Posted by ScottK on Thursday, January 24, 2013
This year’s Gathering has come and gone and I didn’t manage to get a single dispatch posted during the event. That’s because I was so busy the entire weekend that I never turned on my computer. Which is a good thing!
The Wednesday night kick-off party down at the Spare Room was great. That’s where you first run into a lot of friends from out-of-town and those reunions always put a big smile on my face. My former band mate Ryan Fitzpatrick introduced me to Barry, John, Alan, and Kieran from Liverpool, England. I ended up sitting with them and having a good chat while Newt Payne and Whiskey Puppy warmed up the swelling crowd. Then the Caleb Klauder Country Band hit the stage and it was two step and country swing on a packed dance floor all the way ‘til 2:00am. The first five of my weekend house guests arrived during the evening from Victoria, British Columbia, and we caravanned back to my place to get a little shut eye.
We got up around 10:00am on Thursday and spent a leisurely morning making a breakfast of scrambled eggs and country fried potatoes while we all visited in the kitchen. Around 1:00pm folk started drifting in for the afternoon jam. The jam built up slowly in the living room, but by 3:00pm there were a dozen folk playing tunes in there and by 4:00pm there were another eight or so folk playing tunes in an upstairs bedroom. The Victoria gang went out for supplies and came back to make a big pot of vegetarian chili. We had a big pot-luck dinner around 6:00pm for all assembled and then headed out for the evening activities. I headed down to the Polish Hall with my wife for the square dance. My friend Lisa from Bellingham was calling with Portland’s Gold Diggers when we arrived. I ran into my friends David and Michelle from New York who had just arrived and we had a good visit. Becky from Missoula found me and asked if she and Monica from Toronto could crash on the floor at our place for the weekend and I said sure. Then Montana Jane got up and called with Seattle’s Porterbelly (one of my favorite young stringbands at the moment). After the dance I headed over to my buddy Robert’s house party. Got in some nice jamming on fiddle there for an hour and a half, but left early at 12:30am so I could get up in the morning to make coffee for my guests. I heard later that the other house party over at Amy’s got pretty packed and ended up lasting until dawn.
Friday morning, same drill. House guests slept late and started drifting into the kitchen around 10:30am. We kept the coffee coming, heated up some left-over potatoes from Thursday, and started cranking out mushroom and cheese omelets. Four more house guests from Victoria whom I’d never met arrived Thursday night, so we had a nice time getting acquainted over breakfast. Other folk started drifting in for the jams around 1:00pm. The jams got busier earlier on Friday and by late afternoon we had big jams in the living room and largest upstairs bedroom and smaller jams in the kitchen and three other bedrooms. My house guests from Tacoma, Olympia, and Salt Lake City arrived. (We had a lot of people sleeping on floors this weekend! :-) My buddy Ramon came over and spent the afternoon making a big pot of chicken and sausage gumbo. With that and the leftover vegetarian chili we had another big pot-luck before folk headed down to the Scottish Rite Center for the Friday night concerts. My son Erik played the 7:00pm set in the bar, but I missed it waiting at the house for Bertram Levy and Kirk Sutphin to arrive. (More house guests, but we gave them beds. :-) I also missed the rest of the concerts, as I was volunteering at the Bubbaville table most of the night. It was pretty light duty, though. Mostly visiting with folk, drinking beer, and playing tunes. Had a nice visit with Kori Miyanishi from Vancouver, B.C. After the concert I headed up to the square dance where Gabe Strand and The Shadies had the place rocking! I hung out there for a while, then headed over to my buddy Steve’s house party. I ended up staking out a jam in the kitchen for a couple hours with John and Sue Luna from Corvallis, then joined a jam in the living room with Steve and few other home town friends. Made it home to bed by 4:00am.
Saturday morning, same drill. Quiet time around the house with people sleeping on floors all over the place, guests gathering in the kitchen to visit quietly whenever they crawled out of their beds/bags. Bottomless pot of coffee. Larry from Victoria took over in the kitchen and whipped up a couple of frittatas along with fried potatoes and bacon. Folks swapped stories about the various house parties they’d ended up at. Turns out some folk had come back to my place and had a great jam in the kitchen until about 3:00am. We all started heading down to the Scottish Rite Center around 1:00pm. I spent most of the day down there wandering around visiting with friends, but did sit in a couple of different jams in the basement and also attended Bertram and Kirk’s concert, which was great! The basement is a real experience for folk who haven’t been to the Gathering before. Jams all over the place! It gets a little cacophonous, but it’s fun. Some of my house guests from Victoria had a great session going in the bar. Bob Nisbet posted a video on YouTube of one of their tunes:
Around 7:00pm my lack of sleep started catching up with me and I had to go find a Starbuck’s and get myself a 24oz coffee. That’s because I was on deck to play banjo for the last square dance of the evening in the main ballroom from 10:30-11:30pm with Lisa Ornstein on fiddle. Foghorn Stringband played the dance before us and had the packed dance floor rocking! I got to dance one with Lisa before we went on, then proceeded to have a great time playing with Crankset Stringband (that’s Lisa, me, Joe Moore, and Robin Wilcox) behind Charmaine Slaven’s calling. After the dance I headed over to my buddy Michael’s house party and staked out a jam in an upstairs bedroom with the Luna’s (or Lunatics as they’re starting to be called :-) and a bunch of other friends. At some point Michael shot a video from the doorway of us playing Durang’s Hornpipe:
When our jam busted up around 2:30am I wandered around and visited with folk for a while. There were jams going on in the kitchen, living room, and two in the basement. I got in a little swing dancing in the basement with my friend Sarah. She tried to teach me “the pretzel”, but at 3:00am it wasn’t going to happen! Around 3:30am I headed home and went to bed.
Sunday morning, same drill. Bottomless pot of coffee. We were all too tired for a big production breakfast and mostly had bagels and toast and orange juice. The folk from Victoria all had to leave, so we bid them a fond farewell. Before they left, Damian and Lisa gave me a copy of their brand new CD “The Penniless Duo”. I’ve been listening to it in the car non-stop ever since. It’s great. After the Victoria folk left, Bertram got out his resonator ukulele banjo to show us. It’s a five string banjo with a full size neck and a resonator ukulele body. Sounds really bluesy in his hands. I told him he should record a new solo banjo CD with it. Then Kirk broke out his Kevin Fore banjo that’s an exact replica of Fred Cockerham’s banjo and let me play it. That was fun! Then I showed them the vihuela that I had restrung with Nylgut banjo strings for clawhammer. Before you know it Bertram, Kirk, and my buddy Charlie on viheula were into a great banjo jam. I wanted to hang around, but I had to head down to the Mission Theater for a Bubbaville board meet-n-greet before the cabaret. (I found out later that Bertram and Kirk sat around the kitchen playing until 5pm!) The cabaret is sort of a festival open mic and it’s always a lot of fun. The highlight of the afternoon was when the boys from Liverpool got up and played a bluegrass version of the pop song “Ignition”. Brought the house down!
After the cabaret, my Tacoma buddy Mike came back to the house for a little dinner and a few tunes in the kitchen. Then we headed down to the Village Ballroom for the Every Sunday Square Dance. Maggie Lind was calling with Caroline Oakley and Friends playing and they had the place humming! Big time fun! That ended at 9:00pm and we headed over the Moon & Sixpence for the wrap-up party with Foghorn Stringband playing. In what’s becoming an annual tradition, my young friends from Bellingham and Vancouver commandeered the dart room at the back of the pub and turned it into a square dance. I found Kieran from Liverpool, gave him my fiddle, and pressed him into service. Travis Cooper from the Gold Diggers joined in, so we had twin fiddles. We proceeded to have a great time dancing for an hour and a half. After that the crowd at the front of the bar around Foghorn had started to thin, so we all headed up there. The young folk kept on dancing (flat footing, two stepping, swing dancing), but I just sat and visited with folk. Bertram and Kirk showed up and I got in nice long visit with Kirk. Then the pub turned on the house lights around 2:00am and it was time to go home.
Monday morning, same drill. I slept a little later, but somebody stepped up and made breakfast for everybody. All the guests except for Bertram and Kirk had to leave and we bid them a fond farewell. Bertram and Kirk were starting a short tour and didn’t need to be in Eugene until the evening, so they hung around and practiced in the kitchen for a couple hours while my wife and I wandered around putting the house back together. That was a real treat! Then they had to leave in the early afternoon. I still had a few out-of-town friends in Portland until Tuesday, so we organized a spontaneous “stragglers jam” that evening. About eight of us including friends from Minneapolis, Chicago, and Seattle got together and played tunes in the kitchen from about 5:00pm until midnight.
Tuesday morning, different drill. :-)
Back to the real world…
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