Getting Funky at Reunions
Byon June 04, 2013 11:29 AM
Saturday night at Reunions '13: Reedfayre, June 12-16, doesn’t begin with the fireworks. This year, it starts with Tezeta Band, Portland’s premier Ethiopian-style rock band. Tezeta Band is a sort of reunion in itself: the band is composed of members of the Five Fingers of Funk, the hip-hop funk fusion band that rocked Portland in the 1990s.
Formed in 1992, with a career that spanned nearly 10 years, Five Fingers was the Pacific Northwest’s premier hip-hop experience, opening for the likes of De La Soul, The Roots, and Run DMC. Five Fingers wound down in the early oughts, with frontman-rapper Pete Miser leaving Portland for Brooklyn. The rest of the band stayed in the Rose City, however, and, after a few years pursuing their own projects, came back together in 2006 to explore new sonic territory: Ethiopia. For the last seven years the band has jammed on the unique fusion of jazz, rock, soul, and traditional African that defined Ethiopian music during its golden era of the 1960s and ’70s (captured in the wonderful album series Éthiopiques). Tezeta will be bringing all their influences on Saturday evening, so whether you’re a hip-hop head or a funk connoisseur, come on down to the SU and be prepared to boogie.
The dancing continues after the fireworks with Ural Thomas, the godfather of Portland’s funk scene. In fact, Ural is one of Portland's most enduring performers. He has lived in the same North Portland house since 1960 and has performed his mix of classic soul and funk almost every Sunday since at the House of Entertainment, a venue he built with his own hands in the alley behind his house. Ural began his music career singing with his family in church in the morning and busking with his siblings in the afternoon. Later he played with well-known Pacific Northwest bands the Kingsmen, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Billy Larkin and the Delegates, and others. "In a world of poseurs trying to 'make it real,' Ural Thomas is real," wrote Portland music critic Tom D'Antoni last year. "He doesn’t have to make it real. He can’t help it. There’s no choice."
Ural released his last album, Natural Motion, only three years ago, but lately he hasn't been playing around town as much as he used to. An Ural Thomas show is real treat–don’t miss it.