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Blues Fest Day 3: Skeletons on parade

On Sunday at the Waterfront Blues Festival, Mysti Krewe's bones rattle, Taj Mahal headlines, LaRhonda Steele soars, and much more. Photographer Joe Cantrell captures the spirit of it all.


The Mysti Krewe of Nimbus brings a flavor of New Orleans and Mardi Gras to the Blues Festival.

As the 2022 Waterfront Blues Festival roars into its fourth and final day on the Fourth of July, photographer Joe Cantrell looks back on Sunday’s third day of festivities in Portland’s downtown Tom McCall Waterfront Park and returns with a treasure chest of images from the day’s celebrations.

Headliner Taj Mahal captivates the Sunday evening audience at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

It was a day to remember, with welcome weather and a full day’s worth of standout sounds ranging from regional favorites Bobby Torres, LaRhonda Steele, Curtis Salgado and Lloyd Jones to the evening’s headliner, Taj Mahal, singing and playing with The Phantom Blues Band. And it set the stage for Monday’s final-day lineup, with the likes of Norman Sylvester, Andy Stokes, Cedrick Burnside, Kim Field’s Harmonica Blowoff, and the festival grand-finale Fourth of July fireworks over the Willamette River.

But Sunday’s big hit, at least visually, was the Mysti Krewe of Nimbus, Portland’s roving crew of Mardi Gras revivalists, who brought the spirit of New Orleans to the blues festival – skeleton outfits included.


Cavorting with the Mysti Krewe of Nimbus

All eyes forward, with a little space for looking out.
Sunny or cloudy, it’s a dress-up affair.
Spikes, mask, and beads.
Wet river, dry bones, cool sounds: Getting down on the waterfront.
Tiaras and earrings and all sorts of things: All that glitters can be bold.
Teresa Doyle, making an electrifying entrance.
What? Me worry?
There’s a lot of life in these old bones yet.


LaRhonda Steele: It’s a family thing

Oregon Music Hall of Fame singer LaRhonda Steele gets down to business.
Lo Steele, LaRhonda Steele, Sarah Steele, and the Steele Family Band.


Lloyd, Chubby, Curtis & more

Playing with Curtis Salgado, feeling the Fourth of July spirit.
Chubby Carrier, of Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band.
Northwest and national star Lloyd Jones, up close.
Curtis Salgado, reaching back for more.
Salgado and friend getting down to it.


On the river and in the park

Mercury in party-down grade: A boatful of revelers takes in the music from the river.
Listening attentively in the crowd.
Soaking in the sounds from the (outdoor) easy chairs.
Water spews high from the river and commerce goes rolling across the bridge as the music plays on just a hop and a skip away in the park.
Taking in the best of land and water: Watching the Steele Family Band on the big screen.


… and finally, the legendary Taj Mahal

At the grand age of 80 and with a lifetime of great music-making behind him, the blues master Taj Mahal holds the stage dynamically as Sunday night’s headliner.
The crowd packs in to hear Mahal play …
… and he obliges, again …
… and again. As a show-ender he was tops. What a way to end the day!


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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