There are certain places that hit you the moment you lay eyes on them. I remember driving in from Newark airport and seeing the skyline of Manhattan for the first time and immediately feeling humbled with the scale of the human achievement the silhouettes of the skyscrapers represented. Likewise the sight of the Rocky Mountains rising out of what seemed like the endless Prairies to a kid from a hilly harbor town was instantly impressive.
Other places take some warming up to and for one reason or another, don’t immediately strike you as amazing. The first time I rolled out of the Great Big Sea Van and set foot in Portland, Oregon, we were in a warehouse district at an Irish festival I think, and never got to see the river or downtown. It was a few more trips before I got to walk the river path and really understand the beauty of the bridges. After a few more visits I discovered the Jupiter Hotel, the greatest Rock and Roll hotel in the world. Then we started a love affair with the Aladdin Theatre that has never let up. And today I am sitting on the tour bus in a completely new neighborhood on Alberta Street and it is so hip and cool that I feel a fool for not knowing about it for over a decade. We play a wonderfully preserved venue called the Alberta Rose Theatre, and we should have a grand crowd of lovely folks from this city. As I sit here today enjoying the many restaurants and artsy coffee shops, and recalling the most excellent bike ride around the river path I had with my brother Bern yesterday, I can say with all honesty that Portland is easily one of the best cities in the country and quite possibly the most livable one of them all.
Jaysus, it even has one of the coolest music stores I’ve ever been to, Trade Up Music. Found this gem on Kendel’s behalf. I already have a Harmony Tenor and all hands have coveted it for a while. I promised to keep my eye open for one and this beauty Stella was a steal. I grabbed it, and Kendel nabbed it from me right away.
Ahead a day now and we are precariously parked on the steep hilly street in front of one of the most famous clubs in America, the Triple Door in Seattle. I have anted to play here since I first heard of it as a kid. I must have read about it on an album jacket or something, as it has lived in my mind with the other famous venues like The Filmore in San Francisco, the Bowery or Bottom Line in NYC, First Ave in Minneapolis and The Troubadour in LA. If you told fifteen year old me that I would get to play here one day, I’d have said you were cracked. If you told me it would be Sold Out, I might have had to take a seat.
But here we are. And Sold Out it is. What an amazing way to cap of a great run in the US that started in Denver and wound it’s way through Durango, Phoenix, LA, Oakland, Napa, and Portland, before parking in front of this iconic US musical landmark. Its back to Canada tonight for a massive gig at the famous Vogue Theatre in Vancouver, and all North of 49 run in Chiliwack, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. The last couple of gigs nip back across to US to two of my fav music cities in the world, Minneapolis and Chicago.
Miles to go and Mountains to climb before we sleep.
Just the way I like it.