Oregon Music Hall of Fame 2021 Induction Ceremony Set for Saturday, October 9 at 7pm

The Oregon Music Hall of Fame (OMHOF) is proud to announce our 2021 Induction Ceremony on Saturday, October 9 at the Aladdin Theater.

 Inductees include: LaRhonda Steele, Lifesavas, The Decemberists and Todd Snider. The Dandy Warhols have been voted Artist of the Year and the Koonce-Ross-Fraser album, New American Blues will be honored as Album of the Year. KISS guitarist, Tommy Thayer and saxophonist Renato Caranto will be honored as side players and Gloria Johnson (KGON) and Steve Pringle (KINK) will receive awards in the music industry category. Heritage awards will go to big band leader, Carl Smith and Blues vocalist “Sweet Baby” James Benton.  Portland supper club owner and entertainer, Tony Starlight will host the show.

Title Sponsor for this event will be Elliott Powell Baden & Baker, presenting sponsor for the 14th year.


Featuring live performances by Todd Snider, Lifesavas, Renato Caranto with Louis Pain Trio.
Saturday, October 9, 7pm
Aladdin Theater
3017 SE Milwaukie Ave.
Portland, OR 97202
Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door.
For additional information, contact Terry Currier: terry@omhof.org.

Artist of the year: The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols were formed in 1994 by songwriter Courtney Taylor-Taylor and guitarist Peter Holmstrom, adding drummer Eric Hedford and Zia McCabe on keyboards. At their first gig in 1994, they were approached by Tim/Kerr Records, to record their first release, Dandys Rule OK.  Capitol Records picked up that album, signed the band and eventually released a second titled The Warhols Come Down, which became popular in the UK. In 1998, drummer Eric Hedford left the band and was replaced by Taylor-Taylor’s cousin Brent DeBoer. The band released several more Capitol albums and a greatest hits record before changing labels s few more times. The Dandy Warhols are heard in many movie sound tracks and the film, Dig, which won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film festival. The band continues to play on an international circuit including upcoming dates in Australia and Europe. The Dandy Warhols were inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

Album of the Year: Koonce-Ross-Fraser, New American Blues

New American Blues highlights the songs of Marv Ross (from Quarterflash) sung by vocalist/drummer, Jon Koonce (Johnny and the Distractions) and the searing guitar work of Doug Fraser. The album contains nine songs of perseverance, loss, regret and pride. Fraser’s driving electric guitar blends seamlessly with Ross’s unique acoustic tunings and Koonce’s gritty vocal work. One song, I Won’t Sing Here Anymore, was released as a video on Vimeo and has gone viral averaging 1,000 plays per day.


LaRhonda Steele
LaRhonda Steele is a singer and songwriter recognized as one the region’s best rhythm and blues vocalists. She has been dubbed The First Lady of Portland Blues. Steele grew up singing in the rural town of Spencer, Oklahoma where she sang in a gospel quartet and by the time she was 16, she was directing the choir. Steele moved from Oklahoma to Portland after college meeting other musicians in the local African American community. Since 1993, she has produced and co-produced five CD’s and regularly performed at Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, and with well-known musicians as Gino Vannelli, Janis Scoggins, Linda Hornbuckle, Curtis Salgado, Obo Addy, Mel Brown and Norman Sylvester. She has won three Muddy awards for Best Female Vocalist leading to her induction into the Cascade Blues Hall of Fame.

Formed in the 1997 by a trio of Hip Hop musicians, Vursatyl (MC), Jumbo (Producer, MC, and DJ), Rev Shines (DJ), Lifesavas were discovered by Chief Xcel from Bay Area collective Blackalicious. They signed to Quannum Projects and released two albums, Spirit in Stone (2003) and Gutterfly (2007). Urb magazine notes: “Lifesavas invoke all corners of the pan-African Diaspora,” with a touch of Gospel, Funk, Jazz and Soul. Their beats and samples come from a wide variety of sources including Roy Ayers, Common and Portland’s Elliot Smith to create a very special NW Hip Hop style.

The Decemberists
Formed in 2000 by Colin Meloy, Nate Query, Jenny Conlee, Chris Funk and Ezra Holbrook, the Decemberists created a repertoire of original songs drawn from American and European folk traditions using acoustic guitars, accordion, mandolin, bouzouki and cello to create a lush, personal sound, releasing Castaways and Cutouts in 2002 on Hush records. John Moen replaced Holbrook in 2005. Meloy’s songwriting captures a literary story telling style quite different than other indie artists and after several releases with regional label, Kill Rock Stars, the band signed with Capitol records for a series of successful releases, including the most recent I’ll Be Your Girl (2018).

Todd Snider
Todd Snider was born in Portland and migrated to Austin, Texas, where he heard Jerry Jeff Walker and decided to be a solo singer/songwriter. He moved to Memphis, playing his quirky style of Americana where he was discovered by Coral Reefer Keith Sykes who in turn introduced Snider to John Prine, which led to a 1994 release on MCA titled Songs for the Daily Planet. Two records later he moved to Prine’s Oh Boy label, where he recorded five albums. Snider’s album, Peace Queer, was released on October 14, 2008, and reached number one on the Americana Airplay Chart. He recorded a Walker tribute album in 2012 and his latest release is titled First Agnostic Church of Hope.

Side Players:

Renato Caranto
Jazz Saxophonist Renato Caranto was born in the Philippines in 1955, and studied music with his musician father from a very young age. Turning professional at 15, he traveled to Japan and Guam and to America in 1981 and to Portland in 1992 playing the blues, receiving “Best Blues Horn” from the Cascade Blues Association five times. He joined the Mel Brown B3 Organ Group in 1995 and has played with musical partner, Louis Pain, ever since. He has recorded and performed with a diverse cast of artists including Merle Haggard, Esperanza Spalding, Bernard Purdie, Arturo Sandoval, Curtis Fuller, the Four Tops and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. For an in-demand sideman, he found time to record several of his own CD’s: Blues For Ama, Generations, Straight Ahead and the recent Nice To Be Home, featuring Brown, Gordon Lee, Thara Memory Andre St. James and Stan Bock. He has performed in most major festivals in the area including the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, the Waterfront Blues Festival and the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival.

Tommy Thayer
Tommy Thayer grew up in Beaverton, Oregon. After graduating from Sunset High School in 1978, Thayer played in local garage and club bands, eventually forming his own group with singer Jamie St. James, which eventually took the name Black ‘n Blue. Moving to Southern California in early 1983, the band signed a recording contract with Geffen Records where they released four albums including Nasty Nasty, produced by Kiss founder, Gene Simmons. After leaving the band, he stayed in Los Angeles, co-writing with Simmons and eventually working with Kiss on a book, video projects and band management. He was asked to join the band as lead guitarist for taking over Ace Fernley’s character of the Spaceman in 2002 and has played on their last three albums. He is currently on the End of the Road, KISS Final Tour Ever, playing Friday September 17, at Sunlight Supply Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Washington.


Gloria Johnson
Gloria Johnson began radio work as an intern at Boston’s WGBW, moved to Los Angeles, California for a short stint before arriving in Portland to work at KQIV. She then joined the ‘monomaniacs’ at KVAN in 1973 as Portland’s first female Rock DJ. She moved to KGON where she made a huge impact. Gloria was the voice of Portland rock radio. At a time when most of the voices on the dial were men, Gloria was a pioneer and paved the way for Iris Harrison on KGON as well as other women in Portland radio. She also goes down in history as the first FM DJ in the U.S. to play a Def Leppard track, breaking artists like Def Leppard, Triumph, Loverboy, Men at Work, Angel City and many others, she was respected in the industry for her instinct and passion for music. Over the years she became a nationally recognized music director and an on-air personality at KGON. In the mid 80’s she earned a double associates degree in TV production. She returned to radio in 1987 encompassing various formats including country, oldies, smooth jazz, 70’s and then back to classic rock from 2002 until retiring in 2017. Gloria Baton Johnson passed away July 9, 2019.

Steve Pringle
Steve Pringle was radio icon in Portland, a true ‘rock jock’ and an important supporter of the Blues beginning in 1989 with his Sunday night Blues Room on KGON followed by air time on KKJZ, and his Friday Freeway Blues show on KMHD.  He eventually settled in at KINK in 2002 taking over the Sunday Night Blues from Bob Ancheta. He was the voice of the Waterfront Blues Festival for many years and the Cascade Blues Association honored him with a Muddy Award in 2018 in recognition of his dedication to blues music. Pringle started as a broadcasting student at Mt. Hood Community College and taught broadcasting to many radio students at the College. As bluesman, Norman Sylvester noted: “Steve was our biggest fan, supporter and a phenomenal, DJ, his energy and dedication to our community will live in our soul FOREVER.” He passed away on Nov. 3, 2019.


Carl Smith
Born in Emporia, Kansas, Smith moved to Portland in 1947, attended Washington High School, and Lewis & Clark College, majoring in Music, minor in Business. Carl played tenor sax and flute, was encouraged by Ray Charles. Carl started a 12-piece band in 1959, titled Carl Smith & The Natural Gas Company. In 1980 he put out an Album, Burnin’, with his daughter Carlee as a vocalist. Carl loved Jazz, and Fusion Funk. Carl’s 12-piece band provided music for 50 years in the Portland and West Coast area. The orchestra that Carl Smith founded was a Portland institution for about 50 years all-told, becoming an essential training ground for young musicians on the come-up; even the later Grammy-award winning trumpeter Chris Botti passed through at the age of 17 and Jefferson Airplane’s Signe Anderson was a long-time collaborator. They performed at festivals, universities, nightclubs and dance studios from Portland to Seattle and everywhere in between, opening for Dave Brubeck, Buddy Miles and Johnny Ray among many others. The only album has just been re-released on British label, BBE, and is finally available to his many friends, fans and bandmates. He passed on April 1, 2018.

“Sweet Baby” James Benton
James Benton was one of the most entertaining and soulful vocalists in the Northwest from the late ’50s until his retirement in 2015.  He was part of Portland’s legendary Williams Avenue scene, and he continued to be a NW fixture and mentored many major Portland jazz artists, including drummer Mel Brown and Grammy-winning bassist/vocalist/composer Esperanza Spalding. James was born and raised in Arkansas, moving to Portland as a youngster. James played drums and sang with pianist Frank Martin (since inducted into Kansas City’s Hall of Fame), the Del-Tones and others. While the material was mainly bebop and standards, James’ style never strayed far from the blues and gospel he’d heard growing up.
During the last 20 years or so of his life, James was very active, performing with The Original Cats (featuring other veterans of the Williams Avenue scene), Jay Koder & the Kats, King Louie & Baby James and the Northwest Ray Charles Tribute.  He also performed at the Waterfront Blues Festival, the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, the Portland Bite, Jimmy Mak’s and Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. “Sweet Baby” James Benton passed away on February 14, 2016 at the age of 85.

OMHOF was formed in 2003 to both promote and preserve the musical arts in the state of Oregon.  OMHOF began the statewide scholarship program in 2007 and is active in raising funds and implementing music education in schools that do not have music programs. Over 5000 kids per year are reached in K-8 schools throughout the state with the Music In The Schools Program with Aaron Meyer. OMHOF also has a statewide scholarship program in place since 2007.


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