Review: The Bridge @ The Goodfoot Pub

That night, as I am walking out the door, the phone rang. Caller ID was no help, the dreaded NO DATA readout. I could have, should have ignored it. But, I couldn’t resist the urge and picked up the receiver and answered. Here was my drunken phone call. From an ex in law, no less. “Sure I’m drunk, but I had to call you to tell you how you will ALWAYS be my brother in law, and I’m so proud of you that you didn’t come on to me when I stayed with you, even when I came on to you, you were a perfect gentlemen”, she slurred in one long breath that I was grateful to be two thousand miles away from. I pretended I was on the cell and going in to a tunnel (Oh yeah, like you never lied your way out of a phone call) and hung up. I turned off the ringer and left the house.

You see, I was on my way to a club for the first time. The Goodfoot Pub & Lounge in Southeast Portland had a great show as part of the Portland Jazz Festival that I didn’t want to miss. The Bellingham, WA. quintet, the Acorn Project was opening for The Bridge and I had heard good things.

The club itself was nondescript, with your basic brightly lit bar upstairs with pool tables and pinball machines. Downstairs was the performance area. Surprisingly intimate, with low ceilings and dim lighting, it appeared to hold a couple hundred, if that. In the far corner of the stage, an easel with a blank canvas and its own lamp light awaited an artist with a muse.

The artist began painting as the house lights dimmed even dimmer when the Acorn Project ambled onstage (Not really a stage, more like a dance floor). I was only Myspace familiar with them and wanted to hear more. What I got was a tight blend of jazz, funk infused rock and jamming that was reminiscent of O.A.R. after one album. High energy melodies with a riff here and there that stayed with you for a while. The combination of guitars, sax and keyboards kept it light and fun, while the slide guitar and rhythm section gave the songs greater depth.

By the time their hour long set ended, the artist to the right had finished his masterpiece and I was over at the merch table to check out their latest disc.

As nice as the Acorn Projects set was, I had been looking forward to seeing The Bridge for a while. A six piece from the Baltimore area, The Bridge have a reputation for innovative jamming with a soulful delivery. Near as I can tell they lived up to that reputation on this particular Friday night.

The artist on the right took more paint, clean brushes and some Saran wrap and faced another empty canvas.

With little fanfare, The Bridge began with a song that Cris Jacobs (guitar, vocals) called Good Rhythm. This one started slowly, but made full use of each musician as it winded its way through the more crowded basement. Besides Jacobs, the band consists of Kenny Liner on electric mandolin, Dave Markowitz on bass, Patrick Rainey on Sax, Mike Gambone on drums and Mark Brown on keyboards.

Throughout their set, I heard bits and pieces of most American music forms. Gospel, blues, jazz, funk, soul, New Orleans funeral dirges and boogie woogie, you name it and I heard it. There was even the scent of hip hop mid set from Liner, as he beat boxed the intro and most of the rest of the song, till it became a rip snorting version of the Ray Charles classic, What I Say. The mouth percussion brought some street to the basement and had the crowd bobbing and weaving in unison (pogoing and overall jumping was dangerous, as the low ceiling left nasty bumps on the heads of those not easily discouraged.

The smartly arranged Easy Jane followed, with Jacobs slide work leading the way, quickly followed by Brown’s Hammond organ blasting a background for Rainey’s party sax. Down homey enough to have been on a porch in North Carolina, but bluesy enough to have been in a south side honky tonk in the bayou. There was country crooning, ragtime piano and heavy metal guitar (as well as a guitar face to match, as Jacobs’ passion was gravely expressed in tense facial muscles and clenched closed eyes).

The musicians were entertainers as well, playfully expressing themselves. They slowly burned through the growling Sweet Thing, playing up the saxophone as a blues instrument angle and making one hell of an argument for the positive. A couple of songs later, they evoked Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes gospel party heydays with Heavy Water. They were, as I said, all over the Americana map, music wise. And they handled them all with a southern charm and up tempo talent that kept me dancing along in place, with only three head bumps for my troubles.

They kept up the frenetic pace and eclectic set list till it was officially the wee hours on a work night and I headed home with a combination of Walk On Gilded Splinters and Dirtball Blues ringing in my head. When I finally got home I calculated that I had about three hours and twenty minutes of sleep, max, before I reached zero hour and had to rush through the morning rituals and get to work. But I was just a bit too wired to sleep. I justified that a muscle relaxer, usually reserved for lower back spasms, would ease me into a power sleep cycle enough to recharge the batteries to face the boss in a few hours. Twenty minutes later, I was like a punch drunk boxer trying to read the to-go menu at Hung Far Low in Mandarin, but still not asleep.

For kicks, or maybe because I felt like she deserved it, I blocked my cell number and dialed the ex sister in law, now living somewhere in the Dakotas. It was between three and four in the morning back there. After three rings, she answered, slurring a sleepy “Hello?” “Betty?” I said, slurring my own words as a result of my friend, the pharmacy. “It’s Phil, from high school. Remember me? We made out in your dad’s pickup when you were supposed to be doing chores, remember? Well, it doesn’t matter, cause I still LOVE you, Betty, really. It’s not because I’m drunk, which I am, but because you never made fun of the duct tape on my glasses, which I don’t have any more because I got that lay-sick stuff done to my eyes and . . .” I went on for about ten minutes, with the ex sister in law “Uh-huh-ing’ on the other end of the phone, somewhere in the Dakotas, losing sleep with her own, totally fabricated, late night, drunken I love you call she couldn’t hang up on. Her second one tonight.

Even the nasty Law Of Twos needs a helping hand now and then.

Rock on through the fog,
A.J. Crandall

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