In 1979 my brother and I saw Eric Clapton in concert at the Seattle Center Coliseum, Muddy Waters was the warm up act. This was my introduction to blues, and what a great place to start. Fast forward 40 years to the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, where, within minutes of arriving I heard an artist give tribute to Muddy; although he passed away 26 years ago, his legend lives on.
Back to the Portland Blues Festival, it is held at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. The festival started in 1987, and is sponsored by the Cascade Blues Association. It is usually held on the first weekend in July.
There are three stages set up so the music never stops. When one group finishes, the next one starts right up. Upon entering, we heard the Bottleneck Blues Band on the Front Porch Stage, the winners of the 2015 Muddy Awards Winner Best New Band. Some of the other groups we heard were the Rose City Kings with Travis Moonchild Haddix, Lisa Mann with Lura Price, Harpdog Brown and the Uptown Blues Band. He looked quite dashing in his suit and spats. There are many other groups scheduled over the rest of the weekend, and the music will continue through midnight Sunday, July 7, 2019.
There are many vendors set up as well, we found kilts, ceramics, jewelry, posters, and even a place to get a massage. There are multiple food booths, wine by Union Wine Company, beer and desserts. There is something for everyone. It’s an inviting place to grab some food, a drink, and sit back and enjoy the soulful, smooth sound of the blues.
My brother’s birthday is in a few days, and I’m sure he would have loved celebrating it at the blues fest. I can picture him sprawled out on a blanket, sipping a beer, watching the people, and throughly enjoying the amazing musicians on the multiple stages. Tragically, he took his own life 18 years ago. I think about him everyday and miss him terribly. His physical body was not at the festival, but I have no doubt that he was there in sprit.