“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 back in 2003.
In fact, this all-star band has been a sensation going back to 1997, when they began a 20-year run on Thursdays at Portland’s legendary Jimmy Mak’s music venue (The Oregonian dubbed them “Jimmy Mak’s signature group”). Since then, the band has continued their Thursday night tradition at the Jack London Revue. With a collective resume that reads like a “Who’s Who” of Northwest jazz, blues, and soul, this group has the talent and confidence to be completely spontaneous — from their blistering solos to their improvised arrangements and segues.
Jazz great Christian McBride, host of NPR’s “Jazz Night In America” is one of the band’s big fans. In an October 2021 broadcast, McBride played several excerpts from a Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group festival set. During one of the interview segments with Mel, McBride exclaimed, “My mind is blown!”
For this special Waterfront Blues Festival performance, Mel and his bandmates — organist “King Louie” Pain, guitarist Dan Balmer, and saxophonist Renato Caranto — will be joined by two of Portland’s top vocalists: Sean Holmes and Arietta Ward. This lineup debuted their live performance at the Jack London Revue in March, and they brought the house down. See and hear what the excitement was all about!