Hot enough for ya, music fans? This week we’re swimming in a stunning debut full-length from Portland neo-soul artist Lo Steele, a Sarah Clark co-headliner show at Mississippi Studios, and Mic Check celebrating seven years of Mic Check. Looking for the soundtrack to your summer activities? We’ve got just the thing, right Hear In Portland. 


Upcoming local event(s) featuring local artist(s).

Sarah Clarke & Lyle Divinsky

Whether she's singing lead or harmonizing as backup, Sarah Clarke is integral to several West Coast bands. She's best known for fronting Portland-based soul rock band Dirty Revival and funky soul, psych-rock outfit Con Brio, but you'll also hear her lead vocals in the work of groups like the Motet and Outer Orbit. Additionally, this summer, Portugal. The Man fans get to hear Clarke singing background vocals for a slew of tour dates. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the powerhouse artist also has a solo career on the grow. Her July 18 show, at Mississippi Studios, is billed without a band, so who knows what exactly Clarke’s plans for the intimate show entail? But one thing is guaranteed: Clarke’s expert, spirited, and soulful vocal prowess will be front and center. The show co-stars singer-songwriter Lyle Divinsky, who will hopefully play his bluesy and soul-driven “Home.” (Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, Tues July 18, 9 pm, tickets here, 21+)


New release(s) from a Portland-relevant artist. 

Happy Girl, Lo Steele 

Fans of neo-soul acts like Blossom, Moorea Masa, YAWA (AKA Amenta Abioto), or Seattle artist SassyBlack should make it their business to check out singer-songwriter Lo Steele. Trivia tidbit: Steele is the daughter of the “First Lady of Portland Blues” LaRhonda Steele, but the soul- and jazz-informed artist has plenty to wow, even ignoring her lineage. We recommend the rabbit hole that is Steele’s Instagram updates for soulful singing, vocal runs, and an Afro-centric aesthetic. On June 30, Steele released her debut full-length album, Happy Girl, which feels like a cure-all for listeners aching to feel seen. The title track especially depicts the pressures (and harassment) a young Black woman faces—to smile—when we go outside. It's hard to tear yourself away from “I Know He Loves Me,” where Steele introduces a rejoicing gospel-inspired mantra at the song's close, but we also favor the upbeat and cheeky final track, “Hey, Hey Hey,” which offers an infectious chorus of “hey heys” and “oohs,” wherein Steele tells her lover to hurry up and decide whether or not to take their relationship to the next level. At the song’s pinnacle, Steele soulfully sings “It ain’t no pressure/ I think you’re so special/ So go and get in your spot/ shit or get off the pot.”


Some upcoming music buzz to put on your radar.

Mic Check: Seventh Anniversary 

If we’re being completely honest, Mic Check hasn’t ever been quite the same since Star Chile—its founder, promoter, curator, and host—passed in 2018. While the rest of the team behind the hip hop showcase, worked to keep it alive, the monthly aspect of the series ended up on the back burner. However, in recent months we've seen a resurgence of energy around Mic Check. This August anniversary show celebrates seven years of Mic Check and it happens that this very music journalist—dear reader, it is I—will be honored in some form for my work covering Portland's hip-hop scene. I’m not sure what I did to deserve this (other than, you know, my job), nor do I know what I’ll be receiving. (A trophy? A Grammy? A certificate of completion? A gift card to Outback Steakhouse? I don’t know what to expect!) More importantly, the evening also serves as an unmissable local celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, and the kick-off of PDX Hip-Hop Week 2023. The line-up is dense with talent: Queens, New York rapper Homeboy Sandman headlines, no doubt performing tracks from his recent album Still Champion, his third via Mello Music Group. Fans are further graced by performances from veteran emcees including Vursatyl (Lifesavas), Cool Nutz (and DJ Fatboy), Inglewood-based rapper-producer Tia P. Also, look for Bay Area rapper Brookfield Duece, Chicago-to-Portland transplant Bremer Baden, emcee duo Alta Vocez—plus, locals like Boom Bap Project, J Prodigy, and more. As usual, DJ Klyph plays host for the night, and resident DJ O.G. One will be on the 1s and 2s. (McMenamins Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan, Sun Aug 20, 6 pm, $20-$25, tickets here, all ages)