My first official gig in Portland was last Friday, at a wine bar called Shaker and Vine. It was a bit disconcerting to learn (the morning of the gig) that, due to some sort of issue with the Fire Marshall, the place was going to close down after the weekend. Still, you make the best of it.
The real pleasure of the gig was opening for an old friend, Cody Weathers. Cody is a singer/songwriter who used to bump around Denver (some almost twenty years ago, now). He and I crossed paths many times in the early 90’s, especially as he used to come out to several of the Open Stages that I hosted at that time. I remembered Cody’s energy and unique style from those days and looked forward to catching up with him.
I have to say it was even more of a pleasure than I had anticipated. Cody’s songwriting has grown and developed in a beautiful, organic way. He has a very charismatic stage presence, and his songs are energetic, with a lot of contrast in rhythm, tempo , chord changes and lovely lyrics. He has acquired a band: bass, drums and lead guitar that complement his sound in an excellent way. Part of what really made the evening was the chance to just sit and listen to Cody.
And he has proved to be a very generous and valuable friend, in that he has given me many good tips on places to play, venues to check out, people to meet, and such.
Last night (Tuesday night), I took his suggestion to go to Malibu’s in Vancouver, WA (just across the river and the border from Portland), and meet Eric TwoRivers, who hosts an open stage there on a weekly basis. Eric turned out to be a big guy with an equally big heart (and laugh), and a long, colorful history in the Music Biz (turns out he used to be part of the house band for Dick Clark’s Bandstand, and one of the other musicians told me that he was once a member of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, although I didn’t have a chance to run that one by Eric).
There is a real camaraderie at the Tuesday Open Stage at Malibu’s. But while that can sometimes turn into an insular sort of scene, I have to say that the musicians there were an incredibly welcoming bunch. After my set, I was told of a couple of other places to play around the area, including an invitation by musician, Steve Rodin, to join him this Saturday at the Yukon Tavern.
I have to say that Oregon, in general, has made me feel very welcome. And while I mourn my very brief connection with Shaker and Vine, I look forward to exploring a lot more of Portland over the next couple of weeks.