Theatre Review: “It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues” at Portland Center Stage

Portland Center StageOn May 25, 2012 I attended the opening-night performance of Portland Center Stage’s latest production, “It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues.” This is an ambitious show, tracing the evolution of blues music from its roots in ancient African chants and slavery-era field hollers to the contemporary forms that we love so much today. And it lives up to the challenge, thanks to a cast of seven strong performers and a very skilled five-piece band. As you might expect, the music is a mix of raucous, up-tempo shouting blues numbers and slower, more subdued tunes that evoke potent moods from somber to sexy. Two projection screens above the actors help to move the narrative along and underline the show’s emotional content by displaying relevant period photographs.

The four men and three women in the cast are all impressive singers and stage-savvy performers. Their affection for the music is obvious, perhaps most notably in the case of Sugaray Rayford, who makes his living singing the blues as a member of the internationally-renowned group The Mannish Boys and also fronting his own band. Rayford’s impassioned treatment of “Hoochie Coochie Man” is a true show-stopper – he sinks his teeth into the tune and doesn’t let go until the last full-throated yell. Another standout moment is Chic Street Man’s slow, subtle and salacious version of “Crawlin’ King Snake” – by stripping it down to just guitar and vocal, he vividly demonstrates the raw power of the blues form. Every one of the performers contributes significantly, demonstrating a true understanding of what makes this music fundamentally important. Here and there some of the songs get more of a “show tune” treatment than I would prefer to hear, but it’s understandable given the setting, and clearly the majority of the audience was untroubled by this.

A key element of the show’s success is the band backing up the performers; Portland Center Stage assembled a group of true heavy hitters for the task. Every band member has a long list of impressive pro credits, and it’s plainly evident that they can all play. There is notable solo work by Ross Seligman on guitar and David Milne on sax and clarinet, and Calvin Jones offers some deliciously expressive upright bass playing on a few songs. Keyboardist Mark T. Jordan is obviously a monster player, but he was frequently buried in the mix the night I attended (a frustration for this keyboard player). It’s worth noting that the band takes the stage only in the second act of the production; during the first act the musical backing is provided entirely by cast members Mississippi Charles Bevel, Chic Street Man and Trevor Wheetman (with the exception of a walk-on guitar solo by Seligman).

I do have a few minor quibbles with the show. First, in a production celebrating the blues tradition and tracing its origins, I was surprised to hear a lyrical error in one of the most monumental songs of the genre: Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues.” Mississippi Charles Bevel sings, I’m leavin’ this morning / If I have to rob the blind… While this line has occasionally been misheard, it’s well-established that the correct words are …if I have to ride the blinds. “Riding the blinds” was common slang for riding a train “in the spaces between the baggage or mail cars near the coal tender which have no side doors” (Prof. Christopher Cook), so as not to be seen by the conductor or other railroad staff. The phrase was also understood to mean illegally traveling by freight train in a general sense. It’s pretty clear from listening to Robert Johnson’s original recording that he’s not talking about robbing anyone; the same goes for the innumerable cover versions that have occurred over the years.

Speaking of Robert Johnson, I wasn’t surprised to hear the old story trotted out about him going to a crossroads and having prodigious musical abilities conferred upon him by the devil in exchange for his soul…but it grates nonetheless. Extensive research has shown that it was more likely Johnson’s contemporary Tommy Johnson (no relation) who made the audacious claims regarding the crossroads, and that Robert Johnson was simply a very good guitar player. But thanks to Robert’s song “Cross Road Blues” (whose lyrics actually make no reference to a meeting with the devil or handing over one’s soul) the legend was attributed to him over time. I do understand that the play’s story arc is much less complicated without making a detour to discuss Tommy Johnson, but personally I’d rather they simply omitted the crossroads legend altogether and avoided propagating this misplaced myth.

Finally, while the playwrights correctly make the point that country music originates partly from the blues, I would have gladly passed on the songs they chose to include from that genre in favor of fitting more classic blues selections into the show. I feel similarly about “Fever,” which to my mind is practically a pop song due to Peggy Lee’s recording (in stark contrast to Little Willie John’s original recording, which is much more soulful but largely unheard).

Putting the above reservations aside, I have to emphasize that “It Ain’t Nothing But The Blues” is a hugely entertaining play, and it makes me incredibly happy to see blues music receive some well-deserved attention in such a pro-level production. At various points during the play I glanced around the room and was surprised to see audience members who were not moving in time with the music – this was more than I could manage. Whether you already love the blues or you’re just wondering what the fuss is about with this genre they say is the foundation for everything that came since, you will be glad you saw this show. [...]

Runs May 22 – June 24
Tuesday – Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Thursday matinees at noon
Click for full information and tickets

Lloyd Jones: A Portland Institution with a Fresh Resolution

The following is a cover story I wrote for the March 2011 issue of the Cascade Blues Association’s BluesNotes about one of my favorite Portland musicians, Lloyd Jones. This is the article as I wrote it, without the errant changes introduced during publication. You can hear Lloyd on Show #1, Show #9 and Show #12.

Lloyd JonesAsk any aspiring musician if he or she would like to be an institution someday, and chances are you’ll get an unqualified yes. But find a musician who is an institution, and try asking him if it’s as cool as it sounds. You might be surprised by the response.

Lloyd Jones is one such musician. There’s no arguing that he’s a Portland institution – in fact, Pacific Northwest is probably more like it. He was the bandleader for Brown Sugar, which jumpstarted the careers of Paul deLay and Jim Mesi as well as his own. He was one-half of In Yo’ Face, the roof-raising blues/R&B duo he fronted with Curtis Salgado. And for 25 years now he’s been the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for his own outfit, The Lloyd Jones Struggle. He’s received 30 Muddy Awards in various categories from the Cascade Blues Association, and was presented with their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. He’s been inducted into the Oregon Music Hall Of Fame, and performed at the Waterfront Blues Festival every one of the 23 years it has existed.

So what’s the downside? Well, when you’ve worked hard enough and put in the time to earn “institution” status, there’s always the risk that the listening public will decide they’ve heard what you do, they get it, and after a time they may assume you’ve got nothing new to show them. In a rapidly changing world where the Internet, smartphones and iPods compete for attention, even the most compelling music can get lost amid the noise. Plenty of new artists gain recognition simply because they sound “fresh,” while established artists with solid track records may start to fall off the collective radar.

But Lloyd Jones feels like he’s still got something to say musically, so he’s on a mission to re-connect with blues fans and remind them why luminaries like Robert Cray, Delbert McClinton, Coco Montoya, Bonnie Raitt and Charlie Musselwhite have routinely sung his praises over the years. His strategy consists of a one-two punch: after a drought of several years with no new recordings, he has one new CD arriving in a few weeks, and a second due later this year. On March 11th he and his band will play a special engagement at Jimmy Mak’s in Northwest Portland, and Lloyd plans to feature selections from both upcoming CDs at this gig.

The first CD, due in April, is entitled Highway Bound and features a more intimate feel than previous releases, demonstrating Lloyd’s talents as a solo performer of classic folk blues material. He throws a few originals into the mix as well, including one song co-written with local piano goddess Janice Scroggins. From the opening uptempo strumming of Lloyd’s own “Travelin’ On,” the listener feels a welcoming and intimate vibe not unlike his long-running Monday night solo outings at the Muddy Rudder in Southeast Portland. As the disc continues with tracks like Elizabeth Cotton’s “When I’m Gone,” Big Bill Broonzy’s “Southbound Train” and others, it quickly becomes clear why friends like Fiona Boyes encouraged Lloyd to make this recording.

“I would never have recorded this,” Lloyd says, “But a few people said, ‘You don’t do these songs exactly like the original artists did – you kind of put your own spin on them.’” So he drove to Seattle and recorded all 16 songs in a single day. “It was a good day,” he says with characteristic understatement. And while Lloyd’s guitar and vocal performances are remarkable enough on their own, he sweetens the deal with a couple notable guest performers: old bandmate Curtis Salgado adds harmonica to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Lazybones,” while Lloyd’s longtime friend Charlie Musselwhite lends his own formidable blues harp stylings to John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man.” In each case, the result is a slice of blues heaven.

It’s no surprise that Musselwhite was eager to make a contribution to this record. Lloyd and his Brown Sugar crew backed up Charlie playing several Portland dates in the early ’70s, and then in the mid-’80s Lloyd went on the road playing guitar with him. They’ve been close ever since. As Charlie says himself, “Lloyd has been a good friend for over thirty years and has consistently always been a great guitar player – great tone and phrasing from the heart. He’s also one of the nicest guys in the business.”

For Lloyd, this CD’s focus on traditional folk blues is a reflection of his treasured early experiences with blues greats like Big Walter Horton, Johnny Shines, Big Mama Thornton, Chuck Berry, George “Harmonica” Smith, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Musselwhite and others. They came through Portland on tour in the late ’60s and hired Lloyd and his friends as backup musicians. During those trips, with revered practitioners like Horton or S.P. Leary sometimes staying at Lloyd’s own house, “they took the time to teach us their craft, and left us with a legacy that needs to be kept alive,” he recalls. “I’ve carried that music with me all my life, and it’s my story now.” Highway Bound is the eloquent and long-overdue telling of that story.

For Lloyd’s show at Jimmy Mak’s on March 11th, he’ll open the evening with a solo performance to preview some material from Highway Bound. Then he’ll kick things up a notch and bring the band onstage to play the “swampified American roadhouse music” that is his stock in trade when accompanied by the full crew. In addition to his core lineup of Glenn Holstrom on keyboards, Timmer Blakeley on bass and Kelly Dunn on drums, Lloyd will up the ante this night and feature the Atlas Horns: Rudy Draco on tenor and baritone sax, and Warren Rand on alto sax. The horn section is sure to add extra impact to time-tested Struggle favorites like “Nickels And Dimes,” “Treat Me Like The Dog I Am,” “Love Gotcha” and “Trouble Monkey.” The beefed-up ensemble will also be poised to offer some tasty sneak peeks of new songs that will appear on the full-band CD coming later this year.

“What I want to do with this recording is to have it leap out at you,” Lloyd says of the band’s new CD. “I want it to have some attitude to it. And I look for that in every song.” Whether it’s a driving rocker, a greasy funk number or a slow and eerie blues, he’s working hard to coax the maximum dynamics out of every track and allow each song’s feel to be the most important factor. “Music is emotional to me,” Lloyd says. “And if there’s no emotion, if it’s all correctly executed but there is no emotion, that’s the biggest letdown for me.”

Like the acoustic CD, the new band disc will be spiced with notable guest performances. Local sensation LaRhonda Steele provides backing vocals that Lloyd says “just took it to the next level, with the vibe and the tone that she added to it.” He also gets some help from Texas blueswoman Teresa James on one song. “It’s a fun duet,” Lloyd says. “It’s like Samantha & Dave instead of Sam & Dave – a real tight, rockin’ thing.” That song will be released soon as a downloadable single prior to the arrival of the full CD in the fall, so fans should keep their eyes open for an early taste of what’s to come.

With almost completely original material, the CD promises to be a strong showcase of Lloyd’s songwriting talents. His songs tend to distinguish themselves by their eclectic foundations – rather than mining standard blues structures and lyrical clichés, Lloyd draws substantially from what he likes to call “the other little countries” within the larger world of blues music. He notes quite accurately that “the difference between Texas, Mississippi and New Orleans is vast. There are so many influences that just make the music that much richer.” So he assimilates these varied sensibilities into his compositions to create a potent stew that never disappoints. While Lloyd is surprised that sometimes it seems “the blues community is afraid of New Orleans and Memphis influences,” he persists in his stylistic synthesis because that’s the music that touches him emotionally. Not coincidentally, it’s also what tends to get people up out of their seats and onto the dance floor.

Already artists like Coco Montoya, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Michael Burks and Joe Louis Walker have liked Lloyd’s songs enough to record their own versions; chances are that folks will find plenty to like in this new crop of tunes as well. The good news is that even with two new releases about to drop, there’s still more to come. “I’ve never been in a position like this,” Lloyd says. “It feels great to have two new products after a long absence, and I’ve got at least 20 more new tunes ready to record. I’m more energized than ever – I can’t wait to get back and record some more.”

The two new CDs promise to create some welcome momentum for Lloyd in 2011. The Highway Bound disc will launch with a splash in the spring, followed closely by the downloadable single release of his duet with Teresa James. The summer will bring its usual resurgence of festivals and tour dates, during which he’ll travel to Canada as well as playing a healthy number of domestic gigs. In September he’ll fly to Norway to play a few high-profile shows, soon after which he’ll no doubt be back in Portland to host a release party for the full-band CD.

Lloyd is happy to have new projects to share, as he recognizes that even his most ardent fans need something fresh to listen to and reaffirm those signature Lloyd Jones qualities they enjoy so much. Just as importantly, it’s hugely significant to Lloyd to have the support and encouragement of his peers – people like Charlie Musselwhite, Robert Cray, Delbert McClinton, Curtis Salgado and many others who contribute to his recordings and his songwriting process and ultimately tell him, “You’re not nuts – this is good!” As Lloyd puts it, “You work hard at it and you don’t want to screw it up. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of getting it, and I’m learning every time I get a chance. You just grow as much as you can and keep going. So I’ve been very fortunate in having the support of other musician friends.”

So go ahead – give Lloyd Jones all the credit in the world for the great music he’s brought us, and revere him as a genuine Portland institution. But if you take him for granted and figure he’s already shown you everything he’s capable of, you do so at your own risk. Pass up an opportunity to hear Lloyd – whether it’s his solo gig at the Muddy Rudder, his quartet at the Trail’s End or the full extravaganza March 11th at Jimmy Mak’s – and you’re passing up a chance to have your ears opened, your hip joints loosened and your musical possibilities expanded. Look, Lloyd isn’t planning to hang it up anytime soon, but just like any of us, he won’t be around forever. So go out and catch this guy doing what he truly lives to do: playing. There simply is no substitute, and it is our incredible good fortune to have a talent of this caliber making musical magic night after night, right here in our hometown.

The Lloyd Jones Struggle featuring the Atlas Horns will appear at Jimmy Mak’s on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 8:00 PM. Tickets $10 advance, $12 at the door; go to Tickets Oregon for more information. More information on Lloyd Jones, including his performance schedule and links to buy any of his CDs, is available at his website.

Paul deLay/ Scholarship Benefit Concert

Most, if not all, readers are well aware that Portland and the entire blues world lost a great treasure when local blues giant Paul deLay passed away in March of 2007. Just weeks after his passing, however, Paul’s many former bandmates pulled together to put on a tribute concert that not only honored his memory, but also established a scholarship fund in Paul’s name at Ethos Music Center, a nonprofit dedicated to music education for youth in underserved communities. Donations made at that first annual concert seeded the scholarship, and the 2008 and 2009 shows have increased the fund by several thousand dollars.

Which brings us to this year’s third annual event: on Sunday, April 25th, 2010, the Paul deLay/ Scholarship Benefit Concert will be headlined by nationally-known, award-winning blues veteran Charlie Musselwhite. deLay and Musselwhite were personally acquainted, and Charlie held Paul in high esteem. In addition to Musselwhite’s highly-anticipated set, the evening will also include performances by Portland’s blues elite.

Here’s a partial list of those scheduled to perform, and links to hear samples of their music in previous PDXBluescast shows, where applicable:

Curtis Salgado/Alan Hager Duo (heard on Show #20 and Show #22)
Lloyd Jones (heard on Show #1, Show #9 and Show #12)
D.K. Stewart (heard on Show #1 and Show #21, among others)
LInda Hornbuckle
Rick Welter
Tahoe Jackson
Former members of the Paul deLay Band

By now you’ve probably figured out that this is a show you don’t want to miss. The music will be transcendent, and you’ll get the added euphoria of supporting a worthy cause. Now that you know you gotta go, here are the particulars:

Paul deLay/ Scholarship Benefit Concert
Sunday, April 25, 2010
6 – 10 p.m. / doors at 5:30 p.m.
Aladdin Theater
3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., Portland (503-233-1994)
Tickets $20 advance, $25 day of show; available at Aladdin box office or through Ticketmaster
Note: You can also purchase advance tickets for $20 and no service charge at the March and April CBA membership meetings, held the first Wednesday of each month at the Melody Ballroom, 615 SE Alder St., Portland.

Blues For Haiti – Sunday, Jan. 31st

What more can be said about the earthquake disaster in Haiti? No words can ever allow those of us who are not actually there to understand the tragic suffering that is a daily reality for the Haitian people. But even if we can’t fully grasp it, we can surely see the need to help our fellow human beings in any way we can.

Fortunately for us blues fans, this Sunday we have an opportunity to do our part while getting an awfully nice reward at the same time. From 6:00 – 11:00 pm at The Refectory on Sunday the 31st, a cavalcade of local blues artists will play a special show to benefit Portland-based Mercy Corps in the relief efforts they are conducting on the ground in Port-au-Prince.

Here’s a partial list of those scheduled to perform, and links to hear samples of their music in previous PDXBluescast shows:

Jim Mesi (heard on Show #7 and Show #15)
Lloyd Jones (heard on Show #1, Show #9 and Show #12)
Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes (Kevin hasn’t appeared here yet, but one o’ these days…)
Terry Robb (heard on Show #2 and Show #8)
A.C Porter & Big Noise
Jim Wallace
Lisa Mann (heard on Show #19
Suburban Slim (hear him tear it up on the first song of Show #32)
Dover Weinberg (hear some vintage Dover work on the Mick Clarke tunes in Show #10)
Rae Gordon
Stu Kinzel (heard on Show #2, Show #10 and Show #20)
Mac Potts

According to their mission statement, Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. This Sunday night, help them achieve their goals by attending this special event, enjoying the great music and donating generously.

The Refectory: 1618 NE 122nd Ave., Portland 503-255-8545.
(In case it helps, on Sundays their Happy Hour food menu is in effect all day, and Happy Hour drinks are available from 6:00 to closing time.)

World Premiere of Portland Blues Documentary

For anyone still dropping by here from time to time to see whether or not the lights are on, let me take this opportunity to suggest that you head to the Portland Art Museum on Monday, January 25th at 7 pm to catch the world premiere of Portland Mojo: How Stumptown Got The Blues. This seems like a film that is way overdue, so copious kudos to director Bob Leitch for undertaking the project and seeing it through to completion. It is said to include “film clips, photographs, posters, and interviews with just about everyone involved in the evolution of the scene over the last five decades” – sounds pretty much like a must-see to me.

I’ve heard that Portland blues legend Pete Karnes is returning to town to see the film and to play a little (hear vintage Karnes cuts in Show #6, Show #11, Show #19 and Show #29), and the word on the street is that many other local blues luminaries will be in attendance at the premiere.

Icing on the cake: following the screening, there will be an afterparty at the Mission Theater featuring live music from many of those same luminaries. Overall, it’s a Monday night not to be missed. Much appreciation to Bart Day, Entertainment Law West, LLC, for his sponsorship.

The screening takes place at 7:00 pm in the Whitsell Auditorium of the Portland Art Museum at 1219 SW Park Avenue, downtown. Click here to order advance tickets.

The afterparty is at the Mission Theater, NW 17th & Glisan. Admission is free, no-host food and drink.

See you there!

Pat’s Picks – Weekend of 11/28/08

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

How are you feeling today? Bloated? Sluggish? Fatigued? All of the above? I’m so sorry. Fortunately I have the prescription for your post-Thanksgiving doldrums – get out there tonight and tomorrow night and catch some live blues! The gigs I’m highlighting this weekend are bound to get you up out of your seat and burning off those extra calories on the dance floor.

For Friday night I’m recommending the Jim Mesi Band at the Cascade Bar & Grill in Vancouver. A guitarist extraordinaire, Jim is a prominent icon of the Portland blues scene. It’s always a thrill to watch Jim play one of his perfectly executed solos – he builds the intensity, soaring higher and higher until you begin to doubt he’ll be able to land it gracefully when the time comes, and then suddenly he’s brought it back down to earth without you even noticing. Hear it for yourself tonight at the Cascade – with any luck Jim will do a few surf guitar tunes to really get you moving. Hear Jim and the rest of his great band on Show #7 and Show #12.

On Saturday night I’m sending you right back to the Cascade Bar & Grill to catch another local luminary: Curtis Salgado. There’s not much for me to say…if you’re already familiar with Curtis’ fiery, soul-drenched vocals and his masterful harmonica playing, then you already know you need to be there; if you’ve never heard Curtis live, here’s your opportunity to remedy that before your friends find out and start openly ridiculing you. Tasty samples of Mr. Salgado’s work can be found in Show #1, Show #4, and Show #19, among others.

That’s it for Pat’s Picks this week – now get out there and keep the blues alive!

Pat’s Picks – Weekend of 10/24/08

Hey there, everybody … I’ve got the Garage Sale Blues this weekend … really weighed down with helping to get this massive effort off the ground, so this is gonna be the shortest & sweetest Pat’s Picks ever. Read ‘em and weep! Or…go out and hear some live blues.

Friday night: Lee Blake Band at the Candlelight – Lee doesn’t play out often enough, so take this opportunity to hear him along with his great bandmates (check out Lee and the band on Show #17 and Show #14).

Saturday night: Jim Mesi & Ed Neumann at Halibut’s – Jim plays as a duo with Ed, his keyboardist. These two guys are top-tier musical talents, and this intimate setting should make for some tasty moments. Hear Jim and the full band on Show #7 and Show #12.

That’s it for Pat’s Picks this week – now get out there and keep the blues alive!

Pat’s Picks – Weekend of 10/17/08

Greetings, everybody! As I type this, I’m in Victoria, B.C., sitting behind the wheel of my car in the lineup for the Blackball ferry to Port Angeles, Washington. I was up here for the week helping my brother put on a triple-bill blues extravaganza featuring Paul Oscher, Lurrie Bell and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne. Man, was that a great show. Getting to meet the performers was a real thrill, and having Paul and Kenny play my digital piano was icing on the cake. And to wrap it all up with a Portland tie-in – former Portlander David Vest (Paul deLay Band), now a Victoria resident who’s been teaming up with Kenny and D.K. Stewart for their “Piano-Rama” dates, was in attendance! Not only that, but when Kenny was in the middle of an absolutely cookin’ boogie-woogie number, he called David up out of the crowd to join him! David sidled in on the right hand, Kenny gradually shifted out of the way completely, David took one or two choruses by himself, then Kenny wedged himself back in on the right, David gradually edged out, and then it was Kenny again. Seamless and just killingly good.

I probably have a few more stories from the evening’s festivities, but for now it looks like the ferry’s about to board and I’m gonna lose my Wi-Fi. So tonight (Friday), go to Monty’s in Beaverton and hear the under-heard and brilliant Kenny Lavitz, or getcha some Nawlins grease with the New Iberians at O’Connor’s in Multnomah Village. Saturday night I recommend the Ty Curtis Band at the Cascade Bar & Grill, or if you don’t mind the drive to Forest Grove, head to McMenamins Grand Lodge and hear the expert acoustic stylings of Mary Flower.

That’s it for Pat’s Picks this week – now get out there and keep the blues alive!

Pat’s Picks – Weekend of 10/10/08

Happy Friday, everybody. I’m in a hurry, so let’s dig right into my recommendations for your weekend blues listening.

Tonight (Friday), you have the rare opportunity to welcome a new venue to the local blues scene. The Refectory, at 1618 NE 122nd Ave. (near Halsey), has been flirting with blues content here and there for a while, but they’re now considering doing the blues thing full-time. They’re kicking off their new direction tonight by featuring the sizzling blues/rockabilly sounds of the Strange Tones. This is one of those few bands with a real signature sound, due in equal measures to the fiery guitar soloing of Guitar Julie and Suburban Slim, as well as the excellent vocal work of those two frontpersons. Anchored by Andy Strange on bass and J.D. Huge on the drums, it makes for a formidable musical juggernaut – you can get a taste of the Strange Tones in shows 2, 4, 14, 23 and 30. Head out to the Refectory tonight and show them they made the right decision in featuring blues music! They need to see people filling those seats and having a good time….you can do that, can’t you? Sure – I knew you could.

Well, Saturday night holds some fine possibilities, but my vote goes to blues piano master D.K. Stewart, who has recently resumed his occasional duo thing with the formidable guitarist Jay “Bird” Koder. They’re calling themselves “Bird Stew” (…get it?), and they’re playing at the Cascade Bar & Grill Saturday night. I predict they will kill…these are two incredible talents, friends. You can hear D.K. on Show #1 and Show #21, among others.

Pat’s Picks – Weekend of 10/3/08

Today’s a special day – it’s the birthday of my very first crush, Mary Helen. I was in the 7th grade and she was…oblivious. Where is she now? Search me. But as a barometer of my overzealous obsession, to this day I still remember her birthday and think about her every year. Y’know what? She probably hates the blues. Yeah, I’m better off without her. That’s the ticket.

So…are you feeling the need to soothe your blues? Well, this Friday night you can do that and do some good at the same time. The Cascade Blues Association is hosting a fundraising concert at the Melody Ballroom, and the slate features an All-Star band of teen blues performers, blues educator and performer Michael “Hawkeye” Herman, and the headlining Sean Carney Band. For more info, go here.

On Saturday night, Curtis Salgado is at the Trail’s End and I heartily recommend him anytime and anywhere, but…if you’re a local who’s seen Curtis a few times and you’d like to try something different, I’ve got just the ticket. Head to the Cascade Bar & Grill in Vancouver and take in the blues / rock / rockabilly sounds of The Troublemakers. These guys crank out some killer harp-fueled Americana, with Texas native Rich Layton out in front. You can hear the band in Show #3 and Show #22. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’d be recommending them even if I didn’t appear on their latest CD, Chop Shop Pit Stop. So there.

That’s it for Pat’s Picks this week – now get out there and keep the blues alive!