Thursday, February 19, 2015

Will Play Harp For Food - Anything Helps!

I was recently approached by a promoter in Portland about performing at a harp show at a club there on an "off" day - by that I mean not a Friday or Saturday night.  After checking out the money offer, I sent the following response (names have been removed for obvious reasons):

"Hello ____,

Sorry, but I will have to decline to play this gig. As you know, a trip to Portland is a 350 mile round trip for me.  That's a tank of gasoline, which costs me about $35 these days.  The round trip also takes six hours to complete.

It looks like _____'s band is a five piece combo, so with the additional two harp players, I assume that there would be a seven-way split of the money.  If the club pays the maximum of $500 (which seems unlikely on a Sunday afternoon), the musicians would get a payout of $71 each.  $71 minus $35 equals a net payout of $36 for me.

Now, let's say that I play one hour, then add the six hours of travel time.  That equals seven hours of time expended on my part.  The $36 estimated net payout divided by seven hours equals $5+ per hour.  This is approximately how much money I used to make mowing lawns when I was a teenager in the '60s.

I love playing music, but I don't love playing it that much!  So I must respectfully decline your offer, but thanks for thinking of me!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Linda Hornbuckle Is Dead

Longtime contributor to the Portland, OR music scene, Linda Hornbuckle, died on October 4th, 2014 after a long struggle with liver and kidney cancer.  She was 59 years old.

RIP Linda Hornbuckle.  
Photo by Patrick Lamb Productions.

See a brief obituary here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Summer Gig on the Beach

I played a gig with the Brian Butler Band last week on the beach in West Seattle.  This was an annual backyard party that Brian's band has been playing for the last five years.  As you can see from the photo below, the host's back yard is actually on the beach, just about a stone's throw from the Fauntleroy ferry dock.

This was an easy, fun party.  I munched on catered barbecue while party attendees took over the stage and played Neil Young and Grateful Dead songs.  I have known guitarist  Brian Butler since the mid-'70s.  He played in my band Nitelife briefly back in the day when we were playing the dives downtown on First Avenue.

We managed to wrap the gig up and split before it started raining, so it was all good!

You can check out the band I play in, the Boneyard Preachers, here.  See you at the nightclub!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Brian Lee & the Orbiters at the Highway 99 Blues club

I dropped by the Highway 99 Blues Club tonight to see Brian Lee and the Orbiters do a tribute to to the music of the great Little Walter Jacobs and Big Walter Horton.  The Orbiters are recent recipients of Best Band and Best Traditional Blues Act awards from the Washington Blues Society.

The Orbiters are normally a quartet, but this evening they hired guitarist Eric Daw so that Brian could play harp during the "tribute" portion of the night (the first set).  Journeyman bassist Mark Dalton was also filling in for the regular Orbiter bassist, Hank Yanda.

I had to leave early to get my beauty sleep, but here are some photos from the gig:

Left to right: Brian Lee, Mark Dalton, and Eric Daw.

Brian Lee and Eric Daw

Left to right: Steve Yonck, Mark Dalton, Eric Daw, and Brian Lee.

Russ Kammerer and Mark Dalton.

I wonder what will become of the Highway 99 Blues Club when they finally get Bertha, the waterfront tunnel boring machine unstuck, and they tear the remaining portions of the Highway 99 viaduct down?  The club is practically underneath the viaduct structure.

You can check out the band I play in, the Boneyard Preachers, here.  See you at the nightclub!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

I'm TRYING to Watch the Game Here!!

The Preachers played  at a new bar in Renton last night, a sports bar that features a gazillion beers on tap.  The joint's kitchen wasn't open yet, so customers had to order food via the phone from the surrounding restaurants, or leave the place, eat elsewhere, then return.

We set up on the bandstand, which is about four and a half feet above the floor and directly behind the bar.  This arrangement put all of our amplifiers at the ear level of the bartenders and wait staff. There was a house PA system that seemed to work fine for the hip hop music played on our breaks, but the mains appeared to be off when the band was playing.  I'm fairly certain that the only PA speaker that was working during our sets was the single floor monitor.

The bandstand.

The view from the bandstand.

I sent posters to the club, which were not in evidence anywhere.  Our gig did appear on the club's website, with a starting time shown as "all day."  The Preachers' name did not appear on the event board inside the club.  All of the big screen TVs were left on (sound off) during the gig, so that the customers would not be distracted by the band, I guess.

Bless the club's heart for hiring us, but the 20-something crowd in attendance couldn't have cared less about the music the Preachers were playing.  It occurred to me that if you want to determine what music is most appropriate for a club, pay attention to the music being played on the breaks.  At this place, familiar hip-hop and current R&B tunes were being blasted at the crowd, who seemed to be familiar with every tune.

I hate to say it, but why not just hire a DJ for this sort of venue?  Just curious!

On the positive side, we did get paid and the staff was helpful and friendly, so it's all good.  I don't think we would be interested in playing there again, though.

You can find out more about the Boneyard Preachers here.  See you at the nightclub!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Janice Scroggins is Dead

Our hearts go out to the Portland music community and the family of the awesome pianist Janice Scroggins, who died suddenly of a heart attack on May 27th, 2014.  Very sad!

RIP Janice Scroggins.  Look here for a brief obituary.  Photo by John Rudoff.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Enough already with the burns, IT BURNS!

The Preachers have been spending a good amount of time recently fending off promoters and bar owners that would love for us to play for free, or close to it.  For the "exposure," of course.

A gal that has a weekly public access show asked us to play and be videotaped at a new music venue on Seattle's west side.  This gig of hers is always free, and we actually did one of these sessions last year.  The problem is that we have never met a single person that actually saw that specific show, either live or as an archived performance.  Not one.  So we turned the offer to participate down.

However, we did contact the west side club about a possible gig, which precipitated the usual kind of funny back and forth with the club owner.  First, he wanted to know many people on our e-mail list would show up at a gig.  How could we possibly know the answer to that question? So for giggles we told him that 50 percent of the folks on the e-mail list usually show up.   He responded that that's what ALL the bands say, and that very few people usually show up because of an e-mail invitation. Frankly, I agreed with him, but I was curious why he was asking a question that he already knew he answer to?

After hearing our modest compensation request, he told us that he only guarantees "new" bands $125 for the night.  Plus, he only has to pay his most popular band (that packs the place, apparently) $250.  So, we scratched that one off the list too.

Next we were approached by someone that wanted to "live stream" one of our paying gigs on the web. For free, of course.  We discovered that anyone that wanted to watch the performance on the web would have to pay.  We were told that any money collected would apply to the cost of putting the event on the web, and the band would not be compensated.  Thanks, but no thanks!

Finally, Stoop Down's other band, The Market Street Dixieland Jass Band, approached a new club in the Public Market area about a gig.  The deal?  The door, minus $150 for the sound guy! They decided not to play there for some reason

Enough with the exposure already - it's killing us!

You can find out more about the Boneyard Preachers here.  See you at the nightclub!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mike Moothart Benefit Update

We have been getting inquiries about how to donate to the Moothart benefit fund by folks that can't attend the benefit in Portland on May 18th.

It is easy to make a donation!  You can send checks to this address:

111 SE 214th Avenue
Gresham, OR  97030

Please make any checks payable to Mike Moothart.

That was easy!  Do  it today!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mike Moothart Benefit in Portland - May 18th, 2014

NW blues fans - Please see the message below from our friend Bill Rhoades regarding the forthcoming benefit for another one of our friends, the powerful and inspiring harp blower, Mike Moothart. I'm planning on attending this show, how about you?

Mike Moothart - Photo by Greg "Slim Lively" Johnson.

There are many great things about living in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Really way too many to list here. But a couple I will list are the fantastic music scene we have and all the outstanding musicians that pull together when one of us is in need. I know. I can speak from personal experience. I was helped a number of times by the folks here in Portland and in Eugene, when going through health issues. If it wasn't for Randy Lilya, Jan Bisconer, Greg Lively,the C.B.A, Terry Currier, Bill Shreve, Paul Biondi, M.E.M.A (Musicians Emergency Medical Assoc.) and all the musicians, I probably would be living out on the street. 

Well, that time has come up again. One of the Northwest's most outstanding Blues Harmonica players needs help.Mike Moothart was recently diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. It had spread to five tumors on his spine. One tumor was removed and this eliminated him being paralyzed from the waist down. Mike has been receiving hormone/chemo/radiation treatments and the doctor have found the results encouraging so far, saying that he has responded well to the treatments.

I'm not pulling any punches here. The cost of this is huge. Add all this to the fact that two weeks before he was diagnosed, he was "let go" from his job of thirty years. He still has some insurance for himself and his daughter but the monthly costs of that are large.

Mike has been a solid Blues musician and Blues supporter for over 40 plus years. He grew up with Curtis Salgado in Eugene, OR, and played in many bands there. He offered his home to musicians traveling through like Big Walter Horton, Sonny Rhodes and many others. After moving to Portland, he played with the Jim Mesi Band, Jimmy Lloyd Rea & the Switchmasters and has frequently been seen at the Blues Harmonica Blow-Off's and Summit's. At one point he even drove the van for the Paul deLay Band. Mike loves Blues music and is hands down, one of the most hard blowing harp players out there. He used to ask people not to stand in front of him when he played because of the danger of being "sucked up into the harmonica."
Now Thanks to Randy Lilya, Sonny Hess, the Spare Room and an award winning list of Portland musicians, a benefit will be held to help Mike off-set the enormous costs of his treatments. On Sunday May 18th at the Spare Room - located at 4830 N.E. 42nd Ave - here in Portland, OR., an All-Star cast of players will get together and play from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

Donations will be accepted throughout the evening and there will a "ton" of unbelievable music and musicians!
Let me throw some names out and see if this gets your attention. Curtis Salgado, Linda Hornbuckle, Norman Sylvester D.K. Stewart, Lloyd Jones, Jim Mesi, Terry Robb, Andy Stokes, Sonny Hess, Steve Bradley, Bill Rhoades, Alan Hager, Jim Wallace, Jimmy Lloyd Rea, Sir Henry Cooper, John Koonce, Doug Rowell, Newell C. Briggs, Randy Lilya and Robbi Laws.

There will be many more players showing up. Way too many to list. A line-up not to be missed!
So please put that date on your calendar. May 18th - Sunday 5 pm to 10 pm at the Spare Room. Once again we can show that not only do the musicians here in the Northwest play great together but that they look out for each other and help when the time comes up.

Don't miss this show - like J.B. Hutto used to say "It will be heavy!

Bill Rhoades

Sunday, April 06, 2014


I was notified today that some of the photos previously published on this blog have disappeared.

Yikes! This apparently happened the other day when I was deleting photos from my Google+ account with my smart phone.  Unfortunately, the photos were also deleted from the linked Picasa storage space.

I haven't found a way to retrieve these photos - sorry about that!  Lesson learned.  I will be more careful about this sort of thing in the future.