Oregon has helped cultivate such national blues legends as Curtis Salgado, Robert Cray and the late Paul DeLay and Linda Hornbuckle.
One musician from Oregon City looking to solidify her place in blues history is Rae Gordon. She has long been a steady fixture in the Northwest for years, working the local scene and branching out into neighboring states.
The multi-award-winning female vocalist who Curtis Salgado calls "the hardest working musician in town ... besides myself" has now set her sights on the world at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, in February.
In July at the Waterfront Blues Festival, Rae Gordon and her band, The Backseat Drivers competed and won the local Journey to Memphis contest that is put on by the Cascade Blues Association every year. This earned them the coveted spot to be the only band representing the Portland area in Memphis at the IBCs.
"This renowned event brings musicians and thousands of appreciative audience members from around the world for four tough and exciting days of competition, networking and eating barbeque on Beale Street, the hallowed ground of the blues, where almost every club on and around Beale is filled with good grub and grooves," Gordon said.
The IBCs have launched the careers of many well-known musicians, including Susan Tedeschi, Michelle Wilson, Michael Burk, Tommy Castro, Albert Cummings, Zac Harmon, Trampled Under Foot, and Selwyn Birchwood Band. In 2014, a record 255 acts from around the globe — including Europe, the Philippines and Australia — performed at 22 venues, with more than 10,000 fans attending.
Now in its 33rd year, this year's IBC is Feb. 1-4 and will include bands, solo/duo acts and youth from blues associations all over the world. Joining Gordon and the Backseat Drivers representing Cascade Blues Association and Portland is solo act David Pinsky and youth act Timothy James, a 14-year-old guitar player and singer-songwriter who is fast getting a reputation for being talented beyond his years. James hails from the small community of Mulino, in southern Clackamas County. Other acts from the Northwest area competing include Polly O'Keary & the Rhythm Method, Stanislove (Washington Blues Society), Hank Shreve Band, Nattybone (Rainy Day Blues Society), and Randy Oxford (South Sound Blues Association).
Gordon's Memphis Send-off Party and Fundraiser will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Trails End Saloon, 1320 Main St., Oregon City. Admission is $10 and will include special drawings. Silent auctions will feature three event and venue packages (raegordon.com/auctions) to help with expenses for flying, lodging and feeding a seven-piece band and to help support the youth representative and family. Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers and Timothy James will perform, followed by an open blues jam with Robbie Laws.
To follow Rae and the band's Memphis adventure before, during the competition and after, see raegordon.com/journeytomemphis.