Chamber music surprise
But the three elderly ladies who swayed to Torso's sweet tangos weren't alone. The 200 folks who sold out Chamber Music on Tap at BridgePort Brew Pub this month looked like dress-down day at Chamber Music Northwest: jeans, flannel and lots of gray hair.
Upstairs, the old rope factory at 1313N.W. Marshall St. is carpenter ant heaven: Wood beams thick as file cabinets run the length of the ceiling. We sit on wooden chairs at wooden tables on wooden floors, which makes for pretty fine acoustics. And, even though we jived and nodded to the beat, everybody was that quiet, you'd think it was a concert.
3 Leg Torso is actually five fully figured men, survivors of classical, jazz and rock 'n' roll backgrounds. They have the same manager as Pink Martini, and they tell musical stories similarly flavored from barrios, Paris, Budapest and beyond, but quirkier. A song called "Frog....Secret Agent" recounted the capture of a frog behind enemy lines who is forced to take psychedelic drugs. Sinuous secret-agent music ebbed from Courtney Von Drehle's accordion and Bela Balogh's fiddle. Mysterious glissandos materialized.
Bill of "Bill's Last Adventure" gets sucked out an airplane window and spends years suspended in the sky, drawing bluesy notes from the accordion over a mesmerizing slow waltz.
Then came a wistful tribute to Elliott Smith, the late songwriter, followed by a traditional Scottish Sufi tune and some cartoon music, which sent Thomas James Mackay flying over the xylophone. Percussionist Gary Irvine snapped the beat while Michael Papillo kept everybody grounded on his billowing double bass.
The three ladies, eyes closed, swaying like Norns, wore transported smiles.
This wasn't supposed to happen. The Oregon Symphony began Chamber Music on Tap eight years ago to bait young'uns and switch them to orchestra concerts in the Schnitz. But the oldsters discovered that sipping ale, munching pizza and listening to agreeable music is way too fun to share. People start lining up at 4:30 p.m. hoping to snag good seats when doors open at 5. Couples arriving without $12 tickets are turned away.
"When was the last time you heard blues accordion?" my approaching middle age tablemate asked.
Clearly, folks of a certain age still like pubs, especially when they don't have to breath clouds of smoke and shout over the din. And if they get to hear a Moroccan jig.
-- David Stabler, The Oregonian