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In July, eclectic concerts rocked Sellwood Riverfront Park

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - The Quick and Easy Boys singer Sean Badders rocks the crowd at the first of the July Monday evening Sellwood Riverfront Park Concert series this year. Although historic Oaks Amusement Park is silent on Monday evenings, just south of it, at Sellwood Riverfront Park, every July music of many different genres attracts music lovers from all over Portland, and it was no different this year.

By 5:45 pm on July 7 – the evening of the first of the shows in 2014 – all of the parking lots were full, vehicles were competing for street parking places, and those who live nearby in Sellwood were sensibly leaving their cars at home and walking down S.E. Spokane Street toting blankets and coolers.

Sellwood Riverfront Concerts’ committee member of a dozen seasons, Jim Friscia, spoke with THE BEE about this year’s musical series, which this newspaper was happy again to co-sponsor.

“I stay with it because it's fun,” Friscia said. “It's a really good opportunity to put on a true neighborhood event, to which people look forward every year. And, it’s a great community-building kind of thing.”

The concert series illustrates to people from Inner Southeast, as well as to folks who travel across the city, that “this is a real community,” commented Friscia. “It’s more than a ‘main street’ or shopping district – what we have here is a special and unique place in Portland.”

Because the Concert Committee members are presented with a long list of potential performers, Friscia said they enjoy drawing on the diversity of musicians Portland has to offer. “We try to pick different groups from unique genres.

“This year, none of our shows is like anything else that we’ve ever presented in the past. Hopefully people are going to enjoy each one of them, for what they are,” Friscia continued. “For example, tonight’s band, ‘The Quick and Easy Boys’ is a fun and high-energy group.”

Unlike other large summertime events, Friscia pointed out, this annual concert series is organized, promoted, and sponsored by, both residents and area businesses.

“More than 30 sponsors help make these concerts happen. We are again so thrilled by the support that we get from neighborhood businesses – including the Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance (SWBA) business association that came in as a major sponsor, as well as many of their members.”

Concerts then followed on successive Monday evenings, with these performers:

· Pilon DAzucar - Incendiary Havana Salsa;

· Love Gigantic - Nimble, Anthemic Folk Rock; and,

· Robert Moore & The Wildcats - Original Jazz & Blues.

And, the last concert of the series, to be held on Monday night August 4, will feature The Wanderlust Orchestra presenting their “vaudevillian, Bohemian style of cabaret music”. The show starts at 6:30 pm; if you’re planning on driving down Spokane Street to the park, plan on arriving an hour early – or else simply walk down to the river.