I’ve had my eye on this tiny park nestled between Cherry Sprout Produce and some bar for a couple of months now. Back in August, I was kept away by…I don’t know, something with lots of musicians and spectators for most of the day and night. I might have pushed my way in, or played nearby to take advantage of a ready-made audience, but that’s not really my style.
There’s a pretty good chance that I ended up playing on Alberta instead on that fateful day. So today, in an ironic reversal, I was denied at 21st and Alberta by a folk band playing on the corner across the street from where I intended to play. I saw a banjo, a saxophone, and an upright bass, on top of percussion and a singer. What’s a one man band to do?
What I did was, I slowly cruised Alberta back toward my house, looking for a likely place to play. When I got to Albina, I remembered the park by Cherry Sprout Produce and made a right turn. The park was empty, and the only people in sight were some smoking drinkers (drinking smokers?) sitting at a table in front of the Red Fox. I asked if they’d mind if I played some music, and they told me to go ahead.
I set up in front of the “stage” and started playing. Some friends showed up, a couple I’d warned, er, notified, and another couple who happened to be heading to Cherry Sprout to pick up some produce. A few pedestrians also lingered, and more people voluntarily brought their drinks out to the Red Fox’s patio, while I was playing.
Something I haven’t had to deal with before is playing on grass. Sidewalks are firm and flat, and keep my heels (and the cables attached there-to) a uniform distance from the bass drum and hi-hat. Grass is soft and uneven, forcing me to compensate much more by continuously adjusting the angle of my backpack drums with respect to my legs. It may not sound like a big deal, but I felt it in my back the next day.
With friends around, I wanted to play the old classics, but also some things they haven’t heard before. But I also didn’t want them to feel obligated to stay the whole time. The cool autumn afternoon was good for my stamina, but not so good for my friends’ resolve to stand somewhat still while watching. It’s weird to be sweating in a T-shirt while everyone around me is huddling together a bit, scarfed, mittened, and jacketed, and watching the sun set behind me even earlier than it did the day before. So I tried not to keep them too long, and I think the show ended right on time.
Weather is going to be a big factor for upcoming shows. We’re at that time of year in Portland where it’s going to be too cold and rainy for outdoor music. This show felt like seizing the last opportunity of the year, and I tried to make the most of it with a more aggressive solicitation of donations at the end. I’m still contributing all money received to my friend Priya’s campaign to buy a handicap-accessible van, and I hope you make a contribution as well!
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