A few of us at Portland Radio Project had a chance to stop in at the 28th annual Waterfront Blues Fest in Portland on Friday.

For music lovers not willing or able to brave the high temps, here are a few highlights.

Fans turned out in droves to hear the music of blues-rock phenomenon Ty Curtis. Setting up on the First Tech Blues Stage a few minutes early, the talented and affable blues guitarist made time to chat with his fans before blasting off into a high octane show that moved the mercury on the 95-degree day a bit higher.

Curtis, who started playing guitar at 13, has 5 releases under his belt. From Oregon, the hard-working blues guitarist recently relocated to Austin where he recorded his most recent “Water Under the Bridge” release, which PRP included in their Top 10 last year.

His band members are: David Kahl, bass (Paul deLay, Pinetop Perkins); Louis Pain (Paul deLay, King Louie & Friends), organ; and Jerry Jacques (pronounced “Jakeways”), who previously played for Tracy Chapman, on drums and backup vocals.

Check out the electric energy in this snippet here:

My PRP Press Pass allowed access to the stage, from which a sea of happy blues enthusiasts could be surveyed and the sound system was suitably impeccable. Fans clapped, hollered, cheered and danced to the 9-song setlist that was over far-too-soon.

Friday’s setlist was heavily sprinkled with choice tracks from his “Water Under the Bridge” release.


Key to My Heart
All it Took
Seen My Chance
Bad Break
Thief of Hearts
5 Long Years
I Must Confess
Fools Game
Feel What I Feel

In an interview with Ty Curtis on Monday, we learned “Seen My Chance,” “Key to My Heart,” and our personal “Bad Break” favorite are all getting radio airplay.

Currently, Curtis has 25 new songs in the works – including some acoustic tracks.

“I try to keep writing all the time,” he says.

Upcoming tour dates include the Troutdale Summer Fest and Lebanon’s Guitars Under the Stars,  where Curtis shares the bill with Los Lonely Boys and Robert Cray.

Don’t miss him!

As his career flourishes and fans continue to multiply, PRP wishes this consummate young blues artist the very best.

Music treasure Allen Toussaint

Somewhat tragically I arrived late to the Blues Fest’s Brewery Stage where blues / R&B legend Allen Toussaint was performing before a packed field of adoring fans.

You’ve likely spotted Allen Toussaint’s name in the album liner notes of various musicians (Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Widespread Panic, Little Feat, The Band, Ringo Starr, Jerry Garcia Band, Warren Zevon, Derek Trucks Band, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Yardbirds) for decades.

This was Toussaint’s first appearance at Waterfront Blues Fest as part of a tribute to New Orleans.

At Friday night’s show a relaxed, smiling Toussaint gave us “Southern Nights” “Walking to New Orleans” and “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky.” As temps cooled on this summer’s eve, he bowed graciously at the close of his show while smiles lit up faces up as far as the eye could see.

True music connoisseurs can find out more about Toussaint and his music here.

There was more, lots more

Other highlights of the evening?

Catch Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band if they’re ever in your town. With tracks like “Make You Sweat Zydeco” and “Zydeco Junkie,” they’re a highly touted and talented class zydeco band sure to please you and your sweetheart.

Find their music online here.

Oregon is extremely fortunate to host literally dozens of top-notch blues music acts here every year.

What can we say?

If you’ve never attended Portland’s Waterfront Blues Fest before, get it on your bucket list.

Cynthia Orlando
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