Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CinderBlue, Green Plow Coffee Shop, and, like, Beatnik Poetry

He'd sit on a stool and drone on about a subject which would be the subject of several sequential sentences. Monotone was the music, eyeballs occasionally would stray from the crumpled manuscript to fasten on some object in the far distance, ignoring both the "Like, I'm into it, man!" and the mindless, wordless gaze returning to his.

Discussions on the way out would always have the word "existential" in them, and often.

That was the coffeehouse long before Starbucks. Music was usually singles, strumming an acoustic guitar in great earnestness.

Now Redmond Oregon's own Green Plow Coffee Roasters straddles those extremes with a coffeehouse that takes from Starbucks the idea of very good coffee, stirs in sustainable and eco-friendly requirements for their suppliers, and leaves behind the stainless steel and the tacky "I'm into coffee" tschotschkes. Result? Coffee that tastes good to taste and feels good to drink.

But instead of the lost-soul poet loosing his angst like a cocker spaniel doing its early morning pandiculations, Pat and Mandy have music. Like, f'r instance, oh, maybe, like CinderBlue let's say. (Be it noted: the picture of Lee Barker and his long time guitar playin' compatriot Rex Gatton was taken by Timothy Park. The image of the CinderBlue front line (and back) is from Joe Fettig. Thank you both.)

Ok, ok, it's self-serving to say that. They hired us, we did the job: Full house both times, and we didn't do any morose doggerel and we didn't do any whiny folk songs which one is required to sing with one's eyes closed, especially during the chorus.

So having linked these things up--the history of the coffee house in 1.5 paragraphs, the guilty-as-charged confession of the musician in the pictures, how come then the word "like" appeared multiple times in a sentence and that annoying affectation is back, loud and strong? Is it the coffee house that's the carrier of the virus?

Knowing Pat and Mandy, I think not. They're just enjoying providing the place for coffee, community and conversation, and when that list is expanded to include music, it's, like, way cool. The coolest man. So far plowed out, man. I mean, you know, it's like whoa.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Humility, Arrogance and the Barker Bass

Frank Lloyd Wright said there came a time in his life when he had a choice, and he chose "honest arrogance over humility." Most would grant him this, based solely on his architectural work. It was of his time yet beyond it in its timelessness.

In 2003 Linda and I journeyed to Portland, Oregon (125 miles away) and were gifted with delightful accommodations downtown courtesy of our son, Joel. That night we caught the Max light rail out to the Rose Quarter for a Yanni concert. Big room. Lots of people. Big orchestra, big sound.

Yanni prides himself on the internationalness of his musicians, and that would include bassist Hussain Jiffry from Sri Lanka. We had met him months prior, and in fact spent some time that afternoon with him in Portland. Now we were in his musical presence and he was playing a five string fretless Barker Bass.

After the concert, we walked back to the Max stop, delighting in the crisp fall weather. I was quiet; Linda commented on that. "Hummph," I probably responded. She stopped me, got in front of me, grabbed my sleeves at the biceps and shook me firmly: "Don't you get it?" she said, lips firm, "An instrument you made was just played by a world class bass player in front of thousands of people...and that is happening in cities across America and Canada. Don't you get it? You made that bass with your own hands!"

Humility is a thick crust to break.

The Dodge brothers, early 20th century creators of the car later called the Dodge, were a quiet and surly pair. In the apocryphal story a man walks into their dingy garage and asks, "What's so good about this Dodge Brothers automobile?" to which one sibling snapped, "Ask the man who owns one!" And went back to his wrench.

Einstein knew how fragile his work was. "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong."

Comments from the web from Ed Goode, whose custom Barker Bass has been chronicled in prior posts to this blog:

"The quality of construction is perfect, but those of us that play Barker Basses have come to expect the highest quality. This bass does not disappoint in any way! Flawless, and I truly mean that in its most literal sense .... not a blemish to be found on her.

"...in the several hours I have played it at home it lives up to exactly what you'd expect from a Barker. Great sustain, deep lower end and a clear, well-defined tone on the C string."

I can hear the words but sometimes I can't internalize them. Other days, yes. Today.

Dag Hammerskjold: "Never, 'for the sake of peace and quiet,' deny your own experience or convictions."

That is a very nice bass, Mr. Goode. Very nice. My hands to yours; play it in good health.