Ramblings - January 2022 By Anni Piper

Ramblings – January 2022

By Anni Piper

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.

Board Update - September 2021

Board Update – September 2021

By Shelley Garrett

You may have noticed that this column has slowly been changing into something new.

Many people have told us that they don’t really know what the CBA is doing. With 10 active members currently on the board, there is a lot going on and in the planning stages.  Communicating these projects and initiatives is important for the organization. It may also serve to highlight areas that may interest new volunteers and future board members.

Each month we will introduce you to another person serving on the board. So far this year, we have highlighted Mike Todd, Membership Director, Marie Walters, General Secretary, and this month read about Randy Murphy, our longest-tenured member. Each person brings unique skills and perspectives. If you’ve missed reading about anyone, all the past articles can be found on the website.

We are also happy to welcome a new writer for Blue Notes, Kirk Anderson. Please read his short bio in the features section, and the articles on Allman-Betts and Too Slim that he wrote for their upcoming shows.

The board is committed to following all COVID protocols for any event we are involved in.

The membership meeting/concert this month with Tevis Hodge Jr. will be the last one at Artichoke Music. The CBA thanks Bob Howard for reaching out to us last year — this has been a great partnership! Each act that has performed there has a professional video from their performance posted to YouTube and sent to them the day after their show … funded by you, the CBA membership. In October we move to the Spare Room, with a new start time at 6:30 p.m.

We are getting close to the 2021 Journey to Memphis competition on 9/11 at Artichoke Music. A limited amount of tickets are being sold — see the article by Marie Walters for details.

Upcoming events that the CBA is cosponsoring in September are Allman-Betts 9/9 at the Roseland Theater, then Duffy Bishop Band 9/24, and Too Slim and the Taildraggers/Tevis Hodge Jr. 9/29, both at the Alberta Rose Theatre. Members can read the e-blast for the special code to get $2 off admission, either online or at the door. We have tickets to give away for Duffy and Too Slim, either at the show, or via instructions in the September email blast. In the first of a series, Blues Nights at the Lovejoy Rooftop (at the Botanist), join us on 9/24 for the Beacon St. Titans.

Save the date for the “Mini Muddys” Wednesday 11/3, at the Lovejoy Rooftop at the Botanist.  The committee identified and the board approved 10 categories (including some new ones) that we believe make sense.  The awards will include the months that would have been eligible for the 2020 awards. Members will begin voting in mid-September.

Remember, Sunday, Oct. 17 — Blues for Slim Lively, a benefit for CBA President Greg Johnson at the Crystal. Get tickets here or at Music Millennium.

Plans for the Holiday Party are in full swing, (committee members Robert Evans, Anni Piper and Jeanette Aglipay). We will again be at the Moose Lodge 16411 NE Halsey, with music by Billy D and the Hoodoos, Nikki Jones, Fenix Rising and Los Demon Drivers. This is the only fundraiser we do for ourselves. Please let Jeanette or any board member know if you have anything to donate for the silent auction/raffle.


Other projects in the works (leads noted):

Mission Statement Update — Randy Murphy

Planning and Diversity — Brad Bleidt

Blues in the Schools — Robert Evans

Scholarships — Randy Murphy

Lovejoy Rooftop at the Botanist/Elevate Unity Collaboration — Brad Bleidt and Marie Walters

Membership Growth — Mike Todd

Officer Elections

It’s not too soon to think about running for a CBA office. All elected positions (President, Vice-President, Membership Director, General Secretary, Treasurer) are up for re-election. Job profiles can be found here. Intent to run and a short bio are due to Brad Bleidt at cascadebluesstaff@gmail.com by Sunday 11/14 at 11:59 p.m. We will publish the remainder of the deadlines next month. We still have room for additional at-large board positions. If any of the initiatives above pique your interest, please join us in guiding the future of the CBA.

Stay safe … be well … music is a healer.

Ramblings on My Mind August 2021

Ramblings on My Mind August 2021

by Shelley Garrett CBA VP

News and Upcoming Events

“Blues for Slim Lively, a Benefit for Greg Johnson”

Save the date: Oct. 17 at the Crystal Ballroom. Tickets go on sale Aug. 1 through the Crystal Ballroom website. Angie DeRouchie, who is leading the auction/raffle team says, “We need auction and raffle items!” Use the contact form at pdxbandmerch.com if you have items or services to donate. You can also buy “Team Slim Lively” T-shirts there! Another use of the contact form is to volunteer. The lineup will be announced the first week of August.

Aug. 4 Membership Meeting

The August Membership Meeting with Johnny Burgin and Joel Astley at Artichoke Music (2007 SE Powell) will have limited in-person seating as well as being live streamed. The doors open for CBA members at 6:15 p.m.  If space allows, the public can attend for $5, starting at 6:45 p.m. The bar will be open, but there is no food available, so plan ahead. Music is from 7-8 p.m.

2021 Journey To Memphis

This year’s competition will be on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 11th at Artichoke Music.  See more details in the separate announcement.

“Mini Muddy Awards”

Save the date for Wednesday, Nov. 3. We will have an event, but it will look a bit different this year. We’ve suspended some categories and added a few to reflect the shutdown months. Details coming soon.

CBA Holiday Party

(The team is Robert Evans, Jeanette Aglipay, Anni Piper)

Save the date for Sunday, Dec. 12, Moose Lodge, (16411 NE Halsey St.) Auction and raffle items needed for this CBA fundraiser.

The Blues Blast Music Awards voting is open until Aug. 6.

Have you voted yet? (You may only vote once!)

Be sure to vote for your favorite blues artists and music at:


Congratulations to NW musicians Lisa Mann, Harvey Brindell, Curtis Salgado and Lady A, who have been nominated.

Independent Blues Music Awards

Lloyd Jones “I’m thrilled to be nominated for the Independent Blues Music Awards in the categories of Best Modern Roots CD and Best Contemporary Blues Song: “Chicken Bones”!

The voting will continue until August 31 2021. https://www.makingascene.org/independent-blues-awards-2021-vote-now/

I’d be honored for your support for this special recording some of you helped make possible, and the band that brought such joy & funkstivity.”

New home for our Monthly Membership Concert (and meeting)

Starting Oct. 6, we will be at the Spare Room (4830 NE 42nd Ave.) It fits all but one of the criteria we identified while we were searching.

New start time is 6:30 p.m., doors open at 5:45.

The criteria identified by the board as we searched

  • Portland city limits
  • Free to us
  • Decent parking
  • Dance floor
  • Capacity of 100
  • Avoid north Portland due to traffic
  • Licensed for under 21 until 9 p.m. This is the only item not covered at the Spare Room yet. We are working with them to get this approved.

Another new item approved by the board is that we will be paying acts to play our meetings — $100 per member, up to $400 for a band. We are very pleased to add this to our support of local musicians.

Johnny Wheels Show at the Botanist-recap

A huge thank-you to Secretary Marie Walters, who was the event leader and to the volunteers, Brad Bleidt, Ron Johnson, Evelyn Silverman, Anni Piper, Immo and Jeanette Aglipay. And a special thank-you to members like George Stevenson, who bought tickets even though he couldn’t attend.

Calendar Coordinator Change

Another huge thank-you to at-large member Robert Evans, who will be taking over the calendar duties. You should still input your own shows at https://cascadebluesassociation.org/event-calendar/ If you have questions for Robert, or need help, use this email address: cascadebluescalendar@gmail.com

How to get involved

If you are considering running for an elected position for the 2022 service year, now would be a good time to join the board as an at-large member.  All are welcome to apply. We have room for five more!

Do you want to help, but don’t want to commit to a full-on board position?  Committee members are needed for the Christopher Mesi Scholarship, Blues in the Schools and the Musicians Relief Fund.

Blues Notes Contributors

Special thanks to Dave Kahl, who put together moving tributes for Carlton Jackson and Tim Shaughnessy

*Note the Celebration of Life for Carlton Sunday, Aug. 22, IS CANCELLED DUE TO COVID CONCERNS.

Thanks also to Ed Neumann, Joe McCarthy and Scott White for honoring Johnny Moore, and to John Taylor for writing the article from their remembrances. Use the RIP dropdown on the website to read their tributes.

Thank YOU, CBA members. You have been so supportive as we navigate the new reality without Greg’s involvement. The personal messages mean a lot.

Your hardworking CBA board is Marie Walters-General Secretary, Mike Todd-Membership Director, Mike Day-Treasurer.

At-large directors, Randy Murphy, Brad Bleidt, Ron Johnson, Robert Evans, Jeanette Aglipay, Anni Piper.

Thanks, also to our amazing webmaster Buko, and John Taylor, who in addition to reviewing CD’s and proofing Blues Notes entries, this month jumped in to write!

Ramblings on My Mind August 2021

Ramblings on my Mind July 2021

by Shelley Garrett CBA Vice President

July and the rest of the year are going to be BUSY!

CBA members are sponsoring two acts at the 2021 Upriver Waterfront Blues Festival — Johnny Rawls, noon and 6 p.m.  July 4, and the Tony Coleman 3 Kings Tribute, noon and 6 p.m.  July 5.

You can listen to the afternoon shows on KBOO 90.7 FM or kboo.com and watch the evening livestream at waterfrontbluesfest.com.

Since the 2021 version of the Waterfront Blues Festival does not allow for the CBA to have an onsite booth, we got creative. The board brainstormed ideas for content. The next step was to involve Cory Burden at Cedar House Media for ideas and cost estimates.

A conference call with Christina Fuller brought new information … that the Oregonian A&E would not be providing a special section like they have in the past. So, what started out as an eight-page flier to pass out at the gate to keep the CBA in mind (and sign up new and returning members) grew to 20 pages. Big thanks to the advertisers who stepped up to help fund this: Music Millennium, Portland Music Company, Ben Rice, Peninsula Rhythm & Blues Festival, Norman Sylvester Band, Ragtime PDX and Dano’s Dogs. And a huge thank you to Cory for donating the expert layout and editing time for Michael Wong (who is a saint … as we added pages and advertising, there were many changes. THANK YOU!)

Watch for our new YouTube channel coming soon. The first interview with Norman Sylvester is two hours long. (Thank you, Norman, for that time!) A small excerpt of that interview is printed in the festival flier. Great stories, Portland Blues history and Norman’s thoughts about the future of blues in PDX.

Reminder to musicians, the deadline for the CBA Journey to Memphis Competition is July 19. The event is Sept 11, currently planned to be held at Artichoke Music (virtual).

Since the 2021 Waterfront Blues Festival~Upriver couldn’t give them the traditional spot for winning the Journey to Memphis Competition to go to the IBC in 2020, the CBA is sponsoring a show with Johnny Wheels & the Swamp Donkeys on July 21 at the Botanist House. Members, check your newsletter for a code to buy discounted tickets.

A new feature starting this month is a listing of key upcoming events, including those where tickets are on sale now and could sell out closer to the show. Use the PDX Blues event tab on the website. Thanks to member Catherine Jolley for adding to this!

The board is in the early planning stages for a “Mini Muddy” event in November, in-person membership meetings, long-term strategic planning, Blues in the Schools, Christopher Mesi Scholarship, officer elections in November and the December Holiday Party. Let us know if you are interested in helping!

Welcome two new at-large board members, Anni Piper and Jeanette Aglipay. Our member newsletter will have more information on these great additions!

Be sure to read the health update and ways to support CBA President Greg “Slim Lively” Johnson.

Thank you to all our CBA members for helping to keep the Blues Alive!

Ramblings on My Mind August 2021

Ramblings on My Mind June 2021

by Shelley Garrett, CBA VP

Hello, everyone!

There’s a lot of news to share this month as summer heats up!

The 2021 version of the Waterfront Blues Festival “Upriver,” July 2-5, has been announced, and tickets are on sale to the general public as of June 1. It’s a very diverse lineup that has me excited to find new bands and collaborations to love as well as revisiting some old favorites. Be sure to get the most updated information here: http://www.waterfrontbluesfest.com/

With COVID restrictions and space restraints, the CBA may not be able to have a merchandise booth this year. We normally have the BluesNotes to hand out, but we no longer have the funds to do a print version. Plan B: We are hoping to have a special edition of a Festival Flyer to let everyone know about the CBA and the local blues community. In the past, this event has garnered our highest membership signups, so we will be including a reminder for people to sign up! Once we have firmed things up, we will probably be looking for advertisers and sponsorships. Watch our Facebook group for updates.

CBA members are sponsoring two acts this year:

Johnny Rawls is a soul-blues legend. In fact, the term “soul blues” was invented to describe his music. With a career spanning more than 50 years, he’s done it all. He’s an internationally recognized recording artist, music producer and songwriter who tours extensively throughout North America and overseas.

The Blues Music Awards, Blues Blast Awards, Living Blues Critics Poll Awards and the W. C. Handy Awards have all acknowledged Johnny with multiple awards and nominations, including Soul Blues Album of the Year and Soul Blues Artist of the Year. Johnny is honored to be mentioned on two markers along the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Hosting Johnny for this return WBF engagement will be a cadre of Rose City all-stars, several of whom backed Rawls previously not only at Waterfront in 2019 but also on gigs in the Mississippi Delta: Ben Rice, guitar; Dave Fleschner, keys; Dave Melyan, drums; Lisa Mann, bass; and Devin Phillips, sax. Hear Johnny at http://www.waterfrontbluesfest.com/2021-additional-artists/johnnyrawls/

Tony Coleman’s Three Kings Portland-based Tony Coleman is one of the most revered blues drummers in the world today. During his illustrious career, he has toured the world with Otis Clay, Bobby Blue Bland, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Albert Collins, Etta James, Freddie King, James Cotton, Katie Webster, Z.Z. Hill, O.V. Wright, Buddy Guy, and BB King, with whom he performed and recorded for 29 years until BB’s death in 2015.

Joining Coleman on this tribute is an impressive lineup of the region’s blues all-stars. Contributing Three Kings-inspired guitar work will be Mike Osborn (longtime guitarist with John Lee Hooker), Peter Dammann (Paul deLay, Linda Hornbuckle, Solomon Burke)and Franck ‘Paris Slim’ Goldwasser (Charlie Musselwhite, Percy Mayfield, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin). For Goldwasser, who lived and performed in the Portland area for several years before relocating a few years ago to California, this will be a final U.S. appearance before moving back to Germany.

Louis Pain is featured on organ (Paul deLay, Mel Brown, Linda Hornbuckle), and John Mazzocco on bass (John Lee Hooker, Paul deLay, Curtis Salgado). Leading the tight horn section is British expatriate saxophonist, Chris Mercer, who in addition to his work with John Mayall, Billy Ocean, Bryan Ferry and Dr. John, toured with Freddie King and recorded on some of the Texas guitarist’s seminal hits of the 1970s.

Members, please check your June email blast for an opportunity to win a “seating pod!”

We WILL hold the Journey to Memphis competition this year. Members should look for a special email the first week of June with all of the details — and please note: there are changes!

Please welcome Robert Evans to the CBA Board of Directors as an at-large member.  Read about Robert in the announcement from Secretary Marie Walters in the member email blast.

The Virtual BMAs (Blues Music Awards) will be live streamed in June. Marie has all of the details on how to buy tickets. Check this out in the “features” section.

Save these dates—these are all planned to be in-person events! See the calendar for lineups!

July 16th Blues Night at the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival

July 17th Mulino Blues Festival-Benefit for Greg Johnson

August 27-28th Peninsula Rhythm & Blues Festival

There is a real possibility of having in-person meetings soon!

We are always looking for more volunteers to help with the Blues Notes, especially if you can do at least one CD review a month.

A reminder that CBA President Greg Johnson will have a long road to recovery both from cancer, and now from a severe stroke. If you are able to help, the GoFundMe link is https://gofund.me/19a001b2

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind – May 2021

Greg Johnson, President, Cascade Blues Association

The end of March truly saw a drastic change in my life. Going into Urgent Care due to a blockage in my bowels, it was discovered that I have cancer.

The next few days and weeks were fast-paced with surgery, a hospital stay and multiple appointments and scans that have left me quite exhausted. It hasn’t left me much energy that I normally have to follow up with what is happening in our music community or to even check up on social media. And if it weren’t for my loving wife Cherie, I would be completely lost. It hasn’t been easy for her as I am on a medical leave of absence and with her needing to be my full-time caretaker, she has had to drop down to part time work. There is still a long path ahead before we reach the end of this, but we will get back to our normal routines eventually. I do have faith in that.

Family and friends have been quite supportive. Especially those in our immediate music community. A huge thanks to Tracy Turner-Pain for working with Cherie to set up the GoFundMe page that has seen an overwhelming amount of generous donations to help us make ends meet during this time of medical expenses. When I consider that everybody has been in a pandemic for more than a year and many of you making these donations have not seen a lot of income yourselves due to lack of work, it does more than just warm my heart, it leaves me speechless and all that Cherie and myself can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

It hasn’t just been through GoFundMe, as a lot of support has come in many forms. Michael & Laura Osborn watched over our dog while I was hospitalized with Cherie staying by my side the entire time. Roger & Debby Espinor and Ken & Angie DeRouchie instigated a meal train that ended up being gift cards for grocery stores and food delivery services, with the exception of a couple delicious homemade dinners dropped off by Tie-Dye Terry. A grant from MUSICARES that’ll help us with our rent for a few months. A driveway concert was held at the home of Louis and Tracy Turner-Pain featuring Michael Osborn & Friends (Louis Pain, John Moore, AC Porter with special drop-in guest Lloyd Jones), and several musicians have taken their online streamed shows to help push our cause and posting our GoFundMe information (Lisa Mann, Steve Kerin, Lloyd Jones and Duffy Bishop to name only a handful).

Music from Terry Currier and a book from Mark Shark have helped pass the time. Multiple offers to help out if we need anything have been greatly appreciated, as have friends Catherine Jolley, Debra Penk, Laura Osborn and Angie DeRouchie, who have helped Cherie escape for personal outings to keep her from going stir crazy while caring for me daily. All of this means so much and we love all of you for it.

Thank you to the support of the Cascade Blues Association Board of Directors for allowing me to slowly work my way back. I am trying to do a little more every day. A huge thanks to Shelley Garrett, who not only has been taking on her role as vice president and filling in the vacant spot of treasurer, but has been handling my responsibilities, too.

On a much more positive note, live music is heading back. The Waterfront will return this July, though with a much more COVID-aware process. Cherie and myself may not be able to attend too much this summer, as much as we would like, since treatments will be continuing. We hope everybody gets out and enjoys live music as much as you can, but please remember the hardships the musicians and venues have gone through this past year. Pay the covers, tip the bands, buy food and beverages from the venues. It’ll help the recovery so much more. And wear your masks; it’ll help bring the end of this event quicker and open the doors to more than limited numbers.

This truly is a “rambling” this month. But I wanted to keep everyone up to speed on my condition. I cannot stress enough just how much of a difference each and every one of you have impacted our lives and again to say THANK YOU and we LOVE YOU. Hopefully we will see one another soon.

Ramblings on My Mind August 2021

Ramblings On My Mind

by Shelley Garrett, Vice-President Cascade Blues Association


As many of you know, the reason I’m writing this article is that CBA President Greg Johnson has been diagnosed with cancer.  While not much is known yet about treatment options or potential surgery, it’s a given that both Greg & Cherie, the CBA board and the blues community at large is devastated.

Many people are working to identify the help and support they need. Tracy Pain has started a Go Fund Me https://gofund.me/e47b1aac, Debby Espinor and Angie deRouchie have organized a meal train https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/9wvrkv… and Terry Currier, Joey Scruggs and myself are beginning very preliminary plans for a benefit in the Fall.

We wish Greg all the best in this fight and we will be happy when he returns to full strength.  But rest assured, the CBA Board is strong and we will continue the work of the organization so Greg can put all of his strength into fighting this!

Normally at this time of the year, we would be in full swing planning the Journey to Memphis competition.  The Board has decided to move this important event to later in the year with the hopes that venues will be open.  We have discussed a contingency plan for a live stream event if needed…more to come!

We are also applying to partner with Portland Parks again this year to provide music for their programs from our member musicians.  We are also hoping to hold the Muddy Awards too, but it’s just too soon to make that decision.

The Board is so thankful for all of the support from our members.  I personally have noticed that more people are asking how they can GIVE to the blues community as CBA members, and fewer looking at a CBA membership as “what do I GET.” I guess this year has taught all of us a lot.

We have a couple of members only drawings this month, see the related article for how you can win.

Be well, Shelley

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind

Greg Johnson, President Cascade Blues Association

With the access to vaccinations for some of our community, and more coming down the road to the rest of us, we may be starting to see the recess of the strains of Covid. There is still a ways to go as of yet and we’re still not at the point where we can open our monthly meetings to the general public yet due to access restrictions on numbers who can be in attendance. But there are a handful of venues that have begun to open their doors once again to live entertainment in limited formats. This is something  definitely worth smiling about. Let’s hope that things continue in a positive direction.

What this means for festivals and events down the road is still a question up in the air, too. Looking at some, they have dates already set, but are keeping things like lineups a bit quiet for now. Understandable, have to play these things safely in the era of Covid and not jump the gun just yet.

The Blues Foundation has set dates for the 2022 International Blues Challenge and that’s nearly a year away. But it still leaves us in limbo on how to approach doing competitions to select an entry. At this point it is also a wait-and-see as we need to be able to house enough people for the musicians, sound, staff, judges, volunteers and attendees. In order for us to raise funds to help send our representatives to Memphis we absolutely need to be able to do this. It is something we want to happen as the Journey to Memphis has become one of our signature events and one we highly anticipate holding every year. But it is also a great deal of work putting this together, so we don’t want to go through the effort only to be placed in a position where the overall event is postponed once again. But that’s still a ways down the road yet.

As for now, let’s hope that we do not go through another crazy period of wintry weather bringing us to a standstill again. It’s bad enough being limited by Covid, to get shut in by weather is a double whammy. Thank God again for streaming live music. Whether local musicians or internationally-recognized artists to big time simulcast raising funds for good causes like The Hart Fund, they’re all worth taking the time to tune in and to throw a little tip or donation their way, too. After all, with the closed status of so many of our favorite venues, the musicians and venues still need to pay their bills, too.

And don’t forget about the Cascade Blues Association’s collaboration with Artichoke Music every month. We are working at bringing you some friendly faces that you may have not seen since everything went crazy a year ago. This month will be a lot of fun with Karen Lovely & Ben Rice. Sorry we can’t invite you to see them in person at the venue, but bring them into your home via the Internet on Facebook or later on Artichoke’s YouTube channel. Again, please tip the artists – and if you wouldn’t mind the Cascade Blues Association and Artichoke Music can use a little love, too.

Got any ideas how the Cascade Blues Association may be able to help our musicians and venues further? Let us know, but please remember we’re all volunteers and have limited resources ourselves while we are trying to stay in business, too. But we have open minds and would like to have you give us your suggestions and help if you could.

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind

Greg Johnson, President, Cascade Blues Association

I know that it is an ongoing theme and a bit on the dire side, but couldn’t this pandemic just go away once and for all? We sit and wait to be able to go out regularly and see live music. Hell, we just really want to go out and see our friends, too. It seemed a little easier before winter came along. There were a number of places that were offering outdoor stages with socially distanced seating (though it has to be said that distancing kind of went out the window in a lot of places I visited when it came to dancing). But now that the weather has gotten on the colder side of things, most of those spots have kind of thrown in the towel at least until things get a little warmer. But we have gotta hand it to those who continue to give us a place to go (for those who are willing to go out publicly), like the Blue Diamond who’ve adapted their limited outdoor seating with walls and heaters. Thanks for offering such an outlet.

It certainly could be worse. All we have to do is look across the river to Washington. Not only has indoor dining been prohibited during the current COVID conditions, but all live entertainment is also currently not allowed statewide until further notice. (One local exception is the Line & Lure Restaurant at the Ilani Casino in Ridgefield)

I have said it before and it bears repeating, thank God for live streaming performances. To those musicians who take the time to do regular broadcast shows on Facebook and other social media outlets, be it weekly, monthly or sometimes even daily, a huge thank you to you all. At least we have this as an outlet to see our favorite artists locally and from around the world.

The Cascade Blues Association joined this mix a few months back, with a monthly live streamed event from the stage at Artichoke Music. It has been an interesting and intriguing project so far that only gets better. Last month we had to postpone the broadcast a week following the insurrection in Washington, D.C., on our initial date. It was a smart move to change it as the musicians are playing for your tips and we knew nobody would be focused on anything else that date to tune into our show. The following week we were broadcasting live, but found out during the show that it wasn’t coming across on Facebook. For some strange reason the show had connected to a different Facebook event that had been scheduled for another date and was coming across live there; though nobody knew it was happening. Just one of those strange glitches that occur with live broadcast over the internet nowadays. Thankfully Mitch Kashmar and Terry Robb took it with a smile and understood the situation. At least we have been recording the shows and they’re available on Artichoke Music’s YouTube page, complete with all the information for donating your tips to the artists included. (Check out all of the CBA monthly shows to date there.) We will continue hosting these events each month, so keep an eye open on the CBA website and both our and Artichoke’s Facebook pages for the live feed dates.

It is always sad to see or hear of one of our local musicians passing, and we regret to have to inform you of the loss of Calvin Eagon. He could often be found at various venues throughout the Portland area and along the coast playing harmonica and guitar. It had been suggested by his family that gifts in his memory be made to the Cascade Blues Association. Thank you for these thoughts and to those who have made such donations.

On another note, watch for new releases coming out and check out recent ones, too. This month’s CD reviews include local artists Harvey Brindell and Ed Neumann (both mixed and/or recorded at Jimi Bott’s Roseleaf Recordings). Plus Alligator Records will be releasing the brand-new Curtis Salgado disc in February and you know that one is going to knock it out of the park. You can’t stop musicians from making music; even if it means making their new albums from long distance sharing mixes online with each other. Go over to Music Millennium or your nearest record outlet and pick up some new music. Always guaranteed to make your day.

We’re going to get through this and once we do, it’ll be time to celebrate. Eat, drink and be merry with good times and good music once again. That day will come sooner than we realize. We can certainly hope.

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind – 2020 in Review and What Lies Ahead 

Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President 

Reflecting back on 2020, we have witnessed without doubt the single toughest year we have ever faced as an organization. COVID-19 shut down so many of our events and saw musicians and venues around the world suffer along with every other business out there. 

We took extreme hits, including the first time in 32 years there were no Muddy Awards, no Holiday Party and the BluesNotes that’d been in print nearly since the inception of the CBA had to be suspended from its print form, moving to a monthly email blast and content posted on our website. One of our signature events, the Journey to Memphis also had to be put on hold after 20 years as The Blues Foundation was forced to cancel the event in 2021 —  which also meant no Best Self Produced CD competition for the year either. 

Our monthly membership meetings also had to be placed on a back-burner as the state shut down venues and limited gathering sizes. When it all clears up, rest assured that we plan on resuming these meetings, but we will be looking for a new location as The Eagles have permanently closed the Hawthorne location where we met. 

The Waterfront Blues Festival was canceled this past summer, as were most festivals. This hurt us deeply as it is the one event of the year where we bring in our highest number of new members and renewals, not to mention our biggest income due to merchandise sales. It is also highly anticipated by our members, who make up a great deal of the volunteer force filling roles at the festival stages.   

Though shut-downs limited us from holding in-person board meetings, they did not stop us from proceeding as need be, with several email communications that we held with voting that led to many of the difficult decisions we made this past year as noted already. It also helped us to look at other avenues that we may be able to focus upon to help impact our community. 

One of those major outlets was the Portland Venue Project we held this past summer alongside the Portland Parks & Recreation Commission. The Cascade Blues Association hosted private, for-family-only lunch performances for the city’s kids lunch program. We also made arrangements if the shut-down phase limits changed before the end of the summer when we would be able to hold concerts in the parks. The spots to play the kids lunches and the evening park shows were held by lottery, and all were paid slots. Even though the evening concerts were not permitted to take place, the acts were still paid as expected. 

Recently we have started a streaming monthly live show in partnership with Artichoke Music, another local nonprofit. We have completed two events to date, starting with Kim Field & The Perfect Gentlemen in November, followed in December with Steve Cheseborough.  Though the pay for these performers is totally through their own online payment sources promoted through the show, the CBA provides the cost for the sound/video and stage use. We are not sure how much they may make through the online donations, but the audience is there. Bob Howard from Artichoke reported that more than 900 people tuned into the broadcast during Steve Cheseborough’s set from across the country. And Artichoke produces a video stored under their account on YouTube allowing for replays and sharing long after the show is over. On Jan. 6 we will present Mitch Kashmar & Alan Hager, then on Feb. 3, Mary Flower will take the stage. We are looking forward to continuing this monthly event as it is a means to bring you music from artists that you are currently missing. 

Fortunately for the CBA, we held a rainy-day balance in our bank accounts to make sure to cover unexpected emergency expenses. This year certainly saw the need for that and then some. But with our cutbacks and budgeting we have made ends meet and hopefully will be able to stretch through the end of the pandemic with what we still have on hand. 

Early this month we are planning a board meeting (most likely via Zoom) to detail plans and to brainstorm on how to move forward. As COVID keeps stressing our music community, we want to find new avenues to help promote our beloved musicians, longtime retail sponsors and venues. With new vaccines coming to aid us with the pandemic we may be seeing an end sometime in the future. But we don’t foresee it being anytime within a couple of months and anticipate we will still have more to go through before everyone feels safe once again to gather, or as the state allows. 

With that in mind, as members do you have any thoughts that might help us assist our local blues community move forward as we continue through these hardships? We want to hear your ideas, but please remember we are just a small group of volunteers and may need your assistance in carrying forth any plans that we come up with. Contact us on our website at https://cascadebluesassociation.org/contact-us/ 

Please note that we are still in need of a permanent treasurer. If you are interested in volunteering to join our board of directors, let us know. The duties include keeping the checkbook, paying bills and communicating end of the month expenses to the bookkeeper who will enter everything into Quickbooks and prepare the taxes. All you need is attention to detail, a willingness to communicate to the board and a love of the blues!   We are also interested in at-large members for our board and have open spots to fill. 

Music has a way of surviving. Let’s make sure those who bring it to us can make it, too. We’re planning on being there; hoping we’ll be right there along with all of our friends. Working together, we can do it.