Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House's Doghouse Blues

Tucked amongst the farmland scattered somewhere between Seattle and Bellingham, The Doghouse is the closest thing the area has to an old-fashioned roadhouse. The invitation-only, private parties held on an expansive property happen only a couple of times a year — special events, indeed. Fittingly, the wild Doghouse — the property's large, stage-equipped shack — hosted a reunion of Portland's infamously wild-and-woolly   one frigid Saturday night in March.

Around bonfires and kindly supplied heaters, numb hands held Pabst and Jack Daniels as the band's diehard fans waited for their turn at bat inside the Doghouse — which is about the size of a three-car garage. And there was a lot of diehard fans, from far and wide; I heard a rumor that someone had arrived from Nevada. SOB had played Dante's in Portland the night before, but one show was obviously not going to satisfy the group's still-loyal subjects in their former, far-reaching kingdom.

When I eased the Dodge Dart into the field-turned-crowded parking lot around nine, the party had been going on for quite some time, and a number of bands had already played. I sat with the guys and talked about everything but music, catching up on the three years that had passed since they last played a show. It seemed that nothing had changed, really. Bassist and deep thinker Mole Harris was still frozen in time, eternally 17. Drummer "Flapjack" Texas regaled us with a hilarious, bawdy story from his college baseball days. "Handsome" Jon Burbank was still baby-faced, and as nice a guy as a guitar monster could be. David Lipkind still resembled a super hero-musician-genius waiting for the release of stored-up energy that playing his harmonica brings. And brawler-turned-poet Michael Damron... Mike D seemed a bit older, a bit wiser, simultaneously stronger and more fatigued after three years of going solo.

Then the Doghouse beckoned, the bonfire-circle evaporated, and five oh-so-talented men transformed into a band one more time. Heavy coats were shrugged off, guitars were plugged in, a bottle of Maker's Mark was opened. A familiar, darkly joyous surge of dirty sonic power that we had all missed so terribly was unleashed.

It was so good to hear it again.

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