Posts tagged: McMenamin’s

Shipe Tour day 1: Richland, WA (Bookwalter Wines)

New wineries are popping up all over Eastern Washington, and I intend to inhabit each and every one.

Last night it was Bookwalter Winery in Richland. Gorgeous place, complete with Bocci and Croquette.

In the last several years, these wineries have become the bread-n-butter gig of choice for singer-songwriters. The people who come here like acoustic music. They listen and tip well; they even buy CD’s (instead of downloading from iTunes.)

And they like original music. In the old days, you couldn’t even get this gig unless you were an easy-on-the-ear act playing jazz standards Either that, or a human juke box serving up James Taylor, Van Morrison, and Joni Mitchell. (I confess that I do, indeed, serve up sheepish versions of two light Van-the-Man songs.)

Summer still lingers East of the Cascades, so I was set up outside on this warm night. As I was settling into my stool, strumming the first few sound check chords, a table of elderly people was seated right smack in front of me. I could hear them wondering aloud about my potential volume. “Well,” joked one fellow, “If he’s too loud, I can just turn down my hearing aid. I don’t know what you’re gonna do.”

It’s a good thing I have box chock full of mellow tunes that I love to play — and I don’t get to play them often in the louder bars. And I respect my elders; so the first set was really lazy and soft. Later in the night, I ramped it up. (It blows my mind how many CD’s I sell when I play “Yellow House,” “Villain,” and “Jesus.”)

By the way, my wine of choice has become Riesling on the dry side — one glass during set-up, one glass per set, one glass while winding down with the staff. (That can end up being 5 glasses.) Since I’ve been playing gigs like this (and since my Hungarian friends in Florida, of Zemplen Oak Barrels, started schooling me), I’ve learned a thing or two about wine. No red for me, please; it gives me a headache.

Last time I was here, I chatted with the owner — J. Bookwalter — an appreciator of the Oregon-based McMenamins company. He frequently spends weekends revitalizing at The Edgefield in Troutdale, OR, which has inspired him to start building cabins on his own vineyard. So we can lounge and drink wine for days on end!

Shipe Power Trio in Bend (8/10)

The power trio surpassed expectations last night at Old Saint Francis in Bend, OR. We gigged on such little rehearsal, it’s a testament to the powers of concentration these guys have.

I’m talking about Jerry-Groove and Mike Last from The Stagger and Sway. Truth be told, I was a lot more worried about myself than about the rhythm section. Jerry-Groove has been in my band before; I trust his memory. And as for Mike, he has a lot of experience jumping into bands on the fly (like Dan Jones & The Squids and Salt Lick). Being the singer-songwriting front man of Stagger, Mike has a strong sense of structure and song trajectory, which translates to a very musical style of drumming.

For my own part, however, I hadn’t touched my electric guitar in months. To get through 3 sets of electric music, (which is what McMenamins expects for the Father Luke room at OSF), I would have to play lengthy guitar solos. Moreover, I absolutely despise my amplifier and simply cannot manage its tone like a rocker should.

And yet, there we were, sounding like a damn good tight band. Professionals.

Admittedly, we filled up some set time with intermittent acoustic songs and story-telling. I brought Mike out from behind the drum kit to perform a few Stagger and Sway songs. But this came off like quality stage-craft rather than time-filler. The audience appreciated being treated to that kind of show, rather than a bombardment of 3 hours of jamming (which I can’t pull off like a Jerry Joseph can).

The house wasn’t utterly packed, but all the tables were full. They stayed, they applauded like crazy, they bought CD’s. They even complimented me on my guitar playing and tone.

Even so, in retrospect, I regret having used up so much time with presentation and acoustic music. We over-compensated. The night was over before we knew it, and there were electric songs we didn’t even get to. A couple of which are right in Jerry-Groove’s wheelhouse, like “Underground Debutante,” and Jerry Joseph’s “World Will Turn.”

I will have to book another electric show ASAP.

Shipe Loves McMenamins

For a lot of reasons, it’s good to be back in Oregon–like gigging at McMenamins venues. (This weekend I play a pair of their elite locations: The Grand Lodge in Forest Grove and The Edgefield in Troutdale)

Here is a company that could only bloom in the Northwest, where we have a taste for “from-the-heart” business ideas and a holistic approach to development.

A while back, two craft-ale-brewing brothers started out with pub. They got a tavern and then a cafe. Soon they got a passion for buildings with intriguing local history. This led to old hotels, ballrooms, pool halls, movie theaters, poor farms, defunct elementary schools, churches, brothels, even bathhouses. They turned each location into an outlet unique to its building structure, its history, and its neighborhood. They had local artists paint stream-of-consciousness murals on the interior walls–telling the buildings’ stories.

Some are fine-dining restaurants, some are gritty dive bars, some are fancy resort hotels with spas and golf courses, some are hippy enclaves

The movie theaters are still movie theaters, only with ale & wine. Each outlet is totally unique, and bright spot in its community.

McM’s is also very important to Music–nationally and regionally. While they have big high profile shows at The Crystal Ballroom and The Edgefield, they keep the local music scene thriving with a roster of incredible Northwest talent to play the smaller venues nearly every night of the week.

You’ll find some of these artists on their Great Northwest Music Tour. (My other band,The Renegade Saints, got to be part of GNMT, and we got a live album out of it.)

Now, I’m bragging on this company, because I keep coming back to these things in my home state that I can’t take for granted. In these uncertain economic times, one is proud of a local business done good.

Furthermore, Looking back into my past, I can’t help feeling partly responsible for their success, considering the massive quantities of ale I quaffed in my younger days. Terminator Stout, Hammerhead, Ruby.

I urge my friends from afar: If you visit Oregon–and you should–you will likely see a few McMenamins dates on my calendar. You should come.

Last Drags cover Shipe

One of Eugene’s steadiest bands is The Last Drags, fronted and led by my friend Pat Kavaney. Pat consistently works a ton of songs into their set. A wealth of originals & covers. What’s really cool is the way he covers songs of his friends and regional colleagues–including yours truly (below).

I have been a part time member of The Last Drags. Pat loves jamming with friends and he knows how to make them comfortable sitting in.

Here’s a tasty morsel from Portland where he has none other than the great Al Toribio joining at The White Eagle, playing on my song “Waiting on You.” It’s appropos, as Al played the original lead guitar on the album from which this came–Sudden & Merciless Joy (1999)

They do emphasize the funky-friendly side of the tune. (This surely comes from Pat’s love of Steely Dan.)