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Singin' the Blues for Oregon Hunger Relief

July 1, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. - Where else can you get a full day of live music for ten bucks and a couple of cans of food? It's Waterfront Blues Festival weekend in Portland, starting on Thursday.

More than 120,000 people attend the four-day event - not all at once, of course! The musicians and fans are international, but the donations they generate stay in Oregon to restock Oregon Food Bank Network locations around the state. Musician Patrick Lamb and his blues band will be performing on Sunday. His band is one of more than 100 acts scheduled to perform.

"I think that's just one of the coolest things about it - it's just a massive festival, but the heart and soul of it, and the heart and soul of the people who are running it, directly benefit the hungry and those in need, in Oregon - because a lot of people have 'got the blues.'"

According to Oregon Food Bank Executive Director Rachel Bristol, requests for food are up 16 percent this year statewide, and more than 30 percent in some areas, so the Blues Festival comes at a good time to replenish the shelves.

"There are new waves of people turning to our network that may not be eligible for unemployment. We're beginning to see people who have run out of unemployment benefits, so things just are not slowing down at all."

Volunteers collected about 91,000 pounds of food last year; this year's goal is 100,000 pounds. Get more information, including a performance schedule and tips for navigating the crowds, online at www.waterfrontbluesfest.com.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR