Spring 2018

Hello and welcome to this, the springtime edition of the Blues Palace Blog!

Hopefully, this will be a more regular thing than usual.

I’d like to blame Microsoft for cancelling my MS Word subscription for the delay but in reality, It’s mostly my penchant for procrastination.

My bad.

The weather is nearly perfect on this fine Spring morning.

Warm, breezy with a pollen filled scent of early May.

The lavender tree’s fill the air with a gentle aroma of Spring.

Taxes got paid, firewood is almost depleted and the new blues music is shockingly outstanding!

The first release for today is actually from last Winter.

It is Janiva Magness and the CD titled “Love Is An Army”

At the expense of possible cliché”, I believe this is the best of the three releases I have of hers.

 This is a fun recording with some big name artists featured on it. Properly mixed by Dave Darling and engineered by Zack Darling (The Darling Brothers?) makes the sound both perfect for the material, but also compelling to the ear.

This could be one of the best sounding releases in recent memory.

The music is, as you might expect, both fun and danceable.

I may have the stupid white guy moves, but I can’t seem to stop the swaying.

The CD starts with a soul filled tune “Back To Blue” showcasing Janivas’ wonderful voice and expressions. Next up is “hammer”. Charlie Mussselwhite provides the harmonica on this driven’ blues tune. This release continues with a surprise at most every turn. Other notable collaborations include Delbert McClinton vocals on the ballad “What could I do” and Cedric Burnside on guitar on the hypnotic tune “Home”.

As always, I like to listen to the release as I write.

I know I’m the guy who is responsible for the words to describe what I am hearing. But I find myself lacking in enough superlatives to express how much I like this release.

So, that being said, I would like to thank Janiva Magness for the incredible work on this release.

Thank-you, Ms. Magness for bringing this huge smile to my face.

Up next, one of the few guys I feel I can review after listening to Janiva and still maintain a good level of enthusiasm, John Clifton.

His newest release, “Nightlife”, is outstanding. The whole thing reeks of fun. Made me smile out loud when I first listened. I caught my self singin’ along with “Swamp Dump”. “Last Clean Shirt” was so cool, I made lunch, turned up the sound and feasted on a chicken-Avocado sandwich while I felt sorry for Poor Ol’ Brother Bill. Kind of like grabbin’ you by the appendage of your choice and givin’ it shake.

Gets your attention. Keeps your attention.

This is one of those cd’s that seems to almost have feelings. Alright, I know that’s stupid. But I can feel something listening to this cd. Maybe it’s because I got that Blues Guy disease. I am compelled to love this stuff.

Hey, Rip Cat Records!!  Youz guys got a winner here.

As my dad would’ve said, “Good sh*t, Maynerd”.

The last song , a nine minute slow burn just started. Track twelve is generously filled with the subtle but brilliant piano licks floating in the background. Bertek Szopinski, not an easy name to spell let alone say, is the conveyer of those expressive licks. Surrounded by Bassist Matt Moulton and drummer Roman Rivera, they complete the backbone and setting up John Clifton’s too cool for school harmonica licks and vocals.

I can’t believe how impressed I am with this band. I am sure the overall coolness of that last song is a huge influence on my current enthusiasm.

So, on that note, I’m gonna take a break. Regain my senses, maybe drink a few beers… Yah, a few beers, that would do it. Now, I would l  ike to introduce y’all to my constant companion, procrastination.

Coming soon are the latest from Kid Ramos, Dany Franchi and a plethora of other deserving, outstanding blues musicians.

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Winter, 2017 – 2018

‘17 holiday season gone, but not forgotten…

 

Now that the holidays and all that craziness are over, time to review some of this seasons newest and, some say, best in recent years, releases.

After our warm and wet Thankgiving, the new releases started rolllin’ in. The one that struck me the most is the International Blues Challenge 33rd release. It is by far my favorite.

This release is like the best set ever on your local blues radio show.

It starts off with a gospel style, upbeat groove by Montreal’s diva Dawn Tyler Watson tune “Shine On”.

After that, Johnny Fink & the Intrusion give us a party, funky shuffle with “Let’s Hear Some Blues” that gets the girls dancing. And we all know what that means. A great night in the making.

Randy McQuay goes next with a bluesy, acoustic, not to mention soulful tune titled “ ’Til I Get To Memphis” .

These three tunes start off a CD that will make any road trip EPIC!

This compilation CD rocks and soothes for 14 tunes that showcase some of the world’s best new blues players. I believe that this release can be a helpful guide to future release purchases.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of the performers is a Portland favorite and personal friend. Rea Gordon & the Backseat Drivers. Rea Gordon, in real life,  is a funny, self confident, Diva that can belt out a stunning  power ballad and then, while announcing the next tune, make you laugh out loud with off the cuff commentary that sets a smile on your face while you wait for the next tune that will keep that smile going.

This release is entertaining from start to finish.

Next up is a fun, “duets” style release “Double Standards” from Mick Kolassa. He’s doing the duet thing with the likes of Sugar Ray Rayford, Tas Cru and Jeff Jenson. This guy takes our favorite blues songs and adds a clever, very subtle twist to these tunes that we know and love.

Truly remarkable and desirable performances for the blues lover in all of us.

Right after our “White” Christmas” (I can’t think of a more praised and wished for weather condition than a White Christmas that in reality, is a super pain in the Arse and a never more loathed circumstance when a clear, cool condition is so much preferred by the people who have to drive, visit, or make a last minute store run.)  the Ghost Town Blues Band released its newest “Backstage Pass”. An idea that I am sure we will hear more of. It is recorded backstage at several live gigs. These guys bring out the toe tapping blues tunes in a unique style. The band consists of seven players showing their skills and love of making blues music.

They include…  Matt Isbell on most every guitar mode imaginable. Cigar Box, Silverware Chest Guitar, regular old electric guitar and even more. Taylor Orr handles regular guitar and vocals. Tom Stanek on keys, Suavo Jones honkin’ the trombone and helping out on vocals, Kevin Houston on Sax and vocals, Matt Karner doin’ the backbone thing on bass while adding vocals. Last but not least features  drummer Preston McEwen rounding out the backbone on drums.

I want to also mention that the backbone, handled by Karner and McEwen is done to perfection.

They move the songs along with a steady rhythm and feel without upstaging the songs themselves.

Quality blues music.

It all ended Superbowl Sunday (while I am not a big Eagles fan, I sure enjoyed watching them make Tom Brady cry.) when the day before, I received the newest Laurie Jane & the 45’s release titled Midnight.

This band makes me wonder how much more fun a guy could have while sittin’ in his underware writing reviews and listening to blues music.

This toe tapper is keeping me out of the shower I so desperately need because I want to listen to the rest of this CD. Laurie Jane has some of the best vocals ever and is backed by a great band featuring Cort Duggins on Guitar, Piano and lap steel, backbone featuring Scott Dugdale on percussion and Jason Embry handling the upright bass.

While most trios don’t really do it for me, these guys create a full sound with no holes in the music and that I believe might just be because Laurie Jane Duggins fills them with clear, harmonious vocals that impress.  

Well, the weather warmed up over the New Year, still got most of my firewood and this cool blues music continues to impress thanks to my very patient friend Frank Roszak at Frank Roszak Promotions. He  delivers on a regular basis.

I am truly blessed.

 

Tom Addis

Better Late Than Never

Blues Palace log…

 

What day is this!

Just yesterday it was …….

Holy Maloney.

I am seriously amiss as I haven’t updated my blog since, well, never mind.

Summer is over. Four 100 + degree days, 30+ ninety degree days. I felt very warm. Firewood is in and stacked. Lots of beer into the fridge.

Peruvian neighbors loudly celebrating world cup Peruvian wins  (at 7am).

A lot of new blues music.

Really good blue music.

Here are three of my favorites.

 

First, we have a hottie from the Detroit area with tons of very musical friends.

Ya think I will to need to apologize for calling her a hottie?

Lots of things have changed recently.

Sorry, I digress.

This young woman is named Eliza Neals.

Her newest release is titled “10,000 Feet Below”.

It just grabbed me by my dangly things and gave em’ a good shake.

The first track “Cleotus” features a rare slide duet, a finger-snapping rhythm section and sensual vocals from Ms. Neals and an unknown back-up singer.

I just found that there is a video of this tune on YouTube.com.

Next up is a heartfelt balled titled “Another Lifetime”

Features a sultry, scratchy vocal.

This repeats over and over on this release. She even surprises with complete style changes. Rock, jazz, soul, traditional, the list goes on.

This is a very hot release and would help make any road trip… Epic.

 

Another oddly compelling September release is from Canada.

This guy’s name is Rob Lutes. With a unique guitar style and soulful voice, he is immediately a new fav.

When I think on his voice, it is very comfortable. Easy going and articulate.

His songwriting is also very comfortable. I caught myself listening very intently as I was enjoying the lyrics and flow of his melodies.

This is one artist that has a unique feel, a groovin’ music style and vey fun to listen to.

I would be willing to pony up my precious music budget so I can listen as part of my life.

You know, nice day, headphones on, walking on the riverfront and just groovin’ to life.

Rob Lutes release “Walk In The Dark” is a winner.

On another note, this guy can really play guitar. Just outstanding.

 

This next guy is a Memphis regular that features a Bobby “blue” Bland style vocal with that Memphis sound. His song writing stands out almost as much as his vocal talent.

He writes most every tune on his release ‘Rollin’ With It” and shocks the listener with solid horn arrangements, great back-bone and guitar riffs. Add in his “Bobby Blue Bland” vocal stlylings and you have a release that you will never feel remorse at buying.

I think this may be my favorite blues/soul release of this year. It is that good.

John MacNamara’s release “Rollin’ With It” is near perfect and a winner in the world of blues music. 

I’ve got lots more to review so stay tuned to this Blue Palace Blog.

 

Lisa Biales

Well, it has been three months since I promised weekly updates.

Didn’t quite make the cut. I do have to mention that these have been a couple terrible months.

Five snowstorms in 6 weeks was probably the worst.

We usually don’t get five snowstorms in six years. Went through most of my firewood and all of my patience.

Major flu the week after I told my doctor that I didn’t think I needed a flu shot.

That’s ten days in bed.

Blew a head gasket in my old truck.

2400$ and a plugged heater core for the repair.

This list goes on and on.

However, I am back on my feet and ready to talk Portland, blues music, great restaurants and anything else that might come up in this crotchety old brain of mine.

This is about the 8th or 9th time I have started this blog entry. Hopefully, I won’t just sit here and stare at the keyboard, mind blank and coffee getting cold.

OK, it’s now been a week since I last stared at this screen, blank minded and with cold coffee.

There has been a some new music that has arrived, but now my CD player has dumped.

I was listening to some new tunes, ejected the CD, stood up and kicked the tray by accident and have now broken it.

3 of these 7 days was to order a new CD player and install it.

In local news,Our little town is having an uproar about the woman’s march from January.

Seems that a lot of the donations have disappeared.

Thieves. They are everywhere. Nothing is sacred.

I can’t help but wonder how much of this thievery is associated with the current proliferation of white drugs in our communities. Meth, coke, crank, oxycodon. That’s not all but those will do for a start.

I am no saint, but I have never stolen from others to get drugs. Or for any reason for that matter.

But I digress, I can’t allow myself to get irritated over something I cannot change.

So, lets do something that I do not want to change.

Great blues music. I just can’t seem to get enough.

Let’s start with Lisa Biales.

Her latest is “The Beat Of My Heart”.

While this is her ninth release, It is unique because it includes a song her mother wrote and cut to an old 78. Lisa found the album in storage and added it to this release in the form of adding her long departed mom onto the first lyric of the cover of the song “Crying Over You”.

I admit that I was amazed at how close these two sound alike.

They both have the similar resonate voices that have very clear diction and tonality.

When you listen to her, she hits her sharp and complex melodies with great accuracy. For a guy like me, this is a vocalist that stands out of the crowd.

There is not a single tune that I can say was merely OK.. They all shine for similar reasons.

Her studio musicians stand out as much more than competent, they worked on this for a long time.

This is evident in the finished product.

Very, very cool.

Produced by drummer Tony Braunagel and engineered by Guitarist Johnny Lee Schell, Lisa comes out on top with a winner CD that anyone would proudly own and play for their friends.

It is just that good.

On a sadder note, “Duff’s”, one of the best blues clubs in our city, is closing.

This Friday night is one of their last hurrahs with the talent of a shockingly entertaining local band named the Strangetones. Incredibly cool with their “crime-a-billy” style and smooth musicianship, this band has it all. Outstanding song writing, unique style and professional sounding arrangements. This is their calling card.

Another one of those bands that make you think “why are they not filling halls around the country or being played on radio or the movies or late night tv”.

A truly unique expreience at live venues and on CD.

One of our best local bands, fur sure.

That’s all for now. I’ll start an the next post… soon.

Teresa James, JohnWeeks Band, Mitch Kashmar

Teresa James, John Weeks Band, Mitch Kashmar

 

I am sitting here staring at a blank screen wondering what will come out of this mind about the last 6 weeks. First, I feel I must address the most current election. I had written a lengthy opinion about it, but felt it was too emotional for this blog. After all, this is all about living in Portland and some cool new blues music being released to the world, not about my fear of a crazy person that thinks this is about himself, not the country.

Enough of this.

So far, I have used about 20% of my firewood. Right on track.

The temp here in Portland hovers between a relatively comfortable 40 and 50 degrees.

Light rain, breezy and grey.

Then, just a few days later, the snow struck.

We don’t get much snow here, so this was a real surprise! Hell, I ever lost power for the first time in 25 years or so!

I admit, reading a good book in front of the fire by flashlight was fun. I found that I can heat things up by putting a pan on top of the wood stove. It is almost as fast as a microwave, just way more dangerous.

I think that I could get used to it if I had something besides soup and chili. While these were fine, they got old kind of fast.

But I digress.

As I sit in my warm house, fire blazing, I am feeling a little sorry for the vast homeless population out there. Right now, it is 25 degrees out with about 2 inches of snow covering everything. I am blessed.

I can only hope that they are all right.

So, enough of this melancholy.

I have also received lots more blues music.

Mostly from prolific promoter Frank Roznak. I can tell ya, if you want your CD in the hands of us blues professionals, this is the guy to get ahold of.

The first release is the newest from Teresa James.

The only time I have seen her live was when she did a duet here with local legend Lloyd Jones.

Lloyd is one of those musicians that you cannot believe hasn’t hit the national spotlight.

Anyway, Teresa’s newest with her band the Rhythm Tramps is exceptional. I love the moving sound of her tight band and vocals. Her shuffle gets me in the back-bone.

I sit, stand, cook, and clean while I listen. I just can’t help but bounce around the house to the rhythms of this incredible release. Favorite bounce? The title track on the album, Bonafide.

The sarcastic fun of “My God Is Better Than Yours” caught me a little off guard.

Made me smile out loud.

The tune ”To Big To Fail” was very ominous. A sultry contemporary take on what worries us all.

I can go on and on about these tunes. They are all cool, fun blues music.

This release is a big thumbs up and would make a great gift for the blues lover in your life.

She is another that I can’t figure why she isn’t featured on late night tv.

She is just so cool and talented. I have listened over and over. I am still not tired of this release.

The next up is the John Weeks Band. Their newest titled “Dark Angel”.

The release starts out with a big electric number featuring the wonderful vocals of Stacy Turpenoff.

The next tune, “The Blues Just Got More Blues” is a fun balled with the unique style that seems representative of the John Weeks Band.

Outstanding song writing, vocals and musicianship.

If I had a still had a show, this release would appear every week for months. There is just that much to love.

Oh well. While my show is over, this band deserves closer attention from those who still have one.

Last but certainly no least comes from my friends over at Delta Groove.

Local transplant Mitch Kashmar has a new release titled West Coast Toast.

If you are a fan of that LA style blues harmonica this is the CD for you.

It reminds me of those excellent releases from William Clarke. Mitch was a good friend of William Clarke “back in the day” and has fun stories about drinking beer with Mr. Clarke in the afternoon.

Mitch, who now lives in Portland, has one of those great voices that fit perfectly with his very complex style of harmonica.

He is an ace.

Featuring Junior Watson on guitar, this is about as greasy as you can get.

I am a big fan of this style of harmonica blues music.

Danceable, fun and very cool.

Drummer Marty Dobson and bassist Bill Stuve force the tunes into a groove that only these SoCal guys seem to produce. Add the piano queues from Fred Kaplan and this big sound gets even bigger

This is the style of blues music I love to play when I am being productive. (firewood, domestics, being busy in general)

A true toe-tapper. The perfect gift for that blues lover in your life.

Mitch has released a great CD with his southern Californian pals.

Blues Palace material. No question.

Well, that’s about all for this year. After 1-1-17, I will try to make this a weekly blog.

Look forward to more thoughts on living in Portland and the new blues music crossing my desk.

Happy holidays and an upbeat new year to all!

firewood and the blues

Lew Jetton, little Mike And Kathryn Hettel.

 

Well, It’s been since last August that I posted anything here. That being said, September was an epic month that I got everything done that needed doing.

1: got my youngest daughter, Sarah, married off to a nice guy with a cool family in a great setting.

2: got all the firewood for the season delivered, stacked and tarped.

3: listened to a lot of very cool blues music.

First, let’s start off with what I see as the most important. My lovely daughter Sarah married William Wells the sixth in a very fun ceremony with an outstanding reception that lasted into the night, all at the Chinook Winds casino/resort. Great times for all involved. The rooms all looked out over the Pacific Ocean with back door access to a sidewalk, lawn, beach grass berm and the beach. What a view, what a great setting.

This has been in the works for over a year, so it was an excellent ending to what was a challenging, planned event. Kudos to all involved.

Second on my list was the firewood. After the trip to Veneta, loading the firewood, then the trip home, it was time to unload, stack and cover. This was my job. At the beginning, I had some help with the unloading and stacking from my very generous ex-wife, but the rest was up to me.

I started with a new release from Little Mike. I have followed Little Mike since he was on Blind Pig Records with his original band The Tornadoes. They had been together for decades and have backed up some of the Who’s Who of the blues world. Most currently, they backed up Pinetop Perkins And Jimmy Rogers on a re-release of “Genuine Blues Legends”.

Little Mike has been around for a long time. He played with the Muddy Waters band before Pinetop joined the Tornadoes and the new band was formed.  It is nice to note that Little Mike took his guitarist Troy Nuhumko and drummer Cam Cobb with him on the  adventure with the new label, Elrob Records. This was the first release that I played as I donned my red and white dew rag and leather gloves to attack my firewood. Twelve very fun tunes that made the work fly by.

Next up was a cool release by Lew Jetton and 61 South. The release is lots of fun with several upbeat contemporary blues tunes and, I might add, some very nice ballads about rain and the feeling it brings out. I liked it a lot and have listened to the entire release several times. I later learned that Lew Jetton is a local weather guy in Southern California. I always thought that being a meteorologist in southern California would be a piece of cake. Then I thought of how hard it would be to say sunny and warm every day and keep it interesting. I suddenly don’t know how they do it!

The last release that saw my firewood dwindle to the last few pieces in the back of the truck is the newest by NW award winner Kathryn Hettel. It is titled “Cookin’ In The Kitchen With Dinah. A Tribute to Dinah Washington “. First, I have always loved the music of Dinah Washington. When the Blues Palace was on the air, I would frequently add a Dinah Washington tune to add a little class to the set. One of my favorites is “Blow Top Blues”, It helped explain that crazy girlfriend from the seventies. This release was three years in the making and features great musicians from the Seattle/Snohomish areas in Washington including Kevin Sutton on guitars, (unbelievable slide on Gamblers Blues), Joe Doria on an incredible B3, Sandy Carter on pedel steel, and a host of others brought together on Charles Hiestand charts inspired from the original recordings.  This is a release to own if you love Dinah as much as I do.  Hettel has the voice and sassiness that really brings the songs alive. Critical Sun Records has a bonified hit on their hands.

The wood is unloaded, stacked and blue tarped. I have already needed a few armloads to warm the abode as we are starting to get some kind of cool nights. I guess that’s to be expected in October here in the Pacific NW.

A reader of this blog asked me why I don’t have any negative reviews. The answer is simple. If I do not like a release, I don’t write about it. Plain and simple, I follow the Thumper Principle here. And I quote… If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Later!

 

 

August 20th

August 20th ,  2016

 

I can’t believe it! Here at has only been a day or to, and I’m updating this blog!

There are a couple good reasons for this.

One, it’s already around 100 degrees outside. It’s 2PM.

Go figure.

Reason two is a little different. I just finished listening to the new Mick Kolassa release, “Taylor Made Blues”

He is a very talented poet with a keen ear for music that flows with his poetry. I also have to give his sense of humor and outstanding acoustic guitar licks a real big thumbs up.

His first song is a tune called “Baby Faced Louise”.

It almost makes me wish I had a woman named Louise so I could give her a copy.

Any woman that’s named Louise would be extremely flattered. This is why I believe that he is a poet.

He puts beautiful phrases into flowing music that bring a warmth to your heart.

The Musicians he has on this release are a who’s who of southeastern artists that feature many Blues Foundation award winners like Victor Wainwrite and Jeff Jenson.

While I have previously written about Jeff Jenson’s unique style on guitar, I have only rarely heard anyone quite as adept at phrasing dramatic lead guitar riffs in a song.

Ya gotta love it.

Mick’s sound is a little like that outstanding bar-band in your community that every one thinks is the very best, wins all the awards but no-one outside of your area has ever heard of ’em. We have incredible blues people here in our city, they just don’t get the recognition they deserve. Mick is definitely riding in that school bus

Hence, not getting enough recognition to become really famous.

Personally. I don’t think he will make the likes of the Tonight Show even though he truly deserves the shot.

Why? No real recognition in the big picture.

Just another outstanding poet and songwriter that most people don’t know about.

A tragedy.

While I stay nice and cool near my very loud and hurricane type windy air conditioner, I know that the dishes are screaming at me and the laundry settles in the basket wearily. It is just too damn warm in the rest of the house to get anything done.

I kinda think I remember saying something very similar last Winter. Only about the cold. I’m beginning to sense a pattern here.

Oh, well. It all will get done.

I am also supposed to smoke/cook about 12 pounds of salmon this weekend.

I chose the words smoke/cook because I get tired of people answering “How do you keep it lit?”.

These are the kinda jokes we now get in this new Marijuana themed culture here in Portland

I know that all in all, it is a comparatively easy task. I even volunteered! I just didn’t know that it will be over 100 degrees when I will have to get ‘er done.

Hope all of you reading this are rested, comfortable and cool.

Good life too all.

ta