All posts by Justin

The New Mastersounds Wonder Ballroom November 7th 2017

A while back I put in motion a trip over Veterans Day weekend. The trip would involve a couple of cities and two bands. The first leg was Seattle and the second was Denver. The good thing about The New Mastersounds show in Seattle was it was a part of their west coast tour. They were playing Portland as part of the same tour. I saw them last on the east coast for their winter tour and thought it would be fitting to catch as many shows as possible on this west coast fall tour.

The Portland show was a no brainier honestly as this is in my back yard. I was so existed you would have thought I would have a better plan then I did. My whole night was planned around just getting to the Wonder Ballroom and seeing what happens. I did a map search and noticed there would be plenty to keep my occupied before the show.

First thing is always food. On the same block as the theater was Russell St. BBQ. Some really decent BBQ here let me tell you. I got the port shoulder without sauce and I am glad I did. It had a great smoke flavor that was pronounced but not overpowering. It was a little dry but not a deal breaker by any means. Sides all traditional and very good. I wish I could have stayed for dessert but I was so full I had to skip it. I let my dessert be beer.

Not very far from everywhere was Ex Novo Brewing Co.. I had plenty of time to kill before the show so ponied up for a couple of beers here. Really cool place I must say. Serves food and has a second floor. You can see the brewery making equipment right from the bar which was cool. Decent beer with lots to explore on the menu. I was actually able to see the Trail Blazers game and unfortunately they lost that night to the Memphis Grizzles.

Some really good BBQ at Russell’s. The pork was a little dry but the flavor was outstanding.

I honestly spent to much time at Ex Novo but it was a good hanging out. Kung Fu was opening and started at 8:30 that night. I unfortunately missed their set completely because I was to busy drinking beer. I just didn’t feel like standing around waiting for The New Mastersounds, the brewery was a much better option.

The Wonder Ballroom really just is four walls and a roof. Very simple design, I can’t stress that enough. The front part of the building is large enough for a ticket booth and bathrooms, that is it. There is a very small second balcony area that looks rickety as hell. There is a downstairs bar and smoking area but I didn’t get a chance to explore that area. Certainly an interesting place to see a concert.

The New Mastersounds kicked ass that night. Another great performance by the band. As a change of pace Simon Allen was back at drums. The last few shows I have seen of The New Mastersounds have been with Alan Evans which was awesome to see him sit in. Many of the same classic songs I am use to with the same energy as always. They actually mentioned there was no official setlist for the night, they were going to just going with the flow of the audience. Their song catalog is now large enough they can play nearly two hours without fear of repeating anything or losing the vibe.

Another great performance by The New Mastersounds and a good evening out. I found another great BBQ place in Portland and another brewery checked off my list. I am excited to see them again in two days in Seattle which should be a great time as well.

OMSI October 2017

My friend Jeremy was in town and we decided to do a typical Portland thing and visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for the day. Jeremy had actually been there as a kid so for him it was a homing coming. For me this was my first visit, I was playing tourist in my own hometown for once.

Part of the museum is in an old industrial building and they make good use of the space.

We didn’t find this out till after the fact but it was the last weekend of the special exhibit Pompeii and the museum was smashed. If I had know that we probably would have skipped the museum on this trip. As the day went on the line to get into Pompeii just kept growing. We eventually decided to just skip the special exhibit which was unfortunate.

Now the rest of the museum was great. The exhibits are fun and for the most part interactive in some way. This is certainly a museum geared towards kids but as an adult I found the hands on stuff great. They have an interactive sand projector exhibit that mimics water flowing. You could make it “rain” and see how water would flow down the side of the mountain. You will also find the USS Blueback anchored outside and is itself a floating museum.

I liked the museum. Very interactive and great for kids of all ages. I wish we could have seen the special exhibit but I will be around for the next one when it premiers. Makes me wonder how large the museum really is when you factor in the special exhibit space.

 

Hudson Newmark Theatre October 23rd 2017

My friend Jeremy was in town for the weekend and since he wasn’t leaving till Tuesday we decided to see Hudson at Newmark Theatre.  I was thinking of seeing the show but when Jeremy said he was coming that weekend I knew we had to go.  The really awesome thing was my ticket was free.  My birthday isn’t till later but since Jeremy wouldn’t be around at that time tonights ticket was on him. We decided to celebrate a little early this year.

The day of the show I meet Jeremy at my apartment after he was out doing Portland stuff.  We prepped and headed to downtown, first to grab some grub and then catch the show.  This was more of a traditional show so the start time of 7:30 was honor.  We grabbed dinner at the East Side Delicatessen just down the street before walking into the venue.

The venue is a little weird.  Its appears to be a two block complex of various theaters for events.  The Newmark Theatre reminds me the National Theatre in DC.  About the same size, few hundred people at most, with three tiers of seating.  We had two seats at the end of the aisle and honestly this was my only grip of the night.  The “seats” were simple chairs that where the most uncomfortable pieces of crap I have ever spent two hours sitting in.

The venue was just about sold out and the crowd skewed older.  I of course know John Medeski and John Scofield but Jack DeJohnette and Larry Grenadier are unknowns for me.  They have an album out but I had not heard it before tonights performance. All I knew it had Medeski, Scofield and it would probably be straight ahead jazz.  What it did end up having was several Jimi Hendrix covers which honestly I didn’t care much for.  What I did enjoy was the improve jazz songs and compilations they did.  That stuff was super heavy and awesome.

The show was 2 hours with encore but didn’t seem like it dragged on.  The encore in fact was 20 minutes by itself which was awesome.  All around a great show and I am happy we got a chance to see Medeski in an arrangement besides MMW.  Not sure if Hudson will stick around or if this was a on shot deal but a great night of food, music and friends.

Wheeling in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Before I start my new job I have been taking the opportunity to do some cool stuff when I am not putting my apartment together. On Thursday I had an opportunity to do some four wheeling with Bobby in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. He and a buddy are doing a memorial hike Saturday and wanted to run up the trail in their trucks to make sure it was clear. If any maintenance needed to be done they wanted to do it Thursday and not on Saturday with a bunch of people in their cars. Some of the hikers were starting at the bottom of the trail but others were going to be ferried to the top in Bobby’s truck. With nothing else to do I tagged along for the ride.

Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams

First time this far north in Washington and it was something else. It took about an hour to get to the trail head and then what seemed like thirty minutes to the top of the road. Bobby kept saying I could get my car up it but at a certain point you really needed four wheel drive. I haven’t been wheeling in years and it was fun. Let me tell you I utilized the oh shit bar often, trying not to bump my head.

Once at the top we putzed around for a few minutes and did part of the hike to get a better view. The weather was really good and from the parking lot we could see the top of Mount St. Helens. We went further up the trail and eventually we could see Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams which was really cool. None of us were ready to finish the hike but it was great getting out before the weather turns real crappy.

Denver for the Fourth

July 4th was on a Tuesday this year and for whatever reason my company gave us Monday off as well.  Makes sense honestly.  Lots of people would have taken Monday off anyway so why not just give it to everyone.  This resulted in a super long four day holiday weekend.  This presented a great opportunity to travel and get a descent vacation in.  After a lot of thinking I decided to head back to Denver for the weekend.  No specific reason this time, I just love Denver.

I found an early morning flight that would get me to Denver before noon.  So that meant almost a full day on Saturday and two full days before heading home.  I was so busy working and trying to put my life together that I honestly didn’t plan much for this trip.  Another reason I went to Denver is my familiarity with it.  I knew if I went I would have a good time. There is just so much to do I knew I couldn’t get bored.

This time around I didn’t feel much like jamming my day with a ton of activities. For the most part I was really lazy. There was no need to get up early and stayed up late every night. The only real plan I had was visiting the Denver Art Museum. I was sad we didn’t make it here in April so this time it was the only thing I made sure I put on my to do list.

A really great museum with a varied collection of works. One thing I quickly noticed was all the western and Native American art. I shouldn’t be surprised but for some reason I was. I was also surprised to see a Claude Mont The Coastguards Cabin (Customs House) hanging on the wall. I have seen Mont’s stuff all over the country at this point. Its kind of amazing when you think about it. All these different art museum all have a Mont in their collection.

Denver Art Musem north entrance

After a great day at the museum I walked out to what sounded like muffled voices and banging of drums. Across the street in Civic Center Park I found a protest. Not sure who organized it but it was definitely an anti-Trump rally. Maybe a few hundred people that marched from the park to the state capitol building. Surprisingly there were about a dozen Trump supporters who I thought were antagonistic but thankfully nothing happened. The police had a good present but were respectful with their distance. This is my third time to Denver this year and if memory serves me correctly I have seen a protest each trip. The locals are passionate and very vocal.

The rest of my time was spent just walking around the cities, drinking beer and eating. Brewery visits where limited this time around, only three new ones this trip. I have been staying at the Renaissance in Downtown and have already visited the closest breweries so much more walking is required now to see some new places.  Stopped by Beryl’s Beer Co., Ratio Beerworks, and Bierstadt Lager.  All around a good selection of breweries with Ratio being the best of the three in my opinion.

I love fireworks and was surprised to hear that Denver puts on a show in Civic Center Park on July 3rd.  Not sure how many years this has been going on but it’s a local tradition to head down to the park July 3rd.  After a long day of drinking and walking I eventually made my way to the park for the show.  I wasn’t interested in the pre-fireworks festivities so arrived about 30 minutes before the display.  Really cool display that was loud with lots of color.

God I love fireworks and while I might be biased I believe DC puts on one of the best Forth of July festivals in the nation.  With that in mind my return flight on July 4th would get me back at a reasonable hour in the afternoon.  My original thought was to arrive at IAD and head downtown before the fireworks start around 9pm.  It was a great idea but in the end I just went home when I got back into town.  It was a really long weekend filled with a ton of activities so by the time I landed all I wanted to do was go home and sleep.  What sealed my decision was I was flying to Birmingham the following day.  I was staying the rest of the week to train a new hire so felt no need to push myself to make it to DC.  The fireworks in Denver fulfilled my itch for fireworks this season.

Another great time in Denver thanks to the four day Jul 4th weekend.  As is usually my motive I drank some great beer and ate till I was full each day.  This is a city that always has something going on and never leaves me bored.  Already planning on going back over Veterans Day weekend to see LCD Soundsystem which will be awesome!  Still working on getting a new job here in Portland so that could screw up my plans Veterans Day weekend but oh well.  I would rather plan all this out then find airline tickets are to expensive or the show is sold out.  Most of their north American tour is already sold out so I wanted to get my ticket before it was to late.