These gigs are up in Oregon
By Cathy Dewitt
Editor's Note: Cathy DeWitt is the Music Programs Manager / Musician in Residence for the UF/Shands Arts in Medicine program, and an avidGLOBer.
PORTLAND, ORE. - Flying into Portland, Oregon, it was a glorious sunny day and the landscape was breathtaking. Mt. Hood looked like you could just walk up to it from the wing of the airplane. The valleys and rivers below were lush, green, and flowing.
My trip to America's far west for several musical concerts was off to an exciting start when, after boarding the 6 am flight out of Gainesville, I heard my cell phone ringing and discovered it was not my phone, but my husband's. I couldn't even figure out how to answer it . . . of course, I had an excuse, actually two: I was groggy from getting up at 4:30 that morning and then I was panicked -- all the names, addresses and phone numbers of the places I was to play and the people I was staying with during the trip were on my phone!
With his cell in my hand, I headed to the front of the plane. As I pushed past others still boarding, I heard a phone ringing in my purse again--it was MY phone and my husband was calling to tell me -- luckily by calling me on my phone. Also fortunate, the nice people at Delta took his cell back to the gate so he could drive back to the airport and get it. No extra sleep before work for him! Or for me -- after that adrenalin rush I was wide awake for the rest of the 5-hour flight.
When I got to Portland I headed south to visit my friend Terra. On the way, I stopped in Hawthorne, Oregon and visited the famous regional bookstore, Powell's, and had my first cup of incredibly delicious northwestern cappuccino.
BTW, it's true—nearly every corner in every town in Oregon hosts an independent and colorful coffee shop and parking lots and gas stations host kiosks or coffee trucks all serving great coffee. The only problem is stopping short of 5 cups a day. It's kind of like "trying" to get a bad glass of wine in Italy.
My friend Terra and her partner Michael had cooked up a tasty lamb stew for me that had simmered all day in their crock pot. After that, more friends materialized out on the deck and we sat around a fire playing music and roasting obscenely HUGE marshmallows.
GLOBers, these marshmallows were the size of a good-sized styrofoam cup! Has anyone seen these? They were so big you had to roast them twice.
The next morning, after showering to the scent of local lavender, I took off, for New Seasons Market, a really fun store that I haven't seen in Florida and my next incredible cup of coffee at Peet's, a Northwestern coffee shop that has been "hand roasting" coffee since 1966!
My ultimate destination was Oregon's coast where I had 2 gigs in Newport on Sunday (Father's Day), but first I headed for the hills outside of Newburg to meet Sydney Lehman Steen, Music Director at Unity of Portland, who would host me for a jazz concert and a Sunday morning service gig.
We went off in search of lavender fields, but it was a tad too early, so we settled for strawberry picking and wine-tasting instead! (Let me hear it now, a big, collective "Aawww...")
Oregon's strawberries are different from Florida's, at least this batch: smaller but very tasty. I became quite addicted to them and to Portland Cherries.
Driving to the Pacific coast on Route 18 was lovely--mountains and forest on either side most of the way. It was clear and sunny, and I was looking forward to the coastal view, but quite suddenly, as I turned onto US 101, the road was socked in -- almost a total white-out from fog for the 40 miles to the coast. The next day of my West coast adventure, however, dawned clear and beautiful.
I had a great time doing the musical service at Ocean Unity Church in Newport, where I gave a talk on "Unexpected Journeys." After that, I played for Father's Day brunch at a colorful art and music venue called Café Mundo, which my accordion playing buddy, Michael Ward-Bergeman turned me onto. Michael plays here in Gainesville at Leonardo's 706 with Marty Liquori's gypsy jazz band. Michael did a "gig a day" in 2010; check it out at www.gig365.com!
At Café Mundo I had my third incredible cappuccino! In fact, they paid me in coffee (by the pound).
While in Oregon I saw a post in Facebook about a giant dock floating over from Japan to the beach in Newport, so I had to see this. Some resourceful people had built a little footbridge so you could cross the tidal creek and get to the ocean where the dock was. When I got there, people were enjoying themselves standing on the dock and taking pictures. Then the sun came out and they got even happier! I think that's kind of a big deal on the Oregon coast...the sun coming out.
After spending another night with new friend Rev. Donna Little who treated me to homemade crab chowder, I took off the next day to the inland farming community of Corvallis to visit long-time friend Kathy Morris, the first of three wonderful harpists in Oregon who housed me!
The hospice where Kathy plays in Albany literally opened its doors in a new building and as part of the opening I played and did a presentation on Creativity & Palliative Care. The attendees appreciated my presentation and the harp and piano music.
That evening I held a workshop for hospital musicians and artists, in a fabulous place called simply the Arts Center.
I discussed musical background and research, songwriting and composing in the moment, harp music, piano music, and ended with dancing and drumming -- it was fun for all!
The next day it was on to a place I've been hearing about for most of my adult life—Eugene, Oregon. Stay tuned for more adventures, from Eugene, Alpine, the International Kite Festival in Lincoln City, and back to Portland for jazz and ice cream!