“The blues is the roots, the rest is the fruits.” Willie Dixon

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness” Martin Luther King Jr.

It was a gloomy, rainy, winter night about 3 years ago. LeeAnn Gibbons, and some of her friends were sitting together, at one of their favorite venues. The group, in a great mood from the night’s entertainment, found themselves reminiscing about the fun they had had at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival earlier that year. They smiled as they exchanged stories about the performances of their favorite acts and spoke with awe of how successful the food drive for the Oregon Food Bank always seemed to be. “You know, the food bank always needs help all year long” says LeeAnn, a veteran volunteer with the Oregon Food Bank. It’s a shame most people aren’t aware of how bare the shelves get in January and February.” Then, in a split second instance of clarity she excitedly exclaimed to her friends “Why can’t we have a blues festival in the winter to help tie us over until the Waterfront Blues Festival starts?” she stated matter of factly “We can bring the community together with music and help the food bank and other charities too!” They all, without hesitation, enthusiastically agreed. Thus became the birth of the Winter Blues Music Festival.

The festival, now going into its’ third year, not only supports the Oregon Food Bank but the Children’s Healing Arts Project as well.

The WBMF has featured in its’ tenure a wide variety of national and local artists. Previous performers have included the infinitely exuberant local favorite Rae Gordon and blues great Janiva Magness to name a couple.

Founder Gibbons promises that this year’s event will offer the same fun and excitement that Portland has grown to expect from the festival “It is important to give back to the public what it gives to us.” She said somberly “I am amazed at how the blues community always comes together to support these causes. The Portland blues scene is like a big family and the people here repeatedly show love for each other. ”

The festival is continuing its two day tradition with the 2014 line-up including nationally
known artists Davina & The Vagabonds and 2012 IBC winners The Wired! Band. The audience can also expect knock-out performances from Oregon’s IBC representatives Ben Rice and Tevis Hodge Jr. plus with a 11 other bands to complete the weekend event.
Gibbons is also pleased to announce that the festival has collaborated with Amanda Gresham’s Delta Music Experience and Barbra Gresham Hammerman’s United By Music. These two organizations have helped solidify a sense of community by providing musical mentors to those with physical and intellectual disabilities such as Aspergers, Autism and Williams Syndromes who have a desire to learn how to play an instrument. “The Winter Blues Music Festival is a great opportunity for us to showcase our performers while giving those less fortunate, an opportunity to play in front of a live audience.” explains Gresham.

The Winter Blues Music festival is being held February 22 and 23rd at the Bobwhite Theatre 6423 SE Foster Rd in Portland. For a complete line-up, show times and ticket information you can go to the Winter Blues Music Festival website at www.winterbluesfest.net or their Winter Blues Music Festival Facebook page.  Winter Blues Festival

Additional information about United by Music and The Delta Music Experience can be found at www.UBMNA.org and www.amandagresham.com/dme.