Sunday, August 19, 2007

Portland, Michael Anthony, and Camper Van Beethoven

If you follow this blog, you know about the Uhavegonaway to Oregonaway Show Saturday, September 1, Labor Day weekend, at the Mississippi Pizza Pub in Portland, Oregon from 6 to 8 PM. If you don’t, click this blog post for more info.

While on the road with the Refreshments, I was always happy to pull into the City of Roses for a gig. Why?

1) We had great fans in Portland. The local alternative station was on “Banditos” early and often, and from that we cultivated a nice following. We always played to more people in Portland than in any other city on the Pacific coast. I remember selling out La Luna once, which, aside from Phoenix gigs, might’ve been the largest crowd we ever played to. (This of course isn't counting gigs like radio shows, where you can play to thousands more but not necessarily to fans of your band.)

2) Powell’s. Rarely was there enough time to spend more than an hour or two in that wonderful place, but every second was, and is, pure delight. You had to drag me out of there for soundcheck.

3) It never rained. Really. I remember being in Portland for a radio show in the sweltering heat, playing some little bar who-knows-where, playing in Pioneer Square, and not once do I remember it raining.

On an unrelated note, can anyone tell me why Michael Anthony isn’t involved in the latest Van Halen re-grouping?

I have to admit I’ve been more than a little cynical in the past about reunion tours, but all of that changed one weekend in 2004 when Kel and I drove up to Portland to see Camper Van Beethoven. Somehow, I’d managed to miss CVB back in the day (for you Phoenicians, CVB and the Red Hot Chili Peppers played Big Surf back in the late 80s; I was still in Illinois.), and I broke down to see one of my favorite bands.

It was at the Crystal Ballroom, and there were about 800 fellow CVB freaks in attendance. What a show! Nostalgia, nostalgia. They played everything you’d expect them to play, and they played everything you wouldn’t expect them to play, and they even played some stuff you would've thought they’d be embarrassed to play. I couldn’t have been happier with it. Nostalgia, yes. But to see David Lowery set up to one side of the stage as opposed to the center because Camper Van Beethoven was always about the interplay of instruments and not any individual member, to see Victor laying down the law on “Eye of Fatima” and a dozen others, to see that insane fiddle guy dancing around like nobody’s business, it reminded me what it's all about. CVB still seems ahead of its time, and they started doing it two or three decades ago.

Alas, another good memory from Portland. I hope to have more soon.



Dave said...

The reason Michael Anthony is not in the reunion tour is this:
While Van Halen was on a break, Anthony went out on tour with solo Sammy Hagar. Well that made Eddie mad(of course), becuase Eddie believes you are either in Van Halen or not. The same reason David Lee Roth was tossed out of Van Halen to begin with. So Anthony is out and Wolfgang is in. With that said I am still looking forward to the reunion and hope to go when the come to St. Louis.


Art Edwards said...

Forgive me if I have a soft spot for bass players. It's just a shame they finally came to their senses with Dave, and then lost Anthony.


Anonymous said...

I'll agree with that reply Art. My question is this. Can Wolfgang carry the melody like MA could in a live preformance? I've had the pleasure of seeing VH twice,(with DLR, of course) and Anthony's back-up vocals were unreal!! I'm just wondering........

Bill from Indiana

Art Edwards said...

The kid's got big shoes to fill, no doubt. He'll get a chance to fill them.


Dave said...

I'm also a bass player and have that same soft spot. I missed him when he was last in St. Louis with Sammy. He has his own band now calle Mad Anthony Express and his own blog.

Art Edwards said...

Right on. Anthony lays down the law.


NEIL said...

Ha, you knew I'd have to comment on Michael Anthony didn't ya.
Being on the various VH boards over the years and moderating a few I got a chance to gleam a lot of information along the way.
Before Ed went into rehab he called the Howard Stern Show and announced that Mike was out and Wolfie was in. Mostly because of Mike's close alliance with Sammy Hagar. Ed took issue when Mike and Sammy would do VH tunes on Sammy's tour billed as "The Other Half"
The (of Van Halen) was implied or printed anywhwere but Eddie used it as his excuse to get rid of Mike. Either way, Ed's been gunning for Mikey for quite some time anyway and this was his perfect excuse to get rid of him.
As Van Halen always published as all the band members writing the tunes I don't see what's Ed's issue is. But then again Ed wasn't being rational. One only needs to look at the utube videos of NAMM a couple of years ago and this years Fender video of Ed introducing the 25,000 frankenstein replica guitar to see that Ed was pretty loaded all the time. It's a Shame, I always considered Mikey the heart and soul of VH and one of the nicest guys in rock and roll that I've ever met.
NOBODY can pull off his backing vocals. I have a moto, "No Mikey in the Band, No ticket in my hand."

Art Edwards said...

Hey, Neil. I was wondering when we'd hear from you.

My heart's with Mike on this one, too. As fans, we just love to see the original line-up. No Vinnie Vincents.