Tag Archives: Portland

Billy Cobham Star Theater Tuesday, October 8th 2019

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

Show starts at 8:33pm

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House lights at 10:13pm

Grand Prix of Portland August 30th to September 1st 2019

Last year was the first time back to Portland International Raceway for the IndyCar Grand 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.

Indy Lights Race 1

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…….

Kamasi Washington Oregon Zoo Saturday, August 17th 2019

Oregon Zoo Saturday, August 17th 2019

Several months ago the Oregon Zoo started announcing performances for their annual summer concert series. Eventually something I was interested was announced and I was excited. Herbie Hancock and Kamasi Washington would make a stop at the zoo during their 2019 tour. Kamasi I have heard before and seen recently. That performance blew me away so I was excited to see him again. And Herbie, I mean its Herbie Hancock so yeah I was excited to see him too.

One perk of the concert ticket is free admission to the zoo but unfortunately I was unable to partake in this added bonus. Getting to the zoo is still on my local tourist list. Arriving to the venue I highly recommend you take the Max. Either the red or blue west and get off at Washington Park. From there its an elevator rid up and then right for the zoo entrance. Can’t beat it considering the parking lot fills up quickly on the weekend and sold out concerts.

One of the elephants came out and joined us for part of Kamasi’s performance that night.

The stage is set all the way in the back by the elephant enclosure. The zoo has been doing this since 1979 so now they have a permanent stage and facilities which are nice. It is a smallish outdoor amphitheater which is perfectly proportioned I think. Up close they have a traditional reserved seating area. Most of the venue is grass. You are allowed to bring blankest and low chairs so of course do that. Get there as soon as the grounds open to secure a spot on the lawn. I arrived 45 minutes before the show start and it was already at capacity. Lots of food options around the venue which was encouraging to see.

Right on time Kamasi Washington and The Next Step took the stage for an hour long performance. The first time I saw Kamasi his performance blew me away. This time I would say it didn’t have as much energy as the Crystal Ballroom performance. I think it was just the intimacy of the crowd that made the Ballroom a better performance. Still a good crowd but not the same as being packed in with your fellow fan listening to Kamasi groove.

Still a very good performance by everyone. He even brought his father who played with the band all night. He hit some of the classics that have made him famous. Not so much talking this time around, more straight and to the point. I think it was a great opportunity to expose Kamasi to new fans who may not have heard him but wanted to see Herbie. Even one of the elephants managed to come out and see him play.

Next was Herbie Hancock and it was cool to see him play after hearing his music for so many years. He has a talented group of band members but none of them are originals or long standing. They were all good at what they do but if I had to rate the performance I would say average. Herbie was into the music but the other guys just seemed to be playing along for a gig. It was lacking energy. Even when they did Watermelon Man and Cantaloupe Island, it felt forced.

Again, it was great to see Herbie but the performance was lacking. I was here to see Kamasi to be honest and even that performance was just ok. Great venue and I look forward to coming back. I also hope to see Kamasi do another tour and hit a smaller venue in the Portland area. Let’s pack the place and have a groovy time.

Kamasi Washington
Saturday, August 17th 2019
Oregon Zoo – Portland, OR

Set starts at 7:00pm

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  7. Fists of Fury #
    Set over at 8:02pm

Note
# with Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock
Saturday, August 17th 2019
Oregon Zoo – Portland, OR

Show starts at 8:31pm

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  4. Actual Proof
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  7. Watermelon Man
    Set over at 938pm

Encore starts at 9:39pm

  1. Cantaloupe Island #
    House lights at 9:50pm

Note
# with Kamasi Washington and his dad

Michael Quu Helium Comedy Club May 7th 2019

Most of our customers are MSP clients but we do a fair amount of contract project work as well. This means we get some pretty cool clients like Helium Comedy Club. As a thank you for helping them out they gave us some free tickets to see the first night of Michael Quu. It was Tuesday night of all things so I understand getting free tickets. Get as many people in the venue as you can and hope they buy drinks. Plus I’m sure its good for the talent to see a full venue when they look out into the audience.

I didn’t plan on going but never bought movie tickets liked I planned either. A colleague was going and invited me so I decided a change of plans was in order. It ended up being three of us. Our third didn’t arrive till just before show time. I arrived first and decided to see about a table but the line getting in was ridiculously long and slow. They choke point was the ticket booth. My ticket was “free” but a $6 cover was required at the door. They have a stated 2 item minimum but they didn’t appear to enforce that.

There was an opening act in addition to Michael. The opening guy was a local that moved to NYC and now does comedy full time. Not bad but he will probably never make it off the medium city/small club tour. Still funny at times and worth it. The main act Michael was also pretty funny. Longer set. I think Michael did like 45-60 or something.

Anyway a good night out to see some comedy. I can always use a good laugh and I will have to come back to the club. Hopefully they can work on the queue issue but a nice place to catch some comedy.

Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group The Jack London Revue April 4th 2019

I was talking with a colleague earlier in the week about jazz and mentioned The Jack London Revue. I love this place because this is what I imagine jazz clubs where like back in the early days of the genera. The basement of some dark, dingy, building but also very intimate. The venue has a way of sucking you in and making you a part of the performance because of how things are setup. I just love this place. On Thursday’s Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group has a weekly two set residency.

Heineken

My colleague couldn’t make the show but I had hyped myself up just thinking about it I went Thursday night for their regular gig. I just wanted to listen to some live music. Even though I only stayed for the first set it was a lot of fun. I thought it better to get home at a reasonable hour and sleep then stay out too late.

The walk to and from the venue was nice. The weather was starting to become more comfortable. It rained in both directions. Going home it was pretty heavy. I didn’t even thing to check the weather till I was already outside. It just adds to the memories of the night.

Another good performance by Mel Brown and and the gang. They had a sit-in keyboardists this time. He too played with the same person Mel did. For some reason I want to say Aretha Franklin but I could be wrong on that. Another good night of jazz with Mel Brown at the Jack London Revue.