Posts Tagged ‘House Concerts’

Welcome! and btw, please don’t flush…

Monday, January 16th, 2023

The Skamokawa Swamp Opera:      Andrew Emlen, Kyleen Austin, Wren Hendricks, Erik Friend

In my mind, it was only twenty minutes until the musicians and thirty guests were scheduled to arrive for yesterday’s House Concert.  But it may have been more like ten miutes… or forty.  No matter.  Plumbers don’t work on Sunday and, suddenly, there was a massive leak under the house.

Andrew Emlen

I heard a strange noise behind a bookcase in the East Room.  Whooooosh.  Faint but steady.  Almost like fire.  Or water.  No outward evidence of anything amiss.  I called and asked if Tucker could come listen.  We were both mystified but Tucker finally decided it was water and asked f or a flashlight and the location of the closest access to the crawl space under the house.

It was only a minute or two before he confirmed:  Big puddle under the East Room; insulation hanging down; leaking pipe.  Quick as a wink, I pulled the plug to our pump:  no pump: no water pressure: no water… period.  No cool sips for thirsty singers, no hand-washing before or after our pot-luck meal, and most worrisome… no flushing.

Erik Friend

I left multiple messages for the plumber.  (Fingers crossed for a response today.)  Thank goodness for the stash of bottled water in the pantry; I  placed several bottles in each of the crucial places.  Carol brought over packets of alcohol wipes and… ready, set, go!

When everyone was seated, my “welcome-to-our-house-concert” included the news.  The response was as you would expect from folks used to power outages and iffy rural water companies — smiles and sympathy.  And more than a few nodded sagely and murmured “Mrs. Crouch.” I surely hope they weren’t right about that.  There are way too many possibilities for ghostly mischief in this old 154-year-old house.

The Skamokawa Swamp Opera, January 15, 2023

But whatever worries any of us had disappeared with the  Skamokawa Swamp Opera’s very first song — “Sheriff’s Report in the Wahkiakum Eagle.”  Immediately, our adventures in country living — broken pipes and all — were put in familiar perspective.   And for those of us who turn first to the “Dispatch Reports” in our own Chinook Observer.” we felt a kinship with the band right from the get-go!  You were fabulous as always, Andrew, Kyleen, Wren, and Erik!   Thank you!


With a lot of help from my friends…

Sunday, January 15th, 2023

The “Stage” Is Ready

Today marks the third House Concert this “season” — the season being from September after Labor Day when Music Vespers are over for the year until they begin again the following June on Father’s Day.  Nyel and I generally hosted one House Concert every other month if we could.  I think there were a few times when Nyel had to be in the hospital in Portland at the last minute and, if memory serves, we had everything “at the ready” and Tucker and Carol hosted in our stead.

The Seating Awaits

Our very first House Concert featured Randal Bays (Irish Fiddle).  That was on January 28, 2001.  The next, on March 28th featured our “singing postmaster,”  Casey Killingsworth who themed his program around the the songs that were popular in the years of the various cars he had owned to that point in his life!

I thought about those early House Concerts and the many that followed over the years as I readied the house for Andrew Emlen’s Skamokawa Swamp Opera who will be playing this afternoon.  Like Randal, Andrew has done many concerts here over the years and with a variety of partners and band members.  He is always a “sell out” and I do wish that we could pack the audience in a bit closer but we are all cognizant of the covid protcols and, of course, hope for the best…  The questions we all ask ourselves and each other are just how much living do we need to give up?  And for how long?

Ready! Set! Food’s On The Way!

So… I dragged most of the furniture out of the library — all except the coffee table which Tucker helped me with.  (It fell apart when someoe mistakenly pushed it last time…)  That room is always “the stage.”

Four or five of the Friday Nighters schlepped the church’s folding chairs  that ORF so kindly lets me borrow for these events.  (They are the perfect size).  I managed to enlarge the dining table myself and put the tablecloth on it, ironing it on the table as usual.  Then, the plates from the back forty, laying out napkins and silver, and setting up wine glasses and openers on the kitchen table… and voila!  All is in readiness!

I missed Nyel mightily during it all, but we “talked” back and  forth, anyway,  After twenty plus years of setting the stage together, how could we not?

We Have The Glasses; BYOB

And so… I think the house is poised for our first concert of 2023.  (The first two of this season were The Oyster Crackers in September and the Rose City Mixed Quartet in December.)  Each time, I  wonder if it will be the last.  So far, though, it looks like a sustainable way to help support the arts if even a little bit… And I can’t tell you how much joy we get in return!!!

Hello? Hello? Mrs. Crouch is it you?

Saturday, January 14th, 2023

Cell Phone With Its Red Case

Well, it’s a steep learning curve for a young woman of the 1890s, but I do believe that Mrs. Crouch tried her best to master the mysteries of my cell phone.  There really is no other explanation.

It all began yesterday afternoon when I drove through the raindrops to pick up my neighbor Carol for our coffee date at Colleen’s Coffee Shop in Ocean Park.  I was a few minutes early so I took my cell phone from my jacket pocket and called her, telling her I was out front.  She quickly joined me and then, as Lewis and Clark said in their journals:”We proceeded on.”

There were about a gazillion cars at Colleen’s so we parked at the western end of the allotted space, right next to a pickup with a very diligent watch dog — barking, barking, barking.  We gave him due praise and then went on in to meet Colleen’s newest cashier and to enjoy our coffee and conversation.  It was lovely. as always.

Inside Colleen’s — The Perfect Gathering Place for Refreshment and Conversation

Back to Carol’s an hour and a half later and a short visit with Tucker to see his new Oysterville Cemetery Map.  (Bravo!)  Then home to do a little more getting ready for tomorrow’s house concert.  Then, for some reason (was I going to call Charlie for something?) I reached in my back pocket for my cell phone.  Not there.

For the next few minutes I looked in my purse, in my jacket pockets, in my car and… then again.  And maybe again.  No cell phone.  I drove over to Carol and Tucker’s: “Have you seen my….?”  The answer was no.  Carol called my number and had me go listen in the car… just in case. No phone ringing.

“Come on with me,” she said.  “We’re driving to Colleen’s” — which, by then we knew was closed.  When we arrived, I banged on the door; Carol searched the parking lot — to no avail.  No, Colleen hadn’t seen it.  She and I looked in the area that Carol and I had been sitting and we promised to call one another if it turned up.

On our way back to Carol’s place (and my car) we stopped at my house to try calling there.  But before Carol could even punch in the number she said, “Is that your phone?  On the chair?”

And there it was!  Right on one of the chairs I had been setting up for the House Concert tomorrow!  Carol said that my jaw actually dropped!  Talk about gobsmacked!  And just what was Mrs. C. doing anyway?  Trying to reserve a seat?

I don’t know which emotion took precedence — relief or incredulity!   I phoned Colleen to call off the search and then went with Carol to pick up my car — clutching my cell phone and wondering how in the world Mrs. C. managed to get that close to modern-day contact.  But then, truth to tell, I wonder that about all of us nearly every day!

A Houseful of Fun and Flowers!

Monday, February 10th, 2020

It was a full weekend in every respect.

The house was full of people — beginning with relatives and friends who were house guests from afar, and ending with a fabulous house concert audience on Sunday to hear  Milt Williams and Barbara Bate, musicians extraordinaire.

And… my heart was full of love and my soul full of laughter.  Even tears, but of the happy/nostaglic variety, were shed at the closing number of the concert — a sing-along of “Edelweiss.”

And there were flowers — the first tulips of the year from the Skagit Valley brought in a valentine-wrapped pot from our friend, Dick.  And the first camellia blossoms from our bush on the east side of the house.  As an extra serandipity,  the rosamundi rhodies still bloomed in the south garden to greet us coming and going.

Mostly, though, the weekend was full of laughter — the giggling kind and the delighted kind and the sore-amazed kind.  It might have been the best weekend ever!

An Evening with Aaron Larget-Caplan

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Gobsmacked!  It seems as though I could come up with a better description of last night’s concert but, really, I can’t.  This is the third time Aaron Larget-Caplan has performed here in this very house and I still can’t believe that he comes to our little corner of the world – especially after all the other places he performs!

According to one of many websites about him, Aaron Larget-Caplan is a recording and touring guitarist. He performs solo and chamber music throughout Europe, Russia and the USA. A sought-after instrumentalist, he’s premiered over 80 compositions by a wide range of composers, arranged works by the likes of Bach, Schubert, Albéniz, Rodrigo and Reynaldo Hahn, and Edition Peters began publishing his arrangements of the music of John Cage in 2015. His recordings are available on Albany, Navona and Stone Records. He serves on faculty at the University of Massachusetts Boston and formerly the Boston Conservatory. And since this was written last September, Aaron has added Taiwan to his list of venues and is working on a trip to Japan.  Talk about Oysterville being on the world map!!

He billed his program a “Valentine’s & Album Release Concert” and the theme was love – “Ojos Brujos – Bewitching Eyes” by Leo Brouwer, “Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen, “A Room” by John Cage, “Granada (serenade)” by Isaac Albeniz, lots of Bach, and my favorite – España Cañi (paso doble) by Pascual Marquina.

Oh my!  What a program! And definitely a feast for the eyes as well as the ears and the soul!  As one guest pointed out later, Aaron’s hands not only work independently of one another, but totally differently – a right-brain/left-brain thing to do with precision and automation as contrasted with the lyricism and creativity.  Wow!  And here I was just being gobsmacked!

It was a stellar evening – good company, good food, spectacular music – all documented by our neighbor-of-many talents, Tucker-the-photographer.  Once again, we have been blessed!

Ed’s Hat

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Scott with Ed’s hat (Photo by Tucker)

At the beginning of the second set at Sunday’s House Concert, a battered old fedora made its appearance atop pianist Scott Cossu’s head.  It was perfect!  So perfect, in fact, that Tucker (and I assume everyone else) thought it was Scott’s own hat.  And, in fact, many of his online photos show him wearing a similar “cover” ala the long tradition of  jazz musicians.

But I knew better.  I’ve known that very hat for more than fifty years.  For most of that time, it has hung on our hat rack (where Scott spied and snagged it) waiting for its owner, Edwin Espy.  My Uncle Ed was the elder of my mother’s two brothers, just two years older than Willard and three years older than Mom.  He was the athletic one, the hard worker and Papa’s ‘right hand man’ and it was Ed who famously said of his little brother Willard (whose nose was always in a book):  “He’ll grow up to be a preacher; he’s so lazy.)

Photographer Tucker’s Empty Chair

In fact, it was Edwin who grew up to get his doctorate in theology and who ultimately became General Secretary of the National Council of Churches.  “The Protestant Pope,” he was called.  He visited Oysterville at least once a year until his death in 1993 at age 84.  And, for as long as I can remember, he left that old fedora on the hat rack so it would be here when he needed it.  He was a man who always wore a hat and, presumably, at home in NYC he had several of them.  Here he had just the old and well-loved one and, in case it was stormy, Papa’s old sou’wester.

Ed Espy sans hat, 1975

Of course, no one (including Scott) knew the story of Ed’s Hat when he donned it Sunday night.  Only Nyel and I knew and we both (it turned out) silently mused about the differences in the two men – the pianist and the church man – and how the hat suited them both perfectly!  I think Ed would have been delighted that Scott felt at home enough here in the house to borrow his hat.  And the fedora, itself, looked absolutely beatific – in perfect harmony with its new experience!

Here you go — everything but the sound!

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Randal Bays

Thanks to Tucker’s good eye and fine camera, you too can see what last night’s concert-goers also heard.  It was grand!

John Coynw

There were jigs and reels, hornpipes and waltzes, and songs in Johns soft Irish accent.  (Thouh he’s lived in Boston many years, the sounds of Limerick  still dominate his singing and speaking voice.  Lovely!)

House Concert

Randal has been gracing us with Irish music for twenty years, now.  He’s often here with his family — wife Susan Waters and sons Willie and Owen Bays.  Together the four of them comprise the Bays Family Irish Band and we had hoped that they would also be here to add yet another element to our evening of Irish music.

John with Flat-back Bouzouki

But, alas!  Sunday evening concerts in Oysterville aren’t conducive to Monday morning work and school schedules in Olympia, so Randal and John were on their own.  Ours was the third (or maybe the fourth) concert they had done since John flew into PDX from Boston on Friday afternoon.

Tonight they are scheduled for another — this time in Olympia.  It will be professionally recorded, perhaps with an eye to a new CD.  In 2004 (OMG — fifteen years ago?) Randal and Roger Landes brought a sound engineer to Oysterville and recorded their album “House to House” which featured our house on the cover and (inadvertently!) our mantle clock chiming during one of their tunes.

Randal with Guitar

Another of Randal’s CDs, “Oyster Light” features Randal on the albumn cover, standing down at the end of our lane by the bay with an incredibly soft light reflecting from the water.  The picture was taken by Willie Bays who was then nine years old, so it must have been in 2010 or so.  Wow!

The Audience

Last night’s concert here was video-recorded — not professionally, but by Randal, himself.  Before tonight’s concert, he told me, he and John will take a look and listen to see what tweaks or changes they want to make for tonight’s recording session.  So, I guess you could say that we were a rehearsal for the next album.  Who knew!

Thanks Randal and John.  Come back soon and bring your families!  Maybe  summertime!


Aaron English and Another Near Miss!

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

Aaron English

Musician Aaron English first contacted us in January 2015 about doing a House Concert here.  He was referred by two of our all-time favorite singer/songwriters, Larry Murante and James Hurley and we booked him up in ‘a fast hurry’ as they say.   We loved him.  Our audience loved him.  And he bonded with the Peninsula bigtime.

But, since his January 2016 concert here at our house, we’ve never been able to coordinate with him – not for another concert here.  We’ve been in touch.  He’s been on the Peninsula.  He’s even stayed here a couple of times while performing at the Kite Festival or at other venues.  But between Nyel’s many hospital stays in 2016 and 2017 and Aaron’s many comings and goings, we’ve not been able to book a second gig with him.

Aaron at the Shelburne

Not that we haven’t tried.  And not that we haven’t communicated!  Among other things, he writes occasionally that he has introduced Nyel’s salad dressing recipe to yet another community as he eats and tours his way hither and thither.  And just last week, he and his lady were scheduled to stay here for a night for a mini-reunion of sorts with Wes Weddell and Tucker and Carol and… he called to report car trouble.  Stuck in Raymond.  Bummer!

Finally, last night we caught up with him – learned online that he was doing a gig at the Shelburne.  We went there with our visiting California friends only to find out that the he had already done two sets and was eating dinner!  Bummer some more!

Aaron at Work

We ordered dessert and coffee, and had a wonderful in-person visit.  Since we had talked with him Thursday night, his car had been towed to Longview where the engine is being rebuilt ($$$$), Elizabeth had flown home to Utah ($$$$) (where her dog had been diagnosed with a fatal tumor around her heart) and Aaron was finishing up their tour on his own with the unstinting help of other Peninsula friends — help with housing, help with transportation and even to Portland this morning where he has a recording date.

And then (!) much to our delight, Aaron did another short set – just for us, although other people drifted in to listen.  How could they not!  So fabulous!  And even though Aaron and Elizabeth are moving to Nashville almost immediately, we talked about a House Concert in the Spring.  God willin’ and the creek don’t rise….

I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

When it comes to trains, timing is everything.  So, when the announcement came this morning from the Astoria Railroad Preservation Association concerning their Open House on Sunday, I immediately went into my scheduling mode. On the face of it, it looks like we’d need to be in two places at once.  Again!  And as far as I know, Scotty has not yet perfected the beaming operation from Oysterville to Astoria and back.

We definitely must be in Oysterville by three to welcome musicians to a long-planned and eagerly-awaited House Concert here.  On the other hand, our friend Mark Clemmens has been working on the restoration of the 1925 Baldwin Engine #21 for almost as long as we’ve known him.  I think he joined the ARPA about the time he and Sandra moved here and he’s been trekking to the Locomotive Restoration Shop in Astoria at least once a week ever since.

When asked, Mark is always happy to answer the usual question, “How’s it going?”  His responses are mostly way too technical for me – engineer talk to the max.  The ARPA’s website at includes a photo journal and annotations back to 2001 for interested railroad buffs and for those (like me) who might be impressed by the sheer persistence and dedication of the folks working on the project.

Having heard bits and pieces of their progress over the years, I have a great desire to go to the Open House.  I’m thinking that if we are totally organized on Sunday, we might be able to leave home early enough to spend an hour or so at the Restoration Shop and get back in plenty of time…  I actually have my great-grandfather’s railroad watch to assist with our timing.  But that’s another story.

Last night when the bathtub broke its leg…

Monday, February 26th, 2018

… we heard not a thing.  Not a bang or a whimper.  When you consider the weight of that old cast iron tub, you’d think we’d have heard SOMEthing.  Or that the house would have shifted just a bit on its foundation.  Or at the very least, the floor tiles in the bathroom would have cracked.

But… we noticed nothing at all until this morning.  The news was ‘delivered’ (more or less) by the duck and the frog.  And, also, by the fact that the soap holder was cattywampus.  That soap holder is also the usual resting place of the rubber duckie and the fat green frog.  They are always hopeful that the Red House cousins will come and play with them in the bath.  It has only happened once, a long time ago, and they are probably too big for a Bathtub Adventure these days.  (But don’t tell Duckie and Frog.)

I became alarmed when I saw that Duckie was pitching forward at a rather precarious angle and Frog had hopped right down to the bottom of the tub!  From my vantage point, everything else looked fairly normal.  It wasn’t until I bellied onto the floor and took a look under the tub that I saw the problem.  (And the dust!)  Her (the tub must be female with those substantial curves at the front and back ends…) right front foot was lying on its side.  Disconnected and useless!

Only the plumbing connections and the other three feet are holding her up.  And, as Frog and Duckie could tell you, not quite evenly, at that.  I’m not sure how we’ll get her ‘back on her feet’, so to speak.  And, the scary part is, the other three feet look a bit askew.  Torqued somehow.

My best guess is that those claw feet got to tapping to the music of the Skamokawa Swamp Opera last night.  (They were playing in the room just next door.)  Toe-tapping by a clawfoot tub can be dangerous!  Just ask Duckie and Frog!