Tag Archives: Portland

Kamasi Washington Crystal Ballroom Thursday, October 18th 2018

Kamasi Washington Heaven and Earth tour 2018

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.

Peace, love, music!

Labor Day Weekend Indy Race in Portland

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.

Arriving via Max on race day.

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.

A pretty good vantage point for the tight section of the track.

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.

Lets the festivities begin.

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.

Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group The Jack London Revue June 7th 2018

What started it all.

Everyday I walk to work. I take the same path and often I see the same folks. Its a nice routine I have in the morning and a good way to clear my head before I start my day. While I consider it trash I do look forward to seeing what new posters have been plastered around the neighborhood. Only in a city can this kind of advertising be tolerated and actual work at the same time.

This particular morning a new one caught my eye. It was for the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group. The way things looked and sounded The Jack London Revue was a classic jazz band playing at a club from the 60’s. With nothing better to do I decided to see a jazz show on a Thursday night. For not having much of a plan when I started things really worked out.

I was not to sure about the show so I keep things loose for the night. I walked to the venue and arrived just before 8pm. It was fleet week so I got to see the ships docked at sunset which was cool. Note, cash only cover charge which sucked. Another thing to understand is the venue really is in the basement of the building. You walk into a pool hall and in the back of the hall are stairs leading downstairs to the jazz club. I walked right past the entrance the first time because it is not clearly marked.

The Jack London Revue really does have that class small jazz club feel from the 60’s in New York City. Honestly the only thing that was missing was cigar smoke. The ceiling is low and unfinished yet painted black to dull the room. The lights are low which with the decor give the place a very relaxed and chill vibe. A low stage with the first few spots reserved for cocktail tables. The further back in the venue you got the more space there is for seating which I think is a good idea. Table service is offered and for the most part staff is respectful of the performance. By the second set things really started to break down however. Decent selection of beers and offer a full menu which is cool too.

Before the show even started I was already in love with the place. Not a large crowd which was great in my opinion. Things did fill out not long after the set started which was I am sure a good moral booster for the band. Not knowing how things would go I started with just a beer. If they sucked I didn’t want to get suckered into food too. Thankfully the band was pretty good so I stuck around for both sets. By the end of the night I had a couple beers and a sandwich which was ok, nothing special. I just loved the fact that I could get food, beer and listen to some good jazz in such an appropriate spot.

The music all night was great. The first set I thought was better then the second and mostly that was because of original songs. The first set seamed to have more of the band’s own material, most straight ahead jazz. The second set I believe had no original songs and way way more covers. Mostly of jazz classics but also pulling from a range of diverse genres. They also interacted more with the audience. Again with the classic jazz club vibe they asked where everyone was from and engaged those visiting from out of town. Come to find out this is their regular gig on Thursday nights at the Jack London Revue. Its good to know I have a dedicated place I can go to in the city for jazz.

As an added bonus for sticking around through both sets there was a free comedy show right after Mel Brown at 11pm. Since I was already there for the concert I stuck around for some comedy as well. All I will say about the comedy was you get what you pay for. After only three acts it was time for me to make my way home.

The venue is freaking amazing and the band was pretty good. Since this is a regular Thursday thing at The Jack London Revue I can see myself going back semi-regularly to catch a show and some free laughs.

 

Rebirth Brass Band Revolution Hall April 20th 2018

Rebirth Brass was one of many acts coming to town.

This show was kinda a list minute idea I had. As I was checking out what was coming to local venues I found that Soul’d Out was doing a multi venue music festival. One of those acts was the Rebirth Brass Band at the theater in my back yard, Revolution Hall. It was also a special night and a Friday on top of that so I just had to go.

After a regular day of work I got to enjoying the evening with a nice walk around the city. The weather was really starting to break and be enjoyable in the evening with the light being out later as well. I must have walked several miles around, lots of activity along the water and people out enjoying the beautiful weather.

I knew I would need fuel all night so I stopped at Danwei Canting for some street food. I loaded up on some spicy food. From here it was a short walk to the venue. When I walked in the lights were low and a few people milling on stage but nothing official. It seemed to me that some members were ready to start and others needed a few more minutes. The place was already pretty packed and the ticket taker suggested I try up stairs. I tried the floor and got a pretty good spot up front in the seated section near the sound board.

The show was really fun and a lot of energy.  They packed what was a small stage for the band with everyone and played their hearts out.  Not as much crowd involvement as the Antibalas but still lots of energy.  Seemed like a couple people in Portland have seen them perform live in NoLo at their regular gig which would be cool.

A really good night of booty shaking music. I guess my only real complaint is how long the show was.  I got there just before 10pm and didn’t see an opening act perform. I just thought they could have done two sets or at least kept playing. I mean I had time to stop at Voodoo Too for after show donuts and get home before it was even midnight. On a Friday no less. Despite that one hiccup everything else was great.

Rebirth Brass Band
Friday, April 20th 2018
Revolution Hall – Portland, OR

Set stars at 10:01pm
1. .
2. .
3. .
4. .
5. .
House lights at 11:27

Encore starts at 11:28pm
6. .
House lights at 11:31pm

 

Stickmen Brewing Co.

A gigantic brewery in an industrial area on the outskirts of town.

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.

Stickmen Purple Haze

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.