Monday, March 31, 2008

Day Two in Washington

We all met late morning to go and have "real" coffee as Paul specifically requested! We ended up going to this Las Vegas style restaurant called the 13 Coins. Very bizarre and dark decor. We had a decent breakfast and then Murray had to go back to the hotel to work on his computer for the day. Paul and I wanted to go sightseeing, but Peter wanted to stay and watch the NAACP games on TV. So we dropped Peter and Murray off at the hotel and Paul and I proceeded to drive into Seattle to the Experience Music Project museum. This is an incredible museum that showcases music of the United States, a lot of Rock and Roll, Jimi Hendrix, lots of guitars and an incredible sculpture of instruments that reaches at least 40 feet into the air. The building was designed by Frank Gehry and so is very interesting on the exterior with a lot of colored metal bent and twisted into many shapes.

We also wanted to take a ride up to the top of the Space Needle but when we saw it would be almost $20 to just go up and then come back down, we decided that going to Pike's Market made much more sense. So off we went in the rental car and drove a little ways next to the docks where the ferries go. We parked the car and walked for a bit until we finally found the market. It's a pretty crazy lively place. Very much the tourist attraction. Paul had to show me the fish tossing guys--definitely one of the highlights of the day!! So funny. Luckily the weather was holding pretty well until we got into the car to go back to the hotel. Then the skies opened up and it began to pour buckets.

We all decided to meet up at 8pm to go into Seattle for a nice meal, but when we were about to leave the hotel it starting snowing really hard. None of us wanted to drive in that weather. The shuttle driver overheard us and suggested we go to this "great" place down the street where they serve steaks and have karaoke. Since he was offering to drive us there we all blindly followed him into the shuttle and allowed him to drop us off at the Bullpen. Oh my God!! It was like entering the twilight zone. The people were definitely from a different world than what we were used to. A lot of beer drinking, overweight, rowdy, some of them mentally challenged, dart playing, karaoke singing people. It was at least very entertaining to watch all the activity. I think we all were nervous about eating there, fearing that we would end up with food poisoning, but we were basically stranded in a snow storm and didn't have many other options for escape. So we stayed, ordered the safest looking things on the menu, tempered it with a pitcher of beer and watched people get up and sing their hearts out to these karaoke songs. To say it was a bizarre experience would be a huge understatement. After we had had enough (which really didn't take long) we all opted to walk back to the hotel instead of waiting for the shuttle driver to come back and get us. It has definitely made for a lot of laughs on this trip!

Day three will be the next blog--our journey up to beautiful Bellingham to perform for the Jazz Project.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Day one in Washington

Murray and I flew out from San Jose, CA while Peter and Paul flew from Oakland, CA. They were supposed to arrived 10 minutes before us but ended up having their flight delayed. They arrived a little more than a half hour after us. Not bad. BUT it did make me relieved that at least I had my pianist with me in case the bassist and drummer couldn't make it. (Those little details that one forgets to think about can be pretty intense if something were to go wrong.) Murray and I decided to go and pick up the rental car and then go back and pick up 'peter and Paul after they got their luggage. When we got to the rental place they wanted to give us a PT Cruiser. 4 adults and tons of luggage was NEVER going to fit in such a tiny car. I got a little upset since I had assured them that the car I had rented guaranteed me that 5 suitcases would comfortably fit in the back. The woman attending to us said, "2 big suitcases and 3 small ones!" NO, that just wasn't going to work for us!!. After asking to talk to her manager, we were able to get into a Ford Patriot which comfortably fits all of our luggage and seats 4 with lots of room--all for no extra charge. After dealing with AT&T for that past few weeks, I just really couldn't tolerate any more crap!!

So after getting the guys and checking into our hotel fro 1/2 hour, we were back on the road again to issaquah to go to Bake's Place and set up for the gig that night. What we didn't know, and to our surprise, Bake's Place is located within a gated retirement community!! It is actually a completely lovely room for jazz and particularly vocalists. Craig and Laura Baker, the owners, are wonderful people and fantastic hosts. They took particularly good care of us and made us feel very welcome within the walls of their establishment. It actually feels like a very high end house concert. The sound was great and I think we played very well that night. People are served a very nice dinner while we perform our music for them. Although the turn out was not what we had hoped for, the people that came seemed to be very happy with the music. We definitely gained a few new fans while there. The best part is that Craig wants me to come back in the fall for a two night stint at Bake's Place. That would be fantastic and I hope we can work it out so it can happen.

When we left the club it was snowing like crazy. I asked Murray to drive because I was too scared to drive in that kind of weather. It was pretty tough getting back to the hotel, but we made it in one piece. I think everyone was pleased with the evening, especially after stopping at David's Diner for a quick snack, a little alcoholic imbibing and Murray at the jukebox finding incredibly obscure music to play. It's been fun hanging out with the guys.

Day two tomorrow...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Off to Washington

Today's the big day! Murray, Paul, Peter and I all fly up to Seattle to perform tonight at Bake's Place. I'm getting really excited about playing in Washington this weekend. The only bummer is that SNOW is in the forecast for the weekend!! I can't believe it. Rain I was ready for, but snow? When I saw that it was going to be so cold I had to repack my suitcase with my winter clothing. Oh well, hopefully the rental car has a really good heating system!

I have been battling my allergies all week and have been trying to get my voice into the condition it needs to be in order to do my best work. It's been kind of scary not being sure if I would be able to sing this weekend, especially after all the planning that has gone into making this happen. I'm happy to say that, although I am still somewhat congested, my voice is feeling much better and I am confident I will be able to perform to the level I want.

These are the situations that really make me realize how precarious a singing career can be. If I don't have a voice I can't sing and then I can't make a living. I have become incredibly vigilant this week about taking care of my voice, exercising, eating healthy, no coffee (that hurts!!) and no dairy. It seems to be working and so I will definitely continue this routine through the weekend and then try and be better from here on out.

If you're in the areas where we'll be this weekend (Issaquah on Friday and Bellingham on Sunday) please come by and say hello!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Can I Get Some Bragging Rights Here? !! :)

I woke up this morning and checked my e-mails to see what had happened in the world overnight. In my inbox was an e-mail from Wayne Wallace showing me that my new CD, Azucar de Amor, is currently ranked at 300 on the site. What this means is that of all of the latin jazz CDs for sale on, mine is currently ranked as the second most sold CD!! Right after Kenny G's new CD. Man this feels good!! :) After working so hard to make a musical mark in this world, even these little victories are huge for me. It just helps to reinforce why I continue along this path and that maybe it's not such a crazy dream after all!

This week I will preparing for my trip to Washington State to perform on Friday at Bake's Place in Issaquah and then Sunday at the Jazz Project in Bellingham. I'm pretty sure everything is in order at this point, logistically speaking. Now all i have to do is get my allergies under control so I can sing to my very best ability. Although it is a huge expense, I'm really glad I'm taking the trio with me: Murray Low: piano, Peter Barshay: bass and Paul van Wageningen: drums. Having them on the gigs will relax me even more and allow me to do the kind of job I want to do instead of worrying about whether they'll be able to play my charts. It is going to be a very exciting and fun weekend. If you're in WAS state. PLEASE come to one of the gigs and introduce yourself. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Internet Connection

It's been quite a while since posting here due to the fact that I didn't have internet connection in my house for two weeks. I have come to really appreciate being "connected"!! I have been trying to catch up on all of the things I was unable to do while the internet was down and am still in the process of updating my new website (www, and readying myself for the Pacific Northwest tour that takes place the last weekend in March.

My new CD, Azucar de Amor, officially hits the stores tomorrow, March 18th. I've been joking that it is the CD that keeps getting launched!! First it hit the radio airwaves to great response all around the world, then it landed on iTunes and now it will be available everywhere!! This is all very exciting. Billboard has already done a review of the CD, Jazz Improv magazine interviewed me for their next national edition, is interviewing me, I was interviewed by Chicago Public Radio that will air in April and more exciting things keep coming down the pipeline. I am ecstatic about how well the CD is being received. Of course I am very proud of the music, the musicians who played on it and my performance, but one never knows how the rest of the world will respond to something as personal as your own music. I lay my heart and soul out before the world and hope they will honor and respect the work I do, and, as it turns out, that is exactly what is happening! :) So I have no complaints whatsoever, just a ton of gratitude.

Many important concerts are coming up. First Washington State where I"ll be a part of the Songbird Series at Bake's Place in Issaquah on the 28th and then The Jazz Project in Bellingham on March 30th. I'm really looking forward to performing in Washington for the first time. Then we come back and have a dance party at the Stage Dor in Sausalito on April 4th. That should also be a ton of fun as I am able to add Masaru on saxes and flutes and Michael Spiro on percussion. As april moves forward I'll be doing more CD release-type concerts with the culmination of the BIG CD release concert on April 27th with many of the stellar musicians that recorded on the CD. That will be an amazing day.