What? Over already? The 2023 Waterfront Blues Festival went out with a traditional bang on Tuesday night, ending with a giant fireworks display over the Willamette River in downtown Portland. And that was that: a four-day feast of blues and roots sounds, with thousands of music lovers roaming from stage to stage in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, creating a giant summer party of meeting, mingling, and memories. It was the Fourth of July, after all: What better time to light up the sky?
It was, one again, an audible orgy of good music, with Tuesday performances on the festival’s four stages by the likes of Ty Curtis, Tyrone Hendrix and the PDX Soul Collective, Soul Vaccination with Andy Stokes, Kim Field’s Harmonica Blowoff, veteran Portland blues genius Curtis Salgado, and the evening headliners before the fireworks, The Mavericks. (The great, legendary Buddy Guy headlined Monday night.)
The music was terrific, and once again photographer Joe Cantrell spent his day prowling around the park, looking for scenes and moments that captured the spirit of the celebration. On this Fourth of July he concentrated his camera not so much on the musicians as on the people who came downtown to catch the action, and to turn an event into an actual celebration — a human happening, a dance, a feed, a gathering, a surprise of good will and new faces and hail-fellows-well-met; a coming-out party after the long lull of the pandemic. Time to celebrate. Here comes summer, and isn’t it grand?
So Joe snapped pictures of the people. And of some of the musicians. And of course, the big fireworks blowout, because, well, it lit up the sky. And them everyone went home. Same time next year?
— The Editors
Faces in the crowd
Miss Independent, meet Mr. Hawaiian Shirt.
Dressed for the holiday.
A time to dance, a time to dine.
Guitar shirt and phone chair.
Shoutout with Curtis Salgado & Friends
The ensemble got into the spirit of the music and the day.
Other voices, other paths
People, places, and things
Mugs with a message; discounts today.
RBG gets the blues; zydecougar wears a smile.
Light up the sky
After four days of music on several stages in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, this year’s Blues Festival ended with a bang of fireworks above the Willamette River. Joe Cantrell stationed himself and his camera on the other side of the river to capture the display in all its glory.
- Blues Fest Day 2: Mysti Krewe, fiddles too. The skeleton celebrants of Mysti Krewe of Nimbus bring a sweet New Orleans flavor to Portland’s annual outdoor bash of the blues.
- Kicking it off: Waterfront Blues Day 1. Joe Cantrell captures the action on Saturday’s opening day of the four-day Waterfront Blues Festival.