Sunday, August 30, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 61: Gigs and Videos

Happy Sunday morning, still cloudy and damp, but the deluge is past. Man, I had to drive to Dartmouth in it last night, and it was unbelievable. Almost thought we had to get that ark out, after all.

It's been a busy weekend (... and when isn't it? you ask...) Friday, the Lindsays performed at the Historic Winslow House in Marshfield, a combo lecture-performance where we (okay, I) talked about my book See You at the Hall, and we played. What a gorgeous space the Winslow House is! They have an all-summer lecture series with local authors, plus special events like the Oktoberfest with Samuel Adams brewery on October 8. THIS sounds fun:

On Thursday, October 8th, from 6:30 pm until 8:00 pm, the historic 1699 Winslow House, 634 Careswell Street, Marshfield, MA, will be the host for a Samuel Adams brewery “Beer Tasting”—featuring both food and beer. A variety of dishes created by A Chef’s Table Catering of Pembroke will be prepared for patrons to sample--all made with various kinds of Samuel Adams beer and ale. Additionally, those in attendance can sample different beer and ale as the Winslow House celebrates its own style of Oktoberfest.

A ticket will allow the patron to go around to different stations and try a mixture of foods cooked with Samuel Adams beer. Additionally, an assortment of beers from Samuel Adams will also be offered to sample along with the food.
Tickets to this special event are $ 17 for members and $ 20 for non-members. Reservations can be made by going onto the Winslow House website at or by calling the Winslow House at 781-837-5753. Patrons must be 21 or over to attend. Space is limited so reservations are strongly recommended.

Wanna go? Me too. Let me know!

Performed last night at the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust annual barn dance, as a special guest with Three Cats and a Dog. Also big big fun!

And finally...

Some new videos to share. The editing is a little weird on these, but if you can put up with my pre-song chatter, I hope the music is worth it:

I Shall Be Released:



Friday, August 28, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 59: A, not E.

Infallibility makes the rock star, but weakness makes the narrative. And so, today, I whine:

Mommy, they only want me for s_x!

A, not E. Sax. Demmit.

That was last night’s revelation, and it didn’t go down well with Soul Mama here. All that work on the flute, and yet the sax is still more popular? The thing I’ve been doing since Hector was a pup, the thing I don’t work on, the thing I take for granted: that’s what they want? Really? This isn’t the first time I’ve learned this, oh no. This is about the millionth. And still, it hurts. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, sometimes not at all. Last night: a lot.

One lesson from this: Sometimes it’s a good idea to build on one’s strengths.

Guess what I practiced this morning?***

(***Until Mini Me woke up two hours earlier than usual, just when I thought I had a wide, free stretch before me... but that's another story.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 58: The Kennedy Motorcade

By some unexpected semi-coincidence, I ended up in Hyannis this afternoon right about the time that Edward Kennedy's motorcade was going to pass from Hyannisport en route to the JFK museum in Boston, where his body will lie in repose for two days until his funeral.

At around 12:15, I picked up my niece to take her school shopping. The original plan had been Boston, but she said that the hip cool store she wanted to shop in was actually in Hyannis or Wrentham. Knowing that much would be on in Hyannis today, I suggested that we do that.

We got to the Sagamore Bridge at around noon, and already people were lined up with American flags and television cameras. As we drove on toward Hyannis, we noted that rest areas were beginning to fill with cars, and people were stationing themselves in their lawn chairs, just waiting to pay respects to Sen. Kennedy as his hearse and family drove by.

Hit a very busy route 132 and exit 6, en route to the mall... but also the route that the motorcade would take. People were beginning to line the road. Drove less than half a mile and pulled up at a gas station. A hundred yards down, a fire truck had parked perpendicular to the road, and extended its 100-foot ladder over it, from which was suspended a giant American flag. We stopped at the gas station nearby and decided to wait.

We weren't the only ones. In the same gas station were two young families, with kids. Knots of people across the street. Lawyers, office workers. The gas station owner told his mechanic it would be okay if he wanted to go to the street and wait. There was a certain kindness in his voice, the same kindness I noticed that people used after 9/11. Kindness in exceptional moments of adversity.

We parked there, and as we waited, more and more folks lined up. By 2:30 when the motorcade finally arrived, the busy road was packed. Rte 132 is fast, commercial, and ugly. Not a typical roadside stopping point, but that stopped no one.

How do you explain to a three-year-old why you've stopped by the side of a busy street for two hours? "Someone very important is coming in a black car." She shrugged, and took her bucket to the pine tree to collect pinecones.

At any rate, our spot was next to a fire department checkpoint, of sorts -- not a fire station, but just a spot where some six or eight trucks had pulled up, from Yarmouth, Marstons Mills, the Division of Conservation Resources, Dennis, and other Cape Cod towns.

When the motorcade finally arrived, the DCR forest fire truck next to us pulled out across the road to block traffic. The staties on motorcycles zoomed up and down the road to clear people to the sidewalks and median strip. And then, eight staties on motorcycles, with their blue lights flashing, led a short procession of Kennedys down route 132: a hearse, two limos, and a Peter Pan bus.

The fire chief called his men to attention, and they stood still and saluted as the motorcade passed.

After Teddy's hearse came the immediate family, in two limos. In both limos, the tinted windows were down, and the family, their faces torn with grief, waved weakly to the thousands who gathered. Such dignity, to grieve unhidden, before thousands. The faces of the family, a woman who I think may have been Kerry Kennedy (Bobby's daughter) and a young boy who is mostly likely Edward Kennedy, III (grandson), torn up like a sad drama mask, is an image I will never forget.

Glad to have been there at the end of an era. And perhaps the dawn of one, as well.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 57, Part II: Not Jack. Teddy.

So sad to hear about Teddy Kennedy. The good ones are few... and so I recorded this tune in honor of him today.

The title is "Farewell to Kennedy," written in 1962 by Brendan Tonra. In his book The Music of Brendan Tonra (now out of print), Brendan wrote: "I wrote this tune the Sunday after Jack Kennedy was shot. I was sitting in the kitchen after Mass waiting for dinner to be ready. I was trying to entertain my first daughter Barbara so I wrote the tune for her, and for Kennedy."

Different Kennedy, but same sentiment: honoring a great one, now fallen. Learn it in his memory?

100 Days of Practice, Day 57: Jack

It's 1:37 and I've done jack. Jack, um... well, you fill in the blank. Perhaps it will come later, but there is a heck of a lot of editing and writing to do over here at Lindsay Headquarters, and those deadlines are looming.

So. Allow me to share some photos.

Peig is still practicing on Day 56 in Ireland. Attended session at Gus O'Connor's in Doolin last night; session led by Christy Barry and friends. Does this count as practicing, she asks? Are you going to tell her no? Neither am I.

I'm sure I'll get around to practicing later today but some days, ya just adopt a "what the hell" attitude. Today is one of those days.
Cheers, lovies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 56: Thank you, folks.

Ever since I posted on day 54 or 55 or whatever it was (my whiny day) I have been embarrassed about it... thinking I may have revealed too much of the soft underbelly of fear.

But much to my amazement, that particular entry got the most responses of anything I've done since I've started this blog. All of the responses beautiful, sometimes tear-jerking, and but unerringly supportive. How cool. Even World Market (home of the yummy red leather chairs) seemed to respond to my plea, suddenly offering a "companion flies free" ticket when you spend money on their site. (I didn't do it, but I am so tempted...)

I guess we all share the same struggles, don't we? Sometimes I wonder why so many of us like to keep up the tough exterior. When we do that, we never get to find out how supportive the folks around us can be when we need them. Let out a little weakness, and good people rally to patch it up the hole. And if we focus on them, instead of whatever the problem was, we get to be super thankful. Wow.

Thank you so much, folks!

Thus re-energized and refocused, I flip-flopped yesterday, attempting more practice and a little less writing.

How boring. Sigh.

But I do I think I like this writing thing. And just as much, I really dig being connected when you leave comments. So thank you.

Now, for some fun news. There are some new videos on Facebook from our concert last week. Go here. I think that will work.

Monday, August 24, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 55, Part II!

I keep thinking about my "corporate" blog. One important point to clarify:

Sometimes I say things I don't completely mean, purely for humor value. And so can I just say: Some of the finest people I know are emergency management officials... and I have them to thank for starting my writing career. Likewise for window washers.

And there's no shame in making a living. Whatever we do, do it with heart. My friend Glen sent me this quote a few weeks ago, from Confucius. (I didn't even know they knew each other; isn't Facebook an amazing thing!):

"If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?"

100 Days of Practice, Day 55: Flip flops

Is it just me, or does it appear that I'm spending more time writing than practicing? Hm... today I am going to flip flop. Just a short entry today. This is it. Gotta practice.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 54: Almost went off track.

Last week, I almost went corporate. My friends and my music may have saved me.

See, there's been some stuff: Our health insurance just went up by $200 a month, for a grand total of $1,000 a month; our 1997 Corolla with 221k miles and on it is starting to make funny noises; and, we've had a lot of guests lately, causing me to reassess our decor (i.e., does Somerville Sidewalk Chic really work in the Para-burbs?) Sometimes, no matter how hard I try to just play it with heart, I think: "Money would be nice." So the last couple of weeks, I started thinking maybe I'd look for some writing work outside of the music field. (Gasp!)

Last week, I visited my sister in her semi-palatial (she would disagree) condo in Bethesda, Maryland. Bethesda is one of the most wealthy communities in America, and friends, the only people who drive 1997 Corollas with 221k miles on them around there don't speak English—and they're only there to wash the windows... Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sis has worked her #$#$ off all her life and deserves every good that life has brought her. Sometimes, I think I want a piece of that. I say to myself, "Hey, I'm a smart kid. I've worked hard, got a coupla degrees, published a book. I should be able to afford a half decent car, maybe a piece of art now and then, and not feel like it's going to break the bank to fly south to visit family for a couple of days."

So, I said, "Sis, hook me up." And of course, she did--because she is that kind of sister. She got me an informational interview with a friend who's the managing director of a rather large PR firm.

I spent a half hour on the phone with him Friday morning. Told him I was thinking of expanding my freelance writing back toward the corporate world. We went over my resume: experience as a writer at FEMA, at the state energy office, at the New England Aquarium... those jobs I did a lifetime ago before I got completely fed up and went back to grad school for music because I never, ever, ever wanted to do a deskjob again.

Of course, those jobs are buried on page 3 of the resume. Up front is all the music stuff. Mr. PR Man said he didn't like my resume because it looks too much like I'm a musician. (Hmmm... dark pinkish flag?) He told me what I need to do: restructure it, focus on the skills, and when looking for jobs in, say, disaster recovery or renewable energy, emphasize the experience in those particular fields. Even better, he said, keep up to date on those fields: read industry publications, monitor sites in those industries, attend conferences. (Wait, maybe that flag is red...)

Read about windmills? Follow FEMA? (No, that flag is definitely red. Red flag!!! Uh-oh... didn't anyone tell him about waving a red flag in front of a Taurus who drives a Corolla?) Houston, we've got a snag. Network with emergency management people? The HAM radio guys? Come on. I can't even keep up to speed on the Irish music scene, never mind anything else.

Then again, I do like those red leather chairs that are on sale at World Market and it would be nice to be able to afford them...

Then early this evening, Denya called. Phew. I brought the portable phone to the basement and paced around while she talked sense to me. She reminded me of why we do this music thing. "Sue, if you had a 40-hr job, and had the security of knowing that every week you'd have a check, well... It just wouldn't work. See, you and me: we need to be directly in charge of what we're doing for ourselves, and it has to feed us. That money job... it's not you." I grabbed a carpenter's pencil from the top of the drier and wrote down what she said on the back of a terra cotta tile.

So, what *is* me? More important, though: What is *you*? How do we define our passion, and how central do we allow it to be in our lives? And what are we willing to sacrifice in order to live it? Well, for me: waking up at 4:44 am and running downstairs to start this blog entry, then running down to the basement to work on Carolan's Concerto... then back to the computer to edit music things, all before 7 am on a Sunday. I guess that's a bit of passion. And about 75 bucks. Two days of health insurance!

More important, though, is that passion is indeed WORTH something, something intangible and far more important than money. I thank PBS for reminding me of that, at the end of the evening tonight. I caught the last half of Playing for Change: Peace Through Music--a program in which a team of producers traveled the world, speaking with musicians about peace. Listening to musicians from India, Congo, LA, South Africa, New Orleans, you name it, speak about why they do music, and how it is such an important instrument of peace, about how it helps people discover their own humanity--that brought all the nonsense back down to Earth. One Indian musician said that when you practice, you are meditating, and that when that meditation elevates to its highest level, you experience nothing but peace... and that, he said, is why musicians do what they do. Another musician from South Africa spoke of music as an expression of love--a way to help others to love each other.

Thank you, gentleman. Thank you Denya. Thank you music... 54 days into this to back out and start writing for money? I guess not. Not yet, anyway.

So: If you see a pathetic looking chick playing saxophone next to a broken down Corolla on route 3... do toss a cold bottle water bottle out the window as you pass. Her air conditioning doesn't work, either. But the music sure sounds nice, don't it?

Friday, August 21, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 53: Why Practice Is Worth It

Yesterday, I traveled 200 years in a half hour. Driving home from Plato's Harvest, my local organic farm in Middleboro, MA, I experimented with backroads and cruised through the most delightful and bucolic hot summer New England country scene I could ever have imagined. Just 20 minutes from home, yet worlds away.

August in Middleboro: Expansive fields and semi-tended hay meadows, crumbling stone walls, clapboard farmhouses in varying states of order and disorder, stable upon stable, trucks upon blocks, and old cracked asphalt roads bearing long, burnt rubber S-skids, telling stories of a town with nothing to do at night.

That drive, coupled with the hour I spent on the farm with Mini Me, chatting with Mr. and Mrs. Farmer Dave and Sasha, selecting veggies, picking tomatoes, and filling a white plastic bucket with dahlia, zinnia, sunflowers, gladiolas, and some tall fluffy pink thing I can't identify: that brought me into a euphoria that I haven't quite shaken, even the morning after.

And that's why it's worth it to practice. Because music is a door to worlds of people and experiences that you might never otherwise consider. Practice, and you will meet the most extraordinary people and have the most extraordinary experiences.

Backtrack: About two months ago, Steve and I played at the Plymouth Farmer's Market. It wasn't supposed to be us. It was supposed to be my "other" group: the Henhouse Ceili Band, which is an informal flock of women who like to play Irish music together. Not a real band, per se. We just play, take our veggies home, make a feast and celebrate life together.

Well, that morning it had rained. Horribly. Our pianist, the fabulous Helen Kisiel, called me from Watertown, 50 miles north, and said her car was up the creek and she'd misplaced the paddle. Nor did she wish to drive to Plymouth in blinding thunderstorms. Denya Levine, our fiddler 70 miles away the other direction in Orleans, felt the same way.

So, mid-day, I walked to the Farmer's Market to tell Barbara we couldn't make it. Before I even opened my mouth, she said, "You'll be back to play at 4:00, right?" I gulped, did my best Meryl Streep smile, and said, "But of course." Turned and ran to the car. Got on the phone. Dialed Steve, working in Boston, and asked him if it were possible to get his Irish heiney back to Plymouth in time. He was game. He did make it home on time, and despite the flurry that led up to the downbeat, we had a wonderful gig together. (Made me glad to be married to him, too.) The weather by now was just clammy. The Farmer's Market parking lot was muddy. Our stuff got really dirty. But Kim and Stacie from Soule Farm were nearby, egging us on. Consider us egged. We had a blast.

That's when we met Dave and Sasha, just one more stand away. They enjoyed the music and invited us to play for their annual farm potluck at Plato's Harvest, a party they have for farm shareholders at the end of the summer. Through this request, we discovered the whole concept of farm shares: pay in advance, and you can show up at the farm for your 55 cucumbers, 90 bunches of kale, 87 zucchini, or ten billion non-squishy squash, every week, all summer.

We joined. Now Mini Me and I spend one amazing afternoon a week with the vegetables, goats, turkeys, chickens, rooster, and cows. We go home with three bags of fresh picked veggies, a dozen farm fresh eggs, a loaf of fresh baked bread, and all the flowers you can fit in the coffee cup you salvaged from the trash in the back seat of your car. (Other farm visitors plan ahead and bring a bucket. But I'm a MUSICIAN, remember?)

About that coffee cup: Dave the Farmer was kind. He gave me a 5-gal bucket, and Mini Me and I returned to the "Flower Aisles" to fill'er up. We got home and made an absolutely cockamamie arrangement of zinnias, then a stunning display of glads in a Asian china vase (Christmas Tree Shop, thank you), and I said to Mini Me, "We are so lucky to have a life like this."

File that under MUSIC. It is not all about money. More times it's about love. Just like organic farming: more love than money, more dirt than dough. I think Sasha at Plato's Harvest agrees. Though it feels like a step back in time, there's nothing old fashioned about organic farming. In fact, to prove just how progressive we are, Sasha and I have already begun planning discussions for the apocalypse.

When it all goes down and you people lose your office jobs, we'll be working on our ark to sail into the future. We've got the food and music covered. All we need is the beer and wine. Now accepting applications for a brewer and vintner—Satoko and Brett, you're on the short list.

Looking forward to the first on-deck Ceili at the Ark. Specifically for that gig, I shall keep practicing.

(Thank you to Steph at Plato's Harvest for the Veggie Man, and thank you to Sasha for the pic!!!)

100 Days of Practice, Day 52: Playing with a Full Deck

52 days, 52 cards: that's a full deck. My sister thinks I may not be playing with one, but who's to prove it?

Well, just to prove that maybe I am NOT playing with a full deck, I just got so excited by a new tune that I'm only beginning to learn that I sent an e-mail to Steven Karidoyanes, Musical Director of the Plymouth Philharmonic, to suggest that he consider adding a little Irish flute to the program some day... mine. Whoah. That is not a sign of my sanity, but it does prove that 52 days of practicing does enlarge one's cahoneys. (Sorry, I just looked that up on an English/Japanese translation site and word not found.)

One way to keep practicing super interesting: keep working on new things, challenges you haven't encountered yet, and do it every day.

Today, I started learning Carolan's Concerto. What a beautiful piece. All of this in prep for "The Beautiful Album," which we're going to start recording on September 11, a most auspicious day to do beautiful things. A day whose memory needs a little beauty.

Are you doing something beautiful and adventurous today?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Live Webcast Tonight 6-7:00!

Tune in tonight, 6:00-7:00,, as part of "On Stage with Mantis Khrihalla." Click on the WCTV logo, and watch the Lindsays live!

~~~~~~~~~~And now, back to our blog.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

100 Days of Practice, Day 51: Over the Hump

Day 51? Really? Made it over the hump? Sadly: not flawlessly. I did miss two whole days while visiting with family in Maryland. Disappointing, but it wasn't a complete miss, on either day. And it is real good to be home.

On those "missed" days, I DID do my mental exercises: went over the tunes I've been working on, in my head while sleepless at 1 am, 3 am, and 4:20 am. Meaning, actually mentally/physically connected the notes to my fingers, all in my mind. It is a true challenge because when playing, it's easy to forget what the actual notes are and just rely on muscle memory.

Ultimately, that's what we are looking for in playing music... but I also noticed in concert the other night that sometimes the mind goes blank and the muscle memory goes with it! In my case, I was performing a tune and couldn't remember where the second part started, and muscle memory was failing me then, too. This is where having a conscious awareness of what note the part started on would have helped.

Mental practicing brings the conscious brain back into the mix... consciously creating finger movement (while remaining entirely still) on those notes.

Is this a cop-out? I'm thinking not. Still, it doesn't help the physical muscles that need movement to create the notes. It doesn't help my embouchure. But it does deepen knowledge of the tune at hand. (Pun not necessarily intended, but most appreciated.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 47 Continued: It Never Ends

Gearing up now for Thursday's live Internet broadcast... I will NOT miss a day this week. And as a result of this work, here's my take:

My God. It never ends. That's what I just said to myself when I just discovered that I'd only been working one kind of roll.

Huh? Okay, backtrack. The deal is, I have taken pride in this fabulous exercise that I've developed to refine my roll-playing on every note of the flute... vastly improving my ornamentation over the last 45 days or so. But just tonight I realized I've only been working rolls in "reel" rhythm... not jig rhythm. A whole different animal. That is, another animal.... one that requires its own habitat, feeding regime, regular care, and attention. Another thing to add to the daily routine. That hurts. And by God, I like it.

To make things more complicated, my also-fabulous exercise in long tones? Well, the last eight days or so, I just haven't done it. Did it tonight though. In the schmancy Bethesda condo, with sister in the next room doing important government recruiting business. Someone listening didn't bother me; she's not a musician and doesn't have the Princess-and-the-Pea syndrome that I do. (That is, "I hear a note. Faint, distant... maybe ten miles away. But it's a note. AND I CANNOT CONCENTRATE, DAMMIT.")

What bothered me? That those long tones hurt, too.

What also hurt? The discovery in last night's show at Cultural Center of Cape Cod that even five days straight of gigs and then a few days of short group rehearsals do not substitute for steady, every-day-in-the-basement practice sessions. Last night, I played fine, but only those who know me very very well would recognize that I didn't have the confidence onstage that playing every day brings. Practicing every day is not so much about the sound, I discover. It's about knowing that my friend the flute is feeling loved, cared for, respected, and as a result, will give back.

No, that's not it.

It's about feeling connected to the instrument and 100% sure that my intent will be manifest in what I play.

Confident that I won't *&*^ up.

No witty ending to this email. There are homemade potato chips in the kitchen made by my niece, and I am OUTTA here.

100 Days of Practice, Day 47: Now it's getting scary.

First, fun concert at Cultural Center of Cape Cod last night. Thank you, friends, for coming. Your support is so appreciated.

Today, in about ten minutes, I fly off to DC for a few days to visit family. This is when it gets scary... how to practice in a small condo with other family around? I shall do it... but how?

Friday, August 14, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 45: Zucchini move over, it's squash time.

Yesterday was all about squash. Giant, multiple and, as it turned out, delicious, squash. My friend Lori the Sax Queen came by for lunch and together we managed to put another huge dent in the Lindsays veggie overabundance.

(I didn't mention this: I recently joined a CSA -- Community Supported Agriculture -- at Plato's Harvest in Middleboro. You purchase shares ahead of time, and every Wednesday, you go the farm and collect a bunch of vegetables. Then, every Thursday you skip practice and obsess about zucchini. Thing was, last week was my first week. The next day, Steve, Denya and I played the Plymouth Farmer's Market, where a large portion of one's "pay" is a donation by each of the food vendors. That means they give you their choice of whatever they want... perhaps whatever they have in abundance, etc. Let's just say I had a LOT of veggies last week, and Wednesday's cooking obsession was in an effort to get rid of last week's veggies before the new onslaught...)


Hold. We interrupt this broadcast to bring you: What is the definition of a true friend? A person who calls you at 8 am, says, "I've got a hankering for zucchini," and comes over a half hour later to pick it up. Yes, this just happened. I am truly blessed.


Back to practice. Yesterday was a mental but not physical practice. The impulse here is to make up a fib... um... falling back on the "at least just play for five minutes"
and tell you "I did longtones." Well, I didn't. I worked. I sent out emails about upcoming gigs. I cooked more zucchini. But I didn't practice. At least, not physically.

But I did do something else. I taught a lesson, and in the process, taught myself one too. PD the Celtic Goddess was here working on some tunes that I decided I'd include in a concert on Saturday: Humors of Donnybrook/Rambling Pitchfork/Willie Colemans. Nice, well known tunes that Conal O'Grada makes into an art in a recording. I like them, and we've been working on them for a while.

Celtic Goddess and I worked on the ending to Willie's for quite some time, when I realized that her problem was that she was relying on memorizing note names, not actually "hearing" the tune. So I gave her an assignment. Her job for practice this week is to drive around and sing those tunes to herself, note for note. Then, take the dog for walks and sing the tunes to herself in time. That gets the tune into one's body.

Next step, to make it more complete, is to actually mentally (but not physically) make the fingers move with the tune -- to imagine playing the tune, in complete detail. Still training the brain to move as it needs to, in order to play without error.

So, that's what I did too. After all the working and the cooking and the teaching, it was time to drive to a childhood friend's house to help celebrate her 40th. Long drive, so I used the driving time to mentally practice the tunes I'll be playing on Saturday night -- tunes that I haven't performed before, and have never played solo.

Resulted in a good hour of practice. Training the brain. Should have done the long tones too, though, because those are muscles and they need it. But I didn't. I'm going to chalk this one up to experimenting with new technique--but not missing a day, still succeeding. Not rationalizing, but rather expanding the manifestation of focus.

Now, if I could only mentally cook that zucchini...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 43: It only took Jesus 40.

My friend Satoko said that when I first told her about my 100 Days campaign, she thought, "Hey, that won't be too bad."

Not BAD? WHAT!? "But... but...," I stuttered. "Don't you understand? 100 days... that's a lot. I mean, Jesus made it to the Bible for doing *his* thing in just 40 days!" Then again, he DID wander the wilderness, fast, pray, and get a personal visit from the Devil... Okay, no comparison. I suppose he earned his place in the Good Book.

But what about me? Granted, I haven't met the Devil yet. Then again, I think I've been hanging with the Devil for years, and that's why I need this 100 days thingie in the first place. To get him behind me.

Now, anyone who reads the commentary on this thing may have noticed Peig's recent comment. She said that summer is killing her. How to maintain a daily practice with family visits, no AC, hot days, cold beer?

THAT'S the devil *I'm* talking about right there: the one who tempts us not to play. Jesus met the dude once, in the dark, and plus he was starving and probably hallucinating. But us? We would-be Every Day Practicers meet the Goateed One every day. He's the guy that tells us, at the end of the day when we haven't had a moment to practice, "Ah, you're tired. Fuggedabout it. Just go to bed."

Sometimes we meet him in the morning, too. Like today. Just this morning, when I should have been practicing, he met me at the fridge. He leaned on the door, took a long drag of his clove ciggy, exhaled, and sighed through a smoke ring. "You do know that you have 50 lbs. of zucchini in your fridge, right? Not to mention four heads of lettuce, three peppers, two bunches of kale, and four quarts of blueberries... And that's not even counting the zucchini on the counter, which (if you haven't noticed) has been hanging out fairly intimately with the yellow squash, and I think they're multiplying. Or maybe that's just a bunch of green bananas I see..."

Lord, forgive me. I could not resist his temptation. I freaked out. I started cooking.

Zucchini goulash. Zucchini chocolate cake. Summer squash fritters. Two blueberry pies. Green pepper cupcakes. Corn on the cob freeze pops.

And that, dear God, is why at 9:00 PM, just when I'd gotten my little one down to bed, I almost let the old fork-tailed one in again.

"Pretty tired, huh?" he smirked.

"Yes. Yes I am," I said. "But can I meet you for a beer in about an hour? I gotta run down to the basement and practice. I'll be right back." I left and didn't turn for a second look.

Funnily enough, when I came back upstairs, he was gone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 42: When Gigging Has to Be Practice

Oh, five days solid of gigging. Sore fingers, tired body... and there were no long tones and there was no blog. But there was a sixth wedding anniversary, a scary boat ride, a heatwave and one crowded beach with my little girly girly... tons and tons of music, and much fun. And now, maybe a cold coming on.

Today it's back on track, and prepping for Saturday at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, 8:00 pm... Pulling in some new material and some special selections for friends who will be in the audience.

This is really summer now, and friends, I miss that rain we had in June. Thank goodness for a window A/C: today's practice survival tool!

And one comment on my last entry. A correction, actually. I should be thanking the Catholics for the beer. Isn't it the monks who perfected the art?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 39: Taking Care of the Body... or Not

Uh-oh. It's been playing galore since I last checked in. Thursday was the Plymouth Farmer's Market with Steve and Denya Levine. Four hours solid of tunes, but rewarded by more vegetables, breads, and cheeses than you can shake a spare zucchini at (and I have lots of spare ones... that part of the Lindsays garden is VERY productive... sigh...). Then last night was a private party on Sagamore Beach... lovely people, and three more hours of playing. Today is Rowes Wharf hotel in Boston for a wedding. One of my favorite spots in the world, and I get to play music there. This is a gift from the Gods, indeed. Oh, and then there's tomorrow: Sue plays with Inchicore at Clash of the Ash, a dark little watering hole in Quincy Center.

So fun, but the problem beneath this all is the bod. As in, a neck and upper back so sore I can't turn over in bed at night. That's what 39 days of practice will do, if you don't watch it. I haven't been watching it.

And so, we come to the next layer of complexity. Not only is it not enough to just practice flute (also we must play sax), and not only is it enough to just gig for four hours solid (we must also do longtones)--now it's not enough to just practice. NOW I HAVE TO EXERCISE TOO? Did I really sign up for this?

Yes, unfortunately I did.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend in Florida. Annie B. is a licensed acupuncturist and yoga instructor. We were chatting about the 100 days. I said that it was a spiritual endeavor for me. I had also wanted to include daily yoga into my routine, but there just wasn't enough time. It's hard enough to just get down to practicing every day, never mind also stretching. So, I concluded: practice alone would be my personal spiritual practice.

Never one to avoid the truth, she pointed out ever so gently, and in just about these words, "Yeah, but you know the Buddhists and the Hindus also include the physical in their practice...they say a fit body is also necessary for spiritual health." Ah, good old exercise, that thing I used to do religiously... til I had a baby. I've been putting that part off. Maybe til at least kindergarten. Or college.

Darn Buddhists and Hindus. I was working off of the spiritual buffet plan: pick and choose only what I like. This was where I thought I could step away from Eastern fare, put this part of the meal in a doggie bag and save it for later. Get back to the meat-and-potatoes Catholics and the Protestants for this portion of my spiritual sustenance. THEY never talk about physical health. They let me eat big steaks, chocolate chip cookies, and giant cups of coffee.** I never learned about downward dog in Sunday School or Christian summer camp, and I turned out alright, didn't I? Didn't I?

Then again, Rev. Clinger never really spoke about music as a spiritual path, either.

There's no escaping this fact: my neck hurts. A lot.

Soul Mama's gotta start stretching too. Damn. Right after the massage on Monday...

**I'm forever grateful to the Buddhists, though, for letting me drink beer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 35: Off the Wagon?

News: Just got word that the Lindsays are playing for Boston's GreenFest 2009 on City Hall Plaza, August 20-22. Don't know what day or time yet... but rest assured, I'll post it.

But back to the 100 Days now, and very happy to be here.

Does one day break count as okay? I have decided that the answer is yes! Yesterday was the first complete "day off" since this started, and though it was disappointing in a way, it was also due. It was the last full day of the inlaw visit, so there really was little appropriate time to practice... and we were coming off a week of four gigs. It is NOT easy to maintain a practice with visitors in your house, especially when the house is not palatial. But... what a week of gigs. A fabulous concert at Church of the Pilgrimage, a blast with Stage Door Canteen in Buzzards Bay on Thursday, another blast of a ceremony and cocktail hour wedding gig with Steve, for a wonderful couple on Saturday at the Newport Naval Station, playing right into the sunset... and capped off by Stage Door Canteen opening for the Boston Pops in Hyannis on Sunday, with thunderous applause for a band that was on fire. Much excitement!

So, a day off on Monday was well earned.

Tonight, back to the routine and rather pleased! Glad to be back... feels like it's been a while. Gearing up now for the next big thing: Cultural Center of Cape Cod on August 15!