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Arizona reggae legend highlights weekend of music at Sound Bites Grill

Walt Richardson will be a part of weekend of music at Sound Bites Grill in Sedona.

Walt Richardson will be a part of weekend of music at Sound Bites Grill in Sedona.

Originally Published: July 8, 2019 9:34 a.m.

Arizona Music Hall of Fame icon Walt Richardson has quite a history in Arizona, and will perform this summer at Sound Bites Grill in Sedona Saturday, July 13, 7 p.m.

Richardson has quite a history in Arizona -- having started as a street musician and working his way up to world tours, he has always made Tempe his home base, and celebrates the city in his songs.

On his 60th birthday in 2014, Tempe declared Jan. 18 to be “Walt Richardson Day” and he was the first artist enshrined on the Tempe Music Walk of fame. Influenced by the Beatles; Bob Marley, Carlos Santana, Cat Stevens, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan, Walt Richardson is a multi-faceted, self-taught musician, starting his love affair with the guitar at age 9. His music is derived from his own spin of folk, rock, reggae, with African and Latin influences - best called, “world reggae folk.”

“I am a soul, living out and enjoying life as a songwriting, storytelling, and performing musician,” is the way Richard describes himself.

Through music and traveling, he has had the opportunity to meet great artists like Carlos Santana, Burning Spear, and Taj Mahal to name a few. He has shared the stage with bands including Third World & Ziggy Marley. A longtime fixture of the local music scene -- from backyard house parties to coffee houses, wine bars to night clubs, and concert stages -- they all resonate with this energetic; multi-talented musician.

“It is an incredible feeling to be able to fill the air with music, and be part of its marvelous effect on people,” said Richardson.

No doubt, Walt Richardson’s performance at Sound Bites Grill Sedona will get you on the dance floor. He will perform with Gigi Gonaway (drummer for Mariah Carey, Steve Winwood, Aretha Franklin), Drew Hall (guitarist for The Cheektones, and formerly with Big Daddy D and the Dynamites), and Marcus Weeden (bassist with Blaine Long – The Voice).

The band has played together for many years and all have great bios. Drew Hall who is the ambassador and organizer for the band also plays in a great band named Summa Totius that has a Latin Rock flare.

This is a ticketed event, and admission for the show starts at $20. Call (928) 282-2713. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show is from 7-10.

Sunday, July 14, 6-9 p.m., “The Classics” band is back with their swinging piano jazz trio joined by acclaimed vocalist Susannah Martin, a Sedona favorite beloved for her sultry, sweet and spicy singing. There is no cover charge for this event.

The band will perform treasures from the American Song Book - from torch ballads and easy swing to tantalizing Latin numbers, plus some pop favorites. Listeners and dancers will be treated to songs like “The Look of Love,” “Teach me Tonight” and “Makin’ Whoopee,” along with hits by Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Bette Midler. Joining Susannah Martin onstage are jazz pianist David Vincent Mills, acoustic bassist Selwyn Reams and drummer George Bein.

Vocalist Susannah Martin has lived and performed around Sedona and northern Arizona for the past 14 years, earning the love and respect of fans and musicians alike for her jazz, bossa nova and pop stylings.

“Susannah Martin is the consummate performer. She brings class and polish to any stage ... a true delight to behold,” said the Tucson Jazz Society. According to Blue Note recording artist Kurt Elling, “Susannah Martin is just what audiences need to hear ... sexy attitude, excellent audience rapport –she’s delicious.”

Martin’s ability to finesse a song is enhanced by her rare improvisational talents. Originally from San Diego, her 30-plus year singing career has brought her up and down the West Coast, through the Caribbean as a cruise ship singer, into the South and back to the Southwest. She performs with Arizona touring bands, “3MKi” and the “Dynamite Divas,” plus world vintage group “Flor de Bee.” Martin also coaches voice students and serves other professional musicians as an online music promoter and record label operations manager.

Pianist David Vincent Mills delights crowds with his classy and funky jazz piano. He is an extremely versatile player, as well as a composer, recording artist and producer.

Mills was the keyboardist for American Idol’s Kimberley Locke “One Love Tour,” during which he performed in stadiums, concerts halls, clubs and on national television, such as The Ellen Show. His projects include solo piano , straight ahead jazz trio “Project Nazz,” his jazzy funk bands ‘DiVoM’ and ‘Sticks & Bones’ and live film scoring. He also leads a local trio called 3 Squares with David Mills.

The group has performed throughout the world and opened for jazz luminaries such as Chick Corea and Lionel Hampton.

Selwyn Reams joins the trio with his mastery on jazz bass. Originally from Arizona, Reams grew up in a musical family and became a musician early, playing several brass and reed instruments.

He took up the double bass while in college at Northern Arizona University and has played double bass in seven different Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.

Although versed in all styles of music, Selwyn is a jazz aficionado and has performed at numerous jazz venues and festivals including, Playboy Jazz Festival, Sedona Jazz on the Rocks and Vancouver International Jazz Festival in British Columbia, Canada. He’s performed with many high profile artists, including Cedar Walton, Joe Williams, Emmy Lou Harris, Donald O’Connor, John Lee Hooker and DeeDee Bridgewater.

Rounding out “The Classics” is bandleader and drummer George Bein. George started his musical journey as a drummer with various high school and college dance bands. His path then led him to earn his PhD in Electrophysics and a career in the field. Bein was overjoyed to return to the drums, first joining the percussion section of the Cottonwood Community Band, and now, as founder of his own band. He’s thrilled to have our Sedona community and visitors join in the fun and romance, the beautiful music, the delicious food and dancing with “The Classics”.

Sound Bites Grill is located in the Hyatt Pinon Pointe shopping center in uptown Sedona, off of Hwy 89A; SoundBitesGrill.com.