Portland, OR. The 29th annual Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival has taken over Tom McCall Waterfront Park and will feature over 100 performances over four days. Sunday night will be dedicated to departed music icon, Prince. Frequent Portland performer, Liv Warfield, will take to the stage with members of Prince’s band, The New Power Generation. Warfield will pay homage to one of her mentors. This year, for the first time, organizers are charging for the concert series. In the past, a $10 donation was suggested, now blues fans need to buy a $10 ticket each day. The Blues Festival is the Oregon Food Bank’s largest annual fundraising event. Since its inception in 1988, it has raised $10 million and 815 tons of food to fight hunger in the region. The festival runs from Friday, July 1st, through Monday, July 4th and will culminate in the largest fireworks display in Oregon.

In years past, audiences were encouraged to make a $10 donation at the gate. This year, everyone entering the festival will have to pay a $10 admission. Twice, the festival has raised as much as $1 million — before expenses. But the bigger the crowds, the more security costs have grown.


Twice, the festival has raised as much as $1 million over the holiday weekend. Bigger the crowds necessitate spending more money on security. 

ORMAN “THE BOOGIE CAT” SYLVESTER is a Portland based blues guitarist, band leader, songwriter indie blues and R&B recording artist. Norman has been on the Portland scene for 35 years. He was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2011, received a Lifetime Achievement from the Cascade Blues Association in 2013 and the CBA best R&B Band award in 2015.

Norman Sylvester is a Portland based blues guitarist and R&B recording artist. Norman has been on the Portland scene for 35 years. He was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2011, received a Lifetime Achievement from the Cascade Blues Association in 2013 and the CBA best R&B Band award in 2015.

Leo "Bud" Welch. Leo, then 82, had just released his first recording, Sabougla Voices, a bluesy mix of gospel standards. Rave reviews followed and with them offers from major festivals across the US and Europe. Leo, who’d never stepped on a plane, began racking up frequent flyer miles. Today, two years later, with another acclaimed release under his belt, I DON’T PREFER NO BLUES, Leo is recognized as one of the last remaining Mississippi Delta bluesmen.

Leo “Bud” Welch is recognized as one of the last remaining Mississippi Delta bluesmen.

Other Acts this year include:

TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND
DR. JOHN & THE NITE TRIPPERS
JJ GREY & MOFRO
JIMMIE VAUGHAN & THE TILT-A-WHIRL BAND FEATURING LOU ANN BARTON
LIV WARFIELD & THE SPECIAL HORNZ
MACEO PARKER
ZZ WARD
FEMI KUTI & THE POSITIVE FORCE
CURTIS SALGADO BAND
THE SOUL REBELS
SAMANTHA FISH
CHUBBY CARRIER & THE BAYOU SWAMP BAND and many more.

Past performers have included a plethora of  high energy musicians.

Con Brio at Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival.

Con Brio at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

Reggie Houston at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

Reggie Houston at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

Charmaine Neville at Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival

Charmaine Neville at the Waterfront Blues Festival

Macy Gray.

Macy Gray.

Ty Curtis.

Ty Curtis.

Blues fans packed the 2005 Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. Photo by Daniyl Hicks.

Blues fans packed the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. Photo by Daniyl Hicks.

About Waterfront Blues Festival 

Since 1988, Oregon Food Bank has produced the Waterfront Blues Festival to raise funds and awareness to fight hunger in Oregon and Clark County, Washington. As Oregon Food Bank’s largest annual fundraising event, this Portland flagship festival has become a tradition for locals and visitors alike; it is the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi and the second-largest blues festival in the nation. 

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