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Portland singer and others pay annual tribute to blues powerhouse, Feb. 8-9 at Alberta Rose Theatre

COURTESY PHOTO: KAT ROSE - The 'Something To Talk About: A Portland Bonnie Raitt Tribute,' Feb. 8-9 at Alberta Rose Theatre, features the likes of (from left) Bre Gregg, Anne Weiss and Lisa Mann.Besides being an original artist, Bre Gregg enjoys singing songs of others.

And, Bonnie Raitt ranks right at the top of the performers on her list.

"She's like one of the main reasons I sing," said Gregg, a longtime Portland musician who leads the band Red Bird. "I was inspired by her even when I was a kid. I remember standing on a coffee table with a hair brush as a microphone and wailing her music.

"But, musically I've always loved what she's done. She's such a bad-ass woman, she just gets on stage and owns it."

Every year Gregg organizes "Something To Talk About: A Portland Bonnie Raitt Tribute," which happens at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 N.E. Alberta St. She recruits established musicians to sing the music of the great blues woman. This year, Gregg will be joined by Anita Lee Elliot, LaRhonda Steele, Lisa Mann, Anne Weiss, Dan Gildea, JP Garau and Dan Stueber.

Raitt, as ardent music fans know, has been singing the blues for more than 40 years, going back to the 1970s and songs that included "Angel From Montgomery."

But it wasn't until 1989's "Nick of Time" and 1991's "Luck of the Draw" albums that she reached her highest acclaim. "Nick of Time" produced such memorable songs as "Thing Called Love" and "Love Letter," and "Luck of the Draw" gave us perhaps her most memorable song, "I Can't Make You Love Me," along with "Something to Talk About."

Now 30 years old, "Nick of Time" thrust Raitt into the national spotlight.

"That one spoke to me," Gregg said. "She's obviously very famous, but I almost wonder if she had been more famous and more quickly if you could put her in a specific genre. People who are not Bonnie Raitt fans don't know what to make of her music. I love musicians like that, who try different things, who don't box themselves in."

Mann agrees with Gregg: Raitt is a unique musician of her generation.

"What's great about Bonnie is that she's not viewed through the lens of being a novelty act," she said. "There's something so real and down to Earth about her that transcends sex. People don't seem to bring about that she's a woman; she's Bonnie Raitt. Or, how unusual it is, a woman playing a guitar; no it's Bonnie Raitt, she's a singularity."

As a vocalist, Mann added: "It's something earthy and rich and very honest about her voice. She does write songs, but she hunts down great songs by great songwriters. She picks songs that get you right in the gut. We always joke, when learning her songs, and you see how many songs have the word love in it. She really just has this way of telling human stories about love and loss and angst and heartbeak."

And, Raitt is still going strong at age 70.

"I just saw her two years ago at the Keller, and she rocked," Gregg said.

Tickets are $18 for the show at www.albertarosetheatre.com, and $22 at the door.

Contacts: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., @Vondee65


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