While My Blog Gently Weeps

A lot has happened since my last blog entry. In addition to Life’s big events (weddings, funerals, births, graduations, surgeries, vacations, birthdays, etc), the band has also been up to some fun endeavors.

We are very excited to have our first official CD in hand. The EP, titled Found, has 4 songs (3 covers and one original) and was produced with the goal of sharing music with family and friends but also to reach out to a larger community of listeners. We hope to use the CD to find more performing venues as well.

CD Cover

To listen to the tracks on the CD, click on the link below.

https://soundcloud.com/stream

We had our first “photo shoot” with friend and amateur photographer, Diane Borton. What started as an informal information session, ended in these fun candid and posed photos.

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We also had an amazing time performing at the Annual Braveheart Memorial Ride and Family Day on July 11. It was a beautiful event and the audience was awesome! We received lots of positive feedback and cool vibes all around. We continue to play at Fotini’s Restaurant in Bolton. We also had a fun night playing at the Starbucks in Harvard Square in June. We have plans for expanding to other venues this fall. I will post the calendar once it is finalized. Our set list has grown to over 50 songs and we are having a blast adding more each week.

Over the next couple of months, we will be working on incorporating more originals into our mix with time spent writing and arranging. If possible, we plan to go into the studio this fall to record our first Original CD.

Finally, we are hoping to experiment with a new video camera and thought it would be fun to shoot some songs in different cool and unique locations (suggestions welcomed). We’ll post these on our YouTube site as they are created.

So, even though I haven’t blogged, things are moving along and I can’t say enough about how much fun all this music business is. Although my blog may have been gently weeping, I most definitely am not.

The Making of a Tiny Desk Video

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DSC_0176Bob Boilen, Host of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Creator of the Tiny Desk Concert Series has come up with a new idea, The Tiny Desk Contest. For those of you not in the know, the Tiny Desk Concert Series, founded in 2008, is a series of intimate video performances at Bob’s desk. Some more famous musicians who have performed at the NPR headquarters include Cat Steven, Trey Anastasio, Adele, and T-Pain, among others. This year, however, Boilen has decided to open a contest to all musicians across the country in which the winner gets to play a Tiny Desk Concert as well as be flown to Austin, TX to perform at the Lagunitas/ CouchTrippin/ Showcase in March. Sounds like fun, right?!

Since fun is what we’re after, we decided to produce a video and enter the contest. We chose my original song, Flowers, and filmed it in the High School where Peter teaches. Andy joined us on bass and without a lot of time or preparation, this is what we came up with…

There were over 5,000 entrants. Many of them very creative and overflowing with talent (you can check more out at http://tinydeskcontest.npr.org/final). The competition is steep, but even if we don’t win, we had a blast putting it together. As Boilin states in his letter to all entrants, “My favorite part of all this is not any one performance, but the feeling that comes through again and again: that making a video was a creative blast and a memorable time with friends. Everyone seemed to capture the spirit of the contest.”

The winner will be announced on or around February 11th, and I’ll be sure to let you know the result.

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2015!

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Our Annual New Year’s Day Party was as fun as always. For nearly 10 years (or more, I can’t remember), we have been having this gathering to celebrate the end ophotof the holiday season (phew!) and the beginning of a new year. (It is also my birthday but I don’t like to highlight that).

In addition to the cool and interesting people and tasty food and drink, there has been one element that is the hallmark of the party, Live Music. While my husband and daughters handle the details of party planning, I get to focus on what I love. Over the years, I have offered up a variety of acts from solo acoustic performances to full bands, the common denominator being that I get to play! I think that’s fair. After all, it is my birthday.

This year, I was very excited to play with Peter and also to bring in Rick Hess on drums and Andy Bollman on Bass. Andy and Rick were quick to get up to speed and really helped create a groove and round out the sound. We played for several hours and had a blast (as did the guests, I hope).

My daughter was able to capture a few of the songs on my ipad (quality not great but you get the idea). Here they are:

As far as New Year’s Resolutions go, here are mine:

Play More Music
Perform More Music
Sing More Music
Listen to More Music
Write More Music
Go to More Music Festivals
Learn More Music

Wishing everyone lots of music in 2015! Happy New Year.

Cat Stevens, Revisited.

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cat-stevens-tea-for-the-tillermanI first remember listening to Cat Stevens (born Steven Demetre Georgiou) in the spring of 1985 while in my Junior year at Ithaca College. My roommate, Jane, had his album, “Tea for the Tillerman” and would play it often. I was particularly captured by “Father and Son” and “Miles from Nowhere,” both songs that delivered the deeper meanings of life on a melodic wave of sound. Stevens’ tunes were insightful and harmonic. They made me think, feel, and listen. I never did buy any of his albums, and as I moved on, away from my college years and into a more digital age, I left his music behind.

Stevens also walked away from the music in 1977 when he decided to give up his career as a popular musician and convert to Islam. He changed his name to Yusuf Islam and focused his efforts on educational and philanthropic causes. Since then, he has received several awards for promoting peace in the world including the World Award (2003), Man of Peace Award (2004) and the Mediterranean Prize for Peace (2007). It would be years, however, before I was to hear or even think about this iconic man again.

During a visit with my mother this fall, we had the good fortune of watching Harold and Maude, a 1971 film about a young man obsessed with death and his relationship with a 79 year old woman who teaches him that life is the most precious gift of all. Stevens’ music surfaces in the opening scene and continues throughout the movie. The soundtrack is 100% Cat Stevens (with the exception of one or two classical tracks). As soon as I heard the scratchy sound of needle on vinyl leading up to “Don’t Be Shy,” I was immediately propelled back to a different era. First to 1984, in my junior year apartment and then to the early 70’s when I was growing up. Both periods punctuated by feelings of freedom, independence, creativity, and thoughtful expression.

More recently, it has come to my attention that Stevens (or now Yusuf) has decided to revisit the music and embark on a full fledged American tour. He began releasing new albums in 2006 and just this year (2014) began his first tour since 1978.

Peter and I decided it was a great time to cover one of his tunes, and Peter brought “Longer Boats” to the table.

Here is our version.

We have since changed a few of the harmonies and are working on refining the arrangement and tempo. All the same, it is a great tune to sing out, “If You Want to Sing Out.” Enjoy.

“Her Song,” the B Side

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I wrote “Her Song” in June of 2005 when my oldest daughter was 11 and entrenched in the challenges of middle school navigation. “Her Song” is a look into the mind and feelings of a young girl on the brink of adulthood for whom I care deeply but could not always reach or understand.

I recorded “Her Song” this past summer in Dave’s studio. Again, Dave did an amazing job helping to refine the arrangement. He also added a bass line and acoustic guitar solo that are right on the money. I have thought of this song as a good B Side to “Flowers.” I can picture it on a Vinyl 45 Single. Maybe someday.

Enjoy listening and let me know what you think.

The Benefits of Blogging and Gigging….

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As I woke up this morning reflecting on my first GIG with Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy, I asked myself what was so fun and rewarding about this type of experience. Over the past week, I had also been contemplating why I was enjoying writing the blog and what I realized was this. There were some common threads that pulled me towards both.

The thing about blogging that is different than writing an essay or more formal paper is that it allows you a space to jot down ideas in a variety of ways without the pressure of having to be “perfect.” It is a journey rather than a destination and as journeys often go, there is no real ending or final product to worry about, mistakes happen (and it’s ok), ideas evolve, unexpected events occur, and if you allow it, the path may lead to a place of discovery that you would not have found had you tried to over plan it.

Gigging can offer the same freedom to grow and evolve. Getting out and playing in front of an audience on a regular basis allows you the opportunity to try new things, to make mistakes, to perfect your technique and presentation, and to connect with others. It offers you the chance to put aside fears of failure or not being perfect in favor of embarking on a journey where the unexpected is the norm. The key is to keep moving, keep evolving, keep listening, keep playing.

Last night, as we performed to an intimate audience, we realized the benefits of embarking on this musical journey. Through some hard work, commitment to creativity, support of one another, and a willingness to take small risks, we were able to put out some music that made people smile, groove a little, and connect to some great tunes. What could be more fun and rewarding than that?

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Peter and I with Fotini (One of the Owners of Fortini’s Restaurant, Bolton, MA) after the show.

Pulling Together Some Last Minute Tunes ….

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Wendy Darling and the Lost Boy will be playing this Friday night at Fortini’s Restaurant in Bolton, MA. Our goal has been to begin booking gigs after the New Year, but this one came along and we are really excited! We realized, however, we needed to add a few more songs to our list in order to fill up the 2 1/2 hours. This is what we came up with..

(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone, written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and made famous by Paul Revere & the Raiders, who recorded and released it in May of 1966 on their Midnight Ride album. The Monkees also released a version in November of 1966 which made it to the top of the charts. I recently heard Steppin’ Stone when I went out to see my brother-in-law’s band over Thanksgiving weekend. They did a splendid version and I immediately knew it would be a good one for us.

The other song we added this week is Everything Has Changed by Taylor Swift. Covering Taylor Swift is not an easy task but after many requests from my 18 year old daughter, we thought it would be fun to try. We chose Everything Has Changed because it is not only a beautifully written song, but it also features British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran. This vocal and guitar duo seemed like a perfect combo to cover.

If you have the chance, come down to Fortini’s Restaurant (544 Wattaquadock Hill, Bolton, MA) this Friday night, December 12, and check out the rest of our music. We’ll be starting at 7.

In the Studio with “Flowers”

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I wrote “Flowers” in the winter of 2006 while taking a course in Craniosacral Therapy. As we explored the deeper parts of ourselves, I came across a space within myself that held an old and elusive memory of my father, who died when I was only 2.

The song “Flowers” is about the importance of my relationship with my dad, but how quickly it ended and the difficulty in holding on to the memories. Sometimes they surface and hint at a rich connection, but always, they quickly fade.

This summer, I had the privilege of working with a talented musician and friend, Dave Parker. We worked through a couple of my original songs and chose two to record, one of which was “Flowers.” Dave made some insightful additions to the song as well as created and played drums and bass on the recording. Oh yeah, he also recorded the song in his new studio, an amazingly talented guy. Thanks, Dave!

Here is the final recording. Let me know what you think.

A Note About Bob Dylan. “The Tunes They are a Changin”

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Bob Dylan

I had the good fortune to see Bob Dylan and “his band” perform at the Orpheum Theatre last Friday night, November 14. As you can imagine, the environment was warm and intimate, the volume and tone masterful, the crowd nostalgic, and Bob, well Bob was and continues to be, “Forever Young.”

The Band played a combination of old favorites like “Tangled up in Blue” and “Simple Twist of Fate” as well as many songs that I did not recognize from his newer albums (the man is still cranking them out). Bob was in classic form, cool and collected and although his vocal cords were showing wear, he still managed to belt out his poetry with the same heartfelt soul that attracted attention in the early 60s.

The magic of the show was not surprising. After all, Bob Dylan is one of the most acclaimed artists of all time and he undoubtedly has access to some of the best supporting musicians and creative staff in the world today. What did surprise me about the performance, however, was how differently he approached some of his old classics.

I have had this conversation many times with my musical friends. Is it more valuable to cover a song detail by detail so that it sounds as close to the original as possible or better to put your own twist on it? I have always been on the side of adding my own spin. After all, I have mostly covered larger band songs with a two part act and substituted the traditional male lead with my female vocals. There is no way I could sound remotely like the original presentations, even if I tried. However, the main reason I strive to “cover” not “copy” a song is that I believe that music is a merging of the art and the artist. I am not Bob Dylan so I will never deliver a song like Bob Dylan. The best renditions, in my opinion, come when the musician is able to connect on a soul level with the essence of the composition. The best songs are those that have such a universal essence that they are easily interpreted in as many varied ways as there are different people interpreting them.

As I sat listening to Bob and His Band play “She Belongs to Me” early in the first set, it took me a minute to recognize the song. The rendition was so completely different than the original version I was use to hearing. Bob was reinventing his own music in a way that was refreshing and new. The crowd loved it, because by changing the tunes and the delivery, Dylan was revealing a new part of himself. A true gift that we all appreciated.

“She Belongs to Me” by Bob Dylan,
Covered by Wendy and Peter
(song)

“She Belongs to Me” was one of the first songs Peter and I attempted to play together and one that came out in our own unique way without much effort. Ours is a very different version than those played by Bob Dylan or anyone else for that matter. But, that is exactly how we want it to be. Enjoy listening!

Slaters, Bolton, MA – November 13, 2014

Peter and I have been working hard putting together a couple of sets that we can take out after the New Year. Had the chance to play 4 at Slater’s in Bolton Thursday night, two Bill Withers tunes, an original, and Whipping Post.

Check out this version of Whipping Post we recorded during a practice session Wednesday. A little rough but with more practice and tweaking, know this one will continue to be a blast to cover.

PS…Love the open mic at Slater’s on Thursday nights. Warm atmosphere, great crowd, good musicians, and tasty brick oven pizza!