This week is pretty big for blues lovers it seems like there are several blues festivals going on across the country. One of those blues festivals belong to Portland, the claim is that they are second in notoriety only to Chicago's blues fest. I can't deny or approve such a claim I am only repeating what I have heard and read. I do know it seems to last an extremely long time. It is called the Waterfront Blues Fest and can be read about at: http://www.waterfrontbluesfest.com/.
It started July 3rd this year for people doing a blues cruise, where you buy a ticket to cruise the Columbia while one of the many bands play, this goes on the entire time and certain cruises have some of the big named talent performing. Anyway it starts Tuesday and lasts until Sunday this year. That is 6 days of blues and most of those days 8 bucks gets you in, the cruises are more. Either way I had never made it to this festival before this year but had always meant to do so. It seems every July I am flat broke so I just stay away figuring the cost for such a festival is beyond my means. The fact of the matter is it is a fundraiser for Oregon Food Banks so the price of admission is actually a recommended donation of 8 dollars and 2 canned goods. More is always welcome and less although not promoted is also not turned away. Anyway I headed out there last night with a friend. We parked on the East side of the river and walked across the bridge to the West side where the event was being held. We were going to see The Animals play and they were supposed to start at 9:15. We arrived a little before 8 and ended up walking around checking out the 4 stages. We ended up right in front of a stage as Savoy Brown came on. The crowd was amped and I was too but I had no clue who this group was. The minute they got on stage I realized this was going to be an outstanding set.
Kim Simmonds is a great guitarist and totally rocked his hour away. He did an old song of his that set the crowd on fire called Tell Mama, in the middle of playing the holy heck out of a little black and white electric guitar he told us a story. It was a story about his first guitar, a mail order job that had to be assembled by him when he was 13, and ended up with him telling us about a $130 guitar he bought at Walmart a while back. Then he revealed the guitar he had been wailing on was that guitar. Totally blew us away, I thought man this guy is so good he probably could make anything sound good. It was a great set and I am now a huge fan of Savoy Brown and would jump at the chance to see the band or just a solo Kim Simmonds again. After his set we migrated across the lawn to the main stage where The Animals, billed as Eric Burdon and The Animals, were starting. They were playing a song I was sure I had never heard before and then the chorus started and we realized it was a horribly distorted version of a song we were familiar with. The second song started without any improvement and we decided to call it a night. I have some pictures I will be putting up tonight so if you don't see them just be patient.
If I go Sunday I will update you all on how that turned out. I was looking at the week and saw a group I liked and a group I am really interested in seeing live had come through earlier in the week. One was the Blind Boys of Alabama, I saw them in Roseburg and they were great (yep Roseburg has some free summer concerts and some of the groups are pretty cool). The other was the Hot 8 Brass Band, I saw them in the Spike Lee Documentary about the Katrina disaster, When the Levees Broke, and really want to see them live. Maybe next time.
Here are a few more pictures of Savoy Brown.
***************UPDATE! SUNDAY UPDATE!!****************
I went back to the Blues fest today and saw Voice of the Wetlands Allstars (Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne, Cyrill Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Jumpin' Johnny Sansone, Waylon Thibodeaux). They played some good stuff and some stuff I didn't care for but it was definitely a rocking show. I took a whole bunch of pictures of these guys, especially Big Chief who came out in full regalia and was rocking out. I probably had 25 - 30 pictures and at least half were looking good from what I could tell. I went to download them and it said it had but all it had done was delete the pictures. So there is not going to be a separate entry for the Sunday Blues musicians. Anyway go check out the Voice of the Wetlands Allstars. They are raising money and trying to get America to notice that Southern Louisiana, especially New Orleans, is still not repaired from the Katrina disaster. Tab Benoit said the next time it floods he thinks New Orleans will be done and he says at this point it doesn't even have to be anywhere near as strong as Katrina was. The full force of Katrina never even officially hit New Orleans.... according to the documentary I saw, so that says a lot. Here are a few sites if you are interested:
We left to get something to eat. Then came back in for The Neville Brothers. We stayed for half of the show but I was all peopled out. Every where I looked people were avidly dancing like they had no sense. The people that were dancing couldn't dance and this old couple in front of us were dancing and it was so horrifying we had to relocate. I am not exaggerating, they were actually making me feel so ill I had to turn away. Plus there was this lady with a face of a 50 year old who had had too much cosmetic surgery on a body of a 90 year old, she scared me and it was time to get away. I was wishing for a tazer again.... We relocated to an area and everything was going fine when some drunk English guy insisted on talking to me and high fiving me. To be fair I was wearing a Borat shirt that says "High Five!" but the third time? Give me a break, go away and die or something. I am never wearing this shirt around drunk people again. Or at least not while sober. So the Nevilles' were crooning as we left. It was a really fun night but nobody electrified me like Savoy Brown had. I was a little disappointed but overall I was happy. Then I got home and my pictures disappeared. I had been looking at them on the computer and a few were awesome, especially one of the shots of Big Chief. Then I tried to save them and it ate them. I am really really pissed about it too. I feel like breaking something or screaming but instead I settled on typing. Less gratifying but still it's a little bit of a vent for this righteous anger boiling in my gut. People that don't vent go postal.... that is the message for the day.