General / Music · 2006-10-03

Island rhythms

I got to visit San Juan Island for the first time recently — yeah, I’m still a northwest newbie — to take in an end-of-summer weekend of fun and funk. The people who run The San Juan Preservation Trust booked Mudcat to play their Harvest Festival, and we had a most excellent time doing so. (Click on the pictures for bigger versions.)

The stage framed by the house posts
Peekaboo stage with hay bales

I really knew nothing about the San Juan Islands before this. My old Boston mindset made it feel as though we were “going to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend.” It took about the same amount of time to get there; there was a ferry involved; and all the rhythms of life slowed down as soon as we arrived.

We played at Lacrover Farm, where we had a lovely view out onto their acreage.

My view from the stage!
My view from the stage

Each band member — along with assorted family members, including kids and dogs — was offered a place to stay with one of the SJPT board members. Eli and I were “assigned” to Sven Haarhoff and Allison Shadday, and it was a pleasure to get to know these nice and talented folks. She’s an author who has a book about multiple sclerosis on the cusp of release, and he’s the SJPT development director — the guy to talk to if you’re interested in supporting their mission of protecting the San Juans through voluntary private action. (You can get a special-edition Gary Larson T-shirt for donating to the Save the Turtleback Mountain project!)

The band now has a solid three hours of material, and we played until it got almost too dark to break down our equipment — though the lack of light pollution was welcome! Not being an outdoorsy sort, until that weekend I probably hadn’t seen the Milky Way for years.

A lovely vine near the Pelindaba store in Friday Harbor
Feeling vine

Luckily, modern musical equipment is generally lightweight and easy to tear down. Once upon a time I lugged a Hammond M1 organ, though I gave that up pretty quickly. Maybe back then I could’ve made do with this antique “portable” organ I found in a Friday Harbor shop — I’m guessing that’s got a couple of pounds of weight per key.

An antique portable organ
Portable band equipment

This weekend we’re playing at an apple-picking party on Bainbridge Island. This music stuff is really taking me places…