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Portland singer ready for 'Soulful' show

Blanket Concert takes place Saturday, Aug. 1, in Troutdale

Singer-songwriter Paul Creighton considers Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and Walter Becker to be his inspirations.

“What appeals to me is really killer chops and a more intellectual approach to music,” Creighton says, noting that like Fagen and Becker, he has hired what he considers to be some of the best players in Portland to back him up.

“With my players, I’ve got my dream band assembled,” he says, almost gushing over the phone.

The Paul Creighton Project includes Brian Harris on keys and vocals, Reinhardt Melz on drums, Damian Erskine on bass, Jay “Bird” Koder on guitar, Levis Dragulin on trumpet, Rob Davis on tenor saxophone and Lindsey Reightly on vocals. One of our area’s most critically acclaimed vocalists, Creighton shares the stage with Grammy-winning saxophonist Patrick Lamb as well Ants in the Kitchen and the Portland Soul All-Stars at the Soulful Giving Blanket Concert.

The show takes place from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, at Junki and Linda Yoshida’s estate, 29330 S.E. Stark St., Troutdale.

Attendees must be 21 or older, and the concert benefits Randall Children’s Hospital and Providence Cancer Center.

Tickets range from $25 to $100, and you can find out more at soulfulgiving.org.

Between 1,800 and 2,500 people have attended past Blanket Concerts, notes Linda Yoshida. In addition to music, the event offers a wide variety of area restaurants’ food items and beverages, as well as a silent auction

“We’re very close to 2,500 sold now,” Yoshida says of ticket sales. “I think we’ve got just an amazing lineup, and we just offer a little bit more for people with our selection of food and beverages.”

Piping up

Previously the frontman for Portland soul-pop group Intervision, Creighton has also toured with The Motet, Joey Porter’s Funk Tributes and Soul Vaccination, and has opened for multiplatinum artists Lifehouse, as well as the Neville Brothers, Little Richard, McKinley, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, among other nationally touring acts.

He says he remembered Little Richard’s band as “amazing ... crushing players” and “Southern cats,” as well The Neville Brothers and the Dirty Dozen.

“We hung with the Nevilles and Dirty Dozen and they treated us like they knew us forever,” he says.

The 34 year old adds that he’s come a long way from singing in choirs when he was a teenager.

“I was kind of a late bloomer artistically,” he says, noting he didn’t start singing professionally until he was in his 20s. He adds that he studied vocal performance as a Laurel Scholar at Portland State University, and was a student at Tom Blaylock’s NW Institute of Voice.

Creighton has received multiple songwriting awards with the Intervision project, including an Independent Music Award for “Best R&B” and was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. A registered nurse within the Providence Health System, music is his night job, he says. He particularly enjoys crafting tunes that appeal to both casual pop fans as well as more sophisticated listeners, and says he likes challenging his band to lay off the long jazzy jams and go for broke on shorter instrumental solos.

“Let’s see if you can get in what you need to say in 15 bars,” he adds.

He also notes that it’s important to him to nurture his voice.

“Refine your instrument,” he tells aspiring singers. “Have a method for getting ready before a show. If you practice, you’ll build your voice, and you will get better.”