March Saturday in Portland, Part 2
Strange to be back in Portland for the second Saturday in a row, yet still be on tour. The Tweedy/Minus 5 caravan rolled through Oregon and California with wheels on fire, destinations known and unknown. Eugene was a wonderful show, thanks to all who listened so attentively and enthusiastically. San Francisco offered a North Beach ramble, stealth sightings of Tammy Shine, Rockin' Roy Loney and Chuck Prophet (among numerous other family and friends), and two nights of the heaven that is the Fillmore. (Is it permitted to have one's ashes scattered in there? We must look into this.) The first night Eleanor Friedberger and band ably filled the opening slot, and we were there to see it. I especially loved her revved take of 'Stare At The Sun', co-written with M5 gallant Wesley Stace, and which he recorded somewhat more delicately on his latest fine Self-Titled album. On the second night, a Minus 5-hating poltergeist struck rendering both guitars briefly silent during 'In The Ground', but Linda and Mike cooked up a drum'n'bass shootout (Ginger and Jack would have been proud) until the guitars were triumphantly resurrected. Calamity = Highlight. Take that, spirit world!
After a beautiful drive down Highway 1 to Santa Cruz, with a burrito stop in Half Moon Bay, we beheld the fabled Boardwalk of childhood yore. Sadly the rides were not up and running, or we'd have photos of us all screaming down the Giant Dipper. Still, we commemorated it with a valiant attempt at Jonathan Richman's 'Roller Coaster By The Sea' during our set. Tweedy, after playing its self-proclamined 'best show of the tour' at sound check, filled the vintage Cocoanut Grove ballroom (graced years ago by the big bands of Dorsey, Goodman, et al.) with beautiful sounds and great looming shadows.
On to LA for the gang in the van, whilst I make a quick backwards journey home to open for the Decemberists sold out show at the Keller Auditorium in Portland. (Firesign Theatre: How Can You Be In Two Places At Once, When You're Not Anywhere At All?) It's a pleasure and a blessing to have such great musicians ever ready and on board - for as Linda, Peter, Mike and John Hill lounge by the pool down south, Ezra Holbrook, Jimmy Talent, and Casey Neill step up in Portland, and it should be a festival of friendship and musical tomfoolery tonight. Speaking of tomfoolery, check out this educational Decemberists video: The Fine Art Of Sabrage