The sun came out! And it stayed out, all day long! And you know what happens then? Portlanders come out of their homes, sans umbrellas, hats and hoodies to venture to the spectacle that is the Saturday Market. This is the March to December gathering down by the waterfront that consists of artists selling their unique creations, food vendors offering everything from soup to nuts, literally, and the best part as far as I’m concerned, the music that fills the streets – from some very inventive street musicians to those asked to play on the two stages in the market. My first stop in the market was the head shop(yes we have plenty of head shops here – in fact, Mary Jane’s House of Glass has two convenient locations, one on each side of the river) that sells my favorite incense; only ten cents per cone with scents ranging from mango and cotton candy to sex on the beach and dragons breath – I’m still not sure how one knows what dragons breath smells like, but it smells pretty good to me. It was a busy day at the head shop, and I had to wait patiently to pay for my incense while the customer before me was getting their lovely glass bong wrapped. As I walked through the market, I could hear the music from the different street musicians playing all around me. A man was set up next to Skidmore Fountain, expertly playing a set of drums that were actually different sized buckets – and he had people dancing to the infectious beat. But the sound that really caught my ear was a group of young ragtag musicians not too far from the bucket man. They were quite a sight, all of them dressed in quirky clothing, and most of them sporting piercings and some very colorful tattoos. And the plethora of instruments they played was astounding – I saw a violin, a guitar, two banjos, a mandolin, a ukelele, someone played a saw, another played a washboard, there was a young man playing the spoons, and in the very back I saw someone actually playing a washtub bass. But the music that came out of this very large and unusual mix of instruments was really good, and it was fun and full of energy. The fervent applause after they played, and the pile of money in the open guitar case was testament to their talent. Then I wandered to one of the stages set up in the market, where I heard the funky sounds of an R & B band. I smiled to myself as I saw the lead singer; a young woman with a huge Afro, dressed in buckskin hiphuggers with beads on them, and a white bikini top of white fur. I felt transported back to the 70’s. And man, could that girl sing and dance! The song they were playing was “We Got the Funk”, and they sure did – the band played that funky music so well that people in the crowd were moving and swaying with the beat. There is nothing like listening to and watching live music; for me it is the mark of an absolutely perfect day, and nothing can compare.
April 7, 2012