Ramblings On My Mind – Greg Johnson, Cascade Blues Association President
The Waterfront Blues Festival is upon us once again — the highlight for all blues fans here in the Northwest. Four days of amazing music at a premier event that rivals any festival world-wide, and front and center throughout the event you’ll find the members of the Cascade Blues Association taking part.
Many of the volunteers you see behind the stages are our members giving back to the music community that they love. Of course, you’ll find many more working at the CBA merchandise table where you can always sign up to become a member if you’re not already one. We love to welcome new people and also celebrate those who have been loyal supporters for many years.
Once again the Fourth of July will begin with the finals of our Journey to Memphis competition. We have three acts competing to decide who will represent us in the band category at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next January. Competing this year will be Johnny Wheels & The Swamp Donkeys, Fenix Rising, and Nikki Jones Band beginning at 11:30 am. Yes, normally we have four acts, but this year the fourth was a solo/duo act who had prior commitments on The Fourth. Since they’re already guaranteed their participation in Memphis, we accepted this and have given the opportunity to present our newly named Youth Showcase act, Generation Headstrong, the chance to play at the festival in their place.
It doesn’t end on The Fourth for us, though. Immediately following the competition and Generation Headstrong, head over to the Buick GMC of Beaverton (North) Stage as the CBA is underwriting two acts this year. The first will take stage at 2:00 pm. That will be up-and-coming blues star Vanessa Collier. This young lady has been making a name for herself at festivals across the country the past couple years, spent a couple years touring with Joe Louis Walker’s band before going solo and has garnered five Blues Music Award nominations including two for Contemporary Blues Female Artist and three for Instrumentalist – Horns for which she brought home a win this year. Do not miss this young lady who will thrill you with a multitude of instruments besides the saxophone, amazing vocals, and terrific stage presence.
Oh yeah, I said the CBA was underwriting two acts. The second will take place on Sunday, July 7 and it is one of the blues world’s most acclaimed performers: Shemekia Copeland. She’ll grace Buick GMC of Beaverton Stage at 8:00 pm. Starting out as a teenager performing at her father, Johnny Copeland’s shows, she is a legitimate legacy of the blues whose star has risen even higher than her father could have ever dreamed. One of the most commanding vocalists in the genre of any generation, Shemekia has been declared the reigning “Queen of the Blues.” Nominated forty time for Blues Music Awards, she has won eleven times, including Contemporary Blues Album and overall Album of the Year honors this year for the outstanding recording America’s Child. It is certainly a privilege for the CBA to be presenting Shemekia and Vanessa to the festival this year.
Don’t miss out on attending the festival and keep an eye on the BluesNotes calendar for many more events happening in July, such as our monthly membership meeting, the Cathedral Park Jazz festival and much, much more. We are blessed with so much happening in our area each summer and the blues can be found all over town.