This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vancouver Jazz Festival

We spent our 32nd anniversary treating ourselves to two days at the Vancouver Jazz Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, just a short drive north of us. We had lunch at Fuel an award winning restaurant on 4th Avenue West. Its chef Robert Belcham has been getting a lot of attention locally and internationally and so we wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. I'll review the restaurant in an upcoming blog entry.

Our real attraction to the festival was to see our favorite jazz quartet--The Mike Allen Quartet. Mike and his drummer Julian MacDonough have become good friends of ours over the past couple of years. They have played a couple of times in our home and back garden for our 30th anniversary and to celebrate our Kate and Nick's engagement party last summer.

Mike and is an amazing jazz musician/composer and just a really nice guy who lives in Vancouver, B.C. He regularly plays his sax here in Bellingham along with Julian in another quartet or trio on Friday nights at the Wild Buffalo where we can usually be found with other fans of theirs.

Mike is the host for the Late Night Jam Sessions at O'Doul's in Vancouver during the run of the jazz festival. The musicians who had played in the various venues around town during that day's performances usually find themselves in O'Doul's at the end of the day. Mike invites them up on stage to jam with other musicians starting around midnight and running until about 2 am. It is an amazing experience and one we enjoyed from a ring-side seat.

Mike and his guests blew us away as one after another they mounted the stage to add their own characteristic sound on the drums, piano, guitar, flute or horn.

We got our table at 8 pm long before the Late Night Jazz Session began and waited for the Alita Dupray Quartet who were the headliners at O'Doul's that evening. Alita is a fine young singer who seduces her audience with her sultry voice and physical presence. She makes love to the songs she sings and the audience senses her passion. We had never heard her before and it was a treat to hear her and meet her afterward.

Just before Alita's final set finished musicians began to arrive and mill around the bar talking and greeting each other. 'Round midnight Mike and his quartet arrived. Mike began bringing up musicians as they arrived and he coaxed them up to play. There were several standouts but my favorite, a pianist of course, was Kenny Werner who proceeded to steal the stage with his non-stop treatment of the keyboard. We spent an incredible 2 hours listening to wonderful musicians share their awesome talent with a very appreciative audience.

On day two we heard The Colorifics a local band that rocked their outdoor venue on Granville Island. We wandered the Granville Island markets and open air artisan booths most of the day. It was a bit crowded for my taste but the crowd was great and everyone was having a great time. It was Canada Day--Oh, Canada! Canadian maple leaf flags hung in hats and articles of clothing, even painted on faces--no different except the maple leaf icon than you'd see at celebrations in the U.S. Late afternoon we made our way into one of the indoor venues to get a seat for Mike's Quartet performance. His bassist and vocalist, Adam Thomas and pianist Miles Black, the other members of the quartet are both amazing musicians in their own right.

We were so proud of our boys when their final set brought the only standing ovation we saw in two days at the festival. These guys have fun when they play and they look like it, with knowing smiles and spoken and unspoken interchanges between them during the pieces drawing in the audience and making the experience very intimate.

We left after their final set and headed home, back across the border stopping in Ferndale at Chihuahua's the best Mexican food we have had since the glory days of living in central California.

Monday, June 29, 2009

WWU South America Tour 2009 Photos

The first part of this blog entry is to point out the new slide show of the 2009 South America tour just completed with the Western Washington University Concert Choir to Argentina and Uruguay.

Just glance over at the right margin and maybe scroll down a bit and the thumbnail size photos should be changing every few seconds. If you want to get a really good look at the show, double click on the photo space and you will be taken to
Picassa where the photos will be available full page size and captions will also appear that will better explain what you are looking at.

You may also want to scroll down and read through some of my earlier entries of the trip as I am going back and adding details, fixing typos and adding lots of photos keyed to that part of the trip. Enjoy!


Now on to a slightly different subject. During my travels over the years, I have always written a journal about my discoveries and experiences. For the first time with this trip I decided not to do that. My thinking was, why write it down in a journal only to have to copy it into my blog when I get home? Well, it didn't work out as I had hoped. First, I didn't have access to a computer everywhere I went nor did I have enough time to sit down at the hotel-provided computer terminals and really get my thoughts written just the way I wanted. With a hand written journal I am able to write anywhere, anytime and take the time to form my thoughts without the frustration of a computer being available. Then when I get home I can rewrite the journal entries into my blog in ordered excerpts using the journal as a reference point and add the appropriate photos. Blog entries really need to be complete when published, polished, photos embedded, etc. due to the fact that each entry scrolls down the page from newest to oldest. So there is little motivation for most people to read any edited version of the blog in an out of order fashion.

So on our next adventure I will be going back to my tried and true method of documenting my travels, carrying my little travel journal with me to write my daily experiences and using my camera to store them visually.