Arts and Entertainment

North Bend Block Party: Rock around the block in downtown blast

Jessica Oliver is among a group of area singer-songwriters and bands to play at the North Bend Block Party Main Stage, downtown this weekend. - Courtesy photo
Jessica Oliver is among a group of area singer-songwriters and bands to play at the North Bend Block Party Main Stage, downtown this weekend.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Local music fans need look no farther than North Bend Way to find two different stages playing host to a bevy of local bands, singers and dance acts, this coming Saturday, July 14.

Regional rock outfits, jazz groups, cover bands and singer-songwriters from the Snoqualmie Valley will appear on the Main Stage, on Main Street across from Cook Real Estate, while local talent also appears on the Community Stage, located on Bendigo Boulevard.

Kellee Bradley

Playing the main stage at noon, Northwest singer-songwriter Kellee Bradley has been compared to Aimee Mann and Sheryl Crow, yet she has a sound all her own. She's opened for major national acts, and with three albums under her belt she's become a seasoned professional and is a fixture in the Seattle music scene.

Kellee was born in Pensacola, Florida. Her father was a Navy pilot and by the time she made her final landing on Oregon soil she'd touched down in Newfoundland, Japan, San Diego and finally Brooklyn, New York, where she discovered a passion for music. PS 195—her school in New York—didn't have much a budget for music, so once a week her class was visited by a guitar toting music teacher who handed out copies of current folk songs like Blowing in the Wind and the entire class would sing along while she strummed her guitar. Kellee asked her parents for a guitar that Christmas, and when she opened the guitar shaped box from Sears and Roebuck she opened up a whole new world for herself.

Moving to Junction City, Ore., was quite a cultural shock, but Kellee threw herself into choir, piano lessons, guitar lessons and musical theater. When she was 15 she wrote a song for the Easter Seals Telethon called "Caring for Tomorrow, and they invited her to fly down to Los Angeles with her dad to sing it on the National Telethon.

Kellee finally found her way back to music after she moved back to the Northwest, this time to Seattle. She married her college sweetheart and became a mom. When her daughter was four, she realized she needed something more if she was going to be a good parent. She needed to feed her soul and give back to herself. She picked up the guitar again and started writing. One thing led to another, and she released her first album.

Bradley has a new album, "Waiting," with songs to make listeners laugh, cry, and celebrate the gift of love. Some life-changing adversity over the past few years has given her music new depth.  She forges on, always positive that life is good and worth the journey.

You can learn more about Bradley's music at http://www.kelleebradley.com/

Jessica Oliver

Next, at 1 p.m. on the main stage is North Bend's own Jessica Oliver. The acoustic, folk and pop performer is a 2007 Mount Si High School graduate. You can hear her songs and watch videos online on YouTube.

Oliver, who attends Northwest University, has added piano playing to her routine and plays guitar, continuing to hone her solo act.

"I like singing soulful stuff," such as Adele, Sara Bareilles and Annie Lennox.

I have one more year of school left and I'm excited to see what the future holds," Oliver tells the Record. "I really hope to captivate my audience and stir up inspiration as they listen. I'm thankful for the support I have and grateful to have the opportunity to share my music with others."

You can learn about her music at http://www.myspace.com/oliverjess#!

Dorian Blu

Issaquah-based band Dorian Blu plays a high energy blend of modern and classic rock, 2 p.m. on the main stage. The band enjoys challenging and surprising songs that an audience would still recognize and dig.

Dorian Blu traverses from classic rock like The Doors or The Knack to blues and jazzy numbers like Van Morrison, to epic Pink Floyd numbers—think "Shine on, Crazy Diamond." The band has played at the block part, The Festival at Mount Si, and other Eastside venues.

"We like to do songs that people recognize but might not expect a cover band to do, songs that require more finesse and technique," said band member Charles McCrone. "We try to avoid a lot of the more over-done, super familiar cover band material. We also love variety, so we’ll do a Muse song, then a Lynyrd Skynryd song, then a U2 song, then an Evanescence song all in the same set."

"With a seven-person lineup, we also try to capture more of the guitar harmonies, vocal harmonies, percussion work, and other finer details of familiar music.  We want to transport the listener into the original style and vibe of each song."

You can follow them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorianblu

Kelly Eisenhour

Playing the main stage at 4 p.m., and backed by the Kolke Jazz Trio, jazz vocalist and North Bend resident Kelly Eisenhour been a regular headliner at North Bend's Boxley's Place since it opened in October of 2009.  A professional singer and educator, Eisenhour has recorded three jazz albums, the latest reaching number 14 on the national radio jazz charts in 2007.

She made the move to a full-time faculty position as the choral director at Green River Community College. Her signature group at the college is Green River Jazz Voices.

"I feel very blessed to be able to do what I love and be a positive influence for students," she said.

"It's my wish that my performance of fun and lively jazz standards and blues at the block party will add a nice atmosphere to people's experience," she said. "I'd love to see people singing along, moving their bodies feeling the groove, and lots of smiling going on as we all enjoy the day."

"I am hoping that the Snoqualmie Valley community will continue to support live jazz and come in to hear the great musicians that play at Boxley's every night," Eisenhour said.

Down the Road

Playing at 6 p.m., Down the Road is a trio of bluegrass and American roots music musicians from North Bend and Snoqualmie. With husband and wife duo Cathi and Gary Davidson on guitars and vocals and John Tubbs on mandolin and vocals, the trio blends signature duet and trio harmony singing, a little yodeling, and clean, tasteful guitar-mandolin interplay to add a fresh, honest, straight-ahead voice to the world of old-time country, bluegrass, and folk music.

Cathi's musical journey took off while at summer camp in the hills near Santa Cruz, Calif., where she learned a few chords and a song or two from a tent mate who had a guitar. She went home convinced she wanted to play the guitar and sing instead of play the flute in the school band. Later that year she got her first guitar and taught herself to play.

It wasn’t until Gary’s first year in college that he returned from spring break toting his youngest brother’s classical guitar and was instantly hooked. For the last several years, he has been completely hooked on flatpicking guitar and old-time country and bluegrass music, his main teachers being folks such as Norman Blake and Doc Watson channeled through the stereo.

John Tubbs, a mandolin player and harmony singer. has been playing music since age six. After moving to the Northwest in 1979, he went through an electric phase as a bass player in rockabilly and classic rock bands, and then finally graduated to the mandolin in 1989 – where he’s been ever since. As a mandolin player, John has been a fixture in the Northwest bluegrass band scene.

• You can follow Down the Road at http://downtheroadband.com/

Paul Green and Straight Shot

Performing at 6:45 p.m. at the main stage, Bluesman and harmonica player Paul Green leads his own hard-hitting Chicago-style electric blues quartet, Straight Shot.

Straight Shot is a hard-driving blues, R&B, and funk band that keeps listeners happy on the dance floor,or just sitting back and enjoying the music.

The band's repertoire draws from a wide variety of material, from raw Chicago blues the likes of Muddy Waters and Little Walter, to the more contemporary sounds of Robert Cray, Delbert McClinton, and the funky grooves of the Meters and Jr. Walker. Straight Shot is made up of several seasoned, award-winning musicians.

Green's professional career began in New Jersey in 1968. He performed with other Jersey musicians including Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, and Little Steven Van Zandt. Moving to Oakland in 1975, Paul became a member of the house band at a popular blues spot, Eli's Mile High Club, performing there weekly and recording two albums. From the Bay area, Green relocated to Chicago where he continued to "cool himself" in the blues. He performed in  legendary blues clubs, shared the stage with major names, and came to the Seattle area in 1991 to promptly win a number of local blue society awards.

Guitarist Gary Ballard began his musical career in 1964. Influenced by various musical styles including jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, western swing, country and folk, he has established himself as one of the most diverse and accomplished guitarists in the Northwest. His talent for producing, arranging, and songwriting have placed him in high demand for recording sessions and live performances. In addition to acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitars, Gary is highly skilled on the mandolin, 5-string banjo, and Dobro. Away with Words, Gary’s solo Smooth Jazz CD, features Gary’s original instrumentals.

Howard Hooper’s bass has been a long time mainstay in the Seattle blues scene but includes playing with national music legends such as Johnny Shines, Little Milton, and Jimmy McCracklin, among others. He has twice been awarded "Best Bass" player by the Washington Blues Society. His style sets down a solid groove that allows the band to dig deep into the music that will get you moving.

Les Merrihew most recently in both 2004 and 2005 was a Washington Blues Society nominee for "Best Drummer." Another seasoned Seattle musician, he too has played for many years on the local scene and worked with a number of national acts including Pinetop Perkins, Albert Collins, Little Milton, and Charlie Musselwhite. Along with his solid drum technique, Les’s steady timing propels the band at an even pace that just keeps digging deeper and deeper into the music. All in all, the four musicians that comprise Straight Shot combine their talents to create a soulful and dynamic sound.

Special guest

A special headline band takes the main stage at 8 p.m. They're a well known regional act, but Block Party organizers say they can't give away the band's identity before the show. Visitors will just have to come and enjoy the surprise.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 15 edition online now. Browse the archives.