PDX Jazz presents Mike Phillips with special guest Saeeda Wright and King Louie & LaRhonda Steele at Washington Park Summer Festival
August 1 | 6:00 pm- Free
The Washington Park Summer Festival is always a highlight of summer in Portland, featuring amazing performances among the roses that are free to attend.
6:00 pm: King Louie & LaRhonda Steele
7:15 pm: Mike Phillips with special guest Saeeda Wright
Note: Parking is very limited. Guests are encouraged to ride TriMet MAX Red or Blue lines to the Washington Park MAX Station, and then catch TriMet line 63 to SW Rose Garden Blvd and Sherwood Avenue, or the FREE Washington Park Shuttle.
Mike Phillips hails from Mount Vernon, NY. He became interested in music at a young age, moving through several different instruments before settling on the saxophone. By the age of 16, he decided to play professionally. He made an impromptu New York debut at Wilson’s nightclub in New York in 1993, and that led to a series of session and sideman jobs in jazz, R&B, and even rap.
Phillips and his soulful yet funky grooves have wowed fans across the globe and earned standing ovations from audiences at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival and the inaugural balls for Presidents Clinton and Obama. His television credits include performances on the Grammys, BET Awards, BET Honors and the Soul Train Awards. Phillips also served as musical director and host of the popular BET program Lyric Café.
Audiences around the world also know when Mike Phillips puts his saxophone to his lips, magic is about to happen. In a short time, the Mount Vernon, New York native (home of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, and Heavy D) has exploded on the world music scene becoming the jazz man with hip-hop flavor known for blowing away audiences on stage, television and with chart-topping recordings.
“I was offstage, listening to Michael Phillips take his solo. I was thinking ‘Wow, listen to those people responding, and all he’s doing is playing a saxophone.’ They can feel that what he’s doing is real. So many shows now…they are so dead. But here’s one man breathing into an instrument, and the whole room feels alive. It made me want to rise up to that level when I came back onstage.” — Prince, Rolling Stone, 5/27/04
Louis “King Louie” Pain, dubbed “Portland’s boss of the B-3” by The Oregonian, is a musician’s musician. When called upon, Louis is a dynamic soloist, but he specializes in the subtle art of making the musicians and vocalists he works with sound their best. For him, the song’s the thing, not showing off. That’s why he’s always in demand with his peers, and why he is an Oregon Music Hall of Fame inductee.
Since moving to Portland in ‘86, Louis has continued the trend, working regularly with top Portland blues/soul artists including the late, great Paul deLay and Linda Hornbuckle, Curtis Salgado, LaRhonda Steele, Lloyd Jones, Andy Stokes, and Lisa Mann, as well as with jazz musicians Mel Brown, Thara Memory, Renato Caranto, Dan Faehnle, and Dan Balmer. Louis also is the “first call” organist to back visiting musical legends, who have included Bernard “Pretty” Purdie,” Phil Upchurch, Martha Reeves (3 times), the Shirelles, and now-departed musical giants Solomon Burke, Howard Tate, and Bo Diddley.
In addition to working extensively as a sideman, Louis has blossomed as a bandleader in Portland, co-leading King Louie & Baby James with the late, great NW vocalist “Sweet Baby James” Benton, organizing successful soul music tributes featuring the Portland Soul All-Stars (aka King Louie’s Blues Revue), and co-leading King Louie & LaRhonda Steele. With LaRhonda, Louis performed at Italy’s prestigious Porretta Soul Festival in 2017 and at Colombia’s Cali Blues & Folk Festival in 2018. At the latter event, the pair performed and participated in educational activities in five different cities over eight days.
Louis performed approximately 1,500 times at Portland’s premier music nightclub, Jimmy Mak’s, during that storied venue’s 20-year run, including approximately 1,000 appearances on Thursday nights as the glue of the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group. Louis has also performed innumerable times at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival over the decades.
LaRhonda Steele began her musical journey in Jones, Oklahoma at age 13 singing her first solo in church one Sunday morning. Her journey continued to Portland, Oregon and beyond culminating into an powerful legacy of musical experiences for which she is awed and grateful. Performing at the Lincoln Center with Obo Addy in 2005 and her yearly appearances at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festivals are just a couple of the highlights of her career. LaRhonda is the 2017 and 2016 Muddy Award winner for Best Female Vocalist presented by the Cascade Blues Association.
LaRhonda currently enjoys working with B3 organist “King Louie” Pain. Their album Rock me Baby received 4 out of 5 stars in DownBeat Magazine. She also enjoys working with her own band The LaRhonda Steele Band in which her husband Mark is the keyboardist and co-producer of their collaboration Artistic Differences. The album features 12 original songs written and co-written by the duo. My Soul’s Song features some of her gospel favorites.