Thank You To Holiday Party Volunteers

Thank You VolunteersOften the Cascade Blues Association holds events where we need extra hand on deck, and we greatly appreciated when our volunteers step forward to help us out. Thanks to the following individuals for their assistance for our Journey To Memphis competition in mid-May:

Working as judges for the event:Alan Spinrad, Chuk Barber and Jenny Jacobs.

Helping with the door, merchandise table and stage break-down: Bert Pagett, Cherie Robbins, Jon Pierce, and Richard LaChapelle

2021 Journey To Memphis Postponed

The 2018 Cascade Blues Association Journey To Memphis competition will take place at Mekong Bistro, 8200 NE Siskiyou Street, Portland over the weekend of Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20. Fifteen acts will face off for the right to represent the Cascade Blues Association and the region at The International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN in early 2019. Past CBA acts have fared well in Memphis including Karen Lovely, Ty Curtis, and Rae Gordon each taking home prizes from the finals.

Each act will play 20 minute sets before a group of judges scoring them on blues content, vocals, instrumentation, originality, and stage presence. The top two scoring acts from each day will move onto the finals to held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4 where the overall winner will be determined.

The Journey To Memphis is open to all ages. Admission is $10.00 each day, and those proceeds will be awarded as prize money to help defray some of the cost of traveling to Memphis.

The schedule for this year’s opening round is:

Saturday, May 19:
12:00 -Blue Owens Band
12:35 – David Pinsky
1:10 – Dan Lowe & Skeletal Remains
1:45 – Ben Rice
2:20 – Arrogant Bastards
2:55 -Riven
3:30 -The New Iberians

Sunday, May 20:
1:00 -Fenix Project
1:35 -Rae Gordon & Kivett Bednar
2:10 -Justus Reece
2:45 -Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys
3:20 -Al & The Bluetones
3:55 – The Lightning Kings
4:30 – The MojoBlasters
5:05 – Mick Schafer Band

2021 Journey To Memphis Postponed

2018 Journey To Memphis Dates SetThe first round of the 2018 Journey To Memphis competition will be held on Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 at Mekong Bistro, 8200 NE Siskiyou Street in Portland. The CBA will hold the event earlier this year to avoid conflict with Rose Festival events and holiday commitments on the weekends of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Also, this year’s competition will take place during the afternoon to allow acts to keep already scheduled evening gigs.

This event will determine The Cascade Blues Association’s representative for the International Blues Challenge in early 2019. The highest rated acts from this event will compete in the finals during this summer’s Waterfront Blues Festival.

Applications to compete in the Journey To Memphis must be turned in no later than the April Cascade Blues Association Membership Meeting on Wednesday, April 4. If sent by mail, the application must be postmarked prior to April 4.

Blues acts from Oregon and Washington who have not been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards are eligible; this applies to all members of bands who may have been nominated – no exceptions. Application fee is $25.00 and all money will go toward prize money for winning acts. You must submit a short intent to compete letter, a band bio, any performer under 21 must be noted, a photo at least 300 dpi, and a sample of your music (full length songs or CDs as we try to set time for radio promotion if possible). Application packets can be turned in on hard copy (paper), disc, or USB thumb-drive.

Set lengths will be determined depending on number of acts submitting applications and set times will be drawn at random.

Due to state-required building updates and improvements, The Garages will be closed until further notice — thus the reason behind the change of venue for the Journey to Memphis competition.

2021 Journey To Memphis Postponed

2018 Journey To Memphis Dates SetThe 2018 Journey To Memphis first round will be held on Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 at The Garages Music & Event Center, 4800 SW Western Avenue in Beaverton. We will be holding the event earlier this year to avoid conflict with Rose Festival events and holiday commitments the weekends of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Also, this  year’s competition will take place in the afternoon allowing acts to keep gigs that they may have already scheduled for the evening hours.

This event is to determine who will represent the Cascade Blues Association at the International Blues Challenge in early 2019. Highest scores from this event will determine who will compete in the finals to be held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4.

Applications to compete in the Journey To Memphis must be turned in no later than the April Cascade Blues Association Membership Meeting on Wednesday, April 4. If sending them by mail, they must be postmarked prior to the April 4 date.

Blues acts from Oregon and Washington who have not been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards are eligible; this applies to all members of bands who may have been nominated – no exceptions. Application fee is $25.00 – all money to go toward prize money for winning acts. You must submit a short intent to compete letter, a band bio, any performer under 21 must be noted, a photo at least 300 dpi, and a sample of your music (full length songs or CDs as we try to set time for radio promotion if possible). Application packets can be turned in on hard copy (paper), disc or USB thumb-drive.

Set lengths will be determined depending on number of acts submitting applications. Set times to be drawn at random.

2021 Journey To Memphis Postponed

The Journey To Memphis is the Cascade Blues Association’s regional competition to select the acts that will represent our organization and region in 2019’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Up to 250 acts from around the world converge on Beale Street to perform before the music industry searching for new talent, with the chance to win recognition and prizes that include major festival performances and more. But the only way an act may participate is to win a regional competition held by one of The Blues Foundation’s affiliated societies like the Cascade Blues Association.

The Journey To Memphis competition consists of two rounds. The opening round will be held this year in mid-May at a venue to be determined.  The event may take place over more than one night depending on the number of acts wishing to compete. Acts are scored by a trio of judges selected for their backgrounds and knowledge of the blues. The highest scoring acts from each night of competition (up to four acts) will advance to the finals held at the Waterfront Blues Festival on July 4th.

Applications to participate in the competition will be accepted from now until Wednesday, April 4 at the Cascade Blues Association membership meeting. No late applications will be accepted. All acts that meet our criteria as described below will be eligible to compete. The performance schedule for the competition is drawn at random.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Entry fee is $25.00
  • Each act must have at least one person in the band who is a member of the Cascade Blues Association.
  • Only acts located within the region of Oregon, or Washington are allowed to enter the Journey To Memphis.
  • Any act or member of an act that has been nominated for or received a Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation are ineligible to compete. No exceptions.
  • Any act that has competed in the International Blues Challenge two consecutive years, regardless whether with the same society or as a solo/duo or band act, must sit out a year before being allowed to compete again. Acts can only participate three times in Memphis (acts competing previous to 2017 will be grandfathered and may compete three times starting from 2017).
  • Along with your $25.00 application fee, send an up-to-date band bio including names of all members, a 300 dpi photo of the band, full song samples of the band’s music (this may be used on a radio broadcast to promote the event), and we need to be made aware of any band member who may be under 21 years of age at the time of the competition so the venue is aware ahead of time for Oregon or Washington Liquor Commission laws.
  • We require that any act that moves forward in the competition must use the same band members that they won the rounds with. In other words, if you won with a certain bass player or drummer at the Waterfront Blues Festival, that bassist and drummer must be in your band to compete in Memphis. Exceptions will made in rare circumstances when not under control of the act, such as health issues.
  • We do not prevent acts competing with the Cascade Blues Association from doing so with other societies. All that we ask is that if you win another group’s competition before ours is held, or if you win ours before theirs, please remove yourself from further competitions to allow other acts the chance to win the right to go to Memphis.
Journey To Memphis All-Stars

Here is a great opportunity to help support our local acts representing the Cascade Blues Association at the 2018 International Blues Challenge. Travelling to Memphis is not inexpensive and every cent counts to assist in getting our musicians to Tennessee. All three will join forces for one night on December 1 at the Trails End Saloon, with each playing a full set of music, and your $10.00 admission divvied up to support them all.

Opening the night will be the Youth Showcase representatives Timothy James and the Portland Blues Revival, starting at 7:00 pm. All under 21 years of age, they are a cohesive and talented conglomeration of musicians giving you a good feeling of what the future of Portland’s blues scene has to offer for the future.

At 8:15, our Solo/Duo entry, Julie Amici, will hold court on the stage. Partnered with long-time Portland bassist Dean Mueller (The Insomniacs, Duffy Bishop Band), vocalist Julie Amici brings forth the sultry, savvy style of blues made popular by artists like Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. This two-time Muddy Award nominated duo will take you back to the intimate sounds of a smoky jazz lounge of the 1950s.

Two-time Journey to Memphis champions Sister Mercy will take the stage at 9:45. With a reformed band this past year, they are hotter than ever with the hypnotically powerful voice of April Brown leading the charge. Nominated this year for the Muddy Award for Contemporary Blues Act, the band has been featured at multiple festivals and venues consistently.

The Trails End Saloon is located at 1320 Main Street in downtown Oregon City. Reservations are highly recommended. It’s gonna be rockin’ when these three acts come together. Come out and support our artists make their way to Beale Street! They might even have a Christmas song or two included during the night.

Journey To Memphis All-Stars

Portland, OR
July 4, 2017

The Cascade Blues Association Journey to Memphis final competition was held on the final day of this year’s Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. The finals started early, so it meant an early trip to the waterfront. This year the festival was five days, so you really had to pace yourself. This was my second time watching the competition and I knew to get in the coffee line early; there was only one coffee seller at the festival. The competition was held at the Oregonian Front Porch stage, which had a dance floor.

The Cascade Blues Association helps send three acts to Memphis to participate in the International Blues Challenge in January: one youth act, one solo/duo act and one band. This year the youth act and highest scoring solo/duo acts were selected during the first round of competition held earlier. The final four bands competed for the band spot. A panel of music industry professionals judges the bands. Scores are based on blues content, vocals, instrument talent, originality and stage presence.  The acts are timed and each band only gets 25 minutes.  Going over the allotted time lowers the band’s score.

Here are the four bands:

Randy Morrison Band: two guitars, bass and drums.

Randy brought great original lyrics. He got out attention when he told us about how he “got bit by my dog”. Laura, the bass player, did traditional style blues about leading a horse to water and she really brought the attitude to deliver the message. The band then brought out a jump blues “You Deserve Better” with a two-part harmony guitar solo. To me this was Randy telling his own blues man story, and he really sold it. The set ended with the upbeat “Blues Don’t Bother Me”, which brought out the dancers.

Gabriel Cox Band: two guitars, dobro, keys, harp, percussion, bass, drums

The band opened with an acapella number. Gabriel did his tribute to the wolf with “I’m No Wolf but I’m Howlin”. He nailed the Chicago walk. Gabriel brought a riser to stand on and boost his stage presence. All of the songs were originals. The “Downtown Blues” featured a shaker percussion part with multiple members playing shakers on stage.  Gabriel sang us one of his stories about “Being Late to My Favorite Show”. This rocker brought out the dancers. The true highlight of this set was a duet with Gabriel and Miranda the dobro player. Miranda has a fantastic voice. Gabriel had an inspirational message to the kids in the audience and shared advice he was given as a child: always believe in yourself. The band closed the set with another very believable “I’m Gone, Now Get Out” which featured a harp solo.

Sister Mercy: Guitar, keys, bass, drums, vocalist

Sister Mercy competed here and won two years ago, and represented the Cascade Blues  Association at the International Blues Challenge in 2016. They were semi-finalists but did not win a top spot. The band has changed a bit, but still features vocalist April Brown. The set opened with “Death Came Knockin” in gospel style. April was truly in her element, and the crowd loved it. The band then went to a slow blues with plenty of catfish. April told us the back story for the next song about the Doris Payne, a famous jewel thief. This was great use of a contemporary topic, which is a cornerstone of blues writing. If you didn’t know, the Frankie and Johnnie blues standard was based on a newspaper story. The breakdown in this song featured an extended jazz guitar solo. The band then went into a song about being alone. The band ended the set with a cover of “Tell Mama” with some great high kick dancing and a drum solo.

Lightning Kings- Horn section, keys, guitar, bass, two vocalists

I have to say that the Kings were brave to bring a ten-piece band to play a 25 minute set. They pulled it off beautifully. The group opened with an instrumental, the only one in the competition with an energetic beat.  The “Pirate of the Willamette” slowed the set down and got greasy. “Love You Like the Fourth of July” featured a rocking guitar solo. The horn section was very strong through the whole set, the harmonies were great and the horns traded licks on the solos. The band’s set featured a couple of slow songs, back to back. Right or wrong, this usually empties the dance floor. The set ended with a dance number that brought the dancers back. All in all it was a great set, especially the horns.

After the final act played, the judges tallied the scores. You could see the musicians trying to calculate their own scores. Though the judges were pretty quick, about 5-10 minutes, it must have seemed like an eternity.

Once again Sister Mercy carried the day! As we say in East Memphis: Mazel Tov! (congratulations). The band will be off to Memphis in January representing the Cascade Blues Association for a second try at the win. If you love festivals, do check out the International Blues Challenge. It is a wonderful opportunity to see hundreds of acts. It is not crowded and reasonably priced. And of course, it is in Memphis. If you can’t make it to Memphis, please watch for CBA events to help the band, youth act and solo/duo act raise funds for the trip.

Where ever the highway takes you, I hope to see you at one of the events very soon.

Until next time, keep it all blue!

Jeff Levine

Journey To Memphis All-Stars

Eleven acts took part in the opening round of the Cascade Blues Association’s 2017 Journey To Memphis competition to determine who will represent us at the International Blues Challenge next January. Over two night at the Vinyl Tap, each act performed before three judges and were scored on blues content, vocal & instrumental talent, originality, and stage presence. All performers gave terrific 30-minute sets and the top two acts from each night are moving on to the finals that will take place on July 4, beginning at 11:30 am on The Oregonian Front Porch Stage at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

The eleven acts who took part were: David Pinsky, Gabriel Cox Band,  Holfar Blue, Jason “JT” Thomas, Julie Amici, Lightning Kings, Louis Creed & The Geezer, Randy Morrison Band, Rogue Rage Duo, Timothy James & The Portland Blues Revival, and Sister Mercy. Moving on to the Waterfront Blues Festival will be Randy Morrison Band (11:30), Gabriel Cox band (12:10), Sister Mercy (12:50) and The Lightning Kings (1:30). Each act will perform 25 minute sets at the festival before three new judges.

Note: Because the four finalists were all bands, the highest scoring solo/duo act will be given the right to represent the CBA in Memphis, Julie Amici. Timothy James & The Portland Blues Revival were the only under-21 band who competed, so they will take part in the Youth Showcase at the International Blues Challenge.

A huge thanks goes out to the judges who helped us during the opening round of the Journey To Memphis. This is perhaps the toughest job outside of competing, as these judges have to look at each act individually and score them without comparing them to the others. Thank you Bart Day, Chuk Barber, Rich Layton, Richard Martin, Tom Goicoechea, and Vyasa Dodson.

Thanks also goes out to Eric Johnson and Paul Hogland for working the sound for both nights. And especially to the Vinyl Tap and their staff for providing a venue where we could hold our event this year!

Journey To Memphis All-Stars

The 2017 Journey To Memphis competition to determine who will represent the Cascade Blues Association in Memphis, Tennessee next January begins the first weekend in June. Hosted by The Vinyl Tap, 2099 SE Oak Grove Blvd, the CBA will have eleven contestants taking part this year for the opening round, with the top two scoring acts from each night advancing to the Waterfront Blues Festival on Tuesday, July 4 to choose the overall winner.

Admission for each night is $10.00, and the proceeds from the door goes to help defray traveling expenses for the acts going to Memphis, therefore the only free admission either evening is for the musicians performing that night. All guests, wives, husbands, kids, roadies, pets, etc. must pay admission to help out.

Friday night, June 2 will have five acts compete, starting at 8:30 pm. Sets are half-an-hour each with ten minute set changes. All acts will play through the same equipment and will be scored by three judges on blues content, vocal talent, instrument talent, originality, and overall performance.

Saturday night, June 3, will begin at 8:00 pm with six acts scheduled. All of the acts were drawn at random for their set times.

Schedules for each night are as follows:

Friday, June 2
8:30 – Holfar Blue
9:10 – Rogue Rage Duo
9:50 – Sister Mercy
10:30 – Jason “J.T.” Thomas
11:10 – Gabriel Cox

Saturday, June 3:
8:00 – Timothy James & The Portland Blues Revue
8:40 – David Pinsky
9:20 – Louis Creed & The Geezer
10:00 – Julie Amici Duo
10:40 – Lightning Kings
11:20 – Randy Morrison Band

Journey To Memphis All-Stars

Since 1999, the Cascade Blues Association has sent local acts to represent our organization and region in The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge. Over the years, our competition, the Journey To Memphis, has selected a terrific collection of some of our top talent, including several who have made the finals such as Junkyard Jane, Blind Rhino and Ben Rice & The iLLamtics, and even those who’ve taken home some of the top prizes, Ty Curtis Band – 2nd place 2009, Karen Lovely – 2nd place 2010, and most recently Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers – 3rd place 2017.

This year’s field of contestants seeking to reach their place competing in Memphis will come together for the first round at the Vinyl Tap, 2099 SE Oak Grove Blvd, on Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3. Set times for the acts were drawn at random and five will perform starting at 8:30 pm on Friday and the other six beginning at 8:00 pm Saturday. Set times will be 30 minutes long and they will be scored by a trio of judges on blues content, originality, vocals, instrument talent, and stage presence. The two highest scoring acts from each night will advance to the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival for the finals to be held on the Front Porch Stage, Tuesday, July 4.

The acts for this year’s Journey To Memphis are: David Pinsky, Gabriel Cox, Holfar Blue, Jason “JT” Thomas, Julie Amici Duo, Lightning Kings, Louis Creed & The Geezer, Randy Morrison’s Party Bus, Rogue Rage Duo, and The Timothy James Band.

Admission for each night is $10.00, which will be used for the prize money awarded to the winning acts to help defray some of their traveling expenses to Memphis. Winning acts will also be awarded a set at the following year’s Waterfront Blues Festival, and Rae Gordon has once again scheduled a Blues Cruise on the Portland Spirit that will include the winners to assist in raising funds for the trip for the IBC, too.