Friday, September 26, 2008

Austin, Texas

I'm here in Austin, Texas to be a support for my friend as she awaits the birth of her first baby. I thought the first time I'd come to Austin would be to perform in some cool jazz club, but the universe had different plans for me!! My friend is a little over two weeks overdue and very much ready to have this little creature come out and introduce itself. But he/she is taking its sweet little time!! We got up at 4am today in order to be at the hospital to start inducing her labor. When we got there at 5am they sent us back home because they didn't have any beds available for her. It is now almost 10am and still we are here, waiting to hear from them so we can go and get her started on the path of labor. It just goes to show that nothing and no one is in control of any situation. Things just happen as they are supposed to and we all have to learn patience and keep our senses of humor in the process.

This brings back so many memories of my own pregnancies and labor and boy am I glad that part of my life is over. This is truly a beautiful experience to be able to be a part of my friend and her husband's new baby's life. I feel honored that they both want me in the labor and delivery rooms with them. She was supposed to have a home birth but because the baby is so late it was decided that there needed to be some help in convincing it to come out. IU'm really hoping that he/she decides to enter this world before I have to leave tomorrow night. I'd hate not having the opportunity to meet my "nephew/niece" (I'm honorary "zia"--auntie in Italian)

Austin is a nice city, from what I've seen of it. It is quickly being developed to accommodate all the people moving here for business. There are buildings being constructed all over the town and tons of pregnant women ready to populate the city even more!! I swear there's something in the water here that makes women more fertile! Luckily I don't have to worry about that happening to me! :) I do hope, however, I get the opportunity to come back and perform here. I've applied for the SXSW festival for next year and hope my group is chosen to be one of the performers. If we get the gig then I'll try to book other gigs in the area while here such as in Houston, San Antonio and beyond. It all depends on how finances look at the time. Right now my main focus is to work out a deal with some people on the east coast so we can go out and perform in Massachusetts, Wash, DC, NYC and the likes. We'll see if that pans out for next year. i really hope so.

Okay, time to go and practice my Sephardic music while I can. The first rehearsal is this coming Monday night and I want to be ready! Ciao.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Time is passing and the Sephardic Music Experience premiere concert is quickly approaching. The challenge is always how to create enough time and space to learn the new material while still trying to make a living teaching and gigging. I took a substitute teaching job at the JCC in San Francisco for the next few weeks. I had never taught preschoolers music before and it is definitely a fun experience. These children are so incredibly wide open to the experience of sound and movement. It is truly a pleasure to see their faces light up when they have a chance to play instruments and learn new songs. Where along the path do the children begin to get jaded about all of this? When does the novelty and excitement wear off? And how can we as parents and adults help to keep refreshing the adventure of music for our children? Maybe it's when the parents start telling their kids to practice. Or maybe we just have so many stimulations for our children that they can't do everything. I really don't know the answer, but I do find it interesting to see how different parts of our experiences change and sometimes shut down as we get older.

Ten new songs have been arranged for my new Sephardic project. All the charts, however, have not yet been sent to me so I'm beginning to get nervous that the musicians won't have enough time to learn all of the material. BUT, I also need to remind myself that I have chosen a group of musicians who are very talented and dedicated to their art and will do a fine job on Oct. 5th--and beyond. I am the one who is nervous about my own personal performance. Some of the songs are quite challenging for me and learning all of these lyrics can also get overwhelming at times. But I know this is my process: I obsess and obsess and obsess until the music encompasses my entire being. I listen to nothing else but the Sephardic music now so I won't be influenced by anything else. I guess it''s like an actor immersing him or herself in their role, I'm immersing myself in the Sephardic music so I can present it as authentically and honestly as I am capable.

Yesterday I attended a Town Hall Meeting in San Jose that was run by the Center For Cultural Innovation ( San Jose has committed to helping artists in the South Bay. What does that mean exactly? Well, they have realized that the arts and music scene has deteriorated significantly enough in their community that they need to find ways to entice artists to stay and other artists to want to come to San Jose. They are looking at ways to better support the artist by creating work/living spaces, more performances spaces, studios, possibly financial support. It all sound really good on paper, and spoken out loud, but can they do it? Can they really create an environment in the South Bay where people can actually survive as artists? It will be interesting to see if they can achieve this goal. I truly hope they can. Would I then move back to San Jose? I asked myself that question while at the meeting yesterday. The answer would have to be answered much further out in the future. Right now being in the East Bay is the best possible place for me. But anywhere that wants to support musicians and artists gets my vote!