Ramblings - May 2022

Ramblings -January 2022

By Anni Piper

It’s been an eventful month for the CBA, to say the least. The board approved the return of the new and improved “Blues Notes” coming soon to a store or venue near you. We have a bunch of CDs in the mailbox that our team can’t wait to review!

The International Blues Challenge 2022 has been rescheduled for May 6-9. Congratulations to our winning act, Sugar Roots.

The board voted to grant the honorary title of “President Emeritus” to Greg Johnson for his many years of service to the CBA.

A concerted effort was made to organize the first Black History Month event for the CBA. Ultimately the board voted to postpone as we didn’t feel we had the lead time to make it a success. We hope to organize a Juneteenth event for 2022 provided we can get enough volunteers to help us out.

It was exciting to see so many members at the Jan. 25 meeting! Remember, our meetings are open to the public and we welcome your attendance and participation. This month we received resignations from board members Randy Murphy, Bradford Bleidt, Marie Walters and Nolan Johnson. We thank them for their time on the board and their individual contributions. What this means, unfortunately, is that the activities of the CBA will be curtailed somewhat until we can fill our vacant board positions. We would love to see some of our members step up to help out. It does not have to be a time-consuming task, all we ask is that you attend monthly board meetings and occasionally volunteer at our events. Please reach out if you love the blues and can spare a few hours each month.

Roger 'Hurricane' Wilson - A Spiritual Awakening

Roger ‘Hurricane’ Wilson

A Spiritual Awakening
CD Baby

Review by Kirk Anderson

Roger got his “Hurricane” nickname from decades of scorching blues guitar riffs as he performed and taught guitar for more than 50 years.  Behind him are over a dozen studio and live albums/CDs, mostly released by Blue Storm Records as well as thousands of live gigs.  I’ve always loved the way his Johnny Cash cantor in his singing played deeper than most of his contemporary blues singers but proved to be a signature that many others have copied.

Roger has worked all over the spectrum of musical life from being on the Advisory Board of the Georgia Music Industry Association to a judge at the International Blues Challenge to radio DJ to an educator to music journalist.  Through everything, his namesake has always let listeners know what to expect in his guitar style whether in the studio or on the stage.

Roger has stood toe to toe with the likes of Albert Collins, Les Paul, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Magic Slim as well as Taj Mahal, Little Milton and B.B. King, just to name a very few that I remember and saw in my research.

As the story of Robert Johnson starts with an unassuming blues guitarist with a fire in his soul making a deal with the devil, Roger’s story goes the opposite way.  His latest CD, “A Spiritual Awakening,” is the product of a lifelong search that many of us have had or are going through.  A lifetime in the blues tends to test one’s moral compass.  In the 30 years that I have seen Roger play and interact with other musicians and fans, whether he knew it or not, his moral compass always leaned in the right direction.

Brenda Lorenz’s article about “A Spiritual Awakening” in Beat Atlanta Online Magazine relates that Roger is trying to spread some positivity with this latest offering. She talks about someone who influenced Roger early in life, and that well describes how Roger became a man who shared his talent and gave unselfishly to other musicians and fans alike:

“The ‘Awakening’ begins with the beautiful artwork that adorns the cover of this album.  This is the All Saints Episcopal Church in Midtown (Atlanta).  In the early ‘60s, Fannie Mae Alonso, Roger’s grandmother and acclaimed Atlanta artist, created this inspiring work of art.  She is also credited for inspiring Roger to pursue his dream of music.”

Roger also has an autobiography called “Hurricane” (http://hurricanewilson.com/the-book-hurricane/), in which he shares with readers his experiences as a 6-year-old taking guitar lessons, through countless live performances and how the music and his life intermingled for the next 50 years.

You all know I’ve only been with the Cascade Blues Association for a few months and I am learning more and more about this wonderful group.  Many blues associations are pretty stuffy about sticking to the old Mississippi Delta or Chicago bluesmen and women PERIOD.  As I discussed the possible inclusion of this review, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the CBA is willing to open its wings to all of the types of music directly under the blues umbrella extending to its fringes.

From the opening tune, “It’s Gonna Be Like That,” you are immediately hit with that same bluesy smooth voice.  Roger’s guitar work takes a different direction than all of his other discs and live performances.  His 50 years of blues always finds its way into each of the originally penned and arranged songs on the CD.   But this CD seems to be a tribute to Fannie Mae Alonso as well as an homage to the peace he has found. These tunes also seem to document the stormy road through the blues that provided so many trials for Hurricane over the years.

It was a really nice surprise to open my mind to the unexpected subject matter which holds this CD together.  It was no surprise to hear the stellar vocals and guitar that Roger has been nurturing since he was 6 years old.

Roger lays his heart bare for the listener… something you don’t really get too much anymore.

Total time: 40:36

It’s Gonna Be Like That / God Works in Wonderful Ways / You Can’t Do It Alone / New Lease on Life / Turn It All Over to Him / Lord You Really Made My Day / Thinking Positive / Lord Knows / Everything’s Gonna Be OK / I’m On Your Side.

Get to know the Groovetramps


Interview by Anni Piper

They’re the dynamic duo who back up some of the nation’s top touring acts, including our own Karen Lovely and Ben Rice. They are coming to the membership meeting Feb. 2. Take a few minutes to get to know the Groovetramps, Melanie Owen and Joseph Barton.

What was your experience with gender stereotypes and perceptions as a beginner? Do you think much has changed for female bassists over the years?

Melanie Owen: I have to do a little history of Mel here to talk about it: I didn’t see women playing guitar or bass or drums growing up. Violin, piano. Singing, TEACHING music. (FYI  I played piano really young then I picked French horn because I wanted to be different. Make of that what you will.)

In high school and college, I hung out with a bunch of dudes. They played in local punk and ska bands, but that’s kind of just what the dudes did. With the exception of a couple “all girl” punk bands I just didn’t see a lot of women playing these instruments. I didn’t start playing bass till I was 20, when a dude in a church group I was a part of needed a sub bass player and I said I could do it. To impress him. I did not know how to play bass but I had watched the dudes around me for years. So I taught myself the bass. I played for a few years and then put it down. I was playing more guitar, streamy folky music, and the bass I had was stolen.

A few years later when I started going to blues jams playing guitar, I met one woman (Jodie Woodward in Colorado) who plays bass and we became friends and I just thought she was amazing. (She is still amazing, by the way.) Then I saw Cassie Taylor open for Otis Taylor, just her and her bass, solo. And I was floored. And I thought, I WANT TO DO THAT. It’s true that one can’t really see themselves doing something until they see themselves doing it.

It was still years before I picked up a bass again. I saw more and more women doing it, and I needed to be able to lead a trio from the bass as I left my life and career in Denver to start a new life and career in Seattle. So I was a beginner at bass all over again, in a new genre of music, going to blues jams and leading a band. Choosing to be a beginner and work it all out in public definitely made my life harder. The willingness to be vulnerable and curious and make mistakes and learn from them in public can make people uncomfortable or assume you’re weak. And it’s amplified when you’re a “girl.” Sometimes you get pats on the head but not taken seriously, like some musicians on stage won’t even watch you when you’re leading a song — or the opposite, where people tell you you’re great when you’re not yet because the expectations for musicianship in women have traditionally been different. But I’m glad I went down that road and made the choices I made because now I work with amazing people like Ben Rice and Karen Lovely and Kris Deelane and I’ve gotten to work with the amazing Lady A #TheRealLadyA too, and I ride that old ’66 P Bass like a broomstick all over the country.

People will say “Wow, you just don’t see too many female bass players” at least once a weekend. And my response is, “Actually, there are so many of us. We’re everywhere if you look.” I still even sometimes get asked who I’m “carrying that stuff for” when I am carrying my bass and amp into the club. (Insert facepalm emoji here.) It’s awesome to tour with younger dudes than myself and tell my stories about my gendered encounters and hear them say “WHAT? That’s crazy!” I see a general change in young people who are just blasting the doors off of gender right now. My stories even feel outdated to me when I see young people and how they move through the world. Which to me means we’re headed in a good direction.

Can you describe your teenage years for me? Would you like to tell me a bit about how music fits into your family background or the culture of the places you grew up?

MO: I played French horn and piano and sang in choir, both school and church, and did theater and dance. I was a big performing arts nerd. There was music in church, music in school, music with my friends (grunge, then punk and ska — oh yes, it was the ‘90s). At home there was a lot of classical, but sometimes the oldies station and we had some Motown CDs and the (wait for it) soundtrack to “Forrest Gump,” which became my reference for classic rock. There was definitely the idea of “real music” and then the rest of it, and I never was able as a kid to bridge the classical music I was learning in my school training with the Motown and rock ‘n’ roll I preferred. So all my music training is not on the instruments I currently play.

Have you ever reached a state of spiritual nirvana where you become one with the music? Where you can’t tell where the self ends and the music begins?

MO: It’s not always easy for me to get there, but yes. I tend to worry about the things going on around me and how I’m sounding. When I can just be mindful and present, I can let the music wrap around me to the point where nothing else matters. Also, this past year I went totally abstinent from alcohol for about eight months. I am still mostly abstinent and I have been playing most shows without alcohol. It was difficult to learn how to play and trust the music without the chemical enhancement. Turns out I have a pretty good case of stage anxiety I didn’t know I had until I stopped drinking. Fun discoveries! And I had to work through that and what helped me was the music itself. A couple months into doing shows again this last year I really started to feel the groove for the groove itself.

What do you feel you have had to sacrifice the most in order to become a musician? 

MO: When I was getting ready to stop doing the day job thing and just go into music full time, my friend Moses Walker, who is a musician I was a big fan of way before I even met him, told me regarding living as a musician, “I just have to make sure I don’t need much.” And that’s what I did.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience, or seen a UFO, while on tour?

MO: Yes. On tour I play in a lot of old bars and stay in some old band houses. The paranormal experiences I’ve had are usually just me going into a room or up the stairs tired from tour and something tries to get my attention and I (without looking, mind you) say out loud “Hello, I see you and acknowledge you but I have no interest in talking or interacting with you tonight thank you I’m going to bed.”

Most memorable gig ever, for better or worse?

MO: I’ll go with the Waterfront Festival 2019, playing bass for Marina Crouse. I had had the fortune to be on the Waterfront stage singing backup vocals for Karen Lovely a couple of times, but this was my first time on bass in a brand-new for-hire capacity and I was really excited. Right before the show I looked over on the side stage and there was one of Marina’s regular bass players and drummer from the Bay Area … and I looked out and I saw Lisa Mann, and I saw Calen Uhlig, and I had just gotten a text from Stacy Jones that she was there … so, so many people I look up to. And I just froze. And I kind of had to really step into myself in that moment and trust in my place there. I can’t be anyone else but myself and I gotta bring it the way I bring it.

What’s one thing about being a touring musician, or life on the road, that would surprise someone who hasn’t done it themselves?

MO: The best representation of touring I’ve seen in TV recently is in the TV show “Pen15.” One of the characters’ dads is a jazz drummer and when he calls from the road, he’s in a cheap motel with four other dudes, one’s on a cot, one’s noodling on a guitar right next to his ear and he’s trying to talk, the mom does merch and you see her come in with the table and two different servers tell her “You can’t put that there.” I laugh so hard because it’s so honest. I would add that sometimes you roll into the club after a 10-hour drive and you have a four-hour show that starts at 9 p.m. and you power through and they drunkenly yell “ONE MORE” and you just want to crumple into bed. But sometimes you get to see really cool stuff on the road or stay someplace really nice or get to hang out at the ocean, and you can kind of refill the creative cup to keep putting out good music.

You’re working as a visual artist as well as a musician – tell me about your designs.

Joseph Barton: I guess in 2015 I started doing artwork on guitar cases. It was pretty simple designs, ‘cuz I wasn’t really a visual artist but just really had a call towards doing artwork on guitar cases. You know, I just like painting on stuff. What I do is a lot of patterns, like with playing cards. I glue them down to the guitar case with Super Glue, and then I cover them with epoxy. Geometric designs and abstract, I don’t do pictures. I can see ideas for drawing, but I don’t have the technical skill. But I’ve been really enjoying the abstract and the geometric stuff has been real satisfying.

Can you describe your teenage years for me? Would you like to tell me a bit about how music fits into your family background or the culture of the places you grew up?

JB: I suppose this is going to be around me getting started playing music, specifically musicians in the family. My uncle played keyboards. I had, I guess, sons of my grand-aunt, my grand-nephews? Family back East from Connecticut to Pennsylvania. I didn’t catch on to music till later teens. It took me a while to get into, I started with the guitar. I wanted to play the drums originally as a little kid, but my parents didn’t want a kid with a drum set. So later on, a guitar showed up, and then I figured sometime later after that I picked up the bass. I thought, ‘I can probably find work doing this,’ and I did, and I did that for a few years on bass guitar. I love music, but I actually got into it in my earlier years by just being interested in vintage gear. My family is from back East and they would do antiques and I got into that strong interest in the vintage stuff. If you study the internet revolution, of the book and death of the printed knowledge, look at ‘70s ‘80s ‘90s and 2000s. I just came up with the general knowledge of love of instruments and vintage instruments through those decades. Of the Golden Era —  you know, stuff from the ‘50s and ‘60s, Gibsons and Martins, you know. That’s what I remember from my teenage years. I did play a little, but I was too shy and didn’t really get a band together. Kind of had to come later, but that interest in antiques and antique guitars is where that fascination came from.

Have you ever reached a state of spiritual nirvana where you become one with the music? Where you can’t tell where the self ends and the music begins?

JB: Yeah, I feel like I’ve had those moments. You know, the moment I find I get most often is our three-hour gig just disappears. You know you were energized, and that by the end of it you could keep going or stay up the rest of the night or whatever is happening. You get lost in the moment of the thing that you’re doing. I need to get the right players together and you can get that often enough, that time lapse and I think sometimes that’s that moment for me.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience, or seen a UFO, while on tour?

JB: I want to say no, not that I know of. I hit a bat one time driving through North Carolina, it was just kind of hanging off the windshield. (Editor’s note: we reached out to his publicist but were unable to confirm if this bat was actually Dracula.)

Most memorable gig ever, for better or worse?

JB: There was this show, “Full Throttle Saloon” on one of those stations, you know 10 years ago, it was kind of what we now see like a Netflix reality show. It was a show about that bar in Sturgis. I was working with this songwriter from Texas. He was living in Rapid City — it’s like a half-hour drive to get to Sturgis. I don’t know how many, 100,000 bikes — you know the traffic! So we would do the “Full Throttle Saloon” and they would be filming it and there’s like three or four stars. There’s Jesse James, he was in the band Jackal and he had a band that was able to play sometimes. George Michaels was one of the guys at the show. Because it was a huge place, it burnt down but they rebuilt it. There was a good-looking woman who had a dance crew, Angel I think, and then her husband Mike Ballard, and they were always dressing up. There was a midget who would wear costumes like a leprechaun or a baby. They had the camera crew, like six or eight of them, to be taking shots of all the good-looking bartenders. They would wear military outfits, or cowgirl outfits. They had little spots all around where you can do like trios and stuff, we were working all the time. They had the sound booth for the main stage was a tractor, like a cabover diesel truck, 30-feet, 20-feet in the air. They had motorcycles inside the bar sometimes. All you could see was white smoke.

What’s one thing about being a touring musician, or life on the road, that would surprise someone who hasn’t done it themselves?

JB: Some of the work conditions. Some of the sleeping arrangements that you get, the hotels or band rooms. The stages or the backline that you have to deal with to make the work happen. People get a job and they go to a routine, I mean it’s like we got a routine too but routine changes at every f***’n venue. Every day is going to be different and I love it.

Chickenbone Slim - Serve It To Me Hot

Chickenbone Slim

Serve It to Me Hot
Vizztone Records

Review by Anni Piper

I promised myself, with some variety of Girl Guide unbreakable vow, that I would not, under any circumstances, allow myself to talk about sex when I reviewed this disc. And then, I got about as far as sucking the marrow out of those chicken bones, and the rest is history.

Any blues fan worth their salt, or their lard, will be familiar with the colorful cast that’s featured on this recording from Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios. For the uninitiated, Greaseland lies somewhere between Graceland and the Versace palace on the blues spectrum, a recording studio where mere mortals may go to be elevated to fashionista stadium filler status.

Calling San Diego home, this guitarist, vocalist and composer, Slim (aka Larry Teves) doesn’t start with a PSA about being careful what you put in your mouth. But I will. Oh, geez, I know those chicken bones are tempting, but you could choke if you’re not careful. Perhaps it would be a more sanguine, dignified death than the modern plague that is so in vogue, but I feel we are no longer keeping score at this late stage of the game.

Bandleader Slim wrangles a stellar cast of performers, most notably Laura Chavez of Candye Kane band fame. Slim dedicates an entire track, “Queen of the Wires,” to her six-string prowess. “She’s a lady she’ll cut off your head, melt your face and leave you for dead,” he shouts. It’s like Xena the warrior princess, legs akimbo, ululating (you will hear more of that in “Hey Shakalo”), jumping on your shoulders, then snapping your neck with a twist of her hip adductors. But of course, that imagery would leave us all with some kind of residual longing, and I made a pinky swear before I committed to this, that I would behave.

Marty Dodson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds on drums adds the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar to this recording along with Andrew Crane on bass. This entire ensemble knows when to stay in their lane, and I don’t mean to say that this recording is pedestrian at all. It’s passionate, inspired and frankly kick-ass.

Everything about this disc is quality, from the songwriting to the performances, production and artwork. This is so deeply reminiscent of one of my favorite albums, “Rockin’ Sugar Daddy,” by Sugar Ray and the Bluetones. I’m trying to find a flaw, because I love being the Cruella de Ville of the blues scene, but Slim is making it difficult to skin his Dalmatians. I’ll take all 100 and one of them.

Total time: 50 minutes

Serve It to Me Hot / Wild Eyed Woman / Queen of the Wires / Ought to Be Loved / Love to Be True / Squares Everywhere / Top of the Clouds / Laying in the Weeds / Crying Tonight / Hey Shakalo / I Will Stand for You / City Girl / Hook Me Up

Dionne Bennett - Sugar Hip Ya Ya

Dionne Bennett

Sugar Hip Ya Ya
Hunnia Records

Review by John Taylor

Dionne Bennett has seen – and conquered — a lot of the world. And the British-West Indian singer-songwriter has been around the block enough to find her way around without having to ask for directions.

She’s toured Europe, appeared with the likes of Dr. John, Maceo Parker and Oasis, collaborated with folks like Rhys Ifans, and recorded with jazz pianist Jason Rebello and Grammy-winning saxophonist Tim Garland.

She was even one of the “Bluettes” in the Blue Brothers musical.

So if she wants to open her newest album with Etta James’ 1968 classic, “Tell Mama,” well, hey. We’d say she’s earned the right.

But that’s only the beginning of this all-over-the-map album.

“Sugar Hip Ya Ya,” recorded in Hungary with a tight group of local musicians that producer and performer Little G Weevil pulled together, rolls easily from R&B to funk, reggae to soul, and from gospel to rock ‘n’ roll.

Little G Weevil chips in with lead guitar and vocals, along with guitarist Laszlo Borsodi, bassist Attila Herr, drummer Lajos Gyenge and keyboardist Matyas Premecz. The Jambalaya Horns – with Tamas Sovari on trumpet and Zoltan Albert on sax — round out the sound.

From that first, crisp cut, the music is full, vivid and smooth. And Bennett’s vocal versatility has room to roam, slipping effortlessly from get-up-and-dance tracks like “Spy Me” and “Get It Right” to powerful anthems like “Let It Rain,” which features a moving sample of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “We Shall Overcome” speech.

Little G Weevil wrote or co-wrote eight of the original songs on the album, but Bennett defines them.

Her “Full Time Job” will ring especially true with any musician who’s endured well-intentioned friends and family members counseling against pursuing a career onstage. And Bennett’s impressive range comes into play on the modern torch ballad, “Don’t Fall for Love.”

So go ahead and “Tell Mama.” Dionne Bennett’s “Sugar Hip Ya Ya” is definitely going places.

Don’t get left behind.

Total Time: 46:26

Tell Mama / Sugar Hip Ya Ya / Spy Me / My Life / Full Time Job / Yes We Can Can / Let It Rain / Don’t Fall for Love / Get It Right / Get Style

February 2022
General Membership Meeting

The Cascade Blues Association is holding its membership meeting at the Garages, 17880 SW McEwan Rd, Lake Oswego resuming the standard format of spotlighting two different acts in one evening. In February we’ll have the Groovetramps getting the party started, followed by the Kenny Lavitz Band for the second set.


The CBA welcomes the Groovetramps down from Seattle. Melanie Owen rocks both bass & vocals, and Joseph Barton wields guitar & vocal as well.

It has been said that Melanie has the voice of a finely tuned Volkswagen, and that Joseph plays guitar like he’s fighting off a bear. Let’s us be the judge of that, okay? Their show is humorous and honest, bringing originals and their favorites with a deep respect for the blues and its origins.

Kenny Lavitz Band:

Kenny is a gifted artist and rhythmic explorer who blurs the lines between jazz, rock and blues. Along with his compelling original songwriting and sublime vocals, Kenny produces a distinctive sound entirely his own.

He’s backed up on stage by his band: Jeff Langston (bass), Ben Partain (keys) and Scott Van Dusen (drums). Surely to be a treat!

CBA Members get in free, Non-members $5
Start time: 6pm
All ages welcome

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .

The venue now requires all customers, performers and staff to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours before entering the Garages, to provide proof of COVID-19 immunization (at least two weeks after final dose) with an appropriate ID matching the name on your documentation.

Acceptable as proof of vaccination:
CDC-issued vaccination card including the name of the person vaccinated, the type of vaccination provided and the date that the last dose was administered, digital photo of a CDC-issued vaccination card stored on a phone or electronic device, or printed photo of a CDC-issued vaccination card.

Acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR Test:
Digital or printed photo of negative COVID-19 PCR test results that includes the name of the customer or performer.


These confirmations will apply to all members of your party before they are allowed to enter the Spare Room.

Free COVID-19 testing in your area may be found by resources from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Masks, face coverings or face shields are currently required in all indoor spaces in Oregon, regardless of vaccination status, unless seated at a table. Converging studies show that wearing a mask can help protect both us and the people around us from spreading and catching COVID-19. It’s an empowering way for each of us to protect our communities, our families, and ourselves.

Entry requirements are subject to change.

Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding!


Key Events - Save the Date! 2022 May

Key Events – Save the Date!



2/10 — Allen Stone, Roseland Theater

2/11—North Mississippi Allstars, Aladdin Theater


3/2 – Albert Cummings, Jack London

3/4—Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Keller Auditorium

3/18 – Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, Jack London

3/23 — Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Revolution Hall

3/24 — Ana Popovic, Alberta Rose Theatre

3/30— Keb Mo, Brothers, Revolution Hall


4/2 & 4/3 — Valerie June, Aladdin Theater

4/21Buddy Guy, Tom Hambridge Duo, Revolution Hall


5/1 – Booker T. Jones Alberta Rose Theater

5/5 – St Paul & The Broken Bones, Crystal Ballroom

5/10—Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Roseland Theater

7/1-4 – Waterfront Blues Festival
8/7 – Little Feat with Hot Tuna Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall


Thanks to Mike and Debra Penk for keeping us updated! Are we missing something? Let us know HERE