By Yousef Hatlani
Festival season dawns upon the city of Portland around this time every year—just as the sun starts to come out and the air glides by us as crisply as the sharpness of Oregon’s blue summer skies. And no local music festival is as illustrative of this inauguration as the annual Soul’d Out, a celebration of all things funk, soul, blues, hip hop, electronic and rock—serving as, maybe more than anything, a go-to wellspring for vetted, authentic talent.
Dating back to April 2010, past editions of the festival have seen the likes of Prince, Gil Scott-Heron, Lauryn Hill, Ice Cube, Buddy Guy, Booker, T. Jones, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Steel Pulse, Charles Bradley, Esperanza Spalding, Justice…the list goes on; it manages to create a cohesive format that, at the same time, is refreshingly diverse in its approach—making it one of the year’s absolutely essential festival attractions, boasting acts for classicists and newcomers alike.
This year’s edition of the festival—kicking off next Wednesday, April 13th—upholds its longstanding tradition of high-caliber talent; headliners include funk forebears George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Texas blues incarnate Gary Clark Jr, Reggae icon Bunny Wailer, undying soulstress Sharon Jones and Americana heroine Bonnie Raitt. Youthful innovation is also heartily represented, featuring sets by Thundercat, SZA, Bilal, and Anderson.Paak, as are local acts in Ural Thomas, 1939 Ensemble, Asher Fulero Band and the Quick & Easy Boys. There is also an Allen Toussaint tribute, as well as a not-to-be-missed reunion of legendary Oakland, CA hip hop crew Hieroglyphics—in addition to several other outstanding shows that round out the full lineup, spanning no less that nine venues over five days.
As a refresher, you can check out Faces on the Radio’s April 2015 interview with festival organizers Nick Harris and Haytham Abdulhadi here—going into the origins of Soul’d Out, its most memorable moments and the dream acts they’d love to book (although, as they admit, it’s pretty hard to top Prince.)
Soul’d Out 2016 runs April 13th-April 17th, at various venues. Full ticketing and schedule information can be found at Souldoutfestival.com.