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Eclectic lineup at Riverfront Concerts appeals to many tastes

DAVID F. ASHTON - The music of Chervona gets spectators onto their feet and dancing, at this years first Sellwood Riverfront Park Concert. Music, food, beverages, and neighbors magically combined to provide five memorable outdoor evenings again this year, as the Sellwood Riverfront Park Concerts got underway on Monday, July 6.

It’s part of the Portland Parks & Recreation “Summer Free for All” Concerts in the Parks series, but it’s planned – and sponsored – in the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood.

Starting an hour before the 6:30 pm show time, families and couples came into the area, many on foot or by bicycle. With them they are picnic suppers, including beer and wine – which are allowed during the concerts – and they then settled in for a pleasant evening’s entertainment.

“We have a ton of local supporters that make this happen,” said Jim Friscia, one of the committee members who recruits the sponsors and chooses the bands.

“Part of what makes this successful is that we have a really long list of sponsors who contribute to our concert season,” Friscia said.

In-kind sponsors help out as well, he added, thanking historic Oaks Amusement Park for opening their south lot for overflow parking, and Heiberg Garbage & Recycling taking care of the trash. “And, the Adsideo Church provides volunteers to monitor our ‘bicycle corral’, and to keep an eye on our parking areas. This could not be done without the people in this neighborhood pitching in.” SMILE, the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood association, is also a sponsor.

Having these concerts provides a place where people from our community can get together, remarked Friscia. “It’s a fun, safe, family-friendly place to come and hang out on a nice summer evening.”

As Friscia spoke with THE BEE, itself a co-sponsor of the concerts, Chervona – the band featuring “Eastern Euro Carnival Insanity” tunes, with Klezmer, gypsy and rock-and-roll influences – began to play, enlivening the audience.

The following week, the Windermere Stellar Moreland office presented “Portland’s Pillar of Soul”, Ural Thomas & the Pain. On July 20, singer and acoustic blues band Mary Flower & the BBQ Boys took the stage, sponsored by OnPoint Community Credit Union. The following week, the Roseland Hunters played their brand of New Orleans Funk.

And, finishing up the season on Monday evening, August 3rd, was Catarina New & Brazilian Touch – a Swedish saxophonist with a Latin band – sponsored by the Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance (SWBA).

“One of the great additions this year has been our local food vendors,” Friscia pointed out. “This year we have Atlas Scoops serving their ice cream, and food by Sellwood charcuterie Feastworks.”

It you missed this July series of Monday evening concerts in Sellwood’s Riverfront Park, well – there’s always next year. They’ll be back, with new artists performing.