October 6-10, 2021 In Person
More single rooms added 9/2/2021 - scoop up your own room for this amazing event!
Possible partial Zoom version under discussion. Stay tuned.
UPDATED 8/17/2021 Blues in the Gorge during Pandemic Times: Please Care for One Another
As you consider whether to attend Blues in the Gorge, please keep the following in mind.
- ALL participants in Blues in the Gorge must submit proof of vaccination in order to attend.
- We will give a full refund, even up to the day of arrival, to anyone who feels ill or learns they may have been exposed to Covid-19. Thank you for staying home.
- By order of the governor of Oregon, everyone is required to wear masks inside Menucha buildings (except when in their own bedroom) regardless of vaccination status.
Mary Flower’s immense fingerstyle guitar and lap-slide prowess is soulful and meter-perfect, a deft blend of the inventive, the dexterous and the mesmerizing. Her supple honey-and-whiskey voice provides the perfect melodic accompaniment to each song’s story.
An internationally known and award-winning picker, singer/songwriter and teacher, the Midwest native relocated from Denver to the vibrant Portland, Oregon music scene in in 2004. She continues to please crowds and critics at folk festivals, teaching seminars and concert stages domestically and abroad, including Merlefest, Kerrville, King Biscuit, Prairie Home Companion and the Vancouver Folk Festival, among many.
A finalist in 2000 and 2002 at the National Finger Picking Guitar Championship, a nominee in 2008, 2012 and 2016 for a Blues Foundation Blues Music Award, and many times a Cascade Blues Assn. Muddy Award winner, Flower embodies a luscious and lusty mix of rootsy, acoustic-blues guitar and vocal styles that span a number of idioms – from Piedmont to the Mississippi Delta, with stops in ragtime, swing, folk and hot jazz.
Flower’s 11 recordings, including her four for Memphis’ famed Yellow Dog Records — Bywater Dance, Instrumental Breakdown, Bridges and Misery Loves Company — show a deep command of and love for folk and blues string music. For Flower, it’s never about re-creation. Her dedication to the art form is a vital contribution to America’s music.
"Flower is a renowned guitar instructor, teaching at music camps and festivals, offering lessons via Skype, and frequently crafting articles and tips as a regular contributor to Acoustic Guitar. But she cannot be narrowly defined. Livin’ with the Blues Again showcases her talents as a complete artist, deeply versed in an array of vernacular styles for which she demonstrates an abiding love that underlies her quietly jaw-dropping technique. She may not sing with the soulful grit and urgency of Rory Block, Maria Muldaur, or Bonnie Raitt, but her stylistic range is broader, approaching that of David Bromberg or Ry Cooder. What fun for those who don’t know her music to discover her here." —Acoustic Guitar Magazine
In the 1960s Jim Kweskin led the groundbreaking Jug Band, admired and imitated by everyone from folk and blues musicians to rockers like the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Grateful Dead. They had Janis Joplin (with Big Brother & The Holding Company) and Linda Ronstadt (with The Stone Ponys) as opening acts. Bob Dylan co-billed with Kweskin in Greenwich village.
Kweskin's band played blues and ragtime, good time jazz and novelties, reaching back to the roots of American music: field recordings from the Library of Congress and the rural artists reissued in the 1950s on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. Kweskin played alongside masters like Mississippi John Hurt, Sippie Wallace, Maybelle Carter, and Clayton McMichen, artists who grew up in times and places where this music was an integral part of their communities.
Since this auspicious start, Kweskin continues to break ground with his incredible guitar work and vocals, while keeping American music traditions vibrant. He has toured and recorded with long-time friends and collaborators (among them, Jug Band co-founders Geoff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur, and Bill Keith) as well as newer faces in the folk world (Samoa Wilson, Meredith Axelrod, Juli Crockett).
As Kweskin says,“We are the elders now, whether we want to be or not. And we like a lot of different styles, and play a lot of different things, but we feel like we have a duty to introduce younger people to this music, to keep the tradition alive.”
"The rock historian Ed Ward went so far as to place the Kweskin Band alongside the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Byrds as that period's most influential groups."
— Alex Ward, The New York Times
"Kweskin virtually single-handedly created what was a significant musical genre in the USA in the early 1960s...” — Iain Patience, Elmore Magazine
Fun fact: In the 1970s, Kweskin recorded some vocals for the popular children's TV show Sesame Street, most notably, "Ladybugs' Picnic."
Suzy Thompson is one of the rare musicians today who has mastered multiple styles of Southern fiddling, from prewar acoustic blues to Cajun and Creole to old-time fiddle, especially the kind that has a ragtime or blues feel. A powerful blues singer in the styles of Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith, and a highly respected blues fingerpicking guitarist, Suzy is unique in her ability to combine fiddle, vocals and guitar in the blues, oldtime country and ragtime idioms.
Suzy discovered the music of Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace, Memphis Minnie, Victoria Spivey, and other classic blues moaners in the winter of 1975, when a friend of a friend of a friend stored his LP collection in her room. She began learning and performing some of this early blues material, accompanying herself on the guitar. The next year, she formed the Any Old Time String Band, an all-woman quintet with a repertoire that included classic blues, oldtime country music, and Cajun music.
Suzy’s vast repertoire of quirky old-time country tunes and songs was learned from rare field recordings and old 78s, and she is particularly adept at the ragtime and blues-influenced playing of hillbilly musicians of the 1920’s and 30’s, such as the East Texas Serenaders, Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith, Doc Roberts, and others of that ilk. Suzy’s passion for old-time music caused her to start the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention , which has become a five-day celebration attended by oldtime musicians who travel from all over the U.S. to join in the fun!
Our favorite quote about Suzy: She sounds "like Memphis Minnie on acid!"
Washington, D.C. native Phil Wiggins, a Takoma Park, Maryland, resident, blues musician, teacher and artistic director, a two time winner of the prestigious WC Handy Blues Foundation awards, is only the third harmonica player to receive the lifetime honor of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship. Today he is the only living player of the instrument to hold the prestigious honor of being a “Master of Traditional Arts.” Often referred to by its unofficial designation as “Living Cultural Treasure” award, the fellowship honors and preserves the diverse cultural heritage in the United States. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) annually awards one-time-only NEA National Heritage Fellowships to master folk and traditional artists, to recognize lifetime achievement, artistic excellence, and contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage. In 2021 he was awarded the Maryland Heritage Award, also the most prestigious cultural award bestowed on the arts in the state.
Phil Wiggins is arguably America’s foremost blues harmonica virtuoso. While rooted in the melodic Piedmont or “Tidewater” blues of the Chesapeake region, his mastery of the instrument now transcends stylistic boundaries. Born in Washington D.C. in 1954, Phil Wiggins achieved worldwide acclaim over three decades as one half of the premier Piedmont blues duo of Cephas & Wiggins. Since the death of guitarist and singer John Cephas in 2009, Phil brought his harmonica wizardry to bear in a variety of musical collaborations." - National Council for the Traditional Arts
- Build your repertoire (beginning)
Mary will teach songs to learn for jams or beginning repertoires, easy to follow, in easy to reach keys. Learn how to see if a song is in “your key”. Beginners or advanced beginners, time to build that song list of reliable tunes!
- How to be Funky in Open Tunings, One (all levels)
Open tunings can give you beautiful sounds. Think Joni Mitchell. However, Blind Blake, Bo Carter and Skip James (to name a few) all slacked their strings for their unique country blues sounds. Class will explore how to listen, improvise, find melodies and chords and be funky in as many tunings as we can fit in.
- Funky arrangements in open tuning, Two (Advanced beginning and up)
Class will learn some classic blues tunes originally played in open tunings OR arranged in open tunings. Understanding the basics from class One will help you and ability to read guitar tablature will also make this easier.
- Slide guitar, lap style (Adv. Beg)
Bring your dobros, Weissenborns or any raised nut guitar along with your steel bar for this look at blues styles on the lap slide. Class will probably spend most time in open D major tuning. Mary will bring along a few “nut extenders” to raise your action if you just have a regular guitar.
- Students’ Choice (All levels)
Special requests? Questions about specific songs? Technique issues? Special orders don’t upset us.Handouts will be available for all appropriate situations. Students encouraged to record the classes and ability to read tab will be very helpful.
- Memphis Minnie
Learn a few songs (easy guitar versions) from the greatest female guitar‐playing singer-songwriter ever!!
- Ma Rainey & the Blues Shouters of the 1920s
Learn a song drawn from the repertoire of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, or other lesser‐known female blue singers
- Singing the Blues
You don’t have to have a great big beautiful voice like Muddy Waters or Bessie Smith in order to sing the blues! In this workshop, you'll learn about phrasing and delivery to develop your very own way of singing the blues. Come ready to sing or at least talk! You don’t need to bring an instrument but you can if you want.
- Listening Session — Women of the Blues
Rarities and little‐heard singers ‐ good place to find new songs and hear about artists you might have not heard of.
- BEGINNING LEVEL String Band Blues
Learn some easy and fun songs from the Mississippi Sheiks, Frank Stokes & the Beale Street Sheiks, Jimmie Rodgers, Henry Thomas, etc. If you play mandolin or fiddle, you are welcome to join in!
- The Circle of 5ths Explained
The mis‐named Circle of 5ths is a cornerstone of American music and an important element in the blues (and all pop music). Understanding how and why it works will make it easier to figure out the chords for many, many songs. In this workshop, the purpose and uses of the Circle of 5ths will be explained and illustrated using great songs from 1920s blues artists like Gus Cannon, Geeshie Wiley, Alec Johnson, Frank Stokes, etc. etc. Bring your guitar!! For ALL LEVELS, from beginning to advanced.
The costs below include program fee, all 12 meals (Wednesday dinner - Sunday lunch), and lodging. Your cost will vary according to the number of roommates you choose.
Triple Room (myself and 2 roommates)
Double Room (myself and 1 roommate)
Single Room (just me) (8 available-Just added 9/2/2021)
Commuter (lunch and dinner)
Payment Plan Option
You may choose to divide the cost across several months, depending upon how far in advance you are registering. Options will automatically appear in the online registration process. The cost is only $5 per month.
Menucha's kitchen prepares excellent, plentiful, cooked-from-scratch meals. If you will need a different option for health or personal reasons (food allergies, vegan, low sodium, etc.) please submit an Alternate Diet Request form three weeks in advance of your arrival so we may prepare to feed you properly.
Before the pandemic, Menucha served meals family-style (guests served themselves from shared platters and bowls shared around a table). In the weeks before Blues in the Gorge we will update this webpage with a description of how we will be serving meals safely during your time here.
If you have any mobility issues, please note that when you register so that we may assign you an appropriate room.
Memories of Blues "in" the Gorge 2020 (our online camp)Watch the 2020 Concert
Instructor concert featured Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, Jim Kweskin, Kristina Olsen and Mary FlowerLink to the 2020 video archive page