Sunday, December 6, 2009

Performing for the media (First Night kick-off) and The Victorian Streetwalk

My intention is to join my visual art with telling my tales about being a performing musician, but I can't seem to find the time at this juncture. So the little cropped pic of me with the guitar will have to suffice for now as the visual part of my story.
I was asked to perform for the media by the First Night office in Saratoga Springs, NY. As part of my general performance, I was asked to sing "Starry, Starry Night" as that was the theme for this year's event. This request came in on November 10 and I responded on November 11. This meant I had about 19 days (minus time around Thanksgiving) to "work up" the song. But, I was also practicing for two holiday performances, so I felt pretty stretched as holiday material isn’t something that is part of my regular repertoire. It always takes additional practice and rehearsal.

I found "Starry, Starry Night" vocally challenging (believe it or not!). I sing lots of challenging pieces like "Ave Maria", so I knew I could do it, but I knew I’d be in trouble if I tried to tackle and memorize the accompaniment too, so I asked Jim if he could do that part. This made my task a lot easier when the event finally came and I felt confident that I did a good job. We decided that since we would show up as a duo that we should use the hammered dulcimer in the performance too since there aren’t very musicians in this area who play the instrument.

We often use the hammered dulcimer in our holiday performances. It has a nice bell-like quality which is perfectly suited to holiday music and my vocals. In these performances, I play the classical guitar in addition to my singing.

I have played in front of television cameras before and the lights were fairly blinding. This is all right when I am singing and playing a guitar, but with the addition of the hammered dulcimer, this was of concern to us since Jim has to be able to see the strings in order to play his instrument (he uses handmade little wooden hammers).

We asked the sound guy about the lights and his brusque answer was to wear a hat with a visor and some sunglasses. But he was having a little fun with us because there were no lights, not a single one. Ha!

We played the Saratoga Victorian Streetwalk two days later (the same duo). The event and our venue was packed the whole night. The streets were blocked off and smelled like horses.

Many of our CD customers asked us who the other musicians were on our CD (feeling a little unsure of the musicianship of these "other" players when they weren't hearing them as part of our live performance). We had fun explaining that the whistle guy was across the street at Celtic Treasures and the violinist was down the street about a half a block at the post office and our recording guy was another half block across the street, etc. All the customers looked a little shocked. Most don't understand that many of the musicians in this area are like one big jamming family. In fact, our band formed at one of the biggest jam sessions in the north country, The Dance Flurry Festival.

Music MYSPACE (hear clips)
My Etsy on-line store and Artfire on-line store for purchasing some of my CDs and some of my art
My band site: Saratoga Faire
My Renaissance band MYSPACE: The Spirites Consort (hear clips)
Purchasing our Saratoga Faire CD on CD Baby