Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And the blues play on

I don't visit bars as much as I did back in my 20s, or even my 30s, but there is something unbeatable about just the right bar.

Sometime I have a craving for a neighborhood hangout, a little hole in the wall spot where the bartenders and waitresses know your order and have your drink waiting for you by the time you reach your bar stool.

Other times, I have a craving for a sports bar, a place to hang out and grab a burger and a beer while watching a game.

But on some occasions, I really want a place with some high energy, a place that buzzes with electricity from the patrons and a band playing life music. In the months after I moved to Salem, whenever I would ask people I met where was the best place to go for nightlife in town, one of the names that inevitably cropped up was Lefty's Pizzeria and Blues Club.

It was my kind of joint, fitting many of my favorite tastes for food (pizza), beer (microbrews) and music -- in this case, blues.

Blues as been a favorite musical genre since college. Anyone with a taste for blues will tell you, there is nothing like hearing blues live, because like the music it inspired, jazz, musicians improvise during a performance, giving even classic blues songs their own fingerprint.

Unfortunately, I have not had listened to a lot of live blues. But now, living back in the Pacific Northwest, it seemed like I would get more opportunities to do so. Portland has a vibrant and respected blues scene and plays hose every year to the Waterfront Blues Festival. As I came to learn, Lefty's was considered by many one of the best blues venues for live music in the Northwest.

In my early explorations as an iPod owner, I discovered a podcast based out of Portland that talked about the Portland and Northwest blues scene and featured music from artists based here, or who have some connection to Portland and the Pacific Northwest. The podcast, PDX Bluescast, became an immediate favorite.

Sadly, the PDX Bluescast has not had a new episode in over a year now. And now this month came word that Lefty's had closed.

But the blues itself does not die. Just as the legends of the genre eventually pass on, the music itself is passed down to new generations of musicians. And fortunately, I have found a new place to satisfy my thirst for blues, but this one's based a little farther south -- south of the equator and across the Pacific to be precise. My new home for the blues, and the new podcast I turn to for a mix of classic blues and emerging voices is the Salty Dog Blues N Roots Podcast from Melbourne, Australia.

So thanks, Salty, for satisfying that craving, both salty and sweet, tangy and twangy, like a slice of pizza with pepperoni and pineapple and a liberal dose of Tabasco.

RIP Lefty's and the PDX Bluescast. You are missed, but we can all take comfort in the fact that the blues plays on.


pdxbluescast said...

Hi there - this is Pat from PDXBluescast. I just came across this post of yours while I was doing a little surfing. I apologize for letting you down and leaving the show unattended for so long. For what it's worth, I really miss producing the show and I truly intend to get back to it. Much has happened on the Portland blues scene in the last year, and also in terms of my own relationship to the scene; so there's lots to talk about and lots of music to be played. I just need my life to calm down a bit and I'll be able to carve out some time for it. So please be patient (ha!), stay subscribed, and I hope to have something for you in the coming weeks. THANK YOU for listening and for your kind words about the show.

Salty said...

Same G-Man ... just found your comment re the Salty Dog Blues N Roots. Thanks for steppin by and hope you are still enjoying the vibe. This week we release an interview I did with John Hammond last November. Hope you dig it. All the best from the land of Oz! Salty, Melbourne, Australia

The End Debt Daily