Park concert series kicks off at Mt. Tabor

Find out how this East Portland series began this year – and see the fun they’re having in the Tabor Caldara as these July concerts are underway …

Some of the Portland Parks & Recreation Community Youth Ambassadors at this Mt. Tabor ‘Concert in the park’ gather with Concert Series Coordinator Nim Xuto (far right).

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

While the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) “Summer Free for All” Concerts in the Parks series doesn’t kick off in outer East Portland until August, there’s plenty of live music at the same place in July.

The good thing is that the volunteers who put on these concerts are welcoming guests from all over the greater Portland area to concert venues, such as are held in the caldera at Mt. Tabor Park.

Coming from the Woodstock neighborhood to enjoy the concert are Brian Owens, who holds Dean; and mom Bethany Owens, with Julian.

Every July, crowds of people fill this natural amphitheater – a bowl created by a happily now-extinct volcano – to hear the musical acts booked there.

Parking is challenging; vehicles were parked in every imaginable space up and down the narrow streets of Mt. Tabor Park, and back into the surrounding neighborhoods, before the opening concert on July 11.

Serving savory Asian dishes as fast as they can are Val Thammavong and Jai Wang from the Sisters Fusion food cart at Cartlandia, and the Mekong Bistro restaurant located on NE 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Many concert-goers brought their own supper, snacks, and beverages (beer and wine are permitted); others trekked to the area above the caldera and visited vendors selling Asian and Hispanic food – as well as a truck offering Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

“We think it’s really important to have an event like this because it’s not necessarily always easy to live in Portland,” said one of the local organizers, Roger Warren.

“Having these concerts gives people a wonderful benefit of living in the city,” Warren told East Portland News.

Member of the Mt. Tabor Concerts organizing committee, Roger Warren, reminds guests that all of the concerts are supported by the generous contribution of neighbors, as well as commercial sponsors.

“I really like the idea that these are presented at no cost; and that everyone is invited so it’s a ‘come one, come all’ event,” Warren added.

Throughout the park, volunteers clad in lime-green vests helped vehicles maneuver the streets, advise against illegal parking, and help keep the peace. “We really appreciate having the ‘Friends of Mount Tabor Park’ Foot Patrol helping out, especially on concert nights,” commended Warren.

The Mt. Tabor caldera fills with concert-goers, ready for the first show of the season.

Celebrating their 30th year as a band, members of Conjunto Alegre pose for a photo – moments before their lively show begins.

At 6:30 p.m., right on schedule, this evening’s band – Conjunto Alegre – began the concert with their mix of Cuban rhythms with elements of jazz and rock; it’s described as the dance music of Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

Two more Mt. Tabor Concerts:

  • July 18The Seventh Seal, featuring Caribbean reggae from Bim Barbados
  • July 25 – The Freak Mountain Ramblers return with their very original, home-brewed, “mountain rock” sounds.

Mt. Tabor Park entrance is located at SE 69th Avenue and Taylor Street.

Within minutes after they begin playing, Conjunto Alegre’s music brings many members of the audience up to the stage to dance.

Ventura Park concerts begin August 2
This year, outer East Portland is treated to four concerts, held in this mid-County park:

  • August 2 –  Chervona returns with their lively concert of “Eastern European carnival insanity” tunes.
  • August 9Okaidja Afroso presents their West African/world music and dance music.
  • August 16 – At this concert it’s Cedro Willie (not Cedro-Woolley!) who will perform their harmonious Americana roots music.
  • August 23Ronnie Exconde & Friends play American soft rock from the Philippines.

Ventura Park is located at SE 113th Avenue, along SE Stark Street.

Brentwood-Darlington neighbors Dan Haley and Ellisha Lee toast to the beginning of another concert season.

CLICK HERE to see the East Portland News Community Calendar, listing all of the outdoor concert dates and locations – including the band, and style of music they perform – as well as the many free National Night Out and “Movie in the Park” events coming up this summer.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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