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The Jacob Merlin Band at the Avalon

The Portland-based Jacob Merlin Band will perform a blend of funk, pop rock, soul and jazz when the quintet stops in for a one-nighter at the Avalon Bar & Grill in Talent. The band will present Merlin's original tunes in a style that shows direct influences of James Brown, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson and Radiohead, according to Merlin.

Merlin plays keyboards, guitar and sings, and his father, Rick Tippets, plays flugelhorn and trombone in the band. Tippets was raised in Medford and graduated from Medford High School in 1970.

"I saw the potential of Jacob's group, and I shared the band's vision, so I signed on," Tippets said in a press release. He brings his own touch of jazz and funk to the arrangements for horns that brings depth and freshness to the band's catchy tunes.

"I'm inspired by the old-school horn bands like Chicago, The Meters and Jazz Crusaders," Tippets says.

The show at Avalon will include five musicians. When the band plays the Portland area, there are two additional horn players.

Merlin was brought up on classical music and jazz standards. In 2000 he moved to Nashville and immersed himself in the city's music scene. The experience gave him the confidence to start a new band when he returned to Portland. He found willing local talent that was ready for something new.

The band's guitarist, Michael Suffin, brings 30 years of performance experience and is schooled in all areas of rock and jazz music. "Michael adds a great blend of memorable lead lines and accents to the mix," Merlin said in the press release. "He's got great energy, incredible talent and is loaded with saucy, electric guitar skills."

Erick Mimnaugh is the band's bassist, with a background in jazz and classical bass. "Erik's funky 'slaptastic' lines drive a lot of energy and fuels the fire of the group," Merlin said. Mimnaugh holds a degree in bass performance from the University of Oregon.

Drummer Jordan Ruback credits his drumming chops to studying with Mel Brown, who is known on the Portland music scene, as well as nationally.

"Jordan has honed his skills and developed his own unique style," Merlin said. Ruback and Merlin have played in groups together for years and they have "a natural ability to create a great in-the-pocket groove," Merlin said.

Tippets said the thing that sets the band apart from others is that they combine "old school and new school."

"The band's melodies and lyrics will make you want to listen to what they are doing," he said.

The Jacob Merlin Band has a new CD to its credit, "Alchemy of Soul."

Cover for the show at the Avalon is $10. Reservations can be made by calling 512-8864.

Left to right: Michael Suffin (guitar), Jacob Merlin (piano, guitar and vocals), Jordan Ruback (drums) and Erick Mimnaugh (bass) are the Jacob Merlin Band. Rick Tippets (flugelhorn and trombone) is not shown. - Photo courtesy of the Avalon