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5 Musical Acts To See At Portland's Waterfront Blues Fest

The 29th annual Waterfront Blues Fest presents four days of blues appreciation and Fourth of July fun at McCall Waterfront Park in Portland. It is the largest blues festival on the West Coast and second largest in the nation.

Summer’s back — and so is the Oregon Food Bank’s annual Waterfront Blues Fest. Beginning Friday, the four-day celebration features some of the world’s best musicians on the banks of the Willamette River. From New Orleans great Dr. John to a tribute to Prince by one of his proteges, the festival’s musical prowess will be on full display the entire holiday weekend.

Tribute To Legends:

Friday night on the river will be closed out in unmeasured funk. The Goodfoot Allstars will pay tribute to the Godfather of Soul — the late James Brown — with an array of tunes from his catalog of soul.

Sunday night will be dedicated to another departed icon, Prince. The Minneapolis native captivated the world in the 1980s, and before long, he was a musical icon with a style to match.

Liv Warfield, who gained her performing chops in Portland, will seize the stage with members of Prince’s band, The New Power Generation, and pay homage to one of her musician mentors. With such a close connection to the Purple One, the night and tribute is sure to be both emotional and powerful.

Don’t Sleep On ZZ:

With guitar in hand and an ear tuned for hip-hop, Roseburg-raised ZZ Ward gives off an aura of a down-to-earth movie star. She’s billed as a mixture of Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. Sunday evening, the draw might be to see if Ward can live up to the comparisons — or maybe even exceed them.

ZZ Ward is billed as a mixture of Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. She plays the Waterfront Blues Festival Sunday evening.

ZZ Ward is billed as a mixture of Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. She plays the Waterfront Blues Festival Sunday evening.

Robb D. Cohen

The N.O. In The PDX:

If you’ve visited New Orleans, chances are you’ve fallen in love with the city. If you haven’t, the essence and soul of the Crescent City is coming to Portland. Grammy Award–winning icon Dr. John has played all over the world. If you’re not familiar with this living legend, get ready for your soul to “second line.”

The Next Guitar God?:

In a recent interview, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram described how he felt when playing a guitar solo: “I am no longer here.”

Ingram certainly loses himself in the music, but his talent hasn’t been lost on music critics, many of whom agree that he is one of the best blues guitarists of our time. He is only 17.

Save The Children:

For a sneak peek into the future of orchestra music, watch Portland legend Thara Memory conduct his American Music Program on July 4. The AMP Band is one of the nation’s premier student orchestras in the United States, with renowned musicians, such as Esperanza Spalding, having once played in the ensemble.

For a full schedule of acts at the Waterfront Bluesfest, click here.

Tap into what Portland will be hearing this weekend by checking out the playlist below.


Portland Bluesfest Music Music Festivals Oregon

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