News from The Blues Foundation - September 2021

News from The Blues Foundation
September 2021

International Blues Challenge

We are in countdown mode! After a year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all eager to gather at the 2022 International Blues Challenge (IBC), scheduled for Jan. 18-22 in Memphis. Many of you are preparing for your local blues challenges in order to send your winning band and/or solo/duo artist(s) to the competition.

Keeping the Blues Alive Awards

The Keeping the Blues Alive Awards (KBAs) are always a highlight of the International Blues Competition.  In 2022, the KBAs will be presented on Jan. 21.  KBAs are awarded exclusively to non-performers based strictly on merit and are selected by a panel of blues professionals. Nominations are accepted exclusively from blues societies that are current Blues Foundation affiliates, past KBA recipients and current members of The Blues Foundation Board of Directors. Additional information about eligibility requirements and the nomination process can be found on the Blues Foundation’s website  Please submit your completed KBA nomination and all required documentation to Keisha Moore-Alston at or by mail to The Blues Foundation; 421 S. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103, by 5 p.m. CST on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Blues Affiliate Survey Results

Thanks go to all of you who completed our Blues Affiliate Survey.  While your responses didn’t reveal any real surprises, the information provided will help The Blues Foundation as we develop programs and strategies to respond to your current needs. Based on your feedback we learned:

  • When asked whether their memberships have increased or decreased over the past five years, 46% of responding affiliates indicated that their memberships had decreased, 23% said their memberships remained the same and 15.38% indicated that their memberships had increased. (The remaining respondents had not been in existence for more than five years.)
  • 61.54% of responding affiliates indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their membership numbers.
  • Affiliates ranked supporting local blues artists, building a community of blues fans, and holding their local IBC competition as their top priorities, in that order.
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they would like to discuss strengthening their local blues society at the next Affiliate Roundtable.

Sharing information and networking is always a highlight of the Affiliate Roundtable.  Based on your response to the Blues Affiliate Survey, the 2022 Affiliate Roundtable discussion will focus on successful strategies for strengthening your blues society.  A panel of affiliate representatives will present their best practices for managing membership, succession planning, engaging younger people and other pertinent topics. The Affiliate Roundtable will be held during 2022 IBCs, with the specific dates and other details announced closer to the date.

Resources to Support Local Blues Artists

Many blues societies have prioritized supporting local blues artists as they face hardships resulting from the ongoing pandemic. With venues closed and limited opportunities to present live performances, many artists are facing financial difficulties.  Your blues society can help local artists by sharing information about The Blues Foundation’s COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund.

Since March 2020, The Blues Foundation has distributed nearly $300,000 to help full-time blues musicians address essential needs such as rent/mortgage, phone, utilities and car payments.

You can help them connect with this crucial resource by sharing information about the COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund in your newsletter and encouraging them to contact

Many blues musicians have delayed or foregone their medical needs during the pandemic. The Blues Foundation established the HART Fund (Handy Artists Relief Trust) for blues musicians and their families in financial need due to a broad range of health concerns. Encourage blues musicians in your community to apply by contacting

Board Spotlight - Randy Murphy

Board Spotlight – Randy Murphy

An Oregon native, Randy’s been a fan of blues since his high school years, but his interest piqued in 1982, when he heard Albert Collins playing in a dive in Ashland. Many years later he picked up a copy of BluesNotes at Music Millennium, and that prompted him, in March 2014, to become a member of the CBA. He first volunteered for events during the 2014 Waterfront Festival, and then in January 2015 began to write for and edit BluesNotes. In March 2017 he joined the CBA board of directors. Randy’s paying gig is teaching literature and writing at Clackamas Community College.

The past several years have seen a nearly complete turnover of the board, and amazingly, Randy’s now its longest tenured at-large member. During his time on the board, apart from his work on publishing BluesNotes, he’s helped enroll the CBA in the Nonprofit Association of Oregon and worked to stabilize the CBA’s financial position.

Introducing Kirk Anderson

New Blues Notes Writer

Introducing Kirk Anderson, our new Blues Notes contributor. He’s written two articles this month, one about the upcoming Allman-Betts show at the Roseland and another from an interview with Too Slim for the event at the Alberta Rose Theatre. Kirk also writes for the Washington Blues Society. Thanks to their president, Tony Fredrickson, for the connection!

The cap (in the photo) Lazy Lester gave me about 10 years ago when I was able to talk to Warren Haynes about letting Lester sit in on a couple of tunes at a Gov’t Mule show in Reno.  Lester was so appreciative, even though he’s toured worldwide, he took his cap off of his head and put it over his heart and thanked me and said I’d like for you to have this.

More about Kirk

Three years ago, I moved from Atlanta to Seattle for a new direction in life. I found that the PNW had many music fans that were like me. We have our favorite bands and musicians in the blues, but we also understand how important our local blues music scenes are to our communities. We want to know the influences of the musicians we see on stage. We want to support the scene that supports our love.

He says this about Allman-Betts …

I was a tour manager for the Oakley Krieger Band whose musicians were Berry Duane Oakley, Waylon Krieger, Duane Betts and Alec Puro. As a regular writer and columnist for internationally distributed “Hittin’ the Note” magazine, I had the chance to cover the original talents of Devon Allman, Duane Betts and Berry Duane Oakley as they worked through their individual projects. The Allman Betts Band is a logical progression in their musical growth where this band of adults has serious recording and touring backing as they present a professional concert.

Kirk wasn’t aware of Too Slim until we asked him to interview him to support the show at the Alberta Rose. “I really wasn’t aware of Too Slim despite how many albums he’s put out and how much I really enjoy his music.” And Kirk knows Mike with Delaney Guitars who crafted the special Too Slim guitar. Great connection there!

CBA President Greg Johnson - September 2021 update

CBA President Greg Johnson
September 2021 update

In case you aren’t following on Facebook, here are the latest updates on how Greg is doing …


From Greg’s wife Cherie:


We are waiting for long-term disability to be approved from Greg’s employer & accepted into RIO at Good Samaritan. RIO has a special program for stroke patients & best opportunities for therapy! We are meeting with a surgeon Wednesday for consultation & in future will remove tumor.

Friends do your part in helping our community by getting vaccinated. & please send prayers for this to all go through ok.

We are grateful for everyone’s continued support and kindness.

Thank you for all who contributed to GoFundMe & continue to help us, greatly appreciated in these times.

Save the date: Oct. 17 “Blues for Slim Lively,” Crystal Ballroom or tickets can be purchased at Music Millennium


Today Greg Slim Lively Johnson returns to St. Vincent’s hospital for an MRI. Next week on the 25th (our anniversary) we meet with his surgeon for consultation about surgery for removal of tumor. No date set for surgery.

Andy, Greg’s physical therapist, doesn’t want Greg to get off track with all the progress he is making physically. Andy OK’d another FOUR weeks at Marquis, which has to still pass through insurance. Yesterday Andy also gave hopeful news that Greg would be eligible now for RIO at Good Samaritan. He hadn’t been strong enough till now.. At RIO ALL they do is work with stroke patients & have heard amazing things about their facility. It would be fantastic if Greg got in!!

Greg has been introduced by P.T to a temporary AFS (leg brace) which has helped tremendously & will be fitted for his own & knee brace. With ‘assistance’ Greg is walking in hallway short distances. Working on balance, strength & endurance. Imagine having to learn how to walk again…. working with occupational & speech therapy. The speech has a long way to go & will take a long time to recover if it fully comes back at all.

So glad I found a ground level apartment that I will be moving us into weekend of September 10th. Thank you, Geoffrey Reece, for helping me with movers. With all our stairs I couldn’t possibly be doing it on own for move out. To know Greg could come home gives me hope! What I am also working on is getting an ADA vehicle, so we don’t have to rely on transports which is NOT covered by insurance & they are a hundred dollars each time you use one. It would be fantastic if I could drive us around instead.

Want to thank everyone for your continued prayers, support, kindness shown. This last year has been the hardest time of our lives & you all have made it so much better by LIFTING US UP!!

Please join us on Sunday, Oct. 17, for this important…and FUN…benefit. (COVID statement below)

COVID Policy-updated 8.20.21


The Crystal Ballroom is committed to protecting the health and well-being of music fans, artists, and industry staff. In light of the recent upswing of COVID cases, beginning immediately, all ticket holders to shows at the Crystal Ballroom or Lola’s Room must meet one of these conditions:

1) Be at least two weeks past receiving their second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Vaccination card or photo of vaccine card on phone must be provided along with photo ID.


2) Show proof of a negative PCR COVID test within 48 hours preceding the show, along with photo ID.

All ticket holders must wear face masks at all times except when eating or drinking.

Ticket holders who do not wish to follow these protocols may request refunds at point of purchase no later than August 30, 2021.

Member Spotlight - Marie Walters Board Secretary

Member Spotlight:
Board Secretary Marie Walters

Marie was asked to join the board as Secretary in June of 2019 and was elected to the board to serve in 2020 and 2021. She comes from a background steeped in both music and community service, having worked in non-profits and government throughout her career.

Besides doing all the usual ‘Secretary of the Board’ type things like keeping Minutes, setting up meetings, sending out notices and distributing agendas, she also monitors the CBA voicemail, contributes to the Blues Notes, is one of the administrators for the Facebook Group and the CBA Facebook Page.

She took advantage of last year’s downtime to develop additional web-based skills including graphic design, non-profit management, marketing for social media, and UX design. You can see evidence of these skills in fresh graphic contributions in the Blues Notes, Facebook and the member newsletter.

Like many of our board members, Marie has also been involved in several projects and committees for the CBA, including the Performance Venue Project that partnered with Portland Parks on their Free Lunch & Play Program. She set up the GoFundMe that raised funds to allow us to provide 21 musicians with some income during the most extreme Covid restrictions last summer. She also took on most of the work of scheduling the many musicians within an ever-changing framework dictated by Portland Parks and Covid restrictions.

One of the first things she did as a board member was to introduce Roberts Rules of Order to the Board meetings. This has been a huge benefit, making our meetings more productive.

Marie is a longtime champion of diversity and social equality. Having worked within the BIPOC community in her homeland, she was involved in bringing about diverse representation and gender equity to each of the boards and committees she was part of. She brings the same energy and enthusiasm with her to this organization.

Aside from her very active role in the Cascade Blues Association, she occupies her time with fostering and transporting rescue animals. Although she hasn’t done it lately, Marie has been known to intentionally drive over cliffs, paddle through walls of water, and ‘live with the locals’ in far off places.

Most recently Marie was a beginning student of social blues dancing until classes ended abruptly last spring. When you see Marie at any live music event, chances are she’ll be on the dance floor. And if you have patience, and maybe steel-toed dance shoes, she’d love to practice social dancing with other blues dancers.

CBA President Greg Johnson diagnosed with cancer

Greg “Slim Lively” Johnson CBA President
health update July 1 2021

On May 27, Greg “Slim Lively” suffered a severe, massive stroke. This, as you can imagine, has caused catastrophic repercussions in addition to Greg’s planned lengthy cancer treatments.

Since then, Greg has been moved to Marquis Vermont Hills, where he will be doing hard rehabilitation to recover.

All his cancer treatments have been postponed.

Greg will have to do HARD physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy, and most likely won’t be coming home for months. His doctors have said it’s going to take a long time for recovery.

Although there are many unknowns ahead, Greg and his wife Cherie have felt the enormous love of their community, and that has helped sustain them. They are truly grateful. ♥️

June 22, 2021 update by Cherie Johnson

“If you want to get the best out of a man, you must look for the best that is in him.”
– Bernard Haldane

So stinking proud of Greg “Slim Lively” Johnson and ALL the work he is doing in recovering from stroke. It IS A SLOW process but each effort and sign of progress seen means the world to me & Greg. Having to relearn things that we might take for granted. It’s going to be a long journey with lots of rehabilitation just to walk again. Greg is trying so hard to talk & communicate & honestly been a struggle, but one clear word is NO! Greg knows what he doesn’t want.
It is one step at a time, no couple could possibly be prepared for something like this happening & trying to be in a place of acceptance & accountability & we can grow from our experience & recovery with stroke & cancer diagnosis.

“Team Slim Lively”… Thank you to friends who were the first visitors in seeing Greg this last weekend at the rehabilitation center. Saw a difference in Greg’s spirit from seeing friends and yes accepting requests for future visits. ***There is a protocol with visiting that needs to be followed and a sign-up sheet which will need to be respected. Just send me a private message for now please with requests for visiting. *** Thank you for all the continued support and prayers and keeping Greg and I in your thoughts. Thank you, Tracy Turner Pain, for leading up the GoFundMe and being the lead for making a “Get Well” video for Greg:

Ways you can support Greg

*Donate to the GoFundMe

*Attend the Mill Barn Blues Festival Benefit on July 17 (see the article in PDX blues event drop down) or go to:

*Buy a T-shirt! (designed by Cherie’s brother, Steve Garvin)

at Shirts are $25 + shipping. They are printed on demand, so allow 14-21 days. Thanks to webmaster buko for building the site to sell these and to Dontae Mathis at for printing them!

*Save the date for a blowout benefit at the Crystal Ballroom, Oct. 17

*The event team leads so far are Terry Currier, Joey Scruggs (talent), Shelley Garrett (event coordination), Angie deRouchie (silent auction) Debby Espinor (publicity and promotion) and Laura Osborn, (hospitality)…more to come soon!


Greg Johnson Health Update

Greg Johnson Health Update

As you may know, Greg Johnson had a stroke right after completing his first chemo treatment the last week of May. Greg will be in the hospital at Providence St. Vincent in Portland, then be transferred to a care facility before starting a rehabilitation program.  After the rehab is complete, Greg will be reevaluated for the restart of his cancer treatment.

This is devastating news for his wife Cherie, his family and friends, the CBA and of course the greater Pacific NW Blues Community.

If you are in a position to help financially, please donate to the Go Fund Me

*Save the date for the first music fundraiser planned for Saturday July 17th, at the Mulino Blues Festival.

Sunday wilde’s - Peace in Trouble

Sunday wilde’s Peace in Trouble, A West Coast Collaboration

By Marie Walters & Sunday wilde

Last month saw the launch of Sunday wilde’s ninth album, Peace in Trouble, featuring guest Harpdog Brown. And launch it most certainly did – to worldwide acclaim, hitting blues and roots charts across Canada, the U.S., the UK and Europe at or very near the top. Within weeks of its release, it hit a succession of #1’s: Song and Album (Canada), Acoustic Blues Album, Acoustic Blues Song, and #7 Blues Album worldwide, #4 Blues Song Worldwide, as well as hitting #2 on Amazon’s Traditional Blues best seller list (just behind Nina Simone).

If you haven’t heard of Sunday wilde, you can check out her contributions to blues music. No stranger to the IBC’s in Memphis: three of her past albums have received nominations for Best Self-Produced, and last year she competed as a duo as well as Best Self Produced album. Nominated to the Independent Music Awards and International Songwriting Competition (where she also received an honourable mention) and won many awards for Best Female Blues, Best Acoustic Blues, Best Blues Song … you get the idea!

This album strips back blues music to its acoustic bones, just Sunday singing at her piano in her living room, with bass and other acoustic instruments adding full flavour. No drums. No guitars. Aside from Willie Dixon’s Home To Momma, Sunday wrote all the songs: tales of love, trouble, peace, worry, men, advice and friendships. A first listen to this CD catapults the listener to an old-time honkytonk juke joint where everyone lets loose with wild abandon and sticky liquor stains the floor.

But this is about to much more than the music, and this isn’t really a CD review (there are terrifically detailed reviews out there already, like this one from American Blues Scene or this from The Alternate Root). Peace in Trouble has been all about collaboration and reaching out in ways that may not have been apparent or possible prior to a worldwide pandemic forcing us to approach things differently.

Despite the singer-songwriter-producer residing in northern Ontario, there is significant Pacific Northwest connection to the music on this album, beginning with Vancouver B.C.’s harp player Harpdog Brown, who is featured on five of the eleven tracks and even inspired one of the songs. But Sunday didn’t tell him that one of the songs was inspired by (and about) him until after they’d already recorded it because, as she puts it, “I’ve written lots of songs about many different men. Some men do NOT like it, it makes them feel weird or something.” Luckily Harpdog was cool about it.

She finished writing One Day We Will after Covid shut downs cut short Harpdog’s tour outside Toronto and he ended up crashing at her place both on his way there and back. Speaking about his take on the song, he tells of late nights “sharing stories and brown liquor, I somehow inspired her to write the song.” Sunday laughs as she explains the song is about a woman, her, “or any woman, hoping there’s gonna be a man that comes along that’s brave enough to hang out with them.” It takes a big bold personality to fit so comfortably with an equally big bold personality, and with pandemic lockdowns slowing down the pace of life, they would finally get their opportunity to work together on a project.

Then, while Sunday was putting finishing touches on the album this winter, Harpdog suggested she reach out to Seattle-based visual artist and blues musician Joel Astley to see if he was interested in doing some album art. Joel was excited to work with Sunday to create something unique. They teamed up to present a world premiere listening party of her new music aired on Facebook Live. People watched as Joel designed and painted the album cover art over the course of a few weeks, culminating in a special virtual event in January when audience members heard the brand new album for the first time through the art studio speakers on Joel’s live stream show while he painted his design. You can see snippets of the special event on Sunday’s YouTube channel. Joel has created a following for his visual art by broadcasting every Sunday evening from his art studio, and he is also known regionally for his work as an award winning singer, songwriter and harmonica player for the High Note Group (which incidentally has been nominated in EIGHT categories in the Washington State Blues Awards! Watch it on April 18th) The finished cover art is also available as a t-shirt via Joel’s Etsy shop.

Sprinkling in just a touch more West Coast collaboration with a Portland shout-out, Fraser Valley Blues Society President Cora Price (in British Columbia) and CBA Secretary Marie Walters were able to contribute some really cool animations to add visual oomph to Sunday’s Spotify channel. You can find more information on her website at and purchase her music via Bandcamp, Apple, Amazon.