Blues in the Gorge

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Menucha Retreat and Conference Center Presents

Blues in the Gorge

with Pat Donohue, Mary Flower, Robert Jones, Suzy Thompson

Co-Sponsored by the Cascade Blues Association

October 2-5 , 2014

  • Watch, listen and learn up close from a few of the best musicians around while hanging with fellow guitar enthusiasts for four days/three nights.
  • Enjoy exploring Menucha’s historic buildings and grounds (including the Prohibition-era speakeasy – now our espresso bar), our excellent homemade meals and our amazing view of the Columbia River Gorge.
  • Space is limited to 36 participants to ensure plenty of instructor attention for everyone.

This event is full.  If you would like to be placed on our waiting list, please fill out the form linked below.  You will also be notified in advance when next year’s Blues in the Gorge will open.

Waiting List Form

Faculty Bios

PatDonohuePAT DONOHUE, Instructor

Grammy-winner Patrick Donohue is an American fingerstyle guitarist from St. Paul, Minnesota. Millions listen regularly to this National Fingerpicking Guitar Champion on Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion where he fronts the house band.

Donohue’s devotion to acoustic guitar has made him an American standard, as he echoes the tones of Robert Johnson, Charlie Parker, Merle Travis or Muddy Waters. A versatile guitarist’s guitarist, Pat enjoys entertaining fans with intricate fingerpicking, easy wit, and nimble interpretations of old blues, swing, R&B and original tunes.

A songwriter as well as player, Donohue’s songs have been covered by Kenny Rogers, Suzy Bogguss, Chet Atkins and others.

Donohue divides his time between his regular performances on A Prairie Home Companion, live concerts, and teaching workshops.

“Pat Donohue is one of the greatest finger pickers in the world today.” – Chet Atkins

“If it were it easy, every fingerstyle guitarist would play as well as Pat Donohue. A Midwesterner with the rhythm of a drummer and the soul of a New Orleans saxophonist, Donohue has the fingers of the world’s finest guitarists.” Dirty Linen

Video of Pat Donohue playing “Spike Driver’s Blues”

Music WesternROBERT JONES, Instructor

For over 30 years Robert Jones, a native Detroiter, has specialized in American roots music and stories. He has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and the message has always been the same–that traditional American songs and stories have much to teach us about where we’ve been, who we are and where we are going.

Rev. Jones is a modern day Christian bluesman, a guitar-evangelist who carries on a long tradition of religious musicians, including Blind Willie Johnson, Gary Davis, Flora Molton, and many more. He points out that the blues came from Negro spirituals, as did gospel, soul, and R&B music.

Jones has been a featured performer at venues as varied as the National Storytelling Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, MerleFest and the Lutherhaus in Osnabruck, Germany.

This winner of the Blues Foundation’s prestigious “Keeping the Blues Alive” award plays guitar, mandolin, cane fife and even a little fiddle.  Today, he is a cultural force in Detroit as well as the national and international blues scene, a top tier acoustic blues performer and a wonderful educator and storyteller.

Video of Rev. Robert Jones

SuzyThompsonredjacketSUZY THOMPSON, Instructor

Suzy Thompson is one of the rare musicians today who has mastered the acoustic blues violin, following in the footsteps of Lonnie Chatmon, Clifford Hayes and Eddie Anthony. A powerful blues singer in the styles of Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith, Suzy is unique in her ability to fiddle and vocalize at the same time.

In 2003, after thirty years as a working musician, Suzy Thompson released her first solo CD, “No Mockingbird” which features blues songs (including the title track, which has been described as “Memphis Minnie on acid”) and oldtime fiddle rags. Suzy is backed on the album by an all-star cast including Maria Muldaur, Fritz Richmond, Geoff Muldaur, and Mike Seeger. Her followup CD, “Stop & Listen”, released by Arhoolie Records in 2005, is a live concert recording with Del Rey, Eric Thompson, and the Thompson String Ticklers.

Suzy currently records and performs in a duet with her longtime musical partner, renowned flatpicker Eric Thompson, with the Aux Cajunals (a Cajun/blues band, in which Suzy plays Cajun accordion as well as fiddle and guitar), and with the Thompson String Ticklers.

In addition to performing, she has been an instructor at many festivals and music camps, including Centrum’s Country Blues Week, Augusta Heritage Cajun-Creole and Old Time Weeks, California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, Port Townsend Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, California Coast Music Camp, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and Lark In the Morning.


MARY FLOWER, Artistic Director and Instructor

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, guitarist and lap slide player Mary Flower is renowned for her uniquely personal vision of roots music that blends ragtime, acoustic blues and folk – technically dazzling yet grounded in the down-to-earth simplicity of early 20th century American music.

With nine albums to her name, this Yellow Dog Records recording artist has earned rave reviews from critics and audiences alike for her instrumental skill – a mastery of the Piedmont blues style that takes most players a lifetime to hone – for which Flower is most celebrated.

Her performances around the world include Merlefest, Prairie Home Companion and the Winnipeg Folk Festival to name a few. A seasoned teacher, Mary has been on staff at many guitar workshops including Fur Peace Ranch, Centrum Blues Festival, Swannanoa and the Augusta Heritage Center.

2008 and 2012 Blues Music Award Nominee
2000 and 2002 Finalist at National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship
2011 Muddy Award Recipient from Cascade Blues Assn. for “Acoustic Guitar”

“A world class fingerstyle guitarist and lap slide player.”
– Downbeat Magazine

“There are few musicians in the genre bringing as much creative spark and low-key mojo to this century-old music…”
– Acoustic Guitar Magazine

“Marries acoustic blues with touches of ragtime, folk, and jazz… the interplay is always interesting, often provocative, and sometimes breathtaking.”- Living Blues

Video of Mary Flowers playing “Dreaming of Your Demise”

What to BringCreevey Meeting

Capo, extra strings, audio and/or visual recorders, picks, bottleneck, folding music stand optional, guitar tuner, sense of humor!

Overnight: Guests will stay and play in the Creevey complex (see photo). Menucha provides towels, pillows, blankets, sheets, bar soap and earplugs.  To see a suggested list for overnight items click here.

More Specific Information 

Click any link below for specific details about this year’s Blues in the Gorge weekend.

2014 Blues Welcome Packet

Class Descriptions

Weekend Schedule

Our Facebook Page:

Cost varies according to type of lodging chosen

Community Lodging
(share with 2 roommates)
Program fee $270 +
Meals $130 +
Housing 295 = $695
3 nights +
9 meals
Semi- private Lodging
(share with 1 roommate/spouse)
Program fee $270 +
Meals $130 +
Housing $395 = $795
3 nights +
9 meals
Private Lodging
(limited supply)
Program fee $270 +
Meals $130 +
Housing $495 = $895
3 nights +
9 meals
Commuter Program fee $270 +
Meals $96 +
Day-Use Fee $75
(that's $25/day for 3 days)
= $441
3 lunches +
3 dinners
Option to bring a
non-participating spouse
Add $395 lodging +
$130 meal plan = $525
3 nights +
9 meals
Option to bring a full participating spouseAdd Program fee $270 +
Couple lodging $395 +
Meal plan $130 = $795
3 nights +
9 meals
Option to stay extra night, leave after breakfastAdd $74.50 eachincludes dinner, breakfast. Check out by 10 AM
Cancellation Policy: If 90+ days out, canceling a registration results in a full refund minus a $50 handling fee. If 46-90 days out, 65% refund. If 30-45 days out, 50% refund. If fewer than 30 days out, there is no refund available.

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