June 30th, 2010 | by Local Cut Music | Posted In: Columns

Blues Power VS. Girl Power

     
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Two festivals hit Portland this week: Only one shall exit alive!



On the surface, Lilith (formerly Lilith Fair) and the Waterfront Blues Festival don’t have much in common. One is a low-key, estrogen-fueled singer-songwriter road show; the other is a predominantly male, local festival aimed at the lawnchair-toting Portland Tribune demographic.

On the other hand, they work together in perfect harmony: Lilith is a great place to pick up chicks (especially if you’re a chick), and the Waterfront Blues Fest is a great place to meet their dads. Still, because these two festivals are some of the safest, most family-friendly shows to hit Portland this summer, we thought they could use some shaking up. Time to fight!



Taj Mahal
Age: 68
Cows milked per day as a teen: “ Anywhere between 35 and 70.”
Strengths: Cool name.
Weaknesses: Old age.

While he’s usually called a bluesman, Taj Mahal really plays a handcrafted fusion of soul, folk, pop and blues that’s as infectious as your favorite Motown hits while retaining a folksy, organic charm.



Sarah McLachlan
Age: 42
Juno Award nominations (Canadian Grammys, sorta):
21
Strengths: Mysterious, angelic.
Weaknesses: Soft skin, blinding love for animals.

Critics say McLachlan’s floaty, almost New Age pop tunes are too inoffensive to pass as real art, but the Canadian pop diva was an early breakbeat adopter and possesses an instantly recognizable set of pipes. We’ll take her over Céline Dion any day.



Trombone Shorty
Age:
24
First trombone star since: Uh, Glenn Miller?
Strengths: Looking good in a wife-beater, trombone.
Weaknesses: Hurricanes, oil spills.

New Orleans funk-jazz standout Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is that rare jazz musician with an ear for what the kids are into. He’s pop-savvy enough to perform with Lenny Kravitz and U2, but hip enough to make a funky-as-hell album all his own in Backatown.



Lucy Schwartz
Age: 20
Bears passing resemblance to: Neve Campbell, Blossom.
Strengths: Girl-next-door appeal, well-connected songwriting dad.
Weaknesses: Interpretive dance; soundtracking TV shows.

While Lucy Schwartz’s debut full-length, Help Me! Help Me!, shows promise, we can’t help but be jealous of her well-connected L.A. upbringing. Already KCRW-approved, Schwartz is marketed right into the hearts of teenage girls across America.



Booker T
Age:
65
Toured with Neil Young in: 1993
Strengths: Pretty much every instrument known to man.
Weaknesses: Workaholic.

From his huge single with the MGs, “Green Onions,” to his long stint with the house band at Stax to his recent tours with the Drive-By Truckers, Booker T refuses to be categorized. He even covered Outkast’s “Hey Ya” on his new disc, Potato Hole.



Sheryl Crow
Age: 48
Toured with Michael Jackson in: 1987-1989
Strengths: Duets, fighting cancer, selling 35 million (!) records worldwide.
Weaknesses: Acting (have you seen The Minus Man?).

Sure, lump Crow in with the adult-contemporary MOR you hear at your dentist’s office, but it’s hard to deny she has a voice and occasionally writes a killer song, like 1998’s “My Favorite Mistake.” Also, she survived a breakup with Lance Armstrong, who seems like a real douche.



Super Chikan
Age: 59
Celebrity fan: Morgan Freeman.
Strengths: He builds instruments out of auto parts.
Weaknesses: His guitar is built from a lawn mower.

Well into his 40s by the time he released his debut album, outsider bluesman James “Super Chikan” Johnson has made up for lost time ever since. He got that nickname by talking to chickens as a kid. True story!



Erykah Badu
Age: 39
Last crime charged with: Public nudity at JFK assassination site.
Strengths: Wearing ridiculous outfits, dating famous rappers.
Weaknesses: Preachiness.

She hates her “Queen of neo-soul” rep, but Badu is one of the most interesting pop stars around. Plus, the beats on 2008’s New Amerykah Part One are some of the grimiest and strangest to ever grace an R&B album. Long live the queen.

SEE IT: Waterfront Blues Fest (our winner by decision) is July 2-5 at Waterfront Park. Lilith (which fought a good clean fight) is July 2 at Sleep Country Ampitheater. See music listings for details.

 
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