It's the Fourth of July, and that means the mid-valley is bursting with things to do and see, including fireworks shows Thursday night from Corvallis to Lebanon (and plenty of locations in between).
So let's get started with this week's guide to a busy week of arts and entertainment activities:
Thursday brings the first concert in this summer's River Rhythm series, held on the banks of the Willamette River in Albany's Monteith Riverpark. And, because Thursday is the Fourth of July, the opener comes with a bonus: a fireworks show after the concert by Baha Men. River Rhythms tends to schedule these fireworks shows only on those years when a concert falls on the Fourth, so you can figure this happens once every seven years or so. But Thursday night is one of those nights, to paraphrase The Eagles. A typical River Rhythms show attracts about 10,000 or so people, but expect that number to jump with the fireworks on Thursday (no disrespect to the Baha Men, who should offer a fun show). My story in today's E section previews the Thursday opener and takes a look at the rest of the series, and you can read it by clicking on this sentence.
By the time this story hits your inbox, they'll be firing up the annual Corvallis Red, White and Blue Festival in the city's Riverfront Commemorative Park. There's an interesting story behind this year's festival: The Downtown Corvallis Association, which had put on the event for years, decided to pull the plug on it earlier this year, for valid reasons: It was increasingly hard to find volunteers to work at the event, and it was a chore to find the donations to match the cost of putting on the free event. But Corvallis restaurant owner Cloud Davidson thought the event was worth saving, assembled a small army of volunteers and sponsors, and is running a somewhat scaled-back version of the festival (this year's event runs for just one day instead of two, as in the past). The free event is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. Thursday until 10 p.m., when the Corvallis Jaycees put on their annual fireworks show.
Fans of the Red, White and Blue Festival might notice one change from previous festivals: Davidson has put together a wildly eclectic group of musicians to perform on stage, from a band that specializes in blues and folk tunes to a Portland electronic music trio. The lineup features the Corvallis band The Regretti's, the Bend-based Guardian of the Underdog, Corvallis' Creighton Lindsay Band and the Portland trio Yak Attack. To read more about the festival's musical offerings, click here.
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If you're still trying to figure out how to spend your Independence Day, we've got you covered. Our E calendar of events has a full list of mid-valley Fourth festivities — but it doesn't stop there. The calendar is your one-stop source to chart out a full week's worth of things to do and see. You can check it out by clicking here.
Lebanon is kicking off its summer concert series on Friday, with a performance by the estimable mid-valley string band Wild Hogs in the Woods. You can check out the Noon at the Plaza series every Friday at noon through Aug. 16 at Lebanon's Strawberry Plaza, 847 S. Main St. The rest of the series is a typically eclectic lot, including a performance Aug. 9 by Portland cello master Gideon Freudmann and a July 12 performance by the East Dream Chinese Dance company from Corvallis. Read more about the series by clicking here. (Don't forget that the Willamette Valley Concert Band is performing Tuesday, July 8 in Harrisburg: Click here to read more about that show.)
Because I'm a slacker, I still haven't seen "Yesterday," but I hear it did surprisingly well at the box office. (For a refresher, click here for Katie Walsh's review.) But the weekend brings three new flicks to your favorite multiplex, including the latest Marvel movie, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," the second Spidey flick with Tom Holland. Reviewer Mark Kennedy says Holland is "utterly endearing" in this, the first Marvel movie set after the events in "Avengers: Endgame," which remains in theaters. And, Kennedy says, the movie turns bizarre in its second half.
Are we in the midst of a golden age for horror flicks? Could be. Writer-director Ari Aster, who scared the pants off audiences with last year's "Hereditary," is back with a new chiller, "Midsommar," that's just as creepy as the last one but which is set instead in bright summer sunshine. Walsh gives it four stars, and calls it "a tonal roller coaster that leaves audiences with a kind of dissonant stomach-churning disturbance that's not easy to shake."
The third new flick in the mid-valley this weekend is "American Woman," a drama that finally gives the underrated Sienna Miller a showcase role. Reviewer Rick Bentley says she makes the most of it, turning in a masterclass performance as a woman who must raise her young grandson by herself after her daughter abruptly disappears.
Need more guidance to set your moviegoing plans? Our handy Movie Scene has 'em all listed — the ones you should see and the ones (so sorry, "Men In Black: International") that you should avoid. Click here to check out the Movie Scene.
That's it for this week. We'll talk again next Thursday. Have a terrific Fourth of July weekend.