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POTMG Dispatch

Monday, January 17, 2011

Friday got off to a mercifully slow start.  Nobody at my place got up before one and nobody came over until after that.  But by three there were a dozen people jamming in the living room and by five there were another dozen jamming in an upstairs bedroom.  We all wanted to see the Friday night concerts, though, so we saddled up at seven and headed down to the hall.

The Friday night concerts were great.  I love Pharis and Jason Romero’s music more every time I see them.  Ron Kane and Meghan Merker were a treat.  He’s a favorite fiddler among the Portland old time crowd who make the pilgrimage out to Weiser each June.  I only got to see one tune by the Brainstormers, because I got stuck in the bar during intermission visiting with all the old friends who had just arrived in town on Friday.  But the Brainstormers are doing a house concert at my place in February, so I’ll get to see them then. 

My son Nate was hosting one of the after-concert parties, so I headed there.  I planned to be home in bed by two, but ended up in a rocking session with a fiddler from LA named Belinda that also included Swampy from Ashland, Rick from San Diego, Don from Seattle, and Kevin from Tacoma.  Ended up getting home at four instead.  Didn’t play any tunes with Nate, as he was in a session with eight younger folk in his downstairs bedroom.  Some of my house guests went to the other house party where they had a big biscuit and bacon feed around four, so they didn’t get home until after five.

Somehow I was up by ten on Saturday.  Anne Marie from Centralia was also up, so we headed down to the hall at noon.  Had a short banjo fiddle duet session with her, then went over and dropped a few bucks at John Hatton’s CD table.  The hall started getting crowded by two, but me and some home town friends found a spot near the front entrance to stake out a jam and played tunes until three thirty.  Then I went up to catch Phil and Vivian Williams’ set.  They were also house guests of mine and I really wanted to see them.  Vivian ripped it up on fiddle and Phil’s stories of the history of the tunes were a rare treat.  After that I wandered around and did some more visiting.  One of my friends was hosting a small dinner at her home that night, so Anne Marie and I headed over there for some respite from the excitement of the hall.  Had planned to get back to the hall by seven to catch Shout!WhiteDragon since they were also staying at my place, but didn’t get back until eight.  I did catch AxeL Eeph and have to report that they’re now my favorite new old time band.  Didn’t realize until I walked in that the line-up includes Nick Stillman (formerly of Flat Iron Stringband), BHO member Isaac Enloe, and Karen Celia Heil (also of the Knuckle Knockers).  They had their square dance rocking!  I headed down to the bar for a beer and the Canote Brothers were leading a jam just inside the door.  I exclaimed out loud, “Man, I love that tune!” and this guy standing there said, “Can you name that tune?”  Turned out it was Tom Sauber.  I said, “Yeah, it’s Old Aunt Jenny with Her Nightcap On”, since I had spent a weekend at Greg Canote’s knee learning fiddle tunes at American Banjo Camp (go figure) in September.  Old Aunt Jenny wasn’t a tune he taught, but we played it a lot in the jams there.  Anyway, I introduced myself to Tom and he introduced me to Patrick.  After wandering around for some more visiting, some home town friends and I found some chairs and dragged them up to a hallway on the third floor balcony level and had a great jam for an hour or so.  Around 11:30 I headed over to Lauren’s house.  Her party was rocking with a jam in every room, but I just wandered around visiting.  Around one my friend Kevin and I headed over to another house party at my friends’ Jon and Shannon’s place.  They just had one jam going on in the dining room, but it was well oiled and rocking!  Andy and John from Juno Alaska were there and they know my Juno buddy Sergei, so we busted out some of the tunes I learned from Sergei like Rose in the Mountain and Twin Sisters.  I hated to leave, but wanted to be up in the morning to make coffee for my house guests so bid my farewell at four.  Kevin was staying at the hostel, but he decided to just come back to my place and crash in a sleeping bag on the floor.

Got up around ten on Sunday.  Finally got to meet the rest of the Shout!WhiteDragon crew who were staying with me.  Since they got in from a Friday night party at 5:00am Saturday and I missed their Saturday night gig, I hadn’t actually met half of them yet.  We had a nice visit over coffee, then they headed off to sample a Portland restaurant for breakfast and to hit the road back to Vancouver, B.C.  Phil and Vivian gave me a couple of their CDs as a thank you, then headed off to Lauren’s for a brunch.  The rest of us headed down to The Mission for the POTMG cabaret.  The cabaret is like a festival open mic where whoever signs up gets time for two songs/tunes.  There’s always great variety in styles, ages, abilities, and it’s always a really nice way to wind down.  Brett Ratliff and Evie Ladin were my favorites of the afternoon, but it was good overall.   I had planned to take a nap after that, but it turned out that my son Erik had an Irish trad gig at Biddy McGraws with Felim Egan at six, so a few of us headed over there and had dinner while we listened to a great Irish session.  At nine it was back to the Moon & Sixpence for the POTMG wrap-up party.  Foghorn plays there every Sunday night, so there are always a few of the Portland old time folk there to visit with.  But on POTMG weekend the place gets packed.  You couldn’t get close to Foghorn when we got there, so we headed back to the dart rooms in the back where Chris, Rafe, Joshua, and Robert busted out a jam.  It was a treat to just chill with a Guiness and listen to Chris rocking with his driving clawhammer style.  Chris said the Green Flash IPA was fantastic, so I had to drink that next. J  After a while we persuaded the dart players in the larger dart room to leave and started a square dance in there.  Turns out Joanne from Bellingham has become a great caller this year!  I got in about three dances, but mostly left the dancing to the younger folk, ‘cause I get too hot and sweaty if I dance more than a few at a time.  By one the crowd had thinned a bit, so I wandered up to the front of the pub to listen to Foghorn.  They had a great groove going on!  But around two the house lights went on and it was time to go.  A bunch of the young visitors in town needed rides, so I rounded up a car-load and made a few stops here and there on the way home.  But I still got to bed by three, which was an improvement over the last three nights.  J

BTW, on Saturday I bumped into Mark Burgin.  He was working audio/video at the gathering.  He said he’ll be posting video of the POTMG concerts.   When he does, I’ll pass along the links.



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I learned the basics of clawhammer back in college in Sacramento, California, in the early eighties. But I didn't go very far with it at that time and eventually put my banjo aside for many years. I got interested again through the old time music revival going on here in Portland, Oregon, and started playing in earnest in the spring of 2004. I primarily used Perlman's, Leftwich's, and Krassen's books to learn, but also attended American Banjo Camp three times and the Dusty Strings Clawhammer Banjo Workshop twice. It was very cool to learn directly from some of the well known players in both cases. In 2006 I started attending festivals and getting out to jams. Then I played with local stringband Ebenezer for a couple of years, from 2007-2009. I started learning old time fiddle four years ago.

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