Ramblings On My Mind

Greg Johnson, CBA President

2019 is here and things are already looking exciting. We’ll be at a new venue for our monthly meetings, at least for the first four months as McMenamins has welcomed us to relocate to the Mission Theater. A larger room that will allow us to have minors attend, with a large stage. Thanks to Terry Currier for working this out for us.

To showcase the talent of our area, we will be bringing in some heavy-named acts for our time at the venue. Starting off with Ben Rice and Robbie Laws in January, we have Terry Robb, Lloyd Jones, Mary Flower, Lisa Mann and Michael Osborn lined up over the next few meetings. This will not continue in this pattern forever, though, so do not miss these special meetings. Our focus as always will be to bring in newer acts to help introduce them to our members, and to offer some of the regular musicians working in the area that you may not see as often as you’d like.

In May, the Mission will probably be switching over to first-run movies full time, so we are looking at other locations if this should occur. We have been talking with McMenamins about other venues and considering other spots also. We’ll have everything figured out by the time this happens, but if you’re a band or artist requesting to perform at a meeting, please hold tightly as I have been waiting to find out what will be happening before going too far into the year.

Another huge change for us will be going into the year with a different look to our board of directors. Four elected officers decided to step down this year after several years of hard and committed work for the organization, so we say thank you and goodbye to Wendy Schumer, Brenda Docken, Fred & JoAnn Morgan. Stepping into the role of Vice President will be Shelley Garrett, while Merry Larsen remains in her role of Treasurer and I will continue as your President. Two positions had nobody run in our election, Secretary and Membership Secretary. At Large member James Kosek ran against me for President, but many wrote him in on the ballot for these other two positions as well, which he would’ve won had he run for one of them. James has chosen to take on the Membership Secretary position, which is a huge undertaking and he deserves a huge thank you doing this. It is a lot of work and greatly appreciated. Kim Allmaras has also joined the board as an At Large member who will focus on assisting Merry with our finances and taxes. Welcome aboard Kim!! And Randy Murphy will also continue in his at large position and also work on the BluesNotes.

We still have the Secretary position open and if you’re interested please plan on attending our next board meeting (third Tuesday after membership meeting every month) and seeing how we operate before declaring. There are multiple At Large positions also open, and we can fill those anytime throughout the year, and currently have a couple people considering taking those on.

This next year we want to look into several important items. Updating our by-laws, setting up investments that’ll keep us financially stable for years to come, looking at new prospects for marketing (possibly even creating a new position for this purpose), and working closer with other music appreciation societies in our area. We’ll look at giving programs like the Christopher Mesi Scholarship, Blues in the Schools and Musician Relief Fund a new jump start, and would like to have people involved with those. We’ll also consider on taking up new events, and finding something that might be able to replace the summer concert in the park/picnic which was dissolved this past year due to extremely low turn-out in the recent past. We had fewer than 100 people attend this year for an event that can cost the organization as much as our annual Muddy Awards at times. It happens during a time when there is so much activity already taking place around the region (including a new blues festival that occurred the same weekend), so we just need to be watchful of not spending large amounts for something people do not attend. We’re open to ideas that you may have for this or any other event that you feel might be worthy to consider.

But we’re looking toward a successful and fun year ahead. Please help us out if you’d like to volunteer or join our board. And as always, thank you for being members of the CBA and helping to support the musicians and venues of our region!!

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind - December 2018Greg Johnson, CBA President

Every year in December I devote my column to the blues recordings that have stood out to me overall during the last year. One thing it always shows is that my taste is not founded in just one aspect or direction of blues music. It’s all over the map. These ten recordings were highlights for me, but don’t ask me to place them in any certain order because they can all flip flop at any given time. But they are discs that held my attention and their place on my player for significant time and still do.

Curtis Salgado & Alan Hager – Rough Cut – living in Portland we already knew that Curtis and Alan have the magic touch that flows through their traditional styles with ease and perfection. From the first listen of this disc I knew right away that it was destined to be one of the year’s best.

Ben Rice – Wish the World Away – I’ve said it before, Ben Rice frightens me. I mean how can somebody come across sounding better every time out. And I don’t mean every recording, but every time I see him. And I see him a lot. Wish The World Away is an acoustic masterpiece and if he wasn’t already making his name known globally with his performances, the songwriting and playing here should do the trick. Amazing is too mild a description.

Michael Osborn – Hanging On – I have always loved Michael Osborn’s recordings, but this one is something special. Some of the finest guitar playing of his career and the songwriting and collaborations make this album close to perfect. Well it just may be perfect. Brilliant blues by an unsung master.

Paul Oscher – Cool Cat –  Paul Oscher has a phenomenal background as we’re well aware. A multi-instrumentalist, a strong songwriter and superb story-teller, he is the full package whether traditional blues and as seen here a little jazz. Wish he’d release albums more often than he does.

Cedric Burnside – Benton County Relic – Another prime example of how Cedric Burnside is perhaps the finest purveyor of the North Mississippi Hill Country sound. It’s in his blood and this fine recording shows his legacy.

Bettye LaVette – Things Have Changed – This was a brave outing by Bettye LaVette, bringing the music of Bob Dylan into a completely soulful and gritty collection filled with sass and sex appeal.

Ry Cooder – The Prodigal Son – after a six year absence from recording, Ry Cooder is back and returning to his natural place as a first-rate historian of traditional roots music while still offering a piece of his own social opinions. Oh, and just in case you’ve forgotten, Ry Cooder is one of the finest guitar players ever . . . ever!! And he throws down some mean mandolin, banjo, bass and keys, too, for good measure.

Marcus King Band – Carolina Confessions – Look out, he’s just 22 and is already the full package as a musician, vocalist and songwriter. A surprise recording where he follows in the footsteps of Derek Trucks and Gary Clark Jr.

Johnny Rawls – I’m Still Around – Okay, anybody who follows my top ten every year already knows that Johnny Rawls is a regular. And if you saw him at the Waterfront you know that he is one of the finest soul voices out there and every one of his discs is filled with his smooth and crafty singing and songwriting.

Anthony Geraci – Why Did You Have To Go – One of the most in demand keyboard players in the blues world, Anthony Geraci proves once again that he can put together highly listenable music of his own. And the collection of musicians backing him is like a who’s who of the modern blues scene, from Sugaray Rayford to Kid Ramos to Jimi Bott to Ronnie Earl, and so many more.

If you haven’t heard these discs, I highly recommend every one of them. You can’t go wrong.

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind - November 2018Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President

As we approach the end of the year, there are plenty of important dates to note concerning our blues society. Most are fun happenings, but there are also things that need to happen for our new coming year and the future.

First up of course is the Muddy Awards. So looking forward to this year as we explore a new direction in our presentation. It sounds like it just may be one of the best shows we have done for the awards in a long time, offering multiple performances, not just the opening set and the finale All-Star Jam. Those will still happen, but we’ve added a lot more to keep the excitement going the entire night long. And we’re in a new venue, the Alberta Rose Theatre, which will offer great sound and a large stage.

We have used the online voting for the Muddy Awards for the past three years now, and we must’ve gotten the bugs worked out, because we heard next to no complaints this time. The nominators worked out for us and brought not only a lot of the same people recognized annually, but a lot of first time nominees as well. Of course we still offered the membership a place to write-in their own choices if they so desired. And we will shake up the nominators so it will not be the same group of people every year.

Aside from the Muddy Awards, December brings about the most important time of the year as we will select who will be your upcoming elected officers for 2019. Positions open include President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and Membership Secretary. All are welcome to run for these positions and we encourage you to do so. At-Large positions are open year-round and can be requested at any monthly board meeting. Currently we are holding our meetings at McMenamin’s Kennedy School the third Tuesday following the membership meeting. Just get in touch with any board member if interested in attending.

Voting this year will also be moving online, using the same format as the Muddy Awards. At the October meeting a poll of hands was conducted of those present if they felt this was a good idea and the majority of the room were in favor. This will allow us to get a better turn-out from all of our members rather than just those in attendance at the meeting.

Also coming up in December will be our annual Holiday Party. Keep your eyes and ears posted for more information, but we can tell you that three of the acts performing this year will be the Rose City Kings, Billy D & The Hoodoos, the Randy Morrison Band and the Mick Schafer Band who will be celebrating their new CD at the event.

We announced that our monthly membership meetings will head over to McMenamins Mission Theater in January. This should still be taking place, but they’re currently considering switching over to first-run movies this coming spring. If they do, we’ll be moving again, but McMenamins is working with us and offering us other locations where we will still be able to be open to all ages. A huge thanks to Terry Currier for working with McMenamins for us.

I hope that you’re enjoying the new look BluesNotes, too. Remember it is a work in progress and we’d love to hear your feedback. And if you like to write, we sure can use your help with feature articles, Blues in History pieces, CD reviews and other items of interest.

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings on My Mind - October 2018Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President

So much going on within the Cascade Blues Association for the last portion of 2018. Hoping that we’re moving in the right direction to make our members happy.

First of all, we have a new venue for this year’s Muddy Awards. After the Melody Ballroom was sold last year we had to move our monthly meetings to Catfish Lou’s as everyone already knows. But it also meant that we needed to locate a new venue for our signature event, the Muddy Awards. We could’ve remained at the Melody, but it was cost prohibitive for us to do so this year. Fortunately, board member James Kosek contacted the Alberta Rose Theatre and everything has worked out that we will be holding our event in one of the prime venues in Portland. We’re working on a new show format, too, so stay tuned to the BluesNotes for further updates.

Another upcoming  change for the CBA will be an all new look BluesNotes. We will eventually be moving into a full color paper with a new editor, Michael Wong at Cedar House Media. It was a great deal being offered to us that we just had to make the move. Because of this change, we have to say goodbye to our current editor Laurie Morrisey. Laurie did a great job for us for more than the past decade and saw a lot of the changes to the way that the BluesNotes has been presented over that time. We have nothing but love for the work that Laurie provided us over those years, but part of the change we had to make involved changing editors. Thank you Laurie, you will always be a part of the CBA family.

Please note that we are quickly coming up on the new year, which means that it is time to think of our board of director officer positions. We want everybody to consider running for any of the five officer spots (president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and  membership secretary). We can also take on more at-large board members as our by-laws allow up to fifteen positions (including officers) to be on the board. Please let us know if you would like to be considered to run.

And for those who haven’t heard, we will also be moving our monthly meetings from Catfish Lou’s to McMenamins’ Mission Theater in January. We have loved our time at Catfish, but we desperately need larger space and having a venue that can accommodate minors is important to us, too. Thank you Michelle for providing a first class space for us over the past year plus and being the best host that we could ever ask for.

It is also with a heavy heart that we say farewell to Glenn Holmstrom who lost his battle with cancer this last month. Glenn played with so many people for many years. It is hard to imagine our music community without him. Godspeed on your new journey Glenn, you will be adding a new keyboard sound amongst the angels now.

On a personal note, as this is my own personal column, I want to take a minute to say thank you to all of the friends, family and musicians who attended and performed at Cherie and my wedding in August. Due to venue capacity we were limited to the number of guests we could have in attendance and so wish that we could’ve invited more. I want to say thanks to all those who performed throughout the day: (in order of performance) Terry Robb, Hawkeye Herman, Justus Reece, Ben Rice, Ken DeRouchie Band, Ellen Whyte & Sue Orfield, Julie Amici & Dean Mueller, Sister Mercy, Michael Osborn, Franco Paletta, Robin Gibson, and Mark Bittler. So many more musicians (including best man Rich Layton) and members of the blues community were all at hand to help us celebrate. We absolutely love you all.

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind - Sept. 2018Greg Johnson, CBA President

Seems funny that I am writing in review of this summer when we have an early deadline this month and it’s still only the first weekend of August. But it’s already starting out to be an exciting month with the Cascade Blues Association’s Concert at The Crossings taking place. What I found truly exciting about this event was the fact that all four acts have not had a lot of opportunity to perform for us in the past. Sure, we’ve had AC Porter & The Live Wires, Martin Henry & Freedom Street Band and Kenny Lee & The Sundowners play before, but all had been quite a while since the last time. Plus the Patrick Stilwell Band made their first appearance for the CBA. My point here is that with all the well-known bands in our area, it is important to remember that there are a number more that are just as sensational and deserve to be heard.

Every year we present the Journey To Memphis competition and we’re always surprised by newer acts that sign up to participate. That was also quite the case this year seeing a new band like Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys move on to the finals. And they weren’t the only new bands to play for the CBA, as we also saw the Arrogant Bastards, Blue Owens Band, and Riven. Some of these acts may have come up from Salem or Eugene, but it still displays the wealth of talent to be found in Oregon.

You don’t have to wait for an event like the Journey to Memphis, the Concert at The Crossings or the CBA Holiday Party, there are plenty of venues hosting these newer bands where they can be checked out every week. Take a chance on somebody that you may not be familiar with and you never know, they may end up being the next rising star in our blues world.

I also want to take a moment to say thank you to Marlena Masterson for organizing the fundraising event for David Kahl. The day-long concert at Mekong Bistro proved to be a high success, with a heavy crowd all day long and so many great musicians stepping forward to help out one of their one. David Kahl has meant so much to our local blues and music in general community, helping musicians to make their livelihood better in various means, it is only right that we turn around and support him in his time of need. It was certainly my pleasure to emcee this extra special day of meaning for our musicians. It meant a lot to me to be involved as well.

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind - August 2018Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President

Summer time is always a favorite period during the year due to the number of music festivals taking place seemingly everywhere. The Waterfront Blues Festival is a definite highlight, not only because of the sensational acts that Peter Dammann has booked (another stellar job this year I might add), but it is also a gathering of good friends, many that we do not see much if at all the rest of the year. It’s basically a blues family reunion in our home town.

Looking back at this year’s Waterfront, it makes me proud that the Cascade Blues Association were able to sponsor a couple of acts thanks to the generous donation from Bill Schauer in his will. Those acts, The Proven Ones and Johnny Rawls were at the top of my list of favorite performances as they were for many others.

A quick glance at some of my most cherished performances. There were so many, but I have just rounded it down to these five for now.

Johnny Rawls – backed by the Ben Rice Trio Johnny brought his smooth Southern soul to Portland for a trio of festival sets. But those who weren’t at his late-night set at the Crossroads Stage missed out on pure, nasty Mississippi blues straight out of the juke joint. Definitely an adult-oriented performance with Johnny asking all the ladies to come down front and shake it for him as he threw out double-entendres and some not so subtle lyrics that had the crowd on its feet dancing along.

The Proven Ones delivered exactly what you’d expect from a “super group.” All the musicians played at the top of their game and vocalist Brian Templeton proved himself an outstanding stage master in his Portland area debut.

Michael Osborn showcased his new album with terrific guitar licks that were amongst the best over the week’s event. Backed by Peter Dammann, Dave Fleshner, KG Jackson, Johnny Moore and backing vocalist Melanie Owens the stage came alive. And when Karen Lovely joined Michael the grouping took it to yet another level.

The Mavericks absolutely raised the roof with their closing set. A conglomeration of American music that took us from Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tex-Mex, Bakersfield, Miami and all points in between this act appealed to an ecstatic audience heavy with appreciation. With a dense stage smoke throughout their set adding to the atmosphere and a big band people were still dancing as they left the park

I was approached at one point during Beth Hart’s set by somebody telling me that they just didn’t get her. What? How can you not understand the appeal of Beth Hart? This lady puts her whole heart, passion and every drop of her soul into her performance. There is a connection that brings people to their feet to sing along, while Beth absorbs that energy and builds upon it to the point of personal ecstacy that shines through her eyes, movements and delivery that is pure enrapturement.

And the music is not just at the Waterfront during the summer. Plenty of other festivals and happenings going on.  And looking at the talent of touring acts heading through town just in August it surely shows we’re a destination to catch. Just a small sampling of those acts are Robert Cray, Charlie Musselwhite, Samantha Fish, Junior Watson, Shemekia Copeland, Tommy Castro, Marcia Ball and oh my God s many more.

We hope to see everybody at the Cascade Blues Association’s annual Concert in the Park (formerly CBA picnic) at Columbia Crossings on Sunday, August 5 for yet another day of good friends and music. And stop by the CBA booth at Hawthorne Street Fair on Sunday, August 26 and say hi. Both of these events are good places to join the CBA if you’re not already a member. Have a safe, fun and musical summer everybody!

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind - July 2018Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President

The Cascade Blues Association is always proud to be a part of the Waterfront Blues Festival every year, whether it is having our strong volunteer base fill roles at the various stages, manning our merchandise table, or hosting the finals of the Journey to Memphis competition. This year we will also be able to do something we did a few times back in the early 2000’s, but have not had the chance to do so for many years — to be the presenters for a couple bands from out of town, all thanks to the terrific donation from the estate of William Schauer. To acknowledge William’s exceptional generosity, we are dedicating our sponsorship of these acts to his memory. First, because William was an avid guitar collector, we selected the new super blues band The Proven Ones, as one of their featured artists is guitar master Kid Ramos. Along with Ramos, the band also includes keyboard master Anthony Geraci, bassist extraordinaire Willie J Campbell, vocalist Brian Templeton and Portland’s own, drummer Jimi Bott. The second act we chose to present is soul blues legend Johnny Rawls.

Of course, we would love to have everybody heading to the festival on July 4 to start your day out on the Front Porch Stage where will once again put on the annual Journey to Memphis finals. It all starts at 11:30 am and has a spectacular line-up of talent again this year, with four great acts: Fenix Project, Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys, Rae Gordon & Kivett Bednar, and Ben Rice.

But throughout the four days of the festival, please drop by our CBA merchandise booth and take a look at all the items we have available this year, take a moment to become a member if you’re not already, or just stop by to say hello and chat a while. We’re always happy to see our members and fellow lovers of the blues. If not at the Waterfront, we will be at the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, too, just a couple weekends later.

I highly encourage anybody who is in Portland to head over to Mekong Bistro on Sunday, July 22 to help our good friend, bluesman Dave Kahl. On the 19th he will be undergoing open heart surgery and as everybody knows Dave has spent a lifetime not only performing music, but being an advocate pushing the focus of the arts to our City Council to make it identified as an important part of our community’s identity. Dave has been pushing strongly for the music we love, so let’s return the favor and give a little bit to help him get by his upcoming medical expenses.

Despite the generous donation we received, the Cascade Blues Association is constantly on a quest to keep the business financially stable. We are constantly looking at various new approaches to help accomplish this and to cut our expenses. One of these will include letting go of our office space. The room has cost us a substantial, though reasonable rent over the past few years, and the landlord has been ideal. But to be honest, we only use the space once, rarely more, times a month. It is more a storage space than anything else and we can save money by renting storage elsewhere and doing away with unnecessary items we no longer need. Our meetings in the future will be held in free spaces offered to the public or perhaps someplace that would be willing to allow us to meet once a month for free. Meetings will still be open to the public and we will announced their locations in advance.

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings on My Mind - June 2018Greg Johnson, CBA President

It is too often lately that I have reflected on the loss of venues. So it is good news that it appears that two we thought may not be around anymore have discovered a potential new life.

The Birk closed down at the end of last year, with the owners Mike and Wendy Ingrahm deciding to move in a new direction with their lives. But they always wanted the venue to remain if possible and it appears that they have new lessees to take it on. The first shows took place in mid-May with The Delgado Brothers and hopefully they will keep things going into the future.

Also things looked a little bleak for The Garages Music & Event Center in Beaverton. Having only recently opened during the summer of 2017, the venue was a work in progress. Unfortunately the City of Beaverton revised building codes and forced them to cease with their music schedule until they could be completed. And the cost of the needs on that list were spendy. But the local musicians knowing that venues were in need, especially on the west side, stepped in to help them out with two days of fundraising in early June. The event will be held on a stage outside the building, and it appears that several other such shows will take place in the parking lot, too. Other venues know the need is there as well, with Catfish Lou’s donating raffle items for The Garages fundraiser. When the local music scene is vital and alive, all will share in the good times, musicians, venues and fans alike.

We also need to be aware that the festivals we love so much are also sometimes in flux and need our help. The Waterfront Blues Festival has changed leadership as the Oregon Food Bank stepped out of being in control. Don’t fret though, as Clay Fuller Productions has taken on the task of keeping it alive. Clay and his crew have been working hand in hand with the Food Bank over the years, and the organization will remain a beneficiary, but it is a whole lot to handle when your main source on the business end of things changes. Now more than ever they need your help as volunteers and more in supporting the festival with paid attendance. It is still one of the best bargains for any festival of this size to be found anywhere in the country, compared to many that will charge anywhere from $50.00 to $200.00 a day for admission. With world class performers, both from our local artists to well-known touring acts. You just don’t understand how spoiled we are. Keep it alive.

There are a lot of things to keep you entertained during the summer months in Portland and the Northwest. Watch for shows happening everywhere, in the parks and in the clubs. Put your money toward live music. Tip the bands. Buy their recordings. It is what makes our music community as strong as it can be. You know that you love music, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this type of periodical. Get out there and experience it first hand as often as possible. It will make you feel good every time. Here’s to the happy, sunny and musical days of summer!

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings on My Mind - May 2018Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association

The summer is about upon us and festival season is breaking out already. This year the Cascade Blues Association is planning on being a part of many different events to bring our brand back out to the public. Of course plan on seeing us with booths at events like the Cider Summit and Waterfront Blues Festival, but we’re also looking at various street fairs and other festivals, too.

To do this we need our members to help volunteer. Shelley Garrett will be at the upcoming membership meetings to sign-up volunteers for the CBA booth at the Waterfront Blues Festival. Let her or anyone on the Board of Directors know if you’d like to be involved with other events, like the CBA Concert in the Park in August. We can always use your assistance.

Please don’t miss out on the Journey to Memphis competition this month. We have 15 acts going head to head for a chance to represent us at the International Blues Challenge next January. We’re excited to be holding the event at Mekong Bistro on May 19 and 20. Lots of new faces this year in the competition too, proving that the blues are still strong and alive in our city — as if we didn’t already know that.

Remember there are multiple ways that you can help out the CBA every day. If you shop at Fred Meyers, sign up for the Community Rewards program. It’s free and when you earn your own rewards points with purchases at the store, it will match those points for the CBA and we receive a donation check regularly from the company. Check with your employer, too. Many have matching donations for your gifts to charitable organizations, including the CBA.

We want to thank those who have also made a point to single out the CBA. We’ve had a couple of generous gifts from the wills of members who have passed, and Dean Mueller and Julie Amici recently received a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation that they kindly shared with the CBA. Thank you so much!

Look for other exciting news from the CBA. We’re currently investigating new merchandise outlets to better serve and offer more to our members. And we’re thinking about new events that again will put us more out front and bring our brand in focus to the community.

And as always, support our musicians and local venues. You are the strength behind their success by attending their shows and clubs. Nobody wants an empty room. Tip the bands and buy their music, if not at the show then support our local businesses like Music Millennium. See you all in the clubs and at the festivals.

Ramblings On My Mind-March 2021

Ramblings On My Mind - April 2018Greg Johnson / CBA President

So much to talk about this month. First I want to thank our newest board members for bringing their skills to our organization. For so long we have worked terribly short handed, so this is truly big news for us and all have abundance of talent to offer. Please welcome Randy Murphy, James Kosek, and returning after a 20+ year hiatus Shelley Garrett. Thank you all so much!

Recently we teamed up with the Portland Trailblazers to offer our members discounted tickets to a game against the tough Minnesota Timberwolves. With each ticket sold, the CBA received a portion of the sales. We only offered a handful this year, but have requested to do another game or more for next year. Stay tuned in for more information.

As is always the case with Portland as the summer approaches, and usually most of the year, there are a significant number of touring bands coming our way. It will all start in April as we see Southern Avenue who were one of the biggest thrills of last summer’s Waterfront Blues Festival returning to town. Also coming up quickly will be the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder and a show featuring both Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’. And we haven’t even mentioned the acts coming this year to the Waterfront Blues Festival in July, with early announcements including George Thorogood, Beth Hart, Robert Randolph, Johnny Rawls, Curtis Salgado, Larkin Poe, and more yet to be named.

I do have to say that it’s really cool to have a full-time blues radio station, though many people may know about it just yet. KGON’s HD station has been renamed Waterfront Blues Radio and can be hooked up through apps on your smart phone or picked up on your computer if you do not have an HD capable radio. Steve Pringle is the programmer for the station, and he is committed not only to the blues, but also make a point to focus on our local musicians, too.

It’s always tough to see beloved venues close their doors. We’ve seen too many over the past couple years, which to be honest is not something that is only happening in Portland. But there is always hope. When the owner of Blackwell’s recently passed away and the room was closed, it left a couple of popular nights stranded. But not to be deterred, David Kahl approached new locations that had not been hosting blues shows in the past. He brought the Wednesday night Soul Cookin’ showcase to Spirits and the Bayou Boyz to Mekong Bistro. Mekong has also taken on the Tuesday night AC Porter jam, formerly held at The Blue Diamond.

We saw the brief run at The Garages which was scheduling numerous acts throughout the year and had hosted a Thursday night jam led by the Tracey Fordice Band. The CBA had also planned on holding this year’s Journey to Memphis competition there. But due to the demand of The City of Beaverton for upgrades to the venue, owner Kent Drangsholt was forced to close until these could be handled. Most were already planned, but this put a more immediate focus on taking care of them. He does plan on handling all with a potential re-opening date this coming summer. In the meantime, the CBA has rescheduled to Journey to Memphis to be held at Mekong Bistro.

There is good news in the wind also, as a new House of Blues owned venue is planning on moving into a vacant space at Lloyd Center with a capacity of around 3000 seats. Word is another such-sized venue is planned for the Northwest neighborhood. Both would be able to handle touring concerts that have often by-passed the city. And it has also been said that a new jazz club may also be in the works. Keep your eyes open in the next couple years as our music scene looks to be in a growth pattern. It’ll be good for both traveling and local musicians to have more options open for their talents. In the meantime and on-going, head out and support all of our venues we have now. Because when it is all said and done, it takes all of us to keep the music scene here alive and moving forward.