By Kevin on October 4, 2016
Thank you Cascade Blues Association members for the Muddy Award nominations for myself, the Tornadoes and the Big Band! In all we were nominated for Contemporary Blues Act, Traditional Blues Act, Electric Guitar, Bass (Allen Markel), Drums (Don Shultz), Horns (Joe McCarthy, Brad Lee Ulrich, Chris Mercer), Keys (Steve Kerin), NW Recording of the Year (Buy My Soul Back), Performance of the Year (CD Release Party at the Bossanova Ballroom), and Lifetime Achievement Award (Jimi Bott). We are so very honored to be thought of among the immense talent here in Portland and the Pacific NW, and are grateful for all the support of our friends and fans who come out to see us play and buy our music. You can vote by being a member of the Cascade Blues Association, and the awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday, November 2 at 6:30PM at the Melody, Ballroom. Congrats to all the nominees, and thanks again!MORE >>
By Kevin on March 28, 2016
Check out this great interview of Kevin on the Portland Radio Project’s show, Portland’s Playlist hosted by Luke Neill and Teri Briggs. They talk about and play some of Kevin’s influences, and he tells the stories behind a lot of his songs off his newest release “Buy My Soul Back”. Also Kevin performs live a couple songs, including a brand new one entitled, “Have You Gone Crazy”MORE >>
By Kevin on November 11, 2015
On November 4, the Cascade Blues Association in Portland, OR held their annual Muddy Award ceremony. We are honored to announce that we received the 2015 Muddy Award for Contemporary Blues Act of the Year. This is the 8th award for the band for Blues Act of the Year. Thank you to the CBA, and the members for recognizing and supporting us, and congratulations to all the nominees and recipients!!MORE >>
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By Kevin on October 29, 2015
13 songs – 59 minutes
Multi-talented Kevin Selfe and his band, the Tornadoes, have been wowing audiences from their adopted home base of Portland, Ore., for the better part of a decade, but should make waves nationally with Buy My Soul Back, a thoroughly modern album that delves into themes that regularly run through the blues.
Originally from Roanoke, Va., Selfe discovered the blues late in life, when he was a student in meteorology at North Carolina State University. His roommate, a bass player, introduced him to the works of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James, and, by the time he graduated with honors, changed his path in life from TV weatherman to dyed-in-the-wool bluesman.
He was barely out of college when he joined the Fat Daddy Band, a regionally popular group based out of Roanoke, which was an International Blues Challenge finalist in 2002, during his six-year membership. A two-year partnership with 2008 IBC finalist Little Rodger Crowder followed before Selfe went on his own and formed the Tornadoes. In addition to touring on their own, the band worked behind a pair of Chicago greats, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater and Cary Bell, accompanying the latter on the last gig before his untimely death.
Equally gifted as a guitarist and harmonica player as well as a songwriter, Selfe relocated to the West Coast in 2007 and has released three previous CDs under his own name, Self-Contained (2006), the nationally charting Playing The Game (2009) and Long Walk Home (2013), which peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Blues Chart.
He’s assembled an all-star lineup for this disc, his first on the Vizztone imprint. Joining him here are regular bass player Allen Markel (formerly of the Insomniacs), perennial Blues Music Award nominated drummer Jimi Bott, Mannish Boys’ harp player and bassist Mitch Kashmar and Willie J. Campbell, Ana Popovic and Tommy Castro organist James Pace and Fabulous Thunderbirds pianist Gene Taylor as well as guest vocals from Sugaray Rayford and backing vocals from 2015 BMA winner Lisa Mann. Also contributing are Kevin’s regular timekeeper, Don Shultz and a horn section consisting of Joe McCarthy (trumpet), Chris Mercer (tenor sax), Brad Ulrich and Peter Moss (baritone sax) and pianist Steve Kerin.
Virtually all bluesmen take a vow of poverty when they pick up an instrument, and the theme runs strongly through this collection of 12 originals and one cover. A New Orleans-style horn line kicks off “Picking Empty Pockets” to start the disc. It’s an autobiographical tune about smiling on the outside while living in the back of a beat-up van. Moss’ stellar baritone work sets the tone with Selfe delivering a searing six-string solo to conclude. Kashmar’s harp introduces “Fixed It Til It’s Broke” and remains stellar throughout as Kevin puts his picking skills on display. The song’s a stern warning to someone who wants to affect a change in the singer’s life when no alterations are needed.
The title cut, “Buy My Soul Back,” is a straight-ahead modern blues about having regrets years after selling one’s soul to the devil for musical success. It swings from the jump with another rock-solid performance from the horn section and tasty extended six-string solo. “Digging My Own Grave” sings about doing backbreaking work in the field to put food on the table. It’s delivered with a feel and simple arrangement that would fit in any Hill Country juke.
The pace changes dramatically for the contemporary “All Partied Out,” a slow blues regret about waiting up in the morning alone, hurting and wondering how the singer had wound up in this condition, but knowing it was from pushing himself in the wrong direction for so long. “Keep Pushing Or Die Trying” provides a much brighter outlook, delivered with a slight country feel and driving piano line from Taylor, as does “Bluesman Without The Blues,” featuring Rayford on vocals. It’s a funky number about dressing, eating and living too well to be making the music Selfe loves.
An interesting, countrified cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” based on Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” follows before five more originals bring the disc to a close. “Don’t Tear Me Down” is subdued jump blues plea to communicate better with his woman while “Double Dipping” is a New Orleans-flavored funk about a loose woman. “Viriginia Farm” sings praise for the simple life Selfe left behind while the instrumental “Pig Pickin’” comes across with a solid Chicago flavor. The poverty theme returns full circle to conclude the set with “Staring At The Bottom,” another solid blues with imagery of being so far down, the singer’s going to have to dig to the other side of the world to get out of the hole he’s in.
Modern blues for modern times. Available through Amazon and iTunes, this one’s definitely worth a listen…or two…or three. A powerful statement from a musician who’s clearly on the rise.MORE >>
By Kevin on October 15, 2015
Back to the crossroads
It’s a story as old as the blues — some frustrated cat wants musical success and sells out to Satan to get it. However, Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame inductees Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes have decided to flip the script, releasing a new CD titled “Buy My Soul Back” this week.
The multi-award-winning band’s release is Selfe’s fourth and will be marked by a bash featuring a who’s who of local blues folks, including national Blues Music Award winners Jimi Bott and Lisa Mann, as well as Allen Markel, James Pace, Steve Kerin, Brad Ulrich, Joe McCarthy, Chris Mercer, Don Shultz and Pete Moss.
The new record swings, walks, talks and growls, with standout cuts including the title song, which would sound just fine on a Robert Cray album, as well as the swampy “Diggin My Own Grave.” Selfe also covers the Bruce Springsteen tune “I’m On Fire,” which features a nice harmonica solo by Mitch Kashmar, one of our city’s finest harp players.
“It’s a wide range of blues styles, not pigeonholed into one thing,” Selfe says, noting “Buy My Soul Back” features contributions from members of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Tommy Castro keyboardist James Pace.
“We didn’t just want a traditional blues album, or just West Coast swing, we wanted a variety,” Selfe says. “This record represents what you’ll hear from us live.”
Selfe adds the band plans to tour early next year to promote the record throughout the Southwest as well as the East Coast. You can hear bits and pieces of it at kevinselfe.com.
Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E. Burnside St. $15 in advance, $18 day of show, $100 VIP.
Info: 503-206-7630, bossanova ballroom.com.MORE >>
By Kevin on October 8, 2015
The Roots Music Report Charts for the week of October 6, 2015 were released, and “Buy My Soul Back” made it’s debut at #42 on the National Blues Chart, and #1 on the Oregon State Chart! Thanks to all the DJ’s for playing the new disc, and thanks to VizzTone for believing in us and putting it out!
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