“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 back in September, 2003 at Oregon’s prestigious Britt Festival.
In fact, this true all-star band – each member is widely viewed as tops in the Northwest on his instrument–has been a sensation for a long while now. With a collective resume that reads like a “Who’s Who” of jazz, blues, and soul (all four members are Oregon Music Hall of Fame inductees), this group has the talent and confidence to be completely spontaneous–from their blistering solos to their improvised arrangements and segues. No wonder they’ve thrilled audiences wherever they’ve played. Those venues have included Portland’s top jazz club, Jimmy Mak’s (every Thursday night for the entire 20-year run of that legendary jazz venue), the Jack London Revue (home to the band for the past 3 years), the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, The Britt Festival, The Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, the Rose City Festival, the Bite Of Oregon, The Port Townsend Jazz Festival, Jazz in the Valley, the Newport, OR Jazz Festival, Jazz at the Oxford, the Montavilla Jazz Festival, and many more.
NOTE: Mel and the band are featured in an hour-long, nationally syndicated NPR program, “Jazz Night In America,” released 10/21/21. Mel is interviewed by the program host Christian McBride (a huge Motown fan, as it turns out), and excerpts from a smoking set from the 2019 Montavilla Jazz Festival (including three Louis Pain originals) are played. Here’s the link to that program!
Vocalist Sean Holmes grew up in San Francisco and the Los Angeles area in a family of esteemed musicians, including his mother Carol Stallings, who toured with Joe Cocker, Englebert Humperdink, and other top artists.
Sean arrived in Portland Fall of 1986 on a basketball scholarship, but he soon traded in his hoop shoes for a choir robe, studied voice, and began working with local musicians. Since then, Sean has worked with a long list of the Northwest’s top musicians and has appeared at all the top local music festivals.
Sean is an extremely musical and versatile vocalist—at home singing soul, jazz, salsa, pop, and more—and a wonderfully warm and charismatic performer. California’s loss has definitely been Oregon’s gain!
MZ. ARIETTA WARD
NW vocal powerhouse Arietta Ward’s mission is to spread music, joy, and happiness to the masses though song. Her diverse musical background and vocal versatility has allowed her to perform as a bandleader; in various configurations with artists such as Esperanza Spalding, the late West African Master Drummer Obo Addy, the late Linda Hornbuckle, Curtis Salgado, Lloyd Jones, Nigel Hall, Jarrod Lawson, Tony Ozier and Tyrone Hendrix while starting out with her mother, famed NW legendary pianist the late Janice Marie Scroggins.
“All of the music, all the songs… these are my stories. They’re stories that need to be told, and I am here to tell them.”
Arietta doesn’t define herself by any genre. Some call her Neo-Soul/Blues, others Funk or R&B. Arietta is more focused on content, context & the responsibility that every artist holds.
“Be mindful of the intention while delivering your messages. When you open your mouth – always hold that (intent) in the highest vibration possible. Artists are healers, music is healing. Music is sacred.”
Her internationally acclaimed debut album, “Arietta”, captures her live performance persona as well as her studio self. With high energy, humor and passion, the unique sound experience of Arietta Ward will surely have you wanting more.