Gresham outdoor concert transforms butte peak to musical stage
Jazz lilted from the top of Hogan Butte as concert goers settled down for a free outdoor performance that offered melodic music and views of the surrounding mountains.
Local smooth jazz aficionado Kenney Polson headlined the latest in the Wednesday Music in the Parks concert series, helmed by the Gresham Center for the Arts Foundation, which brings performances to parks across the city.
On the back of the ongoing Music Mondays, which centers the concert at the downtown Gresham Arts Plaza, this new series has had shows at Butler Creek Park, Vance Park, and the Wednesday, Aug. 10, Polson performance at Hogan Butte Nature Park, 757 S.E. Gabbert Rd.
The show brought folks out onto the grass of the nature park, which sits atop the peak of the butte and offers great views of Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Adams. Sponsor Gresham Ford had a shuttle to take folks from the lower lot up to the peak, and also powered the concert using a new Ford Lightning — Hogan Butte Nature Park does not have traditional infrastructure needed for a concert.
And Polson was the perfect person for the top of the butte. Based locally, he has performed in more than 50 countries, known for his seasoned musical style that incorporates Latin, classical, new age, rhythm and blues, funk and gospel influences — all building on that firm, straight-ahead jazz foundation.
Polson teaches music at Mt. Hood Community College, where he also serves on the board of education.
His saxophone, along with the accompanying bass, drums and keyboard rang out, with the breaks filled with chirping birds and rustling leaves.
The Wednesday Music in the Parks concert series is supported by Gresham Ford, Ziply Fiber, City of Gresham, RACC and other community businesses.
The final show will be Wednesday, Aug. 24, as Spirit Heart plays at Nadaka Nature Park, 17615 N.E. Glisan St. The show will feature the musical duo of Sherrie Davis, an Indigenous flute player, and Wendy Young. Performance runs from 6:30-8 p.m.
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