April Musical Showers

My mother has been retired for several years and enjoys her retired status immensely. She fills her days finding treasures to repair, refurbish, and re-sell. She loves it! Often, I will get a picture of some cabinet that she shabby chic’d or a Coach handbag (or some pricey equivalent) that she has refreshed into new sale-ability.

She loves the hunt, the boss-less hours, and the  element of surprise in her new profession. Recently, my dad (who has been my mothers amiable ex-husband for years) called to say that he had tried to call my her but she didn’t answer. “I heard rustling and her voice but she couldn’t hear me.”  That was the moment I explained the concept of “butt calls” to my father. It was a clunky conversation and after a moment of silence, I realized that he was not convinced that it was real thing and was concerned. I told him not to worry and I would give mom a call.

Saying that I would call my mother and doing it was not as straight forward as I thought it would be. Unanswered cell and home calls are usual nothing to worry about but those of you with parents who are getting on in years will understand the concern.

Finally, I resorted to calling one of  the consignment shops that she frequents to see if I could locate her. The owner, who I had met at a recent visit, knew my mother and was added to Operation Find Mom.

Well, a couple of hours later, I got a call from the owner saying that my mother was happily at home ensconced in her treasures surprised at the personal visit. She explained that her cell phone had died and she had not listened to the many messages on her land line.When I finally spoke to her she joked about the search party and  seemed to delight a little in all of the attention. She laughed, “I need to not answer my phone more often, look at all the love!” I rolled my eyes and had to laugh with her, but it did remind me to be sure to show the love. Feeling love is something that folks don’t tire of; its effects are rejuvenation and it can be shared in many digestible servings based on the recipient. So show some extraordinary love today if you can, I can guarantee an interesting story or at least a smile.

Lots going on musically this month. I hope to see you!

Finding purpose with porpoise

Recently, I read a news story about a type of porpoise that makes its home in the Gulf of California and is fast approaching extinction. Pictures of these guys can induce an audible or mental “awww.”’ A healthy dose of anthropomorphism as well as dark markings around their eyes and snouts give them the illusion of a Mona Lisa like smile.

In 1997 there were an estimated 500+ porpoises living in their small gulf home; Currently there are less than 40. Have human palates become accustomed to tasty fillets of vaquita? Fortunately no, unfortunately though, vaquitas are simply the underwater collateral  of an insatiable Chinese demand for the totoaba, a marine fish whose swim bladder (an organ that regulates buoyancy) is considered to be a delicacy as well as a traditional Chinese wonder drug.

The vaquita’s demise is due to a wall-like gill net dropped in the ocean by fishermen, trapping not only the intended prey but any other unfortunate marine passer-by.  So thus begins that economic cycle that can mow down a species:

    hungry wealthy buyers
+  hungry profit seeking fishermen
+ inconsistent lack of attention or regulation
=the demise of a fish.
Or the short form of that equation is:
Greed+Entitlement=someone or something is going get hurt.

In response to  a porpoise’s possible extinction, one may answer (although incorrectly) that there are much bigger fish to fry in the world. True, the problems of the world  are aggressively jostling for our attention and care, however the problem of the porpoise (which is us!)  is begging us to collectively be and do the thing that we are currently finding extremely difficult: care for that which is small and without a voice.


Smallness is not a quality that is deemed important in a culture that will do anything to feed the hunger for greatness.  As the gill net of the desire for greatness is dropped into our society, let us not destroy that  which is voiceless small and beautiful.

More Info about the vaquita can be found at these sites:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/science/vaquitas-dolphins-mexico-extinction.html?_r=0

https://swfsc.noaa.gov/textblock.aspx?Division=PRD&ParentMenuId=676&id=21081

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160111-vaquita-totoaba-poaching-swim-bladders/

https://qz.com/468358/how-chinas-fish-bladder-investment-craze-is-wiping-out-species-on-the-other-side-of-the-planet/

As of 2017 Mexican government officials are working with conservationist and fishermen to address this problem.

Sweet Beans and Peace in February

My husband and I recently watched a patient Japanese movie called Sweet Bean directed by Naomi Kawase. It follows the story of Sentaro who, in a small unassuming shop, cooks a snack called dorayaki, a sweet-bean-filled pancake sandwich. He meets a bubbly elder, Tokue, who has mastered the art of making sweet bean paste. Tokue’s charms win the heart of the solitary Sentaro and she immediately  improves his dorayaki with her well loved beans. The film is a meditation on friendship, food, and the unraveling of secrets. Lovely movie.

 

 

 

While the intimate characters and beautifully filmed food touched my heart and stomach, I was also impressed with the concept of a single-product, one-person shop. Sentaro made dorayaki, that is all he made—he poured batter and expertly flipped beautiful cakes. As a nation we thrive on offering as much as possible. Such simplicity might be seen as “a little po'”.

In a culture that celebrates multi-tasking, this kind of simplicity is often viewed as an abyss of dullness and perhaps it is…but how often do we say with a tone of embarrassment, “I can only play guitar,” or “I only know how to make (fill in the blank)” with the expectation that the listener will respond, “Is that all?” What a radical idea to know that that is enough.

The world has expanded its complexity by pi and  much needs to be done and thought to prevent the downward spiral that is trying to assert itself as our new reality. Moments of simplicity may be  the good medicine stones to throw into the pool of life, and allow the ripples to reshape and reorder the coming year.

P. S You  may notice on the calendar, there is a non musical event! I will be one of the readers at Town Hall Seattle Stories of the New Yorker Feb 12th. I will be reading a story by Jamaica Kincaid called Poor Visitor. I’m quite tickled.

Happy New Year 2017!

What a year it has been! On  a personal level it has been a year of great music making! I have met new musicians who inspire me and have sung at some new venues in Seattle and Tacoma and Bellingham. The hubby and I visited New Orleans  and felt like  we touched the original  heartbeat of jazz. We also had the opportunity to go to Japan and experience Kobe Jazz as well as Kobe cuisine. What an amazing year!  I continue to hone the craft of singing and commit myself further to the singing arts. There is so much to learn.
I am filled with gratitude and excitement for the new year to come. What adventures await you in 2017?

Thank you!

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much to coming out and supporting me personally and supporting live music this year. I so appreciate you! You keep me off the streets!
Happiest Holiday Wishes to you and yours!

So Grateful

Today as All Hallows eve is upon us, I am remembering friends, benefactors, and those who have gone before. Those who have passed beyond the veil. There is an African proverb that we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. I believe this phrase includes our familial line as well as those who are a part of of our creative family line. There are musicians and other creatives who have left the planet who have influenced me through their example, their love, and their brilliance.
fall-1710879_640
So today I think about:
my mom-in-law, who loaned me money for my first CD and attended every performance
my guitarist friend Pat, who schooled me in audio equipment and who gave me my first “good mic”
my fiddle-playing poet friend Barbara, whose sass and style and creativity inspired me
There are others of course, but I write this to invite you to take a minute to remember those who have gone before.  Who introduced you to yourself, who opened doors to new ways of being for you? Celebrate their love and gifts.

On another note, Cuban jazz pianist Jorge Luis Panchecho will be at  jorge-luis-pacheco
Ben Moore’s next November 9th!  I enjoyed performing with my friend
Tyrone Hashimoto a couple of weeks ago at Ben Moore’s and I am looking forward to enjoying  another great evening of music. It will be a real treat! Here is a taste of what you will hear: CLICK HERE
It’s a early show 6:30!

Hope to see you this month!

Be Fabulous!

Boys in the Boat

You can’t help but notice how music is used to motivate us to action. Anyone who visits the gym can’t help but notice how many people have earbuds in their ears. It’s not just a way to keep the world out; using music can be a way to override the whining of the mind when the body does not want to exercise. Music becomes a pleasant distraction from the things that are hard or we don’t want to do. I like to think that every part of lives has a soundtrack-we are literally swimming through it.
Red & Ruby (guitarist Vince Brown and I) were asked by Timberland Public Library to play some of the music that may have surrounded the life of Washington born rower Joe Rantz, who was part of a nine man crew who won the 1936 Berlin Olympics. His story is captured in Daniel James Brown book The Boys in the Band.
While athletes were not wearing headphones in the 1930’s, this young man was surrounded by music and played a lot of music of his time. Joe Rantz sang and played guitar, mandolin and banjo. We will playing some of the tunes that he may have played in celebration of this inspiring book. Check out the Timberland Library page for more info!

 

tyroneshow-hi

I am also excited about my friend Tyrone Hashimoto from Tokyo coming to Olympia! He is a wonderful performer! I will be doing a couple of songs with him and we will be joined Seattle drummer Jeff Busch. This is a special-please make time to join us! Watch Tyrone do his thang here:

 

Hope to see you in October!

Be Fabulous!
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I can’t help it, I think in song. September rolls around and I hear that guitar lick  and horn section of Earth Wind and Fire’s intro to their song September and I do a little happy dance, publicly or discretely depending on the company.  I hope your summer has been spectacular and you are reaping the fruits of relaxation, play and sunshine.

Lots of good music coming up in September, a few shows in Olympia and a few in Seattle, I will be sure to meet you somewhere along the I-5 corridor!
Coming up in September is  my CD release party for my new
CD Come Together.  Friday September 16th @ Traditions Fair Trade Cafe in Olympia 8pm and Saturday September 17th @ North City Bistro in Shoreline 8pm. It was a blast to make the CD and I want to celebrate with you!  Come Together has gotten a few head nods from the general public, radio stations, and reviewers.

“A stylishly eclectic singer, Hardison is an artist for whom the song is king. She’s the type of interpreter who knows how to put across the emotion and subtlety in a melody without overselling it, and she has a talent for getting inside the story that each song tells.”
— Andrew Luthringer, Earshot Jazz (review link)

Aww Shucks!
You can find more press and videos on my newly spiffified website

Coming up this Friday, September 2nd at North City Bistro, I will be singing with my friend Frank Anderson. We will be mixing up some blues
and oldies for a good measure. See poster above for more details!

Reservations to upcoming shows are recommended.

Well, I gotta go, there is soup to be made.
Until next time, do be fabulous!

PS. North City Bistro tonight!

north-city-bistro-poster-sept-3

Happy 4th to you!

Happy Summer to you my friend! Earshot Jazz approached me  and asked me to write a short piece about my Japan musical adventures and I will share the text here. You can see the article in context here
Enjoy! I will be taking a nap in the sunshine!

Hello Kitty.

Sushi.

Bullet Trains.

Sumo.

and love of Jazz.

Yep, Jazz and Japan go together like peanut butter and jelly or tempura and well… more tempura. Since 2000, winners of the Kobe Jazz Vocal Queen Contest have visited Seattle to perform at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley. In 2005, Seattle started its own competition at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley and began to send two American jazz vocalists (one adult and one high school student) to Japan to perform at the Kobe contest. My recent journey to sister city Kobe after winning this year’s Seattle competition was a prize the keeps on giving.

 

When I’m asked what kind of music I perform and I mention jazz, I’m often met with a slight air of incomprehension followed by small talk about the hors d’oeuvres. I do what I do because it feeds my soul, but too many of those exchanges can promote buds of cynicism. The opportunity to be a part of this cultural exchange was incredibly affirming.

High-school winner Christina Buno and I performed at the Kobe Jazz Vocal Queen Contest, where ten Japanese singers were competing for a trip to the US to perform at Dimitriou’s in September. The singers were skilled and enthusiastic about the art form. They also appreciated the previous winners, some of whom have reached celebrity status. I was asked often, “Do you know Greta Matassa?” While I live in Olympia, I was proud to represent Seattle and its rich jazz history.

The love of jazz in Kobe is so apparent by the numerous tiny jazz clubs that we can we came across during explorations. Clubs with names such as Great Blue, Bar Martini, Basin Street, Green Dolphin, and Alfie peppered the urban landscape. And it wasn’t just Kobe; I also had the chance to sing at tiny clubs in Osaka and Tokyo. Each venue had its own unique flavor, and enthusiastic (if small) audiences.

 

To hear a Nina Simone song or Ella song sung in such a different place was so affirming and made me proud to be a part of this jazz tradition. As I was interviewed by the mistress of ceremonies after singing in Kobe, I became acutely aware that this music belongs to everyone but that being an African American it is in my blood, and it is a part of my experience. I was and am enormously proud and honored to be a part of such a uniquely American tradition.