Meet Blake Sakamoto

Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'

Blake Sakamoto of ‘Nu Wavers’ and ‘The Dan Reed Network’ has been playing music in Portland forever. His love of music was clear from as early as age 6 and, beginning with piano, over the years he mastered the guitar, drums, and vocals. Involved in the music program while attending Cleveland High School, Blake formed a band with a few kids, and the rest is history.

“The neighborhood band consisted of some pretty talented guys,” says Blake, “all of whom have gone on to professional careers: Ben Wolfe (bass), who played with Harry Connick Jr, now teaches Jazz at Julliard. Ron Regan (sax) and his brother Mike Regan (trumpet) were in Nu Shooz and Crazy 8s, respectively. There’s Andy Stokes (vocals) with the popular Andy Stokes Band, and trumpeter and vocalist Mark Mattson, who is now a music producer and educator in LA. That’s just to name just a few, as well as myself on keyboards.”

Not a bad crowd for a neighborhood band that started out playing parties and events in 1979.

Blake enjoyed early success in the ‘80s playing keyboard with The Dan Reed Network. Albums, a recording contract, and tours were all part of it. The five-piece band made a name for itself in Portland, performing live funk-rock, heavy metal and rock & roll. The band opened for Bon Jovi in 1989, toured with the Rolling Stones the summer of 1990, and had a huge following in the UK.

In fact, the band returned to the UK for a 25th anniversary/reunion tour in 2012, and is currently planning a two-week tour to Scandinavia and the UK this fall. Clearly the band isn’t looking to retire anytime soon.

Blake’s current band, The Nu Wavers, keeps him busy and on local stages most weekends. Owning his own production company, ‘Blake Sakamoto Presents’, means constant meetings, planning, and working on music and events. The business is perhaps best known for Vancouver’s New Year’s Eve at the Hilton Hotel and the Independence Day at 4th of July.

“I do the music soundtrack for the fireworks show, and several other fireworks shows, and I play with my band at the annual 4th of July celebration,” says Blake, who records in his own studio in Sellwood.

In his free time he likes to relax with coffee, and planning events to help local charities like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies and Trillium Family Services.

“I like to just get coffee and hang out when I can,” he says. “I recently discovered Martinis, so I have been trying new flavors and visiting some of the cool local martini bars,” he laughs. “Of course I can’t do that very often with my schedule.”

Blake’s family includes a 10-year-old black Lab named Rose, who he says the family just one day brought home from the humane society. “So I said, ‘I guess we are getting a dog,’” he laughs, adding, “Rose has been a great friend and companion for my son especially.”

So what’s a man with a sheet like Blake proud of? “I am most proud of being a good father. My children are 22 and 17, and they are amazing people.”

A lifelong lover of comic books, among Blake’s favorite childhood memories is riding the bus alone at 8, 9 and 10 “to hit the comic book stores. I had a loop from SE to downtown to NE. I started collecting at a very young age. People might be surprised to know I own over 5,000 comic books! I have first editions of the early Spiderman, Superman, Fantastic Four and the Avengers. I would look for deals and knew a lot about the artists. I had a lot of knowledge as a kid, as I was really into collecting and buying.

Not surprising that his favorite movie as a kid was Superman. “The one with Christopher Reeve,” he says. “That movie always made me feel hopeful.”

“My favorites now are still superhero movies!” he laughs. “But my guilty pleasure would have to be watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette — I love those shows.”

What shoe stands out as quintessentially Blake? “My favorite Doc Martens,” he says. “They are 22 years old and have a steel toe that came in handy back in the day when I was on tour as the road manager for Metallica. We were always setting up in fields so they were good sturdy shoes to wear. I still wear them onstage every night. They endure all and are rugged,” he smiles.

Positive, upbeat and friendly, this accomplished rocker still has a bucket list — to create his own albums combining vocals and new-age instrumental music, something you can “relax and meditate to.” And of course, taking it on tour. 

About our Sponsor

Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years.  In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare.  Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood. 

Melinda Thompson is a freelance writer with a degree in Speech Communications and a coveted "Ducktorate" from the Walt Disney World Company. She has been featured in many local magazines and newspapers.  She lives in Vancouver USA with her husband, son and daughter.