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A Holiday Inn Express Complimentary Breakfast is not something you want to indulge in two days in a row. But it’s here, it’s free, and it ends at 9:30 a.m. So here we are. The less said the better. Yet this is our first spell of two nights sleeping in the same place. That alone is worth plenty when out on the road. We pack up and motor north back to Portland, and it is beautiful travel weather, a spattering of rain, brooding clouds, temperature just a few degrees cool of perfect. Which is perfect.

The brand new Alberta Rose Theater is in fact a tastefully done renovation of a 1920’s movie theater, with original naive deco lines highlighted in black and white in a cavelike interior. A romantic and heavy atmosphere that focuses your attention on the stage. We elect to do an acoustic show, sound check accordingly, and wander to twilight around the newly hip tree shaded neighborhood, which is in the terminal stages of gentrification/restoration itself, beautiful old homes on sidewalks stamped 1910, grassy alleys where we can peer into yards luxurious with studiously unkempt flowerage and vegetable plots. Lewey Longmire, an eccentric of indeterminate mix of parts calculation and cards dealt from the Deck of Life, belts out songs with strong and nicely orchestrated solo acoustic guitar. Cabinessence follows, laying down rich retro pop textures on bass, drums, B3 and telecaster with nice tremelo and enviable occasional fuzztone. Nice. Nice guys, too. We take the stage, proceed to do our acoustic thing. Man, vocals sound great in this big room.

Next morning Three Hawks returned to the hip Alberta Rose neighborhood for a surefire Portland enlightened breakfast, and we were not disappointed. Vita, across from the Theater, is good for breakfast; we can and will vouch for that. We rendezvous with Rob, who breakfasted with old friends newly embedded in Portland, pack up and exit the Inn des Holidays, with its trademark heavy chlorine cloud and green logo.

South to Eugene, where we do a live performance/interview on cool alternative KRVM, with equally cool alternative DJ Tim Little, with spectacular braided pony tail and a life history very similar to the narrative in our song Raised By Hippies, which we did indeed perform. Further south, narrow I-5 through replanted evergreen forests to the charming burg of Cottage Grove. Classic comedy fans with recognize Main Street as the location for the parade scene climax of “Animal House.”

It’s July 3, and all is quiet in these 19th century streets, two story brick buildings, a machine gun shop, one room museum with a pretty stunning life size plus carving of a gold panning prospector carved from a single piece of redwood, its polished curves a visual lesson in the various angles and patterns that can be cut into the growth rings of lumber. Look closely and you can see Jim Belushi dressed as a pirate swinging from the second floor balcony and riding off with the Jackie O dressed sorority queen. The River Road winding sleepy through town is the original pioneer trail running south to California. This town is a real throwback, not a lot of fences between homey old wood frame houses, couches in the side yard, peace and plenty, nestled in forested hills. A beautiful golden and green hill meadow overlooks the north end of town.

We load our gear into the Axe and Fiddle, yet another funky luddite pleasing wood bar that Oregon is blessed with. The charming barmaid is from Cornwall and Florida, claims that Brits think she has an American accent. The Axe and Fiddle serves a hearty and complex salmon chowder and patented Beans And Greens® salad, with some great local beers on tap. Life is good, and it’s only late afternoon. Or is it later than we think? The days linger long up here.

Our portal to the cosmos, Dave Zirbel, magician of pedal steel and Life Itself, pulls up after a long drive from Sonoma, looking fresh as a daisy. We crowd our expanded Hawks ensemble onto the small stage, Fred the cool modern hippie soundman dials us up, and we retire to a hotel room and a cottage in the back of our friend Stacey’s 1910 wood siding house. Paul L hikes up the gravel road at edge of hamlet to the aforementioned green and golden hill of tall grass waving in setting sun light. A yearning for a different kind of life. Days that could have been, as Jim Lauderdale and Hunter say. Ah, but life is very good. Couldn’t be better. We’ll be back with our loved ones in 48 or 64 hours, depending on how aggressively we attack the 5 South.

Nine fifteen p.m., on this the 3rd of July in the year of 2010, on Main Street in Cottage Grove, Oregon: we take the stage and kick into an hour and a half of country rock shimmer. It all jelled among the steel strings, the voices, the groove. We veered from the psychedelic peaks of Tele and ten string to the Bakersfield wood floor of Paul Marshall’s honky tonk classics, onto the Oregon Trail and through the thirsty dry grass of the Grapevine. It was just great. Our Oregon string of small but big crowds is intact. Good vibes, good late night hang with Axe and Fiddlers and new fans, and now good night. We climb the rickety staircase up into the loft in the cottage in the lush garden behind friend and booker Stacey’s lovely Cottage Grove castle and fall to sleep in the cool and clean summer air.

PS — Dear reader, questions came up in the post show conversation with our hosts at barside: Is Nitro IPA pressurized by nitrous oxide instead of CO2? Is NO2 a contributor to greenhouse gas? Does the nitrous oxide permeate the beer, giving it the same nitrous brief marijuana-style high? If you become good friends with your bartender, is it good form for him to offer you shots of nitrous from the tank?

PPS — And–is the phrase “same as it ever was” an actual folk saying, or a modern simulation concocted by David Byrne? Paul L claims the phrase never existed before Talking Heads. Rob, Shawn, and Paul M are certain it existed going way back. Help us.

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