By Ossie Bladine • Editor • 

Road leads to Carlton

Submitted photoSinger-songwriter Thad Beckman has spent most of his adult life performing on the road.
Submitted photo
Singer-songwriter Thad Beckman has spent most of his adult life performing on the road.

Thad Beckman’s life has played out like the old song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

The musician has been on the road nearly nonstop since he was 19. Born and raised in Portland, he spent 20 years traveling, performing and absorbing the music of America.

The result is an experienced showman serving well-honed stories of life in a landscape of dust-filled blues and contemporary folk.

Beckman will perform an Americana set Friday, April 12, at the Horse Radish in Carlton, accompanied by harmonica player Kurtis Piltz. The two have known each other since high school.

Beckman returned to Portland in 2004, but still spends most of his time on the road. 

“I still love to play; I’m crazy about it,” Beckman said. “When I first decided to play music for a living, I did it because I figured I wouldn’t outgrow it. And that turned out to be fact.”

Beckman will release his eighth studio album in June, “When The Sun Goes Down.” It’s a joint project with a drummer from Europe. The two have worked together on and off since 1986, Beckman said.

“He came up with the idea to do a duet album,” Beckman said. “So we got together and knocked around some ideas.”

The album consists of traditional blues tracks from Son House, Robert Johnson, Leroy Carr and the like. It also includes a few songs Beckman has recorded in the past.

“It’s cool because the songs always change over time,” he said.

This summer, Beckman will cross the Atlantic for a European tour, performing about five weeks on his own. He also plans several shows with fellow singer-songwriter Tom Russell, whom he met through a mutual friend in El Paso about four years ago. While both musicians incorporate a variety of styles, they share a foundation of Texas music. The blend of roots sounds and carefree, common man country is well received across the pond.

Beckman said he’s had good success over the years in Europe. “They like American musicians,” he said. 

But he said it’s not too different from performing in various corners of the United States. “People are just kind of people everywhere. The different places you play, you run into different vibes.”

Beckman said he loves playing at the Horse Radish. It’s one of the few venues in Oregon he returns to often, along with O’Connor’s in Portland. Music starts at 7 p.m. at the Carlton venue, 211 W. Main St.

For more information and to listen to Beckman’s tunes, visit

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