For residents and staff at Marquis Piedmont, the return of Portland blues legend Norman Sylvester for his seventh free concert at the facility represented the promise of brighter days ahead.
Known as the “Boogie Cat,” Norman has been an icon of the Portland music scene for more than 30 years. The Piedmont tradition started as an homage to his friend Mel, a fellow blues musician, who had been a resident there. The pandemic put the annual festivities on pause in 2020, so he was energized to be back in 2021.
We’re so grateful to have Norman and his band here today. It means everything to have some normal back. Jan Worley-Blazek, facility administrator
Sheltered from the sun by a semi-circle of tents, staff and residents enjoyed icy drinks and clapped along. “Let the good times roll,” Norman sang, and the audience shouted back, “All night long.”
“Words cannot express the feeling I have being here with the Marquis residents,” he said. “It means as much to me as it does to them to see live music again. It’s a healing force.”
The concert closed with a blues rendition of “This Little Light of Mine,” and the song reflected the main message Norman was hoping to share.
“Let your lights shine,” he said. “Don’t let politics, a pandemic or a physical ailment make you sad. If you can get a smile out of a day, you’re doing good, and that’s the best medicine sometimes.”