Friday, July 6, 2012

An Introduction to The Queen of Hearts

Welcome to my new blog, The Queen of Hearts! This blog will explore some topics related to the music scene here in Portland, and also riff on the relationship between successful poker playing and creative musicality.   

This blog is also a partial homage to my maternal grandfather, Raphael Salisian. He was a professional gambler, classical musician and composer. He wove the two seemingly-disparate worlds of professional gambling and musical artistry together into a seamless life, much as I’m aspiring to do.

Let’s start with music. I run a local boutique music booking agency called The House of Cards Music with my friend and fellow musician, Pete Krebs. We have the pleasure of working with an exclusive cadre of Portland bands for special events, weddings and festivals. The roster includes Karaoke From Hell, Klezmocracy, Vagabond Opera, Pete Krebs and His Portland Playboys, The Notables, Water Tower3 Leg Torso, The Stolen Sweets, The Pete Krebs TrioThe Ariel Consort Chamber Ensemble, Sneakin' Out, Boy & BeanSwingtime PDX and Tony Starlight.

Three years ago, I was asked to join the team that produces all the elements of the free Portland Parks and Recreation Summer Concerts in the Park series in July and August. The concerts take place in 13 parks across the city and feature some of the best talent Portland has to offer. I do a lot of behind-the-scenes administrative work, logistical coordination and booking. I also attend many of the concerts to greet concert-goers and make sure that small children don't climb up the speaker stands.

In much of my spare time, I play poker. I started playing penny-ante 5-card draw in 1976 with my dad around the dining room table, and never looked back. I love the elements of chance, concentration, psychological brinkmanship and intuition. And let's face it - I love beating guys at poker. The game is certainly male-dominated, and many of these guys have rarely sat next to a woman at the poker table (though times are changing). I love the looks on their faces when they realize that I am, in fact, a formidable competitor who can simultaneously calculate pot odds and pick up tells, and there’s a good chance I’ll take their hard-earned dough right out from under them.

That’s Jen Bernard in a nutshell:  a little creative, a little competitive, a little entrepreneurial, highly organizational and always wearing as many hats as my head will accommodate. My upcoming posts will offer up features on our House of Cards bands, talk jive about the music scene in Portland, riff on creative marketing ideas for bands and explore nail-biting topics such as “freelance musician survival during a recession.” You might get some poker lore thrown in from time to time as well.

Welcome to the Queen of Hearts!