Swatkins is a joyful prophet of positivity. Together with his band, The Positive Agenda, he plays feel-good funk made by and for real human beings. Steve Swatkins is part of the new generation of performers making raw, fresh soulful music without relying on computers or backing tracks. This multi-instrumentalist is a master of the talkbox, an old-school analog effect using his larynx to shape the sound of his keyboard synthesizer sent through a vinyl tube. Think of the funky robot voice from "California Love" or the hair-raising harmony intro to "24 Karat Magic." Now picture a throwback dance party with a killer live band playing the deepest grooves imaginable, and you've got a taste of what The Positive Agenda is all about.
Swatkins has long been a fixture on the touring scene in his capacity as a sideman and guest artist. As a fulltime member of Excellent Gentlemen and Juno What?! he's spread his irresistible signature style on stages across the US and Canada. Since joining Allen Stone's band in 2013, he's been around the world several times, becoming an indispensable part of the live show and co-writing several of Allen's songs, including the lead single "Upside" from Stone's latest album, Radius. Most recently, he's guest-starred with Brooklyn's Turkuaz at their debut Red Rocks performance, sat in with Vulfpeck at their biggest NYC show to date in Central Park, and has toured subbing on keyboards with modern funk legends Lettuce. Now with Steve's new original project, The Positive Agenda, his dedicated fans can see the Swatkins they know and love in a brand new setting, bringing high-energy performances to dancefloors everywhere.
Special Neo-Soul showcase with multiple vocalists with our house band ThankUSoMuch
"If this band appeared in New York City, they'd be a sensation!" That was guitar great--and one-time Mel Brown bandmate--George Benson's reaction after hearing the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group open for him in 2003. This true all-star band has been a sensation for a long time—including a 20-year run on Thursdays at Portland’s Jimmy Mak’s (The Oregonian dubbed them “Jimmy Mak’s signature group”). A collective resume that reads like a "Who's Who" of NW jazz, blues, and soul, this group has the talent and confidence to be completely spontaneous--from their blistering solos to their improvised arrangements and segues.
MEL BROWN -- An Oregon icon, has been labeled the "Gentleman of Jazz," with a career spanning a half century. The city of Portland proclaimed June 22, 1989 "Mel Brown Day" in recognition of Mel's achievements as a musician and educator, receiving the Governor's Arts Award in 2002. Mel first made his mark as a Motown staff drummer, recording and touring with the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and many others. He subsequently spent ten years working with Diana Ross and other pop acts before giving up the road in 1991 and returning home to his first love: jazz. Mel has been a fixture in Portland ever since, leading groups six nights a week at Jimmy Mak's and other venues when he isn't backing jazz artists like Joey DeFrancesco and Benny Golson.
DAN BALMER -- Widely considered the defining sound of contemporary jazz guitar in the Northwest. Described by the Los Angeles Times as "the model of what a contemporary guitarist should be," Dan is one of the most original and creative artists to come from the fertile Northwest music scene. Dan has played and recorded with a long list of jazz greats, has released six CDs of his own, is a jazz educator and a noted composer. Dan leads his own groups and performs with jazz artists including Diane Schuur, Benny Green, and Jeff Hamilton.
RENATO CARANTO -- described as "one of Portland's most soulful jazz saxophonists" by The Oregonian," Renato is one of the most versatile, accomplished, soulful saxophonists anywhere. Arriving from the Philippines in '81 with only his horn, Renato has built an enviable career in Portland. After gaining a foothold in the local scene, Renato became one of the most sought-after jazzmen in the NW and beyond. In recent years, he’s toured with Grammy-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding and late country legend Merle Haggard. Talk about versatility!
LOUIS "KING LOUIE" PAIN -- "Portland's boss of the B-3" (The Oregonian) hails from San Francisco, where he played and recorded with a wide variety of top musicians: Tower of Power guitarist Bruce Conte, Santana saxophonist Jules Broussard, Edwin Hawkins vocalist Dorothy Morrison, and B.B. King saxophonist Bobby Forte. After moving north in '86, Louis continued the trend. His 2016 cd with vocalist LaRhonda Steele, “Rock Me Baby,” was honored by Downbeat as one of the “Best Albums of 2016.” Louis’ knack for playing exactly what's needed to further the song has made him Portland's "first call" organist.
Emerging in a pouf of dazzling stardust, Liv Warfield has solidified herself as a legend of her own time. Born in Peoria, IL the former Notre Dame Track star and gymnast began her singing career in Portland, OR where she had relocated to attend college. Influenced by musical heroines such as Nina Simone, Etta James, Sade, Tina Turner and Mary J. Blige, Liv has brought her own unique and soulful sound to the ranks of the indisputably talented. In the beginning of her career, Liv collaborated with a myriad of local musicians in Portland which provided the platform to demonstrate her vocals across genres. As Liv began performing within Portland's vibrant music scene she established herself as an icon. She was ultimately hailed as "Portland's most soulful singer" (Portland Monthly). Eventually, the fervent support she received locally became the catalyst that catapulted Liv's career to the next level. Liv Warfield's talent defies definition. She sits comfortably outside the box and can croon her way into the top talent of any mix. However, if a definition is insisted upon - the singer herself describes her style as "alternative R&B Soul with a little bit of Rock 'n' Roll" - a style which she has spent years cultivating. In 2006, Liv's self-released debut album Embrace Me, was well received and offered the world a glimpse into her distinguished sound. However, it was 2009 which brought the pivotal change of her career. The legendary performer Prince watched a video on YouTube of Liv singing "Gimme Shelter" and three months later, he called her to invite her to audition for his vocal backing group, the New Power Generation (NPG). Nowadays, Liv has been singing, touring and blazing stages with Prince and the NPG for the past several years. Liv also sang on Prince's 2010 album Lotusflow3r and since then, the rest is history - in the making.
Lydia and the band debuted when the Fillmore was at its peak as one of the nation's musical Mecca's. Owner Bill Graham was so impressed with Lydia's voice and the sound of the band that he immediately signed Cold Blood to his new record label. During the span of six original late-60's, early-70's albums, Lydia Pense and Cold Blood helped, along with Tower Of Power, forge their own specific brand of funk/soul and R&B which came to be know as East Bay Grease. That music still holds up today, proving that great music is timeless and will continue to inspire generations to come. Lydia Pense and Cold Blood packed the San Francisco Ballrooms in their heyday, but that was then and this is now. In the now, Lydia Pense and Cold Blood still fill halls with cheering, dancing, foot-stomping fans. Far from fading over the years, Cold Blood has flourished.
Along with Tower of Power, Cold Blood pioneered the Bay Area's brass heavy funk-rock sound, which came to be known as "East Bay Grease." After debuting at the Fillmore in 1969 and initially signing to Bill Graham's San Francisco Records label, they developed into one of the most popular high-energy bands in the Bay Area. Fronted by the proverbial little girl with a huge voice, Lydia Pense's powerful vocal chops were impossible to ignore, and despite frequent personnel changes within the band, Cold Blood always attracted inspired and creative musicians and remained a crack unit.
Born in Korea and raised in Seattle, violinist-looper and vocalist Joe Kye has drawn rave reviews since launching his music career in 2013, "discharging world[s] of emotion" and delivering "divine messages" with his lush string loops, sweet vocals, and eclectic style (Guitar World). Drawing upon his immigrant upbringing, Kye blends indie-rock, jazz, classical, pop, and Korean folk to create a unique sound that "leaves everyone in awe" (Sac News and Review). With his innovative use of digital effects and looping, Kye weaves together diverse textures, catchy melodies, and rich, sweet vocals to create songs that groove, uplift, and empower listeners: "A single violinist...one mesmerizing symphony" (Sacramento Bee). Kye released his newest album, Migrants, in January 2018 to acclaim, with glowing reviews from OPB Music, Republic of Jazz, and NPR's "The World."
After Funk is a fun filled, soul driven, funk-rock explosion. Hailed as "The grooviest band north of the border" (Live for Live Music), the Toronto based funk family have been blazing a trail through the North American music scene leaving only happy hearts and dancing feet in their wake. The combination of Yanick Allwood (keyboards & vocals), Jaime Rosenberg (drums), Justin Bontje (bass) and Phil Tessis (guitar) results in an infectiously fun show, as well as virtuosity and beauty that will challenge your musical mind. After Funk's sound and hard work has not gone unnoticed; being selected as the Electric Forest's Instrumental Forester in 2014 earned them two sets at the festival and they have served as support for Walk Off The Earth, Lettuce, Snarky Puppy, Dumpstaphunk, TAUK and more. The band has released 2 albums to help you prepare for the experience: 'Til The Sun Comes Up features Canadian hip hop legend Choclair and earned over $10,000 in crowdfunding presales and their self-titled debut EP was mixed and mastered by Alan Evans of Soulive. Both albums promise to have you rocking out and singing along to catchy melodies and funky grooves. But if you truly want to find out what comes after the funk, you'll just have to come experience it for yourself.
You will be captivated by more than just what you hear coming from Saeeda when she takes the stage, you will feel loved, inspired, and encouraged all at the same time. These are the gifts Saeeda has been cultivating since she was child. Surrounded by praise and worship ministers, it was in her blood to find her voice and tend to its blossom throughout her life, including furthering her education as a Voice Major at Clark Atlanta University.
Saeeda has been seen on stages backing Prince, as a member of his New Power Generation, the Pacific Northwest's own Liv Warfield and is featured with the Tim Snider Trio. Saeeda has also been blessed to grace the stage with, Gospel Music Power-houses Jessica Reedy, Crystal Akin, and JJ Harrison. Some of Saeeda's studio credits include Prince, Derrick McDuffey & Kingdom Sound, Liv Warfield, and Patrick Lamb, to name a few.. She is very well known and respected for her work as a soloist with the Oregon Symphony, and has been a regular participant in Portland's Annual Waterfront Blues Festival.
Currently Saeeda is a lead vocalist for the emerging band Mother's Favorite Child and is working to complete her debut self titled album. Besides the gifting and incredible work ethic put forth from this powerful woman, her dedication to her family, her faith, and giving back to her community remain her biggest priority. She embodies humility, grace, and generosity, making her an asset to every environment.