From Scaggs to Parker to Hodges, Waterfront Park will be jam central July 3-6

Among local talent, Portland blues man Ural Thomas plays with The Pain (noon Sunday, July 6) and teams with Woodbrain guitarist Joe McMurrian (1:40 p.m. Sunday, July 6) at the Waterfront Blues Festival. For all info: 27th annual Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival features Boz Scaggs, Maceo Parker, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Joan Osborne, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, Commander Cody and numerous other acts, from The Bone Pickers and Linda Hornbuckle to Annika Chambers and Yvette Landry.

The party takes place at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park Thursday, July 3, through Sunday, July 6.

Gregg Allman, Sunday's headliner, had to cancel on Tuesday due to health reasons, Oregon Food Bank officials say. Replacing him is Curtis Salgado, the popular Northwest singer-harmonica-player who's worked with Robert Cray, has toured with Steve Miller and sung with Santana, will take the stage. The festival won't be refunding Sunday's $50 single-day tickets, says Tara Taylor, Oregon Food Bank's associate director of community engagement. She noted the festival is a fundraiser for individuals struggling with hunger.

"Gregg Allman would be just one performer across four days of a wonderful festival," she says. "These things are beyond our control."

“There is no way we could have foreseen this change to our lineup,” adds Laura Golino de Lovato, director of development, marketing and communications at Oregon Food Bank. “We are so thankful that Curtis was willing and able to step in. He loves this community, and the fans love him.”

Some of the acts took the time to tell us what they'll be doing this weekend:

Commander Cody

If you're going to record one song by which the masses know you, then you should record "Hot Rod Lincoln," arguably the coolest song ever written. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen recorded the twangy Charley Ryan song, earning a Top 10 spot in 1972.

The Commander, aka George Frayne, headed up one of the hardest-hitting country rock bands ever, but says for this show he'll concentrate more on boogie-flavored jump blues — "it's that nice, fresh kick-in-the-ass thing" — when he takes the First Tech Blues Stage at 8:15 p.m. July 4.

Frayne liberally sprinkles profanities amid his recountings of redneck threats against him and his bandmates in various shady clubs and smoking dope with the radical leftist White Panthers in the early 1970s. Tongue somewhat in cheek, he also decries "caterwauling" guest harmonica players who've stepped on his carefully arranged tunes, so harmonica players, be forewarned, he won't be asking you to sit in.

His last album, 2010's "Dopers, Drunks and Everyday Losers" was a signature mix of country, rockabilly and swing. Despite his rootsy style, the Commander says he strives to avoid cliches.

"The last thing you're gonna hear me play is 'Goin' to Chicago,'" he says.

The secret of his long career is simple, he says — practice, practice, practice.

"Stick with your guns, keep reinvesting yourself in your own music and that's what will keep it alive," he says.

Kara Grainger

by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF WATERFRONT BLUES FESTIVAL - Big crowds, picturesque Willamette River setting, hopefully nice weather, July 4 fireworks and music from the likes of Kara Grainger is part of the Waterfront Blues Festival, July 3 to 6, benefitting Oregon Food Bank.This Australian-born lady plays a mean slide guitar and sings in a smoky alto.

"I have a wonderful band for the festival," she says. "Scott Healy, who is the resident keyboard player on the 'Conan' show in L.A., Spencer Wright on bass, and Christopher Allis on drums. I'll be playing songs from all three of my solo recordings, 'Grand and Green River,' 'LA Blues' and my latest CD 'Shiver and Sigh.'''

A crowd-pleasing performer, Grainger takes the First Tech Blues Stage at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and then hops on the FedEx Crossroads Stage at 8:05 p.m.

"I've been working with this band for some time now, and we're really beginning to develop that chemistry and tight sound that you get after putting the time in," she adds.

If you press her for advice on how to play her signature slide guitar style, she'll tell you to stop pressing.

"The trick to slide is to not press down on the strings, let the weight of the slide guide you," she says. "That's why it also helps to have a heavy metal slide, high action and heavy strings."

She adds that she believes the blues are enjoying a bit of a revival.

"People are looking for more emotion and more feeling in general," she says. "I like the way that several new artists are incorporating the sound, and I think it's very healthy for the genre. I think the lyric and the message in blues will change incorporating some of society's current issues."

Tevis Hodges Jr.

The 25-year-old Portland bluesman will play two solo shows July 3, one on the Oregonian Front Porch Stage at noon, followed by a set on the FedEx Crossroads Stage at 2:15 p.m.

Hodges is of mixed-race background and says playing blues that touches on ragtime and the Piedmont, or fingerpicking style, helps him feel his roots.

"At this point, it's definitely one of the ways I stay in tune with my black Southern side," the Virginia native says, adding he likes to do sets of originals along with songs by Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, Son House and Blind Boy Fuller.

Mostly self-taught, Hodges plays some pretty nifty slide guitar as well and credits Northwest vaudeville music legend Baby Gramps for mentoring him.

Hodges represented the Cascade Blues Association as a solo artist at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis last January, making the semifinals and says the trip opened his eyes to the blues world.

"It was a really cool experience for me to be there and see this whole world of blues lovers really appreciate my music," he says.

Blues basics

• Gates open at 11 a.m. daily.

• Festival entry is a suggested donation of $10 per day Thursday through Saturday (including children, although kids under 5 can come in free).

• You'll need a festival pass to get in Sunday. For information, visit

• Proceeds benefit festival owner the Oregon Food Bank.

Quick highlights

From the Miller Stage each day:

• July 3: Los Lonely Boys at 7 p.m., and Los Lobos at 9 p.m.

• July 4: John Nemeth & The Bo-Keys at 6 p.m. and The Soul of John Black, aka John Bigham of Fishbone, at 7:30 p.m.

• July 5: Harmonica god Charlie Musselwhite at 5:30 p.m., Otis Taylor & Mato Nanji at 7:15 p.m., and funky James Brown/George Clinton saxophonist Maceo Parker at 9:15 p.m.

Local blues

Local blues lovers should check out the Cascade Blues Association's "Journey to Memphis" contest, which selects a band as well as solo act to compete in the International Blues Challenge. Finals take place on the Front Porch Stage, July 4, and feature the following acts:

• 12:10 p.m.: David Pinksy & Phil Newton

• 12:40 p.m.: Ben Rice & The iLLamatics

• 1:20 p.m.: Still Water Vibes

• 2 p.m.: Rae Gordon Band

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