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Summer concerts enliven Riverfront Park through August 8

DAVID F. ASHTON - Keegan Smith and The Fam begin their set at the first Sellwood Riverfront Park Concerts in the Park show of the season. Taking advantage of lovely summer weather, hundreds of music lovers came to Sellwood Riverfront Park for the Portland Parks & Recreation “Concerts in the Park” series, starting this year on July 11.

About an hour before the first concert began, Pamela and Scrafford Orser patrolled the park on “poop patrol” – it’s an off-leash dog park on non-concert days – and filled in any ankle-twisting divots in the lawn.

“We’ve been on the Concert Committee for about 12 years now,” said Scrafford Orser. “We volunteer because we believe in building a sense of community where everyone comes down to the park to listen to music, have dinner, and enjoy the evening,” Scrafford.

“Another part of is that we also have community tables where people can learn more about nonprofit organizations and businesses in our area,” Pam added. “Providing this connection is important, because there are a lot of young families coming here. We’re hoping that some of them will ‘get the spirit’ and volunteer to help keep this going.”

Music helps “feed the creative aspect” of people, Scrafford remarked. “If you can build a community event with wonderful entertainment in our parks which incorporates the neighbors and greater community, I think this builds a stronger community.”

Recalling how they brought their own kids to the concerts starting years ago, Pam reflected, “It’s a real family event. I can’t wait to see which neighbors are going to show up. We all have busy lives, and it’s fun to see who comes.”

Food vendors served hot dinners and icy treats, and community organizations provided information and creative play areas.

After the welcoming announcements, “Keegan Smith and The Fam” began their music show, entertaining from their repertoire of original urban Americana tunes.

On successive Monday evenings, Pete Krebs and His Portland Playboys offered their western swing and honky-tonk music; Edna Vazquez and her band performed Latin pop with folkloric roots; and award-winning contemporary blues artist Karen Lovely and her band entertained.

This year’s Monday summer series concludes on August 8 with Sellwood’s own internationally-renowned band, Quarterflash. If you plan on parking, be sure to arrive early!