That rolling thunder you hear in downtown Portland isn’t a freak summer storm. It’s the sound of the Waterfront Blues Festival, rising and swelling in multiple grooves across Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The annual Independence Day Weekend festival — it started way back in 1988 — is back on its familiar ground, drawing big audiences of celebrants with dozens of acts for one of the highlights of Oregon’s summer calendar.
The festival swung into action on Saturday and continues all day and into the evenings on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, Independence Day, when the festivities will draw to a close with a brilliant fireworks display exploding over the river after dark. It’s a four-day revel of music, dancing, gawking, and grooving: a party that for a city emerging from the dark days of the pandemic feels like a giant, happy release.
Ace photographer Joe Cantrell wandered through Saturday’s opening-day crowd, looking and listening and pointing and framing and snapping and coming away with a visual kaleidoscope of the vitality of it all. Here are some of the images that captured his lens. Stop, look, listen, and enjoy.
— The Editors
Getting good and greasy
Faces and places in the crowd
The back and the front of it all.
Dressing for the occasion.
A tie around the neck and an ear for elephants.
Got that zydeco groove going
A time to snooze, a time to choose.