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Sponsors support FIVE Riverfront Park concerts

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - James Low, center, sings one of his original ballads. The sounds of live music again wafted from Sellwood Riverfront Park every Monday in July, starting on the evening of July 8 with Nikki Hill’s “Roots Rock ’n Roll” concert – the first concert, citywide, of the season. And, thanks to extra support from the sponsors who underwrite the free concerts, the music will continue to waft, for the first time, on the first Monday in August as well.

“The James Low Western Front” posse rode into the park on July 15th, dazzling the crowd with original tunes the band describes as “dusty folk pop” music. This concert was special for front man James Low: “You might call this my ‘all-star band’ – musicians I’ve played with over the years, here in Portland.”

They gathered for this show, Low told THE BEE, because this was his last show in town. “I am moving to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for a two-year ‘writing sabbatical’. I’m taking a couple of guitars and a keyboard, and I’ll do nothing but play music and write.”

Some famous Portland musicians have used prison stays as writing sabbaticals, Low remarked, “But I think this is going to be a little more fun.”

Riverfront Concert committee volunteer Dave Johnson said he’s been supporting the outdoor shows for “…Seven or eight years now. It is a labor of love. It is important to have these, because music is important for the health and well-being of our community.”

Thanks to the support of sponsors – mostly local businesses – Johnson pointed out that this year there was enough funding to expand the concert series to five shows from four. “It speaks highly of business people, and local neighbors, who come together to put on a show for the public.”

This year’s concert series, like in past seasons, tends to draw about 1,500 people into the park, commented Portland Parks & Recreation Summer Concert Producer Jen Bernard. “Combining Portland’s parks, some of the most beautiful in the world, with great musicians from here and abroad, has turned out to be a very good thing.”

“Brownish Black” also rocked the park with their brand of “vintage, basement R&B and soul” tunes; as did “The Machete Men”, who laid down a driving beat with their “Rock en Espanol” show.

The fifth and final concert features Sellwood native Lloyd Jones and his “Swingin’ Rhythm & Blues Band” – and it will be in Sellwood Riverfront Park on the evening of Monday, August 5th.