Mandolin Fest

Music Seen
By BRIDGET M. BURNS  |  March 31, 2010
With the crowd — and performer — age range spanning from 8 to 80, SPACE Gallery’s Saturday night Mandolin Fest truly offered something for everyone. The show was part of the city’s weekend long Mandolin Madness, which included a Punch Brothers performance presented by Portland Ovations, and a Portland Symphony Orchestra concert featuring Punch Brothers mandolinist Chris Thile.

Saturday’s SPACE event featured performers from the Jerks of Grass, the Grassholes (including the Phoenix’s own Sam Pfeifle), the Tricky Britches, and the Intergalactic Yurt Band. The real focus, however, was on one of Thile’s predecessors, Westbrook’s Al Hawkes, who performed as the Al Hawkes Trio. With the show declared “sold out” at one point in the night, and standing-room-only, Hawkes, his bright red Stetson, and his mandolin were the focus of the entire crowd’s attention.

Well, except for those of us standing near his table in the back who could not help but be charmed by Hawkes’s merch girl (and wife of 58 years) Barbara. With a bright pink flower in her short gray hair, Barbara told stories of 35 years spent following her husband around the country. It was she who recorded his every move in photographs and filmstrips that have been used in the upcoming documentary, The Eventful Life of Al Hawkes, premiering at SPACE on May 14.

When Hawkes’s performance ended, Barbara was quickly back to work, selling her husband’s music. Some of the night’s earlier child performers could later be seen asking Hawkes to sign their new CDs.

“There’s 10 CDs and they’re all an hour each, so you can hear me all day long,” Hawkes joked with the crowd, before coming off-stage.

When Hawkes left the stage, a healthy number of the crowd left as well, many with plans to head over to One Longfellow Square to watch the Stowaways. With so much bluegrass in the air, summer evenings of impromptu front-porch concerts can’t be too far behind.
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