Monday, July 6, 2015

Living like a local: Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival.

Before we continue our National Parks road trip series, we bring you a quick recap of the 2015 Waterfront Blues Festival. This annual Portland tradition, recognized as the nation's premier blues festival, is the Oregon Food Bank's biggest fundraiser. It happens near our old office building on the river every year. Admission is ridiculously cheap and the lineup is usually awesome. It's something we talked about attending but never did... kind of like everything else that happens in your own backyard.

This year we had no reason not to go. We're still gainfully FUNemployed so we certainly had the time. We saw no blues shows in Nashville or Memphis so we had the motivation. We meant to seek out more music on the road in general but failed pretty miserably (TURF festival and Frank Turner aside), so this was our opportunity to remedy this. And most importantly, our good friend and generous OFB supporter kindly bestowed her amazing Patron passes to us - so these two otherwise-frugal travelers even had the "sponsorship"! (Seriously, this pass is amazing: on-stage seating, shaded central seating, free parking, priority entry, free food and cheap drink... It was our first foray into this kind of VIP attendance and it took us a few days to really get used to it, but eventually we did. Of COURSE we did. This coming Friday we're back to sitting with the "commoners" at the Decemberists' Edgefield show - woe is us!)

As with every music festival in Portland, the schedule was packed and we had a hard time narrowing down which acts to catch. And as with every music festival in Portland, there were great headliners but the bands we were less familiar with ended up being the most fun.

her voice was AMAZING

inspiration for us to seek dance lessons

"a powerful, undeniable voice" - NPR Weekend Edition

Con Brio (the overall favorite of the weekend):
"a living, evolving testament to the power of soul" - ReverbNation

Dave Alvin (pictured), his brother Phil Alvin and the Guilty Ones:
he couldn't stop smiling

"Israel's King of the Blues" (seriously)

a few members of Turkuaz:
"funk army" indeed

The Youth Music Project, a great Portland non-profit offering free/low-cost music lessons to kids from lower-income families, put on a surprisingly fantastic '70s cover show.

half our age -
the lead guitarist was particularly amazing

And as with every music festival in Portland, there was a marching band. (Several, actually.)

We skipped out on Gregg Allman and Buddy Guy after a few songs (we will probably regret this at some point in life). We also skipped the fireworks to hang out with the dogs (we're not really into fireworks anyway), and each afternoon one of us skipped shows to come home and hang out with the dogs for a few hours (we needed a break from the crowd... and from each other... 806 days, people, 806 days).

But yes, a good time was had.

We learned today that the OFB came in about $150,000 shy of their fundraising goal this year. Help them out, won't you?

as of Sunday morning - sooooo close

Still, over 2.5 million meals will be served to those in need, and they have a new regular volunteer through September - me, so that I can repay all this amazing karma!

So let this be a lesson to you all. Yes, Paris is amazing and African safaris are amazing and New Zealand is amazing. But things that happen in your own backyard can be amazing too.

cheers, OFB!

Speaking of things in our own backyard, we now return to our regularly scheduled National Parks summer road trip recaps...


  1. I've never been to the Blues Festival, but we MUST go next year!

    1. That's what we said for five years... Do it! Maybe just make sure it's not going to be 100+ all weekend though. :)

  2. Always a fun stop while in Portland over the 4th! I declined going this year to stay indoors but am now kind of bummed I missed it! Have fun on your next stop!

    1. Thanks Erin! Fortunately, we're in Portland until mid-September (at least). We have the next two months to figure out our next stop!

      And fortunately this crazy heat wave ends soon...!

  3. i love the blues fest! :) didn't go this year because of the heat, but we've gone in the past!

    1. It was definitely hot but the water and misting stations really helped!

  4. Amazing photos! It's always fun listening to the blues fest, but I'm not a huge fan of such huge crowds PLUS heat so skipped it. I used to go to blues (and other concerts) in the park often in Chicago though and love the idea of music outdoors all day where you can experience a lot of different artists and the overall atmosphere of the crowd (given there's enough space to be comfortable). Very jealous of your Patron passes!

    1. Yes, the passes were pretty amazing - definitely helped beat the crowd and heat issues. But I'd love to go back again under general admission, it really was a fun weekend with so many diverse bands!

  5. Sounds like a blast. I would have died with the heat and crowds though.


    1. Yes, the Patron passes were a nice perk for sure. BTW I think they limit entrance #s to prevent overcrowding, and the OFB volunteers do a great job with keeping walkways clear and managing sitting areas. I've been to other festivals where the crowds were absolutely unbearable!