This past Thursday I ventured to Mississippi Studios, a cozy venue located in a small Northeast Portland neighborhood. A neighborhood that just so happens to be not too far away from where I catch my Z’s. The Red Bull Sound Select crew, in conjunction with Portland Indie Label Eyrst, put on a night of R&B. Red Bull has an awesome deal with the shows they put on. For admittance to a Sound Select show, all potential show goers must do is RSVP for a $3 ticket. Worse case scenario, tickets cost $10.
With such a great promotion to see an artist like three time Grammy nominated singer BJ the Chicago Kid, fans stood in lines stretching as far back as four blocks. Another cool thing Sound Select does when they bring their shows to town, is that they make sure there is an artist from the city they’re in; Therefore that artist can put their music out on a larger platform for new listeners.
The two openers for the Chicago Kid himself graced the stage and showed folks how Portland has been a hotspot for talent for some years now. First up was Epp, a local native whose name we’re gonna hear more and more around the Portland music scene. Epp made sure to keep the audience entertained during his set. He decided to bestow flowers upon a few unsuspecting fans. Winners with a special note on their flower, won a free hat.
The second opener just released her first album, “Tease,” just last month. Another 503 native, Blossom is a name that has been circulating around the Portland music arena for some time now. When the Trinidadian diva connected with the microphone this past Thursday, it was impossible to resist the lure of her tantalizing words and melodic production. When Blossom was on stage, the energy she exuded was contagious. She made you happy she was having so much fun on stage. Like the proud parent who has to let every person behind them in traffic know that their kid is on the honor roll.
The main attraction finally hit the stage. BJ decided to kick the show off with him playing the bongos. BJ’s show was unlike any R&B show I went to prior. Not only was it a intimate show, it was also an exhibition of a true R&B singer. The kind of vocalist only the Black church or Joe Jackson can produce. The South Side Chicago native put on a full show. He gave fans a brief “ratchet intermission” which played the likes of 21 Savage’s “Bank Account” and Cardi B’s transcendent turn up anthem “Bodak Yellow”. The “In My Mind” artist also told fans he was days away from finishing his sophomore, saying it’s “blowing my mind”. In true R&B fashion, the Obama farewell speech singer serenades a fan in the front row with her date, swooning her and ending a relationship by merely hitting a high note. It wouldn’t be much a stretch to say BJ the Chicago Kid is the modern day Eddie Kane sans the drug and alcohol habit.
Words by: DJ Jones
Photo by: David Alvarado