Wednesday, June 21, 2006


So Sunday night I went to a little gathering of some Texas Early Music Project people. These people know how to eat... but that's not the point of my story. About the time I was ready to head out, I was asked why I wasn't going to Amherst (a big early music summer camp for big kids). I knew it existed but really had never given it much thought. Between the distance and the cost and the time and my lightly employed state, I usually don't entertain ideas like that for long. When I got home, I decided to just look it up, check out the dates and cost. The dates are perfect. With work-study I might be able to afford it. In under 24 hours the decision had pretty much been made to go on this two week workshop in Connecticut. I've never been up in that area. The closest airport is actually in Rhode Island. I got word this morning that I've been accepted for work study. I'm thrilled. This will be alot of fun. I'll get to meet lots of people and I'll get to learn stuff about some of the music I already perform - I kinda do these things backward, but I'm slowly catching up.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Home Hot Home

This year in Minnesota was a dream come true. The weather on Saturday was almost cold. The high was about 63 after all. And Sunday may have reached about 70. I can report no sweat at all. No heat related crankiness or stinkiness!
The fair had grown very nicely since last year. There were at least twice as many vendors most of which were very unusual hand made goods.... the same for the food booths. Although turkey legs were available (they are known here as "dragon drums"), you could also order homemade "beastless sausage" that was awesome. YUM!! No cheesecake on a stick here, instead you could have homemade lemon cheese curd pie. yum!! This is one of those fairs that lacks that grease cloud in the air that you smell at most huge fairs.

Istanpitta: Laura MacKenzie, Al Cofrin, and Me

Jamming in the pub with "Clan Tartan" A very authentic encampment set up. That coupled with very nice people made hanging out in the pub a pleasure.
Jousting!!! Too Cute! Saturday, Children wore these stuffed horse get up. Sunday, Adults were participating which was even sillier.
Miniature horse named Curtis.
Pirate down! Our friends of "My Lady's Cutlass" were often found lounging in the meadow or playing pirate with children or at the back of our audience demanding "Como Poden" a song that we both love to perform. Most of our show times were exactly the same so it was hard to support each other, but we still enjoyed their company.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

MN, here we come

We just got word that the expected high HIGH for Saturday is 62!!!! Alleluia!! I'll try to bottle it up and bring it home for everyone. Ahhhhhhhhh.... 62.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Solo Show

I answered an ad on Craig'sList a few weeks ago. The Special Care Program Director had placed an ad looking for musicians to come play for the Alzheimer's residents. She was able to offer food and gas money for someone to come play or sing for 30 minutes or so. New musicians were encouraged to contact her. This sounded like a fantastic way for me to try out singing with Molly (the Octave Mandolin). I’m not new to singing, but singing and playing at the same time....
She responded to my email and I called her. I told her the types of songs I knew -- songs from the 20's-40's, musicals, early music, and Irish music. We set a date and I started practicing. I made a list of 8 songs that I sing acapella with my singing telegrams and made a list of 6 more that I thought I might be able to strum simple chords to. It was quite a variety -- everything from "A Bicycle Built for Two" to "Amor ch'Attendi".
So today was the big day. 2:30 was the big time. I paced the house all morning. So I practiced and practiced. Then I left the house at 2:00 arriving just a little early. I was directed thru the securely locked doors into the wing for the Alzheimer's residents and into a cozy room with lots of couches and relaxing chairs. The staff brought in the people who smiled and hugged me and welcomed me and the show began…. My nerves wore off before I even started to sing. These were sweet people, friends. I sang and played my entire list telling them all about each song and how I came to learn it and why I like it, just as if this was a big performance that would warrant such banter. Some of the songs actually do have good stories, like "Begin the Beguine". A man had contacted me to sing for his wife for their anniversary. He requested this song because his wife sang it in a choir when they were both children. It was the first time their paths had crossed. Anyway, the half hour went by without a problem. Even the few mess ups I made (I know it’s hard to believe I could ever mess up), I covered pretty well or made a joke out of it. They enjoyed the songs, and sang along with many of them. A couple of times someone would tell me the first time they ever heard that song. It was really a fantastic experience. I’m looking forward to the next time. Ceridwyn and I are getting together next week to build up a duet for just this type of audience. Maybe we will turn into a worldwide tour…. OK maybe just an Austin-wide tour…. Still a tour. I’m thinking t-shirts and posters and…..

Monday, June 05, 2006

Holy Porkchops, What a Week

So last weekend was Greater St. Louis Ren Faire. I realized as the plane was taking off that I had forgotten to mail my Dad's birthday card and/or to bring it with me to put in the mail. His birthday was Tuesday the 30th, so I thought I would mail it late and call him..... to be continued.....

St. Louis was great but HOT. St. Louis does experience Texas style heat, but not usually this early in the year. Saturday the medics were very busy with heat exhausted people, and I think they said 2 or 3 people actually went away in an ambulance. Sunday was only cooler by one or two degrees, but people got smarter.

We shared the stage with The Limeybirds and with a bellydance troop (which unfortunately a week has taken their name away from my fried little brain). The belly dancers are local and they are great hosts to us every year. The Limeys are three funny, zainy, and brilliant ladies who were a lot of fun to hang out with back stage while we all tried to fend off the heat as much as possible.

Sunday night we went to Conna's house for a barbeque party. Conna and Constance play recorder and this year had a different third player with them who's name has slipped my mind, but I'm sure someone!!!! will remind me! Conna had nuns visiting from Bolivia. She took Sister Anne and Sister Clara all over St. Louis and brought them to the fair and to our show and the Limey show. We did our Santa Maria set for them and the Limey's did their R rated set :-) The barbeque was a blast. The food was fantastic and plentiful. Thank's to Conna's hubby for that. The musicians of the party showed off instruments mainly Al's new Krumhorn and Conna's practice Krumhorn. Which soon became nun party favors. Sister Anne now has an idea for the first ever Bolivian Nun marching Krumhorn band.

We returned Monday afternoon. Heather and I nearly died on the airplane that sat still with no AC for what seemed like eternity and a half. I just had to keep from making eye contact with anyone for fear I might become psychotic and then get kicked off the plane. We eventually took off and the "crank factor" reduced. Got home right at 10PM and crashed (me, not the plane).

Tuesday, made it to the Toot by 8:45 for morning coffee duty. I did work study to pay for the couple of classes I took. It's a good thing the work didn't involve many brain cells because my brain was JELLO. I took a morning lute song class and sang "Come Again, Sweet Love". Amy Brumley.... or rather, DR. Amy Brumley was really great to me and the other singers of the morning. Very good suggestions and great vocal coaching techniques.
Later I took a baroque duet class..... which proved my lack of brain cells. I was totally incapable of singing my part. Luckily my duet partner, Valerie, was kind enough not to get to upset with me. Then came the class I had been preparing for - Commedia dell'Arte Theatre Project. We ran thru the first half of the show which included my one song. My song was a complete disaster. It was absolutely the scariest musical experience of my life. I sat backstage afterward thinking, what have I done?!? How do I command the orchestra? And of course this was the first time they played the piece. We were not even in the same universe in any respect. But of course, quitting was not an option..... I meantally coached myself into just singing it as if nothing else mattered. The orchestra would either play along or not, it wouldn't matter. And I also came up with the idea of singing it in the morning lute class. Three of the orchestra members were also in that class. At least then, someone would know what my plan was.
After that class it was time to usher and set up for the Flanders Recoder Quartet concert. Oh wow!!! They were incredible. Each member alone was spectacular and their ensemble work was second to none. Afterward, everyone got Amy's ice cream.... YUM! Made it home just after 10. Dad's birthday passed.... I managed to get the card in the mail, but :-(

Wednesday.... back to the toot by 8:45. I felt better this day and was able to manage my duties without too much problem. In lute class we did practice my theater solo and Ohhhhhhh, did I feel a million times better. Baroque duet class was infinitely better as well. I think I managed to sing notes that were actually on the page this time. And the theater class was not nearly so frightening, although I'm not sure I'm ever going to remember this seven word name I'm supposed to spit out. After that, I drove to Houston. Made it there by about 9 and really only wanted to go to sleep, but we created our set list and lesson plan.

Thursday.... up and at 'em about 7:30. Gotta make sure we can make it to Panera Bread for breakfast before our gig at 10:ish. The gig was for about 60 elementary aged children at a Catholic private school. It was Medieval Day. Our plan went off without a hitch. We did both of our Santa Maria stories. The porkchop and the rabbit bone story with the greatest actor ever, 2nd grader, Patrick who played the food loving man who dies but later chokes up the rabbit bone ..... ew gross! Michelle, Al and I managed to quickly squeeze in lunch before I headed back to Austin. I gave myself 3 hours and 15 minutes, but rain made the trip 3 hours and 45 minutes. I was totally late for the theater class, and I wasn't the only one. We did what we could and got an hour break before dress rehearsal.

Friday..... 9-2 had a massage gig for a health fair. It went great- my 5 hour schedule was filled up with people within the first half hour. Everyone was fabulous. Then time for our final theater class before our real performance. Still not getting that 7 word name right..... I'm beginning to lose hope on that. 6:30 we all get dressed and made up. Me in my clown costume and mustache. We had a completely full house. The show came off fabulously. I did screw up twice.... big time..... but dressed in a clown suit, no one was really sure if I meant to do one of the screw ups (which was to forget my lines that cued the orchestra to start playing my song- I ended up just telling them to start.) And the other was the 7 word name. This being an Itallian type show, it would have been nice if itallian foods came to my mind (I could have added various Itallian foods to the name and managed to get 7 words crammed in there somehow), but instead Pei Wei came to mind and Capitano Bernardino Lemon Pepper Chicken Spavento was born - someone thought I added Pimentos in that list, but I don't really remember too much now. I managed to make it home about 10:30.

Saturday.... Ceridwyn and I went to Arlington for the Scottish Festival. Girls' weekend of kilts, bagpipes and a very cute bass guitarist with the most adorable blonde curls.
We made it home before 8 on Sunday..... more about our adventures will be posted on the Green Gabriel Blog. Lots of great bands and I did mention the curly haired bass player from Canada, right?

Now it's Monday. I have to put away all the junk I have dragged out and packed and re packed and not had time to put away. Back to my list of practicings and I'll be leaving for Minnesota Friday morning.