Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys

Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys

Every July means the Waterfront Blues Festival, and that means on the fourth the Cascade Blues Association holds its finals for the Journey to Memphis competition. This year found three bands competing for the title and the right to represent the CBA and the region in Memphis next January at the International Blues Challenge: Nikki Jones Band, Fenix Rising, and Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys. With top-notch performances, a little switch in set times to allow everyone the opportunity to fully participate (thanks to all the acts for doing this), and multiple delays for starts, the end result found Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys as the ultimate winners.

A huge thank you to our three celebrity judges for this year’s finals: Tony Coleman, Marina Crouse and Monti Amundson, and also to our team of Marlena Maseterson as time keeper, Cherie Johnson as score keeper, and Shelley Garrett as judges assistant.

Now it’s time to help Johnny Wheels, our solo/duo entry Louis Creed & The Geezer and our youth showcase act Generation Headstrong raise funds to help them get to Memphis. Congratulations all!

2021 Best Self-Produced CD Competition

2020 Best Self-Produced CD CompetitionSince 2005, The Blues Foundation has annually held a competition to recognize excellence in independent blues recordings. The Best Self-Produced CD competition is open to affiliated blues societies from around the world to submit one entry each, preferably selected by a regional competition. The Cascade Blues Association has taken part in this event since its inception and submitted the overall winner chosen in 2011 — Joe McMurrian’s Get Inside This House.

The CBA is now accepting submissions for this year’s competition. All are welcome to enter with the exception of artists who have been nominated for or received a Blues Music Award, or recordings on labels that have been nominated or received a Blues Music Award. No compilation discs, and only artists from Oregon, Washington or Idaho will be accepted. Only CDs released after November 1, 2018 are eligible.

Entries will be judged on Blues Content, Musical Performance, Audio Quality and Production Value of the Recording, Professionalism and Visual Appearance of Cover Art and Design, and Credits and Liner Note Information.

All entries for the CBA must be received no later than the October 2 membership meeting at The East Portland Eagles Lodge. Entries can be mailed to: BSPCD c/o Cascade Blues Association, PO Box 6566, Portland, Oregon 97228 or can be delivered in person at the August, September or October general membership meetings.

Thank You To Holiday Party Volunteers

Thank You VolunteersHuge thanks to the following 2019 WBF CBA Merchandise Booth volunteers!

Kurt Marion, Pat Oshea, Dan and Robbie Naser-Josue, Coila Ash, Terry Nolan, Gary Frogge, Sandie Wilkins, Cheryl Crosley, Rawleigh Pate, Bryan Olson, Jack and Karen Hamil, Robert Freeman, Shelly Hallsted, Sue Wagner, Don Geren, Karen Munson, Ken Shultz, Jim and Priscilla Miller, Taizz and Dave Medalia,

Aesha and Dave Drozdowski, Sandie Wilkins, Bryan Olson, Bobby Kovacich, Jody Gunn, Barry Gordon, Jinx Kuehn, Kathy Kiwala, and Nancy Ferry

And to your Board of Directors Members:


Randy Murphy: for moving merchandise from our vendor to storage, and being there every morning to get the booth up and running.

Brad Bleidt: for staying late after the fest and loading up your SUV, then meeting me at storage on Monday to unload.

Kimberly Allmaras, Ron Johnson, Katie Allard, Marie Walters

And even more thanks!

Jon Pierce: for using his truck to move everything from the storage unit to the park

Belinda Clark: scheduling volunteers, fixture shopping, an +8 hour set up day, filled in on booth shifts (and kept me sane)

Jeanette Aglipay: scheduling volunteers, filled in on booth shifts

Richard LaChapelle: leading the volunteers sign up committee

It takes a city not just a village!  THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!

Membership Meeting Cancelled

The summer is in full swing and the Cascade Blues Association has been present at a number of happenings all over the city this year. One spot that you can always count on us being at is our own monthly membership meetings, where you’re certain to be entertained by some of the finest blues artists in the region. Whether well-known musicians or new acts about to break out, we’re here to introduce, or re-introduce, this talent to you. This month however, we do not need to introduce anyone as our two acts have made their names highly regarded in our home town and well beyond.

August’s General Membership Meeting 2019 Mary FlowerOpening the night will be one of the world’s finest acoustic guitar players. Mary Flower has toured the world and brings smiles to all who listen to her exquisite playing and witness her charming stage personality. Mary Flower’s immense finger picking guitar and lap-slide prowess is soulful and meter-perfect, a deft blend of inventive, dexterous, and mesmerizing artistry. Her supple honey-and-whiskey voice provides the perfect melodic accompaniment to each song’s story, and her precise and well-crafted material.

Originally scheduled to perform for us last February, Mary was forced to cancel due to illness, but it works out all the better to have her play for us now as she has recently dropped her latest recording, Livin’ With The Blues Again, on the Little Village Foundation label. The album is filled with new material that will become instant favorites alongside her deep catalog of brilliant musicianship that have long been praised by fans and critics alike.

The second set of the night will be in the hands of popular harmonica playing bandleader Franco & The Stingers. August’s General Membership Meeting 2019 franco PallettaSince breaking into the Portland blues scene in the mid-80s, Paletta has become one of the mainstays of the city’s blues community. His dynamic harp style, strong vocals and outstanding songwriting reflect his personality and make him instantly recognizable on stage.

There have been many variations of The Stingers over the years, and the band has twice represented the Cascade Blues Association at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. The current line-up may be the best yet, with Tom Gilberts’ exceptional guitar work and the dynamic rhythm section held down by drummer Chandler Bowerman and bassist Timmer Blakely. This powerful set is likely to light the East Portland Eagles Lodge on fire and bring the roof down — in a good way of course. Be prepared to party!

The East Portland Eagles Lodge, 4904 SE Hawthorne St. Wednesday, August 7. 7:00 pm. Members are always Free,  non-members $5.00. All ages welcome.

CBA Sponsors Two Speical Artists

CBA Sponsors Two Speical Artists


The Cascade Blues Association is proud to sponsor the appearances of Shemekia CBA Sponsors Two Speical ArtistsCopeland and Vanessa Collier at this year’s Waterfront Blues Festival. Funds for this were made possible from a generous donation to the CBA from the William Schauer Estate.

Membership Meeting Cancelled

What a terrific turn-out we had for our initial General Membership Meeting at The Eagles last month — so many people we have not seen for a long time and many first timers, too. Bringing music back to inner South East Portland looks like it will be a very good thing indeed for all. Well, when you have great crowds, then you definitely need to bring in some great music to entertain them as well. And we’re planning on doing just that every month.

General Membership Meeting - James clemSo, for June we’re bringing back a long-time friend who hasn’t played for us in some time. James Clem is a master of not only blues guitar, but he is one of the finest ukulele players that you can find anywhere, and in 2015 Clem released an acclaimed uke-based CD, Sugar Moon. The instrument has skyrocketed worldwide the last few years and James has performed at ukulele festivals in the US and Europe. Every fall he does a four-week tour in Europe with blues gigs to a very loyal following. Be prepared to hear both uke and guitar music during his set, as he will also be presenting new material from his forthcoming blues CD, titled Stuff You Gotta Watch, set for a June 15 release date.

General Membership Meeting - Dan HessThe second set of the night will bring another friend who has not performed for the CBA in way too long a time period, the Dan Hess Band. Primarily a blues and R&B outfit, they have a variety of older and newer blues material that is highly recognizable and extremely danceable. A very professional and tight band, that along with Dan on guitar features Fenix Sanders on sax, Juliet Teriill on bass, and Chandler Bowerman on drums. This is a sensational outfit that plays regularly around the Portland area and it’s ready to transform our meeting into a party.

General Membership Meeting at East Portland Eagles Lodge, 4904 SW Hawthorne Blvd. Wednesday, June 5, 7:00 pm. Free for members, $5.00 non-members. All ages welcome.

Journey To Memphis Competition 2021

2019 Journey To MemphisOn May 10 and 11, the Cascade Blues Association hosted its first round of Journey To Memphis contestants vying to travel to Memphis to participate in the International Blues Challenge. Sixteen acts played twenty minutes each before three judges who scored the acts on their blues content, vocals, instrumentation, originality, and stage presence. The top two scoring acts from each night move on to the finals at the Waterfront Blues Festival. This year’s top scoring acts were Fenix Rising, Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys, Nikki Jones Band, and Louis Creed & The Geezer. Being the only solo/duo act scoring high enough, Louis Creed & The Geezer will automatically be our entry in Memphis in that category, and as the only under-age act in our competition this year, Generation Headstrong will also be headed to Memphis for the Youth Showcase.

Make your plans to attend the finals on July 4, on the Front Porch Stage at the Waterfront Blues Festival to start out the day. Come cheer on your favorites and see who will also be going to Memphis. Congratulations and good luck to all. And thank you to all of the participants as you brought a splendid two nights of entertainment.

Thanks also to all of our volunteers; our judges for this round of Journey To Memphis Mark Young, Mark Bittler and Tom Wendt; Coach, Jay & Mike from JBL Sound, and The East Portland Eagles Lodge. None of this could’ve happened without you all.

Blues In The Gorge Workshops

Blues In The Gorge Workshops

Immerse yourself in a long weekend of classes and jams with four world class blues players and teachers. During your stay, take up to 12 classes, enjoy exceptional meals, and in your free time explore the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. We limit enrollment in order to keep Blues in the Gorge Workshops an intimate and unforgettable experience.

Artistic Director and instructor Mary Flower is renowned for her personal vision of roots music that blends ragtime, acoustic blues and folk. She is technically dazzling yet grounded in the simplicity of early 20th century American music; her instrumental skill with the Piedmont blues guitar is at a level of mastery that takes most players a lifetime to hone.

This year’s instructors will be Guy Davis, Albaine Falletta, Rich Moore and Mary Flower.

All levels of players are welcome and there will be jumpstart classes available each day for people who are just getting started with the blues.  To get the most out of Blues in the Gorge, participants should know all first position chords (majors, minors, and sevenths) and have some finger picking experience.

Registration now open at Co-sponsored by the Cascade Blues Association

Blues In The Gorge Workshops at Menucha Retreat, 38711 East Historic Columbia River Highway, Corbett, OR. September 25 – 29.

2019 Waterfront Blues Festival

By Don Campbell

2019 Waterfront Blues FestivalBy all accounts, last year’s Waterfront Blues Festival was a smash – another beautiful Fourth of July weekend run along the Willamette River. What many don’t know is the underlying turmoil that nearly closed the gates for good. Festival ownership changes, management shakeups, and new sponsors and beneficiaries – all late in the game – put the fest on the brink.

It took some muscle, grit, huge leaps of faith, motivated new partners, and a little luck, but the 2018 edition came off without a hitch. With a fest led by a strong roster of national, regional and local talent that included not only the traditional side of the blues, but some new acts who are fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the genre and bringing something new to the party, few can dispute the event’s success last year.

2019 Waterfront Blues FestivalAnd that includes what lies and continues to live in the fest’s DNA – a strong sense of community. New beneficiary, the Sunshine Division, continued the event’s long lineage of letting music help those in need.

The good news is the 2019 version, set for July 4-7 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, is on firm footing and firing on all cylinders. Even as operating costs skyrocket and shifting demographics continue to alter the music landscape in general, the fest’s heartbeat is strong and, per its long history, remains rooted in and deeply committed to the music.

A full slate of passes and ticket options are available to get you through the gates again this year (visit for complete information) but don’t dawdle – they sell out fast.

2019 Waterfront Blues FestivalFest-goers can take in the full experience, with two main (and alternating) stages, the Front Porch and Crossroads stages, the Louisiana Pavilion, after-hours shows and cruises, blues-swing and Zydeco dance lessons, Fourth of July fireworks, a full complement of food, beverages and fest merchandise, and more. Even the canned food drive is back, with all proceeds going to the Sunshine Division.

Unlike other major festivals, the backbone of the WBF has always been a strong inclusion of top-flight local and regional acts, many of whom have built strong careers here and gone on to greater heights. This year is no exception.

Familiar names include Alligator Records artist Curtis Salgado, Portland’s own MarchFourth marching band, guitarist and producer Terry Robb, former Portlander and now Nashville resident Big Monti Amundson, the mighty Andy Stokes (who recently landed on the Billboard charts), Arietta Ward (daughter of the late, legendary Janice Scroggins) debuting with her own band, Farnell Newton and his Othership Connection James Brown tribute show, soul and worldbeat vocalist Lilla, acclaimed guitarist and vocalist Mary Flower, saxman and New Orleans expat Reggie Houston, the young and talented Samuel E-M (Eisen-Meyer) and his boundary-pushing band Joyful Noise, the legendary Ural Thomas, the mesmerizing Saeeda Wright (Prince’s former backup vocalist) debuting her own project, Washington’s Tim “Too Slim” Langford and his Tail Draggers, Seattle’s Birch Pereira and the Gin Joints, LaRhonda & the Steele Family Band, Ty Curtis and Karen Lovely.

There’s no dearth of major-league talent either. Native son Robert Cray and his band return after a long absence and will help fuel the four-day run along with the explosive Trombone Shorty (who played his first big Northwest gig at WBF in 2010) and his band Orleans Avenue, New Orleans royalty Cyril Neville, Shemekia Copeland (who nabbed two BMA awards recently for Album and Contemporary Blues Album), the hard-working Karl Denson and his funky Tiny Universe, the rowdy St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the well-traveled California Honeydrops, and blues-rockers Vintage Trouble.

And don’t miss the sizzling guitar work of Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, who also got a big break at WBF in 2015 when Buddy Guy called the youngster on stage for his headlining set, a spectacular guitar duel that led to Guy’s producing the new Kingfish recording, just released on Alligator.

For the purists, don’t miss vocalist Sugaray Rayford (a recent BMA winner for Soul Blues Male Artist), newcomer to the fest Delta guitarist and vocalist Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, Bakersfield’s own Brother Yusef, Canada’s Harpdog Brown and his Uptown Blues Band, the fiery Arkansas born-and bred guitarist and showman Lucious Spiller, and singer, saxophonist and guitarist Vanessa Collier (also a recent BMA winner for Instrumentalist-Horn).

If you’re looking for something fresh, try Hawaii’s Ron Artist II & the Truth, and the pure African influence of Mali’s Songhoy Blues, led by Oumar and Aliou Toure.

Fans of TV’s “The Voice” can catch newcomer Sarah Grace and her band the Soul. She packs a big soulful punch in a pint-sized package, and is a triple threat on vocals, trumpet and the mighty Hammond B3. She may surprise you.

Zydeco and Cajun lovers are in for another solid flight of the rollicking party music. Chubby Carrier makes a return to the fest with his Bayou Swamp Band. Check out Louisiana’s Feufollet, Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble, Wayne Singleton and the Same Ol’ 2-Step, and Lil Pookie and the Zydeco Sensations.

This is just a taste. The list goes on, from the Brazilian beat of Bloco Alegria to the traditional blues of Dan Nash, and from the West Coast sounds of Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, Terry Hanck and Roy Rogers with Carlos Reyes, to the gospel goodness of the Sons of Soul Revivers and the NW Women in R&B Tribute to Sister Rosetta  Tharpe.

It’s a bountiful four days. Get some rest and remember to hydrate.


Waterfront Blues Festival Cancelled

Volunteers Needed for the Waterfront Blues FestivalIt’s again time to volunteer for this year’s Waterfront Blues Festival, July 4-7. Many of you volunteer year after year, and we appreciate your dedication to the CBA and the festival. If you’d like to join us again this year, they’re plenty of opportunities. Here are a few:

CBA Merchandise Booth

Committee Members: Richard LaChapell (lead) Belinda Clark, and Jeanette Aglipay.

The committee members will offer sign up sheets at various CBA functions, beginning with the April Membership Meeting at the Mission Theater.


Merry Larsen and Terry Odor manage and organize backstage volunteers. They too will have sign up sheets available beginning with the April Membership Meeting at the Mission Theater.

You may also contact these committee members through the contact form below. Be sure to write in the subject line the name of the volunteer position, either merchandise booth or backstage, which interests you.

Waterfront Blues Festival (gate entry, etc.)

Sign up at


CBA Volunteer signup

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