An Open Letter to River City Saloon (with apologies to the TV show "24")

Oct. 29, 2008

This week, I’d like to talk about what I did last week. Well, last Friday night to be specific. You see, it seems to me the older you get, the more energy it takes to do things, like, oh I don’t know, maybe go out on the town, on a Friday night. It’s all too easy to go home, and then decide to stay home, for this reason or that. Well, I’m happy to report, last Friday, we hit the road and went out, right after work.

By 6 p.m., we were at the brew pub. There were so many beers on tap that I hadn’t tried yet, I had the crew make me custom tasting tray. I felt like a tourist! Then, it was on to the dinner course. So far, so good.

By 7:30 p.m., we were in the “way-to-early-to-go-to-where-we-wanted-to-go” time period – and I figured that the music didn’t start at the River City until 9 p.m. But that’s ok, it’s Friday -- and I’m gonna check this show out. So it’s off to cruise town. My girlfriend mentions that there’s probably time to catch a movie, but that seems like a lot of scheduling work to me. Let’s head to one of the tasting rooms. So after driving around the block five times to try and find a space, we finally land and head in. Problem was, of course, yours truly didn’t check the times on the door, and although the door was unlocked, the establishment was in the process of closing for the night. My first thought, of course, was “Closing for the Night?” I glance at my watch, yup, 7:30, hmm, well, this is a tasting room, not a bar, and…… ok, let’s try the other one on the corner.

7:35 p.m. Well, this corner winery is open, and my friends the Fenderbenders are jamming along in the corner. Bands playing around here have to be able to fit in some pretty tiny places. This band has 5 people in the corner, with all the guitars, sound gear, drums and speakers. And then people need room to dance. Not an easy task. So we settle into this scene for a while, and enjoy the music.

8:30 p.m. Well, I better head over to River City and see what’s going on. I don’t want to miss this, you know. So I stick my head in the room, and there’s not a lot of activity. No band loading in, just a few folks at the bar. No sign of Kate Gaffney. Ok, back to the tasting room.

9:15 p.m. The Fenderbenders are on what I believe to be their 6th “last song.” Two of their band members had to leave early, and the 3 remaining kept playing. OK, I better go check on this River City thing again.

9:16 p.m. There’s still no sign of Kate. My girlfriend appears beside me, she finally has the sense to ask about the music tonight (I guess that’s the same as men asking for directions) and yes, the music will start, should be about 10.

9:16 and 3 seconds p.m. “Ten!?” I check my watch. Sigh. If I have one more glass of wine, I’ll be asleep. OK, I’m out, and I’m going to make this show. Hang in there. I can do this.

10:00 p.m. I made it. I actually made it to 10 o’clock, and here it is. This is tougher than New Years Eve. Ok, we’re here, a few more folks are here, but there’s still not a huge amount of stage activity. But there is actually a guitar on stage. That’s a good sign.

So my mind is processing all this waiting around. What could be different about this? I know it’s not a huge amount of time between 7:30 and 10, but in some cases that can be a while. I almost felt like I was sitting around an airport, waiting for a delayed flight.

So then it hits me -- I’ve got to talk to somebody about this. So a conversation starts up with Shawn, the bartender. You know, I’ve been in this place a few times – I usually come down to see Jackstraw, and the Tony Furtado band did some really good shows there in past years. I’ve also played music there a few times. Not a lot, but here and there. I’m really surprised that Shawn recognizes me, and that he remembers me playing there. So we get to talking.

So here’s what I’d like to see. I would like The River City to seriously consider extending the music scene to include an early set. Here’s my idea of an early set: 8-9:30 p.m. That’s the early set. Half hour break, and it’s 10 p.m. Perfect time to start the second set.

This way, busy folks can come in and enjoy an early set, and the late night crowd can enjoy their evening, too. And I also mentioned that whenever possible, let’s get local bands to play an opening set. It’s great to have a venue in town that hosts Portland and regional music, and I appreciate that. I would just like to see a connection develop between Hood River local music and these bands coming in for the weekend. It sounds like win-win to me.

10:15 p.m. And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment I’ve been waiting for. I had front row seats, and they turned off the satellite radio. And most importantly, I was still awake. This is getting serious. Is someone in the sound booth? I think so…..hold on, yeah, ok, they’re turning the guitar on. Here we go!

The River City was pleased to announce (trumpets blaring)…….the opening performer for Kate Gaffney.

Luckily, it was only for two songs.

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