Listen to the festival’s playlist of songs by this festival’s talented artists!


Brother Yusef

Brother Yusef has been described as a master solo guitarist, as well as a uniquely passionate vocalist. His performances are as raw, honest and real as the genre has ever aspired to be. Honed over thirty years, he calls his multifaceted style, fattback blues for it’s a rich mix of Delta , Chicago and Texas blues alongside a hard driving Louisiana stomp. Fattback Blues combines “traditional” fingerpicking and slide guitar playing with the contemporary feel of urban blues, rock and funk.  He uses his right hand thumb to beat out a percussive bass-line and shuffle, while the index finger plays rhythm and lead lines, creating a full band sound with a solo guitar.

Born in Bakersfield California and later moving with his family to Southern California, Yusef picked up the guitar at 19 experimenting jazz, reggae, and R&B. He would find himself at a musical crossroads in 1989 while paying his last respects to his grandfather at his childhood church. A soloist at the funeral played a hymn on guitar that connected him to his grandfather, elders and ancestors in the Blues.

Brother Yusef approaches the blues from a musical, spiritual and social context. He is quoted as saying, “for African Americans blues has been about  survival, healing and freedom ”.

Brother Yusef has gained worldwide recognition performing at various blues and music festivals, social dance events and concert performances both nationally and internationally. He takes his audience on a musical journey from a backwoods jook joint to the fiery emotions of the sanctified church.


Ben Rice

Ben Rice has been leaving huge impressions on audiences around the Northwest and winning awards for his vocals and guitar playing for the last seven years. In 2014 at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee he left the audience speechless with a raw emotional delivery of his version of “Key To The Highway.” His second consecutive trip to the International Blues Challenge he made the finals in the solo/duo category. Where he was awarded the St. Blues Guitarist award for best guitarist.

His debut on the international stage in 2014, was a landmark step forward in his career from being a regional act playing primarily around the NW to a national and international touring artist. Captivating audiences and presenting himself as someone who has a lot of depth in the various soundscapes of American music. Ben is gaining fans all over the world who love his playing, singing, songs, and stage performance.

His original music blends Soul, Delta-Blues, Rockabilly, Jazz, and Funk into a Roots Stew. Influenced heavily by his parents record collection from Al Green to Alice Cooper, Teddy Pendergrass to Marshall Tucker. Ben at a young age began investigating into Blues and it’s history. Starting with B.B. King and going through the various regions and time periods he is inspired and influenced by historical figures like Muddy Waters, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, and Skip James to name a few. Ben spent his college years studying Jazz Guitar at the University of Oregon as well as classical music. Playing in the Celtic Folk ensemble and Mariachi group on campus. He has been well versed in a lot of musical styles that all contribute to the unique sound of his originals.

As a performer Ben looks to the greats for inspiration. Always striving to connect with the audience through his music and stories. He also has an interesting arsenal of guitars playing resophonic guitars and homemade cigar box guitars. More important than the visual appeal Ben has an amazing way of making these guitars sound, often bringing audiences to tears with his slide playing.

Ben Rice has been a growing talent in the NW,  winning awards for his singing, guitar work, writing, and performing. He is stepping into the national and international scene. Using his vast influences of American music to fuel his music and performance.

Kevin Selfe

Kevin Selfe has been electrifying audiences nationwide since breaking into the blues scene in 2006. His growing stature as a captivating story teller and passionate performer are surpassed only by his deft mastery of blues guitar. Having relocated to Portland, OR, the Virginia native is now a leading light in the Pacific Northwest’s robust blues revival. Effortlessly combining the guitar traditions of the legends and the modern masters into his own unique approach, Selfe’s stylistic depth and electric performances resonate with audiences.  His live shows have grown in legend largely due to his unique gift for communicating, through guitar, the complex range of moods revealed only by blues. Selfe’s songwriting style bridges the gap between joy and angst, using piercing irony, humorous metaphors, and daring autobiographical subject matter from his own occasional walks with the blues.

In February 2013, Kevin Selfe signed with world renown blues label Delta Groove, and released “Long Walk Home”to rave reviews.  The recording peaked at #15 on the Billboard Blues Chart, #6 on the Living Blues Radio Chart spending three months in the top 25, and was #2 on SiriusXM Radio Bluesville “Pick To Click” list.  “Long Walk Home”features 11 original compositions demonstrating Selfe’s musical depth and diversity with forays into West Coast, Texas, Chicago and Delta blues, along with top-notch support by veteran blues and roots musicians including Delta Groove labelmate Mitch Kashmar on vocals and harmonica, Gene Taylor (The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Blasters) on piano, Doug James (Roomful of Blues, Jimmie Vaughan) on baritone sax, and Tornadoes Allen Markel (The Insomniacs) on bass and Jimi Bott (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rod Piazza, The Mannish Boys) on drums.

In October 2015, Selfe released “Buy My Soul Back” on the VizzTone Label. Just as with “Long Walk Home”, Selfe calls upon his “Who’s Who” list of blues friends to create a gem of a recording that features Jimi Bott, Sugaray Rayford, Mitch Kashmar, Willie J Campbell, Gene Taylor, James Pace, Lisa Mann and many more. This latest collection of songs reveals an unwavering dedication to the traditional blues school, and yields yet another deft homage to empty wallets, ne-er-do-wells, and the enduring theme of love’s rapid melt. With “Buy My Soul Back”, Kevin Selfe has cemented his reputation as a masterful, dyed-through, true bluesman.

In nine years Kevin Selfe and The Tornadoes have become a fan favorite in the Northwest and beyond. In August 2013, Kevin was nominated for a Blues Blast Award, and the band was inducted into the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame in 2012 for Traditional Blues Act. In addition, Kevin was inducted into the CBA Hall of Fame for Electric Guitar in 2014 . They’ve won 20 prestigious Muddy Awards from the CBA for Traditional Blues Act of The Year (2010-2014), Contemporary Blues Act of The Year (2009, 2013, 2015), Performance of the Year (2016, 2013, 2012), Electric Guitar (2012-2014), Drums (2011-2014), NW Recording of The Year (2013), and National Recording of The Year (2013).


Dante Zapata

Dante has been playing and performing  since childhood in the ever growing city of McMinnville, OR.
He is first and foremost a Blues and Soul musician, but he’s also known for playing anything from folk to gospel to reggae.
When Dante is not performing, he regularly enjoys dancing, painting , and working on his families farm.

” I grew up playing music with my older brother Andre. He was naturally drawn and gifted with guitar. Me, I was into the drums, big time. I practically drove my parents crazy banging on anything and everything around the house. For the sake of saving her dishware and furniture, my mother got me a drum set when I was about 13. My brother and I began exploring playing music together, teaching each other the language of music. We’re both self taught musicians, never had a lesson except for the Cd’s we listened to and the things we shared with each other.

When I was about 18 or so, I wondered into a local wine bar, Willamette Valley Vinyards, with my guitar and told them I played nice soul music. I played the server a song and she loved it. From there I was meeting all kinds of people in the wine industry and playing in more wine bars and wineries than I could keep track of. That’s when I learned that there is this beautiful emerging wine industry that really makes me proud of where I come from. France has nothing on Oregon pinot.

For the past few years I’ve had more opportunities in music than I ever thought possible for myself. I’ve officially become an international musician. I’ve done shows in France and Switzerland, I’ve done shows in Seattle, California, Colorado, and New York. I love music and performing, Its what I was born to do.”


Emily Smith

Emily started out as a DJ in Seattle’s epic house-party scene in 2005. She was one of Burn Blue’s original DJs when the scene started and volunteered as a DJ coach for new aspiring DJs, and she has been a regular DJ at many of the regular blues dance floors in Seattle. She loves traveling to dance events to hang with old friend and meet new friends, and has had the pleasure of being on staff for multiple events either as a DJ or co-organizer. Emily is a wife and a mother of 2 little princesses and is working toward a career in emergency medical care.


Over 100 More Amazing Artists

You don’t want to miss this festival! Check out the full list of Waterfront Blues Festival artists by clicking on the link below:

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