Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Agenda Lounge and Restaurant

Tonight I'll be performing two sets at the Agenda Lounge and Restaurant from 7:30 to 9:45. I haven't played in a few weeks due to the recording and needing to concentrate on that, so it will be nice to be able to sing in public. I'm looking forward to playing with Murray Low,Tom Bockhold and Curt Moore. We're even going to try out a couple of the songs that will be on the new CD. We haven't had a chance to rehearse them, however, so it will be a true adventure to see how they go. Knowing these guys, I'm pretty confident that it will be just fine. The more difficult arrangements will have to wait until I can put together a rehearsal. I actually love the challenge of putting something in front of the musicians I play with and seeing how things turn out. They always sound great. Do I fall on my face sometimes? Of course!! But that is part of the risk I like to take. My philosophy is if you don't dare yourself to take chances--especially on stage--you will never grow as a musician and as a human being. Music is a constant series of adventures. I try and sing each song differently every time I perform it. That way it stays fresh for me and for my audience.

The month of July is completely free of gigs. Yuck!! That's probably due to the fact that I will be recording the vocals two weeks out of the month and Murray will be in Europe with the Stanford Jazz Orchestra for a couple of weeks. Of course I can do gigs without Murray, but I prefer it when he is on the gig. We just understand each other so well, he understands the music better than anyone and he's SO talented. Everytime we play together I learn something new. August, however, is shaping up to be one of my busiest gig months ever! I'm hoping this is the beginning of a steadier work schedule where I am playing at least 4 times a month. I know I need to learn patience when it comes to developing my career, but I really have none and am getting nervous about my financial situation. I want to be able to give this music career a good strong chance at fruition.

Today I go to the kick-off meeting for the Hike for Discovery program I have committed to. I'm looking forward to starting the training. I will be going on hikes every Saturday morning for the next three months--when I can--and preparing to be able to hike for up to 9 hours! This is going to be a great challenge for me and my somewhat out of shape body!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quiet Solitude

This week so far has been very calm and quiet. My older son went back to San Francisco after spending the week here helping to photograph the studio experience. And my younger son is living it up in New York City. I knew he would love it there. The energy of that city is infectious and for a twenty-two year old I'm sure it's completely irresistible. I'm so proud of how he has adapted himself to the environment so quickly. He's settled in well to his internship at and has also gotten an actual paying job at American Apparel. As he states, he's involved with all of the "hip" things going on right now! I would love to be able to go out and visit him and hope to do so--with a few gigs booked--soon.

I sent off three press kits to Porto Alegre, Brazil a couple of days ago and now I'm crossing my fingers, toes, legs, eyes and anything else that can be crossed in hopes that the gigs come through. What a thrill it would be to play in Brazil and get a sense of how my music is recieved in other parts of the world. Of course cost is always an issue but it's a problem I WANT to have.

Last night I attended an open house meeting for two grants that will be given out through both the San Francisco Arts Foundation and CCI. The SF grant, although I do not qualify for it due to the fact I don't actually live in SF, is a wonderful grant that attempts to blend community and social issues with the arts. It's what I most believe in when it comes to sharing the arts with children who need it the most. I'm going ot try and find someone in SF to partner with so I can develop a program that will take music and art out to the neighborhoods. It would be so awesome to get funding for this so I don't have to take the money out of my own pocket. I truly believe that the power of music could be an amazing healing tool in areas where family life is fragmented. We need to save our children and give them a sense of hope. Hope is what is diminishing so rapidly in our world. Without hope the world breeds terror, fear and violence. There's got to be a way to return to a world where we can look forward and not be frightened.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

4 Days of Creativity

The instrumental portions of the recording of Azucar de Amor are now complete. Whew!! I am amazed, relieved and thrilled that we were able to record 10 full songs in 4 days. Granted they were LONG days, but we did it and the result is overwhelmingly positive. Wayne himself said that he feels the CD was raised to a higher level musically than the last one--and I agree. There was some really amazing stuff/magic that happened this week in the studio.

Ray Vega was such a pleasure to work with. He is hilarious, full of entertaining stories, and most of all, a dedicated musician. Despite his clowning around, when it came time to get down to business he gave 150% of himself. His solos were inspired and beautiful and his session playing was also fantastic. We worlked him hard in the studio but he always remained calm and positive. I hope we get more chances to work together. I feel as though I made a new friend this week.

Jovino Santos Neto also was a true pleasure to work with. I picked him up from the airport on Thursday and, after having a nice breakfast together, we went to the studio and laid down the tracks he recorded on. He played on one of my originals and one jazz standard/bolero. What a beautiful sound he gets from the piano. He's lyrical and pensive and exciting all at the same time. I feel that the songs we recorded together will be very beautiful.

Now it's up to me to record the vocals. My job, should I choose to accept--and I do!--is to maintain the same level achieved by the instrumentals OR raise it even higher. My goal is to raise it even higher. I need to really center myself to allow the spirits to speak through me. I am hoping to get my ego out of the way so the true voice of each song can be honestly revealed. I'm going to have to do some serious meditating before going back into the studio in two weeks!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Magic in the Air!

Can you feel the magic? I can! It's happening all around me this week. Day two is completed in the studio and half of the CD is now recorded (if you don't count the vocals). Magic is what is happening in the studio this week. The musicians are rising to levels that I only dreamt could happen. They are all such dedicated people and so appreciative and supportive of the music. Chills keep running down my spine as I hear the music being played back to me.

Yesterday the Sephardic songs were recorded and I think they are going to be very special. The afro-peruvian song as well turned out spectacular, under the strict direction of David Pinto. It is impressive how seriously dedicated he is to the music and its sound. He came in all business yesterday and left with a big smile on his face. I think he is very pleased--as am I--with how the song came out. Now it's up to me to sing my heart out and deliver the message with as much soul as I can.

The other truly amazing thing that happened yesterday was an offer to go to play in Brazil. WOW!! I'm crossing my fingers it works out. What an amazing experience that would be. I would perform in Rio Grande do Sur and in Porto Alegre, with the possibilty of performing in Rio and Sao Paolo as well. What a dream come true that would be. I hope I haven't jinxed it by writing about it here!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day One Complete!

Yesterday was the first day of recording and it was a huge success. We recorded three songs, two of which are complete--except for the vocals. Everyone played fantastic and created some really cool sounds for the songs. The charts are challenging and somewhat difficult to play but these guys are all pros on the highest level and made it seem relatively smooth and easy. Were there any glitches and hiccups along the way? Of course!! We're human after all. But the dedication to the music and making it sound the best possible is what ultimately wins out. I am really pleased and excited with how things are progressing and I'm feeling like we have the beginnings of something really special here.

Today is day two of the studio recording. We will be recording the two sephardic songs that will be on the CD as well as the afro-peruvian landó. I can't even begin to tell you how touched I am at how David Pinto has taken my song and dedicated himself to making sure it is as authentic as it can be. He even went as far as recording it in a home studio to make sure that it would work fine when we recorded it today with Gary Mankin. For someone at his musical level to be so committed to helping me with my song makes me feel so blessed and lucky to be alive. The song has a strong message of following your heart even though you might not have a clue where it will lead you. Maybe it somehow touched David in its message. No matter, I think this song is going to be powerful in a very organic way. I can't wait to get to the studio today to see what kind of magic we can create!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Countdown to Studio Time

Two more days and the recording fun begins! I am actually really looking forward to getting back into the studio and working with the man with the golden ears, Gary Mankin. He is such an incredible sound engineer who takes his job very seriously and assures that the sound will be stellar on all the projects on which he works. I am truly blessed by all of the talent that surrounds me. They all inspire me to perform at a higher level--and hopefully I have a hand in inspiring them as well with my music.

An article came out the other day in the SJ Mercury News about how Ray Vega will be performing this coming Tuesday at Santana Row ( I was also quoted in the article because Ray will be here due to the fact that he will be recording with me next week. I was keeping it under wraps in order for it to be a surprise but now it's out in the open. I am thrilled beyond belief to be able to have Ray Vega playing on my new CD. Jovino Santos Neto will also be coming down to record and I am really excited about working with him as well. How cool is it to have two stellar recording artists performing on my CD? I am honored that they both agreed to attach their names to mine! And then in the midst of all of this, while trying to get everything and everyone organized another really exciting and lucky thing happened. Raul Ramirez, the percussionist who will be playing on an afro-peruvian landó song I wrote, just so happens to have David Pinto, Susana Baca's bassist and musical director, staying at his house for the month of June. So, David will be recording with me as well! How cool is that? It just can't get any cooler.

So now you can see why I am excited to get into the studio next week. It will be a week filled with amazing talents, sounds and innovations. These are the moments that reinforce my decision to leave corporate america and dedicate myself to my first love--music, music, music.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Closer and Closer

Things are really coming together nicely for the recording. We did a rehearsal both Monday night and all afternoon yesterday. It is quite a feat to get all of these guys (15 people) in one room for a rehearsal. And the opinions!! Everyone has an opinion on how the music should be played. But they all have such knowledge and experience that it is hard not to take what they say into consideration. Ultimately, however, Wayne is the producer and this is my CD! I have to do what feels right for me and what works best for the music. I think the songs are going to sound amazing, given what I heard yesterday. And it is good to find that I am more than ready to go in and sing my heart out on these songs. I am very comfortable with the arrangements and how things are going to lay out in each of the songs. We weren't able to get to every song yesterday, but I don't think it will pose too much of a problem in the studio. We covered the most challenging tunes in the rehearsal and now it is up to the players to practice on their own. I am so incredibly blessed to be able to play with these guys. Not only are they phenomenal musicians, but good people as well. That makes the music so much more enjoyable.

I have been asked to be a part of a top-40 cover band!! They want me to cover the latin tunes when they do their shows. I'm in a bit of a quandary over this. It feels like I'm stepping back in time by signing on to this. But at the same time, it would allow me to make more money--and I'd be singing! So I'm thinking maybe I should try it out and see how it feels. It's just frustrating when all I really want to be doing is performing regularly with my own band, playing my repertoire. I guess I'm more spoiled than I originally thought! :)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hike For Discovery

I have a friend with a blood disease that borders on Leukemia. Without the treatment she has been getting and all of the test drugs being tried on her, she might not still be around. This woman is brilliant, strong, vibrant and determined to live a long and productive life. She has a thirteen year old daughter and a husband who completely adores her. So why do things like this happen to the best people? Something I will probably never be able to comprehend. But her tenacity and desire to make a difference in this world has inspired me to sign up for Hike for Discovery. It is a fundraising event (Team-In-Training) that is supported by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). I will be training for the next three months to ultimately hike on the Nepali Coast in Kuaui in October. It is a 10 mile rigorous hike. I will need to raise $4800 dollars in order to participate in this event, 75% of which will go to LLS for research. My thought is that I will donate $5 of each CD sale towards this event. So every CD sold at live shows will be contributing to helping to find a cure for these nasty diseases. I'm excited about tackling this challenge--after all, this is nothing compared to what my friend is experiencing. I've asked her to do the hike with me and she is waiting to see if her doctor will allow her to do so. Either way, however, I will do this hike and do it with her as my inspiration.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

So Much Going On

Well, my son Danilo will fly out next Tuesday to start a new life in NYC. I'm so excited for him and at the same time saddened at the fact that he will be so far away. This will undoubtedly give me more motivation to book some gigs on the east coast now! He will be doing an internship with and it sounds as though it will be a fantastic experience for him. I will be taking him to the San Francisco airport on Tuesday and then heading to Berkeley to do the first and only rehearsal before we start recording in the studio. I was thinking today that despite all of the mascara that will be running down my face from too many tears, having the opportunity to rehearse the songs for the recording will be fantastic therapy for me. It reminds me of when my ex and I split up and how much singing helped me get through such a difficult time. Music, singing, drumming are all such powerful tools in aiding us all to work through our "issues". I'm in the process of developing a music/expressive arts workshop that I want to take into juvenile hall or at-risk programs. I think that something like this could have a profound and positive impact on these lost children. They need love and support and a way to express their emotions without doing harm to either themselves or other people. I really want to find a way to reach these kids. But I'm also afraid they might eat me alive!! I've got to figure out how to do this and still feel safe.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Letting Go

My son, Danilo, flew off to NYC yesterday. He is going there for an interview for an internship spot at an alternative news station. It is an awesome opportunity for him and I am excited that people on the east coast are going to get a chance to see how talented he is. The hard part for me is letting go. The idea of him moving so far away is definitely something I need to get my head around. Granted, since he moved up to San Francisco I really haven't seen a lot of him, but now I won't be able to just jump in my car to go and have dinner with him when I want. Nevertheless, I am impressed at his fearlessness and ability to constantly grow and experience new things. He is an inspiration to me, as is my other son. They both teach me so much about life and creativity. I am blessed to have two such wonderful people in my life--and they're my sons!!

I now have almost all of the charts ready for the studio gig. I just need one more for the book to be complete. It is becoming a reality. I can't believe that I am going back into the studio so soon after my last CD. I'm excited and feel really good about the songs that will be on this disc. It will be a higher energy experience than the last one, which will be good for the dancers out there. And having "names" on the CD will also help considerably. Not only will it help in getting me attention, but the inspiration with getting to perform with these guys raises the music to a whole new level. One more week and we're thrown into it--rehearsals, last minute changes, last minute coordinations, etc. I even got my mom and sister-in-law involved by helping to cater food on the studio days--NICE!! :)