Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I sing in choirs: SF Lyric Chorus concerts this weekend and the 826 Valencia Project



Yep, it's that time again: choir concert time! I have a short, but kickass tenor solo in the spiritual "Daniel, Daniel Servant of the Lord". I'm so in love with spirituals, these songs are in my blood. I love the Copland piece as well and the Thompson is totally growing on me.

The San Francisco Lyric Chorus has a concert on Saturday at St. Marks in San Francisco and on Sunday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Orinda (East Bay). Let me know if you'd like to come.

The music is gorgeous and challenging. I thought it would be a breeze because we didn't have to learn any foreign languages, but because it's mostly 20th century music, and the harmonies are super difficult. The whole program is a capella as well, so at times I feel like we're picking entrance notes out of the air.

I love singing in choirs. Why? Yes, I love the sound, it's a very personally beautiful sonic texture I love. But I think it's more than that. I love that people can sing together with nothing else: no amplification, no mics, no instruments. Just voices. I also love that every person has a different voice, but when singing with other people, they all meld into one, creating a "choral" sound: a group of 20 people over here, might sound very similar to a group of 20 people over there.
I also love how one person (or more) can totally mess up, and it might be totally unnoticeable.

The choral community is HUGE in the Bay Area. I love what that communal idea of music making means about the area. It's very fitting.

Just last week I participated in the 826 Valencia project led by Camille Robles at One Red Delicious Press. The concept is to submit an audio recording of a story, any story, as long as it's personal. Camille is going to catalog the stories and create a book from them. I think there might even be music added to some of them.

This project will benefit San Francisco's 826 Valencia, a writing center dedicated to getting kids excited about the literary arts and fostering the writing skills of the youth. The classes they offer are free, and they inspire creativity, confidence, and a route to finding one's voice. Camille is still taking submissions if you want to get in involved. For more info, click here.

This is a story about the most personal, spiritual and emotional musical experience I've ever had. In a nutshell, I was moved to tears by the singing and acoustics of my high school choir while in France. I used this story for my college admissions essay and as soon as I heard about this project, it was the story that came to mind.

Here is the audio track, happy singing!

Grand chapel by Alwaysmoretohear


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Video interview Jeremiah Lockwood of the Sway Machinery: my first attempt at video editing!


In March I interviewed Jeremiah Lockwood of The Sway Machinery on my friend's little flipcam. I had no idea what I was doing. I started to use iMovie, got frustrated and put it off. But it was a great interview and I really wanted to make something of the footage.

So with the help of Michael Fortes (of Parlor to Parlor) and the motivation of helping to promote the Sway Machinery's next Bay Area show at the Beatbox on August 28th with Brass Mena┼żeri , I got it done. This is going to be a great, energetic show.

In this interview Jeremiah talks about his experience traveling to Mali in Africa to perform at the Festival in the Desert and recording and performing with Malian singer Khaira Arby.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I think I might try this more.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Adele and Wanda Jackson unite in Berkeley and win most adorable duo



“Heeeyyyy! That’s my new thing!” Said Adele after cracking herself up for the umpteenth time to a sold out Greek Theater Sunday night. “I’ve been spending time hanging out with some Southern ladies!”

When she sings, it's inconceivable that the British soul singer is only 23. She’s got that Otis Redding thing going: a voice too wise and mature for her years, both lyrically and sonically.

But when she banters and giggles with the audience, she is indeed just 23. Adele loves her fans. She asked several times for the lights to come up so she could see everyone. She waved dozens of times at specific people in the audience. She accepted a Weiner dog stuffed animal and presents from folks in the front, including a couple phones with messages on them.

Adele is looking good. Not that I didn’t love her more curvy appearance (go girl!), but she appeared on stage in a fitted black knee length dress, three-quarter length sleeves, her hair in it’s signature poof, but only half up (no side ponytail). I hope that it’s not just the stress of touring, but a healthier lifestyle that’s done it (tell me she’s quit smoking). But, well, she is 23, and I shouldn’t judge.


Mrs. Wanda Jackson - the Queen of Rockabilly

Adele pays tribute to Amy Winehouse, and asks everyone to take out their phones. Gorgeous.



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Things I saw (and ate) at Outside Lands Fest, Day 2: Bacon, opera, OK Go and dirty sinners



Saturday August 13th was just another amazing day in San Francisco, after the fog burned off in the afternoon anyway. There was a perfect breeze and the sun was out and I had music all around me.

We bounced back and forth a lot today, just following our mood. On the agenda was OK Go, the Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, The Roots and Muse if we felt like it.

OK Go
. I know the joke is that their music is nothing special, but I totally dig these guys for their continuous outpouring of creativity. Their videos are obviously incredibly innovative and fun, but they also do crazy stuff like play a whole song on the hand bells (like the video below). These guys are true artists and performers, in every sense of the words.

And let me just say that this might have been the one time in the whole of the weekend that I wanted MORE VOLUME.




Ok GO also cracked me up continuously calling the crowd a bunch of "dirty sinners", what San Francisco has always been known for. I can't say I disagree with them. He also mentioned how overwhelmingly white the San Francisco crowd is, can't disagree there either.

The Roots: So fun. I wish I was Jimmy Fallon and have these guys has my house band. They paid tribut to Fela Kuti, Guns and Roses, Zeppelin and some "Jungle Boogie."

Girl Talk: This is performance you really have to experience live to really get I think. Imagine all your favorite songs coming at you in enormous speed, sometimes only teasing you with one hook or one chorus. Some of the mash-up pairings are so awesomely funny. I need to get some of this for working out.

FOOD:
I ate this (I did not eat it all myself, in fact we couldn't finish it, it was too insane):


Good Lord, what is that you ask!? It's peanut butter mousse, chocolate fudge crust, candied bacon and caramel. Don't believe me?


The couple across the picnic table was eating this chocolate covered Oreo, marshmallow stuffed thing. It was too amazing not to photograph.


Later we also ate this from Criolla Kitchen : OMIGOD SO GOOD! Shrimp Po'Boy and Yam-Yam Tater Tots. I will definitely be visiting the restaurant in the Castro. Seriously... SO GOOD.


I did not eat this, but enjoyed the sign, imaging what these would be like:


Like I said yesterday, there were a ton of fun things to do not appearing on big stages. I found out more about the "mimes" I had seen the day before . Not mimes at all. Turns out it was a folk opera and installation called “Flotsam’s Wake” featuring Mike Shine and the Carny Bastards.


I enjoyed the banners in front of the Twin Peaks Stage. They were weird.



Theses lovely ladies practiced some yoga in front of us for awhile during the Arctic Monkeys and OK Go.


And an Australian sword swallower at the Barbary Tent. Crazy I tell you.


I'm skipping today's festivities to see Adele (rescheduled from last month when she was sick), which is okay by me, my feet are tired!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Things I saw at Outside Lands Fest, Day 1: Phish, The Meters, The Shins and hippie hipsters


Trey Anastasio of Phish

Outside Lands Fest was surprisingly fun today. It was a shitty typical cold and overcast day in San Francisco (just the way I like it!) and I got to see The Original Meters, Phish, The Shins, some acrobats, a drumcore samba brass band, art installations and hippies (both old and young).

Here's some photos I took, and maybe a video or two.

Phish - My friend wanted to get super close-up for the Phish set, so we charmed our way through the crowd to a pretty close up spot. It was totally worth it. These dudes are still so awesome. I saw them a bunch in high school and college and it was fun then and it was fun today.

And I just wanted to say, these guys are jamming their way into middle age and I love it when rockstars just look like normal people. I had to post this picture because Mike Gordon has the most awesome "play face".

And yes, I was very pleased to see that Jon Fishman still wears the polka-dotted mumu, this time with a hoodie underneath to keep warm.

Mike Gordon's "play face"

Can't have a Phish show without balloons and beach balls...


The Original Meters: Art Neville on keys, Leo Nocentelli on guitarist, Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste on guitar, and George Porter Jr. on bass. George kept welcoming us to "Senior Citizen Fun 101" This was fun, but too bad Leo's amp kept getting out of whack. We got to hear some awesome jamming, but lost lots of time to hear songs. We did get to hear "Cissy Strut" though, and that's all needed. It doesn't get much funkier.



The Shins - Great. They played a tune off the record they are working on and almost done with. It was really awesome. Let's just say it had a little bit of a Caribbean feel to it...

And wait-a-minute, I believe there was a female guitar rhythm guitarist up there also doing backup vocals, does anyone know anything about her?

See all the lights in the audience below? This picture was taken during the first song when all of those cameras came out. So funny.


Inspector Gadje and The Loyd Family Players - found these local folks playing out in the open. Two bands playing as one: one part Eastern European Brass, one part samba/drumline. An awesome team. We followed them into the forest and into Cocoland.





Choco Lands: I'm not sure what was going on here, but I liked it. In the forest there were art installations all over the place: huge wind chimes with a rope swing in the middle (so that when you really got swinging the top of the rope would hit the chimes), a mime show, structures, parachutes... very Burning Man.


( Same sign at night)





The Barbary Tent: with vaudeville, burlesque, acrobats, SF local boys from the Jazz Mafia as the house band, magicians, etc. Another perfectly SF addition and a great place to actually SIT IN A CHAIR. I'm getting old, standing all day is making me stiff.

This guy, Ethan Law, is doing one of those Cyr Wheel Cirque du Soliel awesome things. He's from SF's Circus School!


People - Because of Phish, the Burning Man vibe was strong today. Tomorrow will be another story (tomorrow is Muse, the Black Keys, The Roots, Girl Talk, etc.)





Oh, teenage girls at festivals: you are so cute, and yet probably so annoying to some folks. I remember being that excited about everything!



(This picture is a little creepy, but this little girl had the coolest face painting, and I caught this blurry shot right before she got super smiley for the cameras.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Family Crest wants to play at YOUR house in September



These are pictures of The Family Crest performing in my living room last Wednesday. There were nine of them. It was awesome.


The Family Crest is looking to play a house show a day in the month of September. It can be a big or small party, they just want people to experience their music. And believe me, this is the best setting for it: intimate and acoustic.

I will personally vouch for these folks, they are gracious and nice. I have now been part of hosting them in a private home on three separate occasions; they will come early to help you set up and stay late until everything is put away.

If you are in the Bay Area and are interested in hosting, here are the details (from the band):
  • Pick a few days in September that would be best for you
  • We're aiming to play for around 30 of your friends, though we will play for any amount, big or small. It can be a casual get-together, a party, a serious concert setting, a business fete - whatever you want.
  • We're not charging any fee, though we would like to pass a tip jar around or have a suggested donation, if you're comfortable with that.
  • We'd like to sell CDs.
  • We won't be promoting these shows in any way - we won't publicize your address, when/where, etc, so you won't have any strangers wandering around.
  • This means that we won't be bringing any of our contacts to the shows - this is just for you and your friends so that you all can become a part of what we do!
  • Let me know if you're interested, and feel free to pass this along to people you think might be interested!
Email Laura if you are interested, but please let me (Jamie) know as well, I might want to come!
laura@thefamilycrestfamily.com

And I'd imagine weekdays will be hardest for them to fill...what are YOU doing Tuesday night?

Below is video of The Family Crest playing at two different house shows (both homes belonging to friends of mine) in Austin during South by Southwest earlier this year when I got to sing with them...



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