Monday, July 16, 2007

What a short, but interesting trip it has been lately...

Hello all good people who love good music!!!

Here I am back in town after a good stretch of time,playing some interesting gigs out and about.

I managed to miss the Blues Festival this year in Portland, but I did get to make some great music with wonderful people, out of town this time around.

The group I was with this year, the aptly named Strings For Industry

(including Darol Anger, Tye North, Scott Law, Tony Furtado) played in front of some wonderful people at both the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California, and also the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta, OR. (the remains of what used to be called Renaissance Fair, or Ren Fair to the oldtimers around and before 1980)

I was an initiate in both of these gatherings, and historically, I always had local people talking to me about going to the OCF and checking it out. I just never got the time to variate from what the bill of fare was at that time, work-wise for me. This was an eye-opener to me, and lots of fun to get some music out to a new crowd of people this time around.

In both places, lots of people, all in emotive, festival mode. Lots of earthy vibes, bright colors and churning rhythms.
All the festival smells and sights were wonderous to behold. The band had a good, engaging set, and it seems we are finally on our way with the usual dealings of such an undertaking.

In particular, our friend and liaison Jen (an artist coordinator at High Sierra) went out of her way to make it wonderful for SFI to do our thing during our stay.
(Hey Jen...I will not forget to send you that folder of pictures I promised.... really soon ! :)

As the events unfolded, the other guys in the band were rekindling old friendships and fan connects all during the three days we were there. Lots of after hours jamming by guys in the group...usually until sunrise is a good bet on this stuff. I think that I was getting up, as Tye and Scott were getting in to the B&B from just that sort of action the night before.
All of the crews on stage and elsewhere at High Sierra were warm and helpful, and just a joy to be around. Some of the support was from right here in the Portland area. It was good to see some of the brotherhood there and functioning in important waters of commerce.

You didn't have to want for anything, and since it was 105 degrees there that weekend, lots of water and iced towels were to be had in general, and this was in evidence at the stage where SFI spent some time...
People were taking care of business for the artists, so to speak.

Plenty of kids and others running around, and other festival events, in and around the music were available for consumption.
On one of the evenings, there was a night parade at HS, with many fest goers in splendid dresswith neon appendages, and lots of stick walkers and costumes and drummers, pipers and other various glorious noise,
and there was a contingent of Portland people staying in a tent community of sorts, together in harmony, and welcoming all that passed by their spot.

The vibe was "no worries" by the fest drama, and I saw only one person go out in an ambulance, probably from heat exhaustion, it looked like to me... but at least they were smiling from the open end of the vehicle.

In the town of Quincy proper, where we stayed off-site as a band, the ladies at the Sporting Inn Bed & Breakfast were just that...truly sporting and helpful with all they did. It was a comfortable place to stay, and the communal breakfast with all the kids running around in the halls made it for a great, warm atmosphere. That nut bread for breakfast (the kind that you wait in line for at the bakery, the ladies said) was just sterling.

I also saw some wonderful music in both places...
In particular, High Sierra had great performances by Bobby Previte's Coalition of the Willing (whom I talked to at the Bed & Breakfast for a bit....he was wonderful to hear)

Leftover Salmon (with the great Jeff Sipe, aka Apt.Q258 powering the band along on drums)
Soulive, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Drive-By Truckers, Page Mc Connell, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, The Del Mc Coury Band, The Hot 8 Brass Band (with their wonderful turn on the brass band tradition with more "street" leanings in their music), and many others.

As to my engagements, I did double drumming duty with SFI, and also playing Tony Furtado's band set (including his regulars Alan Toribio on guitar/vocals and Damian Erskine on Electric Bass), since his drummer had commitments back home and couldn't make this particular booking.

Here's an interesting aside...
I remember having a conversation/debriefing with Tony sometime after his show, and making the comment that it's always interesting to have to learn/chart out 12-15 high level tunes from someone's catalog, play the show, and then discard them from your ROM memory, only to have something else take it's place in the machinations of learning music in a musician's world.

I hope I get to essay Tony's work again. It's very engaging, and he is truly a string virtuoso, as are the other men in SFI.

As to the Oregon Country Fair and it's vibe...
Same good people digging the sounds and such.
Lots of organization and people doing their job.
Cops out in numbers in the town proper of Veneta, getting those coffers full for the city by expressing more tickets out to the unlucky fair goers.

My guest and I got to the front gate and got credentialed, and a Gator truck was sent to get us and the gear loaded up to the Main Stage.
As we rode open-air in the vehicle, we appeared to be swallowed up by the forest... I did lose my sense of direction that day, and it reminded me of some sort of Lord Of The Rings scenario/ scene from the Ewok Village from Star Wars with all of the trees reaching out to envelop us from the rustic, twisty gravel roads.
People were camped at every turn, and signs to warn people of various patches of Poison Oak (!!!) were placed at different intervals.

We finally reached our destination inside of the fairgrounds, and were greeted very much in a kind way with our arrival by stage personnel.
All around us, there were lots of people in various states of dress and undress, and generally having a good time.

The SFI guys have played this affair before, so once again, I am the newbie to all of this particular event. All are kind and helpful with direction for me.

A trance kind of band from Colorado played before us, and after, a gent named Scott Huckabay played solo guitar with lots of bells and hoofs on his ankles and a looping system on stage to create layers of sound in his performance. He held the crowd's attention for a long time and was good at what he did.

It was just a wonderful few days to behold, and as my mind digests more, I will post here.

Let us not forget our wonderful friend Doug Balk, who lugged gear for us in both places (CA. and OR.)
and was a generally great vibe around and for the band.

Cheers, Doug!!

take care, c


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