Thursday, August 24, 2006

Friends for breakfast

This morning, I got up, lifted weights and took a walk with my dog. This has become my every-other-day ritual since going back to work, three weeks ago. While it’s still semi-dark at 5:30 am, when Bernie and I set out, I wear a fluorescent vest and the traffic hasn’t yet picked up. If we wait until 6-ish, many folks headed off to work begin clogging our section of Route 9.

These walks are good because they allow me to put my day into focus and think about ideas and other things I’d like to do, particularly on the writing side. While my means of making a living has shifted from my writing to the 9-5 gig, I still am drawn to my blogging, as well as other modes and methods of writing.

After my walk, I sat down for some breakfast and coffee and as I’ve done most every day since I can remember, read through the morning newspaper. The Go section of the Portland Press Herald occupied most of my attention, today. I’m glad I took the time to read through the movie, music and restaurant reviews, because tucked at the end of these sections was an interview with Cactus Highway, a talented Maine due. I have a special affinity for this exceptional musical act, since I once worked with Andrea Wollstadt, who comprises one half of the duo. The other half, is Andrea’s husband, Rob Duquette. Andrea used to be a frequent participant at a semi-regular lunch gathering of four or five folks, the last time I occupied a corporate cubicle. Both of us were “between things” and I enjoyed her genuineness and good humor.

Getting to know Andrea, I found out she was a musician and that her and Rob had toured the country a couple of times, with Cactus Highway. I had the privilege of meeting Rob one Friday, a few years back, over beers at Gritty’s , in Portland. Like Andrea, he came across as genuine and someone easy to be around. I finally got to catch their act two years ago, in Auburn, during one of their summer noontime concerts. They totally blew me away. Andrea has this incredible voice and is a talented multi-instrumentalist, primarily on sax and flute. Rob, who plays both guitar and drums, has a wonderful percussive playing style, reminiscent somewhat of Trey Anastasio, of Phish fame. While duos can be limited in the groove they put down, both Andrea and Rob were phenomenal—one of the best local acts I’ve seen. I had the opportunity to catch them again, about a year ago, at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, in Portland, shortly after Andrea had given birth to their daughter, Estella.

Check out the Cactus Highway website and if you enjoy music that’s original and well-performed, make an effort to catch them, as they ramp up their performing. According to Ray Routhier’s piece, they intend to play a bit more, as their daughter gets older, so that’s a good thing, as their recent gigging has been sporadic, at best.

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