where to start

blogging, music, pictures, Portland, recording 1 Comment »

Too busy to post again lately.  What have I been up to?  By way of an answer, I’ll show you a few pictures, and give you the quick run-down.

I played one of the best and most memorable shows I’ve ever had. . .

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. . .I went to see some friends play a very cool night of cello music, and might have come away with a new instructor (it doesn’t hurt that she’s incredibly cute, too!). . .

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. . .I made a new friend, who’s a friend of friend.  My friend in question told me that she is “Japanese, and a pianist, and she’s looking for new musical friends.  I thought of you.”  She came to the IrishBand show in StateCapitol last Wednesday, and then came up here to Portland on Saturday night.  No pics of her yet, unfortunately. . .

. . .IrishBand’s Violinist and I played our first wedding, and had a blast during the extra-curricular activities as well. . .

otbv otbv2 couple

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. . .I got me a good ol’ 4-track cassette recorder for archiving FirstBand’s tapes. . .

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. . .I recorded some new tracks (using the computer, not the 4-track!) on IrishBand’s theme song. . .

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. . .I created a fairly esoteric (but fun!) new blog, which you probably wouldn’t be interested in, and which I will not be posting a link to. . .

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. . .and I went out for dinner, a walk, and coffee with a friend who I haven’t seen in months, and took some nice pictures along the way.

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Times have been good, overall, I’d say.

Tonight, I think a friend and I are going to hit the Last Thursday art ‘scene’ on Alberta Street.  I haven’t had the chance to do that in ages, because I always seem to have gigs on both First AND Last Thursdays.

So there you go; you’re all caught up now, and I feel much better too.

Ethiopian wedding

beautiful, music, pictures, Portland, true 7 Comments »

This weekend was full of gigs and parties and recording, so all I wanted to do today was drink water and do healthy, relaxing things.  I walked over to check out the new Irvington Farmers’ Market, which just started a couple of weeks ago, and is small but really great.  I bought some chicken tacos and a boysenberry soda, and sat in a chair listening to a quartet of musicians play while I ate.  I walked home and one of my friends called to tell me that he’d gone to the Rose Garden this morning (the actual rose garden, in Washington Park, not the stadium), and that sounded like the perfect thing to me too.  I grabbed my camera, jumped in the car, and headed across town.

As luck would have it, I happened to be there at the perfect time.  After I’d been there about fifteen minutes or so, I heard some sort of tribal drumming from the opposite end of the Garden.  Since the Japanese Garden is right near there, I thought maybe Portland Taiko was giving a performance, although the music didn’t sound Japanese at all.  I curtailed my rose activities and went over to investigate.

Coming down the steps were about thirty people in long white and green robes, singing, chanting, clapping and dancing to the rhythms of two large hand drums.  They had arrived in a white Hummer stretch limousine, and everyone in the garden was enthralled by them.  A few of us were standing around watching, since it seemed to be both public and private, if you see what I mean, so it took a while for us rubberneck photographers to see how close we could get without being intrusive.

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Finally the groom and bride appeared, and it became obvious that the ceremony was a wedding.  The group was clearly African, and I thought I recognized the language as being Ethiopian.  Two women came to stand near me, and we chatted a bit about how beautiful it all was, and how lucky we felt to be there.

The group started in the main entrance to the garden, and slowly made their way to a handful of other locations.  The bride and groom were often separated from the party, talking privately with the man who appeared to be the equivalent of the celebrant.  When they took a turn and came toward me, in the direction of the steps, I saw that I was in the perfect position for some interesting photos.  The wedding photographer walked next to me, and I said to him, “Can I ask where you’re from?  Are you guys Ethiopian?”  He said yes, they were, and he gave me a I-can’t-believe-you-actually-know-about-Ethiopia smile.

I didn’t realize until they came closer just how exquisite and ornate their clothes were.  Look at all the little details and layers.  They must have been roasting under all that.  It was about eighty degrees today.

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I was even lucky enough to capture the two of them in one of the rare moments when they weren’t completely surrounded by people, and had a moment to themselves.  It was a nice moment.  After this shot, I put down my camera and congratulated them as they walked by, and was rewarded with radiant smiles from both of them.

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They led the wedding party down the steps, and by this time there was quite a crowd of people gathered around to watch, and to take pictures and videos, so I didn’t have to be stealthy anymore.  I saw an opportunity to get in front of the group as they came down the steps, and I took it.

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In the back left of the pictures below, you can clearly see that the couple are off on their own, while the group is carrying on with the singing and chanting.  Also, it’s a bit hard to tell from these pictures, but the teal color of the womens’ dresses was absolutely stunning in the sun.  There was a multitude of hues of greens and blues, and the women shimmered as they walked and danced.

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At this point I decided to take a little video, because even the best pictures can’t convey the movement and volume of what was happening.  Like i said, every single other person in the busy garden was enthralled by this group.

You can see in the video that the bride and groom came around the back of the frame, and slowly led the party to the next location, and that’s when I decided to leave them.  I figured that I’d bothered them enough, and I was very excited to come home and see how the pictures came out.  That’s when I noticed that I’d lost the extra battery for my camera.  I retraced my steps as best I could, but the garden is like a maze, so I never did find the battery.   Maybe if you find it you could let me know?  Thanks.  It’s a Canon, about an inch across, and it looks like this.

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Anyway.  That was the only small downside to this otherwise wonderful day.  I feel very lucky to have been where I was, and to be able to witness such a beautiful and captivating event.

Oh yeah. . .I would be remiss not to add the picture of the stretch Hummer, which was parked right behind my car.  I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been to navigate that monstrosity through the narrow, winding roads of Washington Park.

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107 degrees today

blogging, music, pictures, Yakima No Comments »

I’m going to do another of those quick little recaps, since it’s been another whirlwind week.

Went to Yakima and stayed at Mom ‘n’ Stepdad’s, since it was a class reunion weekend for my high school.  It wasn’t my year, but a few of my friends were going to be in town, so I figured I’d go and make myself available in case there were some activities or whatever that I might be able to be a part of.   I ended up going to the Friday night meet-up and hanging out with a couple of people, one of whom was a guitarist I played with once or twice when I’d been playing for about two months.  Since I’ve been playing for twenty four years now, that’s how long it had been since I’d seen him.  Another visiting friend was ChefSLC and a couple of friends from Seattle, who happened to be in town for a wedding and had nothing to do with the class reunion.  As if that wasn’t enough, I met up with another friend from college, who I found with a little help from Facebook.  All around, it was a fantastic weekend.

The weekend before was a party, a party, and a wedding.  PartyOne involved a lost dog, whose owner seemed to abandon him in a parking lot across the street from where we were having our little party, which quickly turned the party into a session of calling 9-1-1 and Animal Control and the police.

PartyTwo was a birthday party for Violinist from IrishBand.  When we arrived, we found that not only was it Violinist’s birthday, but it was a meeting of the two-member Portland Cigar Club, of which Violinist and Singer decided to become the third and fourth members for the day, despite never having smoked cigars before.  They warned Singer not to inhale, but he accidentally did, and found himself all cracked out, and had to go running up and down the street in the hopes of burning off some of the excess energy.  It was pretty funny.  I have the sneaking suspicion that was his one and only day of membership in the Portland Cigar Club.  After the party dissipated, I took LJ home and then went back to continue the party at the house we’d been at the previous night.  It was a blast, again, and the dog problem seemed to have been taken care of, after they let him spend the night in their home.

Sunday night was a wedding of two of my friends and building-mates.  It was a lovely ceremony at the bride’s mom’s house in Banks.   My pictures of the ceremony itself weren’t so great, but on the way out there, I stopped to take some pics of the beautiful countryside.  I parked my car on the side of the road, and someone actually stopped to ask me if I was lost.  It was very kind of them, and was something that rarely happens in the hectic life of the city.

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After the ceremony, there was dinner and drinks until dusk, when the party really started.  Since the bride and groom are professional musicians, the majority of the guests at the wedding were musicians as well.  There was a contingent of guitarists, a cellist, two trumpet players, a violinist and I brought my accordion.  At one point, one of the guitarists pulled out one of those huge pads of art paper, on which were written the lyrics to a bunch of songs, including “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Across the Universe” and many other songs.  He arranged them with his other band, when they wanted to have a sing-along around a campfire, but no one knew the words to anything, so to write the lyrics on a huge piece of paper for everyone was a brilliant solution. The party lasted until about three-thirty in the morning, at which point most people camped out at various places on the property, but I decided to drive home.  On the way, I remember that it was now Monday morning, which meant that my friend John was doing his radio show.  He told me a few days prior that if I ever found myself in one of the many sleepless nights I have, that I should feel free to come down to KBOO and play a few songs.  So I called him.  “Hey, I’m driving home from this wedding. . .what are the chances that I could come down and hang out for a bit?”  He readily agreed, so I sped through the night to the station.   Got there about four, had a great time, played a few songs (Indigo Girls, Azure Ray, and Neil Finn), and then John played a couple before launching into the entire Side One of the Decemberists’ “Hazards of Love” record.   The guy with the show after John’s arrived around that time, and he told us that he’d been to the Decemberists’ show the night before, so we asked him if he’d want to come on the air and talk about it, which he gladly did.  It was really fun.  It’s a shame that the show isn’t podcast or anything, because the time slot of 3:00-5:30 a.m. is a bit prohibitve for most people to listen, but it’s well worth it if you’re up at that hour.  John plays all kinds of incredible music.

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After the show was over, we had to put away all the records and CD’s that he’d played during the course of the show, which took a half-hour or so, by which time it was 6:00 a.m., whereupon I said “good night” to the guy doing his show (John asked me, “Did you just say ‘good night’?”  It was hilarious.), and then drove home to spend the rest of the day in bed.  It was a stellar ending to a stellar weekend.

So then last weekend was Yakima, last night was a Breanna and Justin gig with a Birthday Girl, and this weekend (tomorrow, actually) I’m driving over to spend some time with Dad ‘N’ Stepmom at their house near the coast.  Today I finally had enough time to sit and write all this out, so now it’s back to broiling in record-high weather in Portland (107 degrees today, and I don’t even own a fan!  Yikes.) and listening to Crowded House.

I went through all my boxes of stuff in the basement, and finally found the one that contained about a hundred CD’s that I’ve been missing for a while.  Crowded House, Tears For Fears, and Thomas Dolby were among the ones I’d been looking for recently, and I’m reunited with them now, and it feels so good.

parties, more parties, and Beacon Rock

beautiful, blogging, music, pictures, recording, Washington 1 Comment »

It’s been another of THOSE weeks, hence the silence around these parts.

Engagement party, lots of ‘party’ parties, movie night or two, tons of recording, it’s just been a blur.  Last night was a friend’s birthday party, which was followed by a ‘party’ party, and tonight is two friends’ wedding (You may remember the bachelor party from a couple weeks ago. . .?), which is to be followed by – what else – a huge party.  The vast majority of people who will be there are also professional musicians, so I’m anticipating a ‘jam’ of acoustic instruments of all kinds.  I’ll be bringing my accordion, for sure, and my camera as well.

I don’t usually talk about this, but the weather here in Portland has been stunningly beautiful lately.  One day it was so lovely that I ditched rescheduled a rehearsal and hit the road in the afternoon so that I could go for a hike instead.  I ended up at Beacon Rock, which is along the Washington side of the Columbia river, about an hour’s drive from here.

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It’s 850 feet high, and you get to the top by way of a steep trail that was engineered by one of the people who built the Historic Columbia River Highway.  The trail is about a mile and a half long, and it’s a surprisingly difficult walk.

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Nothing like a bunch of tasteless graffiti (“dick juice”) to bring you back to reality.  Anyway, here’s what the view from the top was like, on that particular day.  This one is looking downriver, toward Portland. . .

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. . .and this one is looking upriver, uh, away from Portland.

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There’s a plaque at the bottom of the rock which tells an Anglicized version of the rock’s history.

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It was a lovely day, and a lovely random trip.

And now it’s time to get ready for the wedding.  I have to leave in an hour and a half, and I still need to shower and all that.  Today is equally beautiful, and the ceremony is being held out in the forest.  It promises to be a really great night.

wedding, play, garden, hike, learning

beautiful, blogging, cello, music, Oregon, pictures, Portland No Comments »

What a weird week.  Since the end of April, which was one of the busiest I’ve ever had, my schedule has been blissfully activity-free.  Andrea’s wedding (at which I played cello) was touching and beautiful, and I spent the rest of the weekend lying low.

IrishBand’s singer and I were going to see a movie on Sunday night, but I got a mass text message from one of my actor friends saying that he was performing that night, and that everybody should come down.  I called Singer and said, “New plan for tonight.  We should go see this play.  My friend’s in it, and I have no idea what to expect, but the group wrote it, so I’m sure it’ll be good.”  He agreed, and I drove to his apartment to pick him up.  We went to the venue (not an ‘actual’ theater, but a room in the Eagles’ Lodge) a bit early to scope the place out.  Turned out we were too early, so we sat in the bar, had a couple of drinks and shared a basket of surprisingly delicious fries.  It was funny and a bit strange to be the youngest person there by about thirty years.

The show was inspirred by Busby Berkeley’s productions, and even used old piano music and quoted bits from movies.  It was really entertaining and fun.  My friend described it as a ‘farce’, with elements of burlesque.  There were dancing girls and a woman-pretending-to-be-a-man, and a gay boy, and forbidden love, and my friend, who somehow managed to incorporate bits of all of those elements.  It was great.

From there we walked across the street to the Sapphire Hotel, which is one of my favorite places.  We went there and waited for ActorFriend to join us after he changed his clothes and stuff.  He was meeting a woman friend for what Singer and I thought was a date, but it turned out that they were actually ex’s, and were meeting to catch up on each others’ lives.  They invited us to join them at a table next to theirs, which was better for conversing than our noisy table, so we slid it over and settled in for a great conversation, as well as delicious food and drinks.  I hadn’t seen my friend in quite a few months, and catching up was long overdue.  His friend turned out to be a singer-songwriter, and a very interesting person as well.  Here’s to many more evenings like that one.

Monday and Tuesday I was exhausted and pretty much slept the days away, but yesterday I woke up early and felt great after finally getting a full night’s sleep.  I called my friend J to invite her to the Japanese Garden, which she felt was too expensive, so I suggested the Chinese Garden, which I had a couple of complimentary passes for.  It was an offer she couldn’t refuse.

I hadn’t been there in years, but I used to have a membership there, which is how I got the free tickets.  A couple of months ago, I got a letter in the mail saying, ‘Come back!  Renew your membership’, et cetera, so I took the opportunity to take J, who hadn’t been there before.  Naturally, I brought my camera, and here are some of the results.

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In one of the buildings was a chest of drawers with a jar full of numbered sticks on top of it.  The idea was that you shake the jar of sticks, and whichever one comes out first is the one you were meant to have.   Mine was number 23, so I found the drawer marked ’23′ and pulled out a single piece of paper, which read:

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In case you’re one of the people who reads BFS&T from a feed or something, it says, “You have made a deep impression on someone dear to you.”  I love stuff like that, as you may already know.

Lovely place, lovely day.  From there, we left the car parked at the Garden and walked to the MAX train to ride downtown to the bank for cash, then walked back up to Old Town to an incredible little Thai cart for a super-cheap dinner, of which I have some left over and will happily finish tonight.  After that, we drove around aimlessly for a while, and I headed up to the Alphabet District in Northwest.  We both felt like walking some more, so I drove us to Macleay Park, where we ditched the car and hiked into the woods.  I took no pictures, because we were having a pretty deep conversation, and I wanted to pay attention to her.   We hiked a mile or so in, to the abandoned Stone House, climbed all over it, then turned back.

We left, exhausted, and I dropped her off at home, because I needed to learn a bunch of songs for tonight’s rehearsal with a new songwriter with whom I’ll be playing accordion occasionally.

That’s why I’ve been so absent from blogging lately; it’s because I’ve been out there living.

Time for Thai food!