PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, one of the top blues festivals in the nation, starts on July 1.
While national artists do perform at at the waterfront, local musicians are still the backbone of the festival.
LaRhonda Steele is Portland’s first lady of the blues, carrying the torch of the late Linda Hornbuckle. She and keyboardist Louis “King Louie” Pain teamed up for their latest CD, called “Rock Me Baby.” They’ll share the stage at the Waterfront Blues Festival.
“It’s pretty exciting. Some of us are pretty home based here in Portland, and we don’t get to see large crowds like this,” Steele said. “And so to be on a really big stage, with thousands of people in the audience is quite invigorating. It’s fantastic.”
“It’s special,” Pain said. “I mean we happen to live in one of the best blues festivals in the whole world.”
KOIN’s Ken Boddie sat down with Steele and Pain at the Rose Room Blues Club in Northeast Portland. The venue is a testament to the world-class talent that calls Portland home and gets features along with national stars at the Blues Festival.
“We get to see national artists, and you discover they’re just like we are,” Steele said.
The artists say it’s important that the Blues Festival is a major fundraiser for the Oregon Food Bank.
“For us as musicians, selfishly, we enjoy getting to perform for a large crowd, but we’re always aware that this is what this is all about,” Pain said.
Other local artists performing include Curtis Salgado, Bobby Torres, Normal Sylvester and Ty Curtis.
King Louie and LaRhonda Steele take the Brewery Stage at 1:30 p.m. Monday, July 4.