Don’t just sing the Healthcare Blues… FIX THEM!

 The Inner City Blues Fest is back for its 6th dynamite year!

Blues Fest 1Imagine yourself enjoying an excellent dinner in an intimate club filled with around 800 of your closest friends…  all dressed to kill.  The stage lights flare as the room explodes with the most sizzling Blues you’ll ever hear… the rumbling growl of Norman Sylvester, the glistening fingers of Mary Flower, the trancelike rhythms of the Strangetones, the pulse-pounding beats of Boco Alegria, and so many more.  Then imagine all this is for even more than the sheer joy of the music, but that it also helps promote Single Payer Healthcare in Oregon.  Now, QUIT IMAGINING and MAKE YOUR PLANS for the 6th Annual Inner City Blues Festival!  And if you’re very, very, quick and answer the question we’ve placed in this article, we can even give you two free tickets for the show…


What does someone look like when they’re beating breast cancer?      Here’s LaRhonda Steele performing at the Healthcare Blues Festival while simultaneously kicking cancer’s ass. She ended up owing more than $6000 for medical expenses that Medicare did not cover. As LaRhonda said, “I don’t want a free ride, but I shouldn’t have to mortgage the house to survive during cancer treatment. People should not have to balance decisions about whether to buy food or medicine when they are sick.” LaRhonda won her battle, and has now been cancer-free for 2 years! Photo by David Young

The Inner City Blues Festival has its roots in the Portland Rainbow Coalition’s 1988 “Jam for Jesse” Jackson.  While the Jam for Jesse was 20 years too early for the first African American President, the event itself continued in support of social causes and social justice until 1998.  Bob Gross, Ken Cropper, Norman Sylvester, and a small group of dedicated activists were responsible for those original festivals, and decided to revive the event as “Healing the Healthcare Blues” in 2011 in support of Single Payer Healthcare in Oregon and beyond.  Tom Dwyer Automotive was privileged to support the new Festival, and it’s an event we’ve eagerly looked forward to every year since.  The Inner City Blues Festival has grown into a spectacular showcase of some of the premiere Northwest blues stars, bringing together 800+ guests, 150+ businesses and partner organizations, and countless volunteers to increase awareness about universal access to health care through Health Care for All- Oregon.

Blues is an amazing art form but it’s typically not a very well-paying one, and most (if not all) of the musicians who’ll be playing have very personal horror stories of the health care system.  When Rob Shoemaker’s wife needed rotator cuff surgery, they were forced to re-finance the house to cover their part of the expenses. “Our old mortgage would have been paid off 3 years ago”, he said. “As it is, at age 62, I have 12 years of house payments still ahead of me.”   Headliner Norman Sylvester is tired of playing benefits for musicians who fell ill or, more tragically, playing for their Celebration of Life… “They didn’t have preventative care because of years of not being able to afford healthcare.  Health Care is a Human Right!”  Linda Hornbuckle summed up both the problem and the solution nicely… “You never know when a health crisis is going to come.  With the resources available in this country, healthcare should be available to every citizen!”

The Inner City Blues Festival, “Healing the Healthcare Blues,” rolls into the North Portland Eagles Lodge (7611 N. Exeter; at Lombard) on Saturday, April 22nd Doors open at 5:00 p.m., and the place will be absolutely rocking until midnight!  The lineup features many of the most dynamic artists from past years along with an ever-expanding list of newcomers.  This year, you’ll be treated to…

17-ICBF+Poster+(sm)-page-001The Norman Sylvester Band

Obo Addy Legacy Project “Okropong,”

Mary Flower

Tevis Hodge Jr.

Mic Crenshaw


Stangetones & Volcano Vixens

Bloco Alegria

Steve Cheseborough

Lloyd “Have Mercy” Jones

Tony Ozier and “Doo Doo Funk”

Mad as Hell Doctors, Nurses, & Interns

and celebrity MCs Paul Knauls, Renee Mitchell, and Ken Boddie.

Admission is $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Tickets are available at

Music Millennium, 3158 E Burnside

Geneva’s Shear Perfection, 5601 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

Peninsula Station, 8316 N. Lombard

Musician’s Union Hall, 325 NE 20th Ave.


You can still help support Single Payer by donating to HealthCare for All- Oregon at



The first caller to Tom Dwyer Automotive Services at 503-230-2300 who can answer this question gets 2 free tickets…

Who beat breast cancer while singing the Blues?

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