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Waterfront Blues Festival returns to Tom McCall Waterfront Park this summer after two years

The festival will return with four stages on Fourth of July Weekend, attracting performers from across the country.
Credit: Waterfront Blues Festival

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Waterfront Blues Festival is back for its 35th anniversary and it has just announced its initial lineup.

The festival has been away for two years due to the pandemic, but it will return to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park for the Fourth of July weekend with four stages spread out across the eight-acre park. It will have blues, soul, funk and R&B acts from across the country and locally.

Tickets go on sale Thursday, March 10 at 10 a.m. PST.

This year, concertgoers can look forward to seeing performances from Grammy-winning artist Taj Mahal & The Phantom Blues Band, the Wood Brothers, Galactic featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph, international superstars Femi Kuti and The Positive Force and many more acts.

“For 35 years, Waterfront Blues Festival has inspired generations of musicians and music lovers,” says Peter Dammann, artistic director for Waterfront Blues Festival. “Whether it's what you're seeing on-stage with legendary performers who’ve defined the genre alongside up-and-comers who continue to push it forward, or in the crowd with fans who came to the festival when they were kids who are now bringing their own children- the entire weekend is a true celebration of the genre and everything it influences."

New additions have been added to the festival as well, including expanded family areas and family programming like a youth music showcase, more VIP areas and opportunities and pre-festival parties and after-hours shows to bring the energy of the Waterfront Blues Festival to neighborhoods throughout the city, according to a release from the festival.

There will also be the fireworks show. Though Portland City Council banned firework sales and use in the city limits earlier this year, events like the Waterfront Blues Festival are permitted to set them off. The show will happen on July 4 on a barge on the Willamette between the two main stages.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my friends perform, and also seeing children being able to soak up and witness world-class music that usually would only be performed in venues 21 & up,” said singer Arietta Ward, a.k.a. Mz. Etta, known as the First Daughter of Funk and R&B. “It’s important for them to see that, yes, they can sing, play and dance on a big stage. It’s a real thing!”

There will also be food and drink from some of Portland’s favorite restaurants.

The Waterfront Blues Festival has raised more than $10 million for community organizations that fight hunger. This year it will partner with Meals on Wheels People and the Jeremy Wilson Foundation, which is a musician health and service program.

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