Hi all, this was the video, that I tried to share in a recent mailing…alas, technology is a coy mistress, but this should make you smile!
February 15, 2014, save this date. It is not just a day to finish off those chocolates from Valentine’s Day! Red & Ruby (myself and guitarist about town Vince Brown) have a new CD.
Last year, we gathered with friends and well wishers at Neanderhall Recording Studio in Olympia and Matt the engineer pressed the record button and we put on a show!
Some of the best tidbits of that night are on the CD, entitled Swing!
Tickets available for the Red & Ruby CD release party at Traditions Cafe.
Well, here we are at the starting line of 2014. Hope you’re packed and ready to go. there will be a carpool leaving at 12:01. Don’t worry there will be plenty of opportunity for solo scenic drives as well. I’m bringing snacks.
When I was younger, resolutions abounded: I will do this…I won’t do that…This was a typical December 31st meditation. I will lose this…I will strive for that…was my springboard into the new year. Like many chronic list makers, those grandiose intentions withered into resentful “shoulds” and turned into dried up guilt. I honestly could not keep track of all of the demands that I was making on my list. Nope, no need to do that any more. It is much simpler now… One question seems to get to the jugular of my life and press positive introspection and action.
1) What activity, persons, opportunities delighted me?
Yep, that’s it. Though a simple question, it causes me to define what delight means to me (at this moment). What or who tickled me to no end and caused me to vibrate with a childlike excitement? What easily dissuaded me from dark thoughts and dark actions? What brought ease to my heart and mind? You get the idea.
What one question do you ask yourself at the start of a new year?
P.S. Red and Ruby (myself and guitarist Vince Brown) have a Facebook page
Log in, and like us!
As a musician, I am interested in sound. I spend much of my time trying to organize sound in ways that delight or make sense to me ( and hopefully others). A common question that I often ask my husband is, “do you hear that?” either when we are listening to music or laying in bed hearing the mysterious knockings of the cat opening closet doors as part of her evening patrol.
Beyond the usual rumbles of cars and trucks rolling down my street, the sounds of my neighborhood include the aural landscape of critters indoors and out. My cat has a yawn that is often punctuated with an impressive scale that sounds like it has been squeezed through a vocoder. The neighbor’s chickens break out into a sudden raucous clucking that can turn quickly into silence as if they were chortling over a joke. The neighborhood dogs bemoan their pent up state and their desire for mailman thigh by singing the blues every time a siren wails nearby. The twittering, squawking and cawing of the bird life in and around my own backyard (which I find astounding and beautiful) is the pulsing bass line for these everyday happenings. May I also add that the sound of bees swarming, something that I experienced this summer as they separate to create a new hive is a hauntingly powerful moment. That, my friend, is the sound of being out numbered.
Earlier this year there was a video meem called What does the Fox Say? that ran its course through the You tube and Facebook landscape. It did make me wonder what a fox actually sounds like . My curiosity took me down many a You tube labyrinth and I contemplated other animal sounds which led me to Teddy the Porcupine,
Honestly, I did not know what kind of sounds porcupines make. Thank you Youtube, for my sofa safari.
What are the sounds of your world today?
In the mean time, continue to be fabulous…
“The Star Spangled Banner” is the little black dress of anthems. It can be dressed up with glittery orchestration or dressed down with a solo voice. It can be slinky on-the-town wear with lots of Mariah Carey-like yodeling or it can be more of a black church robe.
For a waltz it is a versatile tune. While it is sung often, it is a hard song to sing well; it needs a disclaimer: “Caution: rugged high-pitched terrain ahead; proceed with caution, confidence and musical decorum”. While I have never been a fan of the lyrics: “rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air” there is something about all of that modulation in one song that can cause one to get giddily happy about one’s country.
So far away from the home key, the atmosphere gets a little thinner.
I like to think about “The Star Spangled Banner” as a community vocal warm up exercise to prepare the gestalt for all of the hootin’ and hollerin’ to be done for the main event.
I am not overly familiar with the anthems of the worlds , but there are two that have stuck in my musical craw. These are anthems that cause me sing loudly the words that I do know, mumble the ones that I don’t and melodically attempt to balderdash my way through the tune, because I really really, really want the song to like me.
When I hear this anthem, I grab the closest mug of whatever I am drinking and swing it wildly. I just like the melody of this tune. So compact and accessible to the seasoned nightingale and the less confident warbler. While I do not have this anthem committed to memory, I confidently start the song with a victorious “O Canada!” and then it goes down hill from there. In my zeal to enjoy the tune, in a pinch, I have mumbled through the second line “your bears are really big” in lieu of “our home and native land”. Well, both lines are true….right?
God Bless Africa/Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika
I think I first heard this melody in a documentary about apartheid in South Africa. The haunting melody sung in Isicathamiya (a capella Zulu singing) is akin to listening to Dr Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It is an economic melody that captures the sighs of overcoming. The construction of the song in several languages embodies the diversity of South Africa.
“Lord bless our nation,
Stop wars and sufferings,
Save it, save our nation,
The nation of South Africa — South Africa.”
To me, this song sounds like church on a good day.
This is my Home aka Finlandia
I had to learn this song for a special event recently, and I was so touched by it’s magnanimity that I want it to be a national anthem for someone, somewhere! This song is often associated with folk maven Joan Baez. The lyrical arms of this song are so large that it deserves to be sung often and loudly.
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
Any anthems of the world strike your fancy?
Enjoy the changing leaves and whatever changes that you are going through. Hope to see you soon.
Raindrops are such funny things.
They haven’t feet or haven’t wings.
Yet they sail through the air,
With the greatest of ease,
And dance on the street,
Wherever they please.
When ever the rainy season comes along, I have to giggle a little. I remember announcing to my parents and relatives in the middle of a Thanksgiving dinner that I was moving to Washington and not the DC variety. Imagine saying to your family that you are moving to Mars and looking forward to a life of farming in that beautiful red dust. My news was received with an equal amount of puzzled silence. My aunt was the first to question my plan and asked, “Doesn’t it rain there”?
My answer was “not alot-just in the winter” as I stuffed half a yam into my mouth to give myself more thinking time. A polygraph test would not have revealed that statement as an untruth, my certainty and delusion were so great. I had visited Seattle in early July and the weather was glorious; mid 80’s and I was in love so there was not a cloud in the sky.
Yes, it rains here, from October to March. There are occasional breaks and various densities of downpour but “yes it rains a bit” would have been a more accurate answer. October bows to the wet unapologetic abandon akin to the enthusiastic love of a 150 pound slobbery Labrador retriever. You can’t control or fight that kind of love. So wrap up, warm up, boldly wear shorts and sandals, make Gortex or no-tex your friend and accept the moist!
What is your favorite rainy day activity?
I had a moment of gratitude last night. Mind you, the moments of gratitude are many because I have much to be grateful for, but my gratitude was sparked by a conversation that I had with a a fellow musician and teacher. He mentioned that many of his college aged students had never seen live music being made. Sure, they listened to music on YouTube, Spotify and Pandora and could download music to their heart’s content, but that is akin to buying Styrofoam trays of plastic-wrapped tomatoes from the grocery. Yes, it is convenient to get tomatoes from the store but you get less than half the story. Confining musical listening to that which is found on the computer has the potential to disconnect the listener from the how and why of music. Of how music is made. Music can come alive in context and some of that context can be found in live performance.
My husband and I recently saw Fanfare Ciocarlia, a Balkan Gypsy brass band from Zece Prăjini, a village in northeastern Romania; whose break neck playing speed and tight harmonies excite the ears and feet. This all-male, multi-generational, 12-piece group performed with a precision that was not produced by a machine but by years of individual and collective practice. Ensemble skills honed by hundreds of hours of international performances that included weddings and baptism in their native land. Many of the mostly Romanian audience danced up and down the tight aisles of the venue and sang, delighted that their homeland had come to them.
As the music got hotter, members of the crowd ran up on the stage to to stick US dollars and Romanian leu (pronounced lay) on the sweaty foreheads of the main players as a sign of appreciation.
The evening was more than entertainment. The “aliveness” of this music affirms cultural and historical roots; feeds the soul and confirms that music is not “machine made”. It is made with fingers and agile minds and life lived.
Experiencing live music is much like the heirloom tomato or tender arugula picked fresh from the garden. The store bought stuff may look similar, but the attention and sweat that nurtured that seed to homegrown fruition brings depth to flavor and experience.
So in the latest email that I sent out, I asked readers to tell me what fall rituals they participate in. The cool air of fall turns my attention to canning and food preservation. I see apples and visualize beautiful orderly rows of mason jars filled with apple sauce of varied colors-green for tart graven-steins, milky pink for the miscellaneous wind fall that we get from my pop in law. And then there are peaches. Peaches deserve sonnets, odes or at least a good limerick. Peaches, so versatile, the black cocktail dress of fruits ( peach fuzz is sexy) morph into fruit leather, dried peaches, salsa, pie, cobbler, jam and oh yeah, plain ole peach is pretty spiffy too.
Many of you shared your rituals of fall with me:
“Speaking of harvests, my personal favorite is dehydrating, I’ve even done watermelon: totally weird.”
“I agree about August. It is a reminder of summer’s departure. Fortunately, we are sometimes lucky and get the whole month of summer in September. ”
I love this melody. The dreamy feel of June in January is so unapologetically romantic and slurppy. Yes, indeed, extra sugar love songs still exists in our electronic world. I do believe that songs will carry those necessary feeling tones into the centuries ahead. As we speed about in our hovercrafts, and perform all monetary transactions with retina scans and communication devices are implanted under our skin, there will still be many songs like this and others. They will change forms but they will exist and be the recipe, guidepost and reminder of what it means to be human with all of the complexities included.
A friend of mine emailed me this morning to say that she was getting married. She wrote how she found someone of worth who assisted her most in being herself as well as being in the world. Her note hinted of the giddiness of discovering oneself through the eyes of another in her “later years”
So why are songs so important? Because the winding roads that we travel in life and love have so many pages and twists and the reference material is overwhelming that very few people have the time /ability or interests to get through the entire story. A good song, like Cliff Notes, hints at the delight of reading the whole book, a nibble of the feast of human experiences. As you go through your week consider your relationship with songs. Do they goad you to action? Get you in the mood? Recall a person or place? Whether sweet or savory there is a soundtrack to our lives. Listen carefully and enjoy!
I am a very non-traditional teacher, and consider myself to be more of a creative coach than a vocal teacher. I attract to my studio experienced instrumentalists, singers, and performers who want to prepare for an audition or sing at a wedding or just sing with more confidence and ease.
Adults who believe that they can’t sing a lick and want to disprove that theory seem to show up at my doorstep, as well as experienced performers, singers/instrumentalists who need help overcoming creative hurdles. I have also had the honor of helping public speakers express themselves with ease and authenticity.
I work with each student on vocal technique and develop understanding their individual instrument and learning/performing process. We also explore the voices of the inner world that help or hinder musical and performance goals.
Here is some feedback from students:
I had the opportunity to work with LaVon Hardison on a series of sessions dealing with my experience of a weakened voice (both literally and metaphorically). LaVon helped me learn how to change the location of the source of my voice in my body and psyche. The sessions were each pretty different and included some conversation, singing work, physicalization, concretization, posture and dramatic enactment. The work felt spiritually informed, warm, non-threatening, fun and very impactful. I learned that my difficulty had less to do with my vocal cords and more with my present stance in my personal and professional life. The gift was the surprising ease with which the ‘problem’ (as I had identified it) dissolved as I got closer to more truth about what I was holding in my body, mind and heart regarding what I need to say. I would (and have) absolutely recommend LaVon’s deep approach to personal coaching.
I had the pleasure of working with LaVon Hardison in the spring of 2012. She helped me prepare for a role in musical theater. I met with her once a week for 6 weeks. We kept self care as the foundation of our work while building structured exercises focused on vocal technique, stage presence, and character development. LaVon began each meeting with a series of probing questions that challenged me to think in a different way about performance and gain a more visceral understanding of my character. I learned to see the difference between explaining my character to someone, or speaking as that character. She encouraged me to think about the qualities I wanted to bring to the collaboration, both on and off stage. She helped me to see that the pre-performance practice begins now, with self care. LaVon also tailored weekly assignments to my specific needs as an artist. I felt seen, challenged and cared for. I am so grateful to have had access to LaVon’s wealth of experience, intuition, generosity and incredible talent. I would recommend her to anyone who is ready, willing, and able to work creatively.GPOlympia