Saturday, June 04, 2005

Big T in Little S

I-5 to Portland was a short, easy hop of about 170 miles. I stopped at the Mount St. Helen's Visitor's Center just off the highway, which is further away from the volcano than it sounds. You could at least see the thing, though.

I wasn't looking forward to hitting Portland at rush hour, but I did fine until I missed my exit and went over the Willamette River against my will. After spending almost half an hour to get back to where I was supposed to be, I found Noah and Trish's house. Noah is my old high school buddy and Trish is his former Austinite wife. Noah and I used to romp together and play in a psychedelic punk band that covered "White Rabbit."

These days, Noah's playing bass for an instrumental surf trio called Big T. The talented Eric Lovre from the Dharma Bums plays guitar. They had a gig in Salem, which is about 45 miles south of Portland. Oregon's capital city is a quiet place after dark, but a statewide chain of brewpub/eatery/theatre/hotel-type places called McMenamin's has a place in Salem called Boon's Treasury that books live music. It's a genteel sort of place with exposed brick walls covered in bric-a-brac from antique malls.

Boon's Treasury normally books quiet, acoustic music you can dine to, but surf rock is not meant to be played quietly. When the Big T started paying electric homage to Dick Dale, the bar staff asked them to turn down and Eric steadfastly refused to do so. Needless to say, this created a bit of tension, but the running battle of wills made for good rock drama.

Today I think we're going to hit Powell's City of Books and maybe check out the Portland's famed Rose Festival, which I didn't even know was happening. I normally try to avoid big events like that unless someone's paying me to be there, but it might not be half-bad in a vacation state of mind. So long as no one vomits on my shoes, I think I can handle a street festival.

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