The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

I heart Jeremy Fisher May 22, 2008

Filed under: concerts,San Diego — Amanda @ 22:16
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Given how many concerts we’ve been to lately, and how many of the shows we’ve been to in the last few years have been at small, local venues, it’s surprising that we hadn’t been to the Belly Up Tavern until this past Tuesday. It’s widely regarded as one of the best live music venues in San Diego, and our first visit there did not disappoint. True, the beer selection could have been better (nothing more daring than Stone Pale Ale on draft), but the Soul fries,with bacon and multiple cheeses, were a welcome treat since we had eaten a rushed dinner of PB&J toast before heading up for the show. The interior was relatively big and roomy (compared to say, Lestat’s or the Casbah), with a good sized standing/dancing area in front of the stage, a bar toward the back, and several sections of seating around the periphery, plus a domed ceiling that Chuck guessed may have been an airplane hangar in a previous incarnation.

So what inspired us to finally make a non-Pizza Port trek to Solana Beach? Jeremy Fisher! As established in my Girlyman post, I think the experience of discovering and falling in love with a previously unknown band at a live show is a little bit magical. Sometimes it happens with a familiar artist and new music, too (Hotel ascended to it’s “Best Album Ever” status when we saw Moby at 4thand B, for example), but the thrill of discovering something new and oh-so-good is even more pronounced with new artists, and so it was with Jeremy Fisher. We saw him open for The Weakerthans at the Casbah last November (or October? one of those months); there was another opening act too, that had really fun marketing stickers and who I thought I would love, but really it was Jeremy Fisher who captured my fancy, with all of the usual things that grab me – enthusiasm and energy, – having fun on stage! – great/clever lyrics, singable songs for my morning-commute sing-alongs. I think it was “Scar that never heals” that caught my attention most at the first show, and then I got the”Blue Monday” CD for Christmas and quickly memorized all the songs and came to love the whole CD. We saw Jeremy Fisher again at the Casbah earlier this year with Jason Isbell, who plays smooth Southern Rock reminiscent of 1970’s Eagles and who I also recommend highly, and Will Hoge, whose music was a little more hardcore Rock n’ Roll and not as favored by me. So Tuesday was our third Jeremy Fisher show in about six months; the venue was a bit bigger than the Casbah, and Jeremy and the band responded accordingly, with a faster, more rocking show than the previous times we’ve seen him. Since I love the whole album, I’m always a little disappointed to not hear a favorite song, and I wish he had played Goodbye Blue Monday, but we heard Left Behind live for the first time (i think), and American Girls, which he hadn’t played the previous time, so I was happy.

It’s also worth mentioning that JF was opening for The Proclaimers on Tuesday night. Who, you ask? The guys who performed I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), the song from Benny & Joon! (I heart Benny & Joon too!). Apparently the boys from Scotland are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, having released a new album last year and toured with great success since then. There were multiple people in the audience Tuesday who had been following them along the tour – who knew they were still cranking out the tunes and drawing the crowds? Me, I know now.

Next Jeremy Fisher sighting? Maybe June at House of Blues. Stay Tuned…


Run, Run, Run in the Warm California Sun May 18, 2008

Filed under: outdoors,running,San Diego — Amanda @ 12:43
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Today was race day number two in my short running career. The 22nd annual Bay Bridge Run/Walk was today, a four mile course over the Coronado Bay Bridge. Race day is the only time all year that pedestrians are allowed to cross the Coronado Bridge, so that experience was as much motivation to participate in the race as the actual running. The race was sold out with 8000 registered participants, so it was more than ten times larger than the 5K we ran in March. The start line was incredibly crowded, and I crossed the start line about a minute and a half after the official race start. The crowd started to this out as we headed south on Harbor Drive and over a small hill, but I had to do some darting around walkers and the occasional runner who was going more slowly than I. Other than the huge crowd, the main difference between today and my training runs was that it was hot today! My typical morning runs down by the water are cool and overcast, taking advantage of “May Gray” and soon, “June Gloom” (do we have one of those early-morning-fog phrases for every month? maybe I should watch local weather stations more to find out…) I definitely would have preferred to run the race on a day that was NOT part of San Diego’s second major heat wave of the year, but there I was pounding the pavement, with the sun beating down. I somehow missed the first mile marker as I was running, but I must have passed it in around ten minutes (fast for me!), because before I knew it I was heading up the ramp onto the bridge, and facing a looooooong uphill stretch. I couldn’t hack the uphill in the heat at a running pace, so I slowed down after about 17 minutes of running and walked the hill, but I still managed to make the two mile marker in about 22.5 minutes. I took advantage of my slow pace to enjoy the views from the bridge, looking ahead to Coronado and back to the downtown San Diego skyline.

I planned to start running again after a few minutes, but my legs were not having it, so I kept walking until the downhill part of the bridge. By then, I had enough energy built up to run the rest of the way without stopping, although the last mile sure seemed long! I hit the three mile mark at about 37 minutes, and then came off of the bridge and onto the street, looped around a park trail (a muddy, narrow park trail, with lots of runners and walkers, some of whom were pushing strollers – it was quite a mess really, and surprising that no one crashed into each other!), and then ran under the last part of the bridge and into the park. The run-up to the finish line was long, and I didn’t have any energy left for a final sprint – I had to be content with actually crossing the finish line while still at a run. I made it through the finish chute fairly quickly, and Chuck was waiting for me with a very welcome bottle of water – he’d finished in just over 40 minutes (unofficially better than 40 min, since it took us about 90seconds to cross the line), so he’d had about ten minutes to get rehydrated and scope out the finish area while waiting for me. My official time was just over 50 minutes, which means I came in around 49.5 minutes from crossing the start line – I’m pretty happy with that time, especially considering that I walked for almost a mile on the uphill part, and my best training sun was 4.2 miles in 49 minutes on flat ground. The Coronado race was pretty fun, and I’d definitely like to do it again next year, and finish in a better time!


May is Music Month! May 13, 2008

Filed under: beer,concerts,San Diego — Amanda @ 7:42
Tags: , , ,

Continuing the journey backwards in time, Saturday May 3rd found us heading out to San Marcos for the Port Brewing/Lost Abbey 2nd Anniversary Party, and then to the Adams Avenue Roots fest. We got to Port Brewing at about 1pm, and the party was already well underway. The brewery was packed with people enjoying the excellent beers and elaborate spread of fresh-off-the-grill Mexican food. The highlights of the party, naturally, were the special-release beers – Cuvee de Tomme, barrel-aged and well balanced, is the kind of beer whose nuances rival excellent wines. The Second Anniversary IPA, offered on cask, was a hoppy delight. I think the cask mellowed out the flavors a little bit and gave the beer a more well-rounded character (for comparison, I’m looking forward to drinking the bottles we brought home!). One of my favorite parts of visiting the brewery is getting a sneak peak a future beers by checking out all of the labels on the barrels. These are barrels that used to hold bourbon, wine, and brandy, and now they’re lending flavor to the wonderful Lost Abbey beers – see how happy I am in the barrel room?

After the party, we spent the afternoon and evening enjoying the Adams Avenue Roots festival. This is the second time we’ve been to Roots fest, and it’s one of my favorite San Diego activities. It’s a free street fair, with yummy food (mmmmmm, churros!), fun vendors, and SEVEN stages of great music. We got to Adams Ave just in time for a “Song Swap” (several artists taking turns sharing songs) with Gregory Page, Curt Bouterse, and Shawn Rohlf. We were lucky enough to snag front row seats in the community center – turned concert venue, and I was able to get some good pictures:

It was just as much an instrument swap as a song swap – at some point, Gregory Page was playing on Shawn Rohlf’s guitar, and Curt Bouterse taught us the difference between a banjo and a banjer (I’m not sure what that is he’s playing in the picture above, I apparently wasn’t paying attention when he mentioned that). Live music really doesn’t get much better than this, and we decided to keep the fun going by stalking following Shawn Rohlf to his next performance. He played several of the same songs, but with a very different dynamic – amped, and with a great drummer to accompany him. Fun was had by all (it was in the beer tent, after all.)

After Shawn Rohlf redux, we saw Sara Petite, singing high-spirited old fashioned country music with a six-member supporting band. It was a lot of fun watching her play, and lots of people were dancing along to her set.

After Sara’s set, we headed off to get some dinner (and buy a bonsai tree…hope this one stays alive longer than its predecessors!) , and then headed to the park stage to watch Jalopy, who played dreamy gypsy music with haunting melodies. The evening ended with one last set by Gregory Page in the church sanctuary. Once again we were lucky enough to sit in the front row, and were excited to see Gregory Page invite his uncle to play drums for him and bring Steve Poltz onstage to perform with him. We first came across Gregory Page at our previous Roots fest visit, and we’ve seen him play several times around San Diego since then – he always puts on a great show, and always brings something new to his performances – stories, songs, bandmates – to make you love his music even more.


Road Trip! May 7, 2008

So much fun, so little time to blog about it! I have about two weeks of blogging to catch up on, but I’ll start with the most recent and work backwards…

Sunday afternoon, we made a quick trip to Santa Monica, as we do every few months, in pursuit of must-see live music. As-yet-unwritten posts to the contrary, sometimes San Diego is passed up by the live music scene and one must venture north to LA. When this happens, tradition is to combine a favorite restaurant of yore and the desired concert in a half-day road trip, as if we’re just casually venturing into the city from 100 miles away. And so, we set off from San Diego at about 2pm Sunday afternoon, caught an uncharacteristic wave of good traffic, and hit destination one at just after 4pm:

Cha Cha Chicken! Glorious bastion of jerk chicken located on at the corner of Pico Blvd and Ocean Ave in Santa Monica. I first visited Cha Cha Chicken while working in Santa Monica about eight years ago, and I take advantage of every possible opportunity to go back. Their jerk sauce is the standard by which I judge all others – including the ones we make ourselves – and the others invariably come up short. My habitual fare here is the enchilada dish, and Chuck’s is the quarter chicken, though we have also tried (and then tried to recreate) the coconut fried chicken. On Sunday I had the jerk combo: one jerk chicken enchilada and one jerk chicken tostada, with rice and beans and plantains, and ginger beer (Jamaican style, imported from Canada, and tasty!). Check out the numiliciousness:

After basking in the sweet and spicy Caribbean goodness, we headed on to the nightcap: the Girlyman concert at McCabe’s Guitar Shop. Girlyman has been one of my favorite bands since the first time I saw them, opening for Dar Williams at the House of Blues in SD a few years ago. I was enthralled by their beautiful harmonies, their on-stage sense of humor, and by how much fun they seemed to be having performing together. There’s something really amazing about finding great new bands by watching a live performance, and when there’s so much fun and love for the music and the performing, it’s practically magical. This is how I became a hardcore fan of Girlyman…well, that PLUS it’s really fun to sing along to their CDs in my car, and try to hit all the high notes along with Doris (I swear I used to be able to hit them all, ummm, in high school…but it’s still fun to try!).

Anyway – the concert on Sunday! We were actually to McCabe’s early enough that we were first in line at the door, so we got to sit in the front row, ultra close to the band. (And also, it turns out that our tickets were numbered one and two, which proves that I am ultra-quick on the draw when it comes to ticket purchasing…granted, I had been waiting for the LA concert to be announced for about three months, but still!) So..first row seats, concert venue that sells chocolate chip cookies (it was the second concert with cookies in four days, and I have decided that’s the best kind of concert, as it implies a certain homey intimacy), and my favoritest band in the universe – all the makings of a brilliant evening! There was no opening act – good, because we got right to the best band ever; bad, because who knows what kind of excellent opening act we may have missed out on; good, because we got to drive home that much earlier and not get too sleepy on the drive home. It was a great show (as were the other two I have been to!), full of fun commentary and great songs. They played Kittery Tide – my favorite Girlyman song – plus Viola, Young James Dean, Through to Sunrise, and many other great songs off their albums, PLUS a couple of new songs and Rock Me Amadeus and Moose in the Road, plus some fun facts about George Washington’s dentures. Good times were had by all!



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