Oregon's reputation as a hotbed for blues musicians brings to mind Robert Cray, Curtis Salgado, Lloyd Jones and Duffy Bishop, among others. The Rogue Valley can take its place among music-savvy cities Portland and Eugene with Northwest favorites Karen Lovely, David Pinsky, "Broadway" Phil Newton and dozens of others.
Blues vocalist and songwriter Lovely — a second-place winner at the 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn. — got her start singing in Ashland clubs and now resides in Portland.
Blues singer, songwriter and guitarist Kevin Selfe moved to Portland from Roanoke, Va., in 2007 to surround himself with a higher caliber of blues musicians.
What: Beacon Hill Blues Festival
When: 1:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29
Where: 188 Beacon Hill Lane, off Old Siskiyou Highway south of Ashland
"Oregon is very well-known for its blues scene," Selfe says. "Salgado, Jones, Bishop — all of those artists are known outside of Portland."
Selfe and The Tornadoes, featuring bass player Allen Markel and drummer John Shultz, and Lovely, backed up by guitarist Leonard Griffie, drummer G.T. Albright, bassist Tyler Smith and keyboard player Pat McDougall, will headline Saturday, June 29, at the fifth annual Beacon Hill Blues Festival in Ashland.
Festival organizers have showcased Oregon blues bands since its 2009 inception, starting out with local players and growing to include Portland-based bands. This year's show will include Pinsky and Newton, joined by the Rogue Valley Blues All-Stars — bassist Gary Davis, drummer David Matthieu, guitarist Brent Norton, keyboard player Gary Halliburton and saxophone player Roger Volz — along with the indispensable harmonica blowoff with Mark Howard, Bruce Dunn, Pinsky and Newton competing.
Call it a triple, or quadruple, hit of the blues, if you'd like.
The show runs from 1:30 to 7 p.m. at 188 Beacon Hill Lane, off Old Siskiyou Highway in the hills south of Ashland. See www.ashlandblues.org for directions. Tickets cost $22 and may be purchased at Music Coop or Hot Stuff Espresso in Ashland, Gypsy Trader in Phoenix or at the gate.
A talented songwriter, Selfe's original music presents clever takes on diverse blues styles. His new CD, "Long Walk Home," mixes Delta, Chicago, West Coast and jump blues.
"That's also my approach to live performances," he says. "Everything that I do is blues, but I really like changing it up."
That musical diversity — along with Selfe's spine-tingling guitar licks — are standouts on "Long Walk Home," released in February on the Delta Groove Music label.
Selfe and The Tornadoes — and Lovely and her Prohibition Orchestra — will perform Friday, July 5, on the Oregonian Front Porch Stage at Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival, one of the largest outdoor blues fests in the country.
Now a Northwest favorite, Selfe and The Tornadoes won the Cascade Blues Association's Muddy Awards for Traditional Blues Act of the Year in 2012, 2011 and 2010. The band won a Muddy for Contemporary Blues Act of the Year in 2009. It was inducted into the CBA Hall of Fame in 2012.