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Blues musicians bend a note for health care

by: COURTESY OF THE NORMAN SYLVESTER BAND - Portland blues Hall of Famer Norman Sylvester performs Saturday, April 13, as part of a health care fundraising show at the Melody Ballroom.Portland blues musicians are about to party like their lives depended on it.

A handful of local stars will perform at Saturday’s Inner City Blues Festival, “Healing the Healthcare Blues,” from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Melody Ballroom, 615 S.E. Alder St.

The April 13 festival will benefit Health Care for All-Oregon, a group that advocates the creation of a universal health care system to serve everyone in Oregon and the United States. The fundraiser also will benefit a campaign with the theme “Everybody in, Nobody out,” supporting a 2016 vote on universal health care in Oregon,

The program includes jazz, blues and even a little bit of Motown.

Portland musicians featured at the event include Oregon Music Hall of Famer Norman Sylvester — “The Boogie Cat” — and Portland blues legend Lloyd Allen. The Norman Sylvester Band, with Ben Rice, will perform songs from its album released last year, “Blues Stains on my Hands.”

“I have played for many benefits for fellow musicians and memorial services due to the lack of options,” said Sylvester. “Health care is a human right.”

The Inner City Blues Festival has a history of playing blues to support the community. From 1988 to 2003, the festival benefited the Portland Rainbow Coalition, called “Jam for Jesse.” After a short hiatus, the festival started up again last year with its new cause. Last year, “Healing the Healthcare Blues” pulled in more than 900 people and volunteers, and raised $10,000.

“We expect once again to sell out the Melody Ballroom,” said event organizer Bob Gross.

In addition to dancing the night away in the upstairs ballroom, the event will also include a raffle of items donated by sponsors, and tables highlighting the community downstairs accompanied by music.

“This event is a great way to get the word out,” said Gross. “And have fun doing it.”

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the event begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at www.tickettomato.com/event.php?event_id=1707?.