Blue Mountaineers return with mix of familiar country and blues

RON HARTMAN/ CHRONICLE PHOTO The Blue Mountaineers, from left, Charles Sales Jr., David Heritage, and Chuck Heritage, mix country and blues during their set Friday at Village Green.

COTTAGE GROVE – David Heritage grew up always knowing all about the great guitar legends. He didn’t exactly have a choice in the matter.

“My dad (Chuck) used to play all of those ‘Blues Power’ tapes and we would drive around listening to them all the time,” Heritage said. “He used to quiz me, and I had to know the difference between B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King just by hearing the first few notes. He got me into the blues. I was playing slide guitar at 12 years old. And I had already learned to play harmonica long before that.”

Fast-forward a whole-bunch of years and the father-son duo are still teaming up. The longtime Cottage Grove residents are part of the Blue Mountaineers, who performed in front of an appreciative audience at the Village Green on Friday night.

They were actually billed as a bluegrass band, but it would be quite a stretch to describe them that way. 

“We do some bluegrass, but it doesn’t really sound like bluegrass,” Heritage said. 

Mostly, the Blue Mountaineers could be described as a country-blues band. They do songs by Hank Jr. and Hank Sr., but they’re happy to veer off the main drag with a couple of lively alt-country tunes by Jason Isbell, and a riveting version of “Annabelle” by Gillian Welch. When it’s time to switch up the mood, harmonica player Charles Sales Jr. takes center stage for songs like Robert Johnson’s “Kind Hearted Woman Blues” and Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man.” 

Originally from Chicago, Sales said he was an Air Force brat who was able to experience a wide slice of musical cultures growing up. 

“I like it all. I listen to rap, world music, reggae, I listen to it all,” said Sales, now a retired Eugene resident. “Rock ’n’ roll, Doo Wop … if there wasn’t music, there’s no reason for me to be here.” 

Being back on stage was just what the blues doctor ordered for Heritage as well after a year-long pandemic.

“This is my therapy,” said Heritage, who teaches math, science and engineering at Al Kennedy High School. “The pandemic has just been stress upon stress. I’ve needed this as therapy ever since I played trombone in high school and college.”

The band had a special guest sitting in Friday night –lead guitarist Greg Biller, who owns Biller Guitar Repair in Cottage Grove. He hosts a regular acoustic jam at The Brewstation that is just getting cranked up again after the pandemic (check Facebook for updates). 

The Blue Mountaineers, who return to the Village Green on Saturday, April 17, came to be when original band member Brian Korzilius lived on Blue Mountain School Road. “I looked it up and saw there had been a Blue Mountaineers band back in the 1920s and ’30s,” Heritage said. “Since they haven’t been playing much these days, I thought I’d steal their name.”

Who knows, it may be legendary one of these days.



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