The Kenton Club is an honest-to-god working class pub in Kenton, which is a neighborhood in NE Portland. I used to stay about 5 blocks from there, when i first moved up here, and don't make it up that way much, these days, it always gives me a healthy dose of perspective, to see all the ways that i have changed, the direction that my life is moving, as i remember being a wounded nomad, wandering to the Cup & Saucer with a walking stick, Gandalf impersonation in full effect.
The Fishermen 3 were up first, and were exactly what my cochlea and timpanum needed, melancholy country folk, Southern Calfiornia style. Reminded me of the early Mojave 3 records, or Gregory Alan Isakov, from Boulder, Co. (who i talk about over here, if that reference means nothing to you.) Basically, i felt like dog vomit last night, half-sick; sick of people, sick of my thoughts, the sound of my own voice. Malnourished and bitter, i didn't really want to DO anything. Didn't feel like going out, didn't feel like lying curled up in a ball at my friend's house, either. It is a testimony to my friend Nate, who motivated me to get out the door, and to how much i love Sir Richard Bishop, that i went out. But it was a free show, with 4 awesome bands. Its just weak to pass something like that up, especially if you've been looking forward to it for a month. So the Fishermen 3 were a sunny respite on my otherwise bleak and bitter soul, a warm desert breeze, to dispel the dismal late-January ennui.
Flash Flood & The Dikes were an honest to god country band, and a good one at that! With hints of fiddle, musical saw, 4 part vocal harmonies, and pedal steel, plus an arsenal of Gibson hollow-bodies, these guys had their shit together. They did a full on country version of 'I had to much to dream last night,' by The Strawberry Alarm Clock (i have heard the strawberry alarm clock on record, but i've never seen it played live!), as well as a Michael Hurley number, who is one of my heroes, they had the room swaying and waltzing. It was pretty well packed at this point, and the room was warm and friendly. There was a pair of lesbians on the dance floor in front of me, who might as well have been fucking, ushering in the Valentine's Day bitterness a few weeks earlier than normal, but even then i realized i was being a curmudgeon, and managed to enjoy myself. It was nice to see country music played, without irony or chargrin. Just THE REAL DEAL.
Finally, Sir Richard Bishop, the moment i'd been waiting for! It turned into a war between those that were sitting, and those that were standing. Those that were standing eventually won, but i held to my guns and maintained full-lotus, spine erect. Occasionally, the giants would part and i could see Bishop's hands moving on his beautiful Les Paul. Sweet Jesus, i'm not sure if i've ever uttered these words on this page, and you know i avoid hyperbole like the plague, but this man is a fucking genius. A living legend. Over the span of 45 minutes, he ran the gamut of the entire solo guitar oeuvre, from Sonny Sharrock to J Mascis, but mostly hanging around the late and lamented Jack Rose's opium raga blues, which really caused me to remember, and lament, that master's passing. Jed, i take back what i said: nothing will ever replace that man. But Sir Richard plays the Raga visionary blues like a boss, a cross between ravi shankar and django reinhardt. His tone was as sweet as souvlaki, and he moved through effects pedals and loops seamlessly, effortlessly. Seriously, i have seen 1001 solo guitar dudes, great and small, and he was one of the finest i've seen. Total mastery. His music filled my daydreams with flying carpets and sandalwood incense, elevated me above my petty mortal problem, and like a bird, i was set free. And for that, Sir Richard, and all the rest, thank you.
Sir Richard Bishop is going to be opening for Michael Gira, for a few shows on the West Coast, in March. I would not miss those shows, if yr anywhere remotely close, or if you have some frequent flyer miles to cash in.
One of the last living masters, don't sleep, don't be passive. Do yrself a favor, and recognize genius.
4 WEST COAST SHOWS JUST ANNOUNCED
All shows with Michael Gira (Swans, Angels of Light)
3/15/2012 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
3/16/2012 Los Angeles, CA @ Echo
3/22/2012 Seattle, WA @ Triple Door
3/23/2012 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Apparently, he's got 3 new cdr's out now, also
After this, my briefly elevated mood ran out, and i left before i bit somebody's knee-caps, so i didn't get to see The Black Swans, but i hear they're good, also. I'll have to catch 'em next time. Me and my buddy hopped some barbed wire, to catch the last train downtown.