When is it enough?

March 1, 2009

Kevin and I finally made a recording of “Redbird” (AKA “Deadbird”). Actually, we made four recordings, the third of which I immediately thought might be “it.”

He sent me a copy a week or so ago and I’ve been listening to it. This is a mistake. The more you listen, the more imperfections you hear. I’m now at the point where I’d like to record it again but it’s really up to him, since he’s managing it all as a favor to me. 

I keep remembering my recording session with Sam Lowry, where he was reluctant to re-record any of my lines. His belief was that recordings should carry a little of the imperfections of live performance. You obviously don’t want to include clinkers, but a little waver here and there adds texture and personality. Otherwise you run the risk of sounding like the Robert Shaw Chorale.

I get that on an intellectual level, but what happens if (gasp) people think I can’t do any better than what’s on the recording? What if they think that I can’t hear what’s not perfect? When is enough enough?

I have no answers. Just a song that I love and that I want to share with people who might actually care.

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The Kids debut

February 12, 2009

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.


Freelance solo work

November 23, 2008

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.


Sam Lowry recordings

November 23, 2008

2003. I wrote and performed the backing vocals on Sam Lowry‘s “Sometimes” off the album The September Letters

“Sam” said he wanted to lay down a gospel choir sound at the end of the piece and have me wail like Mahalia Jackson on top of it. My carefully constructed gospel texture was ultimately smothered by a wailing guitar solo instead of a wailing Mahalia-inspired me solo. I was most disappointed. At which point Sam gave me some sage if pointed advice: “Back-up singers sing back-up.”

Rather than post a postlette, I’ll just add here that in the same series of recordings we made for September Letters, Sam recorded me singing something for a Depeche Mode cover. I don’t recall the song or what I did, but I enjoyed it. How helpful.