Steve Rodin has been living in Portland for some twenty years or more. He does a regular gig twice a month at the Yukon Tavern (it is in no small part due to his generous nature that I came to know the folks there and have my own night at the Yukon coming up this weekend). Eric Two Rivers hosts a couple of open stages (at least?) in the Portland/Vancouver area. He has some seriously long cred as a musician and is a fantastic and host and all around gentleman (his wife, Vienna, is a frequent visitor to various open stages, supplying some fine vocals and occasional flute). His partner, Asher, plays guitar, saxophone, mandolin, and probably a few other instruments that I simply haven’t been made aware of as yet. He is a native Oregonian who tells me he has never lived more than a 100 miles from where he was born and raised. Bob Flendtke just turned 83 years old recently, and is a fixture at several of the venues in the Vancouver/Portland area. He plays the autoharp and sings traditional folk and bluegrass tunes. Tom Scharfe did a fair bit of hosting open stages around town over the years, and still makes the rounds, playing some solid guitar behind a strong and excellent voice. Wayne Hoffman is another singer/songwriter who now also directs a local folk festival in the Fall. He has a large email list where he frequently posts who is playing where around town.
These are just some of the musicians I have had the great pleasure to meet here in Portland (and Vancouver) over the last couple of weeks (and I don’t want to forget my old buddy, Cody Weathers, who gave me many valuable tips about places to look up in the area). What I am trying to reveal here is just how welcoming and downright friendly the musicians are around here. What I have noticed is how much these guys are willing to go to each other’s gigs, back up each other on tunes (a lot of serious jamming goes on around here), listen to each other when someone brings in a new tune. And (as I think I alluded to in an earlier blog), while this can in some circumstances turn into a somewhat insular and closed scene, the musicians here seem to go out of their way to make new folks in town feel just as welcome.
I was at a place called Maher’s Pub last night (an open stage hosted by Peter Duff, another fine musician, with a solid, soaring voice and an aggressive/energetic way with a guitar). They had a featured set with an Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist, named Amanda Kay (from Queensland). And really, the folks treated her like a long-lost member of the family. But then again, I have felt as if I, too, received that sort of welcome.
I have about three or four more gigs in Portland before we make our way north to Seattle. Pony and I have agreed that we look forward to coming back here (and pretty soon, at that, we hope).