Quick, name a city that has the blues worse than Chicago.

Portland, believe it or not, enjoys one of the most diverse, and thriving, blues scenes anywhere three-chord shuffles are played. In smokey clubs any night of the week, fans can find the gritty smokestack blues of the Windy City, the sinister funk of New Orleans, the back-porch lilt Delta-style blues, and every combination thereof. International caliber players like Lloyd Jones, D.K. Stewart, Paul deLay and Duffy Bishop call this place home, where night in and night out they strop their stiletto-sharp music to a keen, hair-raising edge.

What's difficult in all this is finding all of them on the same stage on one night, or corralling all of them onto one CD. The Cascade Blues Association, founded in 1989 and counting some 1100-plus members among its ranks, has fixed that. To celebrate its 10 years of doing the blues, the CBA has released "The Anniversary Hall of Fame Tribute" CD, a 13-song, 13-artist compilation whose release the organization will herald Sunday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Adrianna Hill Ballroom in downtown Portland.

Each year the CBA holds its popular Muddy Awards show, to honor the best in regional blues. The who's who is decided by a popular vote of blues fans. Those artists who win in their categories three years running are elevated to the CBA Hall of Fame. This CD honors those artists.

The recording, featuring a mix of studio and live cuts, makes a perfect brochure for the vibrancy of Portland blues. The disc kicks off with Paul deLay's "Worn Out Shoe," a loping stop-time two-beat that displays the bluesman's idiomatic savvy and singular way with a blues lyric. Former Portlander Boyd Small, a dynamic drummer in his own right, fronts his big band for a Duo Glide-smooth rendition of "Got A New Car."

Pianist D.K. Stewart conjurs up Emerald City back alleys with the steamy "Call My Job." Terry Robb also adds his own composition, "Cascade Lightnin'," which should forever notch his name on the list of great acoustic pickers. Six-string slinger Robby Laws tips his hat to Blacktop Recording artist Ronnie Earl with the instrumental scorcher "Thank You, Mr. Earl."

Favorite son Lloyd Jones lays out a live favorite, "Live It Up," with a blistering guitar solo and soulful vocals. Spokane's Too Slim and the Taildraggers ply their trademark boogie swagger with "Western Man," then it's down to Eastern Oregon for bassist Jimmy Lloyd Rae's Switchmasters and the unchecked and rollicking mayhem of "Back To Baker City."

Bassist Albert Reda, Hall of Fame bassist and a vocalist in his own right, adds Muddy Waters' "Sad Letter." Curtis Salgado then teams up with Terry Robb for a soul-shaking rendition of "Bad Boy," which he punctuates with a searing harmonica solo.

Known affectionately as the Italian Chainsaw, guitarist Jim Mesi pays loving tribute to his late son, on "Blues for Christopher." Completing the recording is the tasty teaming of singer Duffy Bishop and pianist Janice Scroggins, one of this city's musical gems. The two cover Chris Carlson's "I Am On A Journey," a gospel tune of fire and power.

Sales of the CD, available at Music Millennium and other music stores, will help fund the CBA-administered Christopher Mesi Scholarship Fund, available to college students throughout the state. The fund was established to help with continuing music education.

Cascade Blues Association CD Release Party
Benefit for the Christopher Mesi Scholarship Fund
Sunday, Nov. 28, 1999 7 p.m., Doors open at 6 p.m.
Adrianna Hill Ballroom
918 SW Yamhill
Downtown Portland
$9 at the door, $8 CBA members
APPEARING: Jim Mesi, Lloyd Jones, Duffy Bishop, D.K. Stewart, Terry Robb, Albert Reda Robbie Laws, Paul deLay, Too Slim & the Taildraggers, and others