Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Music Vol 2

Last post we looked at the massive list of free music in parks (and elsewhere) all over the city and region. This post turns to some of the options that will cost you a bit more. However . . . I'm fairly underwhelmed by some of the more pricey choices this summer.

Waterfront Blues Festival
(July 2-5)
But I'm not underwhelmed by this one. I'll try to write later this week more specifically about a few of the artists I want to recommend checking out, but let's start by saying this is my favorite music event of the summer . . . and it's for a great cause. The festival is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Oregon Food Bank. For $10 and a couple of cans of food each day, you can revel in three stages of great music - not all of it exclusively blues (a little folk, zydeco, roots rock, and soul are liberally sprinkled throughout), but all of it quality and in a beautiful setting on the river with about the most friendly, mellow vibe you can have with thousands of folks in Waterfront Park.

Do not take this event for granted . . . come down, bring some canned food, and catch some outstanding world class acts, and lesser knowns that will knock your socks off.
And there's afternoon and evening riverboat music cruises and after-hours shows to add some venue variety and make sure the music doesn't stop until the wee hours.

Kudos to the Food Bank, the sponsors, Peter Dammann, and the cadre of volunteers that make this one of the smoothest running and fun events you'll attend.

See y'all there!

Oregon Zoo Concert Series

This one has already gotten underway, but lots more to go . . . . There are basically two concert series - Wednesday Zoo Tunes and Zoo Beat Premium. The Zoo Tunes series includes a variety of shows that can be considered "world music" . . . and are free with certain levels of zoo membership or cost $10.50. Though a good price, the problem I have with Wednesday is the crowds. Parking is crazy (though I taking MAX and not driving) and the audience is huge. There's some interesting shows, but know what to expect. The premium shows will be less crowded (even on a sellout), but present two issues for me - first is that I'm underwhelmed by the schedule. I'll probably get to the Los Lobos/Ladysmith Black Mombazo show on July 17th, but that's probably it. Tears for Fears is a possibility, though it's already sold out. The other issue that I've heard from a lot of folks is that much of the crowd doesn't come to hear the music, but to visit with their friends and have no regard for folks who want to listen. Personally, I think it's pretty rude, but my solution is to go stand down front - makes for a much better experience.

McMennamin's Edgefield Concert Series

This series just got a little more interesting with the addition of shows by The Flaming Lips (Aug 20) and The Pretenders (Aug 25). Mostly playing it safe (come on - Steve Miller, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Chris Isaak, the Gypsy Kings, Sugarland?), the other highlight shows for me are The Decemberists/Blind Pilot shows (July 18/19), and Bonnie Raitt/Taj Mahal (Sept 3) . . . . Okay some of you might wonder why these dont't fall in my playing it safe category . . . I'm partial to two of our most talented and entertaining locals, and because I have tremendous respect for Bonnie and Taj, and have felt both continue to grow as artists who do things their way - a lot of musical integrity here . . . and they are going to do some playing together. That will be a treat.

SakeOne Series
Five concerts will be held outdoors at the SakeOne Brewery in Forest Grove. Reasonably priced ($8-10), these Saturday evening shows include a solid set of NW artists including Stephanie Schneiderman, The Dimes and The Minus Five. And sake.

Northwest String Summit
(July 17-19)
An annual festival out at Hornings Hideout in North Plains, this year includes the Bad Livers (featuring Danny Barnes), the Yonder Mountain String Band (as usual), Del McCoury, Darol Anger & Mike Marshall and a whole slew of folks playing on the stage or jamming
in the campground. Tickets range from $100 - 150 for the weekend.

Columbia Gorge Bluegrass Festival (July 23-26)
Another bluegrass event being held out at the Skamania County Fairgrounds in Stevenson, WA. National headliners include Rhonda Vincent & The Rage and the Infamous String Dusters. Regional acts like Misty Momas, Lauren Sheehan and the Foghorn String Band join the festivities. A weekend pass is $45 and camping is $10 per night.

The Bite of Oregon (Aug 7-9)
Will have more on this once they publish their music schedule. Nothing announced yet. In years past The Bite has had some great national acts (Dr John, Patty Smith, and Todd Snider were all there two years ago), but last year cut that way back. Don't know what to expect for 2009.

There's probably more out there, so let me know what I've missed. I will wrap up my summer music look-ahead with some significant upcoming shows that will be indoors, but are part of our Portland summer music experience.

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