Last year for my birthday, Auntie Katie and I went to see the play, “Hamilton” in downtown Portland. It was amazing, but incredibly expensive. Last night, Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I all went to the Alberta Rose Theater to see “Rise Up”, the Hamilton tribute band. It was wonderful, fun, and not expensive. The evening was cold, dry, and windy, so we bundled up and ducked inside shops… a lot.
First, we stopped by the Guardino art gallery to see the new show there. You know I don’t take pictures in galleries, so you will have to take my word for it, the felted creatures of Karen Thurman are whimsical and delightful. They are cute, in an alien-invasion sort of way, and make you smile while wondering what, exactly, you are smiling at.
We wandered down the street, enjoying donuts from Angel’s and stopping in at Monograph Bookwerks, run by John Brodie. Auntie Bridgett fell in love with the collection of books on art and design, bringing home the catalogue of a Jean-Michael Basquiat show we just missed seeing years ago in Paris. She also succumbed to the charms of walnut ink made from a heritage walnut tree that grows in the southwest part of town. I had fun looking at the “ephemera” collection, which included radical political pamphlets from the 1960s and advertisements for non-standard schools of the 1970s.
Crossing the street, we found “&”. Yes, “&” is the name of the shop, pronounced “Ampersand”. They carry books about artists and had on display some intriguingly fun plays with song lyrics, including The Beatles “A Day in the Life”.
We had a tasty dinner of clam chowder, Shepherd’s Jacket, Guinness and cider, at T. C. O’Leary’s Pub, then braved the cold once again to wait in line for the show, just across the street at the 1925 Alberta Rose Theater.
“Rise Up” is two female and three male vocalists backed by a piano, drums, bass, synthesizer and electric violin. Because of copyright and licensing rules, they do not perform the songs from Hamilton in order, nor do they do only Hamilton songs, nor all the Hamilton songs. Of the forty-six (twenty three in each act) songs, they did about seventeen. But they did them so well, with such style and strength, joy and energy and vocal power, that it was a great show.
At one point, the cast invited Bridging Voices, a local choir of LGBTQ folks from age 13 to 19, on stage. Bridging Voices gives these at-risk people a place to shine as well as hone their musical skills, and they performed “My Shot”, an incredibly difficult song, very well.
After singing an encore of “The Battle of Yorktown”, the band received a standing ovation and we all dashed off to our freezing cars to head home. It had been a great night, but it was late and cold, and we were ready for time on the couch with Mousekin the cat.