Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jack Johnson concert and a long trip

Lake Crescent, Olympic Nat'l Park

After spending a week rambling around the wilds of NW Washington with Kristin and my son, Theo, hiking, biking and canoeing in the Olympic and North Cascades national parks, we landed just outside Quincy, WA. (If you live in Portland and haven't been to these places or aren't planning on going, you're insane. These are incredible, spectacular parks that by virtue of their sheer beauty should be much more popular, but, thankfully, aren't. I put a few photos at the end of this post.)

The last leg of the trip ended in the dry badlands of central Washington for the second time this summer as we pulled into the Wild Horse campground right near The Gorge Amphitheater for surferboy-crooner Jack Johnson's concert. (I blogged about my first visit to the Gorge here in one of my very first postings on this blog.)

The Wild Horse was awash in Jack Johnson music everywhere as we set up camp. My friend Alton got me into Jack years ago, shortly after the release of his first LP Brushfire Fairytales. I appreciated his sometimes deceptively complex guitar lines, his laid back surfer attitude, mellow vocals. It all struck me as very unpretentious. His music seems to be something of an anomaly in the American alternative pop culture landscape: everything is always so ridden with angst, dripping cynicism, bile, venom and hopelessness, that a guy who plays his acoustic guitar and sings about how much he loves his wife seems oddly out of place. There's no denying his wild popularity though; perhaps his popularity is not inspite of, but because he loves life and likes to write mellow, pretty songs to that effect. It's a nice break for me from the angst music mentioned above (which I dearly love.)

I met up with my friends Nate and Joanna from Coeur d'Alene, whom I met at the Sasquatch Fest a couple of months ago, so that was cool. Maybe I was a little burned out from all the gorgeous scenery, but the spectacular beauty of the gorge didn't hit me like it did the first time. The opening band was Rogue Wave, who was also there at the Sasquatch fest. I didn't pay much attention to it; I was really there to hear Jack.

Me 'n Nate the Great @ the Wild Horse...

The first song brought vivid oceanic images to mind: surfing a talcum-blue wave of grumbling reggae bass, I looked out over a sea of cell-phones and cameras sparkling like the bioluminescent eyes of deep-sea dwelling fish. Although Jack's songs are good, I thought the live performance was a little bit lack-luster; they aren't terribly complex tunes, and should have easily translated to a hearty live performance, but somehow that didn't happen in a few instances. Not to say it was bad; I give him points for a number of clever quotations, including The Cars' Just What I Needed and Jimi Hendrix's Remember. I've found I tend to be underwhelmed by certain groups there at the Gorge, even ones I really love. I wasn't disappointed in any way, since it was on the way (more-or-less) home from our summer road trip. I think I need to just go for the party, and have the music be more or less an afterthought. That way, if I'm less than impressed with the performance, there's no disappointment involved. Got to spend a lot of fun time with Kristin and Theo, and that's the most important part. At any rate, it was a good close to the summer for me, since rehearsals and concert seasons start up again in a couple of weeks and the madness of being a classical music performer/writer (on top of a full time job) begins again...

Enjoy some photos of the incredible Washington wilderness.

N. Cascades Nat'l Park

The time for caution is now past...

Dining on the local wildlife. Mm....that's shrew-licious!

Diablo Lake, N. Cascades

Rare sighting of a Dorkus malorkus in the Hoh Rainforest...

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic Nat'l Park

Rialto Beach, Olympic Nat'l Park

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