Sunday, December 11, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
"You never compliment me.""What are you talking about? I complimented you just the other day.""You told me I look like Weird Al from the behind!""Weird Al has beautiful hair and a tiny ass!"
"I Will Rise Up"
Thursday, October 27, 2011
What is Body Music? Well, it's just that, any sort of sound that you can make with your body: stomping, singing, patting, clapping, tapping and more. If you check out the one-of-a-kind International Body Music Festival next week, you will be astounded at the countless ways performers from around the world find to make music with their bodies.
From November 1st to 6th, the International Body Music Festival presents events all over the Bay Area from performances and workshops to lecture-demonstrations and in-school programs. Performers participating in the festival come from the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, Canary Islands, Greece and Canada.
The Body Music Festival is a great event to get the whole family out to!Check out this awesome footage from previous Body Music Festivals!
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Last Saturday night I went to a beautiful concert in Oakland's Paramount Theater presented by SFJAZZ with neo-soul singer India.Arie and Israeli world-fusion pop artist Idan Raichel. I am a fan of both artists independently and was curious about this collaboration that resulted in the soon-to-be-released album Open Door .
Turns out, Arie and Raichel are a perfect pairing; both artists have a steady stream of humanitarian sentiment throughout their music as well as self-acceptance. Arie sang in both Hebrew and English, and Raichel brought a very cool world fusion vibe to Arie’s bohemian soul vibe. While at times I felt the music was overly cheesy, I was also moved by the sentiment.
So, we all have pet peeves. They’re built into our DNA and there’s often not much we can do about them. They just sort of follow you around, pissing you off.
One of my pet peeves is talking during a live show. It’s one of those that things that if I try to ignore a loud conversation, it just gets more annoying, especially if the comments are frustrating.
Saturday night, there were two women sitting behind me who did not do their research about this performance. In its program, SFJAZZ titled this show “India.Arie and Idan Raichel”; this was a collaboration project. These women were obviously not aware of Idan Raichel or that simply, he would be there. And, it seemed that they took offense to the mere fact that he was Israeli.
Now don’t get me wrong, yes, I definitely have my own politics when it comes to Israel. I am Jewish, and I am also pro-peace and a raging humanitarian (if there is such a thing). I have traveled to Israel and the West Bank. I have been moved, disturbed, frightened, inspired, depressed and excited by what I experienced and what I continue to learn about the country. I also have wonderful Israeli family that I love very dearly.
I am very much torn about the whole issue of Israel. And I believe that if a person takes a hard stance either pro- or against, you have not learned or experienced enough of the larger issue. It’s very easy, especially from half way around the world, to listen to media and believe that one group of people are in the wrong, but the issue is so much more complicated than that.
From stage Raichel and Arie told the story of how they met, simply that Arie had traveled to Israel for personal exploration and she had discovered Raichel’s music there. The woman behind me took offense to the fact that she had even been there, saying loudly “It’s an apartheid state!” Raichel added to the story that they first met at a falafel shop to which the women responded “that’s Palestinian!”
What? Really? I don’t think so. I can’t believe she took it there.
I also heard her say, “I just didn’t expect this!” to her friend and something like “this is just so glorifying…” But there was no mention of politics, no mention of Palestine. Just some songs with Hebrew lyrics and talk of falafel.
Unfortunately Israel is the modern day South Africa and to many, any mention of the country brings up politics. I’m also assuming that if it were up to this woman, there would be a cultural embargo on Israel, much like the one placed on South Africa during its Apartheid, making a collaboration like Arie and Raichel’s fraught with controversy (much like Paul Simon’s Grammy winning Graceland ).
I moved to seats across the aisle so that I didn’t have to listen to any more comments. I was very close to saying something to them. I understand that these women were unhappy, but they did not do their research and they didn’t have to spoil my enjoyment.
This is all so ironic considering that one of the central tunes (and wonderfully cheese-tastic) on Open Door is called “The Gift of Acceptance” with the lyrics:
We can debate to the end of time who's wrong and who is right,
Or I can honor your choices and you can honor mine.
They call you Israeli and they call me an American,
I look at you and I don't see a country, I just see my friend,
I pray we're in each other's lives for a long, long time
because I honor your choices and you honor mine.
We all want the same things from life,
We want peace, love and prosperity.
But can we give up our need to be right?
Give the world a present, give the gift of your acceptance.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
The SFJAZZ 2011 Fall Season is well underway, and there are still plenty of exciting shows to look forward to. While presenting the best living jazz on the planet, SFJAZZ has become well known for new and innovative artists as well as top-notch international artists.
Monday, October 3, 2011
My humble solution of what to do about San Francisco's overcrowded Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Hardly Strictly is one of those many events that makes me so lucky and proud to live in the Bay Area, and be a resident of San Francisco in particular. As a music lover, the idea of seeing (or more like only hearing because you can’t get too close to the stage) Emmylou Harris, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Ralph Stanley, Bela Fleck, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and Gillian Welch in two days free of charge is absolutely insane. I thank Mr. Hellman for an awesome birthday party every year and applaud his love and passion for good music.
TO READ MORE OF MY ARTICLE CLICK HERE
Friday, September 30, 2011
The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park starts today, and as always the lineup is insane. Oh, and it's FREE.
CLICK HERE to read about the five bands I recommend: Zigaboo, The Belle Brigade, Blind Boys of Alabama, Hugh Laurie and Fitz & the Tantrums.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
The below video of "All is Dark" (which is fitting, because it was dark out there) does not feature me singing, however, I am listed AS PART OF THE BAND at the end. I think that's pretty darn awesome. Thanks to the Family Crest and videographer/photographer Matthew Washburn for this one, it's a really beautiful video.
Here, however is a video of me singing "In the Avenue" with the Family Crest last March in Austin Texas at a South by the Southwest house show I put together.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
She's got some Wilco, Nick Cave, Cold War Kids, Ry Cooder... good stuff. And then I found: ENYA!
And it was out with the rest of the CDs that had been recently listened to. I sort of love that I don't know this person, but I know she likes Enya.
What's your guilty pleasure? We all know mine is Ke$ha, and I'll say right now that I also love me some Backstreet Boys.
Come on kids, don't be shy. Share!
And if you've not seen it yet, this is My First Earthquake's new "Enya Don't Got Nothing on Us"
Thursday, September 1, 2011
It's finally done! Three years ago, the lovely Serena Bartlett of GrassRoutes inspired me to finally DO something with all these t-shirts I had been collecting since I was little and couldn't part with. So over many sunny days in her living room she taught me to use a sewing machine.
The quilt has no less than 19 shirts sewn into it, many of them building blocks of my musical life. I think I have a whole other stash of shirts from which I could make another one!
Thank you so much to Serena and Elaine Turcotte for teaching me how to quilt and helping me through this process. This will not be my last, I'm sure of it. I'm so excited about sleeping with this gorgeous thing. So is the cat! She already loves snuggling with it.
The flip side of the quilt is this gorgeous orange and yellow embroidered fabric, totally changing the colors in my bedroom, which I'm excited about. One of the best things is that I can now display the flowered pillow my Grandmother embroidered for me. Now it matches!
The last couple nights I've been staying up super late, determined to finish this thing, hand sewing the binding, a nice fuzzy velvety purple fabric.
Earth Day - Elementary School Lorax t-shirt, tie-dyed by yours truly when I was really into that.
middle strip - From a bar in Aberdeen, Scotland that used to be a church and now has a haunted mansion theme. If you drank all 7 deadly sins cocktails, you won a deadly sin t-shirt. I did it in one night (oh, to be 22 again! They were actually pretty weak anyway) I, of course, choice the Gluttony tee.
NHSMI - Summer high school music program at Northwestern, met some of my best friends there, convinced me to be a music major. Got vocal nodules and put on vocal rest, didn't work (I was having too much fun), got in trouble.
Pirates of Penzance - How I spent my second semester of my fifth year of college. Realized I hated being in staged productions, still had a blast. Love Gilbert & Sullivan. Love this show.
High School Honor Choir - Yes, I was a high school choir geek. Did this program twice.
Leader of the Pack - Didn't get a part in this junior high production, based on the music of Brill Building's Ellie Greenwich. The music is AWESOME ("River Deep Mountain High", "Be My Baby", Da Doo Ron Ron". Worked as production assistant instead, building sets, etc. Wished I was in the show and was so jealous of those that were. They got to wear gogo boots!
Forever Plaid - A musical about a four-part harmony vocal group in the early 60s, was a total groupie, saw the show five times, know every word. It's been on PBS lately and I still love it.
Cabaret t-shirts - There are three of them on this quilt. We wore them during the shows. Cabaret was our High School musical Revue and I learned so much music being part of it. They were so much fun (but I still hate staging).
Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Fest - I volunteered with my roommate in 2002 as my fifth year of college started. It was humid and rainy. I got to see Koko Taylor sing "Wang Dang Doodle".
Lori's Diner - In San Francisco. My grandma's name is Lori.
University of Michigan Women's Glee Club patch - Taken from the terrible, horrible button down long-sleeved shirts they made us buy. But I went on tour with them to Europe and had a blast.
Danzig Tour - hysterical t-shirt my aunt made for our clan when we went to Danzig/Gdansk in Poland, where my grandmother was born. Ten of us kids and grandkids went with her in 2002. It was in incredible experience.
I heart Ann Arbor - Well, I do.
Ben & Jerry's and the Great Harvest Bread Co. - high school summer jobs. Yum yum yum.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
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
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 Menažeri , 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
“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.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)