RAE GORDON & THE BACKSEAT DRIVERS
Blues in the Fast Lane
“Gordon had the audience in the palm of her hand” Oregon Music News
Rae Gordon & the Backseat Drivers hit the music scene in June 2016 quickly gaining acclaim and winning the Cascade Blues Association’s Journey to Memphis contest at the Waterfront Blues Festival just one month later (follow their journey here. www.raegordon.com/journeytomemphis).
The 7 piece band rides along in that sweet spot between a hard driving gritty groove and an uptown soul. It helps to have a guitar player that knows how to steer his vintage hollow body guitar like it’s a muscle car, driving deep in and out of the sounds of a horn section that truly knows how to go from zero to 60.
The Backseat Drivers are fronted by the Muddy Award Hall of Fame Winner for Best Female Vocalist (Cascade Blues Association) and is made up of seasoned players who have played the big and little stages of the northwest’s favorite clubs, dance floors and festivals and beyond.
“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 was able to develop her ability to be intimate with an audience whether in the corner of a small wine bar with a few people sipping libations to a big festival of thousands. Her approachability is as well known as her wide octave range. Her first recording “Blue Lemonade” co-written with Gaddis Cavenah, hit #10 on the Billlboard Blues Charts and their follow up “Dirty Flowers” has been played in US and beyond.
Guitarist Kivett Bednar is fast becoming known for his gracious grooves and ability and hails from Austin, Texas. He moved to Portland about 5 years ago and has been playing guitar in blues bands for over 22 years. He graduated from the Berkeley College of Music in 2005. He currently also play in The Pining Hearts, a psych-surf band, that has been turning heads around the Portland Metro area. In addition to playing music in multiple projects including Land of the Living, he is also an accomplished painter, who has had his artwork displayed in various galleries and shows around Portland and Austin, Texas.
Bass player Al Hooton was a trumpet player in the Midwest earlier in life, spending a lot of time in funk combos and swinging big bands. But when he moved to the Pacific Northwest, he discovered how much fun it was to be back in the rhythm section and became a bass player and never looked back! Al uses both bass guitars and electric upright basses when laying down the foundational tones as a Backseat Drivers, and also delivers backing vocals.
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 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, Department 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.
Tenor saxophone player Scott Franklin was outstanding Senior in Music, Beaverton High School. All State Band, 3rd in State Solo Contest. Mt Hood Community College, 1 – o’clock Big Band who once opened for Buddy Rich. Clackamas Community College 1 – o’clock Big Band. He 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…..Rae Gordon and the Backseat Drivers!
Drummer Ed Pierce is a sought after player known for not only his boyish good looks, but his extreme versatility as a player. His ability to morph with any song thrown at him, from a soft jazz standard to a funky get up and groove, is well known. Ed 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 graduating from college, he moved to the Portland area, where he has played drum set with many jazz, blues, and R&B groups for the last 20 years. In addition to the Backseat Drivers, he has played at various times as the main drummer with some of the local legends including DK Stewart, Johnny Martin, Paul deLay, Lloyd Jones, Terry Robb, Geno Michaels, Roger Woods, and many others.
Keyboard player 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 he can often be heard playing with Lisa Mann, Kenny Lavitz, Karen Lovely and Ben Rice. 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.
“When the band launches into the more rollicking numbers, hands start waving” Willamette Week.
Rae Gordon performances are not only a show, but a celebration, as Gordon follows the policy that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met…yet.
Photography by Tony Kutter
Header picture by Kat Rose Photography PDX