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Joyful music festival in Tom McCall Waterfront Park a hit with crowds, as was the climactic fireworks show.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - London-born Nigerian singer and sax player Femi Kuti and The Positive Force perfoming at Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival July 4, 2022.

Portland's Waterfront Blues Fest in Tom McCall Waterfront Park wrapped up peacefully Monday evening, Independence Day, 2022.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival attracted a variety of watercraft on July 4, 2022. After the last band, psychedelic blues funk outfit Lettuce, finished on the dot of 10 p.m., LaRhonda Steele sang an acapella version of the national anthem with Andy Stokes. It was followed by a public firework display from a barge in the Willamette River with a recorded blues soundtrack, which ended with a red, white and blue flourish and a snippet of Jimi Hendrix's 1969 rendering of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Vehicle hazard lights showed drivers going in both directions on the I-5 freeway had stopped to watch, and pedestrians lined the Hawthorne Bridge and East Bank Esplanade (the city banned personal firework displays last year). The four-day event returned to its traditional home after two years away because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Cedric Burnside rocked Adidas as he played a Blues Cruise fundraiser on the Portland Spirit on Saturday for the JWF Musician Health and Services Program. Each cruise featured three acts and cost extra.

Monday's performers included London-born Nigerian singer and sax player Femi Kuti and The Positive Force, and Grammy winning acts Judith Hill and Cedric Burnside. Hill roused the crowd as the afternoon sun warmed the park's grassy bowl, then Burnside cooled them down with his intense North Mississippi blues act of just himself and a drummer.

Andy Stokes reminded everyone how good it was to be back in a crowd after so long. Stokes announced his pre-pandemic song "I Don't Give a Damn" had just made it to number 20 in the Mediabase R&B Chart. Many artists remarked about how good it was to be back. The crowd was a sea of straw hats and low-back chairs, and a large proportion of the acts and the audience were senior citizens.

PHOTO: RAYOUNG CHUNG - Dusk at Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival July 4, 2022, during a show by funk band Lettuce.

"The Blues Brothers" actor, Oregon resident and cannabis farmer Jim Belushi was a constant presence at the festival, where the mood over four days was consistently joyful and good natured. There were no signs of bad tempers, and fans seemed to be at their most polite and genial, giving each other space and forming orderly lines. There was a minimal police presence inside the perimeter.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Diunna Greenleaf performing at Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival July 4, 2022.

Other popular sets at the 2022 Waterfront Blues Festival came from The War and Treaty, a soulful married couple who ran across the grass glad-handing the audience; belter Diunna Greenleaf from Texas who joked about her whole band being "built for comfort"; local hero Curtis Salgado, a festival fixture still full of energy over two shows; and a sedentary, sweet-voiced Taj Mahal, now 80, who has always mixed world music with the blues.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - A 1940s dance lesson at the Front Porch stage.


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