The eagerly anticipated CD from singer-songwriter, guitarist Sonny Hess is both a musical triumph AND a triump of will.
a walk through fire and the joy of survival. The few cover tunes are presented with freshness and a new excitement that tells you it’s for real.
Sonny survived cancer only to have her home burn to the ground. Family, friends and fans rallied to her support – and she was determined to show her appreciation, not allowing these life experiences to beat her but to grow through her music.
Her lyrics to “I’m not leavin’ you- I’m already gone” reveals a confidence and strength gained from adversity as does her newest tune of personal experience “Got-ta Win It”. She is fronting the band for the first time on an album and the honesty and emotion in her voice has an understanding few singers show as she drifts from low growls to a trembling falsetto that is almost a scream. It brings a depth to the band it has not shown before.
The connection with her band mates has deepened with a new intensity; lively riffs are tossed back and forth with unabashed pleasure. The true satisfaction of lovin’ what you’re doing. Each player seems to have reached for new heights and totally deserve the “All Aces” attribution.
Our Drum/percussion man, Mr Kelly Pierce, is like a brother to Sonny as they have played together for over 15 yrs. He is in sync with her groove and knows how to anticipate her every move. He is an emotional player with dynamics that make him an ‘Ace’ up their sleeve.
It has been said that Jim Hively, veteran bass player and back up vocalist, has the best tone in the region, but he would say “Aw, just the way I play, my attack”. Jim’s playing sends audiences running toward the dance floor and inspires other bassists to emulate his style.
Sax man Kevin Labaron, nominated for Sax of the year by the Cascade Blues Assoc., has impeccable pitch and a bluesy dirty tone. His solos are heartfelt, gut-felt and sensual. He is definitely chocolate sauce dripping with soul.
Eminently danceable, “All Aces” is also a complex and talented musical accomplishment. Quoting one of her own lyrics: “You know you can win after losin’ sometimes….” The new album proves it!
SEE CD REVIEWS UNDER "PRESS" SECTION
Veteran guitarist vocalist, Sonny Hess first picked up a guitar as a kid age 8, by the time she was a teenager she was picking up gigs all over and played in Portland’s top bands at the time, The Koffee Band and Margo Tufo’s Blues Sisters. From there she met the show stopping, late great, Paulette Davis. This band won Portland’s music association Crystal award for outstanding R&B act of the year. Paulette Davis gave Sonny the nickname ‘Sonny Smokin’ Hess’, they played together for four years and out of that came the CD “It’s About Damn Time”. After Paulette passed, Sonny continued their legacy as the Power Band always known for upbeat danceable R&B, a real energetic show. Sonny went on to be the first woman nominated in a male dominated field for Best Lead Guitar by the Cascade Blues Assoc, also holds a nomination for "Lifetime Acheivement Award". She has played with, sung with and composed with many of the regions top artists, as well as opening for Etta James, Jr Walker and the All Stars, Average White Band and Bobby Womack. Sonny Hess is also widely known for her productions of the NW Women R&B Show, a specialty show she takes pride in producing. Her show has been seen by 100’s of 1,000’s over the past 15 years at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival.
Sonny Hess - Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals
Kelly Pierce - Drums, Percussion and Vocals
Jim Hively - Bass Guitar and Vocals
Kevin Labaron - and Vocals., Tenor Saxaphone
It's About Damn Time - 1995
A Tribute to Blues Diva, Paulette Davis
Playin' with My Friends - 1996
Proximity - 1998
Fate - 1999
Girls Night Out - 2001
Jane Doe - 2001
Sonny Hess Compliation - 2002
NW Women Rhythm & Blues "Live" - 2003
Battle of the Bald "Live" - 2007
NW Women R&B Christmas CD - Lit Up - 2007
"TIME" Sonny Hess Band w/Rae Gordon - 2008
Single "Takes Love" Sonny Hess & Lady Kat- 2010
All Aces CD - May 17, 2012
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Sonny Hess Band delivers vibrant performance at CD release party w/guest performers at Kennedy Schoo...Sonny Hess Band delivers vibrant performance at CD release party w/guest performers at Kennedy School
Brad D. Morley |
Volume 36 Number 5
The Pacific Northwest is home to so many talented musicians; it seems at times folks here are a bit spoiled. It’s this same music culture that draws up-and-coming blues hopefuls to move to this great city. They hold hopes of joining ranks with their idols as well as peers, to perform in a vibrant blues music scene.
One such artist is Sonny Hess, a long-standing favorite among blues fans in Portland. Hess has rocked stages for decades, refining her sound and chops to become one of the cities favored artists. After she picked up the guitar at the young age of eight years old, Hess was already gigging as a teenager. Eventually playing with the late Paulette Davis, Hess honed her craft and learned the ropes to perform live and deliver a show to keep the fans coming back for more.
Hess was the first woman to be nominated for the Cascade Blues Association’s best lead guitar award and also for a Muddy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. Opening shows for international acts such as Etta James, Junior Walker and Bobby Womak has put the Sonny Hess Band in front of 100s of 1000s of blues fans. Hess also produces the N.W. Women in Blues show, performing at the Waterfront Blues Festival for the last 15 years.
The Sonny Hess Band just released a new CD, entitled All Aces. With a great release party at The Kennedy School, Portland’s finest musicians were in attendance to show support and dance the night away.
Track one. Pack It Up, is a smooth blues tune, with a catchy hook reminiscent of classic Robert Cray. It’s a fun song and a great opener for the songs that follow.
The disc moves perfectly into a jazzy number titled No Fear and is a Hess original. This piece has a fantastic scratchy guitar track that runs through the song and lends a perfect background for saxophonist Kevin LaBaron. He lays down a solo that will cause discerning horn fans to repeat the song just to hear his chops. LaBaron is a terrific part of the band’s live show. He closed the CD release party by performing lead vocals on a song that had the entire dance floor packed.
Leave Home is the third track on the disc and it’s a perfect spot for a slow groove dance song. The placement of songs on a recording are as critical to a listener as they are in a live performance and this song’s placement shows the effort put into this release by producers Hess and Kevin Nettleingham.
Track four, Better Be All She Needs, cranks the tempo right back up. This song has a strong vocal hook and performance by Hess; once again that great rhythm guitar sound lays it down and brings in a superb sax performance.
Lie Myself is also a Hess original, with a smooth, smoky groove. This song is a standout on the disc and also allows room for some great bass work performed by Jim Hively. A great live performer, Hively is right at home sharing the stage with Hess and the band. He lives right where he should, in between the kick and the snare drum; all the while, he makes use of the opportunities to add his own special flavor to the brew made up by this band of true professionals.
Track seven, I’m Not Leaving You, has a strong and traditional blues hook. Also penned by Hess, this song has everything it needs to break this band into the majors, regardless of its placement on the disc. If Hess is looking for a radio single, this is it.
The collection also has some bonus tracks featuring friends of the band. Lisa Mann, who also performed at the CD release party, lays down bass tracks and adds some background vocals on tracks 10 through 12. In attendance at the release with Lisa Mann was her husband Alan Marckell, a very talented bass player as well, and a member of Kevin Selfe’s band.
Also sharing duties on the recording of track five, Got–Ta Win It are singers Jamie Pemberton Hess, Dan Hess, Sheryl Hess and V
CD "All Aces" Review
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Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail Sonny Hess Band Princeangel Records Ev...Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail
Sonny Hess Band
Even though they may call her Sonny “Smokin’” Hess, that does not mean there are any smoking mirrors involved with her music. But there is plenty of magic. This is Sonny’s first release taking the lead position in front of the band for a complete project and she draws extensively from her life’s experiences. Be they ups or downs. It brings about a very personal and often quite emotional compilation of tunes. Just about every number is straight from Sonny’s own pen, showing complexity and a knack for some catchy and funky songwriting.
Of the twelve offerings, I would have to say my personal favorites include the Stax-like feel and nice opening saxophone from Kevin LaBaron on “Got-ta Win It” with Lisa Mann’s back-up vocals making it jump; the traditional blues sound and double entendres of “Freight Train”; and “I’m Not Leavin’ You” that sounds like a song from Heart in their heyday (“I’m not leavin’ you, I’m already gone”). “It’s All My Fault” showcases the match made in Heaven that Sonny has always had when paired with Lisa Mann. It’s a break-up song, stating that the thrill is gone, but “it’s not my fault that you’re blue, I just tried to love you the best I could.”
Perhaps the finest song on the disc is “Lie Myself.” It faces the hard reality of living with cancer and how to deal with it in your personal emotions. Sometimes having to lie to yourself just to get to sleep at night. “Lie Myself” is also the most heart-wrenching number on All Aces because of this very reason. “Want to feel something else / Be someone else / Someone take this pain away.” It just does not get any more open than that.
Sonny’s band is in prime form, with Jim Hively’s bass and Kelly Pierce’s drums laying down some great grooves, and Kevin LaBaron really lays out some funky sax work, all complimenting Sonny’s tasty guitar. Guest Jimi Lund also delivers nice guitar on the song “Fate” and the Freddie King classic “Pack It Up.”
Sonny Hess has had more than her share of trials and tribulations over the past few years. If the notion that you have to live the blues in order to play them holds true, then All Aces follows suit. No wild cards thrown into this mix. Sonny delivers a winning hand. Read ‘em and weep, All Aces, baby!
Total Time: 47:29
Pack It Up / No Fear / Leave Home / Better Be All She Needs / Got-ta Win It / Lie Myself / I’m Not Leavin’ You / Fate / Freight Train / It’s All My Fault / The Red Light Song / It’s All My Fault (explicit verse
Precision of seasoned players
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...the precision of seasoned players with the life experiences to write gut felt lyrics and music, r......the precision of seasoned players with the life experiences to write gut felt lyrics and music, revealing and edgy R&B influence. Guitar and sax play intricate harmonies while bass and drum are laying down a dynamic beat. Fans of the Sonny Hess Band are never shorted on an energetic, danceable & quality show.
Sonny Hess Band reaches high level of popularity through hard work, passion
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some comments from the article... This band puts on the finishing touches resulting in a big gloriou...some comments from the article... This band puts on the finishing touches resulting in a big glorious wall of sound.....
Cover article please use link below to read full article...
Wow, girl, where'd you get those New Orleans chops? You've got the mojo workin' - Curtis Salgado
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Sonny Hess unleashes her prowess in every performance. Her guitar playing is heart bending, soul sha...Sonny Hess unleashes her prowess in every performance. Her guitar playing is heart bending, soul shaking and mind altering.
Musical fire and Passion....
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I have had the pleasure of working with Sonny Hess in the NW Women R&B Showcase for over a decade no...I have had the pleasure of working with Sonny Hess in the NW Women R&B Showcase for over a decade now. She is a true professional and her musical fire and passion cannot be denied.
"NW Women Rhythm & Blues was a show stopper and a performance that won't be forgotten."
Northwest Women R&B Unites Top Player
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Sonny Hess Productions unites many of the regions top female players to produce a myriad of blues st...Sonny Hess Productions unites many of the regions top female players to produce a myriad of blues styles. Sonny Hess is the founder and currently driving force behind the NW Women R&B. The group has acquired a certain unity and grown on its own as it has developed over the years. The fluid lineup changes every show, as many as 27 women are involved, allowing for plenty of diversity and variety in performance styles and in song selections. Impressive resumes can be cited for all the members, with accomplishments too numerous to mention in total.
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In speaking of The Northwest Women Rhythm & Blues..... a great cast of musicians. This ensemble is j...In speaking of The Northwest Women Rhythm & Blues..... a great cast of musicians. This ensemble is just what the series needed as a full course experience. After listening to the first set, if the appetizer set the tone for the entree than this will be a tasy meal..... dig in! Experience a night that will stay with you wherever you my wander.
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Hess, lead guitarist, sings and pens many tunes. She sings with compassion and determination, her vo...Hess, lead guitarist, sings and pens many tunes. She sings with compassion and determination, her vocals direct and meaningful. She is a strong image, an attractive woman on a mission to express her own music in her own way. R&B is where she hears her beat; in the songs that she writes, she is right on. She is hot, sexy, soulful and one can see she puts her whole self ( body, mind, spirit) into her music. All her tunes on her set list are danceable and it is impossible not to get up and move and groove. She's a front person with personality, an original artist, a veteran of the Portland music scene. Hess shines. Hess' guitar playing is smooth and solid. She can accompany herself, then rip into a screaming solo effortlessly. She has an edgy, exciting sound that is passion driven.
Sonny Hess - Power
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Sonny Hess; power to the biz; power to the women; power to the blues. That's in no particular order....Sonny Hess; power to the biz; power to the women; power to the blues. That's in no particular order. Sonny Hess is one of the most well-rounded and grounded women in the blues. A prolific songwriter, her preferences in the music biz and as a CD producer on notable discs are broad. They range from personal compilations, some with the Northwest Women Rhythm & Blues and KMHD radio; About Damn Time with Paulette Davis; a tribute CD to the late Paulette Davis; Fate, her own all-original CD and one in the oven, soon to come, Still Smokin. A mentor to many over the years with emphasis on the women in blues. In her many years here in the Portland area, Hess has played most the venues and frequently at the Waterfront Blues festival. A mixture of blues with some funkiness, Hess' licks on her guitar neck were hot and the vocals with Hinchcliff's and Pierce's harmonies were right on mark. Sonny Hess gets you there, her performances are enthralling, to say the least.
Sonny Hess Power Band Smokes
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Since 1991, Sonny Hess has grown to become one of Portlands busiest blues-jazz staples and her Power...Since 1991, Sonny Hess has grown to become one of Portlands busiest blues-jazz staples and her Power Band does not disappoint. As a performer at Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival, a winner of Portland Music Associations Crystal Award for Outstanding R&B Act and coordinator of regional women's blues artists, Hess exemplifies the spirit of the Northwest's female blues performer. Hess, who has grown more confident and nonchalant in her performance role over time; she's sporting her well-loved, well-worn Paul Reed Smith guitar, expressing warm, clean blues tones, pushed right to the edge. Clearly they don't call her Sonny 'Smokin' Hess for nothing because this woman can play. When she takes the stage, you definitley feel like ordering another drink and sitting back for a while, because you're not going home until she takes you the rest of the way. She always delivers.
A Woman of Blues
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A "Woman in Blues" - Sonny hess - is someone who walks their talk. Sonny Hess performs with authenti...A "Woman in Blues" - Sonny hess - is someone who walks their talk. Sonny Hess performs with authenticity, whether she's playing for 15 people or 4,000 people, she enters fully "into the music". "I don't internalize compliments,"Hess states modestly. "I wish I could." Perhaps this characteristic is the fire that drives her artistically; maybe it is the trigger for her to enter so fully into the execution of the material. Sonny Hess was one of four nominees, the only female, for the Cascade Blues Association's "Muddy Award" for "Best Blues Electirc Guitar", quite an honor in a town full of outstanding Blues guitar players!
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Osmosis - when the subject is blueswoman Sonny Hess, the "apparently effortless absorption" of osmos...Osmosis - when the subject is blueswoman Sonny Hess, the "apparently effortless absorption" of osmosis is wholly appropriate. A 46 year old lead guitarist today, Hess's early experience came in the 80's as part of a group called Koffee, which toured with the likes of rock group Quarterflash.
We perform a lot of original music and also cover such artist as: BB King, Koko Taylor, Etta James, Melissa Ethridge, Maroon 5, Pink, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mavis Staples, Susan Tadesci, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Joss Stone, Cold Blood, Ben Harper, The Neville Brothers, Prince, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Joan Armatrading, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Nora Jones, Johnny A, Doobie Brothers and more.