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BLUES BATTALION, as a band, was started almost two years ago, but its members come from a long history of experience in blues, jazz and rock. The band is based in Gresham, Oregon, and gigs as often as they can. They’ve played at The Troutdale Summer Fair, are regulars at The Gateway Elks Club, The Gemini Lounge in Portland, and at Spinelli’s “Off The Wall” in Gresham. They also were the house band for Billy Bob’s in Gresham for a while. Their music is blues based, with a nice infusion of jazz, swing and classic rock. Members include:
Fred Riedel - Lead & Rhythm Guitar and Vocals: Fred is the founder/leader of Blues Battalion and has played for years with different groups. Fred plays acoustic and electric guitar and enjoys blues, jazz and swing. He plays mostly finger-style, being influenced by Wes Montgomery who played with just his thumb.
Kristi Riedel - Vocals: Kristi has been involved in a great variety of choirs and musical groups since a very young age. Blues Battalion is Kristi’s first venture singing with a band and she is grateful for the opportunity to perform with her father, Fred.
Jim Lowry – Rhythm & Lead Guitar and Vocals: Jim has been playing professionally since he was 15, He’s played with Notary Sojac, a legendary name in the Northwest for its pioneering direction in combining Rock, Jazz, and Blues elements with the influence of the Gypsy swing music of Django Rheinhart, odd time signatures, and strong improvisational emphasis. Their group opened for acts like The Gratetful Dead, Earth Wind & Fire, Eric Burton and War, Frank Zappa, Larry Coryell, Albert Collins, Charlie Musselwhite, and The Climax Blues Band. .Jim worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician, and recorded two albums. In 1984 Jim moved to Paris, France and played and recorded there. Later he formed his own trio there called The Liquid Gang and recorded original songs. He also was co-founder of The Cathouse Blues Band which opened for Dr. Hook, and backed up Hubert Sumlin at the Mt. Baker Blues Festival in 2003. Jim now works as a full-time Music Therapist at Oregon State Hospital.
Mike Amen - Harmonica: Mike has played with Blues Battalion since it’s origin, taking some time off, but back now in full force. Mike learned to play in the service to pass the time and take the blues away when away from home. He also plays with the Mt. Hood Community College Jam Session class.
Tony (Robert) Leitch - Drums/Percussion: Tony is originally from Northern California, and has played with many groups there includng Off The Cuff, The Karma Bothers, and Open Range. He has played at the renouned Burning Man in the Alturas area. He recently moved to Portland and is a student at the Art’s Institute there. Since coming to town, he met Fred, who recognized Tony’s great talent, and asked him to join Blues Battalion.
Curits Johnson - Bass: Curtis started playing Bass about 2 years ago, He has not played with anyone but Blues Battalion, apart from the Jam Sessions class at Mt Hood Community College for 7-8 terms, The styles he likes include New Orleans Funk, Soul, Blues, Improv Jam, Bluegrass, and the like.