Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival July 3-6

Waterfront Blues Festival

Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival is owned and produced by the Oregon Food Bank, working to eliminate hunger and its root causes.

Portland’s waterfront is simply beautiful. Perched on the edge of the Willamette River, it offers gorgeous views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, several of our city’s beautiful bridges, and lots of green space. You simply can’t beat it on a sunny summer afternoon. July 3-6, the awesomeness of the waterfront will ramp up to 11, when the Oregon Food Bank’s Waterfront Blues Festival takes over the bowl with music, dancing, food and fireworks. The festival is produced by the Oregon Food Bank “to raise necessary funds and awareness for fighting hunger in Oregon and Southwest Washington … Entry donations and proceeds from all ticket and pass sales directly benefit Oregon Food Bank’s work to eliminate hunger and its root causes.” So not only is this a fun event, it also helps out the community. Win-win!

Waterfront Blues Festival

Waterfront Blues Festival crowd

We asked our friend Kelly O’Malley-McKee, public relations associate for Oregon Food Bank, for some insider tips to pass along to our readers. Here’s the 411 from the WFB expert:

This is by far the best music deal around since admission is only a suggested $10 donation Thursday-Saturday. Sunday entry requires a pass … that day is called Spectacular Sunday! If you want to go on Sunday or go to the festival more than once, the best bet is to purchase one of the 4-day passes.

Waterfront Blues Festival

Waterfront Blues Festival performer Mavis Staples in 2013


  • Buy your shirt from the new online store to avoid festival merchant lines.
  • Download the FREE festival app to have the schedule at your fingertips & and to avoid carrying around a hard copy.
  • Use the hashtag #pdxwbf when posting about your festival experience!
Waterfront Blues Festival

Waterfront Blues Festival fireworks

Changes this year:

  • Leave hard sided coolers at home.
  • Low sand chairs are allowed.
  • Bring items in one backpack or soft cooler no larger than 16″ x 16″ x 8″.
  • Outside beverages are limited to a maximum of 2 factory-sealed water bottles or an empty personal water bottle to fill inside the park.
  • Here’s the full run down of the rules.
Waterfront Blues Festival

Waterfront Blues Festival performer John Primer in 2013

The artistic director says this is the best overall lineup the WBF has had because it runs so deep. Check out the full interactive schedule.

 Waterfront Blues Festival

Waterfront Blues Festival dance lessons!

Other than the big acts that are notable in their own right, here are a few cool insights on some others…

    • John Nemeth, Blues Artist of the Year, performs on July 4th.
    • Ural Thomas & the Pain were just named Portland’s Best New Band — they perform on Spectacular Sunday!
    • Leo “Bud” Welch put out his first record at 81! He’s been interviewed on NPR and elsewhere.
    • Soul of John Black’s song “Higher Power” was named Best R&B Soul Song in this year’s Independent Music Awards.
Waterfront Blues Festival

Waterfront Blues Festival view from our friend Gerry’s boat on the river

Social Media:

Facebook: waterfrontbluesfest
Twitter: waterfrontblues (hashtag #pdxwbf)

Instagram: waterfrontblues

If you’re looking to hear some great music in a beautiful spot, do a little dancin’, support a worthy cause, and see some great fireworks, Portland‘s Waterfront Blues Music Festival is a can’t miss opportunity. Have you been to the festival before? Let us know about your experience in the comments, and enjoy your Independence Day week or weekend!

All photos used with permission.


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