The Band

RAE GORDON BAND

Blues with a Side of Soul

Live Performance Video

“Gordon had the audience in the palm of her hand.” – Oregon Music News

In May 2016, Rae Gordon assembled a new band featuring some of Portland’s most notable players. The fresh lineup quickly picked up steam, and by the 4th of July Rae’s new outfit had won the Cascade Blues Association’s Journey to Memphis competition at the Waterfront Blues Festival. This local win sent them to Memphis in January 2017 for the renowned International Blues Challenge, where they ultimately took third place overall after competing against standout acts from all around the world. The band was recently named Best Portland Blues Act in a Willamette Week  reader poll. In November 2017 the Cascade Blues Association honored the Rae Gordon Band with two Muddy Awards: one for Best Contemporary Blues Act and another naming their latest CD Better Than I Was Best Northwest Recording.

The 7-piece band serves up a stew of “downtown gritty with uptown city” – soaring vocals with searing guitar counterpoint, high-energy horns and a hard-driving rhythm section with the power of a freight train.

“Add equal parts of Janis Joplin’s pain, Aretha Franklin’s soul and Grace Slick’s power; mix them thoroughly, and add a big gob of gooey molasses and you have Rae Gordon’s voice” – Positively Entertainment and Dining

Vocalist Rae Gordon started her singing career in the piano bars and comedy clubs of Los Angeles, where she honed her ability to relate to any audience – from a small wine bar with a few people sipping libations, to a big festival attended by thousands. Rae’s approachability and onstage charisma is as well-known as her multi-octave range. She has won the Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Award for Best Female Vocalist three times, landing her in their Hall Of Fame. Her first recording, Blue Lemonade, hit #10 on the Billlboard Blues Chart; her second offering, Dirty Flowers, has enjoyed extensive airplay in the U.S. and beyond. In 2017 the Rae Gordon Band released its third recording, the award-winning Better Than I Was, produced by RGB guitarist Kivett Bednar and featuring songs co-written with RGB keyboardist and musical director Pat McDougall.

Guitarist Kivett Bednar hails from Austin, Texas but has made a name for himself in Portland and beyond for his passionate solos and dynamic onstage presence. Kivett arrived in Portland about five years ago but has been playing blues guitar for decades. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Kivett has also turned heads in the Portland metro area with his projects The Pining Hearts and Land of the Living. This versatile guitarist is also an accomplished painter who has had his artwork displayed in various galleries and shows around Portland and Austin; he was named Best Visual Artist in Willamette Week’s 2017 Best of Portland reader poll.

Originally from Ohio, bassist Joseph Conrad is well-known throughout the Northwest for his ability to play anything set before him, ranging from jazz to blues to funk. He played for years in DK Stewart’s band, and in Stewart’s Etta James Tribute project. He brings a muscular but thoroughly musical touch to the band’s low end, and his joy in playing is evident at every gig. Joseph also plays with PDX Social Club and other local acts.

Tenor saxophone player Scott Franklin was Outstanding Senior in Music, Beaverton High School. He was a member of the All State Band and took 3rd in the State Solo Contest. At Mt. Hood Community College he played in the One O’Clock Big Band which once opened for Buddy Rich. Scott continued his music studies at Marylhurst University, and then at Portland State University, graduating with a B.S. in Music. Over the years he’s performed and/or recorded with Dub Debrie, Ants in the Kitchen, Midnight Blue, The Coasters, Papa Salty, The Fabulous Farelanes, Franco Paletta and The Stingers, The Arnold Brothers, Smokehouse, The Jazz Pinheads, Luminos, The JC Rico Band, Billy’s Brass Band, and of course the Rae Gordon Band! He was nominated for a Cascade Blues Association Muddy Award for Best Saxophone in 2017.

Trumpet player Allan Kalik is one of the most active and in-demand commercial players in Portland and also one of the busiest private lesson teachers. He has been teaching privately for over 30 years and was on the faculty of the University of South Florida. He has been a clinician at dozens of schools throughout Oregon, Washington and Florida. Allan has performed with Ray Charles, Doc Severinsen, Al Hirt, Lew Soloff, George Adams, Jon Faddis, and locally performed with Uncle Phunk, Bob Miller Almost All Star Band, Caramel Chocolates, Deep Blue Soul Revue, Ants in the Kitchen, Dept. of R&B, Return Flight, The Swingline Cubs and Thunderfunk. Allan earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music at the University of South Florida.

Keyboardist and musical director Pat McDougall has performed with a long list of bands and artists, including his own blues/R&B outfits Runaway Train and Tall Static. He was the musical director for the Portland-based band supporting Tony Coleman (BB King’s drummer for many years), and a member of the Muddy Award-winning lineup of Bill Rhoades & The Party Kings. These days, in addition to the Rae Gordon Band, Pat can often be heard playing with Lisa Mann, Ben Rice and others. Pat has composed music for commercials, independent films, theatrical productions and corporate presentations; his compositions have won recognition from the Portland Music Association and Keyboard magazine. During the day Pat works in marketing communications – building websites, writing and editing copy, and developing technical documentation.

Drummer Ed Pierce’s boyish good looks belie a fierce dedication to his craft and a widely-recognized ability to kick any piece of music into high gear with his immaculate time and killer technique. Ed is one of those rare musicians who derives satisfaction from serving the song rather than drawing attention to himself. He grew up in Eureka, California, and started playing percussion at the age of 11. In high school and college he played drums in a variety of rock and jazz groups, as well as playing steel drums in the Humboldt State University Calypso Band. After college he moved to the Portland area, where he has played drums with countless jazz, blues and R&B groups over the last 20 years. In addition to the Rae Gordon Band, Ed’s been the go-to drummer for local legends like DK Stewart, Johnny Martin, Paul deLay, Lloyd Jones, Terry Robb, Geno Michaels, Roger Woods and many others. Ed was nominated for a Cascade Blues Association Muddy Award for Best Drummer in 2017.

“When the band launches into the more rollicking numbers, hands start waving.”  – Willamette Week

 

Photography on this page by Tony Kutter, Greg Johnson (Joseph), Kat Rose (Ed) and Debra Penk (band & Allan/Rae)