Archive for July 25, 2010

Amos Lee in Seattle

July 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A few years ago, I heard some Amos Lee song on the radio, or more likely the internet, and promptly bought his self-titled first album. After transferring the music to my computer, I proceeded to play it multiple times a day for weeks, then with somewhat less frequency for a few more months. And by then I was thoroughly sick of it. Not a smart strategy, especially since much of my listening was passive, as I worked or surfed the web, so I was wasting something wonderful.

Initially, I thought I’d make it a point to see Lee whenever he next passed through Seattle. By the time he came, I had lost my enthusiasm. Plus, I may actually have been out of town. I dutifully got his second album, Supply and Demand. Or maybe Gail bought it for me. But by then the thrill was gone.

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of the arrival of friends from Glasgow who would be staying with us, Gail saw that Lee would be in town this month and asked Irene if they would want to join us in seeing him. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to join us, but they said yes and I thought it might be fun. Then Gail discovered that he was performing not in a regular concert setting but as part of some sort of festival called GreenNote. I wasn’t feeling so good about our decision at that point, but Gail went ahead and ordered tickets.

Here’s GreenNote’s description of the event:

On Saturday, July 24, GreenNote welcomes Amos Lee to our stage at the Mural Amphitheatre [in the Seattle Center]. What can we say about Amos Lee except that he’s one of the most compelling singer-songwriters in America today, combining folk, soul, and jazz into some great lyrical storytelling. Opening for Amos are two Seattle notables: Star Anna and Ian Moore. This is a 100% net proceed benefit for our beneficiaries [Sierra Club, People for Puget Sound, People’s Waterfront Coalition]. The GreenNote Benefit Concert is being held on the wide, comfortable grassy expanses of the Mural Amphitheatre. An amazing summer night of acoustic music!

The scheduled time for the event was 4:30 to 9:30. I wasn’t keen to lie on the grass for 5 hours. Ultimately we arrived at 6:30, which turned out to be during the lull between Ian Moore and Star Anna. There was a fourth act too, Rocky Votolato, listed at the GreenNote website though not in their homepage blurb.

The event was well run. We must have just missed Moore. After about 15 minutes, the emcee came on stage to talk to us about sustainability and the recycling and composting bins for our garbage, reminded us of the food available from Ballard Brothers Seafood and Burgers, made further comments about green-ness, then introduced someone from People’s Waterfront Coalition. After she spoke, out came Star Anna, with an accompanying guitarist. Looking at her website, I see that he was Justin Davis, a local musician and member of her band. She explained at one point that normally she plays with a full band, but they were going acoustic for the night as part of the GreenNote theme, making reference to the notion that this approach had less impact on the environment. Sustainable or not, the music was excellent. She has quite a compelling voice and we enjoyed her.

During the break before Rocky Votolato came on, we got some dinner from the Ballard Brothers booth. The cycle repeated — remarks from the emcee, remarks from a local Sierra Club representative, music. We weren’t too inspired by Votolato. I don’t know if that was his doing or ours, but we were distracted.

Then more remarks from the emcee, including the helpful note that Amos Lee would be coming on at 8:20. This was at about 8:05. Time for dessert. And at 8:20 sharp, on came Amos.

You know what? He’s fabulous. I felt I was re-discovering his old music, which he played and sang differently from on his albums. He played solo, rather than with his band, and between his voice and guitar playing, he produced a full and compelling sound. He’s also quite the humorist, in an ironic, self-referential way. He finished at around 9:30, then came back to play four more songs, finishing for good at 9:50.

The weather, I should add, was perfect, as it has been for days. An absolutely clear sky, temperatures in the 70s, the Space Needle rising just a couple of hundred feet away, a full moon slowly rising.

A perfect evening. Thank you, Gail. And thank you, Amos.

Categories: Music

Mariners Game

July 25, 2010 Leave a comment

We went to the Mariners game two nights ago. Our friend Judy and her family have had season tickets behind home plate since the Mariners’ first season, and from time to time we have been fortunate to sit in their seats. Tuesday night our Glaswegian friends arrived from Scotland to stay with us and Wednesday morning Judy offered her tickets for Friday’s game. That would be seating for four, but if Jessica wanted to join us, there would be seven. So I went online Wednesday and managed to get three more tickets that, to my astonishment, were even better than Judy’s.

Well, better is in the eye of the beholder. Some may argue, as with theater tickets, that you don’t want to be too close. A few rows farther back, with additional elevation, gives a better perspective. Maybe so. But anyway, we had four tickets just a few feet to the first-base side of home plate, 18 rows back, and 3 more another section over toward first base, 9 rows back. Plus, as we discovered when we got there, the two sets of seats were just three seats in — on opposite sides — from a shared aisle. We could hardly have hoped to be closer.

I take this as a sign of just how poorly the Mariners are doing. Can you imagine getting such good seats two days ahead of time for a game against the Red Sox? The only bigger draw in the American League is the Yankees. Maybe. I’m not sure that they are. As we found when we arrived, there were far more people wearing Red Sox jerseys or caps or t-shirts than wearing Mariner gear. Ortiz and Papelbon and Pedroia and Youkilis and Beckett. And a retro Williams shirt. And Yaz. Yet we got seats 9 rows back between home plate and the dugout.

I sat in one of Judy’s seats, 18 rows back. After sitting halfway up the third deck in right field for two games in May, I was astonished at how much more engaged I was for this game. I mean, I expected to be engaged, but the difference was enormous. And it was a close game, with the Red Sox taking a 2-1 lead on Bill Hall’s home run off starter Jason Vargas in the 7th, and that’s how the game ended.

Little did we know that we missed the big story of the game. In the fifth, former Mariner Mike Cameron hit a double to left that left fielder MIchael Saunders retrieved and threw in to second. The ball was overthrown, but Chone Figgins, standing at second, made no effort to get it, allowing Cameron to run on to third. (I might actually have seen Cameron run to third and understood why the crowd was booing if I hadn’t automatically turned to my scorecard and enter Cameron’s double while the bad throw was made.) When the inning was over, an argument took place between Figgins and Mariner manager Don Wakimatsu, when Wakimatsu told Figgins he was being removed from the game for his lack of hustle. As Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times explains,

. . . things deteriorated from there.

In the end, players were jumping in left and right to separate the two and pull each other away. Jose Lopez had his jersey pulled off when a coach yanked him away from the fray. We could not determine whether Lopez was part of the initial fight or a separate one, though the more likely explanation seems that he was merely one of those intervening between Wakamatsu and Figgins. A television replay I saw seemed to suggest that.

. . .

Wakamatsu could not duck the media, so he stood and took questions about it. I asked him why he’d picked this moment to bench a player when there have been numerous instances of bad base running all week and poor situational hitting all week.

“I think you’re talking about base running plays and not all of those are cut and dried,” Wakamatsu said of the prior gaffes that went unpunished. “I thought this was cut and dried.”

So much for having great seats. We were pretty close to the Mariner dugout, but all this occurred hidden from us. Our only clue that something was amiss was Josh Wilson’s appearance to pinch hit for Figgins in the bottom of the inning.

Perhaps the highlight of the game was when I went down to row 9 to join Joel, Jessica, and Liam in the ninth inning. The players were so close. The Mariner on-deck circle seemed close enough to touch. The field appeared level with our seats. As I noted earlier, this isn’t entirely for the good, but it sure makes you feel a part of the action.

You know, I used to be an intense Red Sox fan, and I have my own supply of Red Sox gear. When we were about to head out for the game, with Mariner cap on, I reached into the closet for one of my old Red Sox caps. My plan was to alternate caps as the teams alternated at bats. This did not go over well with Joel, who grabbed the Red Sox cap and threw it in the back of the closet. After a short protest, I decided to bow to his wishes. After thirty years here, I’m now a Mariner fan. If I wasn’t sure, the crowd at the game helped me confirm it. I wasn’t too happy to see all those people in Ortiz and Papelbon and Pedroia and Youkilis and Beckett and Williams and Yaz jerseys. Red Sock go home.

Categories: Baseball