What could be better than a rhythm and blues festival by the bay? Okay. Picture the concert happening on a boat near the bay. That is exactly what is going to happen during this year’s Peninsula Rhythm & Blues Festival Friday and Saturday on the old oyster boat, the May West, at the Port of the Peninsula in Nahcotta, Washington.

 Clint Carter, festival organizer, has secured an exciting selection of musicians. “We’re doing everything we can to keep the blues alive on the southwest Washington coast,” Carter said.

Matt Schofield, an England native and one of the musicians playing, was the first blues guitarist inducted into the British Musician’s Hall of Fame. He received best guitar player awards in 2010, 2012 and 2013. The Peninsula R&B Festival is his only west coast appearance in 2019. The following weekend Schofield will appear in Switzerland.

Carter encourages festivalgoers to visit Schofield’s YouTube page.

“I’m still in awe that we secured a talent with such a world-wide following.”

The music starts at 5 p.m. Friday with Frank Paletta and the Harp Attack. At 7 p.m., the hometown favorites, North Coast Blues, take the stage and at 9 p.m. headliner Ty Curtis plays.

Saturday’s lineup starts with Kris Deelane at 1 p.m. followed by the Bayou Boys at 3 p.m. Longtime peninsula favorite Norman Sylvester plays at 5:30 p.m. and headliner Matt Schofield comes on at 8 p.m.

Blues history

Carter stressed that blues is more than just a music genre.

“It comes from deep inside and I fear that some of the young people may not understand or get the feeling of it if it goes away,” Carter said. “It’s an important part of history.”

Blues started in the days of slavery.

“In blues music today, you’ll hear a singer sing something and then there will be a little fill, like a guitar riff or something. That’s the call and response,” Carter said.

The singer does the call and the lead instrument does the response.

“That originated when the slaves were picking cotton and they needed a way to communicate with each other. They called it field hollers.”

 Fun festival, healing music

Carter got involved in Ilwaco when he helped start the blues and seafood event in 2008. Up until three years ago it was a yearly event. With the event no longer being held in Ilwaco, Carter picked up the torch and brought it to Ocean Park. 

“The satisfaction of seeing 400-500 people enjoying blues makes my heart sing,” Carter said.

Peninsula resident Jan Bono took on the fundraising department reigns.

“It’s just wonderful that so many businesses in such a small community are willing to open their wallets and make this happen,” Bono said.

A dance floor has been constructed especially for this event, Carter said.

The festival received a grant this year for a 40 by 60-foot tent, which, added to the port’s same-size tent, will be sure to cover festival attendees in the event of inclement weather.

No outside food or drink is allowed at this 21 years and older festival, but a nice selection of food vendors will be on site including Foody Blues BBQ, Hollis Portland Street Tacos and Mike’s Fish and Chips (other seafood options also available), along with an assortment of beer and wine and soft beverages.

Sylvester, a festival favorite, spoke of the healing powers of listening to and playing music.

“As the music heals the soul of the listening, it delivers the same emotion to the musician. Music is the universal language of peace, love and joy,” he said. “The groove makes you dance and the lyrics make your mind reflect on the good times in your life.”

Attendees are dedicated supporters of live music, Sylvester added.

“There’s always happy music and a loving and enthusiastic crowd at the Peninsula R&B Festival,” Sylvester said. “They show up to party in any kind of weather.”

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