Category Archives: Jazz

Back to Life

My poor website has languished from lack of attention. I just spent the school year working with eight outreach Girl Scout troops as a Program Provider, working catering gigs for weddings, developing a website and social media for an inventor’s new product, moving, giving an eight year old girl some voice lessons, and of course playing as much music as I can with friends. My poetry has suffered. Writing creatively has taken a break from being in my world as I work more on living life than hiding behind my notebook or laptop.

However, that doesn’t mean my muse is dead, just dormant for a bit. Inspiration is a friend that thrives on golden moments when we slow down to really observe the world around us. These days there are so many words and news streams and photos and memes and viral videos to distract us that it is hard too find the time to breathe. I hope to breathe life into work this summer and perhaps there will finally be something for me to write about again that is worth sharing. You might just catch me taking my dog to the river too in between the works to be done.2016-06-09 20.58.20

For now, know that sunsets are beautiful at home, the garden is growing, and there’s music to be played live.

 

Viva la Verse!

Dear readers,

Happy Spring to you! My apologies for letting this poor blog languish from neglect. Never fear! I have been rehearsing and developing new material and residencies since leaving Poetry Alive! last Spring. The good news is that the word is not dead, and in fact is finally reborn to bridge the gap and join the music in my world!

Through TAPAS (Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools) I have been doing residencies where we link the rhythm and sound of poetry with American jazz, blues, bluegrass, rock, reggae, and pop to understand how fractions allow us to count time in both music and poetry.

From this experience the fabulous Andy Pond (CX-1, Snake Oil Medicine Show, A.V.A.S., Pond Brothers) has joined me to share a family friendly interactive musical-poetic adventure mixing words from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to Tupac Shakur with the sounds of the American melting-pot of musical genres developed over the past century.

I am very excited to share that we have a public performance of Viva la Verse! coming up Friday, April 24 as part of the Tryon Poetry Festival which you can read more about in the current issue of Bold Life. Students can also sign up for the Pop Up Poetry and Writing the Blues workshops at Tryon Fine Arts Center on Saturday, April 25 where I will help them to express their own thoughts and bring poetry to life. Join us if you can, or let me know if you are interested in having Viva la Verse! to come to a school or performance venue near you.

Also, for those of you wondering, I am still playing with the Red Hot Sugar Babies who have some hot shows coming up this Spring. In addition, there are some solo performances and special appearances with bands like Electric Campfire that allow me to break out of the jazz mold and rock a bit coming up as well. One of these days I might finally get my calendar up to date again, but you can always catch me posting things last minute as a raging muse on Twitter and Facebook.

School’s out for the Summer…

It’s been a wild and speedy Spring bringing poetry and music to classrooms as far flung as Wyoming and Vermont as well as right here in North Carolina. In addition to touring with Poetry Alive! and playing with The Red Hot Sugar Babies as well as some gypsies, I was excited to work in Andy Pond’s EC Math classes through the TAPAS program for the first time. I’m looking forward to more arts integration workshops through the program this fall. To find out more about the work I do in the classrooms or to book a classroom visit to your school, please visit my new “Teaching” page on the website here: jazzandpoetry.com/teaching

For now, here’s a little video montage of some of the photos from the road and home this Spring with an original song I wrote and recorded in the hotel rooms.

Falling back into the classroom

My how time flies when you’re busy teaching yourself new songs, moving, planting and growing yourself in a community, and mostly searching for good work to do. Sure there has been some fun along the way, of course. However, after years of relying on Poetry Alive! to find me good work to do in classrooms across the country while I juggled some new projects on my end, I find myself setting sail on a solo adventure that means booking not only the bands I perform with, but also marketing my years of arts integration experience in the classroom as a solo artist.

I started putting applications together last winter and reaching out to organizations that fund this work. I’m excited to share that the Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools (TAPAS) program funded by Asheville City Schools Foundation in cooperation with LEAF in Schools & Streets and UNCA has accepted me into their cohort of teaching artists for the 2013-2014 school year. This means that teachers working in the Asheville City Schools may submit grant proposals to TAPAS to fund in-school residencies with experienced local teaching artists like myself. I will be updating this website soon with more information about the types of residencies I have done effectively with the SmartARTS program in South Carolina and new ideas for pairing core curriculum with engaging music, writing, and performance residencies. For now, you can check out the brief overview in the new TAPAS catalog below:

If you are a teacher working outside of the Asheville City Schools, feel free to contact me directly about booking and we can discuss rates and other funding options that may be available to you in your area.

My current schedule on this website is a “living breathing entity” (aka “subject to change rapidly”) that contains much of the live music performances coming up with The Gypsy Swingers and The Red Hot Sugar Babies in the area. I also will be playing a show later this fall of original music and some covers outside the jazz genre. I must admit, that has me a bit anxious as I stretch myself a little further into the solo world. I’ll keep updates coming as that develops with some sound bites & lyric dribblings.

Thanks for stopping by and reading! Wishing all the teachers and students heading back to school this week a great start to the new year!

 

Ghosts of October

Looks like I completely missed blogging in October. Just to slip something in I’m writing from my phone while on the go. Sometimes life moves too fast to process & write about it all. Often at these times it is stranger than fiction.

In the past month I’ve juggled more jobs than ever to keep afloat and found more joyful surprises to cheer my soul. Ghosts of Halloweens past brought tears of sorrow and joy along with a glimpse of brighter tomorrows.

At the same time the Occupy Wall Street movement has swept the nation and continued to whisper ideas to change the world.

I’ve occupied a few hotels in towns recently touring with Poetry Alive! where I arrived a stranger and immediately found a community to share resources and make our stay more joyful. It’s amazing how when we all share what we have, we all have what we need. It’s easy to sit back, point the finger at someone else, and complain that life is unfair. However, when you honestly step forward and share your skills and talents there’s really very little to complain about. As we enter the giving season please consider this and avoid wasting time at the malls and super box stores full of “cheap stuff.” Consider what you have to offer your friends and family as gifts and when spending your hard earned dollars check out local handmade goods and services from local crafters, musicians, and merchants whose taxes pay for your local community services as well. Invest in your community and find ways for your local community to share it’s bounty with nearby communities in need. Occupy your community this holiday season and watch it flourish.

On that note, there’s some live jazz in front of me stealing my attention and calling me to participate in the real world once again. May you find such cozy company where ever you occupy.

Harmony

A young friend of mine recently went to Pirate Camp for a week and came back singing a song I had also learned at camp years ago. As we were playing in the river I remembered an alternate ending so that we could sing the end in two part harmony. It was so easy for us that I wonder why it is ever difficult.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently playing music with new people always searching for the synergy that allows for a truly balanced sound. I’m loud. I’ve met people who have beautiful sweet voices, but find myself holding back in order to balance and blend. I love the feeling when singing with someone who has enough vocal strength that we can open up and sing from the soul together.

I also find a magic in the moment when an audience opens up and sings out loud. “Play another campfire song that we can all sing along,” as the woman said on a porch the other night. I’ve been building a random repertoire of such songs to play on the ukulele that speak to me, through me, and to others allowing us all to sing together. I know the music industry pressures us into believing we have to make and buy new music, but to me every live performance of a song is a new story. The more people who sing along, the bigger the story. Yesterday Andrew Fletcher and I shared some traditional jazz standards at LaurelHurst Retirement Community and it was fun to realize that not only did they recognize the songs, but often they were singing along. We all had smiles on our faces by the time we were done.

My mom never stopped me from singing, so apologies to those musicians who are annoyed when the audience begins to sing along, but I wasn’t raised that way. How can we ever have harmony if we don’t sing together?

Yin-Yang Harmony

Raw songs in rehearsal

Last fall I applied for the NC Arts Council’s Songwriter’s grant. Hopeful that I’d win the luck of the draw I’ve been working on getting ten songs ready to record my first solo album of original music. Unfortunately, I found out Friday that I will not be one of the two grant recipients this year.

However, below in raw form is song number nine given to me by journalist and songwriter Dave Shiflett who I met at the Mt. Airy Fiddler’s Convention and song number ten that I’ve been fussing with the words for until today.

Without the grant I do not currently have any funds to pay for instruments, studio time, other musicians, album artwork, and copies of the CD. I might be able to do it though with a little help from my friends. If somebody better with dollars wants to help me run a kickstarter campaign that would be great. Otherwise, know that I’ll bake you cookies, clean your house, weed your yard, watch your kids, or help you in whatever way I can if you have money, time, or talent to throw at this project.

Seeking feedback on a couple of little ditties

I’ve been working on my uke skills with some unexpected free time. On a whim I’m headed to the studio to record one song for a songwriter’s contest this evening. But which song should I enter?

Below are the two newest songs that I recorded experimenting with my new camera before the batteries went dead (hence the blurry image, but you don’t need to see me to hear the song). You can find my other original songs under the “music” tab on this page that were recorded last year.

It’s free to listen to all my music on the internet. So, if you have a few minutes, let me know which of the seven tunes I’ve created on uke that you like the best or hate the least to help me figure out which song I should enter in the contest. Thanks!

Summer of Stars

This past summer has been full of amazing folks who inspire me to keep on keeping on making the dream come alive. Thank you to all those who live for a living, this is a little gift for all of you.

Thanks to Dan Petrella for recording some of my original songs with my little ukulele I got last November from Lora Pendleton too!  You can listen to all five songs we recorded this week when you sign up for my mailing list at ReverbNation. But for my blog buddies here’s one more: