Blues lovers from throughout the world will head for Portland from Friday, June 30, through Tuesday, July 4, to relax on the grassy banks of the Willamette River and celebrate the blues at the 2006 Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, presented by First Tech Credit Union.
The festival is the major annual fund-raiser for Oregon Food Bank, a charitable nonprofit agency. All festival proceeds benefit Oregon Food Bank's work to eliminate hunger through its network of 20 regional food banks and 894 hunger-relief agencies in Oregon and Clark County, Wash. Last year, Oregon Food Bank distributed 38.1 million pounds of food throughout Oregon and Clark County.
The 19th annual blues festival has grown in reputation and in size to be the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi and the second-largest blues festival in the nation, attracting more than 120,000 fans.
This year's five-day festival, featuring more than 100 performances on four stages and eight blues cruises, will focus on the music of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
"The blues-based music rooted in the bayous of Louisiana and southeast Texas has always been well-represented at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival," said Peter Dammann, festival talent coordinator. "But this year, we're making a special effort to celebrate the music and musicians from the areas devastated last fall by hurricanes Katrina and Rita."
The festival will book-end its New Orleans and Gulf Coast theme with Dr. John — a.k.a. "The Night Tripper" — who will headline opening night June 30, and Irma Thomas, "Soul Queen of New Orleans," who will close the festival on July 4.
In between, the festival has assembled what may be the largest lineup of Gulf Coast artists this side of New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Daily admission to the festival is a donation of $8 per person per day and two cans of food for the Oregon Food Bank. For every dollar donation, the food bank can collect and distribute more than $7 worth of food and finance outreach and education programs to address the root causes of hunger.
The food bank needs more than 2,200 volunteers for this year's five-day festival. Volunteers are stationed at one of the festival's four gates. Gate volunteers work in teams of 10 to 20 people to greet blues fans, give directions, box food and serve as Oregon Food Bank's goodwill ambassadors. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old and able to commit to an entire four-hour shift.
Visit www.waterfrontbluesfest.com for a list of shift times.
On four stages and eight Blues Cruises, the festival will feature Little Feat; Rebirth Brass Band; New Orleans "Blues Queen" Marva Wright; Mardi Gras Indian funksters Bo Dollis & the Wild Magnolias; hard-grooving Porter, Batiste & Stolz; keyboard wizard Henry Butler; Ivan Neville's Dumps-taphunk; former Howlin' Wolf pianist Henry Gray; Cajun roots-rocker The Bluerunners; Grammy-winning Buckwheat Zydeco and more.
The festival also will feature:
• An expanded gospel lineup, featuring the Soul Stirrers — the only gospel quartet in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame — on Sunday, July 2; the Florida-based Lee Boys, serving up a rousing slice of sacred steel; and Portland's gospel diva Linda Hornbuckle and pianist Janice Scroggins, performing with special guests Marva Wright and Johnny Rawls for an old-time gospel jubilee.
• The Hacienda Brothers with a deft blend of classic country, early soul, roots rock and blues barbecued with a smoky Southwest flavor, June 30.
• San Francisco Bay Area guitarist and vocalist Tommy Castro and his band, nominated for best recording and best guitar at this year's national Blues Awards, with Portland's Lloyd Jones, June 30.
• After-Hours Zydeco Dance with Keith Frank & Soleil Zydeco, presented by Morgan Stanley, June 30.
• John Hiatt & The North Mississippi Allstars will appear Saturday, July 1.
• Gulfport, Miss. soul-blues man Johnny Rawls, July 1.
• An encore performance and CD release party of A Northwest Tribute to Ray Charles, featuring a treasure chest of Northwest talent, July 1. During the festival, $5 of every CD sale will benefit Oregon Food Bank.
• Zydeco Swamp Romp with Keith Frank, Curley Taylor and T. Broussard, July 1.
• Guitar shredder Jimmy Thackery and blues diva Reba Russell, July 3.
• Together on stage for the first time in years, Geoff Muldaur, Jim Kweskin and other friends will celebrate the life and music of Portland'slateFritz Richmond, one of the greatest jug and wash-tub bassists of all time. They will appear on Sunday, July 2.
• Guitarist Larry McCray, July 3.
• Portland's Curtis Salgado, July 3.
• Blues mandolin virtuoso Rich DelGrosso, backed by Lloyd Jones, Carlton Jackson and Dean Mueller, July 3.
• From Australia — Harper, winner of Australia's Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year awards; and Mia Dyson, who won Best Blues and Roots Recording at this year's ARIA Awards, the Australian Grammys, July 3.
• From the United Kingdom — Ian Siegal, July 3.
• The Greyboy Allstars with a blend of hip hop, soul-jazz grooves and indie rock attitude, July 3.
• Swingin' to the Blues, featuring late-night dance classes and demonstrations on lindy, swing and other blues dances with music by swing revivalists Roomful of Blues, former Elvin Bishop saxophonist Terry Hanck, West Coast Rhythm Kings and Portland's D.K. Stewart, July 3.
• Acoustic Showcase with Mississippi Delta blues veteran Eddie Cusic and Portland guitarist Steve Cheseborough, July 3.
• Big Monti Amondson with his European band plus vocalist Boyd Small, former Portlander, now residing in Amsterdam, and Henry Cooper, Washington Blues Society's Best Slide Guitarist winner for four years running, July 4.
• The Rhythm Council, featuring Louisiana-born, juke-joint, slide-guitarist Papa Mali, and three of New Orleans' finest contemporary musicians: legendary pianist Henry Butler, noted tuba and sousaphone player Kirk Joseph and talented drummer Rob Kidd, July 4.
•International Blues Challenge winners, Joey Gilmore and Eden Brent, solo acoustic vocalist and pianist, July 4.
• Bill Rhoades Harmonica Blow-Off, featuring John "Juke" Logan, Paul deLay and others, July 4.
• MarchFourth Marching Band, a high-energy, Fellini-esque mix of Mardi Gras mayhem, Afro beat and big-band blues, just back from its tour in Germany, July 4.
In addition to the stage performances, the blues festival offers:
• Ethos Blues Lab for children;
• Educational workshops for all ages;
• An expanded schedule of Blues Cruises, presented by Delta MusicExperience, on the Willamette River;
• Reel Blues after-concert blues films, presented by the Northwest Film Center; and
• Irma Thomas singing the national anthem, followed by spectacular fireworks, presented by Daimler-Chrysler Truck Financial, Tuesday, July 4.