I was in Washington DC for a week of training and I didn’t want to waste my time in the hotel. In the end I saw two concerts the week I was in Washington. One was Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward at Jammin Java and the other was George Porter Jr. Trio at Gypsy Sally’s.
Honestly I have never heard for George Porter Jr. and never been to Gypsy Sally’s. I saw the concert listing on Jam Base and just wanted to watch some live music while in DC. It was a Friday show and I was flying out Saturday. Plus the venue was directly across the river from my hotel in Georgetown so an easy 15 minute walk for me. Everything told me I had to go see this show.
Let me start with the venue. When I arrive on Sunday I crossed the river and ate dinner at The Berliner. Come to find out Gypsy Sally’s is on the second floor of the same building. Right there across the river in Georgetown. Walk across the Key Bridge and head down to the water. Go upstairs to the second floor and you’re there. Not a lot of fan fair that leads you to the entrance so easy to walk past. Lots of tables in the back but it appears these are “reserved” for those wanting to eat food.
I was there early enough that I just posted up right in front of the stage. There might have been 20 people in the place but thankfully as the night wore on the place really started to fill in. By the time George Porter Jr. Trio took the stage the dance floor was reasonable packed and most of the tables were occupied. No natural light to speak of. Light setup is pretty basic and seems like the speaker system is basic as well. Sounds like there were some technical challenges setting up all the mics for the opening act, The Beats Hotel.
What a huge band for such a small ass stage. Not sure where they are from but they play New Orleans style music. Not bad, just not my taste in music to be honest. The “leader” was having a rough night. He wanted to be in control but the other band members were not having it. It was funny to watch, especially being so close to the stage. I could hear all the un-miced conversations. When their set ended I was ready for it to be over. The crowd loved them so that was good.
George Porter Jr. takes the stage and I am right in front of the drummer Terrence Houston. Now the drummer for The Beats Hotel was loud but Terrence totally blew him away. It was funny to see him take a swig of Crown Royal now and again. Terrence was going to have a good night for sure. Anyway after about 20 minutes I had to walk away. His drumming, even un-miced, was so loud. I could feel the kick drum in my check and every time he hit the cymbals my ears would ring. Just to much and I needed a break.
Besides it being extremely loud right in front of the drummer it was a good show. I was expecting more of a New Orleans vibe but that really wasn’t the bulk of the show. Only a song or two had that vibe. They played some jazz stuff but what shocked me more was all the Grateful Dead covers. Not sure what Porter’s relation to the Dead is but it must be a strong one. When George walked on stage I noticed a Grateful Dead Steal Your Face pin on his guitar strap. I tried to get a good look but I was it was to small for me to see. Certainly the Dead influence was there and it was awesome hearing the songs.
Most of the Grateful Dead songs happened near the end of the set. The encore was 2/3 Dead which was also awesome. By the time the encore rolled around the crowd had started to dwindle so only a hard core group of people remained at midnight. I thought it was a good performance. I could have done without The Beats Hotel but that is just because they are not my style of music. George and the crew did a great job. Mostly what I remember is how I felt standing in front of Terrence. So incredible loud.
After the show it was a nice walk back across the Key Bridge to the hotel. The weather had cooled but was still muggy as shit. I ended up getting a late night meal at McDonald’s and unwound for a bit. The following day I was excited to headed home to Portland. I didn’t know it at the time but that night was the last good night I would have for a while. As soon as I woke up on Saturday I new I was getting sick. I proceeded to nose dive for the next 4 days before taking about 7 days to fully recover.
My trip to DC for training was a memorable one. Not for the training which I have mostly forgotten. But for the two shows and a few key purchases I made. Even the food wasn’t bad for the most part.
George Porter Jr. Trio Friday, October 18th 2019 Gypsy Sally’s – Washington DC The Beats Hotel opened
George Porter Jr. – bass Michael Lemmler – keys Terrence Houston – drums
I was in Washington DC for a week of training and like all the training I have been to there is down time. Especially the last day when brains are fried and everyone is looking forward to going home. While physically we are there, mentally we checked out the day before. Or maybe that’s just me.
Friday we only had a little material to cover, a practice test, and out around 2pm. That left me a lot of time to kill in the city and I made the most of it. After training I headed to Fahrney’s Pen to buy a pen I saw a few days earlier. That night I was going to see George Porter Jr. Trio but had several hours to kill before that show kicked off.
My objective was to sit and relax so I decided to visit the National Gallery of Art to get a little writing done and enjoy some art. They had a special exhibit on the moon landing as it was the 50th anniversary and that was pretty cool. The Photographic and Systematic Chart of Moon installation took a bunch of smaller images of the moon and put them together to make a complete picture of the moon. Also saw some of the old masters on the main floor. I even managed to find an extremely old picture of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The picture is 135 years old but the canyon looks just like it did a hundred years ago, just in color now.
Twice I stopped to write letters. I don’t remember the paintings or the artists but I made my own version of each on a couple of the note cards. Really awful copies but I was very proud of my work. It was nice hanging out at the museum soaking up as much culture as I could in the limited amount of time I had.
Before I knew it announcements about the museum closing could be heard over the PA system. Always a good time at the National Gallery of Art. I can certainly spend hours here but I will take whatever limited time I can get. Not sure when I will be back in DC but I look forward to coming back and seeing what they have next time I’m rolling through town.
I started a new job and they flew me out to Fairfax, VA for two weeks for orientation and to meet the team. I am not one to just stay in the hotel when I travel so I headed to DC one night to walk around. I am use to walking around my neighborhood and missed it so I took Metro into DC one Friday evening to enjoy the city night lights.
The weather was finally starting to cool and the humidity start to drop by the time I arrived in downtown. Metro dumps you right at the Smithsonian’s so from there it is only a short walk down to the US Capitol. From there I looped back up towards the White House down Constitution Ave. but here I ran into a slight detour.
As I was getting closer to the Capitol I noticed a bunch of stopped cars and police lights. Come to find out it was a bunch of BBQ pit masters getting setup for the weekends annual BBQ battle in downtown. I saw dozens of trucks waiting to get in and those inside setting up tents and their trailers. It was a shame I couldn’t make it back the following day to enjoy some smoked meet.
That night I spent most of my time walking around the World War II memorial. There was just something about that place with the lights and water fountains. All the monuments that night where great to look at. The temperatures had cooled and the humidity dropped which made being out even more enjoyable being out among the granite.
I spent hours walking around The Mall with a bunch of other tourists. It was pretty amazing to see so many people out enjoying the sights. Living on the west coast I have a greater appreciation for what DC has to offer now that I can’t just visit whenever I want. I will continue to make it to the city on my return trips for work.
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.
It was a weekend I had no official plans and was completely within my rights to do nothing or everything. While reading the Post on the deck with some coffee I saw an advert for the upcoming home stretch of the Nets. I quickly checked with my peeps and unfortunately everyone was busy but that didn’t stop my. I got my ass in gear and headed to DC for an afternoon of baseball.
With Safe Track finally over my trip into the city on Metro was still a nightmare. With the new schedule trains just run fewer and far between. This meant the last stretch on the green line was nuts to butts as hundreds of baseball fans making our way to the stadium for the game. The weather was going to be rather nice with low humidity and temps in the mid-80’s. My ticket was in left field so I was in the sun for the entire game. The warmth felt good but I never got to the point of sweeting my balls off which made me happy.
Not much I can write about this game. I arrived just in time to get my seat and watch the teams take the field for the first inning. Very quickly the Nats where up to bat in the first and started putting points on the board. By the 3rd inning it was already 8 to nothing or something crazy. In the fifth inning with the Nats WAAAAY ahead and the likelihood of the Reds coming back waning, I started losing interest in the game. By the seventh I was actively looking to leave the stadium and get a head start on the green line.
In no time I was headed west towards home. It was a great day at the ballpark, finally glad I got out to see a Nats game this season. While the ticket was expensive I don’t feel it was a waste of money. I just wish the Reds could have put up a small fight and make a game out of it. Next I will have to see about a game during the week. I think leaving work a little early for a later afternoon game is in order.