Another dreary Saturday afternoon so I decided to stop by a brewery. It all started because I needed a post office and all the ones in the city are closed on the weekend. I get it but it is inconvenient as hell. It means I have to travel to the burbs and if I am going that far I may as well make an afternoon of it.
I found Stickmen Brewing Co. in Tualatin which wasn’t far from the post office. This particular one I have been to before and has an automatic postal machine so they always have what I need. The brewery is in a large warehouse district and to be honest the place is to big. Their operation are already huge but the space they have, they can expand three times and still not fill it all. The ceilings must be fifty feet tall which is just bizarre to see a place so large.
The bar area isn’t as big as you would thing but its nice. Lots of benches in the place to foster meeting people and talking with them. They even have a nice large patio area outside with umbrellas so on nice days a good place to hang out. There is food onsite but its only pizza. Lots of different styles to choose from and the one I got was awesome. It was a pear and Gorgonzola pizza which was really good. That is all they have but its really good. Bottles to go if you want to take something home with you.
This turned out to be a good afternoon of pregame. I managed to stick around for three beers which was awesome. The beer was nothing special, nothing blew my doors off or anything. But it was certainly nice just to hangout and relax while drinking beer. Later that afternoon I meet Bobby and Tracy at Church near my apartment. A friend of theirs was celebrating her birthday and they asked if I wanted to come along. Had a couple more beers here. It was great having some adult conversation.
I still needed to drive my car home but I took my time doing it. I walked through a boutique grocery store which was just about to close. Didn’t get a good luck around but had what I expected. Lots of specialty items and looks like some good prepared food too. Then I found The Pie Spot which had of all things, pecan pie. I don’t know what it is about the pacific northwest but they don’t make pecan pie up here and it kills me. I then saw chicken pot pie and got one of those for dinner. Both of these pies were really good and I highly recommend them if you are looking for something to eat in the area.
With the weather finally changing there are less excuses for not getting out. This month I have some free nights at Marriott that will expire so this weekend I booked a trip up to Olympia to burn through one of my nights. Years ago I saw a story on CBS Sunday Morning that talked about the quietest place in the continental US and since then I have made it a point to check out the spot. Now they didn’t say exactly where it was but I think its in the Hoh Rain Forest some where in Olympic National Park.
I would have much rather camped in the forest but the hotel worked out. Its only a couple hours from home but much closer then my house to the hike. The first real hike of the year and I knew I would be exhausted afterwards so closer was better. On the trail I ran into many people that where out for the weekend hiking. From the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center you can head deep into Olympic National Park. There are really only foot trails into the interior so if you want to go exploring, you better start walking.
From my house I got an early start and left just before 7am. The park is pretty deep in the interior but you are still only barely in the park. Its amazing how much of this park is not accessible by road. You really must hike if you want to get anywhere. There was certainly no shortage of 20+ mile hikes starting from here.
From the visitor center I headed down the Hoh River Trail. My time was limited and in the end I only got two hours to hike into the forest but I managed to make it to Tom’s Creek and hung out there for a while before turning back for my car. Next time I am planning on an overnight stay to really enjoy the park. It was still early afternoon when I had to head back with plenty of daylight left.
So the whole reason to come out to this park was to find some peace and quite. It was a beautiful day so I expected the trail to be busy with hikers. Despite being so hard to reach, the weather was to perfect to pass up. First off in the lower section of the trail you are walking right along the river for the most part. This provides a huge amount of noise as the water rushes over the stones and debris. This isn’t that bad but what I kept noticing was the air planes. At least this part of the park is right over a flight path which is super annoying. Even when I found a nice quite spot near Tom’s Creek to get some writing done I could hear the planes over head.
The hike itself is great. Now and again you get a cutout in the trees so you can see the river below and in the back ground are snow capped mountains. It was so crazy seeing the snow topped mountains. Coming from the mid-Atlantic you never see anything like this. I have hiked in the Shenandoah when it has snowed but that disappears just as quickly as everywhere else in Virginia. The forest was also just starting to come to life. The ferns and other leafy trees are starting to bloom. Not many flowers were blooming so not sure if I missed them all or just early. The temps on the mountains are probably in the mid 60’s so might be a little early still?
Along the trail there are also two small waterfalls. One you has a pretty good view from a small foot bridge. The second is approximately 200′ further down the trail and is much harder to see. You can hear it and that was the only reason I noticed it. The first has a pretty well defined trail to it. The second, not so much.
One thing you notice walking in the forest is the size of the trees. There are many huge trees in the forest and pictures don’t do them justice when you have no scale for reference. They really are amazing and it’s one of those things you just have to see and experience for yourself.
I had a free night at Marriott that was about to expire and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Olympia had the closest. Who knew that I would have difficulty finding a place to eat after my hike. By the time I got to the hotel and cleaned up it was almost 9pm. Not to worry, its a Saturday night in the capital city of the state of Washington. Surely something must be open. Boy I couldn’t have been more wrong. The entire city shutdown at 9pm it seems. I ended up with fast food because I couldn’t find anything else open.
Originally I planned to hit Three Magnets Brewing Co. close to the hotel but wasn’t feeling it that night. Thankfully nothing to worry about because on Sunday at 8am and start serving breakfast and beer which is awesome. I got their BLT Benedict and their Robust Porter. The place was really busy for a Sunday morning which was nice to see. I took the opportunity to sample a few beers and get some writing done. Olympia isn’t that far from home so there was no hurry to leave.
After breakfast I explored some of the city. I found some great chocolate at Encore Chocolates & Tea. They reminded me Ranger Chocolate is just down from my house. The small art supply shop Olyphant Art & Media was tiny but I found a pen case here so another score. They even had a decent record shop. Rainy Day Records didn’t have anything to deep but certainly a well rounded collection of music. They have a movie club which I thought was cool. A bunch of cheesy 70-90’s cult classics. What a good idea.
Last thing on my list was stationary. What I found was more of a gift shop but Compass Rose had a good selection of cards. I bought a bunch of post cards and a couple note cards and got to work writing at a local coffee shop. The shop overlooked a small park. With such a beautiful day the park was alive with activity.
I really want to go back to Olympic National Park and camp next time. I loved the huge trees and the weather is pretty good for hiking out that way. With such a large park there is a lot to explore so I have a feeling it will keep me busy for a while. As for Olympia I thought that was a great little town. Sunday morning and the place was busy with activity in downtown. I have one more free night that’s about to expire……where to next?
Literally for months I have been waiting for this weekend. Oh so long ago a two night run was announce by Medeski, Martin and Wood with the addition of long time friend John Scofield. This was a one off performance and I knew I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see my second favorite band. They never tour any more so any opportunity to see them I jump at it. Hench traveling to Denver in 2017 to see Jose Russo’s Almost Dead only because MMW was opening for them.
I will never live down the day probably close to 20 years ago by now, that I missed MSMW at the 9:30 Club. I thought the show would never sell out and boy was I wrong. Not only did I miss this first tour by the group but it was a birthday show for me too so I was really bummed. Since that time I never miss a MSMW show and I get my tickets early….way early. The day they went on sale early.
This trip really worked out. The shows where on Friday and Saturday which was pretty cool. I would just have to take Friday off to fly out, see the shows, and then fly back on Sunday, ready to work Monday. Eventually I figured out this was Easter weekend and that caused all sorts of issues coming back. Pat was flying into Vancouver for our traditional Easter brunch. I was able to fly into town and make it for Sunday dinner so almost as awesome as brunch. Prime rib was the the choice for dinner.
MWMW was playing the Ogden Theatre which is close to downtown so I stuck to my general game plan of staying at the Renaissance Denver Downtown. I can take the train from the airport to Union Station and then a free bus to the hotel. The hotel was only a short 25 minute walk to the venue and the rest of Colfax Ave.
I got into town mid-afternoon and headed to the hotel. Thankfully I got another room upgrade to a corner suite which was really nice. I hadn’t had anything to eat so after a quick stop for essentials I was off to French 75 to get some food and a well deserved beer. The flight over was nothing special but it was finally time to relax. The beef was cooked really well and the pasta was ok. I was trying to relive memories of Paris but that just wasn’t happening at French 75. After that it was back to the hotel for a quick nap before a long night.
I arrived a little late to the venue because I was napping so the first floor was all filled up. I headed upstairs to the second level and found a spot on the left side to catch the first set. The venue us a huge and beautiful place. From the outside it looks rough but on the inside it is a whole different story. The second floor balcony is huge and wraps around the entire venue. Ceilings are Art Deco and the stage is pretty big. There is even seating on the second floor back stage but I believe these seats cost extra.
As for the first nights performance….it was good. I honestly thought that Scofield was bringing the band down at times. His playing was just off for much of the night. It was like his hands just couldn’t keep up with the tempo or the pace of the songs at times. When things got complicated, he broke down. Despite Scofield’s playing it was a killer show and I was so happy to see them all playing together. Chris was really spot on with the bass. His jams were tight and precise and amazing to see. In fact he killed it both nights. After the show I walked to Voodoo to have a little taste of home. I should have eaten the doughnuts immediately instead of taking them back to the hotel. Oh well, still very good despite being smashed.
Saturday was a full day in Denver so I took the opportunity to have some fun before the start of the show. I wanted to hit some breweries in the area and like always, I find myself killing time in the morning waiting for them to open. This time around I decided to head south from the hotel so stopped off at the Denver Art Museum to check things out before getting into an afternoon of drinking. This was just on a whim and I am really glad I stopped.
First off they have demolished the north building since the last time I visited. This was a big shock when I saw this giant hole in the ground and cranes. The other kick ass thing was the Degas exhibit they had. The museum has lost most of its exhibit space so this special showing I thought was a great way to tide everyone over till the new building is completed. The exhibit was really well done. Such a huge collection of Degas, I have never seen so many in my life in one place. I have seen only a few of his works, the ballerinas I immediately recognized for example. The exhibit chronicled his life from his early work to the end of his life. Showing his work in different medias and how the subject matter changes as his life went on. A really great exhibit of his work and if you get a chance to see it, go.
Now that breweries were finally open I started getting down to some serious business. First up was Trve Brewing Co. This place reminds me a lot of Black Sky Brewing. An interesting brewery for sure. Its probably 20’ or so wide but really deep. Front portion has a garage door.Brewing operations in the back and so is the bar.Lots of long benches the lead you back to the bar. As is the theme things get darker the further you go into the place, really interesting style. Some nice contemporary art on the walls. Decor and theme is heavy metal and it really works. I actually really enjoyed the music that played the whole time I was there. Candles on the taps make it look like an alter. A good selection of draft but I really loved their bottle selection. Lots of aged beers which where awesome.
Then some quick food to keep me standing so I found Moe’s Original Bar B Que down the street. It was relatively close to where I was and the next brewery I wanted to hit so a perfect location. Since I arrived in the city I have done a lot of walking and the plate of food I got was huge but I devoured it all. It was some really good bbq and some much needed fuel to keep me going. It was already late in the afternoon so I was hoping this meal would keep me going all night. I was expected another late night of dancing and grooving.
For some reason in Denver I was on the sour kick and the second brewery I found was Baere Brewing Co. Another interesting location for sure. Small strip mall with limited parking. Does have a nice outdoor patio area for nice days which is cool. There are also garage doors that open the entire place up. Lots of aged beers here which is awesome. You can see many of the barrels all stacked up in the back. 80’s new wave music going on which was cool. Lots of exposed wood and polished concrete floors.
By now it was time to start making my way to the venue. I told myself I was going to get a good spot yet maximized my time before the show. Colfax Ave is a hoping place so plenty to do before walking into the show. I found The 1Up, a classic arcade joint, before the show. I have been to the one in LoDo but not the one on Colfax. A low ceiling and cramped place with a decent selection of games. I find Ground Kontrol to be better.
Finally it was time to get to the venue. I timed it to arrive a little before 9pm. I was planning on just walking in, going up stairs, coat check and boom, concert. As I started walking towards the venue I noticed something was wrong but it took a moment to figure out the situation. The block was out of power and there was a line of people standing outside waiting to get in. Not wanting to just stand in the freezing cold I did a lap around the area to keep warm, constantly checking for updates to the power. It looked like literally only two block where without power which sucked. As time went by and no updates being posted I started getting concerned if the show was going on at all. A rescheduled date would be hard for me to make.
Finally around 9:30 the power was restored and there was a giant roar from the crowd. Come to find out the venue started letting people in and then the power when out so everyone had to evacuate. Since most people where already queued outside once everyone got in the show pretty much started immediately. Despite the late start we still got two full sets totaling 2.5 hours which was awesome.
Scofield was off for a second night but still a good performance over all. Disappointingly they repeated a few songs from the previous night. I found out the reason for the two shows too. This was the 20th anniversary of A Go Go and the start of their collaboration with Scofield. This time because of the power outage I got a pretty decent spot on the balcony directly in front of the stage. During the second set there was a lady behind me, Stacy. What an interesting woman she was. Another great show that night and a total blast seeing the band playing again.
My flight back on Sunday was pretty early. My original plan was to get back to Portland at a reasonable hour and then relax the rest of the day so I could start work refreshed on Monday. Since it was Easter and Pat was in town when I got back I took a quick nap and then headed to Easter dinner. Pat was in town as part of a long trip out west to see everyone and for a family trip to Nanaimo for a week.
Whenever MMW play again I will seriously consider traveling to see the show. I love to travel, I love this band and it is something they do irregularly. My hope is that one day they will travel back to Japan or maybe a European tour so I can hit that and really enjoy a vacation seeing MMW.
Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood
Friday, March 30th 2018
Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO
Show starts at 8:50pm
A Go Go
Light My Fire
Chicken Dog >
Set over at 10:07pm
Set 2 starts at 10:35pm
What Now >
What’d I Say
Sunshine of Your Love
Set over at 11:50pm
Encore starts at 11:53pm
Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing
House lights at 12:03am
Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood
Saturday, March 31st 2018
Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO
Show starts at 9:42pm
Little Walter Rides Again
I Got a Woman >
Jeep on 35
Set over at 10:55pm
Set 2 starts at 11:30pm
A Go Go
Miles Behind >
Sunshine of Your Love >
Fuck You Guys
Set 2 over at 12:41am
Encore starts at 12:45am
House lights at 12:52am
Notes: Power was out to a couple block for a while. Eventually just before 9pm power was restored. We quickly filtered in, security was a breeze. Additional microphone this night.
Since seeing the Antibalas open for MMW so many years ago at the 9:30 Club I have wanted to see them again. If I am correct they are from Ontario so east coast is harder for them to put a tour together. I lucked out when I moved to Portland and caught their stop at the Wonder Ballroom on their recent swing through the northwest to ended their winter tour.
The show didn’t start till 8pm and for some reason I thought Antibalas would go on at 8 and play two sets. Instead they had an opening act and they played one long ass set. My timing was perfect when I arrived. I rolled right up into the place and within 5 minutes the 1939 ensemble was taking the stage. Needless to say I got really close since no one was in the place that early. These guys were really enjoying themselves on stage and into the music. They did some serious pre-game and where spot on for the night. An interesting mix of instruments and music.
After a short break Antibalas took the stage and killed it. Well with the exception of the first song or two, something like that. The start was just a little weird, you had to be there but after that hiccup they where off like a rocket. Because I arrived so early I was really close till the encore so I had a great view of the band. It was amazing to see all these guys on this tiny little stage playing their hearts out.
The flow of the music and the rythm all night where great. The crowd was really into the music and it was weird but at times the music was very relative to whats going on today. It seemed like a political rally at times, it was great. Marcus kept getting the crowd to chant between songs about love. The world could certainly use more peace and love. Such a great show and performance by the band. Very happy I was able to make it that night.
This tour was in support of their new album. Living in the pacific north west I hope I can see them more regularly then when they happen to release a new album. Such energy and a vibe from the band and crowd. The two that night where in perfect sync.
Thursday, March 15th 2018
Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR
1939 ensemble opened
Show starts at 9:12pm
2. Dirty Money
5. Gold Rush
Set over at 10:50pm
Encore starts at 10:52pm
House lights at 11:14pm
Dark Star is another band that I haven’t seen in a long time and living out west now when bands I love come through town I make it a point to see them. I get to keep up with my favorite bands, explore the city I live in and start checking out the local music scene. So when Dark Star Orchestra announced two nights at the Roseland Theater I was execited. I don’t know how long its been but to long.
Night one was Friday and a co-worker of mine and I went to the show. We planned on a late night of drinking and no driving. We got together at 6 and headed to The Upper Lip for a few glasses before heading to the show. This was a great second story place Derek found. A quite and low key place but a great curated selection of bottles and draft beer. I loved it for the selection but also just the atmosphere. Not a lot of hustle and bustle, you could still talk to your friends and the decor was great. Wood and brick all over the place.
After a few drinks we headed to the venue for two sets. I was hoping for a cover performance but Friday ended up being an original set which was good. The venue is oddly designed. It’s two stories with the main stage on the second floor. There is a small balcony that rings the stage as well. On the first floor is a smaller stage, a big bar and a general area to relax during the show and get away for a few minutes. The stage is only a few feet off the ground too. Seems very small and intimate when you are there but it is loud as all get out because of the small size.
The show was really great with a good mix of songs and styles. Derek and I kept getting beers during the first set and milling around in the back where there was a little more space. Since we arrived late neither of us felt the need to push our way through the crowd. Set break came and we needed one too. The venue was hot and muggy so we stepped outside for a smoke and to chill with everyone else. I love smokers, such friendly people.
Set two was just as good as the first. I for one was done drinking that night. We worked our way up pretty close to the stage for set two. We posted up in the back again and I got to dancing. It was the weirdest thing as I was dancing all of a sudden a woman’s starts dancing with me. She even kissed me and just like that she was gone. Strange folk here in Portland. It wasn’t long after the second set started that Derek had to head home for the night. I honestly wasn’t that far behind him. As the set went on I was getting more and more tired. All the alcohol was starting to catch up with me. I went down stairs for a few minutes but eventually decided to walk home. Unfortunately security took my cannabis on the way in so I didn’t have anything to smoke but it was fine. The weather was good and I needed the fresh air.
Unfortunately I drank to much that night and was sick all day Saturday. Like so sick I never got out of bed and slept through the second show. I was dissappointed I missed it but this just reminds me how much I don’t like to drink to excess.
Despite being sick all day Saturday and missing the second night, the Friday show was still a great one and so much fun. The beer was good, the music was good and the company was good. Don’t know how I feel yet about the Roseland Theater but I will certainly see DSO again when they roll through town.
Dark Star Orchestra
Friday, February 9th 2018
Roseland Theater – Portland, OR
The Wheel >
Johnny B. Goode
Passenger Mission In The Rain
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
Mama Tried >
We Can Run
Man Smart (Woman Smarter) >
Touch Of Grey >
Throwing Stones >
Terrapin Station >
Gimme Some Lovin’ >
Other One (tease) >
I Need A Miracle >
Standing On The Moon >
Viola Lee Blues