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Jeff Pevar on electric guitar and David Crosby on acoustic.

Lucky for me, a person can love music even when she has pretty much zero ability to create it. Oh sure, I was assigned French Horn in gradeschool mandatory music class, and played guitar from age 6 to about age 30, and learned about 9 chords and a few folk songs. Sure I sing along to Ed Sheeran when I’m driving home from work. But I truly admire the people who can *really* make music. So when I’ve got the time and the energy, I hit a concert.

You’ve already heard me rave about Black Violin – a duet of classically trained violinists who build their own irresistibly compelling brand of hip hop. They came to Portland again, so I grabbed a friend who had not yet seen them in person and saw their latest show.

The iconic Portland sign at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Black Violin can’t stand it when their audience sits still.

Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste are Black Violin.

To avoid the hassle of carrying a quality camera, I relied on my phone. So… as you can see, the images are poor quality. But you get a sense of what I saw.

My good deed was confirmed accomplished, when my friend just exploded with excitement over the performance, and had purchased some of their music by the next day. Just doing my part…

Last week I saw David Crosby. You’ll know him as the “C” in CSN (and sometimes Y).

I’m not actually a Crosby fan, though his music is good. My favourite musician of all, Marcus Eaton, is also a dear friend of mine. Marcus toured with Crozby for his last album, CROZ, and so…I don’t know…I guess an affinity came of that. David Crosby has been making music – good music – for so many decades that I can’t deny his professionalism and relevance. And I had never seen him before in concert, or even Crosby, Stills, and Nash. (I did see Steven Stills play halftime at a Colorado Rockies game, but I digress…) And finally, his show would be at the Aladdin Theatre in Portland. It’s a venue that can’t be beat if you’re looking for intimacy and atmosphere.

A string of great acts coming up at The Aladdin.

I arrived in time to buy a beer before the show, and while I was standing in line, got to talking to the man in line ahead of me. I mentioned that I love seeing concerts at the Aladdin.

“Did you know that this theatre had the longest running of the film Deep Throat of any theatre in America?” he asked. (I researched later, and sure enough, during the 70s and 80s the Aladdin was a movie theatre, and the premiere exhibitor of the X-rated classic, Deep Throat)

“Uh, I did not know that,” I answered.

“I love this theatre!” agreed the woman in line behind me.

“Have you seen performances here before?” asked the man.

“Only Deep Throat,” she answered, straight-faced. Then we all burst out laughing.

Pevar, DiStanislao, Crosby, Agan, Willis, Raymond

I was not familiar with most of the musicians on stage, only James Raymond the keyboard player. Raymond is Crosby’s son, and an accomplished musician in his own right. Raymond was adopted, and did not know his father until he was an adult. What fun to find your dad, then find out you had music in common? I just love that story.

His tour is David Crosby & Friends, and there was a great collection of artists on stage: Jeff Pevar the guitarist who was jammed full of energy, Steve DiStanislao the drummer who was spot on, Raymond at keyboards, Michelle Willis from Canada who also played keyboard and provided some solid vocals, and tiny Mai Agan from Estonia, in the background, playing the heck out of a bass guitar in a short skirt and boots. Pevar and DiStanislao hardly stopped grinning, which added a happy vibe to everything.

Crosby is well beyond putting on airs at this point. Or, since I’m such a newcomer, maybe he never did. He greeted us with warmth, as though we were all hanging out on a mellow Tuesday evening in a really big living room. The venue is small, and can hold only a few hundred people, so the sense of being intimate was easy for Crosby to achieve. He chattered just a little between songs, but made an impact, getting in some digs about the ineffectiveness of Congress, his criticism of politicians in general, the need to take action on important issues, to critique the media, to remember to love one another. He also spent a few minutes teaching us to howl like the Na’vi from the movie Avatar.

He talked fondly of each of his musician friends on stage, gushing over each one and affirming their skill and practically declaring each one the best he’d ever known. Maybe they are. Maybe when you’re a rock icon you naturally have the best of the best on stage with you. Most touching was when he talked about his son.

“I’d say some of the best work I’ve ever created is in collaboration with James. Wait, what am I saying? THE BEST work I have done is since I started working with James.” At this, Raymond put his hand over his heart in a gesture of humility and appreciation. Crosby talked about working with Raymond for years, and about appreciating every moment of it. He talked about how Raymond was adding a jazz influence to their work. A few people clapped. “It’s ok!” he said to the audience. “You can like jazz!”

And then they got back to making music.

A view of the stage during a break.

Pevar and Crosby

Crosby, Willis, Raymond (and Agan, if you look carefully)

Since I am not a fan of the music, and since it was really good music anyway, I sat back in my seat in pure pleasure and let my eyes rove over the faces of the crowd. During the evening I had spotted about 5 people in their 20s, about 5 in their 30s and 40s like me. But everyone else was from a different generation. Most in their 60s.

I distinctly noticed that no one was old. You know how people can be young or old, regardless of their years? It was like the people who showed up were still tapped into their youth. Everyone smiled. There was so much grey hair and so many wrinkles and so many smiles. The energy was generous and warm and enveloping and oh, so glad to be there. The songs clearly took many people back in time. People remembered a time when their bodies didn’t require so much thought, and they swayed in their seats and some held a cane, and some just beamed. There were whoops, and howls, and fists in the air.

It was a beautiful environment, and I was delighted to be there with them. I felt like a visitor to another culture, and it was a culture of love and generosity and acceptance.

Mickey joins a group of paperboys to talk about the headlines and about Walt's dream of going to California to make it big.

Mickey joins a group of paperboys to sing about the headlines and about Walt’s dream of going to California to make it big.

One person was at pains to point out to me that these are not actual celebrities, but people in costume. I am not one easily discouraged out of my delight in magical make-believe. Trust me, I have been asked to act more like a grown-up for a couple of decades, and no one has succeeded yet. Leave your logic at the door! This was a week packed with the who’s who of our favourite characters on the screen, and you can’t tell me otherwise.

Only succuming to the joy of fantasy role-playing allows the kind of happiness seen here.

Only succumbing to the joy of fantasy role-playing allows the kind of happiness seen here. Too adorable.

Storm Troopers in Tomorrowland. Selfie in progress, there in the background.

Storm Troopers in Tomorrowland. Selfie in progress, there in the background.

We caught the Aladdin show, and saw Jasimine, Jafar, and Aladdin himself there on an elephant in the audience.

We caught the Aladdin show, and saw Jasmine, Jafar (seen on stage), and Aladdin himself there on an elephant in the audience. Genie stole the show, however.

Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

Pooh gets some love.

Pooh gets some love.

All of these characters were mobbed the instant they were spotted. I mean, all of them. A storm trooper passed me, and I asked if I could take a photo, but he waved and kept going because if he stopped, there would have been an instant crowd. Instead I followed him to a gathering point, where multiple storm troopers were getting ready to put on a show. (ha ha, isn’t that a hilarious thought)

People mobbed them for photos and autographs. Yes, we were so excited to get autographs from Disney (or Disney-bought) characters. We were willing to stand in line for it. But we had our limits. Princesses Anna and Elsa, from Frozen, were there, but the wait was from two to three hours for an autograph and photo. Though Tara wanted to meet them almost more than anyone else, she was not willing to squander precious park time standing in line that long.

Miss T's fave stop was probably Pixie Hollow. She confessed to me later, "I was expecting a person playing Tink, but she was the real Tinkerbell! She was perfect!"

Miss T’s fave stop was probably Pixie Hollow. She confessed to me later, “I was expecting a person playing Tink, but she was the real Tinkerbell! She was perfect!”

C3PO was on duty at Star Tours and kept us entertained while waiting in line.

C3PO was on duty at Star Tours and kept us entertained while waiting in line.

This is one of those trouble-makers that was messing with Mack when he fell asleep driving.

This is one of those trouble-makers that was messing with Mack when he fell asleep driving.

R2D2 was also entertaining us at Star Tours, doing maintenance and beeping.

R2D2 was also entertaining us at Star Tours, doing maintenance and beeping.

And who is to say these celebrities did not win their fame in the exact same way as most of the ones we idolize? What makes a person famous: the fact that we’ve heard of them or seen them so often that they are familiar. How is that any different from Donald Duck or Mater?

We asked for an autograph from our amazing skipper on the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. Taylor was so much fun she became a celebrity on the spot.

My very favourite character to meet was Mater, but he drove by so fast I couldn't get a sharp image at night.

My very favourite character to meet was Mater, but he drove by so fast I couldn’t get a sharp image at night.

My second favourite was this big blue monster. I was literally squealing "Hi Sully!"

My second favourite was this big blue monster. I was literally squealing “Hi Sully!”

Princess Merida

Princess Merida

Lightning McQueen

Lightning McQueen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russell

Russell

Donald Duck

Donald Duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara met Mickey in his studio, after walking through his amazing house

Tara met Mickey in his studio, after walking through his amazing house

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