Waterfront Blues: a bang-up start

On Day 1 on the 4th of July, the festival rings out in red, white, and the blues. Joe Cantrell captures the mood and the action in photos.


PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE CANTRELL


It was a bang-up day on the Fourth of July in Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where this year’s Waterfront Blues Festival got off to a high-flying start and, come night time, a rainbow of fireworks lit up the sky. It was just the first of four days’ ringing out the blues on the waterfront – the festival plays through Sunday – and photographer Joe Cantrell spent hour after hour and walked mile after mile through the park, capturing the essence of the action from the stages and the crowd and the sky. Whatever else the festival is about, it’s about people: the musicians, the fans, the revelers, the technicians, the oldsters, the couples, the kids, the crowds.

Red, white, and boom! Blues Fest fireworks light up the sky.

The River City Riot Brass Band met the crowds in the morning at the festival gates, and the day continued with a river of sound from groups as varied as Johnny Wheels and the Swamp Donkeys, The King Louie Organ Trio, Vanessa Collier, Sarah Grace & the Soul, Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings, Andy Stokes and the Brothers in Black, Mary Flower, Too Slim and the Taildraggers, the great Curtis Salgado and the Robert Cray Band, and an end-of-Independence-Day rendition of the national anthem by Stokes before the fireworks.

On tap Friday: a varied lineup including the BrassRoots Marching Band, a dance demo/lesson with Portland Blues Experience, Bottleneck Blues Band, Arietta Ward, Portland favorite Lloyd Jones, Brother Yusef, Harpdog Brown and the Uptown Blues Band, the California Honeydrops, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, a James Brown tribute with Farnell Newton and the Othership Connection, the Midnight Rose Bayou Boyz, and more. Your single-day tickets – $20 in advance, $25 at the gate – get you the entire day from 10 a.m. until after dark, and in addition to paying for the musicians and the music, help support the nonprofit Sunshine Division, which distributes food and clothing to people in the metropolitan area who need them.

All along the waterfront, people put on a happy face …
The joy of sax …
… onstage …
… and in the crowd.
Rollin’ on the river …
… they don’t call it the Waterfront Blues Festival …
… for nothing.
Faces in the crowd: Dressed for the occasion …
Rain? Sun? No worries. I’m OK …
Who’s playing next? …
Ready …
Set …
… Wow!
… Whew!
Hmm: Which one, do you think?
Playin’ it …
Dancing it …
Listening to it …
Walking the line.
Hey! It’s the Fourth of July!
Night time? Let there be light time …
Goodnight, now. See you tomorrow.

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