Friday, July 30, 2010

A First Time "Red, White & Blues Train" Weekend at the PDX Waterfront Blues Festival

Trombone Shorty
Photo: Slim Lively
More than 100,000 blues fans from around the world descend upon the Rose City's Waterfront Park every year to attend the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi, and the second-largest blues festival in the nation. This year I had an awesome time attending as part of a Red, White and Blues train weekend package along with 103 other people from the Puget Sound area over the 4th of July weekend.
Janiva Magness
Photo: Slim Lively

The Seattle area’s 88.5 KPLU radio station, home of the weekend All Blues radio show, organized the festival trip. KPLU's All Blues host and 2009 recipient of the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award John Kessler led the station's first listener trip to the 23rd Waterfront Blues Festival. And what a way to attend a blues festival!

Lightnin' Malcolm
Photo: Slim Lively
The package included the train ride between Seattle and Portland with several cars full of blues fans, three nights at the Marriot just across the street, and a "blues buddy" pass. The late night blues jams after the festival shows were in the Marriot just an elevators ride away from our room and included in the price by way of the buddy pass. As an added bonus, two of the three festival stages could be viewed from our room’s balcony. Need to take a break from packing around the festival but don’t want to miss hearing Lisa Mann’s show? No problem. Just open the window!
Taj Mahal
Photo: Slim Lively

This trip package was a first for KPLU, and they may or may not do it again. So whether you were part of the Red, White and Blues trip or want to attend next time, be sure to let KPLU know they should do it again. Get your friends and blues buddies geared up for next year. I highly recommend it.

Mia Vermillion and Karen Lovely
Photo: Slim Lively
The year's festival featuring Booker T, Trombone Shorty (my favorite of the weekend), Janiva Magness, Bobby Rush, Curtis Salgado, Taj Mahal, JJ Grey and Mofro, and John Mayall was a huge success. Many other acts including regional artists from the Pacific NW like Karen Lovely, Son Jack Jr. and Michael Wilde,  Dudley Taft and more performed for one of the best festival crowds I’ve ever been around. The festival rose over $650,000 and 100,662 pounds of food for the Oregon Food Bank this year.

There are more pictures, stories and reviews to come about the 2010 Waterfront Blues Festival, so be sure and come back...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Lay Down My Burden" - Grant Dermody (Self Released)

Review By – Malcolm Kennedy
Grant Dermody's long awaited new CD, Lay Down My Burden , opens with Grant's mellow low tenor voice backed by Eric Bibb on guitar singing Rev Gary Davis' "I'll Be Alright” which along with tracks like the acappella version of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More" speaks toward some of the trying times Grant has had to endure over the last several years. You can feel the emotion in the words.

The instrumental version of "Amazing Grace" with pleading harmonica, guitar, and both lap steel and dobro dueling on slide is by far the finest version I have ever heard and really makes one reflect. Grant's approach to playing harp is a reserved, less is more style. You won't hear him playing flashy solo riffs; but you will find that every note he plays feels just right. Skip James' "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" features John Cephas on guitar and vocals in what was sadly to be his final recording. One of my favorites on Lay Down My Burden is Dirk Powell's "Waterbound" with Grant backed only by Richie Sterns on banjo.

A long list of friends and associates accompany Grant on this project with different line-ups on every track including Rich Del Grosso playing mandolin on a couple and producer Orville Johnson with dobro on one and mandolin on two. The instrumental "David's Cow' with Scott Meyer-fiddle, Forrest Gibson-guitar and Grant-harp is a regular hoedown. Lay Down My Burden is destined to become a classic. If you are a fan of acoustic blues, old time music, folk or Americana you are sure to enjoy this amazing CD.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"In Like Flynn" - Wired!

Review By - Malcolm Kennedy
In Like Flynn
Take two parts rockabilly, one part rock, one part blues, add three parts each swinging good time fun and boogie until you drop, shake it all up and serve fresh with a dash of hot sauce and you've got the Wired Band. Remember the first time you heard the Stray Cats? I would imagine your reaction was something like, “wow!! Now that was stomping." Well, Wired: Kevin Sutton - vocals, guitar, piano, hand claps and harmonica; Rick Jacobson - percussion, hand claps, backing vocals; and Keith Bakke - bass, hand claps backing vocals, have the same type of high energy, rocking, rock-a-billy, can't stop your feet, snapping your fingers groove.

By no means are they sound-a-likes parroting someone else's style. These guys definitely have their own thing going on. Sharp dressed, smooth, polished and 100% WIRED! on "Put My Best Foot Forward” they do just that. In Like Flynn features 14 originals like the break-up song "I Still Ain't Got The Blues" and Van Ramsey's organ drives "Jet City Roller Girls" which comes replete with sounds recorded in 2008 at an actual roller derby and is reprised at the end of the CD as an instrumental. I particularly like "Adeline" and the blues shuffle "Barkin' Up The Wrong Tree." The medium tempo "Rub It In" features some fine harp playing by Kevin and guest player CD Woodbury adds some jazzy guitar with a touch of funk to "The Writing's On The Wall." Wired are a lot of fun and In Like Flynn is well worth looking into.

Preview and purchase songs
from the album In Like Flynn

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Seriously Raw" - Cee Cee James (FWG Records/Burnside Records Distribution)

Review By - Roy Brown
Outside of Portland, several decades ago, a little girl that her mother called Christina took mom's hand on the way Sunday services. She was thrilled by the voices, the passion that came with voices; Christina was driven by something deep inside and had to join in. She never strayed far from those voices. As time passed, one voice emerged. Singing her passion became the life journey of Cee Cee James. She is not only one of us, she is one of ours, spending her days in the small northwest village of Langley, on Whidbey Island while spilling her guts for the northwest blues scene, night after night.

Low Down Where The Snakes CrawlDropping her given name and coming off a huge success of the first blues album, Low Down Where The Snakes Crawl, her second blues CD was recorded last fall at the Sunbanks Rhythm and Blues Festival: Seriously Raw, Live at Sunbanks. While "Snakes" was a concept album and musically went in multiple directions, the upcoming release is an outdoor, pure party buffet of blues, blues / rock, and with just a sprinkling of straight ahead rock and roll (check out her version of Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits"), as arranged Cee Cee James style.

The record starts out pure blues covering "Crossroads", the likes of which you won't believe if you are thinking Robert Johnson. If he could hear this version today, a smile would come over his face. Next comes "I Ain't Superstitious", again nothing like Willie Dixon, but more traditional than Crossroads. Cee Cee's writing is showcased in the next three tunes, penned for the former and the upcoming studio album slated for a fall release. Crowd response says it all when you're talkin' music that touches the soul. Comparisons to Janis Joplin will never stop. Instead of fignting it, Cee Cee embraces it with a Janis tribute on the next two cuts, "Mercedes Benz" and "Bobby McGee". My very favorite Cee Cee James cover is Luther Allison's "House of the Blues". It's on this record, and it's worth the price of admission just to have this song.

Cee Cee James is a near term future national talent, and she is breaking out right now. Seriously Raw is a five star record.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Teach You a Lesson" - Randy Oxford Band (Della Records)

Reprinted with permission from Big City Rhythm and Blues Magazine, April/May 2010
by Gary vonTersch

Teach You A Lesson
Vibrant trombonist and notorious wild-man, Randy Oxford, has been keeping the blues alive in the Pacific Northwest for more than two decades, sitting in with local favorites like Little Bill and the Blue Notes, Fat Cat, and Junkyard Jane, as well as leading various incarnations of his own big, little combo on four previous albums. His growing popularity has also resulted in a regular gig as jam host on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise sailings and induction into the Washington Blues Society’s Hall of Fame. His current six piece band features two international guitar slingers - Mexico City native Rafael Tranquilino and Japanese-born Jho Blenis- along with dusky-voiced singer Jada Amy, bassist Eliud Atondo and drummer Asael Gutierrez.

Among this project’s thirteen tracks, I find a couple composed and sung in Spanish by Tranquilino especially appealing. “Salvo Mi Alma” proves a lengthy slow blues that allows plenty of space for him to stretch-out on guitar, with a slightly distorted, slashing, note-laden sound, reminiscent of Pat Hare, at times. “Sababa,” which the liner notes explain is the “language of babies,” is a hip-shaking and spicy guitar embossed affair. Ex-Army “brat. Amy began her singing career in the choir at Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in Tacoma. A relative newcomer to the blues scene, she sounds like a quick learner. She’s impressive on a pair of songs she cocomposed - the jazz-tinged, beefy trombone-furbished title tune and the wistfully soulful breakup ballad, “The Next Day.” She also does a stellar revival of the legendary Charles Brown’s, “My Heart is Mended,” a funky rearranged cover of Delbert McClinton’s “Standing on Shaky Ground,” as well as a steamy, Etta James-like redo of Willy Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You.”

Also checked is a great Mexican rock ‘n roll version of Little Richard’s smash hit, “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” titled “La Plaga.” Blenis’ vocal and fretboard chops come to the fore on his wryly observant composition, “I Got to Quit Drinkin’ Again.” Guest vocalist Patti Allen channels Dinah Washington on a playful rendition of “Big, Long Slidin’ Thing,” with Oxford demonstrating just how sexy a trombone can be. On the set closing jazzy jam favorite, ”Smooth Feeling,”Gutierrez gets a chance to showcase his stick-work. Oxford and his band are justifiably proud to be representing the Washington Blues Society at the 2010 IBC in Memphis, and you can read about his Midwest tour elsewhere in this very magazine. Catch them, if you can.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Roadhouse Podcast #281

This is one of the best blues podcasts out there. A great listen, and one highly recommended for subscribing too for listening on a regular basis. We need to get some more Pacific NW artists in the Roadhouse line up!

"High temperatures and near-recovery from the Mississippi Valley Blues festival make for the perfect reasons to stay indoors and listen to some great blues. The summertime mix includes Meena, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Magic Slim and The Teardrops, Luther Allison, and Chris James and; Patrick Rynn. The 281st Roadhouse is one quick hour of the finest blues you’ve never heard."

Listen Here: The Roadhouse Podcast #281


Friday, July 9, 2010

Blues Trippin’ With Ian Siegal in the Pacific NW

By The Blues Boss

 Four years ago this month I had the opportunity to be a “pseudo tour manager” for Ian Siegal out of London. I was introduced to Ian’s music by an Internet buddy in England. Blown away by his vocals and songwriting, I contacted his label (at that time a one man operation) and threw my hat in the ring to help out n the Pacific Northwest. Shortly thereafter I was contacted by Ian’s U.S. booking agent and told that Ian had been booked for the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival in 2006.

Part of the offer I had made to Ian’s record company was the ability to put a great regional band behind him should Ian need one. Up until three weeks before the tour, word was “his band’s coming, his band’s coming”.

Suddenly, word out of London changed to “We need a back-up band!”

Fortunately, the Mark Riley Trio (Howard Hooper on bass and Marty Vadalabene on drums) was willing and available. Ian also came over without equipment, but with the resources of Rod Cook and Mark Riley, that problem was easily solved.

I picked up Ian at Sea-Tac, recognizing him immediately from his CD, and we drove straight to the Swiss to hook up with Rod Cook and Toast and get a “loaner” guitar. Staying for the music, it took barely one song for Ian to turn to me, smiled, and asked: “Can I have these guys?”

Do You Think I Can Hit It From Here“No, Ian,” I said. “These guys aren’t available on this short of notice, but the Mark Riley Trio would do just fine.” During the second set of Toast, Rod invited Ian up onstage, and they absolutely tore the place up for six or seven songs.

Two days later, Ian rehearsed with the Mark Riley Trio in the “boat shop” at Bardahl Manufacturing Corporation, where I work. I am very lucky that the family ownership of Bardahl gives me free reign to do this. After a short 75 minutes into the rehearsal, Ian turned to the guys and said: “Well, that’s enough of that, you guys sure know what you are doing”.

The “tour” consisted of six gigs in six days in Oregon and Washington. It started at the the Domino Room in Bend. While the Domino Room hosts music that ranges from rock and roll to hip-hop, I was pleased that the audience embraced Ian and the Mark Riley Trio. Right out of the box Ian and the trio clicked, convincing those in the audience who had Ian’s latest CD Meat and Potatoes that it was Ian’s actual band on that CD. Next up was two nights at the Highway 99 Blues Club, and one night at Jazzbones. By the time we hit Tacoma, the music was road-tested and ready for Ian Siegel’s big moment at the 2006 Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival on the First Tech Credit Union stage before 20,000 blues fans.

Ian was the talk of that day at the festival, and he finished the day doing a song with Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers on that night’s cruise. The tour culminated at the Red Wine and Blues Festival in Stevenson, Washington on the banks of the Columbia River.

Would I “tour manage” again? Well, Ian said he’d have me do that on any visit to the U.S., so I probably would.

Was Ian Siegal impressed with Pacific Northwest blues musicians? I’ll close this month’s Blues Trippin’ with a quote from Mr. Siegal.

“Boss,” he said in that London drawl of his. “Yes. Yes, Rod Cook is as good a guitarist as I’ve ever played with, and mate, I would not hesitate to have the Mark Riley Trio meet me anywhere in the United States to back me up. These guys know their stuff.”

Nostalgia recommendation: since this column featured the Mark Riley Trio so prominently, why don’t you dig out Mark’s Confessions of a Mad Man and give it another spin?

Until next month, do some blues trippin.’


Thursday, July 8, 2010 and Hard Rock Seattle Present Rock N' Blues July 11, 2010

WHERE: Hard Rock Cafe, Seattle
BENEFIT: Seattle Musician Norm Bellas and Friend Steve Randel
WHEN: Sunday July 11, 2010
TIME: Doors 5:00 PM / Show 6:00-11:30pm

TICKETS: $10.00 Advance / $15.00 Door Click Here to Buy Tickets & Hard Rock Seattle Present the Rock N’ Blues music community All-Star jam to benefit Seattle musician Norm Bellas and friend Steve Randel Featuring: School of Rock West Coast All Stars, Lynn Sorensen (Paul Rodgers, Bad Company), Steve Fossen (Founding Member and Original Bass HEART), Somar Macek (Vocalist), Jeff Kathan (Paul Rodgers, Spike and The Impalers), Terry James Young, Andy Baldwin, Rick Knotts (RAIL), Tim Turner (Longtime NW Guitarist), Aury Moore (Songwriter / Vocalist, Aury Moore Band, ), Aaron Balsley (Spike and The Impalers), plus a debut live performance of “RTB (RockTheBlues) PROJECT”, and also including several other PNW performers.

For more information please visit:

Salmon Bay Eagles Club in Ballard Hosts a Free Teen Music Night Featuring Silent Appeal unplugged

The Salmon Bay Eagles Club in Ballard will host a summer teen night on Friday, July 16th from 8 PM to 10 PM. The club, which is traditionally known as the longest running blues club in Seattle, had their first teen music night in May with an almost capacity crowd.

The July 16th show will again feature Silent Appeal and friends playing mostly acoustic and softer rock arrangements. "The night is really about letting some of the local high school age talent come out and share their music with the older and younger crowds" said Dennis Zyvoloski, who is the club's Music Coordinator. "We are an all-ages club, and it is great to provide a venue for these kids to get started, and hopefully in turn, inspire some of the younger kids in the audience to pick up an instrument."

Silent Appeal is a local Seattle teen band whose members have played at other Seattle venues such as The Triple Door, the Crocodile and the Vera Project.

The Salmon Bay Eagles club is located at 5216 20th Ave. N.W. Seattle, WA 98107 and their website for details and directions is

Monday, July 5, 2010

New Blues Festival Near Walla Walla This Year

It's been over five years since there has been a blues festival in the Walla Walla area. Now that has changed. The "Blues Fest" is September 18, 2010 on the Walla Walla River near Touchet, Washington.

The Walla Walla area is beautiful and a great backdrop for the blues. The Duffy Bishop Band will headline the festival. Other acts include the Tommy Hogan Band out of Portland, Oregon; Vaughn Jensen; and the Johnny NoLand Band. The festival is being put on with the support of the Walla Walla Blues Society.
EvilThe festival is loaded with great music, food and beverages plus Free beautiful camping, All for only $25 per person. If you've never been to the Walla Walla area, now is the time to start thinking about going.

For more information and to make reservations, call (509) 394-2387 or email them at piercesgreenvalley@hotmail.comClick here for a map.