"Howdy, dude." Ernie the morning cook at Papa Ray's Family Restaurant in Centralia greeted me as he slid into my booth. "How's everything?" When Ernie sees me come in he throws potatoes on the grill. I always ask for my hashbrowns "burnt black, burnt black, burnt black . . . with an onion cut up in them." Ernie always complies, but likes to make sure that I got them like I want 'em. "Perfect," I said between crunchy, gravey covered bites.
This particular morning in late April Ernie had news for me. We both share a love for music. Ernie scours the thrift shops for rare "platters." I go to concerts. "I just heard that there's going to be a concert in Seattle with Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Keb Mo." It sounded like a strange paring, but I like strange things. Ernie knows that in addition to well-done hashbrowns I like Keb Mo and his Delta Blues.
As soon as I could get online I started looking for the concert. I found zip. I continued looking for the next couple of days and then cursed Ernie for his worthless, erroneous information.
A week before the concert in late May I saw a listing in Seattle paper for the concert at the Paramount. Ernie had been right and once again I had been let down by missing concert information on the internet. I tried to book tickets from the Paramount webpage (where there had previously been no information), but got no response. Phone calls to the Paramount only resulted in busy signals. My wife Peggy finally got tickets via scalpers at twice the listed price of $48.50 for the best seats. We had almost the same luck with accomodations. We like to stay in Seattle when we
attend concerts rather than drive back to our home in North Tacoma.
Peg called our favorite hotels. They were all full. There were several conventions in town. She finally found a Bed & Breakfast, but they would only rent to us if we stayed for two nights. Later in the day after booking at the B & B we received word that another place could accomodate us for Friday evening, the night of the concert. We were amazed they had a vacancy especially after we checked into The Gaslight Inn.
We were up-graded to a very nice suite on the third floor of an old Capital Hill home. The suite is the third floor. The stairways get narrower and narrower as you climb from floor to floor. It was worth the climb. There is a picture window in the sitting room that looks out over Seattle. The furnishings are a nice mixture of antiques and modern. The kitchen came with tea bags, coffee, and a pint of half and half in the fridge.
The Gaslight is actually two homes that sit side by side. The main building has a nice pool is the backyard. Our building had a parking lot as a backyard. I'm not complaining. We could have used the pool. We did use the parking lot.
Both homes had plenty of art, on the walls, on the furniture and hanging from the ceiling. In our room there was a chandelier. It was wrought iron with a circular base. There were no actual lights on it. There was a round piece of clear glass with three pieces of overlapping hand-blown glass plates sitting on the base. Spotlights from the ceiling shown through the glass art. Other pieces of hand-blown glass (matching) are found throughout.
If you're going to attend a concert in Seattle, you just have to eat in Seattle. We had dinner at the Desert Fire. We were short of time so we only ordered an appetizer plate. We've had it before, so we knew that it would be enough. It was served quickly. We ate and hurried off to the concert.
The concert was a benefit for the Songbird Foundation. The forests of Central and South America are being cut down. Some of our local songbirds winter in Brazil. Without their habitat, we may lose the songbirds. The forests
are being cleared so that coffee can be grown. The best coffee is grown in the shade, but of course you can get a better yield by growing coffee in the sun. We can save the songbirds by drinking coffee that has been grown in the shade. Voting with your cup. That's my kind of support.
The concert was one of the best concerts Peg and I have ever attended. The mood was relaxed, fun, and spontaneous. Keb Mo (Kevin Moore) was introduced early before the stage hands had the mics and stands set up.
Kevin came out and started speaking into a microphone which was whipped out from under him. He moved to the
next one and said, "Usually they just tell me to get out of the way."
Almost everyone performed accompanied only by their own guitar. Instead of sounding hollow with missing
background singers and instrumentation, however the music took on a homey feel. It felt like the performers were good friends who stopped by not to entertain, but to share their music. The concert felt comfortable. At one point Bonnie mentioned that she had changed the lyrics of one song. "I'll be right back, " she said as she ran off the stage. She came back a few seconds later and explained that even though she's over fifty she doesn't need glasses. She
placed the lyrics on the floor about five feet in
front of her and sat down at an electric piano.
Near the end everyone joined together. Bonnie called Kevin out to sing even though he didn't know the song. Then Bonnie made Jackson take a verse that started out, "When I was a young girl." The crowd as well as the performers were enjoying themselves. My favorite song was done by Keb Mo. It was "Victim of Comfort". Aren't we all?
The music was wonderful. The concert was fun. I owe Ernie an apology and my thanks. The next time I order
hashbrowns I'll make sure he gets a decent tip, if they're "burnt black, burnt black, burnt black . . . with an onion cut up in them."