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
Not sure how I saw the show alert but as soon as I did I was interested. It has been 17 years since I last saw him on a whim. Back then I was taping a lot of live concerts and a friend ask me to tap Billy Cobham at The Birchmere. I love music so I was interested. Jeremy and I arrived late as Billy was already on stage playing. We walked into to see him just whaling on the drums. That show was so good that night so when I saw him coming back through town I just had to go. I asked Jenny if she was interested and we made it a date.
First time seeing a show at the Star Theater and it is an interesting place. Doing a little reading on the venue it is long been known for porn, strippers and burlesque. Here recently it has been turned into a music venue and a pretty nice one at that. It is narrow but long with the front taking up the box office and bar area. The stage is elevated and for tonight’s show it was fully seated show which was cool. Some long benches on the side of the venue and additional seating upstairs but not sure how much.
Funny thing is I arrived a few minutes before Jenny did that night and ran into Andy from my last job. Honestly I wasn’t surprised to see him that night as he is pretty into jazz like me. He totally lucked out and was able to get one of the limited walk up tickets as this show was sold out. It was so great catching up with him and talking about Billy. I relayed my story of seeing him 17 years ago and we both were super excited to see him.
Jenny arrived and we chatted before the start of the show. There was a sign on the door saying the performance would start at 8:30pm and with no opening act I didn’t think it would last very long. It was actually a pretty packed stage with all the band members. It was really Billy’s drum set that took up much of the space. That set is just crazy when you look at it.
I gotta say the show itself was pretty damn good. It started off rather well with some pretty upbeat stuff. It was mostly the fusion style of jazz that I was expecting to hear that night from Billy. He was promoting a new album that just went on sale so it was a pretty heavy rotation of those songs. The middle section of the show was rather slow and melodic which I didn’t care for but the end of the show brought the energy back.
One thing that bedeviled me all night was the sound. Jenny and I were positioned right by the sound board and all night the two guys running the board kept tweaking and working on things. At one point it looked like the monitor for the keyboardist died. To their credit they worked out all the issues but it was annoying seeing them constantly going back and forth from the stage fixing and adjusting things. There was even a medical emergency that night but the show went on despite it.
Such a great time seeing Billy Cobham play again. I loved running into Andy and geeking out about jazz. Seeing it with Jenny and how much see enjoyed it made it that much better for me. A good night of fusion jazz in a great looking venue. Can’t wait to see him again. Hopefully I won’t wait 17 years to see him next.
Billy Cobham Crosswinds Project Featuring Randy Brecker
Tuesday, October 8th 2019
Star Theater – Portland OR
Last year was the first time back to Portland International Raceway for the IndyCarGrand Prix of Portland in many years. That was a good event and I was excited to attend again this year. Just like before it was over the same Labor Day weekend which was convenient. I could enjoy the race all weekend and still have a day off on Monday. The big change for me this year was a cheaper ticket. I just didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth with last years ticket and extras. This year I still got a grandstand ticket but along the front straight right in the middle. Cheaper overall ticket and I thought a better experience for me.
Still couldn’t make it to Friday practice even thought I get off mid afternoon from work. I had a date Friday night to the Portland Art Museum which I thought was a better use of my time. Five dollars after 5pm on Friday’s, best deal in town. Anyway I headed out at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning and spent all day at the track.
First on the schedule was practice three for IndyCar. I don’t like going to my seat the first day so headed down the back straight and posted up under a tree to watch the final practice. The weather was perfect all weekend in fact. Pretty cool temps even in the sun with a slight breeze and mostly sunny skies. The hill on the back straight is nothing exciting but does offer some good views of the cars going their fastest around the track.
I ended up staying under the tree for several of the support races who were racing all Saturday. One new addition that I really enjoy were the stadium trucks. I believe they generally run on dirt but making a few spot appearances across the nation at select IndyCar and NASCAR events. I really enjoy the sound. They also have a few jumps along the front straight which is cool. They will barrel down the straight at full speed and launch the trucks a good ten to fifteen feet into the air.
Mostly the same kind of atmosphere as last year. One nice addition this year was additional food vendors. More choices and shorter lines. The retail vendors I think are a joke but that’s just me. I keep comparing this even to my experiences at Circuit of the Americas and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and I shouldn’t. Fan experience and ticket prices are so very different.
Ended up not walking the full track this year. Did walk through the support race paddock for a closer look at the cars and teams. Got up close and personal with the stadium trucks, again just so cool to see run.
Race day and the track was a lot less packed than last year. Getting there was pretty easy thanks to Max. Not having an IndyCar paddock pass things just seemed more casual along the front straight vendor area. Lots of people but not really crowded. My seat was in section G and when the race started it almost completely empty. Last year at turn one every seat was taken. Section G no one seemed to care.
Decent race and again when I think of the ticket price a great value for my money. Another incident at turn one lap one this year. That took out several cars and caused a safety car to be deployed for about fifteen laps. When the race restarted another crash at turn one that caused another safety car but not nearly as long. From that point forward it was a pretty much nonstop race to the end. Things just hummed along with not a lot of strategy necessary, just pure racing. As the race neared its end another quick safety car really changed things up. Strategy finally came front and center. Will Power started second but lead the majority of the race. Most importantly across the finish line to win the race.
A good race and a way better experience this year over last. Just a better value for my money and I think next year I might just go with a GA ticket. I like being at the track but IndyCar is not something I really follow. Hard to justify spending all that money on a ticket if I don’t have to. The sound of the engines screaming down the track on a perfect late summer afternoon is what keeps me coming back. They announced during the race on Sunday that a contract for 2020 has been signed so maybe I will be back for a third straight year over Labor Day Weekend. Till next year…….