Joe To The Max (Part 1)

We are standing in line outside Keller Auditorium, Portland Oregon. The chatter of various groups of the approximately twenty or so individuals which surround us is producing a backdrop of white noise, and the soundtrack in my head is Joe Bonamassa’s song, Dislocated Boy. A gentle, mist-like rain is falling in Portland, but no one queued up seems to mind. I cycle back to the scene to how we arrived at this greatly anticipated moment.

It is December, and our dear friends, D&V, have invited us over to their house for a little get together. Most of the time, these days anyways, when we get together there are other couples and associated friends that join the festivities, however for this night – it is just us four. We are sharing a bottle of wine and light conversation when V&I are asked by D’sV to turn around and not peek. That is a relief because at first it seemed because of the meandering conversation there might be some bad news they needed to share, but just couldn’t shift to it somehow. Right away I turn to the full wall of windows in their front room which look out over the Columbia River thinking, “I can see what is going on behind us as a reflection in the glass.” I have to admit that sneaky little trick is not something original with me. I confess I learned that from a ten year old hockey goalie I was drilling during practice. The drill was to throw a tennis ball against the boards while the player’s back was turned towards me it occurred to me he was catching or blocking the rebound with 100 percent accuracy, when he couldn’t see if I was throwing to his right or left. The little rascal was seeing which way I was throwing by looking in glass on the rink board. You can teach an old dog a new trick now and then.

Back to us and the moment heavy with mysterious prospects; V&I are holding hands, looking at the Edison Street traffic signal and other lights reflected on the dark Columbia River for which seems an endless amount of time. I cannot make out what is going on behind us while our backs are turned. I remember saying to myself, “So much for the craftiness.” D’sV makes the announcement that we can turn back around for “The Reveal.” She is holding out a lithograph print to us. Not just any print, it is a numbered and hand signed by Joe Bonamassa and Peter Max print. My lungs won’t function and I cannot form words to express what is going on in my head. My left hand hurts like crazy. I look down and realize V is squeezing every ounce of blood out of it. Finally a word passes the lips. “Ow!” Torrents of words then follow, along with shaking the appendage in an attempt to get blood to go back into the constricted areas.

The lithograph is titled “Joe To The Max” and represents Joe through the creative eye of Peter Max. When I first saw this print available for purchase it took me back to times during Peter’s heyday. Some of those stories are for telling at a different time perhaps, others – well some things are better taken to the grave. The lithograph entitles us to two seats at a Joe Bonamassa concert of our choosing as well as a “Meet and Greet” with the artist. It seems D&V ordered the print and through some error, two were sent. The story goes after contacting the office to receive return instructions for the duplicate they were instructed to “Just keep it” they will indeed honor the related concert tickets and attendance of the “Meet and Greet.” Providence seems to have smiled upon us, yet once again through the generosity of our dear friends. We know as deeply as one can know, that as we stand outside Keller Auditorium, as part of the loosely collected and now drying band of folks waiting for the “Meet and Greet” session, we are not blessed because we received the gift of the lithograph and the associated items (that was just the bonus), but because our friends wanted us to be the ones they shared the experience with. How can someone put a price on that?

Sometime later when Joe announced his U.S. dates, we coordinate schedules and agree that the Portland show will work for B&V and D&V. All that is left is to make sure that choice will work for Joe’s public relations people and secure the vacation time and accommodations once given the green light.

The day can’t get here soon enough but it does arrive. We drop the dog off at the kennel and he is not one bit happy when the realization hits him we are leaving and he staying in this strange place. We have not ever left him in a kennel before and he is sullen to say the least. V says, “Hopefully he has a short memory and won’t hold a grudge when we get back.”

Because of various things that make up the important aspects of each our lives we are to meet D&V in Portland. We decide our travel plans, however, will include a stop at one winery along the way. At some point in time, I can’t really remember when, I made a promise to myself to not travel like my father did back in my childhood. You know – not stopping when we went from point A to point B. The scenario went something like, “If I stop – I’ll just have to pass those cars all over again.” V&I will drive by Horse Heaven AVA and Oregon’s Hood River too and both of those areas offer up the prospect of keeping that promise and not keeping me up at night because of the ethics breech.

We choose

The Canoe Ridge Welcome

The Canoe Ridge Welcome

Chateau Ste. Michelle’s, Canoe Ridge tasting room as the stopping point.
Canoe Ridge Veranda

Canoe Ridge Veranda

As we enter the tasting facility, Malorie eagerly receives us as guests. She expertly explains that we are going to taste a mix of Canoe Ridge and Cold Creek wines today and how they differ. We are also going to taste differing years of the same varietals from the same vineyard. We just love education in fluid dynamics.

Canoe Ridge Line-Up

Canoe Ridge Line-Up

With the customary “Clink” we are tutored in the finer points of –
1. 2010 Cold Creek Chardonnay
2. 2011 Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc
3. 2010 Canoe Ridge Merlot
4. 2012 Canoe Ridge Merlot (which isn’t available yet, but was a barrel sample –lucky us. The sample was from the Artistry Series Block 8 – Only 18 Barrels of this. Barrels are Sylvian Grand Reserve French Oak)
5. 2009 Cold Creek Merlot
6. 2010 Canoe Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
7. 2010 Cold Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
8. 2009 Ethos Syrah

Now you see why we only stopped once. My favs were the 2009 Cold Creek Merlot and the 2009 Ethos Syrah (Me and 2009 are the bestest of friends). V liked the Chardonnay because it didn’t taste like you were “chewing on a barrel stave”, and the 2010 Canoe Ridge Merlot.

Malorie also provided us with a fun little experiment where we took a preliminary large inhale then a sip of the Cabs. The Canoe Ridge seemed to have the bigger nose and a bit dryer in the mouth. The Cold Creek seemed to be a great deal jucier in the mouth with less of a nose. We revisited both after about 15 minutes of picture taking and miracles of miracles the air performed it’s magic and now the Canoe Ridge was jucy with the nose still there and the Cold Creek’s nose was huge and the juciness was still everything one would want in a Cab without being sweet.
This glasswork was in the tasting room

I Wonder If This Is How Peter Max Sees The World?

I Wonder If This Is How Peter Max Sees The World?

It is time to bid Canoe Ridge goodbye. The memory of wine and education from fun and friendly Malorie will not soon be forgotten.

First Shoots

First Shoots

OH LOOK!!! It was Spring there too!

One of the Keller Auditorium entrance doors open! It is now time to break away from the memory. Everyone’s pulse rate gets a little more elevated, and heads turn as one. The “I’m-In-Charge-Fellow” is telling the seekers that the Meet and Greet is running a bit behind schedule, what and how many items can be autographed, as well as how the camera / picture taking component of the session is going to be handled. It gives the impression someone made a grave mistake in the past and everyone which passes this way from henceforth must pay the penalty.

What? The door closes? We aren’t going in??? The hopefuls go back to “conversation interruptus.”


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4 Responses to Joe To The Max (Part 1)

  1. Rachel says:

    Your blog is the highlight of my week(s), whether B & V are grilling at home or traveling the NW, feel like i’m there! Today, could actually smell Portland and feel the mist! Glad “we” had such a great time!

  2. vanessa says:

    for our part of the story, we could hardly wait that night in december to give you two the work of art and that we were going to meet joe!!!! you left out the part that vicki and i started jumping up an down and yelling like four years olds at christmas!!! priceless was portland on 4/13!!!

    • benndunn says:

      V & V were doing the same dance at the show
      The other part for me that was disconcerting was I could not remember what wine we were sharing that night. Thinking we shoulda marked the cork like we often do.
      Just wait till parts 2 & 3