Our owners and much of the staff Hit the Highway south last weekend for Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival. There are dozens of stellar blues festivals around the world, but we'll put Portland right there among the elite with Chicago. The line-up is second to none, the locale is gorgeous, and Portland is one of the best cities in the world to spend a few days. Everywhere we looked, we saw and heard artists and musicians who've played our club, and many who play here regularly. Among them: Reggie Houston, Janiva Magness, Jimi Bott, Kolvane, Moreland & Arbuckle, Chris Thomas King, Dudley Taft, Bobby Rush, Duffy Bishop, Capt. Leroy & the Zydeco Locals, David Vest, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, Donna Angelle & the Zydeco Posse, Mingo Fishtrap, Jim Mesi, Karen Lovely, Kevin Selfe & the Tornadoes, Jim Wallace, Mz. Dee, Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, the Sultans of Slide, Lloyd Jones, the Twisters, Walter Trout, Son Jack Jr. & Michael Wilde, Bill Rhoades, Terry Robb, and of course Robbe Laws Bigger Blues Band (featuring our founder and talent buyer, Steve "Big Sark" Sarkowsky).
We're not sure that people think of the Pacific Northwest when they think of the great blues regions. Naturally, we all think of the midwest with Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit; the south with Memphis, Texas, Louisiana. That's the history, the roots, and in most cases a pretty great present. Don't overlook the PNW, blues fans. Many of the players around here have crazy chops and the pedigrees to go with it. We've done some digging and it seems that after Chicago, whose publicly subsidized (and awesome) blues festival draws around 650,000 every year, Waterfront Blues Festival is probably the second largest in the U.S. Also, the fans at this year's event raised $650,000 and donated 100,662 pounds of food for the Oregon Food Bank.
Here is a pretty comprehensive guide to blues festivals around the land:
bluesfestivalguide.com. We've always found that there's nothing like a music festival to influence the personal travel schedule. A lot of the great blues fests are hosted in "minor markets" or places we don't otherwise consider vacation locales. Which makes this notion that much more appealing.
For those in the Northwest, next weekend is the great Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival which is perfect for anyone who likes a weekend camping trip and a kick-ass festival. This year, they've got Little Feat, Buckwheat Zydeco, Curtis Salgado, and much more.
We don't mean to be an infomercial, so we'll stop with the details. But we definitely recommend clicking on the links above to check this stuff out. Nothin' but good times await!
Peter Damann, who books Waterfront and plays a mean guitar (at our place many times, the pleasure is ours) and Erika Olsen who runs Winthrop (photo by Terry Odor):
Ed trying to be classy at Waterfront (photo by Erika Olsen):
Big Sark, beating his skin(s) at Waterfront (photo by Jef Jaisun: