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While the official start of summer may still be six days away, Portland’s summer music festival season is here NOW!

Today is the kickoff for the Third Annual Microblues Festival, held in Vancouver’s Esther Short Park. Over a dozen acts will blow onto the stage during the course of the weekend, including a couple of my favorites, including Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials, and Reggie Houston. Check out the web site for performance times and directions to the park, then head north to Vancouver!

Once July arrives, the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival can’t be far away! Celebrating their 20th year, the festival will run from July 4th through the 8th. The action takes place in beautiful Waterfront Park along the Willamette River in downtown Portland.

This year’s list of artists is a virtual who’s who of blues! The Neville Brothers, Koko Taylor, Pinetop Perkins, the James Cotton Band with Hubert Sumlin, Savoy Brown, Eric Burden and The Animals… these are just a few of the outstanding performers this year. Admission is only $8 and two cans of food, and as always, benefits the Oregon Food Bank.

Later in July, the 27th annual Cathedral Park Jazz Festival will rock out the St. Johns area in beautiful Cathedral Park, beneath the North end of the St. Johns Bridge. Friday night is blues night, and leading off will be the popular Portland band, The Strange Tones. They will be followed at 8PM by blues legend Charlie Musselwhite!

On Saturday and Sunday the jazz starts at noon and goes through 8PM. Saturday’s closing act will be Steve Cannon and the Blowhard Big Band featuring Mic Gillette. Sunday night will be capped by the one and only Plas Johnson & John Heard featuring Portland’s own Nancy King!

(Yours truly will be manning the KMHD membership booth at Cathedral Park until 4PM on Saturday. Stop by and say hi!)

Don’t forget also, admission to the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival is, as always, FREE!

On Friday, August 3, the venerable Mount Hood Jazz Festival begins its 26th year! The main stage will be located at 200 NE Hood Avenue in downtown Gresham, but many performances will take place at various venues in downtown Gresham. See the festival’s web site for details.

Bassist Christian McBride and trumpeter Nicolas Payton will appear, although not together. Popular Portland vocalist Rebecca Kilgore will be on hand, as will the Patrick Lamb Band, the Bobby Torres Band, Stan Bock, and Dan Balmer. The ever-popular Ron Steen Festival Jam will take place Saturday night from 10PM to 1AM. Again, details for all these artist are available at the festival web site.

All-in-all it sounds like a great summer for live music in Portland!

Al Evans, host
Saturday Night Jazz
89.1 FM KMHD
(email: SaturdayNightJazz@yahoo.com)