Buddy Up With Buddy Guy -- One of the youngest -- and best -- of the famous Chicago blues men to emerge in that city as a result of the great mid-century Delta blues migration north, Buddy Guy cut his first record for Chess in the early 1960s, the fiery and tortured "First Time I Met the Blues." Though he had apprenticed with Muddy Waters and spent considerable time with other members of Chicago's blues elite (Freddy King, Otis Rush), Guy soon blossomed into a better showman with a flashier guitar style than many of his mentors or contemporaries. Today he is recognized as one of the primary influences on Jimi Hendrix and English blues-based rock bands like the Rolling Stones and Cream (Eric Clapton calls him his favorite blues guitarist). The legendary Buddy Guy makes a trip from his sweet home Chicago to the Idaho Panhandle this summer to headline the second Friday night (Aug. 16) of this season's Festival of Sandpoint, an annual eight-night outdoor musical feast on the shores of lovely Lake Pend Oreille that this year also features such artists as Lou Rawls (Aug. 5), Jim Messina (Aug. 6), Delbert McClinton (Aug. 7), Bruce Cockburn (Aug. 12) and BeauSoleil (Aug. 14). Tickets for the Buddy Guy show go for $27. The show starts at 7:30. For true blues guitar disciples, attendance is not optional -- it's mandatory. Call (888) 265-4554.
Sit on the Lawn With John -- As the heart, soul and brains of the great Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty was easily one of the premiere singer/songwriter/musicians of his generation. Unfortunately, upon that group's dissolution in 1972, Fogerty was forced to wage a seemingly never-ending war with the group's recording label over royalties and song ownership. But for a few years there during the band's 1969-71 heyday, things were mighty damn nice down on the bayou (or in fact, San Francisco, where CCR was based). During those years, Creedence produced nine Top 10 Fogerty-penned singles, beginning with the seminal, tough-rocking "Proud Mary." They also cranked out eight gold albums in just four years, all featuring Fogerty's direct, vigorous rock arrangements and lyrics that were poetic as well as rabble-rousing. He re-emerged in the mid-'80s with the well-received Centerfield (containing the title hit and the murky "The Old Man Down the Road") but has in recent years shied away from new studio releases. Nevertheless Fogerty remains a respected rock vet with all the battle scars necessary to imbue his performances with the same fire that initially inspired so many rock fans to pick up guitars and teach themselves the CCR songbook. For a lot of us, Fogerty showed us how it was done. He'll be in Spokane for an outdoor concert in Riverfront Park's Lilac Bowl (part of the park's Summer Concert Series) on Friday, July 2, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $35-$45. Call 325-SEAT.
Hit Some Yard Sales -- Wasting a beautiful Saturday morning buzzing between this yard sale and that while searching for the Most Fabulous Object in the World is kind of like wasting the same beautiful morning fishing. In both cases you are getting up way too early and investing a lot of time into an activity with no guaranteed payoff and only the slightest of tangible rewards, where brief moments of excitement are preceded and followed by huge expanses of boredom and disappointment. But it's all about the thrill of the hunt, isn't it? In the case of yard sales, it can be like a treasure hunt. And you're the pirate.
Thrift stores are picked over. Estate sales are frenzied and reek of death. The random yard sale, on the other hand, is where the real finds are. Granted, they're a crapshoot; more often than not, the items up for sale have one foot in the landfill. But with a little persistence, they can pay off in a big way.
If a yard sale looks inviting from the street, by all means check it out. You will typically find excellent bargains, the occasional "so weird I gotta have it" item, and, best of all, sellers willing to deal. Your average mom and pop yard sale vendor is a person facing the horror of having to deal with unsold items after the sale.
And if you happen to buy more yard sale crap over the summer than your puny domicile can possibly contain, the solution is always staring you in the face. That's right, a yard sale of your very own.
Get Into Stargazing -- You probably do this all the time without even realizing it. I mean, how hard is it on a beautifully dark and temperate summer night not to take notice of the millions of sparkling lights over your head, those hydrogen furnaces burning at unimaginable temperatures and distances for as far and as deep as the eye can see? It can make you feel tiny in comparison. Yet it's our intimate connection to the rest of the cosmos -- and the life it surely holds -- that intrigues us. And it's comforting to know that the laws of science apply everywhere out there, for as far and as deep as our instruments can see.
Contrary to what you might think, you don't need a telescope or other specialized gear to take in the wonders of deep space. On a dark, moon-less night away from city lights, the naked eye works amazingly well. Check out the summer constellations, the planets (which can be distinguished from stars by their bright, steady, non-flickering light), the periodic meteor showers and the local arm of our own Milky Way galaxy that stretches from horizon to horizon like a spectacular starry spine across the summer sky.
For closer looks at the moon, planets, nebulae and nearby galaxies, a modest ocular aid is definitely in order. A small telescope (or even a decent set of binoculars) will do nicely, pulling in lunar craters and mountain ranges, the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way's nearest cosmic neighbor.
For a look at what a big telescope can do, check into one of the free public star parties hosted twice a year by the Spokane Astronomical Society. Astronomy Day is held in late spring or early summer, while StarGaze is held in September. For exact star party dates and locations visit the Society's Web site at www.spokaneastronomical.org.