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KMHD's 2018 Soul'd Out Festival Guide

KMHD staff breaks down this year's Soul'd Out Fest schedule day-by-day with our must-see acts and recommendations for any taste.

Photo: Bradley W. Parks/OPB


The annual Soul’d Out Music Festival has only grown since its inception in 2010, and we couldn’t be more excited. By bringing to Portland a diverse lineup of acts that cross-pollinate between jazz, hip-hop, neo-soul and funk, Soul’d Out has been on our city’s cutting edge of reshaping definitions of “jazz” in the 21st century. Trendsetters and innovators in their own right, Soul’d Out’s ninth annual festival April 18-22 boasts a more impressive lineup than ever before. Here are the KMHD staff’s festival recommendations, broken down by day and into six categories: Must-See, Local, Funk/Soul, World, Hip-Hop and Capital J Jazz.



Vocalist Erykah Badu.

Vocalist Erykah Badu.

Wikimedia/Creative Commons


Erykah Badu | MUST-SEE, FUNK/SOUL, HIP-HOP | Most iconic musicians spend half their career refining their style, often toiling in obscurity and imitation long before they hit their stride. Then, there are those few great artists who seem to have simply been born with something distinct and magical. Erykah Badu is one such force. Modeling her stage name after her favorite jazz scat sound, “ba-du,” the singer has always straddled several genre boundaries at once: It’s jazz-influenced hip-hop, or hip-hop-influenced soul, or soul-influenced groove music, depending who you ask. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you call it — Erykah Badu, starting with her groundbreaking 1997 debut, “Baduzim,” swiftly and permanently changed the landscape of popular music. More than a sound, it was an atmosphere, and that atmosphere endures. Having dedicated her life to holistic wellness and spirituality even before dedicating it to music, her style is as evocative of incense and healing herbs as it is of dark clubs and narcotic, Quiet Storm-style stoner culture. Her honorific nickname, ‘The GodMother of Soul,’ could not be more deserved. — Isabel Zacharias

Knower with pigWar and RC & The Gritz | FUNK/SOUL | This neo-funk band out of LA is one of the most exciting live acts touring the world these days. Knower’s post-Vulfpeck sound is one we’ve been fans of for some time, and we can’t wait to see them live again. Here they’re joined by funk-rock band pigWar as well as RC & The Gritz, one of our favorite contemporary R&B outfits. — Matt Fleeger

Lionel Loueke | MUST-SEE, WORLD | West African guitar master Lionel Loueke has been playing and recording since he was in his late teens, recognized early on as a virtuosic player and ending up on such high-profile records as Terence Blanchard’s “Bounce,” Charlie Haden’s “Land of the Sun” and Herbie Hancock’s “Possibilities.” On his own celebrated Blue Note records, he’s known for fusing the folkloric music of his native Benin with jazz harmonies, often layering stylized vocal inflections over complex time signatures. Here’s a unique chance to catch his total mastery of the electric guitar in an intimate setting: the downtown Jack London Revue. — Isabel Zacharias

Roberto Fonseca Trio  |  WORLD



Christian Scott at soundcheck at Portland's Jack London Revue

Christian Scott at soundcheck at Portland’s Jack London Revue



Moonchild | FUNK/SOUL

R+R = Now | CAPITAL J JAZZ | This “jazz supergroup” doesn’t even have an album out yet — but the hype is already real. And why not? The band features some of the best of the best in up-and-coming and next-gen players like trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, pianist Robert Glasper, producer Terrace Martin, bassist Derrick Hodge and the highly gifted, underappreciated polymath Taylor McFerrin. — Matt Fleeger



BJ the Chicago Kid performs at Roseland Theater in Portland for the Soul'd Out Music Festival on April 16, 2016.

BJ the Chicago Kid performs at Roseland Theater in Portland for the Soul’d Out Music Festival on April 16, 2016.

Bradley W. Parks/OPB


Polyrhythmics + Ghost-Note | FUNK/SOUL | The “conscious funk” of Ghost-Note will likely draw comparisons to bands like Snarky Puppy (and for good reason; members of Snarky Puppy are in the band). The duo out of Dallas, Texas, bring to the stage good vibes, heavy funk and supporting players that are at the top of their funky game. Here they’re joined by the Seattle-based funk/R&B/Afrobeat outfit Polyrhythmics — a performance not to be missed. — Matt Fleeger

Noname + BJ The Chicago Kid with Gus Dapperton and Fountaine | MUST-SEE, HIP-HOP, FUNK/SOUL, LOCALAnyone lucky enough to catch BJ The Chicago Kid at Mississippi Studios last August knows this will be a hell of a show. The son of church choir directors on the South Side of Chicago, Bryan James Sledge’s sound has been called hip-hop, R&B and pop — but, at the end of the day, BJ sings soul music, emphasis on soul. Formerly known best for collaborations with Top Dawg Entertainment behemoths like Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul, his solo efforts over the last five years have gleaned the attention they’ve long deserved, becoming a defining presence in modern ideas of neo-soul by balancing vintage sensibilities with contemporary rhythmic feels and electronic instruments. This show’s lineup is among the tallest-stacked of the festival, with conscious hip-hop up-and-comer Noname, dreamy beatsmith Gus Dapperton and local emcee Fountaine opening. — Isabel Zacharias

Rebirth Brass Band | CAPITAL J JAZZ

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis | WORLD

House of Waters | WORLD



Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Flickr/Creative Commons


¡Cubanismo! with Tezeta Band | WORLD, LOCAL

Zapp + Dazz Band with Farnell Newton & The Othership Connection | FUNK/SOUL, LOCAL

J.I.D. + Earthgang with Mic Capes and Brown Calculus | HIP-HOP, LOCAL

Cécile McLorin Salvant | MUST-SEE, CAPITAL J JAZZ Cécile McLorin Salvant is a vocalist, yes, but that term doesn’t do justice to the scope of her vision. Every detail of Salvant’s artistic identity is curated — each album adorned with her own lush colored pencil illustrations, for example. Her latest, 2016’s “Dreams and Daggers,” traces her interest in the intersections of jazz, vaudeville and folk with a live Village Vanguard set, unearthing some of the most underappreciated tunes in the Great American Songbook and delivering each with a strong sense of story. Salvant’s background in classical and baroque vocal styles combines with her investment in each song’s lyrical personality, making for a live performance presence that definitely counts as high art. — Isabel Zacharias

Huntertones + Swatkins Positive Agenda | FUNK/SOUL

Jaimeo Brown Transcendence | HIP-HOP



Classic hip-hop outfit De La Soul.

Classic hip-hop outfit De La Soul.

Wikimedia/Creative Commons


De La Soul | MUST-SEE, HIP-HOP | For many in Generation X, De La Soul’s “3 Feet High and Rising” was our first exposure to Jazz music. De La Soul’s hip-hop sound has often featured a “jazziness” that made them popular amongst fans of Jazz with a capital J. Coming off the heels of their first studio album in years, this is a performance you absolutely cannot overlook. — Matt Fleeger

And an amazing Soul’d Out Fest was had by all! *