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Taken from The Mercury News (Mar 19, 2019)

Pianist for Franti, Sheila E, brings own band to San Jose, Walnut Creek

Mike Blankenship and his Spooky Fox

by Andrew Gilbert

Michael Blankenship / Courtesy Image
Keyboardist Mike Blankenship has upcoming appearances in San Jose and Walnut Creek / Courtesy Image

East Bay keyboardist Mike Blankenship is a man with a mission.

The internationally touring accompanist has traveled the world with artists such as Lauryn Hill, Sheila E and Michael Franti. Steeped in jazz, R&B and hip-hop, he's a versatile player who can provide a shot of grit or dose of soul into just about any situation.

Left to his own devices these days, he can often be found with Spooky Fox, a tight musical confederation featuring drummer Dante McClinton, bassist Marcus Phillips and the powerhouse vocal tandem of Sangin Sara Williams and Luqman Frank. The band performs March 22 at San Jose's Cafe Stritch and March 23 at Walnut Creek's Impulse Room (with a return engagement on April 19).

While he loves stretching out with other instrumentalists, Blankenship says that one of his main goals "is to bring back the demand for singers," he wrote in an email from Uganda. "Although I love performing instrumental jazz, there is nothing like watching a supremely talented singer command the stage while being supported by a killer band." Hear, hear.

Speaking of killer bands, Blankenship returns to Walnut Creek on April 26 when the Impulse Room celebrates its two-year anniversary with a major jam session featuring top Bay Area players like Fantastic Negrito drummer James Small and Agape Soul bassist Darryl Anders.

Details: 8:30 p.m. March 22 at Cafe Stritch, San Jose; no cover; 408-280-6161, www.cafestritch.com. 8 p.m. March 23 at Impulse Room, Walnut Creek; $18-$38; 925-476-5040, www.impulseroom.com.


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