IrishBand goes to Port Townsend

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And now, finally, here’s the entry describing IrishBand’s trip to Port Townsend earlier this month.  As you may or may not know, the other two guys in the band are PT natives, so each trip back is loaded with memories and emotions for them, and new memories and good times for me.

We drove up there early on Saturday morning, the plan being to arrive early enough that we could meet up with friends, eat pizza, and wander around town to look in the shops and see the sights.  The Plan quickly seemed to evaporate, however, as phone calls went unanswered and shops weren’t open.  We did manage to connect with Dan and Julie, who grew up in PT but lived in Portland until recently.  We visited them at the extremely unusual house they’re renting, which is also a place that Singer lived a few years back.  I wanted to take pictures of everything, but I thought better of it because it was our friends’ place.  Maybe next time I will.  We’re planning to go up to PT more regularly.

So after that, we were a bit at a loss as to what to do next.  We’d already explored the town, and most of the shops were closed, so when in Rome, you do as the Romans do on a slow Saturday afternoon. . .which in Rome means that you see the sculptures and ruins and art, but in Port Townsend it means that you’re probably going to end up at a bar, which is what we did.  Singer, Singer’sGirlfriend and I killed a bit of time in there until Violinist arrived in town.  We also spent a good bit of time in a bookstore after that.  Incidentally, that’s where I picked up a copy of Invisible Man, which I wrote about in this entry.  We ate at the amazing Waterfront Pizza, and that’s about when Violinist arrived.  He suggested that we drive out to the lighthouse and watch the sunset, which was beginning to look like it could be a very memorable one.  We locked our instruments in a closet at the venue, and then loaded ourselves into the car and headed up the hill along the winding streets of the town.

Here are some pictures of our evening at the beach.  You can click on them to make them larger.

The tide happened to be high while we were there, and the waves were crashing against the rocks, sometimes splashing clear up next to the lighthouse.  I wasn’t able to capture any of the huge ones on video, unfortunately, but this will give you at least a sense of what it was like.

Ahhhhh. . .so nice.  I could watch that all day.

From there, we went back to the venue to set up and eat dinner.  They provided us with pizza, salad and as many drinks as we wanted, within reason.  Nice place, that Sirens, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Their sound system, however, leaves a bit to be desired.  We started to set up, and were told that they don’t have any microphones anymore.  Luckily I had brought one, and we managed to scrounge up a toy one from the back room, so all was not lost, but it certainly sounded much worse than usual.  In fact, about two-thirds of the way through the show, after struggling with the PA the entire time, we said a collective ‘screw it’, and decided to pretend that it was 1885 or something, and just play acoustically and have fun.  We walked with our instruments and played in various parts of the bar, including the hallway, and then went back to the stage for the rest of the set.  There was some floor space near the front, so two people took the opportunity to do some wild Irish dancing around the room, which made for a fun ending to an otherwise problematic show.  We left around one a.m. and stayed out at Violinist’s parents’ house, like we did last time.  They were excellent hosts, as usual, and they made an amazing breakfast for all of us. . .hearty pancakes with raspberry sauce, applesauce on the side, veggie sausage, and all the coffee and tea we could handle.

Incidentally, I learned that not only was the movie Snow Falling on Cedars filmed in Port Townsend (among other places), but also that a couple friends of the group were extras in the film.  They played Japanese-American kids (because that’s what they were at the time; they’re all growed up now, and are Japanese-American adults) who were walking onto the boat as it was leaving to take the families to the internment camps during World War II.  I loved the book, and thought the movie was just okay, but I put it on my InternetFlicks queue to see what there is to see of PT and our friends.

The next morning was a special annual event in Port Townsend called the Kinetic Race.  It’s not really a race as much as a chance for people to show off their ingenuity.  The ‘kinetics’ are these odd contraptions that are somewhere between bicycles, kayaks, boats, and cars.  They have to be built along a set of guidelines.  They must be human-powered (no motors of any kind), and they have to be able to travel on the street, in the water, on sand, and through mud.  Our little group congregated right along the waterfront, sitting or standing on the rocks, to watch the street-to-water portion of the event.

The vehicles were absolutely ingenious.  Here are pictures of most of them.  Like before, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

The Art-Not-Fear trio (Fear-Not-Art?  Not-Fear-Art?  Fear-Art-Not?) was struck by tragedy when Not capsized on the other size of the pier, and the driver/captain had to be rescued by the sheriff.  The guy wasn’t hurt, luckily, but the kinetic looked a bit worse for wear when we saw it on the shore later.  Incidentally, the picture of the Cadillac sticking out of the water, with “Fear Art” being the obvious caption, was just too priceless not to capture.

The plastic replica of a 1963 Cadillac started out as a crowd favorite, but I’m not sure how many friends they made that day, because they rolled down the ramp so fast that they slammed into the guy in the water in front of them, and he had to use his arms to push himself away from the car.  Which is okay, accidents do happen sometimes, but later on, it seemed to have a bit of difficulty in the water, and it even needed to be towed about halfway through the course.

The one below was my personal favorite of the kinetics, because of its simple, clean, economical design.  It’s also the one that ended up towing the Cadillac.  Just another example of the fact that simplicity is always best.  It went into and out of the water effortlessly. . .

. . .unlike the one below, which seemed overbuilt and awkward.  It took a great deal of shifting things around, both going out and coming in.  It did really well in the water, I have to say, but it sure looked like a lot of wasted energy.

The Magic Bus was far and away the crowd’s favorite, and huge cheers erupted as it rolled down into the water:

I took a video of each kinetic coming back from the water and up the ramp, but that would be ridiculous overkill, so I narrowed it down to two.  The first video shows two of the fastest transitions from water to road (again, due to their excellent design), and the second video shows three or four different people coming in around the same time (including the guy who got hit by the Cadillac), so you can really see what the various kinetics are like in motion.  The second video is a bit long, but it’s definitely worth watching the whole thing.

After about two hours of hanging around and watching the kinetics, we started to get hungry, so we walked back up to Waterfront and had a slice of pizza (third time having pizza in two days!).  By that time, we were all starting to fade out, and we decided to drive back home to Portland.

The trip was a total blast, as usual.  I love PT, and I’m really glad to have the opportunity to spend time there regularly, and to meet so many of the cool people who live there.  I feel like I’m starting to get to know the place by now.

The only bummer about the trip was that the Tyler Street Coffee House is no longer open on Sundays.  I have to go on record and say that this makes no sense to me at all.  It’s the best coffee and pastry shop in town (nay, the WORLD. . .there, I said it) and it’s been a highlight of past visits.  We didn’t make it there last time, so we were very much looking forward to renewing our love for the TSCH.  Alas, it was not to be.  Next time, however, we’re planning to come up on a Friday so that we can partake of the wonderfulness that’s created there.

Just thinking about it already makes me happy.

busy birthday boy

blogging, funny, music, Portland, Washington 1 Comment »

Today is my birthday.

I’ve been so busy these last two weeks that I’m very far behind on blogging.  You’ll be glad to know that I have a ton to write about, but you may have to make do with a quick little entry like this, or a YouTube video, or something like that before I can start to deal with the backlog.  Tonight is the final play-reading group, tomorrow is a small (but fun) gig with IrishBand, and Friday night is a huge talent show/contest involving IrishBand and a bunch of the funniest and coolest acts in town.  We like our chances for winning, but the competition is so funny and unusual and entertaining that it doesn’t even matter, really.

And I still haven’t even written about the trip to Port Townsend yet.   There are lots of pictures and videos to come in that story.

And there was the contest that IrishBand was in LAST weekend, which we shouldn’t have even entered to begin with, but that’s another story; hopefully a funny one at that.

I’ll be back soon. . .

no strings to hold me down

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I’ve been too busy this week to write the ‘official’ entry for the IrishBand Port Townsend trip, but here’s a video of the other two guys that we took while we were out at the beach near the lighthouse, watching the sunset.

Yes, I know the video is turned ninety degrees.  No, I don’t have the software to flip it.  For now you’ll just have to turn your head.  Enjoy!

I’ll write the real entry, with pictures and videos and everything, as soon as I have two extra minutes (not to mention brain cells) to rub together.


another trip to PT

blogging, cello, music, Washington 1 Comment »

I’m spending the weekend in the beautiful town of Port Townsend, Washington, which is right across Puget Sound from Seattle, right on the tip of the peninsula.  IrishBand is going up there to play a show tonight.  The other two guys in the band actually grew up in PT, so ‘homecoming’ shows like this are always fun, and unexpected things are sure to happen.

Here’s the entry from our last visit, which you can enjoy in the meantime.

See you when I get back!


a great weekend in PT

beautiful, funny, music, Oregon, pictures, true, Washington 2 Comments »

Spent the weekend in Port Townsend, Washington playing with IrishBand, which was a total blast, as usual. We all stayed at the home of Violinist’s parents, which is about seven miles outside of PT. They were GraciousInvitingOpenAndFriendly, and their house – which they pretty much built themselves – was beautiful.

We arrived in PT at around two-thirty in the afternoon, just in time to set up and play an acoustic gig at the Boiler Room, which was really more of a promotion stunt to get people to come see us at Sirens later that night. I took the opportunity to walk down the street and take a few pics. Here’s one that’s okay:

While we were setting up, there was an attempted robbery at the store across the street, and when the police car pulled up and parked, I thought (before we knew what was happening) that perhaps a parking ticket or something was in my immediate future, because that’s my red Honda, snookered in by the police car.

Turns out that my fears were unfounded.

We tried to take pictures, but we couldn’t see any of the action, and before too long, the street was pretty well filled with rubberneckers anyway. After our gig was over, we packed up and headed to Violinist’s parents’ house for dinner, by way of Fort Worden and all of the abandoned military bunkers that line the hillsides along the coast. We hiked through a few of them, and even walked through some of the pitch-black tunnels that connect them. I took a few pictures, because the light and the angles were so interesting from room to room.

The homemade dinner we were served was amazing, and the show was amazing. I didn’t realize there was such a sizable Brazilian contingent in PT, but there were quite a few in attendance that night. They were right up front, dancing up a storm, which always makes for a more enjoyable show.

Afterwards, BassPlayer and BanjoPlayer went off with a couple of rockabilly girls (for the record, only BassPlayer was interested in the girls; BanjoPlayer has a great girlfriend, and he knows it) most of us went to a ‘condo’ party. I don’t know whose condo it was, but it seems to be quite the party place. The party wasn’t too much fun, actually. Violinist and Singer used to live in Port Townsend, and they knew lots of the people there, but the other three of us were a bit out of the loop. There’s a notoriously obnoxious guy who actually called Singer’s girlfriend a bitch (Twice!), so she and Singer left really early. Drummer, Violinist, Violinist’s girlfriend and I tried gamely to stick around for a while, but after we overheard a few more weird comments, we decided it was time to leave. One guy, when his Asian female friend respectfully declined to join him on an outing he invited her to, actually asked her, “Why do you have to be such a Jew?” Violinist’s girlfriend and I looked at each other in a what-planet-are-we-on-again way. Then, as we were making our way to the door to leave, overheard a conversation between Obnoxious Guy and some random guy he didn’t know. Obnoxious Guy told Random Guy, “You’re acting just like a French Canadian. I HATE French Canadians.” (Drummer said the next morning that the ultimate revenge for a guy like that would be if he met and fell in love with a nice French-Canadian girl. I thought that was hilarious.)

It was about one in the morning when we all met back up again, and caravaned back to our home base. BassPlayer left the girls at the bar, and we asked him, “Why didn’t you go home with them? It seemed like one of them was kinda into you.” He replied, in a really low drunken slur, while putting two oranges into the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt, “I woulda had a much better time. . .lying on my stomach. . .pooping.” We all cracked up laughing with surprise, and Violinist said, “What’s that from? That’s really funny.” BassPlayer replied, in the same low slur, “My diary,” which made us laugh even harder.

I slept on the sofa in the living room, in my sleeping bag, and Drummer slept on the other side of the room divider, on an air mattress on the floor. Drummer snores. A lot. He started in almost immediately, and he didn’t respond to my shaking, so I put in my ear buds and turned on my iPod just loud enough to drown him out. I can’t usually sleep to music, but I really can’t sleep to loud snoring, and the iPod did the trick.

I was the first one awake, around eight-thirty the next morning, since I hadn’t had very much to drink the night before, so I got up, took a shower, and went for a hike through the wooded five-acre property.

While I was hiking, there were homemade SausageVeggieEgg frittatas, homemade bread, homemade applesauce with mixed berries, and homemade apple juice all being born at the same time. Once they were ready, we all ate and talked and laughed outside in the morning sunshine, and then gradually packed up and made our separate ways back to Portland. Drummer and I drove along the eastern edge of the Washington peninsula, down Highway 101 until it turned inland at Olympia. We stopped along the way to take some pictures, but none of them really came out the way we had hoped. This one was probably the best, but I still don’t find it particularly compelling.

After a while, we just wanted to get home. We listened to a whole bunch of CD’s, but my favorite by far was a new band called Low Vs. Diamond. They’re really great, and we listened to their album three or four times. Listening to the songs now at that link, I was transported back to the trip, talking and laughing and eating ice cream with Drummer.

At one point, we pulled into a rest stop to get some coffee and cookies, and when we went to leave, my car refused to start. It does that occasionally, so we let it cool off for a while, but it still balked when we tried it a second time. Drummer taught me the push-start technique, and there were two guys watching and laughing at us while we pushed the car down the hill toward the on-ramp. When Drummer told me to pop the clutch, and the car started right up, he yelled triumphantly to the two guys, “That’s how you do it, boys!” and we were back on the road.

We got to Portland around six-thirty, and after dropping off Drummer, I came home to find that there was a house party in my building, planned for eight o’clock, which gave me just enough time to shower and change my sweaty clothes. The party was fun, and the festivities lasted until one a.m., when it seemed to be over, but I found out tonight that there were still people who straggled in as late as two-thirty. The party spilled over into today, in a way, because when I came walking home from work, two of my neighbor friends were sitting outside eating some of the leftover homemade salsa from last night. “Help,” they said, “we need to get rid of this.” I laughed and replied, “You don’t have to tell me twice; I’ll be right back!”

So yeah. Good times all around. It was quite the weekend. Tonight my plan is to watch a DVD (“Heathers”, a brilliant and very dark comedy starring Winona Ryder) and go to bed relatively early, to try and catch up on some well-deserved sleep.