the 2021 festival. Please head to our TICKETS page to learn more about how to request a refund or donate to help keep blues music alive.

As a way to thank you for your loyalty, 2020 pass holders will get first access to tickets for the 2021 Waterfront Blues Festival events. Keep an eye out for an email from us in May for more information. Thank you for showing us so much love and support — we can’t wait to be listening to the blues with you this summer!

Links

http://www.waterfrontbluesfest.com/upriver-2021/

http://www.waterfrontbluesfest.com/tickets/

June 2021 New Music To Note

May 2021 New Music To Note

 

AJ Fullerton – The Forgiver and The Runaway (VizzTone)

 

Chris Cain – Raisin’ Cain (Alligator)

 

Clarence Spady – Surrender (NOLA Records}

 

Eddie Turner – Change In Me (7-14 Records)

 

Gary Moore – How Blue Can You Get (Provogue)

 

Great Republic South – Repbubilc Radio (Live) (Bone Union Records)

 

Jimmie Bratcher – I’m Hungry (Ain’t Skeert Tunes)

 

Kim Simmonds – Struck By Lightning {Panache}

 

Maria Muldaur – Let’s Get Happy Together (Stony Plain)

 

Popa Chubby – Tinfoil Hat {Self Release}

 

Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Dance Songs For Hard Times (Family Owned Records)

 

The Steve Keeenan Band – In My Hands (Self Release)

 

Valerie June – The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers (June Tunes Music)

 

 

 

 

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind – May 2021

Greg Johnson, President, Cascade Blues Association

The end of March truly saw a drastic change in my life. Going into Urgent Care due to a blockage in my bowels, it was discovered that I have cancer.

The next few days and weeks were fast-paced with surgery, a hospital stay and multiple appointments and scans that have left me quite exhausted. It hasn’t left me much energy that I normally have to follow up with what is happening in our music community or to even check up on social media. And if it weren’t for my loving wife Cherie, I would be completely lost. It hasn’t been easy for her as I am on a medical leave of absence and with her needing to be my full-time caretaker, she has had to drop down to part time work. There is still a long path ahead before we reach the end of this, but we will get back to our normal routines eventually. I do have faith in that.

Family and friends have been quite supportive. Especially those in our immediate music community. A huge thanks to Tracy Turner-Pain for working with Cherie to set up the GoFundMe page that has seen an overwhelming amount of generous donations to help us make ends meet during this time of medical expenses. When I consider that everybody has been in a pandemic for more than a year and many of you making these donations have not seen a lot of income yourselves due to lack of work, it does more than just warm my heart, it leaves me speechless and all that Cherie and myself can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

It hasn’t just been through GoFundMe, as a lot of support has come in many forms. Michael & Laura Osborn watched over our dog while I was hospitalized with Cherie staying by my side the entire time. Roger & Debby Espinor and Ken & Angie DeRouchie instigated a meal train that ended up being gift cards for grocery stores and food delivery services, with the exception of a couple delicious homemade dinners dropped off by Tie-Dye Terry. A grant from MUSICARES that’ll help us with our rent for a few months. A driveway concert was held at the home of Louis and Tracy Turner-Pain featuring Michael Osborn & Friends (Louis Pain, John Moore, AC Porter with special drop-in guest Lloyd Jones), and several musicians have taken their online streamed shows to help push our cause and posting our GoFundMe information (Lisa Mann, Steve Kerin, Lloyd Jones and Duffy Bishop to name only a handful).

Music from Terry Currier and a book from Mark Shark have helped pass the time. Multiple offers to help out if we need anything have been greatly appreciated, as have friends Catherine Jolley, Debra Penk, Laura Osborn and Angie DeRouchie, who have helped Cherie escape for personal outings to keep her from going stir crazy while caring for me daily. All of this means so much and we love all of you for it.

Thank you to the support of the Cascade Blues Association Board of Directors for allowing me to slowly work my way back. I am trying to do a little more every day. A huge thanks to Shelley Garrett, who not only has been taking on her role as vice president and filling in the vacant spot of treasurer, but has been handling my responsibilities, too.

On a much more positive note, live music is heading back. The Waterfront will return this July, though with a much more COVID-aware process. Cherie and myself may not be able to attend too much this summer, as much as we would like, since treatments will be continuing. We hope everybody gets out and enjoys live music as much as you can, but please remember the hardships the musicians and venues have gone through this past year. Pay the covers, tip the bands, buy food and beverages from the venues. It’ll help the recovery so much more. And wear your masks; it’ll help bring the end of this event quicker and open the doors to more than limited numbers.

This truly is a “rambling” this month. But I wanted to keep everyone up to speed on my condition. I cannot stress enough just how much of a difference each and every one of you have impacted our lives and again to say THANK YOU and we LOVE YOU. Hopefully we will see one another soon.

Cascade Blues Association / Artichoke Music  Present Livestream with adam Scramsted

Cascade Blues Association / Artichoke Music 
Present Livestream with King Louie & Renato Caranto

The Cascade Blues Association in partnership with Artichoke Music, brings the May edition of our monthly blues meeting on Wednesday, May 5.

Cascade Blues Association / Artichoke Music  Present Livestream with King Louie & Renato CarantoThis month’s meeting will be an evening of jazzy-flavored blues featuring Oregon Music Hall of Fame Louis “King Louie” Pain on B-3 organ and Muddy Award Hall of Fame saxophonist Renato Caranto. These two have been performing together for more than 20 years in various formats of blues, jazz and soul, but perhaps most notably behind the legendary Oregon drummer Mel Brown at both Jimmy Mak’s and Jack London Revue (prior to the pandemic lockdown), as well as regularly at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

Louis Pain originally moved to Oregon from San Francisco. He spent several years as the organist for the famed Paul deLay Blues Band, touring the United States and Europe. He has worked with musicians such as Linda Hornbuckle, LaRhonda Steele, Lloyd Jones, Ty Curtis and has a longtime partnership with soul singer Sweet Baby James Benton.

Philippines-born Renato Caranto has put his horn prowess behind many local musicians since moving to America in 1991. Locating in Portland, he worked with various Top 40 bands, laid down his grooves behind the Norman Sylvester Band and jazz greats such as Tom Grant and Michael Allen Harrison. He has also played with and toured with a number of national touring acts such as Bernard Purdie, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Arturo Sandoval and most recently with Merle Haggard and Esperanza Spalding.

This will be an exciting evening of instrumental blues and jazz.

Wednesday, May 5, 7 p.m., live feed on Artichoke Music’s live Facebook feed.

Venmo or PayPal: @KingLouiePain

CBA President Greg Johnson diagnosed with cancer

CBA President Greg Johnson diagnosed with cancer

Now for some sad news. If you aren’t on Facebook, you may not know that CBA President Greg Johnson was recently diagnosed with cancer. 

The blues community is stepping up to help Greg and his wife Cherie, please help if you can.
Read below for the details from the GoFundMe introduction story below, here is the link to the campaign.

“This GoFundMe campaign is being created for Greg “Slim Lively” Johnson, Portland’s Cascade Blues Association President, who was recently diagnosed with cancer by Tracy Pain.

On Tuesday, March 23rd, Greg was rushed to the ER by his wife Cherie Johnson with abdominal pain.  Upon examination and tests, it was determined that Greg had a potentially dangerous obstruction and had to undergo emergency surgery the following day.  During that surgery, the doctors discovered a mass and performed a biopsy.  That mass was later confirmed as cancer.

While Greg’s doctors were able to successfully treat his obstruction, the news of the cancer was an unexpected and devastating blow to both Greg and Cherie. Aside from the challenges Greg faces in recovering from the invasive surgery he’s just endured (which in itself will involve special care and rehabilitation in the weeks ahead), he is now faced with many months of radiation treatment, chemo, and additional surgeries. As you can imagine, this has been a life changing event for both Greg and Cherie; Greg was forced into taking an immediate leave of absence from his job and Cherie has had to dramatically cut her hours at work to help with her husband’s treatment and recovery.

Both Greg and Cherie have been extremely active in the Blues/ Music community for many years, supporting hundreds of musicians as well as innumerable music industry events and workers.  In particular, they’ve always stepped up in a big way when others have been stricken with cancer or other serious illness.  Now, it’s Greg and Cherie who need our help.  Please, show your support for this amazing, loving couple as they cope with the medical crisis they’re facing.  The upcoming weeks ahead will be critical as Greg undergoes more testing to see how far his cancer has advanced.  We will be posting updates as they come in.”

Debby Espinor and Angie deRouchie have also set up a meal train, the link is here.  If you can’t deliver a meal, but still want to help, the meal train also has options to donate restaurant or grubhub gift cards.

Cherie has also asked Terry Currier, Joey Scruggs and Shelley Garrett to work on a benefit.  Due to COVID we are going to wait until fall.