Waterfront Blues Festival: Day 3

In the third of four days at the sprawling outdoor blues party, photographer Joe Cantrell catches the action onstage and wades into the crowd

Photographs and Story by Joe Cantrell

Friday, July 6, at the Waterfront Blues Festival. This year’s third day of music reminding us how much there is to celebrate in and about the USA, dance lessons naming the African countries, the steps came from, and the first night’s blues dance contest finalists: Three lesbian couples, two mixed-race couples, and one apparently straight white couple. We really did all win in many of the ways that matter.


See Photo First: glorious blue Fourth, Joe Cantrell’s photographs and essay on the Waterfront Blues Festival’s opening day, July 4, and Waterfront Blues Festival: Day 2, his visual report on July 5’s scene. The festival, in downtown Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, concludes with a full day and evening of shows on Saturday, July 7.


Day crowds are often sparse until after 5 p.m., but the deep-happy of the performers, dancers and audiences being One abides. There’s a visible communication among them; good stuff.

Seeing the evening out with The Mavericks.

Last act of the day, The Mavericks, brought on a full house and took them to a wondrous place . Their lead singer, Raul Malo, sang The Times, They Are a’Changing solo acoustic with power and fervency that transformed the entire end of the waterfront to a sacred place: Well howdy do, 1968! Yep, we’re in deep trouble again, dear people. Worse. We have to deal with this; things are inhumanly ugly in our names. Amen.

Most of The Mavericks’ performance used electric instruments, neat lights and smoke, of course, and your reporter cannot remember hearing better anywhere. We all rose together. Bravo.

 

Faces onstage

 

 

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… and faces in the crowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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