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your storyThe Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival has a 28 year history of amazing performances, strong community support and magic moments.

Tell us, in 150 words or less, about your favorite Waterfront Blues Festival moment.

Share your story.


Your favorite Waterfront Blues Festival moments


A peak experience in my career

I was fortunate enough to play the fest. a few years ago. It was a peak experience in my career. Peter was so great......everyone there was great. So easy to deal with the stage and sound and getting in and out. VERY impressive for a festival this size......well run and WELL done!!!! Hung out all day everyday. Went to the Candlelight in the evenings. Portland ROCKS!!!!

Joe Diehl
New Orleans


I met my husband at the Blues Festival

I met my future husband at the Blues Festival on the 4th of July in 2005. My friend that I was going to meet called and said she was sick and she couldn't make it. I was already at the festival and decided that I could have fun there by myself. I saw this gorgeous man sitting by himself so I summoned the courage and approached him and asked if he was having a good time. I went on my way but a little bit later... I don't know what came over me. I went back over to him, leaned down behind him and whispered in his ear, "You are a very attractive man.". He asked me to sit down. Long story short... It was love at first site. We talked on the phone every day thereafter and developed a wonderful relationship. We were married on the 4th of July in 2007. We are looking forward to coming to the Blues Festival this year to celebrate our 5th anniversary. We plan on attending all 5 days. We always have a great time at this event.

Suzanne Dawson



Top-notch musicians for just a few bucks and a couple cans of food

Having volunteered at the Waterfront Blues Festival for the past 16 years, I've recruited teams of up to 100 Wells Fargo volunteers each year.  It gives me a chance to meet like-minded coworkers I wouldn't normally meet in a large corporation and I love interacting with the concert-goers.  It's so easy… Everyone loves supporting the Food Bank and where else will you find top-notch musicians for just a few bucks and a couple cans of food?! 
For my family, the Waterfront Blues Festival marks the true start of summer!
Thanks!  My team and I will look forward to seeing you this summer.
Jesse Reding
Administrative Assistant
Treasury Management Sales

Wells Fargo U.S. Corporate Banking 


Isaac Hayes

HayesMy favorite memory of the blues festival is getting to see and meet Isaac Hayes for the first time (I loved him since I was 10). It was the most amazing show I have ever seen and the best gift my dad could have given me. I couldn’t sleep that night because my ears were ringing from the amazing set and my mind was ablaze from meeting a legend soon before he passed. The day he passed I was with a group of people my age, about 25 years old. I told them how sad I was that Isaac Hayes had passed away. It broke my heart that none of them had a clue who he was. This made me realize I had an amazing father who showed me the world of blues at a young age. I want to pass this wonderful music on to my kids and to take them to the festival to enjoy it.


Paul DeLay

My favorite festival moments are my memories of Paul DeLay. Talk about homegrown talent! Thank God he made so many records -- he lives on through his music.


Honeyboy Edwards

My favorite festival moment was the amazing set by Honeyboy Edwards. That same night, Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers burned down the stage.


A Blues Festival Poem

The Blues Festival is a highlight of the summer, an event I encourage to every newcomer.

Even for those of us who come here each year, Its a great place to watch as a Portland mirror.

The folks here are of every class and creed, but all come because this place fills a need.

The boats and the blankets share a time, raised from the common, achieving sublime.

Hippy dancers, groovers, and some here just nod, There's kooks and there's crazy's we're all a touch odd.

But isn't it great to feel the sun, to feel the beat? To get a bit of a sunburn on your bare feet?

And we're happy to help those in a bind, assisting them we want to take part. The piles of cans and smiling volunteers bring a tear to the eye and hope to the heart.

So thanks to the artists and the giants behind the scenes. Just wanted to share my thoughts and express how much your work means.


My first time at the festival

Last year was the first time my husband and I attended the Blues Festival.

I loved the entire surroundings ... from the crowd of all ages and backgrounds movin' and groovin' to the different styles of music, some spread out on the beautiful grassy hillside,  their faces full of smiles, their bodies dancing, each enjoying a vast variety not only of music but the unique taste and aroma of the food cuisine... to the waterfront view with the cityscape and the river flowing with boats of all shapes and sizes ... to the sun shining and  the warm evening breezes as we all had the once in a lifetime opportunity to hear what was to be the last concert by a true icon, Isaac Hayes. 

The Waterfront Blues Festival is an anticipated event which has been on our calendar for months. Can't wait to listen to the earthshaking sounds - by voice and/or by instruments. Don't let this moment pass you by! 

P.S. It is a great chance to help Oregon food bank with your donation. I think it is a fantastic way to collect canned food.
Marilyn Ginther
Olympia, Wash.


Party with Robbie Laws

It was 1996 and the weather was HOT!!! in the 90s.  My friends and I went down to enjoy the music! People had squirt guns and spray bottles and lots of sunburns.

We had a room at the Marriott where we could go and cool off, take naps and could still hear the music. Robbie Laws was playing that day, (he is an awesome guitar player) and we had talked to him a bit after he played. Somehow, one of us let him know our room number. Next thing we know he's announcing the room number from the stage! About 6 p.m. that evening, we got a knock at the door, and there was Robbie with a few of his friends!  We had a great time, just chillin, with about 20 folks in the room. I don't know if the folks at the Marriott were too happy, but we had fun anyway. I've been going almost every year since, and its always a good time.
Lynn Richards


Local talent shines

Every year I am overwhelmed by the tremendous talent at the Blues Festival. I especially love the local musicians that are as professional as they can get. Kinzel and Hyde are so talented and have done so much for the Blues in the Schools, and the festival. Kenny Lavitz and Suburban Slim are such great guitarists. And then there's Terry Robb, Robbie Laws, and Jim Mesi. When they play together as Stratocasters, they draw so much adrenaline they could power a cruiser ship.

My memory of Paul De Lay, with Duffy Bishop, a few years back was another one of my favorite moments.  I always look forward to what will be next. The national acts are great too!  Wow! What a deal, a small donation and some food and we are helping Oregon Food Bank at the same time. I wait all year for this event. Roy R. Kallas


Dancing on stage

My husband and I attended the festival two years ago.  We were new Oregonians by way of Oakland California.  There was a band that had Mardi Gras Indians who danced through the crowds forming a line, I joined in and ended up on stage dancing between the two Indians.  I had the time of my life, made my hubby proud and had my picture snapped by event covering photographers and the like. Mrs. Linda Kinerman-Bressler


Getting to know brother at blues fest

(Posted 5/18/08) -- I am the oldest of seven children. Our mom passed away when she was 47 years old, and I instantly became the "mom." My baby brother invited me to the festival two years ago. I was hesitant at first but discovered we both loved the blues and everything the festival has to offer. We do it all -- from all week passes, T-shirts, cruises, face painting and even the kids crafts with our grandkids. I have enjoyed getting to know my brother in a whole different way. We are already signed up for this year's weeklong pass and 2 p.m. 4th of July cruise. Thanks. Ruth Hoard


'More bang for the buck'

(Posted 5/18/08) -- Last year was my first visit to the Waterfront Blues Festival. I've been going to blues festivals for years, including the San Francisco Blues Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival. None matches the Waterfront Blues Festival when it comes to "More Bang for the Buck," the fact that the proceeds benefit Oregon Food Bank and the opportunity you have to personally meet some of the great performers.

My personal highlights from the 2007 Waterfront Blues Festival include meeting Mark Lemhouse at one of the workshops, getting Pinetop Perkins' autograph the day after his 94th birthday and hearing Watermelon Slim and J.J. Grey and Mofro perform on one of the Blues Cruises. The Blues Cruise venue is more intimate than any club I have been in since the 1970s. I also had the opportunity to speak with Bill Holman, a.k.a., Watermelon Slim, on that cruise. It was great!

I already have my flight, hotel and festival pass booked for this year's festival, and I plan on making the festival an annual trip for as long as I can. Lon live the Waterfront Blues Festival Ken Warner, San Francisco, Calif.


Dancing and having a great time

(Posted 4/21/08) -- It was 1989. I was 22 and lived alone in a studio apartment in northwest Portland. I hadn't been to a Waterfront Blues Festival before, but I decided to try it out. I popped some canned food in my backpack, hopped on my bike and dashed down to the Waterfront. I parked my bike, and as I came through the gates, friendly volunteers greeted me. The smell of suntan lotion and food filled the air. I heard music coming from the South Stage as I wove my way through the sea of blankets and blues-loving and grooving people. Next thing I knew, I was up front dancing and having a great time. I met some people, we talked, and we danced, as they welcomed me into their group as I were a long, lost sister. It was a warm summer day with good music. What more could a person need? Susan McMullen, Beaverton, Ore.


Pinetop's 94th birthday

(Posted 4/21/08) -- My favorite Blues moment was last year on the Fourth of July with Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton on stage. When Hubert Sumlin walked out with Pinetop's birthday cake lit with 94 candles, I wept. As for photographs I hold in my mind, which are memories, well MUD this one's for you. Steve Bagwell , Keno, Ore.


Family-friendly event

(Posted 4/21/08) -- The Waterfront Blues Festival has become a family tradition. We make our reservations for the coming year before checking out of our hotel to assure the time is reserved. We look forward all year to attneding. The music just can't be beat. We have four children, all grown, and now grandchildren,who have attended with us at various times. It is a family-friendly event that provides outstanding music. We especially look forward to the Zydeco dance bands, local talent such as Curtis Salgado and the headliners that are different every year. The most outstanding benefit is the wonderful food and nutrition the festival brings to our Oregonians who need it. The Chandler Family (John, Jackie, Kris, Leslie, Justin, Casey and grandchildren Kamaehu and Ashley), Springfield, Ore.


Meeting John Hammond

(Posted 4/21/08) -- It was 1997, and I worked at OMSI. Every summer, we would get interns, and this year we had a couple of great ones. We wanted to do something special for them before they left for home, and both of them were young, from Texas and into music. Jim and I decided to take the two young ladies to dinner at the blues festival. Jim grew up next door to John Hammond and knew he would be at the festival. What a surpirse to us to be seated with John and his wife for dinner with special people stopping by our table all through the evening. Not only was it a treat for our guests from Texas, it also became a special moment for me. It was the first of many meetings with Paul deLay, who, many years later, would tutor me on the harmonica. Gary Ware, Portland, Ore.


Past contest winners

(Posted 4/21/08) -- A couple of years back, we won The Oregonian's contest, and I got to take my husband on the Blues Cruise, and we spent the night at the Marriott. Since our cruise was July 3, we paid for an extra night, so we could attend fireworks on July 4 and not have to drive home. We attended the Blues Cruise. It was really fun wandering from deck to deck and listening to the bands. The one on the middle deck was from New Orleans and had the place swinging. The next day we spent as tourists, exploring the city. Unfortunately, the fire marshall closed the gates and we couldn't get back into the Waterfront Blues Festival. But we were able to stand near the foundtain and watch the fireworks over the river. Antonia Bifano.


Meeting Curtis Salgado

(Posted 4/13/08) -- My friend Sharon from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, came to visit Oregon. She loves the blues even more than I do. We went to the festival every day. She got to hear Curtis Salgado for the first time. As she was buying every one of his CDs that were for sale, Curtis came to do interviews, autographs and pictures. I go an autographed CD and my picture taken with Curtis. I have been watching him play in the Portland area since 1983. Then, we got to see Aaron Neville. This whole weekend has give us a lifetime of memories and pictures. Laura Butcher, McMinnville, Ore.


Homegrown talent shines

(Posted 2007)While a number of great national acts have graced the WBF stages, I always look forward to July and the opportunity for our homegrown talent to shine.

Bill Rhoades Harmonica Blow-off is always a WBF highlight. 2004 saw Northwest blues giants Curtis Salgado and Paul deLay onstage at the same time. I'll always remember how gracious Paul was. Instead of "cutting heads," he genuinely enjoyed this epic moment and gave his blues brother room to shine. Curtis was right: The Big Man was the Louis Armstrong of the harmonica. Whether he was playing with Rockin' Johnny, Hubert Sumlin, Duffy Bishop or his longtime partner Peter Dammann, the Rose City came out in force to support one of its  own. So long, Bubba. Jeff Dense, La Grande, Ore.


"You can't lose what you ain't never had"

Blues music summed up my life in the summer of 2005.  I had all but given up on love ... until I met a woman who captured my soul the minute we traded eyes. If she were a Muddy Waters song, she'd have been "Mojo Workin.'"

Then she dropped the news on me.  She was taking an Americorps job in Wisconsin.  Here I'd found my soul mate, and she was flying 1,500 miles away. So it was.

The last night of the festival was her last night in Portland. Her mother invited us to a blues cruise on their boat. As the sun took its final bow and the moon came to dominate the night sky, "The Star Spangled Banner" filled the evening air. We relaxed on the bow of the ship, holding hands, watching the fireworks explode as we sipped our cool beverages. I remember all the thoughts in my head, playing out like fragments of the blues music we'd heard all weekend...

"What if she's the one, and you're letting her slip away?"

"Baby, please don't go."

"Devil got my woman."

Perhaps the most haunting was Muddy Waters, back in my head, singing "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had."

I never did see her again.  Some people might read this and say that my "Favorite Waterfront Blues Festival Moment" is a real downer.  But I think that when you love the blues as I do, it's living the music that makes such an event memorable.  Getting kicked around by love never felt so good. Sam Campeau, Columbia City, Ore.


"One of the best blues venues in the world"

I am a blues fanatic. I haven't missed a festival in 20 years. This year's lineup is one of the best ever. Come early and come often!

It's hard to pin down just one best act, but anytime my old friend Paul deLay (RIP Big Guy) or super bluesman Curtis Salgado played, it was very special. Those two guys, along with Duffy Bishop, Linda Hornbuckle, Jim Mesi, Robbie Laws, Lloyd Jones, Robert Cray and a host of others have put Portland on the map as one of the best blues venues in the world.

I started volunteering for Oregon Food Bank a few years ago, and I'm hooked. I was blown away last year when a guy handed me a $200 donation and a case of food for Oregon Food Bank as he entered the festival. There is hope in this world yet!! Blues is a soulful connection! Bob Jaques, Redland, Ore.


Standing next to legend Buddy Guy

I am an avid blues fan, musician and aficionado, and I have learned the blues through the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapto, and Jimi Hendrix. Through them I found Muddy Waters, and perhaps the best living blues guitar legend, Buddy Guy.

I was completely ecstatic when I heard Buddy was playing at the Waterfront, and I was sure not to miss it. True to form, he opened up with some amazing blues licks and traditional homage’s to the blues greats of his time. I slowly pushed my way through the crowd to the front-right of the stage. The minute I finally leaned on the stage, Buddy started walking my way! And sure enough, he wandered off the stage not more than two feet from me and out around the crowd right next to me. I was so happy to be two feet from arguably the best living guitar player in the world, and it was all thanks to the Waterfront Blues Festival!!

Thanks for everything, and I’ll certainly be there this year! Jesse Milan, Portland, Ore.


Paul says "Goodbye, 2006"

"I had just left the A&E Front Porch stage and was approaching the back of the North Stage. I heard a harp riff that only one guy in the universe could play. "Hey, I think it's Paul deLay!" "It is Paul deLay!"He was up there with Duffy Bishop. He looked so happy and relaxed. They sang their flirty song about the kind of trash each other had gone out with. Duffy was making goo goo eyes and acting all campy. It was a Blues Fest moment permanently burned into my memory. I felt so proud of Portland! We shine! And Paul was saying one of his goodbyes. Bigger than life, totally in the moment and radiating fun and mischief. Paul's unspoken presence will loom large this year. He blessed us all. Good on ya', Paul. We love you. Greg Hopkins, Wilsonville, Ore.


First step at first fest

My favorite moment was 20 years ago when my son took his first steps at the first blues festival. We were dancing and he got up and joined us. And now he's taking another step as college student.
Margaret Sprinkle
Portland OR


No other festival can compare

I lived in northwest Portland from 1987 to 1990 and the highlight of the summer for me was always the Blues Festival. On the East Coast, we never have events here where one can easily get a beer and some food and not miss much music. Even today, I am amazed that the price of the festival is only $8 and two cans of food! My most memorable moment was either in '88 or '89 when Elvin Bishop asked the Chambers Brothers to sit in with him on stage. The Chambers Brothers had just played the day before and the fact that I got to hear them again was a special treat. You could feel the mutual respect the performers had for each other, and I knew that I was pretty fortunate to be witnessing this musical collaboration.

After leaving Oregon and returning to Boston, I have not experienced any type of musical festival that can even compare to the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. So ... I'm flying out for this year's festival. Best regards, Steve Catanese, Medfield, Mass.


When the festival became 'legendary'

My favorite Waterfront Blues Festival moment came in 1999 when Jimmy Vaughn took the south stage and gazed out at the crowd, which, at that time, stretched solid all the way to the north stage. He turned with a huge grin to his band while extending his hand toward the crowd, as if to say, "Hey guys, what do you think of this? Can Portland throw a party or what?"

I was so proud of Portland and Oregon Food Bank at that moment. I thought to myself, "What an amazing thing we do here--raise money to feed the hungry and draw a crowd like this, too."

That was probably the first of what I call the megacrowds at the WFB festival, and I recognized at that precise moment that our once modest festival had grown into something a lot closer to legendary. Joan Turley, Vancouver, WA


Waterfront honeymoon

My favorite waterfront moment was in 2004. Bill and I set our wedding date on July 2, 2004, because that was the first day of the Waterfront. We got married at Clearwater Falls and then drove to the Waterfront with my 82-year- old mother in law, Dottie, and four kids, Julie, Jennifer, Ben and Jessie. It wasn't your typical honeymoon, but it was definitely us.
Our first slow dance was to Keb' Mo'. Women in the Blues are always great. I first saw Kid Ramos and Mark Harmon that year. Lucky Peterson rocked. Ruthie Foster, what a performance she put on!! Duffy Bishop, what a lady!

Slow dancing with the one you love in the sun to four days of great blues. It doesn't get much more romantic then that.

We spent our first and second anniversary at the Waterfront doing what we love. It was perfect. This year the Waterfront doesn't start until the 4th, but you know we'll be there, at the front of the stage, slow dancing.
Lisa Karr, LaPine, Oregon


A special memory with mom and dad

Before my mother died, my mom and dad regularly came to visit me in the "wild, wild west" city of Portland. They would sigh, and my dad would say, "The only reason she didn't move farther away is because she ran into the Pacific Ocean." They would pack up and fly from our hometown of Murfreesboro, Tenn. (just southeast of Nashville) and visit OR-E-GONE! One year, they visited during the July 4th weekend and stayed at the Marriott on Naito Parkway, splurging for a riverview. We sat in their room drinking bourbon and listening to and enjoying the Waterfront Blues Festival. I couldn't believe it when both my mom and dad wanted to go down and wander through the festival. We had such a great time and enjoyed the music!!! I'm away on trips many years during the July 4th weekend, but this year, I intend to revisit a special memory! Janeese Jackson, Portland, Ore.


My little boy loves the blues

I did not know whether my son would enjoy the Waterfront Blues Festival, 10-year-old boys being what they are. It was our first time at the festival. The weather was hot and sunny all week, and we had been moving. I threw a blanket and a bag in the back seat, and we drove downtown.

Aaron was mildly curious when he began to hear the music. We spent all day at the festival. We went back the next day, too. I still remember seeing him dance to the band music while I sat on the blanket and listened. He danced nonstop for more than two hours. I had to remind him to sit down and rest and drink. One of the couples nearby gave him a trinket; another gave him a dollar, just like the street dancers downtown. My little boy loves the blues ..... 

At some point a small cluster of littler children began to imitate him. Corn dogs and french fries were forgotten. These little people were feeling something. They danced and danced ....   As we were leaving the festival to go home, he told me it had been the best time of his life.
DeLise Palumbo 


Fun from morning to dusk

My fond memory is the festival as a whole. My husband and I go every year to enjoy, to relax and to be surrounded by joyful people celebrating and dancing around to the beautiful sounds coming from the speakers. We make it a full day of fun from morning to dusk. Thank you for the event. It gives the people of the community something to look forward to. Sandra Van Lom, Mollalla, Ore.


"Dancing my socks off"

I finally got up the nerve to go to one of the free zydeco dance lessons in the morning. I spent the next six hours dancing my socks off with my big brother and a string of rockin' gents. Of the 20 years of the festival, I have only missed about five of them! Chere Weiss, Kelso, Wash.


From Australia: "Best thing of the whole year, I reckon"

friends at festivalI have been coming to the Waterfront Blues Festival every since it started. I love to support the cause. I tell everyone I know to go to the festival. It's the best thing of the whole year, I reckon'! I will be coming to the blues festival again this year. The only problem I have now, is that I live in Sydney, Australia. But Portland will always be my home.
Paddy Tharp, Sydney, Australia



1994: Chambers Brothers

ChambersMy favorite Waterfront Blues Festival memory is seeing the Chambers Brothers (1994). I first saw them at the old Paramount Theater around 1969-70 (a mostly funk- psychedelic show).  Our favorite party album then was their "The Chambers Brothers: The Time Has Come " (1967). By 1994, they had changed from wearing their 1970s velour, disco, bellbottom suits with floppy hats and chains to wearing Waterfront Blues stylish casual and playing music that was pure blues and gospel … aaaah!  They had also adopted by fest time an environmental protection theme based upon the Time song lyric, "Might get burned up by the sun …"

The BIG SURPRISE for me was how great brother George's voice was … WOW!  They had not dropped a lick, nor tone, nor vocabule! Later that evening, they played at blues club "Bojangles" where I further sang, danced and smiled to the famous Chambers Brothers. What a Blues Fest. Thank you! George Stevenson, Portland, Oregon


Newfound favorites

Neville BrothersMy husband and I always enjoy the Waterfront Blues Festivals, and there are many memorable moments. But the most memorable moment for us was in 2005. This was the year that Kenny Neal and Sherman Robertson were at the festival on the same day. We didn't know these artists before we saw them at the festival, but we were really impressed. It's so exciting to discover a new artist, and these guys are two of our newfound favorites.

We are especially fond of the artists from the South. They just seem to have that something special that words can't describe. We can't wait this year to see the zydeco bands, the Wetlands Allstar Band and the Neville Brothers. I'm sure they will provide memorable moments for years to come. It is unbelievable the talent you are able to book year after year. Elena King, Brightwood, Oregon


Favorites from the Gulf Coast

Tab BenoitIt’s hard to pick the most memorable moment of the many we have. We are especially fond of artists from the Gulf Coast. Last year we really enjoyed Dr. John and his awesome band. But the most memorable moment was seeing Keith Frank and Curley Taylor on the same day. These are two of the hottest zydeco bands on the scene today. The dance floor was filled with dancers, but we had to get close to the stage so we could watch the bands and absorb their energy. There is just no way to explain the magic to this music unless you hear it live. The folks from Louisiana really know how to party! We are really looking forward to see not only Keith Frank and the other zydeco bands this year, but also the Wetlands Allstar Band. When you put Tab Benoit and Waylon Thibidoux together, you can't go wrong. Bill King, Brightwood, Oregon


'A party with a few thousand of our close blues friends'

weddingOf the many years we have attended the festival, 2001 will always be the most memorable. We were living overseas at the time but would be back in Portland in time to attend the festival. We thought it would be fun to get married on stage. I sent an e-mail to Peter Dammann, who is the talent coordinator for the festival (and, now, unofficially, the wedding coordinator as well) just to ask if it were possible.

We showed up on July 8 and were introduced to Solomon Burke, who officiated during his set. The man couldn't have been nicer. It was the absolutely coolest moment. Like Lonny likes to say, "We had a party with a few thousand of our close blues friends." The crowd was great. The day was perfect. Thanks again Peter!!!
Lonny & Lisa Watne, Capeville, Virginia


Little Feat lights up the sky

LightningJuly 3, 2006, as Little Feat performed, there was a horizontal lightning show in the distant sky right above the stage. It was fantastic, and so was Little Feat! ("A distant thunder, and it takes my breath away...")

Thanks for letting me share! And many thanks to all of you for the hard work it takes to make the Blues Festival happen every year.  On those precious few days, we can escape the world into the music we love so much and provide food for the people who need it so much.   Molly Sue
Otis, Oregon


Talking to Robert Jr. Lockwood

A few years ago, Robert Jr. Lockwood came to play. The last time I had heard him live was at Kent State, Ohio, downstairs in the basement of S.J. South in 1974. The first week he played at Kent, the bar was packed to the walls. The next week, when he returned, it was finals week and the bar was empty. I remember feeling so sad that only a small handful of us sacrificed our grades to enjoy his music again. It troubled me for many nights that he didn't know the real reason no one showed up. After his performance at the Waterfront Blues Festival, I lined up for his autograph. As he signed the back of a beautiful raven sweatshirt, I told him the story of those nights. He smiled and said he remembered playing in Kent even though that proved how old he was! I never would have imagined that I'd have the opportunity to tell him my story and look into his smiling eyes again. What a memorable moment! Cindy Ede


"The place to be"

The Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival is the place to be for your 4th of July celebrations! Last year was my first spring in Portland and my first blues fest. When festival organizers announced that the Greyboy Allstars, Dr. John, Little Feat and Buckwheat Zydeco were coming, I couldn't believe it! An amazing lineup to support a great cause! The entire weekend was fantastic! My absolute favorite moment was seeing Dr. John. I was already a huge fan of the other bands but was not very familiar with Dr. John. He stole the show for me! Watching the city and all the wonderful people, I was extremely pleased to call Portland my new home!  I'm looking forward to many more years of blues and supporting good causes. Thanks to all those who contribute. Carolyn Metheny, Ridgefield, Wash.


Lover of Waterfront Blues Festival

I moved here in 1996 from Los Angeles and have been a long-time blues fan. But no one told me about the Waterfront Blues Festival until the day I was invited downtown for a bike ride and to "kick-back" at the park. I didn't know why my buddy wanted me to bring two cans of food, but he always has a good reason for his eccentricities. We rode to the river in about 15 minutes from north Portland. The crowds were large, but everyone was sooo cooool about everything. There were kids and street entertainers. And then the first performer of the day blew me away. I met friends whom I had known for almost 10 years as well as co-workers. I have attended almost every day of every festival since then. I will always be a fan of the blues, but I am a lover of the Waterfront Blues Festival. Don Gilson, Portland, Ore.


Blessed by a Perfect Day: Gospel Cruise, 2006

I'm sitting on the couch watching a beautiful day waste away. At a quarter to two, I decide to make a dash for the Sunday Gospel Blues Cruise.

Two-twenty-eight.  No problem. I'm walking down the ramp. Last guy on, ticket in hand.

I make my way up to the top deck. Rae Gordon is winding it up, belting out a high-octane, blues-tinged gospel number as promised. Everybody is ridiculously happy. A woman in a big floppy hat is saying, "That's right, girl friend. Sing it! Yeah! Tell it to me!" Rae catches my eye and gives me an impromptu twirl as she's singing. Hey now, this is me in the spotlight!

The afternoon sun is sparkling off the water. Rae's singing like an angel. My heart is full. Right now I’ve got everything I need. Greg Hopkins, Wilsonville, Ore.


Shamanic Journey: Midnight Blues Cruise with a Legend, 2005

Charlie Musselwhite’s bending over, bobbing up and down, playing his harp like he’s killing every grief and failure that’s ever haunted him. Sweat’s pouring off his face. His band can’t go any harder. These guys are playing like they’re gonna hurt somebody. They’re letting loose a torrent of music that’s sweeping everything away. I look around. Everybody’s on his or her feet, screaming and pumping the air, totally drowned out by the beautiful mayhem coming at us. There is no rest. Song after song, full tilt. Mesmerizing, surreal images of yellow-lit smoke stacks and industrial carnage are juxtaposed behind the band, floating past in a picture window, looking out onto the river.

That night on the boat, I got a Blues Fest high that humbled me. Charlie Musselwhite transcended music. He opened the door to something shamanic. Greg Hopkins, Wilsonville, Ore.


"I know that guy from somewhere"

One of my favorite moments coincides with one my favorite years at the festival: 1994.  I was at the Virginia Café on the opening night of the festival when a guy came in by himself, sporting a gray ponytail. He sat next to me, ordered a sandwich to go and asked me about Portland clubs, music, etc.  I couldn’t help notice his British accent. He took off without either of us introducing ourselves.  Later that night at the festival, one of the headline acts was Eric Burdon. I almost ran him down to ask him how the sandwich was!  Also, that weekend I witnessed one of the hottest live acts I’ve ever seen: Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, featuring Rod and his HOT, keyboard-playing wife, Honey!  I couldn’t believe it when she blew us away playing the keys with her bare feet. John Kujawa, Portland, Ore.


Salgado receives CD

I recall getting invited backstage by Curtis Salgado for hugs and handshakes. Curtis had performed at our Gladstone Blues Festival just a couple of weeks before Waterfront. We made fast friends with Curtis when I mentioned I grew up in Arkansas and got to see Frank Frost perform all the time. Curtis was blown away when I gave him a CD of Frank's Jelly Roll Blues. We were playing it on the way to the airport after Curtis' performance at Gladstone. Curtis remarked he didn't have that particular album. Well, now he does.

In all, we had some of the best times we have ever had at a festival there at the Waterfront.

Lori and I have attended dozens of blues festivals, and I can only say that Waterfront is simply the best I have attended. From the setting to the stellar lineups to the "smooth as clockwork" way the festival is run, I was truly impressed by Waterfront! I learned a lot of great ideas on how to improve our festivals by attending Waterfront.
Charles "Rags" Ragsdell, Heber Springs, Arkansas


'What community is all about'

It’s a moment that will live in my heart forever. Renowned saxophonist Reggie Houston beaming like sunshine as he played with blind, music prodigy Mac Potts, 14, on the intimate Workshop Stage in 2005. "This" I thought, "is what community is all about. I am proud to be part of the festival." Jean Kempe-Ware, Portland, OR


Blind Boys of Alabama and a cup of flat beer

I don't recall the first time the Blind Boys of Alabama were on the south stage. It must have been 100 or more, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We were waiting for the band at the north stage to finish. There was a guy in front of me, lean, his T-shirt in his pocket, nice tan, long straight dishwaster blond hair, in his 20s or early 30s. He had just paid for a cup of beer and was  hollering about how great this and that was. The North Stage band finished, and the Blind Boys of Alabama tore just gobbled up everyone with the greatest set I've ever seen anywhere, bar none. I do believe most of us were ready to stroll into the Willamette and praise the Lord right then and there. Throughout their set, not one peep came from our young friend. Even when Jimmy Carter walked through the audience, he behaved himself. When the Blind Boys of Alabama left the stage an hour later, the young man realized he still had a full cup of beer in his hand and proceded to sip it, but spit it out. That had to be one very warm, flat beer. Tom Marion, Cheney, Wash.