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 - April 2021

Ramblings On My Mind

by Shelley Garrett, Vice-President Cascade Blues Association

FUCK CANCER!!

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. 

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind – December 2020

Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President 

Following a tradition that I have done for several years now, my column for December will give shout out to ten albums that have caught my attention the most over the past year. Favorites that found quite a bit of listening playtime. Not necessarily the top albums for everyone, but they are definitely for me. And I am sure that there are a few that will be surprises for people who may be unfamiliar with the artists listed; but that should give you reason to check them out. As always, these are in no particular order of preference. Favorites can change day to day. But each of these have staying power for me. 

Richard Ray Farrell – Three Pints of Gin (Blue Beet Records): Now living in Spain, Richard Ray Farrell is an artist that never fails to impress me, whether playing solo or with a band. On this disc it’s just himself with a guitar and rack harmonica. The playing is impeccable and the lyrics as usual are memorable, fun and well thought out. Always a pleasure to hear each release he comes out with. 

Jimmy Johnson – Every Day of Your Life (Delmark): One of Chicago’s elder statesmen of the blues.Jimmy Johnson is now in his 90s, but age has not slowed him down any. His first album for Delmark in nearly 40 years and it is pure Chicago blues at its best with terrific guitar work from a master. 

Robert Cray Band – That’s What I Heard (Nozzle Records/Thirty Tigers): Is it possible that Cray just seems to be a fountain of youth with every new release? There is no let down from one recording to the next; rather it seems a jump ahead every time. One of the absolute best in soulful blues and guitar work found another outstanding disc to add to his already deeply impressive catalog. 

Lloyd Jones – Tennessee Run (VizzTone): Hardly a surprise here. Lloyd Jones has always been one of my top go-to musicians locally and beyond. His recordings have always been fantastic, but Tennessee Run brought out the big guns and commanded attention from those who may have overlooked this genius. Recorded in Nashville under the eye of Kevin McKendree who has helmed the production of some of the business’ best-known artists, bringing a collection of Music City’s finest Lloyd’s exceptionable songwriting hit the mark on all counts. Soulful, at times humorous, but always delivered with the brilliance Lloyd has within. A winner by all means. 

Jody Carroll – World of Man Anthology (Thahaylia Music): Three discs released simultaneously with every track a master work. And it was all recorded in less than a month-and-a-half. You cannot look past what an accomplishment Jody has put together, this is Americana/roots music at its very best. Available only through Bandcamp, it is something that should be sought out and heard, his playing and songwriting may have never been better. And with his previous work that is saying a lot. 

Gerald McClendon – Can’t Nobody Stop Me Now (Delta Roots Records): In a city filled with so much blues and soul music as Chicago is, there will be artists that may not receive the attention outside that should be reaped upon them. Gerald McClendon is such a musician. Known in the city as the “Soulkeeper,” Gerald is a living epitome of a R&B/soul vocalist with deep bluesy roots, who thrives on delivering perfect examples of the themes behind the songs we all love. Twist Turner’s production brings out the voice that is pure and smooth. 

Franck L. Goldwasser – Sweet Little Black Spider (SlimByrd Records): With a guitarist and songwriter of the caliber of Franck Goldwasser (aka Paris Slim) you know that the music is going to be straight-ahead blues and nothing else. When you add Kid Andersen and June Core to the mix, you have the makings of magic as soon as they start to play. Contemporary blues with a feel for the past that harkens to the very finest of the West Coast masters. As Kid Andersen states, “This shit is real.” 

John Bunzow – Concrete Paradise (Self Released): Here is another example of Americana/roots songwriting that is a listening pleasure from the very first note to the end, demanding repeated plays. Everything about this album rings to perfection. As I claimed when released, this is one of those discs that will make you go “wow!” And even several months later, it’s still making me say wow! 

Johnny Burgin – No Border Blues (Delmark): The most remarkable feature of this recording is the fact that many people do not think of blues outside of America or Europe for the most part. Johnny Burgin went to Japan and gathered some of that country’s most recognized blues artists, who are pretty much unheard of here in the States,proving that the music is universal. Upon first listen you may believe this is a collection Chicago-based musicians, that may be due to Johnny’s exemplar guitar work, but it is so much more than just that. These players have the goods down pat and it shows. 

Linsey Alexander – Live at Rosa’s (Delmark): If you want to feel like you’re sitting in a bustling Chicago blues club listening to one of the city’s absolute masters, reach for this disc. It has that feel because it is exactly that. Linsey Alexander has been plying his work in Chicago for many a year, and like McClendon mentioned earlier, is sadly under-recognized outside of town. It’s authentic, if ever there was somebody to be referred to as “the Real deal” he is much deserved of that label. Powerful and enlightening, a live performance that shines with each listen. 

So many fine releases come out every year. Always more than can be accredited for on a small list. These are but a few that stood out for me, but it’s hard not to mention stellar recordings from others like Ben Rice & RB Stone, John Nemeth, Shemekia Copeland, Anni Piper, Anthony Geraci, The Proven Ones . . .  the list is endless. Especially within a year of lockdown where listening to great blues heldmore than just a casual perspective. I hope that this list will have you reaching out to these artists if you haven’t heard their music yet. You cannot go wrong with any of them. 

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind

by Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President 

It seems that this full year has been reminiscing about how much work it would normally take to keep up each month with Cascade Blues Association activities and meetings. For instance, it is now November and the Muddy Awards should’ve consumed a great deal of time starting in August in preparing for and doing actual nominations and balloting for the various award categories. But like so many events in our current world, it too had to be canceled to avoid a gathering of a large crowd. So here we are, no asking for musicians to perform at the ceremonies, no creation of the presentation slide show, no counting of ballots, no having awards made up, no reservation of a venue. It is a lot of work, but still it’s a huge disappointment, because we do look forward to holding one of the year’s most anticipated events within our blues community. We know that this pandemic should be temporary and we will look forward to having this and so many more events take place again eventually. 

We are happy to start up a relationship with Artichoke Music to be able to present a monthly performance from a local act streamed online. It may not be the same as our usual monthly meetings where we could all get together with friends and enjoy the music in person. But we will be able to bring live music with our two nonprofit organizations working together. A full hour each month on the first Wednesday at our normal time. With the limited space in their performance room, we cannot open to the public as they’re limited to only 14 people who can be in attendance. This means that we will give this space to the performers’ family members first. But this will not go on forever and once restrictions allow, we will hold meetings where we can bring back everyone again. Have faith, it’ll happen. 

We have been able to enjoy live performances in a handful of locations, mostly held outdoors. The weather is about to change with the colder months ahead and some have taken precautions to be able to continue, so we need to support those who’re trying to keep the music scene. If you’re comfortable with indoor settings — and many are doing so with reduced capacity allowances and distancing set-ups — please make note to abide by the venue’s guidelines and continue to purchase food and drinks and tip the bands. It is their lifeline of survival. If you’re not willing to go out, continue tuning into the online live broadcasts from the many musicians out there. And again, tip those you tune into as without being able to come to you in person, this may be the only income they have. 

The Cascade Blues Association will be there when everything comes back, but we are also looking to a new year. And that means we need to assure that we have a board in place to keep our future activities moving forward. All of our officer positions are up to be voted on and they’re necessary to be fully filled so the others are not overwhelmed by having to do more than what is already on their plates. We have several people who plan on re-running, but that should not prevent others from putting their names onto the ballot. The most important role that we know needs filling is the treasurer. Obviously we need a person who can keep up with our finances and bills, and somebody who is proficient in accounting and filling out taxes. When everything is open, it is difficult to keep up, so please consider helping out. If not as an officer, at-large members are a godsend, too. So much work to do, everybody is important. 

2020 has been an extremely hard year for everybody. The future has got to be better. The blues are not going anywhere. In fact, the difficulties and hardships should make for great theme fodder for new music. We will all celebrate when the world opens to everybody with no restrictions and the music will be there to keep us all company again in person. Do what we can to support those in the music industry today and help ensure that it rises again when it can. Stay safe, everybody. 

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind – October 2020

Greg Johnson, CBA President 

We may as well face it. 2020 is pretty much finished when it comes to the Cascade Blues Association being able to hold any meetings or events. As Portland continues to be held in phase one of the Covid shutdowns, we simply are unable to hold gatherings in an atmosphere where we can bring in the numbers of attendees that we’re used to and to make it financially feasible to do so.  

Events like the Muddy Awards and our annual Holiday Party normally bring in well over 100 people; the Muddys usually are close to sell-out events since we moved to the Alberta Rose Theatre, which in itself is still closed to holding attended events. Venues like The Moose Lodge, where we hold the Holiday Party, or The Eagles, where we have held our meetings, are under different restrictions because they are not considered full-time restaurants and gatherings must remain much smaller under the guidelines. 

Without being able to meet or hold events it also means that our funds have dried up other than memberships retained. Events like the Muddys and the Holiday Party are very expensive to put on and it would be very negligible for us to try to have them without the income coming in at this time, even if we were able. We would definitely try to at least hold the Holiday Party if we were able, as the venue expense is not a part of the location being donated to us. All we can at this point is to hope that 2021 sees a turnaround and we’re able to start up our normal activities once again. 

That doesn’t mean that the CBA wasn’t active during the shutdown period. We collaborated with the Portland Parks & Recreation to provide live music for the Kids Lunch Program. Though this was limited to only the kids and families picking up the lunches, it did mean paid performances for the musicians. We had about 10 of these and planned on doing evening events where the public would’ve been invited, but the city shut down the events for the parks. We had no control over this decision and had several acts lined up for these shows. The funds had been raised through an online campaign supplied by donations. These donations were distributed to the acts who were scheduled, but  unable to play. 

Also with the shutdown on the pandemic, we have seen the loss of many people. Not all were victims of the pandemic, but their loss doesn’t hurt any less. One of those we had to say goodbye to was our good friend Jay Lawhon. Jay ran the sound company JBL Sound that we have used for many years at our meetings and events. He was a main part of many festivals and shows that you have attended, supplying that perfect sound for events like the Waterfront Blues Festival, Bronze Blues & Brews, the Gorge Blues & Brews and so many more. Without Jay and his team, our CBA Anniversary shows, the picnics, Journey to Memphis competition, Holiday Party and many of the Muddy Awards would never have come across at all. Jay was somebody I always relied on; if anything was not going right, my production mode persona would come close to panic. But Jay was always there to make things work right and help calm my nerves. It’s tough to try to replace somebody like that. You simply can’t. There are hardly enough words to say how much we will miss Jay Lawhon. 

It is also with a deep heartache that I have to announce that Merry Larsen has decided to step down from her position of Treasurer. As with many of us, trying to juggle personal life while volunteering for what could  be seen as a full-time position is not an easy task, and after a time it can become a burden. Merry has given the CBA many years in not only the Treasurer position, but on the board as an at-large member — not once, but twice during the many years we have operated. Merry may be stepping down from her full-time position, but she plans on helping the CBA as a volunteer for any events or programs she may be able to fill in. So, it’s not goodbye as we will definitely see her helping the CBA and working backstage at the Waterfront Blues Festival. We lovingly wish her nothing but happiness and success. Thank you, Merry, for all you have accomplished as part of the CBA.  

With that, we wish that whoever may wish to help with the CBA Board of Directors to give it some thought and let any of our officers know of your interest. We have not had any meetings for some time in person due to the shutdown and many of us are not open to meeting indoors just yet. But we will be getting back together soon and need qualified individuals wanting to give their time and help. Please note that if you are interested in a position such as the Treasurer role, you should have knowledge of financial accounting and tax preparation. 

A huge thanks go out to all of our current Board Members. Times have been hard and running the business online is not always the easiest, either. They have continued to keep up and to have open minds to how we might be able to help our music community and keep our organization alive and vital. Bear with us, things will turn around eventually and we will be there for our members, musicians and venues once again. Thanks go out to every one of you for your continued support. 

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind – September 2020

Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President 

As we continue to push our way through these times of pandemic, some things seem so far away in the past or further into the future. Such is the feeling I have regarding the status of live music. Every one of us wants Covid to just go away as soon as possible; but facts are that it will probably be around longer than we wish. There are some forms of live music that are taking place. It is your decision whether you want to possibly be exposed to somebody carrying the virus. 

I have made it to a few live happenings. It is just second nature for some of us to yearn for that gladness inside of ourselves to see and listen to our friends perform. But I have limited myself. I do not attend anything in indoor venues, let alone eat in most restaurants that do not have outdoor, separated seating. For the most part, I have limited these to very few outings, and three have been to watch from somewhere such as a friend’s driveway while doing live simulcast over the internet. The attendance at such may have been ten people at the most in any situation. I have ventured to Kathken Vineyards a couple times. They have been quite careful, setting up their picnic tables with great distances between, while having you fill out tracing papers in the event anybody reports contracting the symptoms of the virus. The stage is elevated away from the audience, as are some of the other venues offering live music (Tavern on Kruse also has such a set-up for the band). 

Regardless, it is up to each and every one of you to decide if you will go to see live performances. Nobody will judge you if you decide to stay at home. There are plenty of live feeds happening daily and you can always help out by throwing a little monetary sum to the artists’ paypal, venmo or other accounts. 

I repeat myself from last month as well, when it comes to expressing appreciation for all of the musicians, limited volunteers and our board committee staff who have been holding the shows for the kids lunches with Portland Parks & Recreation. Though we cannot let people know where they’ve been taking place to avoid crowd sizes that would bring the event at the time to be closed, we are quite pleased with the response we’ve had from our members and friends to help foot the cost. At this time we’ve had sets from people like John Bunzow & Denny Bixby, Ken Brewer, Lauren Sheehan, Mojo Holler, Julie Amici & Dean Mueller, Alan Hager, Mary Flower, JME Jazz Trio, LaRhonda Steele, Sonny Hess, Joanne Broh, Kathryn Grimm, and Robbie Laws. Ten events in all for Phase One of the regulations that we must abide by for the pandemic; we’re hoping that Phase Two will allow us to do more in the near future. Huge thanks to Marie Walters, Brad Bleidt and Shelley Garrett  for their hard work at making these take place. 

The other project that the CBA involved themselves with this month was the Walk A Mile In Our Shoes, with views, stories and music celebrating the music from our Black community in Portland. We were proud to help sponsor this event and to be able to create an ad under the creation of Marie Walters and myself. 

We do not know what is ahead for us. We don’t know if there will be any membership meetings in the near future or if we’ll be able to hold the Muddy Awards. We are at the beck and call of the pandemic. I do wish to thank those who have offered locations or ideas. The main focus is we want a convenient space that is centralized for everybody and in a space that is safe. 

Hang tight everybody. This too shall pass sometime in the future and the CBA will return to our regular routine that you all expect. In the meantime, please be safe and support our musicians, venues and sponsors any way that you can. 

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings on My Mind August 2020

Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President 

It has been a strange long year with seemingly no end in sight at this point as to when we’ll be able to visit our favorite venues to enjoy live blues, or music of any kind for that matter. That is of course if these venues have been able to survive the lengthy shut-down period. Even as things slowly begin to open, not all of us are willing or brave enough to chance the possibility of exposure unknowingly. 

Where has the time gone? One minute it’s mid-March with stay at home orders being put in effect, the next thing you know four months have whizzed by usWe’ve all been craving to go out to hear live music, but for a few exceptions most of what we have had to rely on has been on the internet, with live online performances streamed over Facebook, YouTube and other outlets. Hardly a replacement from the sensation of witnessing it in person. 

The timing for the Journey to Memphis, Gorge Blues & Brews, Cider Fest, Waterfront Blues Festival, Cathedral Park Jazz Festival have come and gone. Other events that our members may travel to such as Chicago Blues Festival, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Blues Music Awards, Winthrop, Sisters, Sunbanks, Blues Bender were all cancelled long in advance. It’s not easy to be a live music fan in this time and age. 

This certainly hurts the CBA in a number of ways. With no meetings or large events that we participate in, it means next to no income other than memberships sold. As we all know this hit us first with the printing of the BluesNotes. It is hard to exist as a business when you’re putting out more money each month than what is coming in. Yes, there are still expenses we must take on; our storage unit for example. Fortunately, we gave up our office space a couple years ago. Our current position with the BluesNotes has cut back on editor and printing fees, and without being able to hold our monthly meetings we are not paying for sound currently. But we are hoping that this pandemic comes to an end regardless of expenses that will need to resume. We miss our members and the music. Our mission is based on supporting it and we’re trying to maintain that vision however we can. 

One of those positions we took on was to assist Portland Parks & Recreation. They had to cancel all musical events for the public throughout the summer, focusing more on feeding children who rely on school meals. To help with this and to provide a little entertainment and some income for musicians, we partnered to provide music for the children and their families during a number of their lunch distributions. Funds were provided partially by what we had planned on helping the Waterfront Blues Festival in presenting an act; and also through a GoFundMe program. CBA Member musicians submitted applications to be considered, and all that did should be able to perform. Individual slots were drawn at random during a live feed streamed on Facebook. And it doesn’t end there. Depending on funds raised, we may be able to work with the City with some evening performances for the public. But it all depends on what can be raised and the reopening phase that can be reached during the season. 

An issue that we may be facing once we’re able to return to our normal activities is the location of our monthly meetings. At this time, the possibility is there that The East Eagles Lodge may not be reopening. Seems like we’ve been through a lot of relocations over the past few years, and we will get through this as well if need be. If we do have to relocate, we want to continue in a spot that is centrally located and open to minors. Available nearby parking, food available and the room donated as part of a not-for-profit organization recognition. Please keep your eyes open and let us know if you know of anything that might suit us. 

But let’s focus on getting through this with our health and sanity first. Music will return and we’ll be back again. Just be safe out there everyone. Wear your masks and keep your social distancing. This won’t last forever, but if we continue to take the proper precautions, it’ll come quicker than not.