The 30th Annual Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival kickoff

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Thousands in attendance for the 30th Annual Portland Blues Festival held at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on June 30th. Myles Boyns/PSU Vanguard

The 30th Annual Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival kicked-off at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland on Friday, June 30. The Blues Festival is currently organized by the Oregon Food Bank and has occurred every year since 1987 as an attempt to decrease and end hunger among Oregonians.

Over the past 29 years, this event has raised more than $10 million and over 1,000 tons of food toward the Oregon Food Bank. In 2016 alone, the Blues Festival raised $1 million for Oregonians facing hunger. Not only is this festival great for leisure, but 100 percent of ticket and press sales go toward the Food Bank.

On opening day, the festival began with the Portland Blues Experience dance and demonstration lesson at 11 a.m. at the Oregonian Front Porch Stage. The next event started an hour later, where the Jim Mesi Band performed on the First Tech Blue Stage, and Tevis Hodge performed on the Oregonian Front Porch Stage.

At the Brewery Stage, the first act occurred at 1 p.m., where Billy D and the Hoodoos performed for an hour. Lloyd Allen would take over the Oregonian Front Porch Stage in the same hour.

About an hour later, business began to pick up as Anne Kennedy presented and Karen Lovely began her performance on the First Tech Blue Stage. Not long after, the Bob Shoemaker Trio took over and performed on the Oregonian Front Porch Stage. At 3 p.m., Tevis Hodge would return and perform again, this time on the FedEx Crossroads stage. In the same hour, the Dirty Bourbon River Show performed on the Brewery Stage from 3–4 p.m.

In the next hour, the Ty Curtis Band, Brother Yusef, and Timothy James & Ryan Stadler all began their performances. At 6 p.m. the Dirty Bourbon River Show returned and performed on the Oregonian Front Porch Stage, in addition to LoveBomb Go-Go performing on the First Tech Blues Stage.

The Brewery saw the most action at the festival as Elvin Bishop performed the festival opening ceremony, which was presented by the Leslie Foundation. Around this section of the festival is where Vanguard reporter, Myles Boyns, had the chance to interview festival attendees about their experience during opening day and ask them their reasons for coming.

Vanguard: What brings you here today?

“Really amazing music for five whole days!” Kathleen said.

“The music—I love live music,” Scott said.

“I just wanted to see some blues music,” Tai said.

Vanguard: What’s your favorite part about the festival?

“Walking around, I like being around people, seeing the scenery. Portland is beautiful,” Tai said.

“The late night atmosphere—people are walking around listening to music,” Trent said. “Everyone is here for the same thing: Enjoy the drinks, enjoy the food, enjoy the music.”

The Brewery Stage ended with a performance from one of the headliners, Chris Isaak. On the First Tech Blues Stage the final performance was by Fantastic Negrito. On the FedEx Crossroads Stage, the last two performances were from Terry Robb & Lauren Sheenan and Brother Yusef. The Oregonian Front Porch Stage included Cedric Burnside Project, The Revelers, and the Dirty Revival, which was the final act of the night.

Festival goers seemed to enjoy themselves throughout the night while listening to music, singing along with the performers, dancing, eating good food, and enjoying the Portland vibe on a beautiful summer evening.

Friday was a successful and fun kickoff to the festival. The fun doesn’t end till the Fourth of July however, so get out there and enjoy some good music.

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