There are many "blues bands" out there, but very few groups nowadays possess the feel, dynamics and soul to express the true spirit of the blues. Too often, bands substitute a lot of showing off for the "healing feeling" of the genuine article. Tony Coleman's Tribute To The Three Kings is a rare exception.
The reason for that starts with Tony, one of the most revered blues drummers in the world today. Tony has toured with numerous true blues legends, including Otis Clay, Bobby Blue Bland, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Albert Collins, Etta James, Freddie King, James Cotton, Katie Webster, Z.Z. Hill, O.V. Wright, Buddy Guy, and B.B. King. Tony performed and recorded with B.B. for 29 years until King's death in 2015.
Coleman has assembled an all-star grouping of Portland musicians to pay tribute to three of his mentors and former bosses--the pioneering blues guitarists B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King—whose iconic guitar work has profoundly influenced virtually every rock and blues guitarist of the past six decades. Coleman is one of the very few musicians alive to have toured and/or recorded with all three of these legendary bluesmen.
Joining Coleman in this tribute is an impressive lineup of the region’s blues all-stars. Contributing “Three Kings”-inspired guitar work are Mike Osborn (longtime guitarist with John Lee Hooker) and Peter Dammann and/or NW blues legend Lloyd Jones. Jones also contributes some lead vocals along with Coleman.
Louis Pain (Paul deLay, Mel Brown, Linda Hornbuckle) is featured on organ, and John Mazzocco (John Lee Hooker, Paul deLay, Curtis Salgado) is on bass. Leading the tight horn section is British expatriate saxophonist, Chris Mercer, who, in addition to his work with John Mayall, Billy Ocean, Bryan Ferry and Dr. John, toured with Freddie King and recorded on some of the Texas guitarist’s seminal hits of the 1970s. Completing the horn section on trumpet is longtime Portland standout “Joe-Mack” McCarthy.
The band's inaugural gig was as the sole local act selected to perform at the pandemic-condensed 2021 Waterfront Blues Festival. The incredible response to the band's two WBF sets (staged on successive days) has led to subsequent gigs at Roseburg, Oregon's Music On the Half Shell, Portland's Jack London Revue, and headlining slots at the 2022 Cathedral Park Jazz Festival and Salem Art Fair. On each occasion, the audience reaction has been flat out ecstatic: dancing, cheering, clapping hands, and demands for encores. Watch for this special band's next gig to experience the fun for yourself! [Cathedral Park Jazz Festival photos by Tony Kutter]