Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Back from Sacto

Sunday I hopped on Amtrak at San Jose and rode to Sacramento for the music festival. It used to b a jazz festival, but exploded, and now includes other genres. It takes over all of Old Town, with performances everywhere from makeshift band platforms to hotel ballrooms. And there are tents, and random places in the streets, which are allegedly closed to traffic.

A couple of non-sequiter notes:
1. Way too large a percentage of people in Sacto smoke
2. Bicyclers there have no shame, and no consideration for pedestrians

And one sequiter note:
1. Judging from the number of purple STAFF t-shirts, at least half the city is on the festival staff.
I only saw a small handful actually working, most of them were occupying audience seats in the various venues.

The trip up was quiet, with only a couple of brief outbursts from Obligatory Screaming Children. As I sat at my window seat in the 3/4 full train, I kept hoping nobody would sit next to me, and this fantasy popped into my head:

So a woman sits her crying child next to me on the train. I say to her, "ma'am, I am required by law to tell you I am a registered pedagogue." She gives a little yelp and quickly takes her child to another car.

I posted that on FB without the fantasy notice, and it has gathered many amusing comments, both for and against. Only one of my friends posited that it was a joke.

Nobody sat next to me.

There was some serious eye candy on both trips.

I had signed up for the festival on impulse when I found out that a cute redhead with a ton of guitar and vocal talent, who had moved to NOLA to be closer to a real jazz scene than her native Los Osos as soon as she graduated from high school. Follows a long story
It was National Train Day 2009. Molly was in a jazz band playing at the San Luis Obispo Amtrak station when I got off for the long stop en route to Santa Barbara. Molly was kind of shy and mostly sat in the back:

The following year I decided to make SLO my Train Day destination, having never been there, and the band was back at the train station again. This time I got to hear the whole set, talk to them, and meet Molly's mom, who was playing washboard. And I also really liked Justin, the trumpet player.


Molly's Mom


In June they were in Menlo Park for Sunset Magazine's annual festival, so I went. By now they had a name - The Red Skunk Gipsy Band.

So Molly moved to NOLA, Justin moved to Sacramento and started playing jazz regularly with his brother (on trombone) and going to a couple of their gigs I discovered their uncle Howard

 End of long story

The train arrived at about 1 pm, and after checking into the Vagabond Inn, I went across the street to Old Town , traded in my ticket voucher for a wrist band, and started cruising the streets, listening to several jazz bands. So far all of these were free venues, wristband not needed, featuring high school and college bands. They were all pretty good, but I wanted to get my $$'s worth before Molly's band went on at 5:30. Looked at a map of the for-pay spots, found the tent by the fireman's hall, and there was Uncle Howard on trombone, with the Hight Sierra Jazz Band. They are a terrific group, I had seen them at a couple of other events back in 2013.

After their set, I walked around a lot taking pictures, especially of the bikinis on the yachts in the river.

Finally over to Embassy Suites to catch the group prior to Molly's, called The Internationals or something like that, which featured a stunning 6' tall blonde string bass player. The pianist is French, and he described being invited to America to play jazz as being like a famous American chef invited to Italy to cook at a famous Italian restaurant. The bass player sang a charming rendition of C'est Si Bon, which included some nonsense patter in faux French. What caught my ear most was the segue from "menage a trois" to "fromage a trois".

This group was excellent, and once again my $$ had been put to good use.

Molly's group is called World's Finest Apples. Crappy name, IMHO. I had heard on FB that Molly had changed her hair, but in person it was shocking. Very short, no longer a redhead. I don't like the look at all.

It isn't a jazz band, I don't know what to call it. No brass, no drums, just two guitars, an accordion and a string bass. I gave it half an hour before leaving halfway through their set. The accordion player can make his instrument sound like an organ, and Molly still sings well, but not as well as I expected after her years of study.

Plan A was to have dinner and come back for the Bourbon Street Band, which I enjoyed at a jazz festival outside of Sacto 2 years ago, but it took me too long to pick a place for dinner, the wind picked up, and my jacket was at the motel, so I just packed it in early. I'm sure that was a mistake, but dinner at the Rio Cafe was enough to make me lose faith in just about everything. The less said about the shrimp and crab shavings louie lousy and stale alleged bread pudding the better.

Read some of the worst book ever written, had a very fitful night, changed my plans from taking the 2:30 train to the noon one. That was partly because there was an 8 pm Iolanthe rehearsal.

Checked out at 10-ish, walked to the train station and conformed I didn't need a new ticket for the earlier train, and hung out at the Starbucks nearby. Since I had an hour, I took the mile-long walk to the boarding area very slowly instead of grabbing the shuttle.

Train was on time, I got the same seat as before, once again no one sat next to me.

Unlike the trip up, the cafe car was far away and downstairs, and there was a line 15 people deep, so I gave up almost as soon as I got there. Good thing my tummy was cooperating, because there were no working restrooms I could find.

At Diridon by a little after 3. Email just before I arrived saying the men's chorus was not called for tonight. The SM's message made it sound like there were two ways we might have interpreted the posted schedule, but there really wasn't. It clearly called the male leads for 7:30 and the men's chorus for 8. 

Spook was miffed that I had not been around to fill her treats bowl, and she was a little bit affectionate for the first hour, but then things went back to normal.

Put away Friday's laundry, dumped Saturday's on the bed, to be hung up real soon now.

Plans for tomorrow:


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