This morning I got to do a mostly spontaneous performance of our kids music repertoire with Lara and Kid Kazooey. We were at First United Methodist Church and played for the preschoolers there. It was a lot of fun. Only four songs in a half hour (short-n-sweet!) and lots of Lara energy as she interacted with the kids. She’s great at it. It was nice to do a low-pressure gig with such a rowdy audience!
On Friday I had another recording session with Kevin and Lara, this time to focus on “All Around The Kitchen,” an old Woody Guthrie tune. As usual, Lara’s funked it up with a jaunty beat and Kevin’s rockin’ acoustic guitar accompaniment.
My part is to sing a counterpoint harmony and remember the bloody words! It’s one of those “put your hands on your head, put your hands on your shoulders” kind of tunes and I keep forgetting that hips exist.
We had about 40 minutes to throw it together and it’s possible that the last cut was a keeper. We’re using the Zoom H2 (enthuse, enthuse) and it really picks out Every Single Thing you sing. I finally cupped my ear to make sure I could hear myself and hit my notes more squarely.
We end with this funky “all around all around all around” bit that I came up with and then Lara smacks the drum. Am hoping we nailed it to her satisfaction. I love these stolen Friday lunch sessions. We’ve got about 10 more songs to go and so little time to do them in!
Kevin’s tidbit for the day was that he knows a woman whose sense of pitch is so keen that, even if his guitar is not perfectly in tune, if it’s tune to 439 instead of 440, she’s in agony. I also have a dog’s sense of hearing, but this level of tuning is a curse rather than a blessing! 🙂
Lara, Kevin, & I debuted a set of kid songs last Saturday at a benefit for Your Art Here. Lara gave me one piece a couple days before, and another the day before — yeeks! I was so obsessed with coming up with something devastatingly clever. Pah!
The gig was at the Monroe County Historical Society building, in a small room. There’d been very little publicity, so the turnout was small — about 15 adults and kids.
But the fun! Lara was outstanding at engaging the kids in the music and getting them fired up to dance and explore. All my vocal shenanigans took their rightful place — way in the background! I was reminded once again of Sam Lowry‘s advice: “A backup singer…sings backup.”
We had a really good time. Even though the gig was only about half an hour, I rode the performance high for about 3 hours afterwards.
Lara and Kevin are generous and flexible performers, turning on a dime when one of us suddenly takes a new direction (otherwise known as “screws up”!). Sophia, who organized the event, was radiant in her new momhood and was her usual gracious self. Steve Mascari arrived to play after us but we had to leave.
Kevin’s got us set to do another gig this Saturday at Max’s Place, as part of a kids’ extravaganza. All my fretting has been put aside; I’m looking forward to it.
Today we started recording Lara Weaver‘s children’s songs album. She, (her husband) Kevin MacDowell (AKA Kid Kazooey), and I clustered around a righteous handheld digital recorder and learned/ran “Fishin’ Medley” 3 times.
In the meantime, I’ll say what a treat it is to work with Lara. She is so open and vibrant and ready for anything. She has a vision for each piece but also allows it to grow organically as others give input. I have no idea how she so graciously makes it seem like everyone’s piece equally when it’s really hers, but it’s truly a gift.
For all his clowning elsewhere, Kevin is a professional when it comes to studio work. He wastes no time in fluffy conversation. He gets his equipment tuned and ready to go, and stays focused throughout the session. He’s there to make music, and it really makes you want to step up and give your best.
For my part, I felt a bit unprepared and tried to get into the groove as quickly as possible. Lara handed me a new (solo) verse when I walked in and then let me completely change the tune — indeed, I changed it every time I sang it, since I had no idea what I was doing! I love singing with Lara — we have a very similar New Orleans jazz feel on some pieces — but I admit I am stymied by the word “crawdad.” She has a particular pronunciation that I haven’t quite nailed yet. “Crawdad.” Hm.
It’s fun singing backup with the lyric sheet right in your hand. There’s lots of repetition and little pressure. The worst part every time is listening to the playback, since all you do is pick apart every slightly off-pitch note and brain yourself for being an utter loser in the face of this other talent. 🙂
We got a pretty good recording last time through but the balance was a little off on “my” verse, so next week we’ll record once more before going on to the next song. I’m doing some Leon Redbone-sounding trumpet sound effects on one piece in the medley and I hope to perfect the lip-buzz so I’m not spitting quite so much. This is quite the groovin’ sound, unlike any kids music I’ve heard before, and I’m looking forward to continuing the journey. Apparently Lara’s already got us a gig with Sophia Travis in February, so maybe I’ll need to learn the words by then!
1990s-present. Sang in a number of staged theatre works, wrote and performed back-up vocals for alt-rock singer-songwriter Sam Lowry, and did a coffeehouse solo show back in the ’90s that was very fun.
In 2007 I performed La Vie En Rose in a collaborative arrangement with Sophia Travis and Lois Sabo-Skelton for a Democratic Womens’ Caucus annual meeting (the evening was magical—unforgettable).
Collaborated with Lara Weaver, Amy Roche, Kevin MacDowell, and Steve Mascari for a set of music performed at World AIDS Day Memorial, 2007 and 2006. Performed back-up vocals with Angela Berzins for Sophia Travis at a benefit performance, 2006.
Did a number of collaborative pieces with members of Windfall Dancers for their Reflexions series. The most notable were a piece created with Laura Bullock that was based on The Vertigo Tarot, improvisational singing based on an art show, and singing spooky death songs (ooo…) for Kay Olges. I love collaborating with Windfall—they do a fantastic job of converting sound to movement.
1990s. Facilitated by the phenomenally talented, multifaceted, “say yes to everything” Lara Weaver. I learned a lot about improv and about suiting the tune to the singer through these free community workshops. I also learned a lot about teaching, since Lara’s relaxed, positive, flexible style is about as far removed from mine as you can get!