Hot Club Sandwich
Meinig Park, Sandy, Oregon - August 30, 2006
Ray Wood, Guitar
Kevin Connor, Guitar
Matt Sircely, Mandolin
Tim Wetmiller, Fiddle
Kevin Stevens, Acoustic Bass
While trying to decide which Portland artist and club to enjoy from the JSO Calendar, I remembered that this was the final week of Music in Meinig, presented by The City of Sandy. This series of free summer concerts takes place in beautiful Meinig Park in downtown Sandy, OR every Wednesday during the month of August.
Tonight's musical guests were a quintet from the Puget Sound area who call themselves "HOT CLUB SANDWICH." The style of music they play is "Gypsy Jazz" but each of these musicians intentionally brings their own musical preferences and past experiences to the group. The sound they create becomes an extension of the traditional gypsy style shaped by their collective talent, and is refreshingly unique. It takes you to another place.
This was a foot-tappin', crowd-pleasin' concert, with many couples, young and old, dancing in the patches of grass beneath the towering firs that form a canopy for the outdoor amphitheatre. The band had a pure sound and was rhythmically tight -- very impressive considering the lightening speed at which many of the "old world" tunes were played, and though the solos were often fast and intricate, they were tastefully done and added to the mystique of the music. One of the crowds' favorites was, Hit That Jive Jack, where all the band members sang the chorus, and we almost managed to keep tempo with our clapping. The band interacted with the audience and seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves.
Most of the band has been together for six years, but this evening's performance included their newest member, jazz guitarist Ray Wood. Ray has been in the business since the 1950's, playing all over the world, and the band members consider him a great asset. One of them tells the audience, "He is one of my favorite musicians," during a break between songs. Ray is a music instructor in the Puget Sound area and plays his Gibson Archtop with the finesse of a seasoned professional.
The other band members were Kevin Connor on a D Hole Gypsy Jazz Guitar, Matt Sircely on mandolin, Tim Wetmiller on the fiddle, and filling in for James Schneider was Kevin Stevens on the stand-up, acoustic bass.
They have recorded three CDs, the latest one just about to be released, "Green Room." The title song is one of Tim's compositions, inspired by "the great dressing rooms they've enjoyed over the years." (Their Green Room for this event was within the Sandy City Hall. They told the listeners "it is the coolest Green Room of any City Hall we've ever been in . . . " --insert audience laughter here).
Other perks that made this a pleasant family evening included the "Fantasy Forest" playground that is about 100 yards away from the amphitheatre and much enjoyed by the shorter crowd. Dinner could be purchased from "Goodie Junction," a local business who brought the goodies to us for a very reasonable price. Menu items included sausages, hot dogs, baked beans, pie, brownies, candy and hot and cold beverages. My hot chocolate tasted just like the kind I used to get at Ski Bowl when I was a kid -- just what I needed to keep off the chill as the sun was setting.
The cheers of the crowd brought the band back for an encore, and as we visited following the concert, the guys all agreed that "this is one of the finest venues on the west coast that they've ever played in, with an excellent sound system and great hospitality." I think they'll be back. And I can't wait to get their new CD.
For more information about "HOT CLUB SANDWICH," visit their website at www.hotclubsandwich.com.
Music in Meinig is sponsored by Cedar Ridge Homes, Clackamas County Band and OMI.