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When I was 5 years old my family moved to California to be close to my Grandparents. My Grandmother used to love to tell the story of my instant connection with the piano. I was banging out two-note chords on Grandma's piano one day when my Mother came to pick me up after work. Mom says "Honey, I think you're only supposed to play one note at a time." I said, "No mom, these notes go together."

The big break for the Blubinos came in the form of Portland's year-old Waterfront Blues Festival on the fourth of July, 1988. I don't know how it worked that an unknown act could score such a great time-slot, but when the Blubinos took the stage at 4:30 on the Fourth of July, there were 15,000 people ready to rock - and rock we did. It's the single most important show of my life, without a doubt. Overnight the offers came pouring in and just like that, we were a made band.

The Blubinos were invited to play at the Handzame Blues Festival in Belgium in 1991. It was there that I made the connections that would lead to a record deal and my eventual relocation to Amsterdam. For the next several years I lived and toured in Europe and had some of the best times of my life. I played a lot cool shows in a whole bunch of countries. I drove a lot of miles and I rode on a lot of trains. After a couple of years I could butcher a few languages and get around in most major cities on my own. It was good to be European, if only for awhile. I've been back living in Portland since 2000 but I still get over to Europe once or twice a year for a few shows.

What started out as a 3 month tour of Europe turned into an extended stay - twice I didn\'t come home for 18 months. I stayed on because there were bookings to be had. I Loved the energy in Europe - in my off time I got up in morning knowing there would be someplace new to explore. Every day was about moving - I walked everywhere. I ran to catch trains and buses. My various apartments were almost always 4th floor walk-ups. As much as I loved the food there, I always came home thinner than when I left. I made a lot of friends. But you burn out. Eighteen months on the road is a lifetime. Back in The States I found it difficult to adjust to everyday life. I found myself ranting about the insanity of all the people and all the cars and why couldn\'t everybody just take public transportation and why is this medium-size coffee the size of my freaking head? It\'s really hard for me to come down after these extended stays in Europe. Sometimes it takes a few weeks, but eventually I lose the man-purse and the attitude. By week four or five I\'m driving to the 7-11 for a burrito and a big gulp. God bless you Homer Simpson.

Lefty's (Salem, OR) went out of business after only a few years. It's too bad - because it was the only place in Salem to see top-notch blues bands. The stage lighting was exceptional and the photos here by Jayson Pakulak benefit greatly.

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