Another friday afternoon at The Deming Log Showgrounds wondering what life moments Mr. Lloyd Peterson has in mind for the 19th Annual Mt. Baker Rhythm and Blues Festival. The sun is shining and would continue throughout the next three days adding to the heat that was about to rage from the stage.

19th Annual Mt. Baker Rhythm and Blues Festival. By David Mattews (Text and Photos)

Opening the festival was the amazing Caspian Coberly who at 13 yrs. old has already opened for Buddy Guy, Robert Randolf, Blues Traveler and more. An incredibly tight band blazed through a 90 minute set with Caspian channeling Hendrix and Albert King through his Stratocaster like a scholar of the blues peppered with original material which he is recording on his first cd now. WOW! Heaven met earth that evening already and it has only just begun. Caspian was far from finished this day. (
After a quick turn around Skagit County born band Josey Wails took the stage by storm with their powerful driving Blues-Rock led by Corey Vincent on guitar/vocals with Scott Blair (Bass) and Terry Sherman (Drums) providing a solid backline. This power trio takes it to the limits everytime and tonight was no exception. Taking the classics along with many originals and really making them their own had the crowd a rockin‘ while a tribute to Hendrix „If 6 was 9“ had the crowd screaming for more. A new original song „Try Reality“ showed off their divesity with a slow bluesy solo intro by Cory that had the crowd wanting more. Another amazing new original that brought some heat was „Keep Your Light On“. I must say sometimes it can‘t get any better than this and then it does. Josey Wails!!!!!and they did. (
 The Ori Naftaly Band finally hit the stage after a 1 1/2 year journey that began in Memphis at The International Blues Challenge representing Israel where by reaching the semi-finals they had already gone farther than any other act before them. With a new backline of Ty Drums (Drums) and Prentiss Alajuwan Poyee Yancy (Bass) there was some funk in the air with Eleanor Tsaig (Vocals) bringing it all as only she can. Taxi Driver had me lookin‘ fer my dancin‘shoes. They made my cry in Memphis and here I was cryin‘ again. Didn‘t think they could get any better but they did. The set topper was 13 yr. old Caspian Coberly returning to the stage for the final encore setting off a guitar duel with Ori Naftaly that lit up the night. This was only day 1 as they all headed off to the Museum for the All-Star Jam into the wee hours. ( 
 Saturday at Mt Baker Blues began with The Mark Whitman Band with Seattle Legend Mark Whitman on keyboards accompanied by Justin Kausel-Hayes (Guitar), Don Wilhelm (Bass), Dave Delzotto (Drums) and Ron Hendee (Horns/vocals). A stroke suffered in 2007 has prevented Mark from guitar but has not hampered his passion for the music expressed now through the Hammond Organ and his amazing band. There will „Always be The Blues“ was a great wake-up call and heard by us all. Special guests – Fat James (guitar) and Jesse James (guitar) rounded out an amazing 90 minute set including Use Me, Put It Where You Want It, Built For Comfort, If You Want Me To Stay (and we did) along with a heart wrenching cover of Pride N Joy. The fire had been lit. (
Great stage work; a hallmark of Mt Baker Blues; had the Crazy Texas Gypsies bringing their genre transcending sensational sound to the masses in short order. Led by Kenny Williams (guitar), Kevin Fraser (Bass), Doug W Skoog (Keyboards), Glenn Hummell (Drums) with Horns by Bad Ass Brass: Heidi Wischler (Trombone), David Bernhardt (Trumpet), Leo (Sax) as they blazed their way through us and the afternoon sun like an old .44, Shoots mighty fast and loads kinda slow which carried the moment just fine. „Time after Time“ took us down a slow blues lane while „Dancing like a Gypsy“ took us to our feet and didn‘t want to let us stop. Then came „Can‘t Let Go“ with a driving force that makes one hold on forever. Simply earth moving veteran talent that will carry on long after I am dead one would hope. 100 minutes of Blues Heaven complete. (
The Chris Eger Band with the Power House Horns proceeded to take us all on an adventure in musicosity and versatility that few can imagine. Chris Eger (Guitar/vocals/B3) Randall Eger (Bass) Mark Clark (Drums) with the Power House Horns. Chris can play anything with anyone and this year was no exception as the band was once again joined by his mother (now I know where he got that voice) for a tune. Also joined late in the set by Cory Vincent (Josey Wails) and Johnny Brewer (All-Star Jam Band) which if there was a roof it just blew off. Coming back to earth the Band was joined by Eleanor Tsaig (Ori Naftaly Band) and Ori Naftaly for a rousing encore that ensured any roof was permanently gone. (
The Strangetones featuring The Volcano Vixens took the stage like a tornado. Led by Julie & Andy Strange and fortified by Suburban Slim and Andy Guathier they form one of Porthand’s most honored and accomplished bands. If Dick Dale joined Jimmy Reed, Magic Sam and Ike & Tina Turner, the Strange­tones might well be the result. Pure candy for the eyes and the ears they tore it up like only they can. (
Elvin Bishop, wow, what a nice guy, and „The Blues Rolls On“ and should for this man who has played with Delaney Bramlett, Paul Butterfield Blues Band (founding member), John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Clifton Chenier, Bo Diddley, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, George Thorogood and many others. This man sweats the Blues and brings it to you with a wireless romp through the crowd that even I had trouble catching up to. 14 years was way too long an abscence from this stage. Nothin‘ quite like „Goin‘ Fishin‘“ with a master. (
After Elvin who knew The Steepwater Band (Jeff Massey guitar/Vocals, Eric Saylors guitar/vocals, Tod Michael Bowers bass, Joseph Winters drums) out of Chicago would completely set the woods on fire. I didn‘t but Lloyd Peterson (who somehow finds this magic) had said a month previous to watch these guys. I did and am way better for it. Mark Whitman lit it and the flames were fanned by all till these guys had it crowning the timbers.  High and Humble and Come On Down was burning down the house when their tune Hard As Stone brought out the lapsteel and I would have died a happy man. These guys are a BAND. A REAL BAND! They are seriously considering re-recording Hard As Stone as it was on discontinued vinyl. Pls Do guys and Do The Do as you can do. As was the case friday most all went to the All-Star Jam myself included. To hear what happened there you must get the ticket and take the ride. (
 „Sunday mornin‘ comin‘ down with no way to hold my head that didn‘t hurt“. Looked for Kris K. and missed the Gospel show again but found R&B solace and soul in R.J. Knapp and Honey Robin. Part of the head holdin‘ was hanging with them and a beaver the day before but that is another story best left alone. R.J. Knapp hails from Chicago but has made the Northwest his home and hooked up with Robin Mahaffey (vocals), Robert Baker (bass) and guest Wayde Leslie (drums) to play their original driving Windy City/Texas Rockin‘ Blues that fanned the flames still smoldering from Saturday night. RJ left the stage and played with the crowd on „All Cried Out“ while Honey Robin went out and played with her prey on the song „Long Time Gone“. Half of the songs they did were from their CD of originals called „Don‘t Blame the Dynamite…If you can‘t light the fuse“ and lit it they did with an incredible energy. (
The Blues Are At The Root Of It All comes from Billy Roy Danger and The Rectifiers who tore through the afternoon like a Texas tornado. Led by Billy Stoops (guitar/vocals) this All-Star band broke out the afternoon resulting in all kinds of dancin‘ and carryin‘ on. We got What we wanted and really needed….
For my time the Mt. Baker Blues House Band has been the Super Stars from Spokane….The Fat Tones led by Bobby Patterson (guitar/vocals), Bob Ehrgott (bass) and this year guest Mark Clark (drums). Simply at a loss for words to describe this master of guitar and his ability to share that talent today with Chris Eger (guitar) at the end of a blistering set I am still grasping with. Speed limits were exceded here the entire set. (
Peter D. Harper from down under brought his unique brand of blues, soul, rock and world music through his creative use of the harp and didgerido backed by his Michigan based band Mid-West Kind. „Love= Peace=Freedom“ stood tall while „Does Anybody Really Care“ which is about the stolen generation of Aborigines reminds  us of our humanity.  And „Not My Brother“ about politicians not understanding what is like to be poor furthered our education in fine fashion that evening. (
Scott Holt…..nuff said as the energy from this power blues machine is still running through my veins as though he leaped off the stage by me like the wind. Ah Yes he did that and more…wow…. „Damn Right I Got The Blues“ chased down the road. Loud is good and so much more. (
An early close for Sunday ensured a rapt crowd at yet another All-Star Jam that simply must be seen and heard to be believed. The Best Damn Festival On The Planet comes to another close. Pictures may have told a thousand words but like me can‘t make music. Next year is the 20th Annual Mt. Baker Rhythm and Blues Festival…..Buy The Ticket and Take The Ride. You will not regret it! Life moments abound. (
It‘s All About The Music
Grizzly Dave