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Blues Fest Day 2: Dance to the Music

As the music plays on the second day of Portland's big blues bash on the waterfront, the feet start moving to the beat – and photographer Joe Cantrell captures the action.

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An effusion of joy: Swinging and swaying on the outdoor dance floor.

ON DAY TWO of the Waterfront Blues Festival the music was marvelous but a lot of the action was off the stages and in the crowds, where people got off their feet and, in ones or twos or groups, started dancing to the music. There was line dancing, and improvisational movement, and just getting down, and the concerts turned into an all-day party, where what was onstage and what was offstage seemed all part of the same big thing.

Saturday’s second day of the July Fourth weekend festival, which continues through Monday in Tom McCall Waterfront Park on the downtown Portland side of the Willamette River, had a lot of attractions, from zydeco to the adventurous Son Little to Northwest favorite Lady A and the return to her old hometown of Duffy Bishop. But sometimes it all comes down to this: You just gotta dance.

Photographer Joe Cantrell was on hand, camera at the ready, all day long, and came back with this visual report:

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Get in line, all you dancers. There’s room for many a-more.

Laurie Newman (foreground, in flowered dress) leads line dancers through the steps.
Knees bent, arms out, free-forming it.
… then again, why NOT dance in front of a food booth?
Togetherness is the blues – and so is line-dancing, one of the day’s big draws.
When learning to line-dance, there is no age limit.

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Welcome home, Duffy Bishop.

For a lot of music fans, one of the festival’s highlights was the return of blues favorite Duffy Bishop, a longtime mainstay of the Portland and Pacific Northwest music scenes who’s now based in Florida.
On Saturday night, Duffy Bishop leans in with her husband and fellow band member Chris Carlson.

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If you’re lucky, a Lady sings the blues

Longtime Pacific Northwest powerhouse Lady A (NOT the country group that used to call itself Lady Antebellum; she had the name long before) reaches down deep and pours the music out.
The blues can be emphatic.
Sometimes onstage, the joy just bursts out: Lady A and Roz.

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A little zydeco and washboard, too

Saturday was a good day for lovers of Louisiana music. The Front Porch Stage featured an all-day feast of zydeco dance lessons and music from the groups Too Loose Cajun/Zydeco Band, Soul Creole, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Horace Trahan and the Ossun Express (above), Mason Trail & Zydeco Rhythm, and Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys.
With a washboard slung around your shoulders, you can make marvelous rhythms.
Chubby Carrier, making a joyful noise: This washboard is not for clothes.

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Make way for the new generation of music lovers

Saturday’s audience was liberally sprinkled with the very young, who found their own kinds of entertainment.
… and, for some a little older, line-dancing was the pleasure of the day.

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Sometimes the show wanders among the crowd …

Got her top hat, got her big hoop, got her black gloves, got her smile.
… and a morsel on the move. This celebrant roamed the park, identifying himself only as Taco Man.

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Sometimes you’ve got to just get off your feet …

Take a load off, Fanny. Take a load off free. On Saturday the grass was dry, the crowd was friendly, and taking a break was just another part of the celebration.

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… and sometimes the sun goes down but the show goes on.

As the early summer sun set over the riverfront, the crowd stuck around. After all, there’d be music until 11 p.m.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

I spent my first 21 years in Tahlequah, Cherokee County, Oklahoma, assuming that except for a few unfortunate spots, ‘everybody’ was part Cherokee, and son of the soil. Volunteered for Vietnam because that’s what we did. After two stints, hoping to gain insight, perhaps do something constructive, I spent the next 16 years as a photojournalist in Asia, living much like the lower income urban peasants and learning a lot. Moved back to the USA in 1986, tried photojournalism and found that the most important subjects were football and basketball, never mind humankind. In 1992, age 46, I became single dad of my 3-year-old daughter and spent the next two decades working regular jobs, at which I was not very good, to keep a roof over our heads, but we made it. She’s retail sales supervisor for Sony, Los Angeles. Wowee! The VA finally acknowledged that the war had affected me badly and gave me a disability pension. I regard that as a stipend for continuing to serve humanity as I can, to use my abilities to facilitate insight and awareness, so I shoot a lot of volunteer stuff for worthy institutions and do artistic/scientific work from our Cherokee perspective well into many nights. Come along!

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One Response

  1. Joe, nice to meet you. Can you send me that rear shot of me and my love RaYoung please?

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