Monday, June 29, 2009

Portland, Oregon's Waterfront Blues Festival

World-class music. Gorgeous setting. Great cause. What could be better?

Join blues fans from throughout the world at the 21st annual Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, presented by First Tech Credit Union, July 3 to 6, 2008. This renowned festival takes place annually on the grassy banks of the beautiful Willamette River at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland, Ore.

The Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival is an anomaly in the festival world. There is no other festival like it anywhere.

  • Now in its 21st year, the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival is the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi and the second-largest blues festival in the nation. The festival annually attracts more than 120,000 blues fans from throughout the world.
  • Touted as one of the best-run festivals anywhere, it remains a grassroots festival, operated by Oregon Food Bank – a nonprofit, charitable organization – with the help of more than a thousand volunteers.
  • The festival raises food and funds to help people who are hungry throughout Oregon and southwest Washington. Admission is a suggested donation of only $10 plus two cans of food per person, per day.
  • Gate donations benefit Oregon Food Bank’s mission: to eliminate hunger and its root causes ... because no one should be hungry. This is all the more important this year as food, fuel and healthcare costs climb, foreclosures and layoffs increase and world food supply dwindles.
  • A Four-day Festival Grounds Pass, a special Blues Buddy Pass and an exclusive Blues Benefactor Pass are available online at through a new ticket service created by Patrick Lamb.

The four-day festival will feature more than 120 performances on four stages. Some highlights:

Thursday, July 3

The festival kicks off with a Tribute to Memphis Soul, featuring soul icon Isaac Hayes, presented by Chinook Winds Casino Resort. The tribute will get a local treatment with Portland Soul All-Stars, featuring Linda Hornbuckle, LaRhonda Steele and Sean Holmes backed by an all-star band. They will put their spin on classics by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T and the MGs, Albert King and other legends of the Stax/Volt record label. Portland’s young soul diva Liv Warfield and “Boogie Cat” Norman Sylvester will open the tribute on the Miller Stage.

The Credit Union Blues Stage will feature searing riffs from up-and-coming blues guitar slingers: virtuoso Joe Bonamassa, Houston’s Carolyn Wonderland and Salem's Ty Curtis.

The stellar line-up includes a Battle of the ‘Bones on the A&E Front Porch Stage with the two funkiest trombonists on the planet: the legendary Fred Wesley & Groovesect and the young virtuoso Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews & New Orleans Avenue. The Front Porch will open with Blues from the Edge, featuring semi-acoustic acts that push the genre’s envelope: Joe McMurrian Quartet, Memphis’ rootsy Moreland & Arbuckle, and Salem’s Mark Lemhouse.

Friday, July 4

Boogie-blues-rock pioneers Canned Heat and the Los Angeles-based all-star group The Mannish Boys – with special guests Kid Ramos, Kirk Fletcher and Finis Tasby will headline July 4th. The stellar line-up includes a Tribute to Freddie King, featuring Phillip Walker, Sherman Robertson and Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones; the punkified blues of The Legendary Shack Shakers; Pianorama Northwest and more.

The Waterfront Blues Festival will team up with the Blues Foundation to present Trampled Under Foot, the winner of this year’s International Blues Challenge, on the A&E Front Porch Stage. Bill Rhoades’ annual Harmonica Blow-off will close the stage.

The night ends with spectacular fireworks.

Saturday, July 5

Chicago harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite, guitarist Elvin Bishop and New Orleans guitarist Eric Lindell will headline the slate. Performances include the amazing, young British blues-rockers Back Door Slam, Louisiana Creole blues-rocker Classie Ballou, Mississippi roots-rocker Paul Thorn, Gulf Coast Guitar Summit with Phillip Walker, Sherman Robertson and Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones and more.

On the A&E Front Porch Stage, enjoy a full-day, lively Zydeco Swamp Romp, showcasing Rosie Ledet, the “Zydeco Sweetheart”; Chris Ardoin and Nu Step Zydeco; Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters; Diki Du and the Zydeco Krewe; and dance demonstrations with Roland and Janine Jemerson.

Sunday, July 6

Soulful songstress Phoebe Snow will headline an afternoon of Women in Blues. Don’t miss Texas soul and folk singer Ruthie Foster; an old-time Gospel Hour with Linda Hornbuckle & Janice Scroggins; the all-star line-up of Northwest Women in Rhythm & Blues; and a special Swinging to the Blues dance on the A&E Front Porch Stage, featuring San Francisco’s Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.

Later, the focus will shift to neo-soul with British soul crooner James Hunter, searing soul-blues guitarist Arthur Adams and a triumphant return of Portland’s blue-eyed soul man Curtis Salgado, celebrating the release of his new record.

Other highlights include an early afternoon of delta blues on the A&E Front Porch Stage, featuring North Mississippi bluesman Robert “Wolfman” Belfour and Portland’s Hillstomp, and an evening main stage set by Portland’s brass spectacle March Fourth Marching Band.

The festival will again offer its popular delta music experience Blues Cruises on the Willamette River. Tickets for all five blues cruises as well as four-day festival passes are available at via a new ticketing venue, created by Patrick Lamb.

But that’s not all. The festival also will offer a Louisiana Pavilion, workshops, interviews, after-hours blues jams, activities for kids and more.

About Oregon Food Bank: Oregon Food Bank distributes donated food throughout a statewide network of more than 919 nonprofit, hunger-relief agencies serving Oregon and Clark County, Wash., and works to eliminate the root causes of hunger through education and advocacy.

About festival sponsors: The Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival is presented by First Tech Credit Union. Major sponsors include FedEx Freight, PacificSource Health Plans, iQ Credit Union, Daimler Truck Financial, Land Rover, The Oregonian A&E, and Travel Portland. Supporting sponsors include Burt’s Bees, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Henry Weinhard's, Deschutes Brewery, Beringer Wine, Snapple, Pepsi, Nutrisoda, Earth2o Water, Frito Lay Snacks, Yoshida Sauce, Mission Foods, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, NW Natural, Impact Advertising, Edge Design, The Boeing Company, PGE, KBOO,, Blues Revue, Music Millennium, Karolyn March, Guitar Center, Lions Foundation, Cascade Blues Association, Oregon Potters Association, Cascade Zydeco and Delta Music Experience..

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