Portland Music Month is a new effort by local nonprofit Music Portland to kick off the new year in music, build resources for independent musicians, and get live music enthusiasts back inside the city’s lovely historic (and new) venues. The fest features an impressive lineup of more than 100 acts over 31 days, with one of the primary goals being to raise funds for Portland’s artist community in the form of its Independent Musician Empowerment Grant, designed to help indie artists pay for a laundry list of necessities such as studio time, producer work, tour funds, merch, and more.
With a slew of shows at Portland’s distinguished, various-sized venues—Polaris Hall, Kelly’s Olympian, Crystal Ballroom, The Old Church, The 1905, White Eagle, Alberta Street Pub, Mississippi Studios, Star Theater, Dante’s, Doug Fir, Holocene, Mississippi Pizza & Atlantis Lounge, and Stage 722—$1 of every show will go toward the aforementioned grant. Attending any of the listed shows, posting recaps, or using the hashtag #PDXMM also puts you in a raffle to win some sweet shit, like amps, high fidelity ear plugs, gift certificates to 5 Star Guitars, and more. Check out the full list of shows curated by local bookers, and read on to hear about the first show on the lineup, which showcases stalwart artist Redray Frazier this Tuesday.
Redray Frazier & Ezra Holbrook
(Tues, Jan 4, Alberta Street Pub)
Portland-based singer-songwriter/musician Redray Frazier is one of those extra-seasoned artists that our city is lucky to be able to boast about, and catch live on the regular.
As the son of a Baptist minister and a classically trained vocalist, Frazier got his musical start singing gospel in a New Jersey church choir. In 1989, Frazier really began to cut his professional teeth by joining pop/R&B duo The Brat Pack, and years later, The Funky Poets quartet. Since then, Frazier went on to garner much bigger looks, playing guitar in David Byrne’s touring band, and opening for artists such as Blues Traveler, as well as the great Lenny Kravitz.
In 2015, the singer-songwriter dropped a funky and soulful six-track EP, Blood In the Water, with stand-out songs like its title track, the rock-informed “Follow Me,” the epic soul of “Ain’t No Way,” and the emotive guitar solo on somber track “Like Rain.” After that, the artist went on a five-year recording hiatus, but continued to perform at various clubs around Portland and beyond. Frazier has established a sound for himself that often pays homage to ’60s and ’70s R&B, while also infusing elements of rock and hip-hop. The artist’s vocals tend to be somewhat understated yet sleek, edgy, and at times reminiscent of Lenny Kravitz.
Last spring, Frazier released his first single in quite a while, titled “Better Man.” Written while traveling and not being able to connect with his romantic partner, the new single is a love song recorded with highly accomplished musician/producer/brother Paul Frazier. The track also features additional guitar by Cher- and Herbie Hancock-collaborator Marlon Graves. Of course, the song signals a forthcoming project from Frazier (which is currently unnamed), and seeing the artist live provides a delicious opportunity to get a taste of some of the other unreleased tracks. Watch the video for "Better Man":
While it’s not uncommon for the rootsy, smoky-voiced singer to perform at Alberta Street Pub, this particular show will see Frazier headlining a super solid bill, while playing alongside multi-instrumentalist/LA-to-Portland transplant Ezra Holbrook of the In Music We Trust label. (The two artists are actually pretty familiar playing together at the Alberta Street Pub venue, too.) Backing up the bill is excellent Americana/blues rock singer Sarah King, and soulful songwriter Bright Raven (FKA Idea the Artist). And don't forget, $1 from every ticket will directly benefit Music Portland’s Musicians Empowerment Grant for Portland area artists. Tickets are solely available at the door.
Tues Jan 4, 6 pm, Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta, $15