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


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