Seattle Opera The Life and Times of MalcolmX McCaw Hall Seattle Washington

Photo First: glorious blue Fourth

|

Photographs and Story by Joe Cantrell

Nothing defines the best of Portland’s funk art scene like the Waterfront Blues Festival, currently in its 31st year. Aside from the mission to raise money and canned food for the Oregon Food Bank, other than being the most heavily attended thing in Oregon, those four- or five-day music parties are fundamental to our Oregon-trip-around-the-sun Circadian rhythm. Skip a birthday? Sure, why not. Skip the commercial holiday thrash? Absolutely. Skip the Blues Festival? Survival without significant damage unlikely.

It’s music as catalyst for human connection, joy, love, the very interpersonal qualities so grievously missing nowadays in a drive around a parking lot, anything-but-personal-acknowledgment encounters in public, and bonded relationships with robots regulating the air around us. “Aunt Algorithm, I’d like to introduce the WBF. But warning: It’s human, and it’s strong in ways you’ll never compute.”

The flotilla, rolling on the river.

This being my ninth or tenth, maybe twelfth, year as WBF Official Paparazzi, I’ve seen that one buoyant thing sustain and thrive. The Oregon Food Bank put it on for 30 years, before declaring this January that they were stepping out, their core mission being to feed the masses, not put on a music festival, and look at all that commitment of working hours, contractual commitments, and risk. Peter Damman and Clay Fuller had been stalwart liaisons between the festival and attending artists forever; rather than let the festival die, they took it on. That meant finding new sponsors and assuming roles that had been handled by the Food Bank. Holy smoke what a job, and Clay retired to be replaced by Fuller Productions, his progeny. But they did it and from first day appearances, triumphed.

In the spirit of contemporary American vision and following the photojournalists’ impetus, “If this, then what?” we covered much of the July 4th opening day with a beat-up little camera mounting a lens from an ATM. Because what’s more 2018 than seeing through the lens of a money machine? Humanity wins.

This year’s Waterfront Blues Festival continues through Saturday in downtown Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park. There was plenty of music on the Fourth, from the likes of Journey to Memphis and The Lightning Kings and Norman Sylvester and Jon Koonce and the Lost Cause and LaRhonda Steele and Robert Randolph and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and the Bill Rhoades Harmonica Blow-Off and Commander Cody and His Modern Day Airmen. But so much of the action was in and among the crowd, which was as diverse as life and had its own rhythm going.

A few images from Day 1:

Sponsor

Portland Center Stage at the Armory Quixote Nuevo Portland Oregon

 

Before it all starts, ready to go.

 

 

 

Sponsor

Portland Center Stage at the Armory Quixote Nuevo Portland Oregon

 

 

 

Sponsor

Portland Center Stage at the Armory Quixote Nuevo Portland Oregon

 

 

 

 

Sponsor

Chamber Music Northwest Beethoven's Complete Piano Trios The Old Church Portland Oregon

 

 

 

Sponsor

Portland Center Stage at the Armory Quixote Nuevo Portland Oregon

 

 

 

 

Sponsor

Metropolitan Youth Symphony Music Concert Rooted Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon

Peter Damman, the man behind the blues.

Be part of our
growing success

Join our Stronger Together Campaign and help ensure a thriving creative community. Your support powers our mission to enhance accessibility, expand content, and unify arts groups across the region.

Together we can make a difference. Give today, knowing a donation that supports our work also benefits countless other organizations. When we are stronger, our entire cultural community is stronger.

Donate Today

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!

SHARE:
Chamber Music Northwest Beethoven's Complete Piano Trios The Old Church Portland Oregon
City of Hillsboro Walters Cultural Arts Center She's Speaking Live! Hillsboro Oregon
Grace Goudy Distinguished Artists Series Willamette University Salem Oregon
Portland State University College of Arts William Shakespeare Measure for Measure PSU Portland Oregon
Portland Chamber Orchestra Young Artist Competition University of Portland Free Event Portland Oregon
Portland Area Theatre Alliance Fertile Ground Portland Oregon
Portland Art Museum Virtual Sneakers to Cutting Edge Kicks Portland Oregon
Tilikum Chamber Orchestra Lake Oswego High School Fairy Tales and Folk Songs Lake Oswego Oregon
Portland Center Stage at the Armory Quixote Nuevo Portland Oregon
Portland Columbia Symphony Realm of Nature Beaverton and Gresham Oregon
Portland Opera The Snowy Day Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
White Bird Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Keller Auditorium Portland Oregon
Northwest Dance Project Sarah Slipper Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
Corrib Theatre Contemporary Irish Theatre Portland Oregon
Seattle Opera The Life and Times of MalcolmX McCaw Hall Seattle Washington
Metropolitan Youth Symphony Music Concert Rooted Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
White Bird Dance Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Newmark Theater Portland Oregon
Newport Visual and Performing Arts Newport Oregon Coast
High Desert Museum Sensing Sasquatch Indigenous Art & Knowledge Bend Oregon
Oregon Cultural Trust donate
We do this work for you.

Give to our GROW FUND.