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Springtime is here and we are all anxiously waiting for the trees, shrubs and flowers to bloom. Here are four flowering trees to watch for around town between March and May. The delicate pink and white blossoms of ornamental cherry trees are among the very first to sprout in March The varieties that flower early on in the season include the Yoshinowhich bares pretty pale pink blooms that fade to white in April.

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S everal hours—and an almost-empty plate of chocolate chip cookies—into the life tale of Ural Thomas, we sit in the kitchen of the Mississippi-area home he built by hand. His house, destroyed by a fire and a bulldozer, once embroiled him in years of fighting city hall.

The year-old alternates between storytelling, song, and deep laughter. His tiny great-granddaughter crawls onto the lap of his band mate Scotty Magee.

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The almost-octogenarian le a seven-man soul and funk band that seamlessly blends his own decades-old songs with new material in famously emotional, dance-packed live shows. This fall, the band releases their first full-length album after six years together. Colonel gave sermons on weekends; during the week, he did maintenance for Ralph Lloyd of Lloyd Center and drove for Fred Meyer the man. The sounds coming out, the voices of the people singing in church. I remember thinking it was the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

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At Jefferson High School, Thomas made a name for himself with his magnetic presence, coiffed pompadour, and soulful voice. Meanwhile, his city—in a state where the constitution originally banned black settlers—re mained deeply segregated as it entered the civil rights era.

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I was in love with her. She spoke her mind.

The young singer ed a handful of other men as the Monorays often billed as the Monterays : a photo shows them decked out in checked sport coats, white button-downs, and matching black cravats. The all-black, singing-only group paired up with the Invaders, an all-white rock band known for driving a hearse with their name painted on the doors.

The supergroup played to throngs at the Crystal Ballroom while Thomas crooned—always bedecked in fashionable outfits. He cites muses like the slick-suited Little Richard and his feathered favorite, Liberace.

Portland celebrates spring with beer and food festivals, fiestas and flowers.

I tried to make them look like a tuxedo just out of Paris. It was the full package: voice, leadership, fashion.

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He is just a spectacular entertainer, you know, and a wonderful personality. They packed the house every night with Ural as the leader. He landed in LA, working in a dress shop while still performing. He tells of hopping onstage with Mick Jagger. Ever the optimistic collaborator, Thomas had his heart set on teaming up with Redding and Brown.

The stars were less keen.

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He worked as a hotel bellman and a Swan Island machinist, with weekends at the Cotton Club. He settled into Portland life, but trouble awaited. T he beginnings are fuzzy, and the details complicated and somewhat fogged by time.

The city then razed the structure.

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Thomas persevered. He tells of spending months working by day, sleeping under the Fremont Bridge, and rebuilding on his Mississippi plot in between. Every penny I had went into building this home. Eventually, after a show of support from the neighborhood, the city relented.

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Now Thomas and Rosie live on that same spot in a humble home built almost entirely from recycled materials and donations. Almost every weekend, from Nixon to Obama, he would spend Saturdays making a concoction he dubbed Lallyhoosh, stuffing pots with tomatoes, root vegetables, and ground beef to feed dozens of musicians and gawkers who would pile into his backyard makeshift practice space. We talked for an hour. So, inMagee walked into a packed Sunday session to try to interest Thomas in a one-night show.

They played Ben E. Thomas said yes.

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I ask Thomas if he found it overwhelming or exciting to launch a band at a time when many of his contemporaries were enjoying the retirement life. He finally found guys who wanted to do music like him. Ural was serious about wanting to be in a band and doing what he loves—music and traveling. Magee assembled the Pain through scene connections, and the act debuted in Today, Magee handles most of the logistics.

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But the cool thing about Ural is he says yes. Now, as Ural Thomas and the Pain are in their sixth year, with a new album out on September 28 aptly titled The Right Time catch the release concert the next day at the Aladdintheir fan base spans de cades. Just like he always wanted. Blossom is obsessed with Grease. Image: Holly Andres. Filed under. Show Comments. Change Our Minds. You Can't.

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