Ocean 503 at
By Dorothy Timpy
Share the wonder of musical talent via a six- or sometimes eight-piece,
band called Ocean 503, recently performing at the Edgewater Lounge @
the Red Lion Coliseum. The group focuses on the vocal prowess of LaRhonda
Steele as lead singer, soothing and exciting listeners with soulful
Two keyboardists provide the elite setting for this wondrous vocalist
along with guitar, bass and drums, put together in such an exquisite
manner as to make description notably difficult.
It's the listening experience that tells the story. Of major vocal
importance also is Steve Smith, guitarist of extraordinary talent,
to team with his individualistic style as a vocalist.
Smooth jazz of strength and power emerge as instruments and vocals
meld together into one giant multi-faceted sound mesmerizing everyone
in the audience.
As Steele paints her stories in song, Jeff Ward gently brushes out
the rhythm, then punches emphasis with well-placed rim shots and other
talented drum moves. Bandleader MeGale Roberts makes you move with his
jazzy style on bass. Dual keyboardists Mark Steele and Brian Ward weave
their leads throughout the entire melody like a fine-tuned high wire
of melody and connectiveness. As each lead vocal steps forward, backup
of up to five voices round out the full jazz sound of the performance.
A touch of comic ripples through the room as Steele does a special
"song for the ladies" called You Can Have My Husband,
which goes on to say, "but don't mess with my man." As she
woos the audience with her heartfelt, soulful vocals, she sometimes
wanders through the room giving more individualized attention to her
Smith adds a talented contrast facet to Ocean 503's vocal entertainment,
along with his superb guitar work blending well with the strains of
the two keyboards.
Steele on center stage not only stirs up enough energy for everyone
but she puts a smile on your spirit. At one point she dedicated a number
to "Mom in Oklahoma," letting you know she's proud of her
roots and family ties. The song tells of the hills and mountains back
home, putting you in touch with your own feelings of having both feet
on the ground. She is without doubt one of the most superb vocalists
around, mixing personna with talent extraordinaire.
Ocean 503 has some exciting upcoming dates so take heed and listen
up for some toe tapping, danceable and listening entertainment. The
group returns to the Edgewater May 19 and June 1-2; May 24 they are
on the Cascade Sternwheeler for a dinner/dance show; June 8-9 sees
them on stage at Chicago Blues in Vancouver, Wash.; June 29-30, they
are appearing at Candlelight on the corner of 5th and Lincoln in downtown
Tim Hickmon, Edgewater manager, concentrates on creating a hospitable
atmosphere for all in the classy lounge. He continually moves around
the room seeing to every detail as the hour for the 11 p.m. buffet nears.
His capable staff is ever at hand under his watchful expertise. Hickmon
books music in keeping with the jazz image he wishes to create.
Other top area groups he books include Linda Hornbuckle, Street Music
Band, Jay Koder, DK Stewart, Norman Sylvester, Andy Stokes and, of
course, Ocean 503.