Well I made it another year and it’s a new decade on top of that. Let’s see how this one goes compared to the last. So far it’s off to a good start as Jenny wanted to do a little hiking on the first day of the year. She originally wanted to hike snow in the mountains but it ended up being to warm and not much snow so we scrapped the idea. It turned out to be a really nice day for winter here in Portland and we took full advantage of it.
We decided on some trails around the Portland Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary nestled inside Forest Park. Oddly enough the sun was out and it was blue skies while we hiked in the forest. It was the most amazing thing. The temperatures were really comfortable too. I couldn’t believe the luck we had on the first day of the year. This reminds me of the time it was in the low 70’s in DC and I went for a picnic on The Mall in shorts it was so nice.
The forest itself was pretty amazing. This section of forest is completely covered in moss. Every tree has it growing on it. Any structure that is in the woods has it growing on it. With the sun actually being out it lite up the forest really nice with no leaves on the trees. We just wondered around the sanctuary’s many trails. We also went to the Witch’s Castle to check out this neat structure. Unfortunately no witch’s here and the building isn’t even that old. On the short walk to the building we passed a number of people out and about. It is true that when the weather is this nice, everyone gets out of the house and enjoys it while they can.
Once we finished the hike we headed to the Japanese Garden which is close to the sanctuary. This was my first time here and I gotta say the place is pretty impressive. When you first arrive you are greeted with a good view of the northern part of the city sky line. Jenny said that on a clear day you can see Mt. Adams from here.
By the time we got to the gardens it was starting to cloud over and cool off. Being the first day of the year the gardens had a few things going on. On the good side they had complimentary tea in the tea house but on the down side they where closing early and all the offices where closed. We stopped for tea first thing but the place was smashed so we moved on.
I was impressed with the gardens. Even with the damp and cloudy condition it seemed to accent the gardens and make them seem more alive. Small ponds all over the place with fish swimming. Jenny said in summer there are many more fish in the ponds. In the back of the garden is the traditional tea house that host occasional tea ceremonies. On our way out we again stopped by the tea house and this time it was completely empty. We got a spot right in the corner overlooking the entrance to
I gotta say it was a great way to start the year off. We got out and did some hiking, had some zen moments at the gardens and surprisingly the weather played nice. I was shocked how warm it got and for a while at least, it was blue skies which is something you don’t see here often in winter. It’s good to take times like and just relax and enjoy.
Things often just work out. I try to see a concert on or as close to my birthday as possible. As soon as I could drive I saw my first concert I have fallen in love with live music. I try to see concerts as often as possible. This year I didn’t see anything in November but I did manage to see the podcast The New Negroes live on their swing through Portland at the Doug Fir. Jenny was excited because Naomi Ekperigin was the headline comic that night. Jenny recommend I watch her in an episode 2 Dope Queens and she was funny as hell.
We got tickets for the early show and when we arrived it wasn’t that full but as show time approached the place really filled in. It was going to be a great night of comedy I could feel it. Honestly I don’t remember the comics names besides Naomi but they were very funny. The first two people where locals and the spoke about their personal lives.
The first guy, the best part was the end of his set when he tells this story of his daughter. Basically there is an altercation and as he approaches he hears “Suck my dick.” Second to perform was interesting. He was a little younger then the first and most of his set was dedicated to his childhood. So many references to Pokemon and a few to Harry Potter. It was funny but most of the jokes skewed younger to be honest. Most people around me were laughing. It was a weird situation to be in. Last up was Naomi and she was funny as shit, my side was hurting.
Besides all the hilarity that night the other thing that was pretty amazing was seeing the birthday problem in real life. I have often spoken of this because when you think about it, 50% with just 23 people is pretty good odds. And that’s just math. Anyway, it was true that night and I was pretty excited to share the night with someone famous. Such a good night of comedy.
I gotta say I could not have asked for a better concert experience than what I had last Thursday. That nigh Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward with Doug Belote on drums played two incredible sets at Mississippi Studios which blew my mind. The show was killer, the food great and we had such a great time together.
Jenny came over right after work and we left for the Mississippi section of Portland. We ate at Interurban which I had never been to but Jenny had. Really great menu. I got some carrot fritters and a trout BLT. Both I thought were interesting and creative creations. The carrots reminded me of thanksgiving because of the puréed sweet carrot mixture and honey drizzle. The trout was just short of being candied or better yet jerky which for me was a new spin on the classic BLT.
The place itself really had some ambiance which sets it up. The first thing I noticed when we walked in was how dark it was inside. I know it’s winter and it’s dark at 5pm but this was crazy. It’s very small already and being so dark its easy to trip over things. Maybe a dozen tables on the main floor and half as many on the second floor which I also thing has the kitchen. Outside patio is available but no space heaters that I saw so it depends on how cold you like it if you sit outside. Seat yourself and staff will just come by. Local beer and mixed drinks which was nice.
We finished dinner pretty early so headed to the venue. It was only two blocks down from Interurban and once we got in we grabbed a round and headed outside. Conveniently they had a gas fire pit and allowed smoking around it. If we wanted a better seat we should have gone straight in but we would have missed running into Charlie at the front door!
After spending some time around the fire we decide to head in and grab our seats. As we are about to walk into the music hall side of things I catch Charlie Hunter walking in the front door. I quickly shock his hand and started chatting him up. I was way more composed this time than when I met him at the Jammin Java. I introduced him to Jenny and we chatted for several minutes. They just got back from a European swing of the tour. Lucy was flying in from Amsterdam and Charlie came from Charlotte, NC to California before driving the van north to the Portland show which I believe was the first back in the states. Charlie was obviously tired but you could tell there was this energy about him. This encounter I was much more composed and relaxed and I think everyone could feel it.
We didn’t find a close seat but that didn’t matter. The place is so small all seats have good views of the stage. We got a couple seats dead center and no one sat in front of Jenny so she too had a good view as well.
Having just seen them I thought this was a better show overall than Vienna. The playing was more fluid and the song selection unique. They played three Nina Simone and Jenny about lost her shit she was so excited. They also played some newer songs they are testing for the forthcoming album. It will be recorded early 2020 so I’m excited for that. I hope they release the album soon and do another tour to support it. I think they would be a fun band to see in Europe if given the chance.
On occasion I would look over at Jenny and I would smile she was so into it. It was so much fun hanging out with her that evening and seeing Charlie Hunter. I felt like i really could just be myself and do my thing and Jenny was right there ready to enjoy and have a genuine blast doing it. It was very comforting. Just a great night over all and I can’t wait to do it again.
Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward w/ Doug Belote on drums Thursday, November 5th 2019 Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR
Jeremy and I try to get together a few times a year if we can. Often he comes up to my neck of the woods or I see him in Texas, usually Austin. I have been to Texas to see him several time but never actually to San Antonio where he lives. Searching for our next trip I found The String Cheese Incident was playing a three night run at Stubb’s BBQ Waller Creek Amphitheater over Halloween weekend for their 25th anniversary tour. They played three nights at Cuthbert Amphitheater in Eugene earlier in the tour but I was traveling that week and couldn’t make it. Because of my limited PTO I could only take a half day Friday and would have to miss the show on Halloween entirely.
I managed to find a direct flight from Portland to Austin which arrived a little before 7pm. It would be close but it was very possible we could make the start of the show. Doors opened at 6pm with the show starting at 7pm. Now they are always late so we had a little extra time baked in. Thankfully no issues with the flight but Jeremy ran into traffic on his way north. It was a Friday night and the USGP was the same weekend so everyone was heading into downtown. Once he picked me up we headed straight to the venue and parked. We almost walked in before realizing we didn’t pay the meter so that delayed us a little more.
Finally we arrived just after 8pm and the band was already on stage tearing it up. We debated how much we missed and by our calculations, at most 15 minutes. If we didn’t have to go back to the car to feed the meter we probably would have made it on time for the start of set one.
When Jeremy and I came to the inaugural event at the Circuit of the Americas I remember going to Stubb’s and seeing the stage in the back yard. It is a weird setup if you ask me. Right along Waller Creek and attached to the restaurant. If you get a dinner table you can walk right into a show because the bathrooms are in the basement and no one is watching the back door. The grounds are not very wide but long instead with plenty of beer and food vendors which was nice. Restrooms are all porta pots in the way back. Never used them but they seemed adequate for the size crowd. Also the VIP lounge is in the way back of the venue. Its elevated so you have good view of the stage but you are really far back. Gravel which sucks because there is no place to sit down during set breaks or before the show.
Friday was pretty amazing, even missing the first few songs. The entire show was great. The crowd was still a little hung over from the previous nights festivities so lots of people in partial customs which was cool to see. I gotta be honest, I spent half the show just watching the crowd or looking at the light show as it danced across the trees near the sound stage. The song selection was perfect. Good selection of songs and some really amazing jams. Even managed to throw in a few teases and covers post-Halloween which was cool. Another thing I would like to mention is the food. I got two BBQ sandwiches that night and both of them where pretty damn good. I got one shredded beef and one jalapeno brisket. Over priced for sure but still very good. After the long flight I missed lunch and this hit the spot.
After the show we walked back to the car and headed to the hotel which was only a few blocks away. I was really looking forward to walking Saturday and not having to deal with a car. A little after 11pm Jeremy had to run back to the car to feed the meter and I wanted to avoid that scenario Saturday.
Saturday and we didn’t have anything officially planned which was nice. Our first objective was food so we got some breakfast tacos from Tacodeli. I gotta tell you I was pretty disappointed with the tacos. The best one had black beans, bacon, avocado and a few other things. Sadly I thought Austin could have done better than this for tacos. Maybe its Portland that has made me jaded with all the amazing food we have here, including tacos.
After we headed down to the Colorado River to hang out. It was pretty chilly that day I must say. I thought it would have been warmer than home but surprisingly not. We hung out by the river till I wanted to smoke a cigar. We grabbed a few from the hotel and headed to Republic Square before getting kicked out. City park, can’t smoke, I get it. Thankfully they were some benches outside an office building so we just hung out there. Afterwards we grabbed food at Holy Roller a few blocks away. This was some amazing food and more than made up for the horrible breakfast tacos.
After our late lunch we headed back to the hotel to play several rounds of Magic the Gathering and watch qualifications. It was USGP weekend after all and while we could not be at the track, I wanted to participate even if just in a small way. I mostly got my ass kicked but it was a lot of fun. We had a TV right next to us which was perfect for catching up on qualifications.
We played Magic as long as we could before heading to Stubb’s to see the last night of String Cheese. Funny thing happened on our way out of the hotel. As we walked out the front door I saw Paul Di Resta standing outside with another gentleman who was on his phone. I was shocked and surprised. Here is a former F1 drive and current SkyF1 commentator standing outside my hotel. I immediately turned into a young school girl. All I could say was “Good luck tomorrow” and shock his hand. I didn’t get a picture or chat. I was just so shocked running into him I couldn’t think straight. Really was awesome running into him and honestly, it made the trip. So cool shacking his hand. Surprisingly tall with big hands. So cool.
We were less than 8 blocks away and we almost missed the start of the show that night as well. As we got through security and walked into the venue String Cheese took the stage and started saying hello to the crowd. It was only a few steps to the field and we posted up as they hit the first notes of the show. It was perfect timing even with running into Paul Di Resta.
The second night I think was a little better than the first night. The jam and song selection was more to my liking. One thing that was great both nights was the light show. For such a small venue the light show was really cool. The way the lights and colors play with the music was in perfect time. Being a smaller venue the lights also played off the surrounding environment.
After the show we had an appetite so we got some food on the way back to the hotel. We found a pretty good food truck village and Sabor Cubano caught my eye. It was the Cuban sandwich I saw and it really hit the spot along with some fried yuca. Jeremy got a grilled cheese and I finished my food by the time he got his. Not far from the venue it was the perfect late night spot after the show. Even though it was getting close to midnight the place was busy. All the vendors had hungry customers which was nice. You could tell lots of people out drinking that night. Having a good time grabbing a bite before heading home.
As soon as the trip started it seemed like it was over. Sunday I was flying back just as the USGP was about to get underway. We found a pretty damn amazing breakfast spot with Hillside Farmacy. We sat outside on the crisp morning and it was great. The food was absolutely amazing that morning. Fresh, local and well plated. It was not hard for either of us to finish out plates. Once the food arrived all conversation stopped which was another good sign. Our plates were licked clean that morning. So good.
I was home by early evening which was nice. Having a direct flight from Austin to Portland was ideal. The news that weekend was Hamilton possible clinching the title and he did it in fantastic fashion. I ready for another team and another drive but congratulations to Hamilton on his 2019 world championship victory which he secured in Austin. Originally we talked about attending the USGP but decided on Canada and I don’t regret that decision at all. Montreal was such a cool town and we still got to experience Austin during the race weekend which was really cool. Running in to Paul Di Resta was certainly the highlight with two nights of Cheese a close second.
String Cheese Incident Friday, November 1st 2019 Stubb’s BBQ Waller Creek Amphitheater – Austin, TX
We arrived late. Got to the venue at 8:05pm and they were all ready playing.
Honestly I have never heard for George Porter Jr. and never been to Gypsy Sally’s. I saw the concert listing on Jam Base and just wanted to watch some live music while in DC. It was a Friday show and I was flying out Saturday. Plus the venue was directly across the river from my hotel in Georgetown so an easy 15 minute walk for me. Everything told me I had to go see this show.
Let me start with the venue. When I arrive on Sunday I crossed the river and ate dinner at The Berliner. Come to find out Gypsy Sally’s is on the second floor of the same building. Right there across the river in Georgetown. Walk across the Key Bridge and head down to the water. Go upstairs to the second floor and you’re there. Not a lot of fan fair that leads you to the entrance so easy to walk past. Lots of tables in the back but it appears these are “reserved” for those wanting to eat food.
I was there early enough that I just posted up right in front of the stage. There might have been 20 people in the place but thankfully as the night wore on the place really started to fill in. By the time George Porter Jr. Trio took the stage the dance floor was reasonable packed and most of the tables were occupied. No natural light to speak of. Light setup is pretty basic and seems like the speaker system is basic as well. Sounds like there were some technical challenges setting up all the mics for the opening act, The Beats Hotel.
What a huge band for such a small ass stage. Not sure where they are from but they play New Orleans style music. Not bad, just not my taste in music to be honest. The “leader” was having a rough night. He wanted to be in control but the other band members were not having it. It was funny to watch, especially being so close to the stage. I could hear all the un-miced conversations. When their set ended I was ready for it to be over. The crowd loved them so that was good.
George Porter Jr. takes the stage and I am right in front of the drummer Terrence Houston. Now the drummer for The Beats Hotel was loud but Terrence totally blew him away. It was funny to see him take a swig of Crown Royal now and again. Terrence was going to have a good night for sure. Anyway after about 20 minutes I had to walk away. His drumming, even un-miced, was so loud. I could feel the kick drum in my check and every time he hit the cymbals my ears would ring. Just to much and I needed a break.
Besides it being extremely loud right in front of the drummer it was a good show. I was expecting more of a New Orleans vibe but that really wasn’t the bulk of the show. Only a song or two had that vibe. They played some jazz stuff but what shocked me more was all the Grateful Dead covers. Not sure what Porter’s relation to the Dead is but it must be a strong one. When George walked on stage I noticed a Grateful Dead Steal Your Face pin on his guitar strap. I tried to get a good look but I was it was to small for me to see. Certainly the Dead influence was there and it was awesome hearing the songs.
Most of the Grateful Dead songs happened near the end of the set. The encore was 2/3 Dead which was also awesome. By the time the encore rolled around the crowd had started to dwindle so only a hard core group of people remained at midnight. I thought it was a good performance. I could have done without The Beats Hotel but that is just because they are not my style of music. George and the crew did a great job. Mostly what I remember is how I felt standing in front of Terrence. So incredible loud.
After the show it was a nice walk back across the Key Bridge to the hotel. The weather had cooled but was still muggy as shit. I ended up getting a late night meal at McDonald’s and unwound for a bit. The following day I was excited to headed home to Portland. I didn’t know it at the time but that night was the last good night I would have for a while. As soon as I woke up on Saturday I new I was getting sick. I proceeded to nose dive for the next 4 days before taking about 7 days to fully recover.
My trip to DC for training was a memorable one. Not for the training which I have mostly forgotten. But for the two shows and a few key purchases I made. Even the food wasn’t bad for the most part.
George Porter Jr. Trio Friday, October 18th 2019 Gypsy Sally’s – Washington DC The Beats Hotel opened
George Porter Jr. – bass Michael Lemmler – keys Terrence Houston – drums