Randy Oxford Band performs March 28 in Walla Walla

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerMarch 26, 2014 

Randy Oxford Band

COURTESY RANDY OXFORD BAND

Randy Oxford is no stranger to Tri-City music lovers.

He's played many a gig in the area during the past decade since he put his band together.

Oxford has a simple philosophy when it comes to music, embodied in the title of his new CD, It Feels Good.

"Why do we listen to music in the first place? Why do we perform music or go out and see music performed by others? Because it feels good," he told the Herald.

You can sample some of that philosophy March 28 at Sapolil Cellars winery in downtown Walla Walla. Showtime is 9 p.m. Tickets cost $15.

Oxford was born in Seattle, but his family moved to Chicago when he was 5 years old. He was in sixth grade when the trombone caught his attention.

"The Chicago area schools had strong band programs that presented me with plenty of opportunity to stay interested and playing the trombone through high school," he said.

After high school, he heard about an opening for a trombone player for the U.S. Army Band. He passed the audition and was guaranteed a spot based in Germany, but first he had to join the Army.

"I signed on and after boot camp they sent me to the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Va., before stationing me in Berlin," he said. "It was an amazing school for musicians and it really prepared me to become a well-rounded performer of all styles of music."

He spent three years touring Europe with the Army band.

"We were the American ambassadors to Europe, and I learned how to perform in just about any situation you could imagine," he said.

The Randy Oxford Band is comprised of Manuel Morais on guitar, Randy Norris on guitar, LA Smith on percussion, Polly O'Keary on bass, Richard Sabol on drums and Jada Amy on vocals.

Amy claims to have been an Army brat who found a passion for music at a young age because her family kept roaming around from base to base. As a youngster, she sang in church and school choirs.

Norris, from Kansas, is a 30-year veteran musician who has toured with Jack Mac and the Heart Attack and The Boxtops and opened for the Neville Brothers, Rare Earth, Etta James and the Average White Band.

Morais, from Portugal, discovered his father's guitar in a closet and has been an unstoppable musician ever since.

Smith has been a musician since the age of 7, first playing accordion, then piano, then bongos. Before joining the Oxford band, he performed with folksinger Mary Mac in New York City bars.

O'Keary has been a working musician since age 16, playing with alternative rock bands. It wasn't until 2000 that she was introduced to blues, which she says on the band's website was when she really started to understand the music.

Sabol grew up in Newport, R.I., which is home to the world-famous Jazz and Blues Festival. He won a pair of autographed drumsticks from renowned drummer Buddy Rich while still a kid.

For the past 30 years, Sabol has played drums for almost every type of music, including blues, rock, jazz, R&B, big band, country, swing, Latin, gospel and classical.

As for Oxford, he now calls Hood Canal home, near the Olympic Mountains on Puget Sound.

"It's a beautiful place to escape to after being out on the road with the band," Oxford said.

For tickets to the show, call 509-520-8007 or 509-520-1273.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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