Rachael Price’s vocals combine the phrasing and jazz acumen of Ella Fitzgerald, with the power and force of Janis Joplin.
It’s a combination you don’t find in too many pop vocalists these days. But it makes perfect sense for Lake Street Dive, the red-hot jazz/pop group Price is lead singer for.
That’s because Lake Street Dive has a classic sound, based on the kinds of melodies that fueled the pop music of Cole Porter or George Gershwin. But they deliver that sound with a raw, stripped-down energy that makes it very contemporary.
“Ella Fitzgerald was my first love, and I listened to a lot of musicals, a lot of Doris Day, Judy Garland and Sarah Vaughan,” said Price, 28. “I think there was an attention to melody in songs from that time that isn’t as present in modern day. We like really strong, good melodies.”
Lake Street Dive was recently named one of the “10 New Artists You Need to Know” by Rolling Stone magazine. You can get to the know the band members, up close, when they play Portland’s State Theatre Saturday. The Oregon-based band Ages and Ages will open.
The State Theatre gig shows how fast the band is gaining momentum. Originally the Saturday date had been booked for the Port City Music Hall, which holds about 500. But the show sold out so quickly it had to be moved down Congress Street to the State, which holds about 1,800.
The band is not really new, as the Rolling Stone list suggests. The band was actually formed about 10 years ago, when the members were all attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
The students who became Lake Street Dive include: Mike Olson, a trumpet and guitar player from Minneapolis, Minn.; Price, a singer from Nashville, Tenn.; Bridget Kearney, a stand-up bassist from Iowa; and Mike Calabrese, a drummer from Philadelphia.
After Kearney won a song-writing contest in 2005, the band had enough cash to make its debut CD, “In This Episode …”
The band built a steady following in clubs and at colleges, but didn’t get really hot until a promotional video about two years ago.
The 2012 video shows the band gathered around a single microphone on a street corner in Boston, doing a cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” The stand-up bass and bluesy trumpet are enough to catch your ear, but Price’s vocals are mesmerizing.
The video led to larger gigs, appearances on late-night network shows and a European tour.
The band’s latest album, “Bad Self Portraits,” came out in February.
Price’s jazzy, smoldering vocals can be heard on that album in the song “Rental Love” as she rhymes the words “jealous” and “zealous” in ways most of us can’t.
Price says the TV talk show circuit has been an interesting experience for the band. They were guests on the news-parody show “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central and were surprised to find that host Stephen Colbert is a big fan.
“He was very present, he spent some time with us and it was clear that he was personally a fan,” said Price.
As for playing bigger venues, Price said she and the other band members don’t care much about size.
“We don’t care where we play as long as people are dancing,” said Price.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: