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Calendar of Events

There's always something going on at the Rockfish Grill and Anacortes Brewery. Check out our calendar for upcoming special events. Visit the Rockfish Grill for live entertainment including the best in jazz, blues and beyond.

Here is What's Happening at The Rockfish Grill

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Monday, February 1, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010

DINNER and a MOVIE EVERY MONDAY


Join us for Dinner and a Movie! Every Monday night stop by the Rockfish, order from our Dinner and a Movie menu and receive a ticket to the Anacortes Cinema located right across the street. Movie tickets are good for 30 days from date of issue.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

SAVAGE JAZZ


It's our monthly Jazz invitational hosted by the Savage Jazz Trio. Join us for the best in mainstream jazz with special surprise guests, 6 - 9 PM the first Wednesday of every month.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010

KOLVANE

Kolvane is a lifetime musician and artist who founded Portland’s Rose City Kings in 2002. In 4 short years, Kolvane moved the band from obscurity to notoriety releasing three critically acclaimed albums, touring with Chicago Blues legend Jody Williams as his personal band, breaking into the Top 50 Roots Music Report in the Roots Blues category and continuing as the highest ranked self-released album on the RootsMusicReport.com chart for several weeks.

In the first quarter of 09, Kolvane's "Cool Baby" single reached and held the #1 spot on the Blues Singles category for two consecutive months on Cashbox Magazine's music chart. KOLVANE beat out other recognized acts such as Elvin Bishop, The Mannish Boys and Tab Benoit. Notably, Cool Baby has also received attention beyond the confines of the Blues genre, becoming a Top 20 hit on Cashbox's Beach Music chart.

Cashbox Magazine along with Billboard magazine are legendary music charting and entertainment magazines. Cashbox numbers are based on radio airplay, Internet voting, Soundscan, jukebox airplay, and other proprietary methods.

Well-known Portland Blues musician Curtis Salgado praised Kolvane and said: "When I first met Kolvane I knew here was a guy with great songs with catchy hooks and a vision for his music career. This is a well deserved number one."

Long time Portland music industry expert Terry Currier said: "Charting at #1 is great for any artist. For an artist today to do it, when over 75,000 releases are put out each year, it's an incredible feat. It's a testament to the music, hard work and well executed plan.".

With the Rose City Kings, Kolvane gained instant notoriety with his songs Devil In My Shoes and Biscuits and Gravy, which in the spring of 2006 spent 2 months in the Top Ten of RadioWave Monitor’s Contemporary Blues chart. Rose City Kings was reformed and changed its name to KOLVANE. Over the last 7 years, the band has received numerous awards and recognition.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010

JUNKYARD JANE

The four-headed love child named Junkyard Jane rose by night in the tide flats of Tacoma, Washington from a deadly mephitic brew of blues, swamp gas, rockabilly, old engine parts, country, motor oil, folk, funk and used kitty litter. Like all true originals, they display a Creole blend of influences that they affectionately call “Swampabilly Roots Music”.

With five critically acclaimed, all original CD’s under their belt and over 1000 live performances since their 1997 debut, the band decided to expand it’s musical horizons by relocating to the tour fertile South, landing in the Americana friendly city of Louisville, Kentucky.

Junkyard Jane, a BEAM Grant recipient (Benefiting Emerging Artist in Music), was one of only eight groups from a pool of thousands to make the final round at the International Band Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee; and their briefcase full of awards over the years includes the prestigious Washington State BB Award for “Best Band”.

Rooster Hooch, Junkyard Jane's newest release, finds the band coming into their own with raw arrangements, scaled down production and some of their best songwriting to date. Ductape & Sagebrush, showcases a journey into the rootsy, acoustic side of the band; while their third album, Swampabilly Snake Oil Freakshow, serves up a steamin’ plate of corn fed, swampy, jug band blues. JJ’s sophomore effort, Milkin’ the Frog, was voted BB Award winner for “Best Northwest Recording” and features all original music as does the debut CD Washboard Highway, which was named one of the top 10 NW recordings by KPLU radio.

Four-time “Best Songwriter” nominee and Summy Award recipient for “Female Performer of the Year”, Leanne Trevalyan entices the listener with her smooth, sultry vocal styling and acoustic guitar picking. Lea’s washboard scratchin’, slide whistle wailing and occasional kazoo solo ads a touch of whimsy to the show.

Billy Stoops, a BB Award winner for “Entertainer of the Year” as well as "Best Male Vocalist", delights and amuses audiences with his rich, soulful voice and on stage antics. Billy’s distinctive guitar style, both electric and acoustic, along with his groove-oriented songwriting garnered him a Summy Award for "Male Performer of the Year".

Louisvillian Alex Featherstone, the newest member of the clan, provides melodic bass lines on electric, acoustic and fretless basses, and his funk/rock origins compliment the bands rootsy tone. And finally, steady thumpin’ drummer Tom Sunderland, whose world beat rhythms can be heard on various TV soundtracks, keeps poundin’ down the groove so your butts can move!

“…as entertaining and uninhibited as anything you will ever see on stage!” John Allen Briscoe, WBS Newsletter
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

KIDS EAT FREE EVERY TUESDAY


Don't feel like cooking? Bring the family to the Rockfish Grill on Tuesday where kids twelve and under eat free all day (One child entree complimentary with each adult entree purchased).
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

STILLY RIVER BAND


Performing together for decades, the Stilly River Band delivers an exciting range of music, from bluegrass to progressive folk, Latin, Irish, rock and rhythm 'n blues. Their bluegrass arrangement of Sam & Dave's soul classic, Hold On, I'm Comin' will put a smile on your face for the rest of the day.

Known by some as “the bad boys of bluegrass”, the Stillys play and eclectic mix of music from traditional bluegrass to other less conventional styles played in a bluegrass format that the band labels “rude grass.”

The band features John Amber-Oliver on lead vocals and guitar, Jonathon Schneider on tenor harmonies and banjo, Stuart Torgeson on dobro and accordion, John Daugherty on vocals and stand up bass, Steve Stolpe on vocals and mandolin and Mike Schway on fiddle.


The Stilly River Band delivers accomplished musicianship, excellent vocal harmony and an always entertaining and unpredictable show. Looking for a cross between Earl Scruggs and the Tempations? These are your guys!

Friday, February 12, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010

STACY JONES BAND

Stacy Jones has had the opportunity to share her cut-loose harp riffs and sultry chops with some of the most well known blues musicians around.

Born and raised in Seattle, Stacy began playing the piano at four years old. At seven she picked up the guitar and at eight her father, Tom, started bringing her up on stage to sing Hank Williams tunes with his band -- she hasn't been able to stay away from the stage since.

Stacy met up with Beth Wulff at fourteen and that's when she was truly introduced to the blues. At sixteen she started learning how to rip on the harmonica and became a regular at The Scarlet Tree blues jams where she met Annieville and had the opportunity to trade riffs with Alice Stuart, Mark Dufresnes (Roomful of Blues), Mark Whitman, Dave Conant and many other incredible musicians.

A few years later Stacy got the opportunity to play with "The Seattle Blues" headed by Tim Sherman and John Hodgkin. This experience opened several doors for her and after meeting Ray Hartman, the former bass player with Dick Powell (Little Bill and the Blues Notes), they gathered several astounding musicians and formed "The Stacy Jones Band".

Stacy then had the opportunity to play with the "Highway 99 Blues AllStars" with Randy Oxford, Jerry Lee Davidson, Virginia Klemens, John Lee, Hod Rod, and Steve Starkowski. As well as being The Hwy 99 house band they performed at the 2005 Bumbershoot Festival opening for Sonny Landreth and Buckwheat Zydeco.

Stacy performed for the last two years as Stacy Jones and the Wolf Tones with Beth and Jim Wulff, Jeff Menteer and her father Tom Jones. The group produced an all original CD consisting of 11 tunes.

Stacy has also had the recent opportunity to share the stage with Elvin Bishop, several members of his band, Scott Sutherland and Mike Emerson of the Tommy Castro Band, Bobby Murray and Dave Mathews of Etta James' Roots Band, and The John Nemeth Band on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010

TIM TURNER BAND


Combining the sounds of rock 'n' roll, blues and Latin, The Tim Turner Band has gained immense popularity in the Seattle area since 1995. Performing many original songs, the band includes of some of the finest musicians in the Northwest.

Turner has been on the music scene since the 1970s as a singer, songwriter and guitar player.

"Tim Turner and his band are definitely among the blues legends of Seattle," said Joel Smith, chairman of the Ellensberg Jazz in the Valley music selection committee, where they headlined recently. "Tim's stylings are centered in the blues, but you will hear some country blues, big-city blues, delta blues and rhythm and blues."
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SPOONSHINE DUO


The Spoonshine Duo featuring Jacob Navarro and William Cook of the popular group, Spoonshine, perform their own brand of home grown roots music the third Wednesday of every month.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010

VAUGHN KREESTOE

Inspired by the need for emotional release and the desire for spiritual relaxation through sonic enlightenment, Vaughn Kreestoe was formed in Bellingham in April of 2008. Here's what "What's Up! Magazine", had to say about a recent live performance:

"Vaughn Kreestoe's such a tight band they sound like they've been together a decade... They may have been labeled a jazz band due to effortless improvisation, but they bring on the funk...the bodies filled the dance floor, rocking to guitarist Jeremy Elliot and keyboardist Delvon Lamarr's seamless leads...the audience stood just to listen, in sheer awe, to (Michael) Harris' incredible voice with its luminous tone and outstanding range... as Kevin Chryst rode his drums like brilliant, musical stallions."
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010

CEE CEE JAMES

A variety of rock and blues bands during the late 80’s and into the 90’s, brought Cee Cee James, formally known as Christina Fasano, ‘the funkywhitegirl,’ into the collaboration and recording of her first CD entitled ‘Spiritually Wet,’ released in late 1999.

"Spiritually Wet" went forward to gain top MP3.com R&B chart status right under the major label group TLC during 2000. That same year, Christina took home the 10th Annual Los Angeles Music R&B Award; and the first cut off the CD, ‘It’s Just A Funk Thang,’ gained R&B Song TOP 10 ‘runner up’ status in the JOHN LENNON SONGWRITING CONTEST. The CD garnered endless stellar reviews and gained press in several on and offline publications, as well as receiving play on several Indie U.S. and European Radio Stations.

However after several intense changes in her life in 2002, Christina took on her fan nickname of Cee Cee and turned her funked up soul stuff toward writing and singing Roots Rock and Blues.

Cee Cee moved to Portland, OR, from San Diego, CA where she had worked with her Roots Rock band for 2 years playing countless venues including the famed Adams Avenue Street Fair and the El Cajon Concerts on the Green. Continuing on in Oregon, Cee Cee worked with two great lineups of musicians through 2007 playing locally in clubs and festivals in the Portland area, up through Anacortes, WA and down into Bend, OR.

She relocated to Washington where she has just finished recording her second CD of original material entitled “Low Down Where the Snakes Crawl," full of Roots Rock, Blues, and even a little Country tune, with lyrics crafted from a life fully lived and experienced.

Cee Cee is one of the most 'real and raw' performers out there and has been endlessly compared to Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker and Stevie Ray Vaughn in her stage performances. Her voice and expression reach down immediately into the gut, grab a hold, and don't let go until days after the last note is sung.

She moves inside a seductive and contemplative vibe with lyrics that seduce the soul inwards, upwards, or wherever it chooses to go. Writing her lyrics from a place of need - for freedom and the feeling that we all want to discover and be accepted for who we are from our core individual essence.

Cee Cee is extremely hard working, easy to work with and is available for trio and full band performances.

She is looking forward to continuing to give of her life through singing, writing for herself and others and performances all over the world.

"...she appears to be loved by some, panned by others, and regardless of the vocal mega talent, has never been recognized by the right people. Her career has taken a hit recently due to personal issues. Her own Bio tends to parallel that of Janice Joplin in many ways, at least in hopes, dreams, successes and failures. As her set continued, the vocal talent and stage presence became obvious. Her version of Red House combined great music and lyrics with gutsy, raw vocals and superior stage appeal. She finished with a Tina Turner song, Nutbush City Limits. This woman is a riveting performer, primarily in the rock and R & B genres. If you like this type of music, I highly recommend taking in one of her shows."

Roy Brown - Who Let The Girls Out? - WA Blues Soceity Bluesletter
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

3.99 HAPPY HOUR MENU

Check out Anacortes' best Happy Hour, 3-6PM Sunday thru Friday. Enjoy pizzas, calzones, flatbreads, fish and chips, nachos and more all for only 3.99 and get $1 off all pours!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FIDALGO SWING


Join us for some great Django inspired tunes performed by local favorites Fidalgo Swing. Guitarist and host Allen Lewis will be joined each month by special guests to kick off our very own Djangofest right here at the Rockfish.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010

TOO SLIM and the TAILDRAGGERS


The 11 songs that appear on Free Your Mind, the 10th studio album from Seattle-based Too Slim and the Taildraggers, are the result of a touring hiatus in December 2007 and January 2008. “It was the first time I actually took time off specifically to write songs,” remembers band leader Tim Langford (AKA Too Slim), “and I’m very pleased with the results.”

The songs on Free Your Mind are a slice of American roots music, with blues, Americana and rock influences. “The songwriting process is something that I really enjoy, but it can also drive you a little crazy,” says the lead singer/guitarist. “I always try to write down ideas or phrases that I hear in everyday life that could be song titles. Some songs are inspired by personal experiences and some are just observations of life as I see it. For instance, the lyrics on the song ‘Last Train’ were inspired by reading stories from one day of the Seattle Times newspaper. I was actually laughing out loud - and was appalled at the same time - by the articles I was reading. The chorus just came out of me as I was running through a rough draft of the song: ‘Feel like I’m riding on the last train, with cracks in the wheels, headed for a big bang. Feel like I’m riding on the last train and Hunter S. Thompson is the engineer.’ It seemed to sum up the absurdity of the world events on that particular day. I like the variety of the music on Free Your Mind. There are songs of love, perseverance, faith, fiction, frustration and the craziness of everyday life,” adds Langford..

Tim Langford worked again with producer Todd Smallwood on the new album. Smallwood also co-produced the band’s last CD, The Fortune Teller. “I really enjoyed working in the studio with Todd,” says Tim. “He had great ideas, and has the recording process down to an art. He is an extremely talented producer and musician, and played Hammond organ and 12-string guitar on the recording, too.

Todd’s studio is in the middle of an avocado grove in the Santa Paula area of California. It’s a very nice setting and the sun was shining everyday, which was a wonderful environment in which to record. We recorded at three separate sessions starting in September 2008 through November 2008. I went in the studio with the band (bassist Dave Nordstrom and drummer Rudy Simone) and we ran through all the songs live and got the rhythm tracks down at the first session. Then, I returned on my own the second time for guitar overdubs and vocals. At the third session, Todd and I put the finishing touches on the album. We then left Todd alone to finish the mixes and work his creative magic. We recorded all the guitars straight through a Peavey Classic 50 guitar amp and a Fender Deluxe Reverb in the back room of the studio with no effects. I received a Les Paul Supreme guitar last year on my birthday from my lovely wife and manager, Nancy. Most of the guitar parts are recorded with that guitar. It has a very special tone. I also used my Reverend guitars for all the slide work. I did use a Fender Stratocaster for the solo in ‘Last Train’. We also had the pleasure of working with wonderful singers like Lauren Evans and Paula and Pamela Mattioli.”

Tim “Too Slim” Langford, with his band the Taildraggers, have created an eclectic style of roots-rock, Americana and blues that has become a genre all its own. Too Slim's ever- evolving musical direction cannot be classified into any box or category. The eclectic nature of the band allows Too Slim and the Taildraggers to easily cross-over and appeal to audiences of various musical tastes.

Too Slim and the Taildraggers are headliners at theaters, festivals and concert stages. The band has shared the stage with the likes of Bo Diddley, Brian Setzer, The Doobie Brothers, Lucinda Williams, The Little River Band, Johnny Lang, .38 Special, Robert Cray, Otis Rush, Jeff Healey, Ted Nugent, Los Lobos, Lonnie Mack, Blue Oyster Cult, Heart, Travis Tritt, Junior Brown, Gatemouth Brown, Neil McCoy, Delbert McClinton, Blues Traveler, Steppenwolf, Johnny and Edgar Winter and Ronnie Milsap.

The band’s last CD The Fortune Teller, charted as high as #9 on the Billboard magazine Top Blues Album sales chart in 2007 and 2008. The Fortune Teller was also nominated for “Best Contemporary Blues Album” at the 2008 “Blues Blast Music Awards” in Chicago. This award-winning band has been voted “Best Regional Act” 11 times by the Cascade Blues Association, the largest organization of its kind in the USA. Too Slim and the Taildraggers have received multiple awards from various North West Reader’s polls and other North West blues societies for “Best Band” and “Best Album.” Founding member Langford has won multiple individual awards as “Best Guitarist,” “Best Slide Guitarist” and “Best Songwriter.” Too Slim and the Taildraggers are also in the Hall of Fame of three North West blues societies. Their devoted fan base has grown over the years into a national and international following.

As one reviewer explained the band, “experiencing a Too Slim and the Taildraggers concert is like taking a journey through the history of American music. Too Slim’s musical style ranges from down home blues, funky blues rock, Americana, southern swamp rock and instrumental guitar styles.”
Friday, February 26, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010

JOHN STOWELL and SCENES


Master Portland guitarist John Stowell joins drummer John Bishop and bassist Jeff Johnson to create "Scenes," a freeflowing collection of eclectic, mainstream jazz originals & new standards.

Drawing on Stowell's longtime association with bassist David Friesen and the trio's involvement in the very fertile Seattle creative music scene that has included Julian Priester, Jessica Williams, Gary Peacock, Art Lande, Larry Coryell & so many more, this group creates an intelligent, elegant, modern sound for our times.

From a recent "All About Jazz" review by
Dave Nathan: “This album (Scenes) is modern, progressive jazz that engages the hearer from the outset without resorting to devices that would make the music unapproachable. - Recommended.”
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010

RANDY OXFORD BAND

When one thinks of award-winning instrumentalists in the rhythm-and-blues realm, the trombone is definitely not the first instrument that comes to mind. Most of the trophies in this game, at least on the national level, seem to go to electric guitarists, with the occasional harmonica player, keyboardist, or saxophonist picking up an award or two along the way. That makes Randy Oxford the proverbial "big frog" in the very small pond of blues-based trombonists, having chalked up more than twenty awards from the Washington Blues Society and similar Northwest organizations over the course of his career. This year finds the restlessly creative trombonist sporting a new band and a brand-new CD with a title that reflects his current musical orientation: MEMPHIS TO MOTOWN.

Born in 1960 in Seattle's Ballard district, Oxford heard a wide range of music from his parents' record collection during his formative years, and when he moved with his family to Chicago at age eleven, the listening opportunities only increased. "My parents played classical, jazz, pop, and even some Sousa," he recalls. "George Shearing was a big favorite on the record player as was Peggy Lee, Boots Randolph, Henry Mancini, Sinatra, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Crosby, and of course, Tommy Dorsey. My parents would go out to the London House in Chicago and see many of these groups perform live, and then they would come home with their albums and play them all day long. They would take me to see the Chicago Symphony one week and then Stan Kenton the next week. I learned early on that there was a whole wide world full of all kinds of music out there, and I felt very lucky to be around it at such an early age."

As a result of one cultural outing in particular, the young Randy Oxford discovered his lifelong instrument and took it up during his sixth-grade school year. "My dad always had a fascination with brass," Oxford explains, "and he took me to see "The Music Man", which had great music in it, including "76 Trombones". That looked like a lot of fun, so I gave it a go. The school really needed someone to step up and take on the trombone, as most kids wanted to play trumpet, sax, and drums."

After high school, Oxford was encouraged by his father to try out for the Army band. "The audition consisted of traveling to the Great Lakes naval Base in Chicago and going into a room full of military musicians who sat there and judged your ability to sight read sheet music," he recalls. "The sheet music covered many different styles, tempos, and dynamics. Luckily for me, I had four solid years in my high school band, where we did lots of sight reading of all kinds of music, so I was well prepared. After the audition, they said that they had an open spot for a trombone player in Europe. Once I was guaranteed a spot in Europe, I was ready to sign the papers."

After a chilly winter's boot camp in Missouri, Oxford was sent to the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia. The course, which lasted nearly a year, combined musicians from all four branches of the Service for a curriculum that encompassed everything from symphonic music to swing and involved plenty of music theory and sight reading. "One amazing thing to me at the time, coming right out of high school, was that I was getting paid to attend this School of Music instead of paying to go to a dreaded college!" Oxford marvels.

Assigned to Berlin, Oxford gained invaluable experience in many countries and settings, playing to military and civilian audiences alike. "We had an Army group called The Ambassadors of Jazz that played American big-band swing all over Europe," he explains, "and the Europeans just went crazy for it! I found out that many of the old-school Big Band musicians were living in Berlin. I met Al Porcino, the legendary trumpet player from the Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, and Buddy Rich bands, and he asked me to join his big band. This was the ultimate school of music for me."

In 1981 Oxford returned home to the States, transferring to fill a trombone spot in the band stationed at Fort Ord, California, near Monterey. Once there, he lost no time in connecting with the local music scene. He worked with many groups, including the swing-oriented Monterey Peninsula Big Band, but his most influential experience came from a three-year stint with the Broadway Blues Band, a Santa Cruz ensemble whose instrumentation included a Hammond B3 organ and a three-piece horn section. "This is the band that really got me started on the blues," he explains. "All the old blues classics were played with this band, and we played at the 25th annual Monterey Jazz Festival. It was a blast!"

After finishing his military service in 1984, Oxford rteturned to the Seattle area and became a regular at the blues jam at Ballard's Owl Cafe wher he met Seattle keyboard and harmonica legend Dick Powell. Powell told him that guitarist Mark Whitman and his band Duo Glide might be looking for a trombonist. "I sat in with them, and they asked me to join the band," he recalls. "That led to shows and recordings with Jr. Cadillac, Little Bill and The Bluenotes, Fat Cat, Junkyard Jane, Nicole Fournier, and now finally The Randy Oxford Band."

Although he had recorded with Al Porcino, The Ambassadors of Jazz, and even his high school bands, Oxford made his first Northwest album as a result of joining the immensely popular roots-rock band Jr. Cadillac, participating in a 20th anniversary cassette album recorded live in 1988 at the Seattle Sheraton. Early the following year, probably with Cadillac, Oxford played a 50th birthday celebration honoring Northwest rock-and-roll legend Little Bill Engelhart, and Engelhart was so impressed with Oxford's playing that he invited him to join his band. Eighteen years later, Oxford still views the eight years spent with Little Bill and The Bluenotes as his most important learning experience. "Little Bill is my main mentor in the blues," he says. "He really taught me how to play the blues and live the blues. He taught me how to survive the tough times in the music biz and how to keep a band working year after year. He is why I am still going strong in this tough music business today."

In 1998, Oxford started jamming with a new, eclectically styled Tacoma band called Junkyard Jane whose "swampabilly blues" repertoire relied heavily on original material. During Oxford's three-year tenure the band made three CD's, achieved great local popularity, and placed as one of the top eight entries in a Memphis-based national Battle of the Bands competition.

After leaving Junkyard Jane in 2001, Oxford decided to take what he had learned about the music business and turn it into an enterprise that would help to build and strengthen the local blues community. Beginning at the now-defunct Jake's Alehouse in Federal Way, he started hosting weekly jam sessions at appropriate venues in the Puget Sound area. "I wanted to help musicians hook up and find bands and gigs," he explains, "so I started hosting blues jam sessions and started my own booking agency, Oxford Entertainment. Now I can help bands form and find new players from the blues jams that I host. Then I can help them find gigs through my booking agency."

One of the happiest results of Oxford's jam sessions was the discovery of the personnel that comprised the first Randy Oxford Band. Bassist Jack Kinney, originally from southern California, had toured with such legendary rockers as the Ventures, the Coasters, and the Isley Brothers before settling in the Northwest and joining Oxford. Singer/guitarist Jerry Lee Davidson had left his native Seattle as a musically restless teenager in the early 1970's to try his luck in Chicago's thriving folk and blues circles, eventually working with a pantheon of artists ranging from Willie Dixon to Willie Nelson to Chuck Berry. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Virginia Klemens had also made her mark on the Chicago music scene at a young age, fronting her own bands as well as working with artists like Doc Watson, Maria Muldaur, and bluesman Homesick James.

With the discovery of drummer/vocalist Riky Hudson, a Little Rock, Arkansas native with a diverse musical background, the band was complete. Its debut CD ALL THE BUZZ, released in late 2004, was a masterful integration of tradition and creativity, spanning an uncommonly wide range of eras and sources. It earned Oxford a 2005 award for Best Blues Recording from the Washington Blues Society.

The following year, however, Randy Oxford surprised the local blues community with a decision to break up his highly successful band and start over, explaining to the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE last November that he felt the band had "hit a plateau" and needed a more diverse repertoire and more showmanship to attract a larger audience. Drawing on the vast resource pool of musicians discovered at his popular weekly jam sessions, he put together a new Randy Oxford Band, keeping only guitarist Steve Blood and drummer Riky Hudson. The title of his recently released CD, MEMPHIS TO MOTOWN, reflects the change. "To be a modern day 21st century Blues band," he explains in his liner notes, "you have to branch out and embrace a style called "Americana", which includes R&B, Funk, Motown, Jazz, and all kinds of sounds wrapped around a Blues core."

Although this disc certainly displays a new sound, it's a far cry from the banal, commercialistic sellout that this hard-core traditionalist critic might have feared. Steve Blood and guest guitarist Dean Reichert contribute wonderfully complementary solos to such straight-ahead blues as Keb Mo's "Dirty low Down and Bad", Denise LaSalle's "Someone Else Is Steppin' In", and Delbert McClinton's "Go On". "Honey", a slow, minor-key blues co-written and sung by new bassist Dominique Stone, gets an expressive guitar solo from Steve Blood that calls B.B. King to mind. Heather Rayburn, a native Texan who serves as primary lead vocalist, delivers most of her songs in a muscular, up-front contralto, but on Mildred Anderson's Forties-era blues "Cool Kind of Poppa", she employs what Oxford calls a "Betty Boop" style that evokes Maria Muldaur'supper range.

Since the Randy Oxford Band had already included the James Brown hit "Think" on its first release, the Memphis-to-Motown soul-music connection that defines its latest album constitutes more of an emphasis shift than a new direction. Consequently, the material here that doesn't strictly qualify as blues encompasses Elvin Bishop's gospelesque "I'll Be Glad", the fun-loving funk of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "Bow Wow", and a couple of Motor City hits from the early Seventies led by Dominique Stone. The best of these latter tracks is Marvin Gaye's protest anthem "What's Going On", backed by tight, refreshing vocal harmony from the band. The closest thing to contemporary pop on this album is Joan Osborne's haunting "Safety In Numbers", which Heather Rayburn delivers in a sensitive, country-influenced style that further showcases her versatility.

Throughout the program, Randy Oxford utilizes the trombone's full range of tonal possibilities, riffing convincingly with the guitarists and taking solos that reflect the heat and spice of New Orleans or the cool of the Tommy Dorsey era as the situation demands. "I think that you will enjoy the "Americana" style of Blues that my band is exploring these days," he says in his new CD's liner notes. Like his previous release, MEMPHIS TO MOTOWN can be purchased at live shows and on his website, randyoxford.com
320 Commercial Ave. | Anacortes, Washington
360-588-1720 | MAP