The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Saturday on Adams Ave September 28, 2008

I spent almost my entire day yesterday on Adams Avenue, one of my favorite places in SD to hang out. I woke up waaaaaaay too early for a Saturday and headed to Trolley Barn Park, where I had signed up for a volunteer project. Volunteer San Diego was finishing up their “Hands-On San Diego” week, with thousands of people participating in over 100 projects throughout San Diego.

pardon the was so early I couldn't hold the camera straight!

Trolley Barn Park entrance

This seemed like a great way to fulfill goal #69 from my 101 Things list, “Volunteer on a Community Project”. Despite the early start hour, the project was really fun – our captains had everything well oragnized, everyone working on the project was friendly, and people in the park seemed to appreciate all of the work that we were doing. I spent most of my time spray painting – check out my handiwork on the “Hot Coals” containers:

I was the queen of red spray paint

I was the queen of red spray paint

After heading home to scrub the spray-paint off my skin, Chuck and I headed out to the Adams Avenue Street Fair, a larger and more musically eclectic version of the Roots Fest. We spent some time wondering around the varoius stages, but ended up spending most of our time in Lestat’s watching the acoustic acts. My favorite newly-discovered musician was Josh Damigo – I can’t get this song out of my head today:

We also saw Gregory Page, Molly Jenson, and Chuck Cannon. And, we had yummy mini-churros and horchata.

Josh Damigo

Josh Damigo

Gregory Page

Gregory Page

Molly Jenson

Molly Jenson

Chuck Cannon

Chuck Cannon

We also stopped by the booth of Nha Vuu, an artist from Seattle who had some incredible artwork with her. Chuck and I were both enamored with her work, although I was most fond of the Plum Blossom series while he was more into the series depicting intermixed houses and calligraphy characters. Since I am usually more indulgent in art purchases, it was his turn to choose a favorite, and we got a print of this drawing.


We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blog for the Following Public Service Announcement: August 10, 2008

Filed under: concerts,San Diego — Amanda @ 9:46
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If you ever have the chance to go to a Steve Poltz concert, GO.


May Concert Wrap-Up June 2, 2008

Filed under: concerts,San Diego — Amanda @ 22:03
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So many shows to blog about, so little time! A few highlights from May, before I forget about them entirely:

We started and ended the month with “surprise” shows. The first, I learned about by chance the day before the concert, and I’m so glad I did. We saw Po’ Girl at the same church near Adams Avenue where we saw Gregory Page during Roots Fest. I first discovered Po’ Girl at Hear Music in Santa Monica last year, where I bought their “Home To You” CD because it reminded me of the Be Good Tanyas (1st place on my Desert Islands Discs), without realizing that one of the contributors to the album actually WAS from the Be Good Tanyas (I am perceptive, sometimes). So through random browsing of events on, I found out about the Po’ Girl concert. It was presented by Acoustic Music San Diego, a wonderful group that presents concerts several concerts a month and sells some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever made (big, buttery, crispy but not too-hard, seriously good, homemade chocolate chip cookies!); I had no idea that the group or the concert series existed before the fortuitous Po’ Girl discovery, but I’ll definitely be going back!

This was another one of those extremely intimate concerts that I absolutely love. We were seated in the third row of the church, and there were probably 40 or so people total for the event…I actually feel kind of sorry for every single person in San Diego who was not there, because it was an amazing show. I like “Home to You”, but it pales in comparison to seeing the ladies perform live – they were so talented, gracious, funny, and beautiful, I was completely entranced by them. Among the many instruments played throughout the evening, Allison Russell played the clarinet, and it was the first time EVER that I was sad to have quit clarinet lessons in the 5th grade. Also, Awna Teixeira somewhat reluctantly broke out the glockenspiel for one song, and was so utterly brilliant on the accordion that I may postpone my theoretical harp lessons to play gypsy music on the accordion instead.

Next up on our whirlwind May wrap-up: Jesse Cook, performing at Humphrey’s By the Bay. It was our first ever trip to Humphrey’s, and it was a very different experience from the small acoustic shows and bar stages that we’ve been frequenting. Humphrey’s is an outdoor venue, with three sections of seating in front of the stage, with one side open to the bay where those with boats can motor over for some free entertainment. The atmosphere was kind of a bizarre mix of high-society meetup and Hawaiian luau vacation resort craziness. The last time we saw Jesse Cook (opening for Diana Krall in Santa Barbara, maybe eight years ago?), there was just him and his guitar, playing beautiful flamenco melodies. I have not been following him in the meantime, and was pleasantly surprised to see him on the Humphrey’s schedule, and even more surprised to see how his career has apparently exploded since we saw him last. The music was AMPED, with more of a world-beat feel, Latin and maybe African rhythms mixed in with the flamenco influences. Mr Cook was joined onstage by another guitar player, a bassist, a wild-haired and generally fun violinist, and a fantastic drum player, and they had a great time playing together and making great music together. There were quite a few hard-core fans in the audience, and much dancing in the aisles at the end of the show.

We ended May with yet another show at Humphrey’s. I found out on Friday that I’d won tickets to see Craig Ferguson that night, thanks to San Diego City Beat. I’d submitted an online entry several weeks earlier, and not even realized that the show hadn’t taken place yet, so the tickets were a fantastic surprise! We used to watch Craig on the Drew Carey show, and were fans of the movie Saving Grace, and I’m happy to report that his live routine did not disappoint. Live comedy is always a bit of a grab bag for me – sometimes it seems like the comics just try to say random, offensive things and hope someone in the audience is drunk enough to laugh – but Craig Ferguson was excellent from start to finish, creating humor from personal narrative and a well-honed sense of the ridiculous, with only a few cringe-worthy moments (and most of those were still funny).


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…


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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