Music Mondays offer free shows

As veteran Portland bluesman Norman “The B oogie Cat” Sylvester puts it, “Outdoor events are for the whole family. We get to share some music history with the children, while moms and dads get to kick back and enjoy the grooves.”

Residents of Gresham and its surrounding environs will have plenty of opportunities to kick back and enjoy the grooves when the Gresham Center for the Arts Foundation’s fifth annual Music Mondays series commences July 7. The series is funded by the City of Gresham Arts & Culture Grants as well as the Oregon Cultural Trust through the Multnomah County Arts Coalition. The free, all ages concerts take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Gresham Center for Arts Plaza, 401 N.E. Second Street.

Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets and a picnic to enjoy a summer evening with a wide variety of music presented by well-known area musical groups. JBL Production produces the event, and Metro East Community Media will film the series for later showing on cable TV.

Sue O’Halloran, the arts foundation president, says the series lures crowds downtown.

“Some concerts draw around 200, and others have drawn as many as 800,” she says

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Here’s the lineup, along with some choice insights by the various performers.

July 7: Shannon Tower Band

This urban folk-rock band features Shannon Tower on Ani DiFranco-like vocals and acoustic guitar, Jeff Sullivan on electric violin, Ken Lahti on bass and Joe Day on drums and vocals.

“Shannon’s voice and Jeff’s violin give us a sound all our own,” says Day, adding the band is looking forward to its Music Monday slot.

“We love to play outdoor shows, particularly in the summer,” he says. “They always have a more relaxed vibe. It’s nice to be able to see people’s faces and interact with the crowd, and we especially love events like Music Mondays that draw families. It’s a treat to get to rock out in front of the little ones!”

July 14: Norman Sylvester Band

normansylvester.comby: CONTRIBUTED - Norman Sylvester

One of the Northwest’s most popular blues musicians, Sylvester will sing and play guitar with Rob Shoemaker on bass, Paul Shoemaker on drums and Jeff Otto on keyboards. A Cascade Blues Association Lifetime Achievement winner, Sylvester says he will play a “boogie party” that will be fun for all ages.

July 21: Kris Deelane & Sharp Little Things

krisdeelane.comby: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Kris Deelane

Indie rocker and multi-instrumentalist Kris Deelane has played in a L.A. ska band, toured the former Soviet Union as a singer in “Fiddler On The Roof” and shared the stage with Brian Wilson, Joan Jett and Peter Yarrow. She’s released five CDs with her bands, Sweet Juice and the touring duo Adam and Kris (with Adam East). Her guest recording credits include work with The Decemberists, Jerry Joseph and The Jackmormons and Michael Dean Damron/I Can Lick any SOB in the House and Lewi Longmire.

July 28: Picante

picantelatinjazz.comby: CONTRIBUTED - Picante

Picante is one of Portland’s premier Afro-Cuban Jazz bands. The band plays a fiery blend of covers and original music by leader and trumpeter Bryant Allard and saxophonist-singer Catarina New. The band also includes one of Portland’s best Latin pianists, Devin Sanders, bassist Tom Kay, percussionist Al Martin and Nick Gefroh on timbales.

Aug. 4: Cooley aka The David Cooley Band

Dan Gaynor tickles the ivories, Tom Stroud plucks the bass, Marty Higgins pounds the skins, Cameron Morgan strums guitar and David Cooley sings for this band, which performs a mix of country, rock and swing music both popular and original.

“I love both indoor and outdoor shows, Cooley says. “Outdoors there’s room to run with my wireless mic, and really open up the voice. The audiences are very focused and responsive.”

Aug. 11: Stevens & Hess Band

This group brings together two veteran female performers of the blues scene, Vicki Stevens and Sonny Hess. Stevens holds a Rainy Day Blues Society Rooster Award for Best Female Blues Vocalist, and has added funk and soul to her musical mix. Meanwhile, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Sonny Hess has played with The Koffee Band and Margo Tufo’s Blues Sisters as well as in award-winning band with the late, great Paulette Davis. Hess was the first woman nominated for Best Lead Guitar by the Cascade Blues Association and has been nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, Stevens and Hess won the Muddy Award for Best New Blues Band from the Cascade Blues Association.

Aug. 18: Geno Michaels Band

genomichaels by: CONTRIBUTED - Geno Michaels Band

This soul, r ‘n’ b funk band consists of Geno Michaels on keyboards, Gigi Wiggins on vocals, Dave Iula on guitar, Jon Shaw on bass and Ed Pierce on drums.

“Outdoors we are generally playing to larger audiences than clubs,” Michaels says. “The setting is relaxed, and we love the interaction with the crowd.”

Aug. 25: Pink Lady & John Bennett Jazz Band

This colorful outfit features John Bennett on “ragtime piano,” “cabaret chanteuse and flapper girl” Pink Lady on vocals, Steve Boden on guitar and vocals, Wayne Travillion on trombone and cornet, Will Amend on double bass and Joe Haegele on drums.

Specializing in Prohibition-era tunes, the band plays hot jazz that might just make Pink Lady dance.

“It is a lot of fun to play outdoors, especially during the summer time,” Pink Lady says, adding the band also plays every second Thursday of the month at Vie de Boheme, 1530 S.E. Seventh Ave., Portland.

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