So Jam_On was my first exposure to Kamasi Washington. Great jazz saxophone player with a good sense of melody and rhythm. He plays tributes to the greats that have come before him by taking what they started and changing it just a bit. He understands where jazz came from and works to make it accessible to everyone.
Never seen him before but I was super excited for the show. Heard only a few of his songs and never a full album. They are expensive as shit on vinyl so I haven’t dropped the coin to make the investment yet. The reviews that I read have all been good. One of his albums, The Epic, has been called a masterpiece and I think won several jazz albums of the year awards. Anyway the jazz community is a buzz over Kamasi and I was ready to see what it was all about.
There was an opening act and their name escapes me. It was a four piece all woman band and they where really good musicians. They knew their instruments but I just couldn’t get into the music. Definitely this soft rock and folk kinda vibe going on. Very slow and melodic. The lead singer would explain each song before they performed it. Lots of powerfully meaning in the lyrics but the music was just so slow. Only at the very end during band introductions did each member really get a chance to strut their stuff. All very talented but not my type of music.
The crowd was definitely feeling the love that night after the opening act and we couldn’t wait for Kamasi to take the stage. After a delayed start things finally got rolling. The first song is there “hit.” Well it was what I recognized from being played on Jam_On regularly. I was glad to hear it and also glad to get that out of the way.
The whole show that night was amazing. After that initial song I didn’t recognize anything else. It was all new to me and being played for the first time. I really went into this show with an open mind and I was not disappointed. Kamasi and his band put on one hell of a performance that night.
The energy and vibe was just great. Kamasi would do some interludes and tell a story or explain the songs, all very informative. Lots of his stuff had a social meaning, a sense of community, that feeling that we can do better when we just love each other. In our currently political environment it was refreshing to hear it. The crowd was absolutely picking up what he was throwing down.
He also told this story about one of his songs, the name escapes me, which I think illustrates his overall story very well. He is a new jazz great but feeds off the work of those that have come before him. He pays tribute to them by incorporating the work they have already done with his playing. It could be a different interpretation of a previous artists’ work. Somehow take that which has already been done and rework it to make it new. The legacy of the old jazz greats live on within Kamasi. He is not trying to supplant them but merely pay tribute to all those that came before him.
The show was only 1.5 hours long and I am sure he touched only a small number of the songs they perform. The performance that night was amazing. Can’t stress this enough, this was a really good show and I can’t wait to see him again when he comes to town. He is a very talented musician who has a great view of the world. He wants to share that vision with as many people as he can and I respect that.
For 3 yeas IndyCar raced in downtown Baltimore over Labor Day weekend. I always wanted to go because it was so close and a holiday weekend and a true street course but we always went to Rehoboth Beach as a family so I never got the opportunity.
Baltimore lost the race and then Watkins Glen did the same thing and now it was Portland’s turn to host this race over Labor Day weekend. I was so excited when I found they would be coming to Portland International Raceway. Now that I live here it is super easy to attend and I have no chance of going to the beach house this year. The cherry on top is I can get there by the Max yellow line.
Being the long weekend and my first Indy race I wanted to do it right. I got a premium grandstand seat at turn 2 and a paddock pass for the entire weekend. All in all it was a great weekend but I think next time I will skip a premium ticket and the premium price and just go with something more generic.
I unfortunately couldn’t make it out on Friday. I didn’t want to take time off of work and everything was over by 5:30pm any way. Saturday I was going to stay all day at the track. I packed everything I would need in my CamelBak and set out for the train station. A fifteen minute walk and then a 30 minute train ride I was at the front gate of PIR.
For quals I didn’t really care where I sat and actually decided not to see my seat until race day. I didn’t go into the infield on Saturday at all and instead decided to walk around the track exploring. By the time I left that night I had walked around the entire track.
When you first arrive to the track you walk down a hill and come in at the Pro Mazda and USF2000 paddock. It was great getting close to these cars but a little disorientating when I first stumbled across the paddock. I just wasn’t sure I was suppose to be there. Few signs, no barriers and no one directing people. Just go till they tell you to stop I figured.
The front straight was a typical vendor area. Lots of pop up tents and weird shit being peddled. I was actually shocked at the the lack of facilities at this track. It really is just a track. Even the main grandstand was a temporary structure. Only one three story building and it was small and not at a good location.
The track is also really narrow with limited run off areas. I was shocked at just how narrow the turns are. Kudos to the drives all weekend for keeping things mostly under control. If you made even a tiny mistake you would be off track, especially at turn one. See lap one of the Indy race on Sunday for proof.
A good spot I found was the back straight along the top of the hill. Here there was no one around and I actually found some shade. The high on Saturday was in the low 70’s but escaping the radiant heat from the sun was good for a while. Here I caught some of the qualifying for the support races. The back straight is a long sweeping straight with a slight bend to the right right after a tight section of turns. Good opportunity to see the cars go by pretty fast. You really can hear the revs and shifting which is cool.
Go fast day was finally hear. The race didn’t start till around noon so plenty of time to get to the track, bum around and get my seat. Sunday was also my first trip into the paddock. By the time I got there the cars where already starting to exit their garage and get to the grid. This was great because I got to see some of the cars up close and personal which was cool. Also saw some of the driver introductions. Lots of grandstanding but still cool.
My seat turned out to be a pretty good one. The entire section was pretty well elevated so I could have saved some money for a lower seat. And in fact the other side of the track had the added benefit of seeing the cars come down the straight and out the pit. That view was blocked from our premium seats.
Quite unexpectedly there was a wreck just after turn three on lap one. All I could really see was the plume of dust that erupted as the cars went off the track onto the dry grass. One guy managed to go over top another which was pretty impressive. This lead to a long delay with the pace car while they cleaned up the mess.
After this there where only a few minor hiccups in the race but for the most part it was pretty clean. A good afternoon of racing. I honestly don’t follow the series so the drivers I don’t know. It was close to the end of the season and the drivers championship was still up for grabs. Apparently the turn one incident caused problems for the leader. He got back on track in last place but managed to work his way up through the field.
After an entire race weekend spent at PIR I was rather disappointed with the track. CotA has really ruined me when it comes to a race track. That track knows how to put on a race. From the entertainment before, during and after the race to the food, facilities, and vendors. Everything about that track is just so well done.
Not that I wouldn’t go back to see Indy next Labor Day weekend. I think the next time around I just wont spend as much money on my ticket and simply enjoy an afternoon at the track.
It all started with wanting to take a drive in the country. The last time I came back from Astoria I stumbled across Nehalem Hwy which was an amazing drive. The weekend weather was looking pretty cool so I decided to head out of the city for a little bit of a drive and some beer in Astoria.
This time around I wanted to plan the driving route a little better then stumbling across it. There was a detour which added to the fun. I got off the highway 26 and turned onto Timber Rd. From here I followed the detour back to 47 and then Nehalem Hwy all the way to Astoria.
For the most part I was able to attack the road and actually get a good drive in. The road was mostly clear and even when someone was in front of me they where driving pretty fast. About 10 to 15 miles outside of Astoria I did run into a foot race of some sorts which really killed the drive. Lots of traffic and and a slow drive.
It took several hours to get to Astoria but totally worth the trip. I decided to get some food and beer at Astoria Brewing Co. There are several breweries in Astoria so I going to drink around as much as possible. I didn’t know they had a tap room and brewpub when I was planning this out. I stumbled into the tap house by mistake. It ended up for the best to be honest. I wanted some food but they only served beer. This is where the actually brew the beer so it makes sense. An old industrial building it has a lower floor where the beer is brewed.
After getting some writing done and being full of beer it was time for dinner. I completely missed lunch but wasn’t leaving Astoria without first getting something to eat. My phone was quickly dying so I just walked around till I found something that looked interesting. At first I walked passed Carruthers but something told me to go back and I am glad I did. I got the crispy duck and it was damn tasty. That and the chicken posole soup to start made for quite the tasty meal.
By the time I started driving home, 202 was clear of all the runners but the rain started to move in. For the most part it was just drizzle so I was able to drive the road as intended and not worry about running off but as the night wore on safety concerns toke over. A good day out in Astoria and it certainly is true that half the fun is the journey there.
My first year living on the west coast and I was excited when Phish announced their summer tour. They have not been touring nearly as long as past tours but they are hitting bigger cities for longer stints which is nice. Over the last few years it has not been so much about the quantity of shows as the quality of shows. When they said three shows at The Gorge I was so excited. Unfortunately this conflicted with a company event and there was just no way I could swing seeing even one show at The Gorge.
Not being deterred I decided to hit three shows on the east coast. If I could not see them in my adopted home I would see them in my real home. This actually worked out for the best. While disappointed to not see them at The Gorge I was excited to see my family. I would see Phish for three straight nights to close the summer tour out. One more time at Walnut Creek and then two nights at Merriweather. The final show of the tour would be Sunday and never miss a Sunday show. It was also just after the 20th anniversary of me seeing Phish live. In fact my first show was their first time at Merriweather so this was a home coming for many reasons.
As the trip grew closer I gotta be honest, I checked out at work. I was so excited for what was about to come. SiriusXM just switched their Jam_On channel to Phish Radio which was awesome. I was going to see my family, and Phish, oh man so excited.
The entire trip didn’t disappoint at all. In fact it went well above my expectations. If there was anything to complain about it was the lack of any real down time. As soon as I landed till the time I took off the tarmac on a delayed flight, I was non-stop go go go. It was exhausting but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It does remind me that I am getting older however.
First thing after landing was picking up the rental car. I needed to make it to Craft House in Fairfax Corner for a drink with my old boss. That guy is great, taught me a lot and it was great catching up with him. He just had his third kid so I was happy he got a kitchen pass for the night to have a couple of drinks. That night I went to my brother’s house. That turned into a disaster, he’s an asshole.
Not letting it ruin my trip the next morning I was up pretty early for being on vacation. It was a five hour drive to Raleigh and I wanted to stop by Old Virginia Tobacco in Woodbridge to hangout and have a cigar. I was not sure who I would run into but I ended up seeing a shit ton of people.
The coolest thing was catching up with CJ. Last I heard he was getting out of OVTC and moving onto a better job. Well come to find out that fell through so he is now running the Woodbridge shop while he looks for a better paying job. Working at OVTC has its benefits but money is not one of them. I ran into a lot of customers including Ed, Sal, John, Baker, Clive, and Ben. Probably forgetting one or two people. For a Friday morning I was happy to run into so many familiar faces as I did.
The drive south to Raleigh was shit. I haven’t been on the east coast in a year and even longer since I have driven 95 during the summer months. I didn’t leave Woodbridge till after noon and it took me about 6 hours to make it down to Raleigh. Unfortunately this put a damper on doing any actives in Raleigh before the show. I had just enough time to check into the hotel and then I was off to the venue.
Despite being a Friday it was not sold out. I arrived about thirty minutes before the show and the lawn was not packed at all. What I couldn’t wait for was the sun to set. It is the south in August so needless to say it was hot and muggy that night. Finally when the sun went down things cooled off a little.
First show of summer tour for me and I was rather disappointed in the performance. All during the first set Trey kept screwing up his guitar work and the lyrics. To me it was so obvious. They would have this groove going and all of a sudden Trey would miss a note and it was like dragging fingers across the chalk board to me.
Thankfully the second set pulled it out and helped save the night. Still not a stellar performance from the band but it brought it up to an average rating. The Runaway > Antelope > Runaway > Antelope > Makisupa is what saved the night in my opinion. That little medley was awesome. By the second set I had moved further back and to the left so I wasn’t so crowded. Plus I was further away from all the smokers who where ridiculous.
Having missed dinner and not getting anything at the venue I was hungry for some food. Thankfully Raleigh is a larger city so it was easy to find something that was open late on a Friday night. Virgil’s Original Taqueria which was pretty good. I got three tacos and some chips which all was good but my eyes where bigger then my stomach. A great way to cap off the night.
The next morning I couldn’t sleep in as I needed to head north to Columbia for the show Saturday night. I made a long stop in Fredericksburg to see my mother and her husband at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. It was a already a long day of driving but thankfully only a little traffic. My mother actually had to kick me out so I wouldn’t be late for the show that night. It was so great catching up for them even if it was only for a few hours.
Similar to Raleigh I was able to check into the hotel, catch a quick nap and then head to the venue. It has been several years since I was last at Merriweather and it has changed a lot since that time. The area around the venue is now well developed with lots of new apartment buildings and retail locations. This changed the parking situation which is now a little confusing if you are not prepared. You can get tickets for parking ahead in numbered lots or just show up and they will guide you to the right lots in the back.
First night I had a lawn seat and tried to get there at a reasonable time. Parking ended up taking longer then I wanted so by the time I got onsite the lawn was already packed. Tonights show was sold out for months so it was going to be a packed house. I noticed that they redesigned the wings on either side of the stage to adjust the seating and have a new roof covering the area instead of those stupid canvas tents. They have also redesigned some of the concessions and looks like they will start doing a true VIP area soon.
First set really started off strong with Blaze On > Party Time. After that it just turned for a much slower pace of show. Blah…get over it. Set ended on a good high of Stash and 46 Days. Second set was constant flip flopping of old school, new school, repeat till the encore. Sand and Ghost had good jams and they rocked Fuego.
The encore was four songs. I over heard someone say this was the first time this tour that happened. Set two was barely over an hour long. They seemed to struggle to play during the second set. To me the crowd just wasn’t into the show. It started with such promise but failed to live up to the hype in a way. A failure of its own success you could say. So even a four set encore wasn’t anything to write home about.
Sunday was the first day I didn’t have to get up and travel some place. It was one day but a well deserved break. I got a casual start before meeting Nancy early for drinks. We were going to get together with others for brunch at Earls Kitchen + Bar. I got a simple eggs Benedict and it was pretty amazing. The Hollanda sauce had the right amount of tang and creamy richness.
After that most of us headed to Bungalow Lakehouse for cigars in the gazebo. Here I meet up with Jaye and Ed. The weather was finally starting to break. The humidity level was dropping along with the temperatures. This just meant that a weather front was moving in and it would rain. I smoked two cigars before I had to leave for Merriweather. Just before I left it started to rain and that meant the highways would be filled with idiots that don’t know how to drive.
After saying my goodbyes and filling up the tank it didn’t take long to make it to the venue. The whole way up it rained but I still made pretty good time. I was able to stop and get a sandwich before the show in fact. I had a pavilion seat so didn’t care if it rained or not.
I got to the venue with plenty of time before the show. As I showed my ticket and walked toward my seat I was shocked at just how closed it was. My seat ended up being the first row of seats, right behind the pit and eye level with the stage. This is the best seat I have ever had seeing Phish or probably any major band ever. One or twice I might have been closer from behind the stage but never this close from the front.
The entire second night kicked ass. Having such a good seat certainly made it a little more enjoyable but the setlist and the energy were all from the band. The rain stopped a little after 7pm and never returned. It cooled everything off quite a lot which was a welcome comfort.
The show got off to a rocking start and the jams throughout the songs kicked ass. Upbeat toons like Llama and BBFCFM are a good way to start things. Lots of these slow laid back kinda jams thrown in all throughout the show. I just couldn’t believe how good the first set was. The end was of the set was just flowed from song to song with a good selection of Tweezer > Bathtub > The Curtain With > Chalk Dust.
I was hoping for as close to the original 8/8/1998 show as possible so during the second set I got a Piper and then a really really good 2001 > Harry Hood to close the set, close the show, close the tour. What a groovy second set they played I was completely blown away by it.
Encore was a mix of typical encore slow jams. Not bad but not really great either. The second Tweezer Reprise certainly was a change of pace and not expected. They opened set two with the reprise so this came completely out of left field.
Just a great show and the perfect way to end the day. It was a short ride back to the hotel and a well deserved nights sleep. The next morning I planed on getting up and out at a reasonable hour. I had a late flight so took the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art in the morning. Here I browsed and took some time to do a little writing. Eventually I meet Nancy for lunch at Plan B Burger Bar. I was still on vacation so we started the afternoon off with a couple of beers. After lunch we headed to Ocelot for some more beer before she dropped me off at the airport.
I think going west is easier because you gain all your time back. It does make for a long day but I think its easier getting home and adjusting to the difference. The weather at IAD ended up not playing well and delayed my flight by over an hour. Whats worst was the hour or so lost on the tarmac just sitting there. This just made for a long day of travel getting home. The seats are not the most comfortable so my ass was already hurting before I even left the ground
Once I got home I took the Max home. It felt so good to get home that night. I dropped my bags on the floor and crawled right into bed. This trip was a lot of fun. Not a lot of time to stop and smell the roses but I was able to accomplish a lot of what I wanted. I saw three shows of Phish with the Sunday show completely blowing my mind. I also managed to see a lot of friends and family so it was awesome catching up with them. This was a trip when I really did need a day to recover from my trip. Next year I hope that I can make The Gorge shows. But if they play Merriweather again it is worth it going home to catch them at my home venue. Always a blast.
Phish Friday, August 10th 2018 Walnut Creek – Raleigh, NC
Set 1 starts at 7:33pm 1. Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan 2. Funky Bitch 3. Ocelot > 4. The Wedge 5. Wombat 6. Guelah Papyrus 7. Birds of a Feather > 8. Saw It Again > 9. Timber (Jerry The Mule) > 10. Limb By Limb > 11. Farmhouse > 12. More set over at 8:49pm
Set 2 starts at 9:35pm 1. Meatstick* > 2. Drowned > 3. NICU > 4. Thread > 5. Runaway Jim > 6. Run Like an Antelope > 7. Runaway Jim > 8. Run Like an Antelope > 9. Makisupa Policeman > 10. Run Like an Antelope > 11. You Enjoy Myself set over at 10:38pm
Encore starts at 10:40pm 12. A Day in the Life house lights at 10:46pm
Notes * Trey did a dance associated with In My Feelings. Page teased the theme from Barney Miller after Wombat. Trey quoted Clowny Clown Clown in Saw It Again. Saw It Again was teased and quoted in Timber. Trey quoted In My Feelings and did a dance associated with the song during Meatstick. The first Runaway Jim and the second Run Like an Antelope contained Thread quotes.
Phish Saturday, August 11th 2018 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD
Set 1 starts at 7:38pm 1. Blaze On > 2. Party Time 3. Breath and Burning 4. Sugar Shack 5. Home 6. Joy 7. Stash 8. 46 Days set over at 8:46pm
Set 2 starts at 9:19pm 1. Sand > 2. Mercury > 3. Ghost > 4. Fuego > 5. Slave to the Traffic Light set over at 10:23pm
Encore starts at 10:26pm 6. Twenty Years Later > 7. Martian Monster > 8. Rocky Top > 9. Golgi Apparatus house lights at 10:46pm
Notes Trey teased Wingsuit in 46 Days.
Phish Sunday, August 12th 2018 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD
Set 1 starts at 7:36pm 1. Llama 2. Big Black Furry Creature from Mars 3. Meat 4. Alaska 5. Tweezer > 6. Bathtub Gin > 7. The Curtain With > 8. Chalk Dust Torture set over at 8:50pm
Set 2 starts at 9:24pm 1. Tweezer Reprise > 2. No Men In No Man’s Land > 3. Twist > 4. Prince Caspian > 5. Piper > 6. Backwards Down the Number Line > 7. Also Sprach Zarathustra > 8. Harry Hood set over at 10:37pm
Encore starts at 10:39pm 9. Heavy Things 10. Bug > 11. Tweezer Reprise 12. house lights at 10:54pm
Notes Trey teased Streets of Cairo during Meat. Trey teased L.A. Woman during Tweezer. Trey teased San-Ho-Zay in No Men in No Man’s Land. Page teased In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in Twist. Piper contained a Tweezer Reprise jam and quotes. Also Sprach Zarathustra included Martian Monster teases.
The Gorge Amphitheatre has been on my bucket list for years. Like over 20 year it has been on my list. I remember seeing pictures from the lawn and it just looked amazing. The back of the stage opens up to the Columbia River and the sun sets to the west. It is wide open spaces and a beautiful sight to see. I read that original it was going to be a winery. Glad they decided to make it a music venue instead.
From my house The Gorge is a four hour drive. It is very close to Yakima and Spokane with the larger cities of Seattle and Portland as outliers. Now the great thing about this place is you can camp which makes perfect sense because it is in the middle of no where. How else do you expect to get that view.
The Dead & Co. show was a Friday night so I took the whole day off to travel, setup camp, and chill out a little before the show. I took my time getting up and getting packed which was great to just relax during a weekday. After the four hour drive I got onsite and setup camp. By the late afternoon I was tired from the heat and took a nap. Nothing like a nap in the middle of the day.
The crowd and people here were pretty cool. It was a great seeing all these like minded people camping and getting ready for the show. Lots of older people like I would expect, many around my age and even some “young” folks as well. My camp neighbors looked to be in their early 20’s. The lot was also a happening place with your traditional vendors and shakedown street setup. People everywhere just hanging out.
As night wore on I started making my way to the venue. I had a lawn seat and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect when I got there. The lawn is a really weird one. You are so high and there is no direct access to the seating area below which is probably 50′ or more down. Then in front of that they have a large orchestra pit area. Dead & Co. offered all sorts of ticket packages. I was cheap and just went with the lawn seat which was already pretty expensive.
I actually arrived late to the lawn. It was easily 80% filled when I got there and that was with 30 minutes to lights out. I managed to find a decent spot and then got lost by the landscape. Despite it being warm out it was an amazing view from the lawn. As the sun set over the gorge the light played some amazing tricks on the canyon walls.
Dead & Co. started just before 7:30 and played for rather short set. I have been watching Bob Weir over the last few years and this night was another example of him showing his age. At times things seamed force and awkward in his playing. At other times he would have moment of brilliance. It was awesome to see John Mayer as well. Always thought he was a great addition to the group and can really get into some guitar solos.
By the second set the sun was really getting low on the horizon till it was finally slipped below the horizon. Even with the sun gone the full moon really lite up the valley. I was texting a friend back and forth during the entire show and I remember saying at one point it was so peaceful. I really found myself getting lost just watching nature all around me and the crowd on the lawn.
Second set was ok. I thought they really killed the mode with Comes a Time and they never really recovered. I was talking with my other camp neighbors and one of them strongly disagreed with me on that last point. He loved the Jerry stuff and couldn’t get enough of it. One thing that never lost my attention, the scenery.
After the show the party kept going. I got back to my campsite and cooked some food while I watched several fireworks displays in the lot. Highly illegal and dangerous considering the the dry conditions but still fun to watch. I wasn’t for certain seeing fireworks on the fourth so this was a welcome sight. That night I slept well despite the party raging for hours deep into the night.
The next morning I planned to camp at Pine Flats Campground a little further north and east of west. I just wasn’t feeling well and decided to cut my losses spending another long day in the heat and felling like shit. It was a lazy morning packing and getting out of the campsite. I did take the time to make some coffee and have a cigar which was awesome. After four hours I was back home. I was up long enough to have some food and then take another well deserved nap.
Dead & Co. Friday, June 29th 2018
The Gorge Amphitheatre – Quincy, WA