The former funeral parlour in Sellwood, replete with stylish architecture, embalming rooms, coffin lifts - all things funereal, has been transformed into a wonderful venue. Elegance, intimacy and surprise await in a venue where many the women, at least, dress up fashionably to befit the tasteful surroundings. Eschewing the obvious (there’s no gimmicky gothic theme) the renovation of the classic Mission-style building understates the theme, creating an discreet atmosphere in the chapel area for main performances, and leaving guests to stumble upon several smaller lounges and outdoor areas.
There’s also a basement… this was where the embalming and cold storage of bodies took place. It’s been spotlessly cleaned up but left bare at this point, and it was here, in the most unforgiving situation, that Brooklyn’s Brittain Ashford opened the evening in remarkable fashion.
After that hair-raising start it was back upstairs to the main chapel for local heroes Loch Lomond, Scott Magee (pic left) standing out in another un-amped set before slipping outside for to assist on drums and clarinet in a particularly jaunty and enjoyable set by the Nick Jaina Band (below right and they can be caught again with Brittain Ashford at Mississippi studios 3rd July).
The night wasn’t done there either, as a slightly manic Michael Jackson dance-off suddenly broke out. What had begun with Ashford’s sounds rising like phantom birds to resolve the flights of those passed on, finished with an impromptu, high-spirited homage to a soul just passed away. A juxtaposition that rather fitted the occasion.
The Woods is open all week with other eclectic entertainment, food and drinks.
Left: The first historic beverage purchase (Vivien Lyon in background - right).
Copyright: Zaph Mann 2009. Reproduction with attribution is fine. Original publisher: opbmusic.org 2009