Oregon Music Hall Honors Calvin Walker
By Teresa Lane
The Oregon Music Hall of Fame will honor Mt. Hood Community College’s Calvin Walker for his pivotal role in the Portland music scene.
A local musician since the late 1960s, Walker now works in the Academic Advising and Transfer Center at MHCC, where he helps students reach their goals.
Walker is a jazz musician and plays keyboard, drums and trumpet and sings with various groups throughout the area.
He has played with Carl Smith and the Natural Gas Company, Cruise Control, Shirley Nanette and in his own band first called Calvin and the Conquerors Orchestra. He has opened for the innovative trumpet player Miles Davis, as well as the Temptations and Lou Rawls.
“It’s a great honor to be inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame,” says Walker. “With all the thousands of musicians in Oregon, just to be recognized is really cool.”
The induction ceremony and concert will take place Oct. 6, 7 p.m. at the Aladdin Theatre. Walker will perform with an all-star band that evening.
For the past nine years, Walker has been on staff at MHCC, first as the developmental director for the KMHD 89.1 jazz radio station, and then as a student adviser.
Of his current position, Walker says, “My favorite thing is when a student is ready to graduate. You couldn’t ask for a greater reward than that.” He likens the feeling to the standing ovations he received as a performer.
Though the two appear different, Walker says he finds similarities between music and advising. “In each one of them you give,” he states. “There’s just so much more satisfaction in seeing someone satisfied than sitting around waiting to be satisfied yourself.”
Through his travels as a musician, Walker played at jazz clubs and music festivals across the Northwest. He was the first person to perform at the refurbished and renamed Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. He even had the opportunity to play at the Vortex music festival in 1970, Portland’s answer to the 1969 Woodstock festival.
“It was all crazy at that time,” he reminisces of his time on the road.
At 60 years old, music is still a large part of his life.
In between the rewarding experiences at MHCC and his garden at home, he continues to play music and produce recordings and videos through his company Nacawana Projects Productions. “I’ve been blessed enough to play all these years,” he says.
Walker joins the ranks of other musicians from MHCC who have been inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, including Patrick Lamb, a saxophone player and music business consultant.