In breaking news, the Blues Foundation has just announced the 2022 IBC will be postponed due to COVID. We have few details at this point. What a disappointment for our 2022 IBC representatives Sugar Roots, and our other local contender Rae Gordon, with less than three weeks to go until the event. The CBA will keep you informed on this developing story.
https://cascadebluesassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/2022-CBA-Board-UPDATES.jpg10801920Anni Piperhttps://cascadebluesassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/CBA_Logo_top_main.pngAnni Piper2022-01-01 16:41:062022-01-01 16:41:42IBC 2022 Postponed by Anni Piper
From a local blues master:“Andrew Matthews is a young guy always working really hard to find his own sound. He’s an extremely talented musician/guitarist/vocalist that is influenced by the great blues and rock players of the past. But with his singing and songwriting, he’s more than just guitar riffs. He’s an 18-year-old who gets it!”
CBA: Thanks for giving us some time to talk together this afternoon. Why don’t we start with your musical beginnings?
Andrew Matthews: I started music at age 13 and was listening to old music, or at least relatively old ‘60s ‘70s ‘80s, classic rock stuff. Def Leppard, Journey and so on. Got an introduction to some of that and then streaming services like Pandora. You get music put in front of you and that’s the great thing about the internet. I started digging deeper into rock. And I don’t know why, but guitar seemed like something I wanted to do. I was playing a lot of video games and I just got bored. But I wanted something else to do. For Christmas I asked for this guitar from Amazon. I was 13 years old, probably when a lot of people start. I started with a cheap guitar, and I quickly found the importance of the blues.
I sort of worked my way down the “history of blues,” started to improvise, not sure what to do. You know, worked my way through the pentatonic scale, and so pretty soon got hooked up with my first guitar teacher, a co-worker with my dad. “Hey, my kid’s started playing guitar, can you give him a lesson?” So Jeff Black wasn’t doing music outside but is a great guitarist, so my dad started taking me over to Jeff’s house for lessons. But he didn’t have me pay, so my dad bought him cases of IPA. Jeff nailed the point: I had to learn to improvise, not play too many notes.
CBA: Yeah, I’m always working on that myself.
AM: he was real vocal about lines and speaking with the guitar, stuff like that. But at only 13 — going on 14 — I wasn’t real articulate yet. So I was jamming, but he told me to “play to music you’ve never heard before.” Let myself just be fingering, play just whatever comes out.
CBA: You get to where it’s, “Yeah, I’m thinking of that note and I know exactly how to get it!” And then you start building on that.
AM: And it took me a long while to where I could just hear stuff and play it. I’m still developing that.
CBA: So Jeff took you under his wing. That’s really special when someone loves their music so much that they want to — and need to — share it. Timmer is the same way: he cannot not teach. AM: That’s him exactly!
CBA: How long did that go with Jeff? You’ve got someone who’s moving you along and you’re getting the real feeling of it. But then, how did you continue to evolve?
AM: It’s been like a year or so since I’ve seen Jeff, but the pandemic slowed things down. Now he’s busy, I’m busy: I’ll see him soon. And I’m teaching here in my parents’ house. The students are teenagers, older guys, in between.
CBA: How long’ve you been teaching?
AM: That’s a new thing over the summer. A friend wanted to learn guitar, so she helped me learn how to set things up. Also, I was probably 14 when Jeff Black told me it was about time for me to go on stage. So we went over to the Blues Jam at Trail’s End Saloon hosted by Robbie Laws.
CBA: A lot of people agree that Robbie’s the underappreciated local guitar genius, playing fast and ultra-articulate.
AM: Yeah, and doing the phrasing, phrases you can remember. My first Blues Jam there, they played for a half-hour. I just sat there with my little SG and I learned a lot when Robbie brought me up. But, uh, I can’t say I was very good, you know (laughs)? So I was up there every other Sunday for at least a year.
CBA: Have you played much with Robbie?
AM: Yes, like in “6 p.m. youth jams;” and that was my first time playing with a band and learning band etiquette on stage and the rotation of soloing. You know, you hand the solo off to the guest first, and then follow with your own. And just learning about the blues in general, the structure of the 12-bar blues.
CBA: The one four five …
AM: Yeah, and eight-bar blues, for “Key to the Highway.”
CBA: You’re getting on stage quite a bit now.
AM: Yeah, so I don’t forget Portland stuff.
CBA: Thank you! (Laughter.)
AM: And a lot of this has gotten me going home and studying the blues guys that I should know.
CBA: Like who?
AM: Early on I discovered some Jimmy Reed, with “Big Boss Man.”
CBA: He often plays harmonica in first position. Mostly, maybe 75% of blues harp, is played in second position. You know — the band’s in A, the harp’s in D. So Reed wrote guitar notes to accommodate the possible notes from the same-keyed harp. It can really make a difference.
AM: I got into Muddy Waters. I really love the Chicago Blues. And just such attitude, you know?
CBA: If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Netflix movie, “Cadillac Records,” that does a great job of showing the dynamic between Muddy and his protégé, Lil Walter. Almost a father-son relationship that gives a glimpse into how big Muddy’s heart was.
AM: Sort of a Buddy Guy-Junior Wells thing.
CBA: Oh yeah! When Lil Walter left Muddy, Junior Wells was hired away from the ACEs by Muddy as a replacement. Later, the ACEs gave the harp job to Lil Walter.
AM: The documentary, “Messin with the Blues”? That was serious for me. Specifically, showing “Messin With the Kid.” I could talk about a lot of influences. One was especially important in my progress. You heard of Davy Knowles? From the Isle of Man? He’s a really great modern blues/rock/folk guitarist and singer. You’ve heard of Rory Gallagher?
CBA: Yes, Bill Graham called him the “world’s greatest unknown guitarist.”
AM: Davy led the “Band of Friends”, featuring Rory Gallagher’s rhythm section after he was discovered via YouTube playing a Rory song. So, 22 years after Rory’s passing, Davy was leading the rhythm section, touring. So my grandmother found out, and let me know, that Davy and Rory’s band were coming to Portland and she hooked me up with Davy. December 2018, I was 15 and got to be backstage at the Aladdin Theatre and actually performed at the sound check.
CBA: This was only two years after you started playing your online guitar? But by then you spoke enough of the language to communicate about the music.
AM: Yeah, and Davy was happy to have me. And he had an old beat-up Fender replica Stratocaster of Rory’s for me to play.
I got to play for a little bit with Rory Gallagher’s band, jamming blues in A. The only other stage I’d been on was the Trail’s End. At the Aladdin, I thought, “This is a cool place.” And, I realized what I needed in a drummer! Ted McKenna was smiling all the time, just really enjoyed drumming. He was LOUD, and yet so much energy, so animated. He was really rocking it! So? “I need a drummer like THAT! Smiling, animated! I’ll look for a drummer like him!”
After that, I really dug deep and Rory Gallagher is now my biggest influence: He just put so much energy into his performances. After just the first song he was unloading buckets of sweat. He’d start a song by just repeating a couple of low notes and would get the whole place stomping and clapping along. You never know how much your music is going to catch up with people.
CBA: And if they’re clapping, stomping? It brings the joy from knowing you’ve touched something in people.
AM: Yes! And a part of that for me was being exposed to it at such a young age. It’s just … you can’t really explain how music is what it is to you. Maybe it’s just that you have a great memory of a song or the music.
Again, that Rory Gallagher-Davy Knowles thing had a big influence on me and not long after, I was able to actually start going to other jams, like Billy Blues in Vancouver, with a lot more rock. And I was able to just tell the bands, “These are the songs I want to play, we’ll see how it goes.” It never hurts when people show up and just want to play.
Then I was able to start my own stage act, playing a lot of blues and rock, like from Joe Walsh or Rory’s stuff. With a lot more discovery there, too. I was really into the ‘60s, ‘70s blues-rock: Cream and Zeppelin. And Clapton really was my introduction to Howlin’ Wolf. Then, I really got into Freddie King.
CBA: Oh! King’s instrumental, “Hideaway,” when Clapton’s doing it, really sounds like what he’s wanted to finally achieve in any Robert Johnson song — sounds like three guitarists playing! And locally, Josh Makosky does a killer version of Freddie’s “Have You Ever Loved a Woman.”
AM: And King’s voice, too, a HUGE voice. And of course I got into Stevie Ray Vaughn.
CBA: BB King said it best: “Any guitarist that’s GOOD can use those strings to write some fine sentences. But Stevie Ray? That boy writes full-on paragraphs! Beautiful!”
AM: Yeah, he really had it — the tone, the touch, the phrasing. Amazing. A monster. Similarly, Johnny Winter? He was an important source. Listen to the first coupla albums? That guy is ripping! I think he was way ahead of his time.
CBA: Especially for the sense of the ease he showed with it, the flow that was going on inside him.
AM: … like he’s just standing there.
CBA: Do you ever get that feeling that you’re just in a flow?
AM: Um, yeah. Yeah I do. I mean I felt that last night. I was on stage, playing some Robin Trower, jamming on “Day Of The Eagle”. I was really going for it! That was fun. I’m always listening and discovering stuff. And to BB King always. There was a DVD of a master class he gave. Pretty much just spilling all his secrets.
CBA: BB’s longevity was often seen to be from his ability to instantly read a room. His band’s set list started when he walked out and looked at the audience. Lots of couples nuzzling? “Yep, we’re just doing love songs tonight.” Lots of leather jackets? “Let’s Rock!”
AM: Wow! So, I joined the Cascade Blues Association, went to meetings, and from that got suggestions of who to check out. I met Jim Hurley, the sound guy, he showed me some important sound guy tips. But the pandemic hit, so: No go. Yet just before that I’d started on social media, pitching upcoming gigs. And my set was getting longer, so: more onstage time. Also started to audition a few guys. But, again, it was just COVID-hell and it all stopped. I started doing online — acoustic covers, things on YouTube. Some Rory Gallagher, classic rock songs. Then I went at it on Instagram, playing guitar solos, some videos, thinking “OK this’ll get me back.” People liked it.
In November 2019 I met Jennifer Batten, who’d done three tours with Michael Jackson (including the Super Bowl!). And then she had toured with Jeff Beck for three years. And is also listed as one of the “Top 15 Guitar Teachers in the World.” And, she knows my mom! At 16 I took a few lessons with her at Five Star Guitars. She taught me vital things: learning music, technical stuff on guitar, how to transcribe. But then, in-person lessons stopped everywhere. In August 2020 she began the “Guitar Cloud Symposium,” joining up some guitar-pro friends. A weekend of that, just nonstop education with great teachers.
And this here (“BluGuitar”) is equivalent of a 100-watt Marshall (@ 15” side, sq./ 8” high, fully enclosed) that was donated as a prize. I won it. For free! So that worked out pretty well.
CBA: You sir, do have a gift for understatement (laughter)! But I have something for my digital amp that is similar, in that it’s some complex, one-inch plasma “tube” that lets me plug into a digital amp — or even a PA — and give my harps the sound of a Fender tube amp.
AM: This is based on a similar “tube” idea.
CBA: Jennifer toured with Jeff Beck. From what I know, you don’t walk away from Beck without knowing a lot more than when you arrived.
AM: Oh yeah, he switches up the band a lot. You know his “Because We’ve Ended as Lovers”? Yeah? You know that Stevie Wonder wrote that?
CBA: Yes, the title was because Stevie promised Beck a new song but forgot about it. Much later he remembered, wrote it and gave it an “I’m sorry” sorta name. Did Jennifer Batten invoke the “wonder” of Jeff Beck?
AM: Oh, yeah, she taught everything about Jeff Beck (laughter).
CBA: That’d be a LOT!
AM: Yes! But not many people are like him.
CBA: Well, he was harsh on himself for a long time, playing maybe 10 hours a day. Not sure about now, but …
AM: And he’s still developing, shifting his tone. He’s just one of those artists who won’t stay in one place long. That’s what an Artist is.
Now I’m an official “BluGuitar artist,” an endorser of “BluGuitar.” Also, I represent PRS guitars at Five Star Guitar. Last year I started with PRS and am a “Pulse Artist.” All six of these standing here are the guitars I play. Am also a rep for other endorsements.
June 2021, Timmer Blakely invited me to Pat Stilwell’s blues jam At The Garages Satellite Pub. And I started getting back into the social circle. But I couldn’t go the “Lair” jam because I’m not old enough. So Timmer took me up to one of Chad Rupp’s private jams above Camas. That was really interesting. Since then, Chad’s given me a lot of helpful advice. You know, like “showmanship” — how to be a front man, stuff like that. His suggestions have been important and I’ve appreciated it.
Pat Stillwell called again, needing a guy for his Rolling Tones band. His guitarist had just quit. I’d never been in a tribute band, but … The Rolling Stones? It’s blues and it’s fun! And in just a coupla weeks we had it together for a winery event. I knew a lot of the songs anyway so it was just figuring in the parts. It worked out … people said I looked like Mick Taylor, anyway! Pat also got me my first time at the Garages to open the jam. So I did, with Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” That was really cool.
CBA: Do you spend nearly as much time on vocal practice as on guitar?
AM: No, because physically … my voice after a few hours? I’ll feel it. But I have a teacher, Mark Bosnian, who makes it like school. You have homework each week. There’s a whole science, an artistry to it. Like a guitar, it’s all the different dynamics you can do with your instrument.
The Sugar Roots Band? Timmer invited me to the recording studio to watch them record for three days. It was so influential to watch! I mean, with JT, Timmer, Chad? That band has the best guys in Portland! My plan is to try out for the International Blues Challenge (“IBC in Memphis”) next year. Also, I worked out on one of my songs, with Michael Kaz drumming, in a Camas studio. Then we added some things and I edited it. Now, with Timmer, we’re the “Andrew Matthews Band.” We’re doing a bunch of demos and I’ve been getting into music from like, Son House. I’m delving into the Delta blues, and the CBA invited me to play – solo — to open the next meeting. A cool opportunity.
CBA: What do you think of blues now? Where do you see it going in the future?
AM: From what I’ve seen, it’s in pretty good hands. Also, the internet and social media are important. Without that we’d be stuck hearing the same radio pop songs. Yet there are guys like Eric Gales — insane guitar, plus the local guys like Ben Rice, always coming up with new songs.
CBA: And blues songs are almost always about the stories that grab you. So, you feel hopeful about the blues’ future because of how it can tell new stories.
AM: And there are always cycles that come back around. There are some great songwriters and musicians out there you can find online. It’s important to know that there’s no end to it! And also to remember that there’s always somebody better than you, so there’s no point in comparing yourself to someone who’s way ahead. You can best compare yourself to …. yourself.
CBA: Yet you’ve been so devoted to guitar that it must impact any social life.
AM: Yeah, if I was going out with friends, having a real social life, I probably wouldn’t be playing guitar.
CBA: Maybe it’s a little easier for you because of the prime goals you’ve set for yourself? Thank you for sharing so much of your time. It is very much appreciated.
AM: And thank you! But is it OK if we let my dad take a picture?
CBA: You keep working Dad pretty hard, huh? (Laughter.)
Find information here on other endorsements for -and from- Andrew Matthews:
And Timmer Blakely? Yeah, he’s really true to form . He tells you exactly what you need to know.
https://cascadebluesassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Andrewmatthews.jpg899600Anni Piperhttps://cascadebluesassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/CBA_Logo_top_main.pngAnni Piper2022-01-01 16:38:592022-01-14 19:25:30Interview with Andrew Matthews
Fifty years ago, 1972 produced many events that still shake us. Arab terrorists murdered 11 people at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich. President Nixon visited China claiming China was a rising world power. The Los Angeles Lakers became the NBA champions, USC went undefeated in college football, the Boston Bruins took the Stanley Cup, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Miami Dolphins to win the Super Bowl, the Oakland A’s took the World Series and Jack Nicklaus took the U.S. Open.
The most popular movies of 1972 were “The Godfather,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “Dirty Harry,” “Clockwork Orange” and “Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex.” There were only three major television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) back then and Home Box Office (HBO) was launched in 1972. Yeah, no cable … no streaming. Everything outside of the newly launched HBO was television using off-air antennae. The most popular television shows were “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Mary Tyler Moore” and “The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie.” Some of the best fiction books of 1972 were “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” “The Odessa File” and Herman Wouk’s “The Winds of War” with top nonfiction books being “The Living Bible,” “I’m OK, You’re OK” and “Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution.”
Music topping the charts was Don McLean’s “American Pie,” “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, Nilsson’s “Without You,” “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers and “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young. The best blues rock albums of 1972 were “Eat a Peach” by the Allman Brothers Band, Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes” and Bonnie Raitt’s second album, “Give It up.”
Nineteen seventy-two was also the year that Dave Leiken started his life in music promoting. After losing money trying to promote 1970s artist B.J. Thomas (best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” from 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” movie with Robert Redford and Paul Newman) in Canada and Seattle, Dave was wondering if he made the right decision to leave his father’s business and strike out on his own.
Turns out that Irwin Harris, director of public events at Oregon State University, at that same time wanted to bring BJ Thomas to Corvallis. The show was a success and Dave followed his gut and spoke with BJ’s manager. He booked other shows on the spot. “The survivor” survived his first brush with professional death.
KVAN DJ Bob Ancheta remembers this time frame as a time when he received a call from a young Dave Leiken wanting to promote the Tower of Power’s “Bump City” LP. Both men were in the early throws of lifelong careers helping to cultivate the music scene in Portland and the Pacific Northwest. In my interview with Bob, he mentioned several times that in later years Dave and his concert promotions company, Double Tee, was willing to stick his ear and neck out for new musical acts that needed some early help in reaching their audiences.
With Bonnie Raitt receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 Grammy Awards in the coming year, it’s appropriate to mention that before her career took off, Dave had found ways to get Bonnie onstage around the Portland area. He had connections in the media and used them to elevate the visibility of an artist he knew had talent. It seems he knew that if he could get people to hear her, they would gravitate to her vocals, bluesy guitar prowess and infectious smile.
KINK radio’s “The Portland 50” podcast sheds light on the top 50 people from all professions that dreamt, built and championed the innovation, growth and uniqueness of Portland. In 2018 Peggy LaPointe interviewed Dave Leiken. As Peggy was talking about the many bands that Dave supported early in their careers, Dave also talked about Jimmy Buffet’s early career.
After Buffet graduated college, he worked for Billboard Magazine and then as a first mate on a yacht in the Key West area. The area’s vibe helped introduce Caribbean rhythms to Buffet’s laid-back rock ‘n’ roll style. Buffet had been playing mostly around Florida when he made one of his first forays out of the area, with Dave and Double Tee booking two shows at Euphoria Tavern in east Portland. Ticket sales started slow, but Dave faithfully plied his trade. Dave relates that he came back into the office on Monday morning to find out that his hard work was paying off as both shows had sold out. Two more shows were added and they both sold out, jump-starting Jimmy’s confidence and helping to propel the viability of his recording reach.
If you’re in the Oregon music scene, it’s nearly impossible not to know, or know of, Dave Leiken. I first talked to Dave when I was exploring the music scene around my article on the Allman Betts Band playing at Roseland Theater in September of 2021. As one of the many pieces of the business puzzle that Dave has put together over the past 50 years, he is also owner of the Roseland Ballroom. With all of the pain that music venues have felt during the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted readers to understand how music venues play a part not only in the shows, but in helping create and feed the music community, allowing for these concerts.
I was on the road to cover another concert when Jason from Double Tee called me back for an interview about the venue. As we talked, he understood how I wanted to make Roseland part of the article and Dave took time out to help. I had already written an article several years back about seminal Atlanta music promoter Alex Cooley, and the more I spoke with Dave, the more I realized his part in helping make the Portland and Pacific Northwest music scene what it is today. He was kind with his time, but he also was really direct when the information in my question wasn’t completely clear. Quintessential Dave Leiken.
In my research, I saw a Nov. 9, 2009, article by Michael Mannheimer in Willamette Week in which Dave’s quote pegs who he is to a T. “We’ll never be the darling of the people. It’s probably not in my nature,” Leiken says. “I’ve never marched with the crowd, and I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve been successful. The crowd doesn’t work very hard. I go to work every day. The crowd sits around telling each other how cool they are.” I think he has a point.
Dave Leiken is the President of Double Tee Concerts (the name derives from a play on the spelling from Dave’s enjoyment of golf with the double T’s standing for Top Talent — Top Talent=TT=Double Tee. Started 30 years ago in 1992, Double Tee Concerts is Oregon’s oldest and largest concert company. Dave estimates conservatively that Double Tee has done 150-175 shows per year and when it used to make sense did about 15 arena shows per year. Are you doing the math yet? Just listing all of the artists he has promoted at multiple venues across Portland and the Pacific Northwest takes multiple pages, double columned and ranges across the genres of music and entertainment.
Terry Currier is the president and owner of Music Millennium, Burnside Records and Burnside Distribution. Music Millennium is recognized as one of the top 10 record stores in the United States. As the Oregon Music Hall of Fame website notes, Terry is also “… respected and revered locally and nationally for his unflagging support of the Pacific Northwest’s music industry and for innovation in the music retail industry.” Very much cut from similar cloth as Dave Leiken.
There are already several articles about the facts of Dave’s past 50 years in the music industry. Although the extensive and varied chronology of the events through the past 50 years is overwhelming and important, I was especially interested in what other people in Portland’s and the Pacific Northwest’s musical scene thought about Dave professionally and how he affected music in the area. Everyone I reached out to for this article was very generous with their time in sharing their thoughts about Dave and his part in the music scene. Only a small portion of these interviews made it here due to space limitations.
Terry shared several thoughts that supported Dave’s quote from the 2009 Willamette Week article quoted above. Terry related that Dave never tried to dominate the local music scene as so many other majority business promoters across the country did. Dave always paid the artists whereas the history of live music is full of stories of artists playing and then being double-talked or threatened out of their due pay.
Promoting longer than anyone else in the area, Dave didn’t always take the whole pie. Many times he chose to promote acts that met the guidelines his ears laid down and left other parts of the pie for other promoters. Terry said Dave seemed to take pride in being independent. He turned down offers from national companies to buy out Double Tee and the Roseland Theater. Dave being true to himself, true to the music scene and the ideals of the region protected the local scene from this corporate raiding, giving all of us the chance to feel a more organic and varied music scene.
Terry remembers as Dave was starting his own ticketing platform, FastTix, that Dave would often hand-deliver tickets to Music Millennium and other stores to sell. Do you remember when there were hard copy, pre-printed tickets and having to go to a record store to buy them? Dave was the guy delivering them.
Dave continued to build the platform through the iterations we are now familiar with. It had to be the best thing in town as national competitors started pushing their way in and Dave decided that this was not a fight he wanted to fight. During a particularly aggressive national growth strategy campaign by his contemporaries, Dave sold FastTix.
Terry went on to talk about how Dave did not only ply his professional trade, but also took a genuine interest in the music scene by selecting local acts deserving of exposure for opening slots for nationally headlining acts. He provided the Roseland Theater to other regional acts to give them the chance headline and to get their music out while teaching them how to grow the art of their business. For most of his life, he went out to see live music every chance he could. He wanted to hear the bands, yes, but he also wanted to see the audience as they left the show. Were they smiling? Were the excited?
Dave’s devotion to the music community saw him hosting the early Oregon Music Hall of Fame ceremonies at the Roseland Theater. Dave also has worked with the Oregon Music Coalition, recognizing the legacy of all stages of music in the state of Oregon. During the pandemic, Dave also came out to join other luminaries in the Oregon music community to raise money for the local venues and artists hardest hit by the pandemic shut down and its aftermath.
Janeen Rundle, co-founder of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, is the organization’s director of music programs and scholarships. She coordinates music education opportunities through Oregon Music Hall of Fame workshops, assemblies and scholarship opportunities to those pursuing musical studies.
Her memories of Dave are that he has always had a keen ear and eye over many genres of music that she feels stem from his musical soul. An incredible comment that shines a light not only on his professional prowess but how he never forgets to stay true to the gifts that music has given to him.
Janeen also shared and echoed similar comments in other interviews for this article that Dave saw talent that needed an extra push in the Portland market and did something positive about it. Although having to listen to the sometimes out-of-the-norm ideas from a band’s management, Dave would work with Janeen and other music community leaders to dial in cross-promotions with entities such as Music Millennium, Tower Records, KUFO, KINK, KGON, etc., to execute exciting promotions in record stores, over the airwaves and on site at the Roseland to increase attendance.
In understanding that live music isn’t just about the coliseum, theater or even club gigs, Janeen relates that from the beginning Dave would personally attend the College Scholarship Performance and Awards, which used to be held at Jimmy Mak’s and now is at Tony Starlight’s. This demonstrated his support for helping others become more excited and giving them the opportunity to get a rounded education in music without Dave ever coming out and making it about himself. He always showed his support in ways more tangible than just attending.
Marc Baker also goes back more than 30 years with Dave. Marc is an industry insider, host of the long-running “Church of NW Music” show on KBOO and president of the Portland insurance firm Elliott, Powell, Baden & Baker, which measures as one of the top three independent insurance firms as rated by the Portland Business Journal.
Marc promoted several shows and formed a concert company at Oregon State University in his younger days. Moving back to Portland, Marc worked radio primarily in Oregon, when he began to manage the local band Crazy 8’s. An acquaintance in the business called Marc regarding needing an opening act for a headliner he had just booked and Crazy 8’s was a natural. The show was booked and next came promoting. This is where Marc reached out to Double Tee, which he had already worked with to promote local shows. Marc was also on the board of directors of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame for eight years that again crossed paths with Dave.
He made one comment that stuck with me. In describing how he viewed Dave’s influence on music in the community he said that if the Pacific Northwest music scene was a large pond, and if you were to take a large rock and throw it into the middle of the pond, you’d see the ripples move out in all directions, affecting everything in that pond.
He describes Dave as a survivor as a promoter, venue owner, label owner, publisher. Dave is a supporter of the blues, rhythm and blues, all genres of music and the musicians behind them — often when no one else in town had the horsepower to do good. Marc followed that comment saying that Dave has the passion that others lack.
Double Tee sold more entertainment tickets in Oregon than any other promoter and stayed intact and relevant during the great promoter consolidations of the early 2000s. Dave and everyone interviewed had long lists of accomplishments that showed Dave’s commitment to the community, to music and his own feeling of the best way to conduct business. Below are but a few.
Pollstar rates the Roseland Theater as one of the top-10-20 venues of its size in the world. The Roseland was originally built in 1922 as the Apostolic Faith Church until the building was converted into a music venue named Starry Night in 1982. In the early 1990s an unfortunate turn of events for Starry Night turned out to be the start of good fortune for Dave when Double Tee optioned control of the operations in 1994 and purchased Roseland in 1996. Keeping the faith that he was in the right place at the right time, in 1997-98, Dave started a $2 million-plus renovation of the facility, upgrading the sound system, façade and layout into the Roseland Theater of today. Performers regularly compliment the facility and staff for the quality of its sound.
He also created a smaller venue downstairs from the main performance theater called Peter’s Room. This can serve as a smaller capacity venue for bands on the way up or as an extra gathering place streaming the performances from the main stage above.
1994 Autzen Stadium in Eugene. One of several Grateful Dead shows Dave co-promoted with Bill Graham Presents. This one sold 102,000 tickets, making it the largest concert gathering in Oregon.
Prince on Aril 30, 2002, at the 2,800-seat Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The show lasted three hours and was followed by an after-party show at the Roseland Theater lasting until 3 a.m. Both Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam, to name a few, also played shows at larger venues in town and then came over to Roseland to play more intimate after-show parties.
Early U2 at the Foghorn.
“To stay relevant, you have to care, you have to be involved in the minutia to stay on top.”
Sept. 7, 2021
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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
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As a nod to Greg Johnson, the president’s column will continue to be called “Ramblings” – although the Cascade Blues Association may be wandering in a different direction. The new president of the CBA is an individual whose life experience includes being a female immigrant living below the poverty line in the United States. As someone who has suffered the impact of a system that is stacked against people like me, I will go out of my way to ensure diversity in representation from the CBA. Equity is different from equality. It includes fair access to all the opportunities offered by the CBA, whether they be performance-based or educational. Whilst it is critical in these pandemic times for us to support our local venues and festivals, it is just as important to call out those who do not take diversity into consideration.
A special thanks must go to our former board members, Shelley Garrett, Ron Johnson and Jeanette Agilpay. They all made major contributions to the organization, along with volunteer coordinator Richard LaChapelle, who is also leaving this role. I hope to see them having fun at future CBA events, instead of spending the whole evening working hard so everyone else has a good time. Special mention to Shelley, who has taken on so much extra work for the CBA through 2021 and deserves a break from it all.
This year we will host events as usual — monthly membership meetings currently at Spare Room, merchandising booths at summertime festivals (if COVID doesn’t interfere), Journey to Memphis competition, Muddy Awards and the Holiday Party. Stay tuned for the relaunch of a Blues Notes paper edition and Blues in the Schools. More than ever, the board needs volunteers, and the CBA needs new members. Please reach out to find out how just a few hours of your time can make a big difference. Help me help our blues community in 2022.
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Fortunately for the listener, Mississippi MacDonald isn’t trying to sell us the tasteless generic recipe of his namesake. A young British blues sensation, but one with plenty of experience, this is his sixth studio album. It’s bump-and-grind blues from beginning to end from this vocalist, guitarist and composer. MacDonald certainly has a way about him — just take a listen to the saucy “Let Me Explore Your Mind.” I must say I find the prospect of some nice gentleman asking me about my fantasies far more alluring than the usual bluesman suggestion of “Why don’t you come over here and check out my little red rooster?” Or even worse, “Squeeze my lemon.” Spare me, please.
Back to the bumping and grinding for a moment. In “Your Wife Is Cheating On Us,” the only cover song on the album, MacDonald righteously belts out the Denise LaSalle (Little Milton for the male gendered version) classic. But honestly, why get uptight about it? According to the 2012 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior conducted by Indiana University School of Public Health, 4% of Americans are in a polyamorous relationship of some sort. Maybe MacDonald just didn’t lay out the ground rules to his girlfriend in a clear and succinct manner. Many relationship misunderstandings can be avoided this way, but then I suppose we wouldn’t have any blues emotions and situations left to sing about.
One element I must applaud is the use of dynamics in tracks like “If You Want a Good Cup of Coffee.” This is the first album I’ve listened to in a while that doesn’t just plod along at the same volume throughout. A tight band is given great direction by keyboardist, engineer and producer Phil Dearing. This is an excellent release, but if I were the Fairy Godmother of the Blues and could change just one thing with a wave of my magic wand, I would drop in a real horn section instead of using Dearing to take on this role. As one who has personal experience selling ice to the Eskimos, you had better make sure the ice has no cracks in it.
Total time: 46 minutes
I Was Wrong / I Heard It Twice / It Can’t Hurt Me / Drinker’s Blues / Let Me Explore Your Mind / That’s It I Quit / If You Want a Good Cup of Coffee / Keep Your Hands Out of My Pocket / Your Wife Is Cheating On Us
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The Blues: The Authentic Narrative of My Music and Culture,
by Chris Thomas King (Chicago Review Press Inc.)
Review by Randy Murphy
In his new book, “The Blues: The Authentic Narrative of My Music and Culture,” Chris Thomas King sets out on a mission to restore New Orleans to its rightful position as the true birthplace of the blues, and he doesn’t much care whose toes he steps on to do so — white racist musicologists, greedy record producers, even African-American musicians like W.C. Handy, whom, although he doesn’t use the word, King accuses of collaboration in the historical theft of this music. It’s a difficult book and a tough argument to swallow clean, but given the recent attempts to reassess and revise America’s relationship with its racist past, it’s an important book nonetheless. And, as William Faulkner wrote in his novel “Requiem for a Nun:” “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” This book provides searing truths that support Faulkner’s observation.
King’s thesis is easy enough to grasp: The blues is not, as the common belief holds, a product of the Mississippi Delta; its true lineage descends from Black Creole culture centered in and around New Orleans during the late 19th century. Its creation owes nothing to the Mississippi Delta, or as King puts it, its slave culture — that narrative is false, the creation of white sociologists, academics, musicologists and folklorists who attempted to dilute the meaning and power of King’s authentic Creole blues heritage to make it acceptable to white, middle-class Americans through associating the music with the stereotypical images of primitive Black slaves. King then takes his claim a step further by arguing that “[w]hites rebranded New Orleans blues, which preceded blues from the Mississippi Delta by more than two decades, [as] “Dixieland jazz” in the early 1900s.” Like I said, it’s a tough argument, but one resting on solid historical footing.
King begins his narrative in a river delta, though not in Mississippi — in Egypt. He argues that it is in the Nile River Valley where the true origins of the blues reside, mostly due to the Egyptians’ creation of its requisite musical instruments. King insists that the “[p]rimogenitors of New Orleans blues instruments such as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, Sidney Bechet’s clarinet, Lonnie Johnson’s guitar, Warren ‘Baby’ Dodd’s drums, and Jelly Roll Morton’s piano, and even the second-line tambourine man’s percussions, can all be traced back to ancient Egypt.” For instance, he offers as proof, as least as far as Armstrong’s trumpet goes, the sheneb, a bronze “trumpet” (c. 1340 BCE), two of which were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. King describes these horns as “long and narrow with a protruding bell.” The problem with this analysis is that most ancient cultures used some sort of horn-like instrument in their rituals, (Scandinavia’s “Lurs” dates from the early Bronze Age, so too the Jewish Shofar and some ancient Chinese horns) and singling out the sheneb as the ancestor of the modern European trumpet seems disingenuous and unnecessary; the sheneb is an ancestor, not the ancestor of Armstrong’s trumpet. And besides, a horn is not a trumpet, and King admits it was Europeans who added valves to horns. But King’s point is that classical European musical achievements owe a debt to Egypt, and indeed he’s right, but they owe a debt to many other cultures as well. Overstating the role of Egyptian culture in the creation of Western music traditions threatens to undermine his larger, more crucial arguments.
King systematically upends the prevailing myth that the blues was the product of slave narratives and experiences in the Mississippi Delta. He wholly rejects the “cotton field holler” and what he calls slave “work songs” as having anything at all to do with authentic blues. According to King, “[s]lavery was, no doubt, a part of African-American history. It’s crucial to understand, however, the culture of the enslaved was not authentic African-American culture. Indeed, a people must have agency to form a truly authentic culture.” This is a complicated assertion since much hinges on how we define “agency,” “culture” and “authenticity.” There’s no question that Black slaves suffered ghastly mistreatment at the hands of their overseers, but to label their artistic attempts to weather this dreadful treatment as not an “authentic” culture strikes me as absurd, and to further suggest that all enslaved people suddenly lose the ability to form artistic expressions of value since they possess no agency is doubly so — tell that to the Jews who suffered during their Babylonian exile, the Irish under English rule, or America’s Native tribes. King’s zeal to reclaim New Orleans’s Creole culture as the proper source of the blues demands that he diminish any association the Mississippi Delta, and slavery, might have with the origins of the music, even to the point of denying enslaved African-Americans a legitimate culture.
King’s argument shines brightest when he engages in a scathing evaluation of the wretched and wholesale racism that infected nearly all of American culture of the early 20th century and that subsequently led to the appropriation and recasting of African-American music for a white, mainstream audience. Even the language used to market the music fell victim to this racism. King shows how the development of the words and phrases like “jazz” and “Dixieland jazz” replaced New Orleans “blues” and made it more palatable for the established (read European) culture. King argues, and I think he’s absolutely right here, that what we historically call “jazz” is the sure offspring of late 19th century New Orleans blues, albeit hidden under several layers of racial varnish. As King succinctly contends: “It will offend many jazz musicians and devotees to hear me say that jazz is a misnomer for blues. However, if they follow the contemporaneous primary evidence provided by the pioneers themselves, not the distortions of their critics, they will be forced to accept the truthfulness of my assertion.” Indeed.
This is a rich book dealing in a tricky subject and pushing back against more than a century of musical deception, misleading characterizations and pernicious racism. It’s also timely, coming along as our country grapples with its bitter history of prejudice and racial strife. But it’s also not without its flaws. Its tone is often unnecessarily hostile and the book suffers from some rather indifferent editing, for instance, confusing the word “phycological” (which refers to the study of algae and seaweed) with “psychological.” There are also numerous unfortunate and distracting grammatical and factual errors (e.g., Charlie Musselwhite, who was born in January 1944, is not a baby boomer).
King’s book is ripe with so many provocative ideas and exhaustive history that there’s simply not the time nor space to cover them all here. King has included 13 pages of quite extensive endnotes, and the entire second half of the book is devoted to King’s autobiography along with biographical sketches of various musicians, and these are largely terrific.
Joseph Epstein once remarked that “one of the things that makes the past so wonderful is that it cannot, finally, be recaptured.” The past, including its residue of bigotry and discrimination, hides behind a shroud of allegory and parable, and this is true here. In the end, though, I see the blues as not unlike baseball: each has an undefinable, mythic element, especially so when we begin to investigate their origins, and I’m not sure that mystery is an entirely bad thing.
This is an important book I unreservedly recommend, and anyone who reads it will come away with a better understanding of the complicated history of the blues, or jazz, or whatever we want to call this music. I know I will not listen to the blues again with quite the same ear, and I imagine a fine final gauge for the success of any book is whether is leaves its readers enlightened when they’re finished.
The Blues: The Authentic Narrative of My Music and Culture
Chris Thomas King, Author: Chicago Review Press, 399 pages, with notes. $30.
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In the coming weeks, the CBA Planning Committee will be distributing a needs analysis email to members, venues and performers currently listed in the CBA database. The purpose of this project is to understand how and where the Cascade Blues Association is serving the community well, and where the CBA can make improvements.
This analysis will arrive in the form of a survey. When you receive yours, please set aside a few minutes to complete the survey form and submit it. We want to capture up-to-the-minute community perspectives — otherwise we’re planning in a vacuum.
Every voice counts, The planning committee cannot stress enough how important each member’s viewpoints will be in prioritizing the planning process, so please be thoughtful and sincere in your feedback.
From their first live show at Rivalry’s on Cherry in Macon, Ga., on June 11, 1994, Gov’t Mule peppered their first set list of 13 songs with four tunes by the blues originals from Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, Elmore James and Muddy Waters.
Twenty-seven years later, Gov’t Mule has released 12 studio discs and 10 live discs along with more than 1 million downloads of band recordings of their live shows called “MULETRACKS” through their www.MULE.net website.
Gov’t Mule’s original lineup was a power trio with Warren Haynes on lead guitar and lead vocals, Allen Woody on bass and Matt Abts on drums. On Aug. 26, 2000, Allen Woody passed away and the once side gig to the Allman Brothers Band was in question. Many friends of the band chimed in to talk about loss within their own bands and how somehow finding a way forward was a real possibility.
Touring with short-term stand-in bassists Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), George Porter (The Meters) and Greg Rzab (Otis Rush, Buddy Guy) in the early 2000s gave the band time to figure it out. Gov’t Mule continued to tour under the “New School” nickname with guest bass players and keyboardists until they came back with former Warren Haynes’ band keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson, a Swedish-born-and-raised multi-instrumentalist, producer/mixer and composer in 2008 to form the current lineup.
As with almost any new CD lately, the ‘Rona virus looms large as during the worldwide shutdown, Haynes took the opportunity to keep writing as the band honed their own chops with livestreams, producing and honing their own prowess on the instruments of choice.
In one of the multitude of videos released by the band in anticipation of their Nov. 12, 2021, release of their newest studio CD, “Heavy Load Blues,” Haynes talks about talking with the band and management about how this new “Mule” album was going to come together. It was only three weeks prior to entering the studio that it became obvious that they would make a blues album. No, not three or four blues tunes. No, not most of the album. They would stretch back to their 1994 beginning. They would reach back into their world of musical influences. The answer was obvious: a mid-1950s to mid-1970s-era full album recording of the blues.
The next question was where? According to Haynes, they had to find the right studio where they could set up old-style dirty. They wanted everyone in the same room, no headphones and within earshot of each other. No vocals booth, no Plexiglas around the drums. Every artist would be able to see each other and their inflections. All of the recording equipment in the next room. They wanted to more sonically represent the vibe they were trying to produce for Gov’t Mule’s first blues album.
Power Station New England in Connecticut was selected. The band members set up small vintage gear. Warren admits that most of the equipment was older than he is (born April 6, 1960). Everything was recorded live to analog tape. Warren pulled upon his years of recording experience alongside engineer and co-producer John Paterno.
So the stage was set for recording. In the Gov’t Mule way, this is a studio effort, but with the musicians all being in one room, the takes were not a cut-and-paste hodgepodge as most studio recordings are. The Mule’s element of live music came through as a vast majority of the release has few over-dubs and little technological wizardry. Hard to get that authentic mid-’50s to mid-‘70s bluesman recording sound with millions of dollars of electronic recording equipment and tone normalizers. Listen for yourself. Did their effort work?
“Heavy Load Blues” proper is a single-disc, 13 track (80 minutes of music) recording released Nov. 12, 2021. (There is also a deluxe two-CD set released with an additional eight tracks totaling another 60 minutes of music.). In the lead-up to the release, Gov’t Mule released videos and singles of “Heavy Load Blues,” “Snatch It Back and Hold It” and “Make It Rain.” A Gov’t Mule original, a bluesman Junior Wells cover and a cover of American composing icon Tom Waits gave us an idea of the mix of songs coming at us. These and a steady release of other “Heavy Load Blues” official and Visualizer videos are up on YouTube. Check out the band talking about and showing you how they made these tunes.
On Oct. 29, 2021, Gov’t Mule returned to their old stomping grounds — The Tabernacle in Atlanta — to play the entire “Heavy Load Blues” release in order. The Tabernacle is a decommissioned old church turned house of blues turned top-rate midsized music venue in downtown Atlanta near Centennial Olympic Park.
Most of the tunes run between 4 and 7 minutes with the cover of huge Haynes influence Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)” which clocks in at a little over 9 minutes. OK, so I guess we found something in this disc that doesn’t stick with the recording standards of the mid-‘50s to mid-‘70s. Pop songs usually clock in between 2 minutes 45 seconds to 3 minutes 20 seconds.
Other covers of note include Bobby Blue Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” stretching blues to rhythm and blues to Elmore James’ “Blues Before Sunrise” to Ann Peebles’ “I Feel like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home.” Each rendition feels familiar, while the band members insert their own feelings at the time to show how the tune influenced them.
The original blues tracks were the culmination of years of writing and a COVID-19 lockdown that made fertile ground for the writing process. The Gov’t Mule website has a description that hits the feeling of the originals into perspective.
“Woke up singing a dead man’s song …” is the opening line from the Warren Haynes original “Heavy Load,” a line of imagery that feels like the beginning of dirt. On this album, the iconic American band puts their unique stamp on a collection of blues covers and originals
According to the Nov. 24, 2021, issue of Volatile Weekly, “Heavy Load Blues” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues album chart making it Gov’t Mule’s third album to debut at No. 1. “Heavy Load Blues” also reached No. 1 on the Amazon Best Sellers in Blues chart and No. 2 on the Apple Music Blues Albums chart, No. 3 on the Music Connect Current Rock chart as well as No. 16 in Germany, No. 33 in Switzerland, No. 48 in the UK and top 100 entries in Italy and the Netherlands.
Blues Before Sunrise / Hole In My Soul / Wake Up Dead / Love is a Mean Old World / Snatch It Back and Hold It / Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City / (Brother Bill) Last Clean Shirt / Make It Rain / Heavy Load / Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home / If Heartaches Were Nickels / I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline) / Blue Horizon
Hiding Place / You Know My Love / Street Corner Talking / Have Mercy on the Criminal / Long Distance Call / Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home (extended version) / Need Your Love So Bad (live) / Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (live)
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This was an unprecedented year for the Cascade Blues Association.
Greg Johnson, who had been CBA president since 2002, was diagnosed with cancer in March. He was able to stay on in a limited capacity, until he suffered a stroke in May. His decades of service are not likely to be matched anytime soon. We give him our thanks. If you are able to help with the GoFundMe, click here.
For me, I’m really glad I’m retired … the CBA became almost a full-time job! I was the 2021 elected vice president, interim treasurer for nine months, acting president for 11 months, the lead for the Waterfront Blues Festival flier, the Journey to Memphis Competition and the Mini Muddy Awards. I was also part of the leadership team (along with Terry Currier and Joey Scruggs) for the “Blues for Slim Lively” October benefit for Greg at the Crystal Ballroom, managed the Blues Notes, designed and sent the email blast, was the website liaison, took care of the online store and ran the board meetings.
Some of our accomplishments this year include paying acts to play at our monthly membership meetings (started in August) increased member giveaways for CDs and concert tickets, renewed support for the Good in the Hood online festival, continued partnership with the Cider Festival (virtual this year) increased co-sponsorships and website ad revenue, instituted a “futures” article to assist members in purchasing concert and event tickets before they sell out (big thanks to Mike and Debra Penk for helping with this!), continued liaison with the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival blues night and continued the successful partnership with Artichoke Music, which provided performers with high-quality video on YouTube. We built a partnership with the Lovejoy Rooftop at the Botanist supporting Elevate Unity and put on several successful shows there, again providing paying gigs for local musicians.
Randy Murphy took over as CD review coordinator, new writers Kirk Anderson and Dale Payne and new CD reviewer Anni Piper were added to the Blues Notes contributors, Marie Walters wrote feature articles and provided a much-needed graphic punch to our Facebook Group, Blues Notes, e-blast and events.
For the future … the long-discussed planning committees held their first meetings to identify projects — thank you to Brad Bleidt for leading this. And we rewrote the CBA mission statement — thanks to Randy Murphy for his research and guidance.
For the first time in decades, the membership elected a new president, Anni Piper, and new vice president, Nolan Johnson. Please support them as they learn their new roles!
The entire board thanks our paying members for hanging in there as we navigated our new normal!
https://cascadebluesassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/CBA-Year-in-Review.jpg788940Anni Piperhttps://cascadebluesassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/CBA_Logo_top_main.pngAnni Piper2022-01-01 13:59:532022-01-01 13:59:53CBA 2021 Year in Review by Shelley Garrett