Waterfront Blues Festival: Day 2

Photographer Joe Cantrell captures the sights and sounds of the sprawling blues party as it swings toward Saturday's finale

Photographs and Story by Joe Cantrell

The 4th of July with fireworks draws crowds big enough for the fire marshal to shut down the entrances, and that has traditionally been the last of the Waterfront Blues Festival. But this year it was the first day, and Thursday, hotter and a workday to boot, should have been more sparsely attended. Through the day, it was. Lots of nice people still, but quieter.

Come the end of the workday and afternoon sun, lots of company arrived. Until a couple of years ago, people could stroll in without contributing anything at all. Privilege as an epithet; sleek well-groomed families cruising through the gates without glancing at the volunteers there to accept donations, claiming the suburban lawn territory of their personal tarps. They were ironically displacing later arrivals who did bring contributions but couldn’t get in because of the crowd size limit, especially on fireworks night. This was one of the dilemmas faced by the Food Bank, bless their hearts, but this year, everybody had to have a ticket. Bless the tickets, too; it’s a happier overall place.


See Photo First: glorious blue Fourth, Joe Cantrell’s photographs and essay on the Waterfront Blues Festival’s opening day, July 4.


The acts rotate among four stages, riverboat performances, and after-hours gigs in nearby venues. Many are superb, some not quite. All emotionally connect with the fans (see yesterday’s scribble on music festival as catalyst). The Blues Festival continues today (Friday) and tomorrow. Good-hearted person, you are part of it, whether you’re there or not. Better you be there.

 

Kid Ramos, on the Main Stage.

 

In the crowd: cheers on a sunny day.

 

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The sound rings out.

 

Singer and harmonica legend Curtis Salgado on the Front Porch Stage.

 

Taking a little break. Back in 15 minutes.

 

Taking another break. Back when I’m good and ready.

 

Back at it. Ready to roll.

 

Rollin’ by the river: Mary Volm in chair, Jim Mayer in Hawaiian shirt.

 

Let there be brass …

 

Up to his elbow in the music.

 

Controlling the photographers’ pit at the Blues Stage with a flourish.

 

Controlling the performers’ gate at the back of the Blues Stage.

 

… and let there be deeper brass.

 

It’s a beautiful day.

 

Belting the blues, up close and personal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

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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