I've been on the ground here in Portland for two days, pre-festival, spending time with friends and getting a sneak peek at some of the great music that will be on stage this week here at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival.
Night one: A jam at a local bar called Gators. Kevin Selfe (of Kevin Selfe and the Tornadoes) led the jam with his impeccable guitar and beautiful voice. Many other fantastic locals joined in the fun, as did visiting recording artists Fiona Boyes and Pat Pepin. Fiona tore up the place with blazin' tunes, and Pat wowed the crowd as she alternated between heart-wrenching and comedic songs. Gators may have trouble topping that night.
Last night saw my group heading first to a birthday/pre-festival party with Pat Pepin providing entertainment. Most revelers were blues cruisers (Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise vets) who've known each other from many cruises, and there were a few who were friends of friends. Didn't matter much because we are all in town for the festival. That's usually how it goes with most festivals -- you'll find regular blues fans and then you'll have a contingent of cruisers who add to the fun. Pat, having performed on the cruise, knew the partiers and began to make up songs on the spot, causing a little delighted embarrassment. When someone with her voice and her talent makes up a song about you? You better believe your exploits are going to sound hysterical.
Following the party, half the group split off to enjoy the pre-cruise party at Duff's Garage. Curtis Salgado, Duffy Bishop, Franck Goldwasser, Lloyd Jones, and many others performed (so tempting to hit this gig, but we had plans). Our motley crew ended up at the Candlelight for the best R&B, soul, funk, and blues with LaRhonda Steele and some of Portland's best musicians and vocalists. The club was dark and friendly and felt like home. The music was so good, I danced often, as did my friends. At one point I was told I was a great dancer, but I think my partner may just have been drunk on the delicious soul food the Candlelight serves.
All that was a great lead-in to the festivities today. The festival officially begins around 1pm today with a lineup that's sure to please the crowd. Here you'll find a list of today's performers. I'll be running from stage to stage to photograph as many people as possible as well as attempting an interview or two whenever possible. I'll be (attempting to) report back each day, but really, the best way to get a good feel for the action is to be here yourself. If not this year, then next year for sure.
|01:15 PM to 02:15 PM||E||Welcome: Transcendental Brass Band|
|02:30 PM to 03:00 PM||OS||Swing/Blues dance lesson and demo : Portland Blues Experience|
|03:00 PM to 03:45 PM||FT||Kicking it off: Franco Paletta & the Stingers|
|03:00 PM to 04:00 PM||OS||Kicking it off: Rae Gordon|
|03:45 PM to 04:30 PM||MS||Mike Osborn & the Drivers|
|03:45 PM to 04:30 PM||WS||Fingerstyle Blues: soloing over a droning bassline: Thad Beckman|
|04:15 PM to 05:15 PM||OS||Devin Phillips Black and Blue|
|04:30 PM to 05:15 PM||FT||Robbie Laws Band|
|05:15 PM to 06:15 PM||MS||Norman Sylvester Revue|
|05:30 PM to 06:45 PM||OS||Kevin Selfe & the Tornadoes|
|05:30 PM to 06:15 PM||WS||Songwriting in the Blues tradition: Fiona Boyes|
|06:15 PM to 07:15 PM||FT||Bobby Radcliff|
|07:00 PM to 08:00 PM||OS||Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble , presented by The Shampoo Lady, Inc..|
|07:15 PM to 08:15 PM||WS||Robert Johnson to R.L. Burnside: Mississippi Jook : Steve Cheseborough|
|07:15 PM to 08:15 PM||MS||Maceo Parker|
|08:15 PM to 09:00 PM||FT||Rebirth Brass Band , presented by Karolyn H. March, attorney.|
|08:15 PM to 09:15 PM||OS||Too Loose Cajun Band with Reggie Houston, Steve Kerin and Tony Furtado|
|09:00 PM to 10:15 PM||WS||Harmonica Hoedown: Arthur "Fresh Air" Moore|
|09:00 PM to 12:00 AM||H50||Fiona Boyes|
|09:00 PM to 10:15 PM||MS||Robert Cray Band , presented by iQ Credit Union.|
|09:30 PM to 11:00 PM||OS||Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band , presented by Schnitzer Steel.|
|10:15 PM to 01:15 AM||BC||DME Hoodoo Moon Cruise : Bobby Radcliff|
|10:15 PM to 01:15 AM||BC||DME Hoodoo Moon Cruise : Kevin Selfe & the Tornadoes|
|10:15 PM to 01:15 AM||BC||DME Hoodoo Moon Cruise : Thad Beckman|
|10:15 PM to 01:15 AM||BC||DME Hoodoo Moon Cruise : Mary Flower|
|10:15 PM to 01:15 AM||BC||DME Hoodoo Moon Cruise : A King and Two Queens of Chicago Blues: Deitra Farr, Demetria Taylor and Tail Dragger|
|10:30 PM to 11:30 PM||MH||After-Hours Allstars: Maceo Parker|
|11:45 PM to 01:00 AM||MH||
After-Hours Allstars: Rebirth Brass Band , presented by Karolyn H. March, attorney.
And with that, I'm off. It's gonna be a long weekend, but I'm ready as anything for this! I hope you all have the chance to experience this for yourselves soon. You've never been to a festival like this one.