Monday, February 28, 2011

Generation Blues - Youth Scholarship Applications Due April 1, 2011

The Blues Foundation expanded its longstanding Blues in the Schools youth education efforts with a new initiative that began in 2010 entitled Generation Blues. This scholarship program allows qualified applicants under the age of 25 to study their instrument of choice at reputable camps, seminars and workshop programs such as Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, Augusta Heritage Center and Fernando Jones' Columbia College Blues Camp.

Generation Blues applications are due April 1, 2011. For more information and to access an application, CLICK HERE.

Camps, seminars and workshops attended by Generation Blues scholarship recipients may take place throughout the year in the recipients' choice of locations. Participants are awarded the scholarships on a bi-annual basis, and participation is open to anyone under the age of 25 and interested in the blues. Applicants must write a letter of intent and provide letters of recommendation. Video submissions are also accepted.

Blues Foundation board member and leader in the Generation Blues initiative Cassie Taylor notes "this is a wonderful way to ensure the future of the blues by helping young people get the education they need and deserve to help them grow as a blues artist." Taylor started her career in blues music as a teenager when she toured successfully with her father, trance blues artist Otis Taylor.

Generation Blues joins a number of other successful youth initiatives launched by The Blues Foundation, including the popular Blues in the Schools which supports blues educators by providing a classroom curriculum that incorporates elements of history, math, English, music, and other disciplines as they can relate to the entire blues industry of making and promoting blues music. Youths under age 21 may also take advantage of free individual membership of The Blues Foundation.

By offering individuals up to the age of 21 free membership, the Foundation invites even more young blues lovers to get started on a lifetime of participation in the activities of their local blues society and The Blues Foundation. Generation Blues is one of several new programs announced to further assist blues musicians and those making their careers within the blues music community.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Coeur d’Alene Blues Festival - Coeur d'Alene, Idaho April 2011

The Coeur d’Alene Blues Festival returns to the Coeur d’Alene Resort on Friday, April 1st and Saturday, April 2nd. The boat cruise and dock party kick off the weekend on the 1st, while the Resort Ballroom hosts two stages and four bands.

The Fat Tones and Laffin’ Bones will play the cruise: the festival will hook up two boats together and have a blues band on each one. The party aboard ship is 7:00 to 10:00 PM on the 1st, and the boats will cruise Lake Coeur d’Alene from 7:30 to 9:30 PM, with partying dockside before and after.
The Festival Room will host Big Mumbo, winners of the 2010 Best Blues Band of the Inland Empire Blues Society. Originally from Spokane, Seattle’s Too Slim and the Taildraggers will bring new music from their forthcoming CD. The Tommy Castro Band – fresh from multiple Blues Music Awards in Memphis last year – is one of the many highlights of this year’s festival as is another band who is no stranger to Beale Street, The Ty Curtis Band (a finalist in the 2009 International Blues Challenge).

The festival also features the 8-piece Nu Jack City in the Shore Lounge, Jeff Akers in the Whispers Lounge, and a Gospel brunch on Sunday from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Max Daniels will host the Gospel Motown Brunch on Sunday in the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

Jeff Akers’ set is the pre-function meet up at the Whispers Lounge, and this slide guitarist won the Best Slide Guitarist Award from the Inland Empire Blues Society.

Tickets for this very affordable blues festival are are $20, the best deal includes the the Blues Cruise for an additional $12. The Blues Cruise separately is $20. Tickets available thru TicketsWest or 1-800-325-SEAT or the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Room packages with Coeur d’Alene Resort are available, so please tell them the Coeur d’Alene Blues Festival sent you!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Engels Pub in Edmonds, Washington

By Robert Horn

In the town of Edmonds, Washington is a little place with something bigger than just it's size going on. When you walk in you will notice a bronze award behind the bar. It is posted in the middle of the wall at eye level for all to see. It is a Washington Blues Society Best of the Blues (BB) Award for Best Blues Club 2009. How could such a little place have such a big award? Well, this may help you answer that. 

The place just has stools along a bar, a dozen tables that groups of friends can sit at, and another room with some pool tables in it. But, the fun people have there delivers the votes from Washington Blues Society members so that it is talked about in the same breath as some much bigger blues clubs in the state. I have been to Engels Pub a few times before to hear acts like The Stacy Jones Band and others. 

Saturday February 19th, I dropped in again to hear Blues Attitude. I have known their drummer, "Smoke" (not a bad name for a drummer) since he played with the Steamers years ago down in the Olympia area. It was fun to see and hear Jerry play guitar and sing. He is yet another great NW guitar player that deserves more recognition. He came from Alabama with a guitar in his hand and blues in his heart and soul. I was impressed by T-Bone who plays bass because he does things way beyond a simple bass line and helps make the whole show entertaining. They played a lot of things including Crosscut Saw, which is on their CD. They did a lot of old classics like Big Dawg, Messin' With the Kid, Key to the Highway, Pride and Joy, and some rock songs like Gloria (G-L-O-R-I-A) and even did a Brian Setzer Orchestra song. 

Yes, I couldn't help but dance. It is a fun band and a fun place. The crowd there includes some blues fans you may see at a Washington Blues Society meeting, but more of the crowd is from the neighborhood. There was a birthday party there that night. And while I didn't know the people who were born on Feb 19th and celebrating (I guess there were two of them), I did fell like they are part of my family. Neighborhood bars and blues bars are good combinations. Ya'll come out!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Robert Cray, John Hammond, J.B. Lenoir Among 2011 Blues Hall Of Fame Inductees

(Re-posted from

The Blues Hall of Fame Class of 2011 was announced today with Robert Cray, John Hammond, and J.B. Lenoir topping the list of performers being inducted along with other performers, singles, albums, researchers, and other important figures in the development and history of the blues.

The performers being inducted include Cray, Hammond, Lenoir, Denise LaSalle, Big Maybelle, and Alberta Hunter. Individuals being inducted include Vivian Carter and Jimmy Bracken, Sam Charters, Bruce Bromberg, and field researcher John W. Work III

Among the works being enshrined in the Blues Hall of Fame this year are singles by Jimmy Weatherspoon, Eddie Boyd, Robert Johnson, Skip James, and Robert Johnson. It's fitting that a Johnson song is part of this year's class as blues fans celebrate the icon who would have turned 100 this year. It is damn near impossible to count the number of times Witherspoon's "Ain't Nobody's Business," James' "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues," and Boyd's "Five Long Years" have been covered by musicians of legendary and comparatively small stature. They are staples of the idiom. Sam Cooke's Night Beat, Cray's False Accusations, and Howlin' Wolf's The Real Folk Blues albums are also being immortalized, as is John Broven's book Walking To New Orleans.

The Hall of Famers will be inducted in a ceremony in Memphis on May 4th as part of this year's Blues Music Awards festivities.


Robert Cray
John Hammond
Denise LaSalle
Big Maybelle
Alberta Hunter
J.B. Lenoir

Vivian Carter & Jimmy Bracken
Bruce Bromberg
Sam Charters
John W. Work III

Walking to New Orleans: The Story of New Orleans Rhythm & Blues by John Broven

"Ain’t Nobody’s Business"- Jimmy Witherspoon (Supreme, 1947)
"Five Long Years"- Eddie Boyd (J.O.B., 1952)
"Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues"- Skip James (Paramount, 1931)
"Love in Vain"- Robert Johnson (Vocalion, 1937 )

Night Beat - Sam Cooke (RCA Victor, 1963)
False Accusations - Robert Cray (HighTone, 1985)
The Real Folk Blues - Howlin' Wolf (Chess, 1965)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Janiva Magness Coming to Seattle in March 2011

Touring in support of her new release The Devil is an Angel Too, Janiva Magness will be at Seattle's Jazz Alley March 1-2, 2011. Her band members will include Zach Zunis (guitar), Gary Davenport (bass), Jim Alfredson (keys), and Matt Tecu (drums). While in the Pacific NW, Janiva will also be performing at The Upstage in Port Townsend on March 5th, Jazzbones in Tacoma March 4th, and at The Yale in Vancouver, BC on March 6th.

I'm Feelin' Good Award-winning vocalist Janiva Magness is among the premier blues and R&B singers in the world today. Her voice possesses an earthy, raw honesty and beauty born from her life experience. A charismatic performer known for her electrifying live shows, Magness is a gutsy and dynamic musical powerhouse. She received the coveted 2009 Blues Music Awards for B.B. King Entertainer of The Year (she is only the second woman to ever win this award, Koko Taylor being the first) and for Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year, an honor she also received in 2006 and 2007. She has received eleven previous Blues Music Award nominations, is a 2010 Contemporary Blues Artist of the Year Nominee by DownBeat Magazine.

In the last few years she seems to have really hit her stride, creating powerful and soulful blues, R&B and soul music. She offers more of the same on her new CD The Devil is an Angel Too (April, 2010), with a voice and style that keeps growing and maturing. The vocals are both more potent and more subtle, her band ever more smooth and tight.

The songs on The Devil is an Angel Too, all seem to lean toward stories of life rich with meaning and full of emotion. They've all been carefully chosen and paced, and she sings them all beautifully. The arrangements are just right, sharp and snappy, smooth and soulful, but never intruding, always complementing the vocals.

Janiva Magness is among the premier blues and R&B singers in the world today. Her voice possesses an earthy, raw honesty and beauty born from her life experience. She continues to be a charismatic performer known for her electrifying live shows; Magness is a gutsy and dynamic musical powerhouse. For show information and details, visit

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Travelin' Light with Dominique Stone

Whenever I go out on the town and run into Dominique Stone, I know things are about to get interesting. Dom's got himself situated squarely on the pulse of the blues in the South Sound area and beyond. You may know Dominique Stone from his days holding down the bottom with the Randy Oxford Band, a great gig, but just one facet of a very talented local gem.

Nominated for Best Blues Bass in 2008, when asked what he has been doing lately, I got the low down for you all. Though I do see Dominique here and there at benefits and at shows, I must say, I didn't know jack.

"I joined up with Paul Manual and helped him get his youth organization up and running by training the kids on how to perform, how to be a team, how to learn songs as a band, and other things in life. It is not just about being a good musician, but how to be a good person that respects everyone in the business. I have also been giving lessons to kids for drums, bass, guitar, and vocal training too."

"I have been writing a lot of songs on my own plus collaborating with a few local artists, including Aury Moore and Charlie Marinkovich (presently the guitar player with Iron Butterfly), and performing 'a Ii'l on the rock side,' and finally, I have had my own band called 'On The Level' that was a 'strictly variety' kind of music group playing around the south end, featuring Heather Rayburn (formerly of TROB). I worked a few open mic nights that didn't pan out very well, maybe because of the economy."

"So what am I up to now? The market in Washington is really tough. I came out of a scene were it was variety dance music (Vegas, Minneapolis, etc.), mostly casinos and a lot of traveling, but the money was greater than it is around here. I am heading back out there to try and make that kind of money again, 'cause I can't make it here (unless some miracle happens with a friend). There are a lot of clubs here, but the budgets are really at an all-time low - the worst I have ever seen or been a part of in Washington."

"Rev Deb also asked me if I had anything to say to any kid or player out there trying to make it in the business. What I would tell them is to respect everyone around, be a team player, never stop learning, and don't get stuck on one style cause there are many ways to make money in this business if you know more than one style. If you think you are better than someone else, there is someone out there with the same attitude, and they are probably better than you. So stay humble, learn from each other, and if you are having trouble with a style or song, go out and listen to a band playing what you want to play and learn from hearing and seeing. There are so many great players in the area that you can learn from."

"Music comes from God; when all is said and done, when all the bombs, economy, and whatever goin' on in the world gets bad, remember as a musician it is your job to make people forget about their troubles and have fun."

Wow, that is an armload of great advice. I am saddened to learn how difficult it can be for an innovative and gutsy performer of Dominique Stone's caliber to make a living as a working musician here in the great Northwest. That's one great big footprint to leave behind, but something tells me the young people he has been mentoring are already reaching to fill those shoes, and to do us all proud.

Thank you Dominique for all you contribute. We hope your next journey brings you joy, and we look forward to having you back safe, happy, and wealthy, with life stories to share. Please bring your beautiful smile and your down-to-earth musical genius back to us soon!

You can contact me at if you are interested in baring your soul to the reverend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Blues Boss is Trippin' for Nominations!

Okay. This is your annual [last minute] reminder to NOMINATE your favorite local musicians, graphic artists, writers, festivals, for the 2011 "Best of the Blues" Awards. You have until Februarv 14, 2011 to get your nomination ballot mailed into the Washington Blues Society (WBS). Or, you can give your ballot to any member of the Board of Directors.

Nomination ballot you say?! Well, go find your January issue of the Bluesletter (first place I'd look is next to the toilet in the bathroom - that's where mine is). Tear the back page off (it's both your ballot and proof that you are a valid, voting member in good standing - the "mailing sticker" on the reverse side is your proof of current membership in the WBS).

Now, fill it out. You do not have to fill out the entire ballot - most ballots are not completely filled out. Remember, past winners of Lifetime Achievement, Hall of Fame and Keepin' the Blues Alive should not be nominated again - go to to see who's won these awards in the past.

Then go find an envelope, address it to the WBS, P.O. Box 70604, Seattle, WA 98127-0604, and put a stamp on it. Mail it in! Have a say in who winds up on the ballot for the 2011 "BB's. Besides, if you vote you then have the wonderful right to bitch and complain about who makes the final ballot... and, who doesn't! It's your right as a card carrying Washington Blues Society Member - exercise it!

While your ballot is making it to our post office box in Ballard, go out and listen to some great LIVE blues music!

The venues will appreciate it. .. and, so will our talented Pacific Northwest Musicians.

Again, if you don't have a ballot, see a Board Member. We'll be happy to verify that you are a member with
Membership Director Michelle Burge, or you can download one by clicking HERE!

By the Blues Boss

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pacific NW Artist Mia Vermillion Opening for John Hammond at Jazz Alley

By Eric Steiner

 Pacific NW blues artist Mia Vermillion will open up for award winning blues guitarist John Hammond at Jazz Alley in Seattle on Feb. 22nd and 23rd. Washington Blues Society (WBS) President Eric Steiner had the good fortune to catch up to Mia Vermillion recently, and published this interview in the Society's February 2011 Bluesletter:

WBS: Congratulations on your upcoming Jazz Alley performance, opening up for John Hammond. How are you going to develop your set list for this pretty high-profile gig?

MV: By maintaining a degree of focus. I have a fairly short time to present my music. So, with this in mind I will be preparing two new songs that I've written as well as revisiting songs from my album "Alone Together With the Blues." I'm rehearsing the program on guitar by doing some unannounced solo performances over the month of January/ February and of course rehearsing it with Orville. In addition, I'm offering a house concert February 12th in Anacortes which I see as a warm up for my opener at Jazz Alley.

WBS: Since I first saw you and Orville Johnson at the Anacortes Public Library a few years ago, your CD has taken off. Literally! Bill Wax plays songs on it on BB King's Bluesville at XM Satellite Radio and John Kessler regularly uses it on All Blues. Are there any really far-flung places that have played it?

MV: Oh yes! For example, Radio Upper Galilee Israel 105.3 FM. It's on radio in Russia, Croatia, Norway ... and on and on. It's all over the globe really. On the Russian Facebook equivalent networking site, I've seen my music on people’s playlists. In July 2009, I put up a map on Google maps of where I was aware of it playing at that time. It's an interesting look at locations. You can still find the map in a blog post on my website under the blog tab. lt's representative at that time (July 2009).

WBS: You won our International Blues Challenge, but could not compete due to health reasons. I hope your health is getting better, and that we'll see you out more and more in 2011. What are your plans for 2011?

MV: The health thing was a really tough go - an injury. I still have some residual effects from it. I expect to overcome completely, but it's just going to take time. One of the toughest issues for me was the loss of confidence I went through. Getting back to the music and performances has helped me gain some of that back. I'm just so grateful for all the opportunities that are coming my way right now. My main focus and plan right now is to develop live performances and connect with the people who love the music. I have been rehearsing a 4 piece band. They are a great group and I love the sound we are producing. I'm wanting to extend my sound with them and I have been scheduling shows with the band. I expect to continue to build on that momentum through this spring and summer. I'm excited about this and about connecting with my audience again. Working with talented folks, performing the music and getting feedback from audiences makes me physically and mentally feel well. So I'm motivated. I also want to continue to develop is my solo work. I like the expression and freedom in it. I'm working new music into my sets and starting to write. I've taken up a part time residence in Seattle for a bit to get my artistic juices going. I hope to experience a change in patterns of living and perspective to help me branch out personally and artistically. I'm wanting to grow. That's my plan Eric.

WBS: What are the last five CDs you've listened to?

MV: The last 5 CD's I've seriously listened too were Candye Kane "Super Hero" I listened for inspiration and healing myself. Thornetta Davis "Sunday Morning Music" for the power of her voice. Joni Mitchell "Blue" because I was told by Sue Ennis it was her masterpiece, and I had never listened to any of her work before. I fell in love with it as a songwriter. Eva Cassidy "Songbird" because of the beauty and soul in her voice and again it was recommended to me by a friend who felt it was a must 'listen' for me. I took a shine to Dusty Springfield recently, and have been listening to individual songs, but I want to get "Dusty in Memphis" and listen to it closely. When I hear a female voice that speaks to me, I'll take quite a bit of time to 'get' it.

WBS: When will you release a new record? Any plans in the works to follow "Alone Together with the Blues?"

MV: I do want to release a second album of work. I'm planning on starting a project this coming fall 2011 for release in spring 2012. I expect to write the majority of songs on this project with a few covers. I feel a vetting of emotionality coming through in my writing. It is the healing aspect of this type of personal inspection that will lead me in creating another record. I've been needing a lot of fun in my life lately and I've done quite a bit of traveling this past fall to find some and I plan to do more. It's has helped me get better and feel good and I find it freeing. So, perhaps the shaping of my personal journey via some traveling blues is the order and the ticket to my next album.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

27th International Blues Challenge Results

The Blues Foundation's 27th International Blues Challenge ended on Saturday February 5th, 2011 with two packed shows at the Orpheum Theatre. Out of 220 acts from 40 states and 13 countries that competed for top honors throughout the weekend only two can be called winner in the solo/duo and band competition.

A BIG congratulations to the outstanding blues talent from the Pacific NW. The Pacific Northwest was represented by four bands and one solo/duo act in the IBC Semi Finals (WIRED!, the The Randy Oxford Band, the Vicki Stevens Band and Lisa Mann and her Really Good Band, Back Porch Stomp [Nick Vigarino and Larry Dennis]). The Randy Oxford Band and Back Porch Stomp moved on to the finals. The Cascade Blues Association's submission: Joe McMurrian (Get Inside This House) won the 2011 Best Self Produced CD, with Becki Sue and her Big Rockin' Daddies (Big Rockin Boogie) making the final round!.

For the second consecutive year a non-American act won the solo/duo category thus solidifying the global scope of the event. The solo/duo winner was Germany’s Georg Schroeter & Marc Breitfelder, sponsored by the Baltic Blues Society in Eutin, Germany. The second place honors went to Canadian Harrison Kennedy from the Canal Bank Shuffle in Thorold, Ontario, Canada.

For the first time in event history, the top prize in the band competition goes to a former solo/duo category winner. 2008 IBC solo/duo winner Lionel Young returned with The Lionel Young Band to win on behalf of the Colorado Blues Society. Second place honors were earned by Mary Bridget Davies of the Kansas City Blues Society, and the third spot went to Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues hailing from the Windy City Blues Society.

Another event first was the bestowing of IBC’s Best Harmonica Player. Yet another international participant, Stephane Bertolino from the French band AWEK, won for Blues Sur Seine.

The Best Guitarist Award was given to Rob Blaine of Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues. He walks away with beautiful blue custom Gibson guitar featuring The Blues Foundation's logo and a Category 5 amp.

Get Inside This HouseIn the Best Self-Produced CD contest, the judges crowned ‘Get Inside This House’ by Joe McMurrian of the Cascade Blues Association in Portland, OR.

The finalists in the solo/duo category were: Back Porch Stomp –(Washington Blues Society, WA), Izzy & Chris (West Virginia Blues Society), The Juke Joint Devils (Massachusetts Blues Society), The Mighty Orq (Houston Blues Society, TX), Big Jim Adam & John Stilwagen (Colorado Blues Society) and JT Blues (Billtown Blues Association, PA).

Teach You A LessonThe finalists in the band competition were: Randy Oxford Band (South Sound Blues Association, WA), Stevie J & the Blues Eruption (Central Mississippi Blues Society, MS), Grand Marquis (Topeka Blues Society, KS), Alex Wilson (Grafton Blues Association, WI), The Sugar Prophets (Illinois Central Blues Club),

Blues societies all over the world will soon be starting all over again as they begin their own competitions to determine who they will send to the 28th International Blues Challenge, the finals of which will be staged January 31-February 4, 2012.