Aloe Blacc is no stranger to Portland. He’s been here five or six times with his band “The Grand Scheme.” In November of last year, they played a set at north Portland’s Mississippi Studios. More recently, the group performed at Dante’s on Burnside to a sold-out crowd.
In Europe, Blacc has been something of a phenomenon for quite some time and has only recently begun capturing the attention of American fans. The Internet has also been kind to Blacc and his band, wih a slew of cilps on YouTube racking up multimillion hit totals and climbing. The official video for I Need a Dollar has racked up over 9 million hits since its posting around this same time last year. As of the publishing of this article, it’s moved to over 10 million.
Despite a rigorous tour schedule, Blacc was generous enough to spend a little bit of time talking about his experiences on multiple tours in Europe and how the Internet has played a role in his rapid rise to prominence in the U.S.
Blacc finds vocal inspiration from musicians like Donnie Hathaway, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye.
“The folks that I listen to and credit are the ones that have accomplished lots of good things in music,” says Blacc.
Despite his tremendous respect for these musicians, he does not seem motivated, nor really all that concerned, by the comparisons critics like to make between him and artists past and present.
“In the age of the Internet, everybody’s a critic, we’re in a world of critics — anybody can comment on anything.”
Critics or no critics, comparisons or no comparisons, it’s clear that fans in Portland and the rest of the world will be hearing a lot more from Aloe Blacc in the near future.