David Gardner Growls at The Harmon Tap Room by Don and Peg Doman
It tough keeping track of musicians even in the best of economic times. It tough times, is nearly impossible. It's almost as hard as keeping track of memories . . . and the threads of a story.
Buddy David Gardner, and fellow member of The Rotary Club of Tacoma #8, was scheduled to play at The Last Exit in Parkland, but it was the same night we went to Sixties Kicks in Olympia. We made plans to travel to Parkland to catch his show for the next weekend. It was cancelled. Evidently not everyone got the word and friends went and were disappointed. David gave me the low-down that he was playing at The Hub on Friday the 23rd. That information was close, but not totally true. The Hub is owned by the Harmon Brewery Company. The day before the event I was to meet a friend at The Hub . . . I double checked. My friend went to The Harmon Tap Room instead, which is underneath The Hub. Owner Pat Nagle saw my friend and said, "Don's upstairs waiting for you." I had just kidded around with Pat a few moments before. I also double checked about David appearing at The Hub.
The Hub has a huge roll up door at the front of the establishment, so on a warm Tacoma afternoon you can eat their great sweet potato fries, drink a nice cold microbrew, and sometimes be entertained. Not on this particular Friday, however. David was booked not for The Hub, but for The Tap Room. The Hub and The Tap Room are housed in what was once Rich Color, a photo processing lab owned by friends Ed Richards and Jerry Saunders. Before the lab took over the downstairs portion was home to Racing Preparations, which was owned by a fellow artist from my old days at the University of Puget Sound. In his shop Tony Schmid worked on my father-in-law's Fiats many times, and my Lancia often. When Peg and I were married Tony created silver wedding bands for us, while in jewelry class. I loved my Italian Lancia. Another friend once described it to his wife, "It's part sports car and part limosine." My favorite memory of my Lancia was speeding along the shore of the curving backroads on Hood Canal, while listening to Bill Joel . . . on the car's 8-track stereo. Ah, such a long time ago.
On the corner next to Racing Prep on St. Helens was a run-down tavern, which has been torn down. In that empty lot stands a grain-silo rocket of a brewer's beer tank. The empty lot has become a beer garden, although the garden part is pretty much limited to small galvanized containers of flowers sitting atop heavy, planked, wooden tables.
Joining Peg and me was Peg's sister Pat. I dropped them off at The Hub on Tacoma Avenue and went searching for a place to park. I ended up in the pay lot across from The Tap Room. While I was stuffing five one dollar bills into the parking lot stall slot, my cell phone rang. Peg and Pat were walking down from The Hub to The Tap Room and were calling to tell me about the change of venue.
We entered The Tap Room and amid a little confusion ordered four chicken tacos, one muffaletta, a chop salad, beer and ice water. The benches in the beer garden are deep and sturdy. The tables are made from the same stock and should stand up well. Soon we were tapping our toes, drinking beer, eating food and enjoying a beautiful afternoon.
Also enjoying the music were fellow Tacoma Rotarians Carolyn McDougal (the current president), Ann Farrell, Brien Elvins (president-elect), his lovely wife, Cathy, and a friend. Everyone seemed to be having a great time.
Peg and I marched up to the Tip Jar a couple of times to prime the pump. Musicians always need to be rewarded for their efforts. David plays guitar and piano and writes some of his own material, which is intermixed with music from The Beatles, David Bowie, and traditional blues artists. He growls out the blues with the best of them. Adding to his mix of tunes, he introduced a song he wrote for his wife, while they celebrated their twentieth anniversary in Italy. They stayed at the same villa where Peg and I along with four other couples fell in love with Tuscany. The villa was "our hub" and from there we drove all over Tuscany and as far away as Venice.
We capped off the evening by returning home, where Peg and Pat talked for hours, while looking out at Puget Sound and Vashon Island. I went to bed and drifted off to sleep dreaming of my Lancia and down-shifting through corners and curves on the winding roads of the Tuscan rolling hills.