Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fuss in Boots: Stage Fright No More

A blast: Last night was our fourth annual Church of the Pilgrimage concert, and the very first one before which I was not nervous! I hear you saying this out loud: "Nervous? You? After all those shows you do? All that time you spend standing in front of people in the classroom? Why on EARTH would you be nervous?"

And so, I bring you, The Top 10 Ways a Chick Can Banish Pre-Gig Nervousness:

1. Be prepared. Play stuff you know well, so it's second nature up there. If you know things so well that you can play them while also noting how nice Ellen Milt's smile looks in the front row, then you can't mess up.

2. Love the ones you're with. When you just adore the people you're on stage with, and you love everything they do musically, how can anything possibly go wrong?

3. Make sure no musicians who you secretly aspire to be are in the audience. They are not judging you like you think they are. Actually, they ARE judging you just like you judge them. Suck it up; move on.

4. Wear green cowboy boots. Mojo, baby. All the way.

5. Don't worry about whether you look fat in this. You probably do. Who cares??? Girls, can I get a witness? How well do you do when you're worried that your cupcakes are showing?

6. Get sh&tfaced. Gotta try that some time. Apparently, it works for some.

7. Don't record the show. This is the first Church of the Pilgrimage show that we haven't recorded in our four years, and you know... it was pretty nice to just be able to enjoy the moment.

8.Don't bring your kid. Ah, that sweet dream... making music as a family, bringing along Soul Fry to watch and be part of our musical lives. No. Take 2: Getting away from Soul Fry for a few hours, to not be a mom, a cop, a chef, a soda water fizzer, and just be me? Brrrrrilliant. (Try that again, this time trilling your "r." That's what I'm talkin' about here.)

9. Get the tracks from your new CD the night before, and love them. We LOVE the music on our upcoming CD, and we are proud. It breeds confidence. We felt strong going into the concert last night.

10. Be yourself. Yes, the paper billed us as an Irish duo, but really, we're more than that. Yes, we play some Irish jigs and reels, and we do them as traditionally as possible. But man, we love Nina Simone. We love blues. We love rock and roll. And last night, we let it all hang out, and it felt so darn good to just be who we are. Part of being an effective artist is in finding your voice. This is not cliché; this is truth. The last ten months we spent recording that CD was a journey in finding that voice, in dialing in a style and an approach that we like best. We didn't know that was happening, but now we do. We defined ourselves, and that made all the difference.***

The result: Pure enjoyment.

Thank you, wonderful friends new and old who came to see the Lindsays last night at the Church of the Pilgrimage in Plymouth. You make it all worth it for us, and it never ceases to be amazing that people would actually take time out of their days to see us.

Yes, it still feels like that.

~~~~~~~~

**If you can help us find the perfect pithy way to describe ourselves beyond "Contemporary and Traditional Irish Music" -- we'll send you a free CD when it comes out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Making of an Irish CD, Take 2

Bloggers don't realize how easy they have it!

I've spent the last eight hours writing a story about the making of our CD for the Boston Irish Reporter—an article that is very much one like I wrote for this very blog about two months ago. Except updated, and amended with some really neat information from Rob Pemberton, our engineer. The original blog entry: Be sure that I wrote it in under an hour. It was 1500 words.

This article? The first draft, done in the first two hours I was awake, was 2700 words. The article was supposed to be 1500. I spent all day editing it, and still, it's at 1700. I can't shed the last two hundred words. Finally, I gave up and sent it to my editor and said, "Here. You do the chopping."

One of my favorite quotes is that the greatest creativity happens within limits. I beg to differ. With no limits, what I wrote was just what was needed. With limits, I got stuck. Go figure.

I'd like to share the article with you, because it includes some really interesting chat with Rob... but it'll have to wait til September 1, when it appears in the paper. I'll keep you posted.

More excited, though, to share some music with you. We have eleven songs mixed now, and two more to go, and Rob tells us that they MUST be done by today. Tonight, we will have a complete collection. It's almost done! Ten months later...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Stunning Morning in Turkeyville

Not that I mind waking up at 5:30 to practice music among the spiders in the musty basement... but... sometimes this is much better:


It was so beautiful in Plymouth this sunrise morning that even the car people were stopping. One was taking photos of three deer feeding in the morning mist. One was basking in the peace of four swans floating in the Eel River. (Okay, she was on a bike.) One was marveling at the two families of turkeys rummaging in the grass on Jordan Road (oops, some birdbrain lost a contact!) One was wandering over the River Street Bridge with a Dunkin' Donuts cup, looking a little lost.


An early start after a late night, because yesterday our engineer left us a present: a CD holding nine of the thirteen final mixes on our CD...and we have to provide feedback on them by today, so that he can finish the last four songs by Saturday. And then, we have a finished CD ready for mastering.

What does this feel like?

Well.

First lesson in listening to final mixes for a CD: Don't let the car stereo be the first place you hear them. Particularly if it's in a minivan holding four loud children.

Second lesson in listening to final mixes for a CD:
Don't let the kitchen under-the-counter CD player be the second place you hear them. Particularly if you're also cooking dinner, awaiting the arrival of guests from Ireland in the next half hour, all the while tending to an extremely talkative four year old who asks critical questions that need immediate answers. ("Mommy, where is my egg?!")

Third lesson in listening to final mixes for a CD: Do listen after seeing Sugarfoot and the Brass Kickin' Horns at a free concert on the waterfront with family and friends, including the one who just arrived from Ireland. Make sure you have danced a lot, and also let daughter take dust bath, just like the turkeys. Come home. Orchestrate water bath and bedtime, then sit in basement listening room, perfectly positioned between excellent speakers. Open beer. Lift, swallow, repeat. Then listen to final mixes for a CD.

The verdict:

Not so bad, my friends. From the Green to the Blue is coming soon. It's getting real. We're almost ready to share some Irish music, some American tunes, some Latin sounds, and some flute, sax, fiddle, accordion, trumpet (THE LIVER IS EVIL; IT MUST BE PUNISHED), and supercool world percussion with you.

But you may have to come to the musty basement and sit with the spiders to hear it in all its glory. Our operators are standing by to take your reservation. Bring beer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Come, Sweet Rain; Music Loves You

Unresponsive one day. Finicky, the next. The day after that? Grumpy. Many days: Just plain impossible.

My four year old?

No. My flute.

For an inanimate object, a wooden flute can be rather moody. But these Irish instruments, they are most at home in the rain, and so this morning, as we welcome the sweet and much needed rain in a drought summer, my flute welcomed me with open arms. My breath became its song, my hands, its dance partner.

These are the days that keep us playing. Again, we say: Come, sweet rain!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Remembering Why We Like Music

It's easy to get so caught up in working on music that one loses sight of why one is doing this in the first place.

After my 100-turned-365 Days of Practice, it was full-on summer, and I slacked off a bit, mostly due to the advent of new discipline: exercise. Exercise slowly eclipsed practice, and I confirmed what I suspected:

As parents, we're very lucky if we can manage ONE discipline outside of family. We're downright KAMIKAZE if we can do two.

The last days of silence have been a lot about wondering why my practice has eased off. I gave up for a while. Took a break.

And then, today's session. The one I browbeat myself into, squeezing a session into the last 45 minutes I had with a new babysitter. Ran to the basement for a little saxophone, a little flute.

It started out frantic, hurried. How would I fit in all the material I wanted to prepare for our August 24 concert? But slowly, I forgot to think about it. Slowly, I forgot to practice, and without realizing it, suddenly I was playing, not practicing.

45 minutes later, everything hurt and it was time to be done. But my goodness, it was fun. And then the lightbulb: Did I just say FUN?

That's what this, fun.

A good reminder.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gigs this month

Notes on August:

August 24, Church of the Pilgrimage, 8:00-9:00 pm. Free. 8 Town Square, Plymouth. Looking forward to our annual concert at the Church of the Pilgrimage is coming up on August 24. We've got some new music and some new musician friends joining us this time around: Sean Farias, a fabulous acoustic upright bass player who played on our CD, and Gabo Roberts, straight from Dublin. Gabo plays in numerous pubs in and around Dublin, including the Bloody Stream in Howth, and it just so happens that his August visit will coincide with our concert, so he's going to join us on stage. Can’t wait! Gabo is an amazing singer, and he and Steve’s voices blend beautifully. You’ll love it!

August 28, performing in a benefit with Sonnay Fiddlers and Stanley and Grimm at a church in Falmouth... details to come!

Sundays in September: Every Sunday, catch the sunset with us outdoors on the deck at Pilgrim Sands Hotel's new bar and cafe, the Sandcastle Lounge. Every Sunday in September, 5:00-8:00. 150 Warren Avenue, Plymouth. Can't wait to have a nice local gig! http://www.pilgrimsands.com/lounge.htm Please come!

September 13: Club Passim in Harvard Square, part of BCM Fest Celtic Music Mondays. Details at www.clubpassim.org

Other dates: The Farmer’s Market in Plymouth on September 9, and more to come! Now that the CD is almost done, we’re coming out of hibernation.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Notes from a Town Full of Turkeys


The summer bug has bitten, and I apologize but the writer in me is on vacation. This is going to be just another newsy Lindsay message. This morning brings you: happy birthdays, recording updates, gig news, scary bug spray, a bike ride with turkeys, and O'Leary for Congress!

Let me begin by saying, Happy Birthday to Brendan Tonra, fiddler, composer, and inspiration!!!!

We love Brendan, and have included three of his tunes on our upcoming CD, From the Green to the Blue. Great news on that front: I do believe that on Monday, we finished all of the recording, and now engineer Rob Pemberton is busy mixing the tracks. Hopefully in a week or so, he'll be done and we'll be ready for mastering. Then, it's off to Nimbit for CD duplication, and we're expecting a completed CD by late August/early September. Hooray! It's been a long time coming. Design Diva is doing the CD cover and it is so gorgeous; just can't wait to share it with you.

Speaking of summer bugs, after tomorrow, we won't have any. In response to the EEE threat, the state of Massachusetts is about to spray for mosquitos all over Plymouth County, and, well, I did a little reading up on this and it looks like things aren't looking good for the backyard organic gardens and pretty much any bug that leaves its windows open or its air conditioner on tomorrow night after 8. We're instructing all of our bugs to keep the windows closed, but I don't think our bugs have learned English yet. So... well... sayonara, our winged buddies. We're sad.

On the gig front, we're gearing up for the next big Lindsays show at the Church of the Pilgrimage in Plymouth on Tuesday, August 24 at 8:00. Free concert, it's our annual show, and we're looking forward to it. As always, there will be special guests, including Sean Farias, a fabulous bass player from Marlborough who played on several tracks on our CD.

Other gig news: On Sunday, I had the distinct pleasure of playing with Stage Door Canteen as the opening act for the Boston Pops, and I admit, it was a great thrill to stand out in front of the band and do a baritone sax solo on a shiny new borrowed horn, for an audience of some 3,000! Fun!

The fun continues on Friday, when I join Debbie and Friends for a kid's show at Heritage Plantation in Sandwich for their Family Fun Fridays. The next night, Steve will play with a Cape Cod crowd of Irish traddies at the Scituate Beach Club... Stuart Peak, Clayton March, Rose Clancy, and a few others.

On the personal front, Soul Mama is still up at the crack of dawn to cycle with Design Diva, and this morning we cycled past a meadow full of wild turkey families (such cute little babies!) and one gorgeous deer, glowing amber in the sunrise. Worth the lack of sleep, just for the view.

And finally, I just found out about Rob O'Leary, Democrat for US Congress, thanks to that pesky vehicle, direct mail. But this letter I opened, and I admit that despite my slightly pathetic level of political awareness, I like what he stands for and his grassroots campaign appeals to me. I'm in. Check him out at www.olearyforcongress.com.

I'm getting political? It must be good. Or maybe it's the heat.