Friday, July 30, 2010

A First Time "Red, White & Blues Train" Weekend at the PDX Waterfront Blues Festival


Trombone Shorty
Photo: Slim Lively
More than 100,000 blues fans from around the world descend upon the Rose City's Waterfront Park every year to attend the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi, and the second-largest blues festival in the nation. This year I had an awesome time attending as part of a Red, White and Blues train weekend package along with 103 other people from the Puget Sound area over the 4th of July weekend.
Janiva Magness
Photo: Slim Lively

The Seattle area’s 88.5 KPLU radio station, home of the weekend All Blues radio show, organized the festival trip. KPLU's All Blues host and 2009 recipient of the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award John Kessler led the station's first listener trip to the 23rd Waterfront Blues Festival. And what a way to attend a blues festival!

Lightnin' Malcolm
Photo: Slim Lively
The package included the train ride between Seattle and Portland with several cars full of blues fans, three nights at the Marriot just across the street, and a "blues buddy" pass. The late night blues jams after the festival shows were in the Marriot just an elevators ride away from our room and included in the price by way of the buddy pass. As an added bonus, two of the three festival stages could be viewed from our room’s balcony. Need to take a break from packing around the festival but don’t want to miss hearing Lisa Mann’s show? No problem. Just open the window!
Taj Mahal
Photo: Slim Lively

This trip package was a first for KPLU, and they may or may not do it again. So whether you were part of the Red, White and Blues trip or want to attend next time, be sure to let KPLU know they should do it again. Get your friends and blues buddies geared up for next year. I highly recommend it.

Mia Vermillion and Karen Lovely
Photo: Slim Lively
The year's festival featuring Booker T, Trombone Shorty (my favorite of the weekend), Janiva Magness, Bobby Rush, Curtis Salgado, Taj Mahal, JJ Grey and Mofro, and John Mayall was a huge success. Many other acts including regional artists from the Pacific NW like Karen Lovely, Son Jack Jr. and Michael Wilde,  Dudley Taft and more performed for one of the best festival crowds I’ve ever been around. The festival rose over $650,000 and 100,662 pounds of food for the Oregon Food Bank this year.

There are more pictures, stories and reviews to come about the 2010 Waterfront Blues Festival, so be sure and come back...


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