Tuesday, November 27, 2007

May the Adventure Begin!

I left my house at 7am this morning so I could make sure I would get to the Brazilian Embassy by no later than 9am. By arriving at 9am I was eligible to forego waiting in line and picking up mine and Murray's visas right away. It took me 1 1/2 hours to get up to San Francisco (I truly feel sorry for those people that do this commute every working day--it is hell!!) When I arrived on the 9th floor of 300 Montgomery Street I was greeted by a very large number of people already camped out in the hallways waiting for the embassy to open. "Get in line" they all told me very clearly! By the time the embassy finally opened at 9:10 the entire elevator lobby as well as an entire hallway were jam packed with people wanting to go to Brazil. Wow! I'm sure the tourist industry there will be very pleased about this.

As soon as the doors opened I was allowed to go and stand in the line to pick up visas. It took less than 5 minutes to get all the papers we need for the trip. What a relief. I was praying that nothing had gone wrong or that they had lost one of our passports. So now it is completely real and we will be boarding our flight to Brazil tomorrow. It will be a hellacious long two days of traveling, but the end result will be arriving in Rio Grande at around 11pm Nov. 29 and preparing for our two confirmed concerts. We will do a television interview on Friday morning and then rehearse in the afternoon with the brazilian musicians. I am really looking forward to the opportunity of working with musicians from a different country. We will definitely see how the universal language of music fares in this new environment. :)

It is so exciting to get this opportunity to travel to a different country to perform, meet new people, perform in front of a new audience and experience the brazilian lifestyle, if only for a few days. I will make notes along the way and take lots of pictures that I will post upon my return. I'm sure there will be many stories to tell and maybe even some new songs that are inspired by this adventure. Ciao.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!!

Today is not only Thanksgiving day but also my mom's birthday, which makes it doubly special. It's already her favorite holiday, but when her birthday falls on the same day it makes it that much more special for everyone involved. There will be around 16 people gathered around her table today to share in good food, good people and lots of love. It's a good holiday where everyone contributes to the meal and there are no presents involved! We can just appreciate and enjoy each other's company. I'm looking forward to being with everyone. I am particularly happy because Danilo flew in from New York yesterday. Although his flight in Dallas was cancelled, he was able to jump on another flight headed for San Francisco that got him in only one hour later than his original flight. I was so relieved that he didn't have to sit in the Dallas airport for hours wondering if and when he would get onto another flight. I hope his trip home goes a bit smoother than this one did. And I hope that Murray and I don't have any difficulties with the airlines during our long, long trip down to Brazil.

I had to put one of my cats to sleep yesterday. All three of us--Pat, Danilo and I--went down to the vet's office and held her while they euthanized her. it was quick and seemingly painless for her but nevertheless it was really sad and she will be greatly missed. Her name was Tigra and we had had her for almost 14 years. She was such a great and cuddly cat but then she developed cancer that added to an already arthritic body. She was getting worse and I knew her quality of life had diminished so much that it was time to say goodbye. Danilo asked for me to wait until he returned home so he could be present. It was sad and Pat and I both cried, but she had a good and loving life and I know she is in a better place now.

I'm hoping while Danilo is here all three of us can record a song together. Both of my boys are such creative and talented songwriters and I love the idea of collaborating with the two of them. I'm just hoping we can come up with something that we can all agree on. It's like too many cooks in the kitchen; you might create a hodgepodge of chaos or a beautiful masterpiece, depending on the willingness of everyone to open up and allow the magic to happen.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Under the Wire

I spent a good portion of my day yesterday in San Francisco at the Brazilian Embassy. I really (stupidly) didn't expect there to be as many people as there were. But it turned out it was good it was so crowded because I sat down in a chair next to a man who had been there the day before. He became my angel, along with another woman who was returning from the previous day. It became clear very quickly from talking to this man, Roy, that I didn't have everything I needed to get the application processed. I needed a money order for the visas (mine and Murray Low's) as they don't accept checks or credit cards. Since the numbers being called were inching up ever so slowly, Roy convinced me to go to the post office a few blocks away in order to get the money orders and not delay the visas. So off I went and quickly rushed to the post office and rushed back so as not to lose my place in line. When I returned to the embassy only a few more numbers had been called and I was at least 15 numbers away from having my papers reviewed. I asked Roy if he would show me the paper with the list of things needed to process the visa. The woman sitting next to him asked me if I had printed out my itinerary and the receipt of the flights. YIKES!!! I'd missed getting that together, too. So, still having plenty of time before my number would be called, off I went again to find a Kinko's that was supposedly close by. Unfortunately I turned the wrong way on the street and ended up walking up a big hill to Chinatown. THAT was my exercise for the day!!

I finally found the Kinko's, got my itinerary printed out and again rushed back to the embassy. Because of my two angels I finally had everything in order to be able to process the visas. (I had also found out that our visas wouldn't be ready until Nov. 27th--the day before we leave for Brazil) So finally, after 3 hours of waiting, my number is called. I get up there feeling good that I have everything in order and that this will all be a breeze from here on out. NOPE!! The person checking my papers determines that Murray's photo is unacceptable since it was just a copy of his passport photo and that he needed an original photo. Well, Murray lives in Santa Cruz--an hour and a half from San Francisco. It's 11:30 and the office closes at 1. If Murray couldn't process his papers that same day, then his visa wouldn't be ready until after our flight was airborn on the 28th. I panicked. I called Murray while sitting at the desk with this woman and luckily was able to finally get through to him. He hauled it up to San Francisco (luckily he was in the south bay which is only one hour away). I met him at 10 minutes to 1 to get his passport photo taken. By 1:05 we were heading back to the embassy, praying it would still be open.

The woman who had helped me had made a concession and told me I could just come back to the window instead of waiting in line again for another 3 hours. We got there just in time before they closed the doors on any newcomers. The woman processed Murray's papers and now we will be able to pick up our visas on Nov. 27th so we will still be able to make our flight on the 28th.

Moral of the story? Don't wait so long to apply for the visa!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007


My head is swirling with all of the things that are currently going on in my crazy life right now. It's all good and exciting stuff but my mind just won't shut off and so I awake in the middle of the night and think about all the things I have to do and then I can't go back to sleep! My upcoming trip to Brazil is definitely looming over me. JC Celmer, the DJ and promoter that has invited Murray Low and me to perform there, just sent me the poster that is being used to promote the concert in Rio Grande. I've posted it on my www.myspace.com/katparra site since I can't figure out how to post it here! :) It is REAL!! and I'm now thinking about all the things I have to accomplish before I can get on the plane on Nov. 28. We will be there for a week only--I wish I could stay longer--but during that week we have 3 confirmed gigs with another possibility of performing in Sao Paolo. We're waiting to hear about that one. It's going to be so amazing and exciting getting to perform in front of an entirely new audience--AND a little frightening, I must admit. But I'm SO up for the challenge and the adventure. I'm confident it will be a great tour and a wonderful introduction to performance on an international level.

I'm also madly trying to get the design for the new CD completed before I leave for Brazil. The first go-round with the designers didn't overwhelm me with excitement and so now they are working on a newer, better concept. I want the packaging to be just as stellar as the music. I've raised the bar really high on this one and I'm sure I'm driving the designers loco, loco, loco, BUT it's important to me to present an entire product--both music and design--in the best light possible. I'm sure they all hate the fact that I am a graphic designer as well and that I art direct too much on this project. It's so hard to let go of the control of this when it's my baby--my second baby! I'm trying, though, to be open and appreciative of all the hard work they are putting in to helping me on this. I wish I could dsign the CD for myself, but I'd never be satisfied and would tweak it until I become so old I wouldn't care anymore. LOL

These next couple of weeks are going ot be a whirlwind--teaching, getting everything together for the trip, gigs, Thanksgiving, my mom's birthday, my friend Tiziana flying in from Austin next weekend, my son Danilo flying in from NYC for the Thanksgiving weekend, and on and on. I can't wait for Danilo to come home so I can spend some good quality time with both of my boys together. I'm really looking forward to that. Relationships are so important and just telephone and e-mail gets old after awhile. It will be good to be able to put my arms around my children and be able to look in their eyes when we have our conversations. I'm so proud of who they are as people. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Live Music

Last night I went to see John Worley and WorlView 4.0 perform at Senzala Restaurant in Sunnyvale. They were really spectacular--tight and in sync with each other's playing. It is obvious they have played together for quite some time and they undertand each other well enough to try out new and different ideas. John even presented a song they had never performed before--an original he wrote called Tantrum Therapy. It is a GREAT song--full of humor and freedom to express oneself. The band stepped up and really took the song on as their own and it sounded as though they had been playing it for years. Senzala Restaurant, run by Wagner and Lydia Bueno from Sao Paolo, Brazil, is a great space for music. The biggest problem is that it is not in an area where a lot of people tend to go at night unless they already know about it. I know they have a big lunch crowd due to all of the companies surrounding them. It would be great if they featured live music during the lunchtime crowd. It might be a nice change from everyone's daily routine.

The other fun and exciting thing about last night was meeting Juan Flores "Jazz Latino" from KTSU in Houston, TX. Juan has been a huge supporter of Birds in Flight. He came out to the Bay Area to see Eddie Palmieri and had been hoping to see me live as well. The woman he was visiting found that John was performing and since he plays with both Murray Low and Paul van Wageningen (as do I) she thought it would be a good compromise for him. So there they were at Senzala and I showed up. It was so sweet how excited he was to meet me. And what a very nice man he is. It's always fun to meet the DJs who have been playing my music. That way I can thank them personally for all the support they have given me and my music. We had our picture taken together and if I could just figure out how to post pictures to the main portion of my blog, I'd post it!! I'm such a techno-phobe. :)