WWL: Waterfront Blues Fest to honor the Candlelight Room

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival starts Wednesday -- kicking off four days of great music. The Blues Fest has been a Portland staple for 31 years, and this year, there's a tribute to a tiny blues club, which launched the careers of many of the city's finest musicians.

At the corner of Southwest 5th and Lincoln, near Portland State University -- there was always a party seven nights a week in a tiny club called the Candlelight Cafe and Bar.

Blues musician Norman Sylvester of The Boogie Cat told KOIN 6 News, "Well, the Candlelight was a phenomenal bar. Just was a hub at that time, of the Portland music scene."

Sylvester held down Thursday nights at the Candlelight for 11 years.

"National acts touring Portland, having shows in Portland -- some of their bands would end up at the Candlelight," he said.

Local artists including Patrick Lamb, Andy Stokes, the late Paul Delay, Linda Hornbuckle & Janice Scroggins, Lloyd Jones and many more essentially established their careers there.

The Candlelight easily got people up and dancing, literally elbow-to-elbow.

"The more crowded it was, the more people tried to get in there," Sylvester said while laughing.

People packed the place for 28 years -- thanks to owner Joe Shore, who bought the place in 1984 and kept the music playing.

But, all good things must come to an end. The Candlelight was demolished in 2012.

"It was like a relationship breaking up, my god -- like I was losing a loved one," Sylvester said.

Today, tracks for the Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail Line have taken the place of what used to be the Candlelight Room. But, the good times that happened in that little Portland juke joint will never be forgotten, the music and especially the relationships.

"It's still, folks still hold a hand up when you mention the name of the Candlelight," Sylvester said. "It's just a lasting memory in Portland, Oregon's music history."

Norman Sylvester will pay tribute to the Candlelight Room on Wednesday -- the first day of the Blues Festival. It'll take place on the Front Porch Stage starting at 2:30 p.m. Many of the musicians who played the Candlelight Room will perform.

View the Blues Fest Lineup here

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