Saturday, May 18th marks the debut of a side project I’ve been working on with guitarist, Pauli Gray, called Shot in the Dark. Pauli comes from a hard rock/punk perspective in his guitar playing and I of course am all about the synthesizer. We decided to meet in the middle with out influences, and so we’ve put together songs built on an electronic rhythm section with hard rock guitar to roughen up the edges. Vocals tend to be a bit punk and we’ve got touches of dark wave and industrial thrown in for good measure. The goal is to keep it high energy and fun. It all takes place at Wild Side West in San Francisco with a start time around 6 pm. It’s also a fundraiser for AIDS LifeCycle. It would be great to see you there!
Posts Tagged ‘live music’
Tags: AIDS Life Cycle, fund raiser, live music, Pauli Gray, San Francisco, Shot in the Dark
Tags: band, California, drinking, live music, musicians, Nevada City, road trip
*Nevada City is . . .
A.) Deceptively not in Nevada
B.) California’s most well preserved Gold Rush Town
C.) A little strange after dark
D.) Where I found myself last Saturday night playing a gig with the Debora Iyall Band
E.) All of the above
I love a good road trip, but I rarely take to the open road alone. Still I found myself cruising down I-80 E towards Grass Valley with nothing but my keyboards and some new music this past Saturday afternoon, headed for a show with the Debora Iyall Band. While the keyboards didn’t do much more than occasionally rumble around in the back when I hit a rough patch of highway, the music turned out to be a great companion. The road opened up to rolling, barren hills beneath an ultra-blue sky as lush as the synth sounds on M83’s “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming”; the rustic countryside of Highway 49 provided both a compliment and stark contrast to plaintive vocals of EMA’s Grey Ship. “When you see that ship, it is the ship you can see, when the grey ship calls it is calling for me.”
It was a good drive.
When I arrived in Nevada City I was taken aback by the quaint nature of the town, but it soon lost its appeal . Any meditative state the solitary drive had afforded me was quickly broken by the number of tourists darting in the path of my car as I crawled up and down the main street looking for Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center.
Thanks to bassist, Dave Wenger, I soon found the hall and a primo parking spot.
We were there to play Nisenan Heritage Day, an event that celebrated the indigenous people of Nevada County. The event included speakers, dancers and craftspeople. Live music was an end-of-the-day cap off, so in the meantime I had a chance to walk around the downtown area and check out some cute jewelry shops as well as some historical artifacts in the town square.
Then I headed back to our makeshift green room and hung out with Debora until it was time to get on stage.
The stage at Miner’s Foundry is a good size and has hosted a wide range of musicians from Zepperella to The Dark Star Orchestra to Johnny Winter. The sound was amazing, but leave it to me to be freaked out by the loudness of my own keyboards. The set went off pretty well, but I had a couple of instances of stage fright where my mind drew a complete blank . Still, the audience was appreciative. Particularly a boy named Tyler who was dancing his heart out at the front of the stage and later made the effort to introduce himself to the band and offer us some chai tea.
We played two short sets and then it was time to pull it all down and turn things over to Shelly Covert & UnderCover, an amazing cover band that sent most of us back to our formative years with tunes from Heart, REM and Georgia Satellites.
However, I was pretty hungry at that point, and since my fellow band mates had already wandered off on the quest for dinner, I took a late night stroll through Nevada City after dark.
Nevada City was a pioneer town and it has held on to the identity, if only for the sake of the tourist trade. At night its quaintness take on an eerie quality, which was accentuated by a man in a black cape and top hat leading a crowd through the streets and telling stories of ghosts. Certain alleyways were completely deserted, while other areas bustled with life; young people crowded around open storefronts like moths flocking to a flame.
One thing that has most definitely changed since the Gold Rush days are the prices. I had a hard time finding a decent place that wasn’t in the $20 and up entrée price range. I finally settled on Lefty’s Grill and had a yummy flatbread pizza.
Back at Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center, Shelly Covert, who has a phenomenal set of pipes, was heating the place up pretty good, but my band mates and I decided it was time to head out to our hotel, the Northern Queen.
Our drummer joked that we could trash the place as all true and good rock stars do. I thought perhaps, since this was our first time out doing such a thing, we could simply set our TV sets outside of our room doors, rather than throw them out the window. It’s good to have a goal, but to break it into smaller steps.
We checked in without event and I was just about to settle in when I realized my leftover pizza was still in the car. Who doesn’t love some good leftover pesto pizza around midnight or so? On my way out to retrieve said pizza, I ran into Steve-the-Guitarist and Rob-the-Drummer who asked if I wanted to go back to town for a drink. Now I’ve heard the sirens’ call many times (it usually sounds like my cell phone ringing and when I answer they say, “Hey, Paula, why not come on out to this big rock and get smashed. It’s pretty cool. We think you’ll like it.” They’re usually right.) Going back into town at 11 PM “for a drink” was a bad idea, especially when I was hoping to get an early start home in the morning, so of course 15 minutes later my pizza was safely in my room fridge, and I was driving back into Nevada City.
First we hit the saloon at The National Hotel. It’s the oldest bar in Nevada City and supposedly haunted. It was full of the spirit of karaoke when we arrived, as evidenced by a young man doing his best at Train’s “Meet Virginia” while an older couple danced cheek to cheek like they were on the Lawrence Welk Show. Not long after that we found ourselves down the street at The Mine Shaft Saloon.
It was drinking as usual after that. Rob- the- drummer dropped a dime in the jukebox (okay, it probably was more than a dime) and put on some Hendrix , Rolling Stones and of course,“Never Say Never.” A group of young’uns in spandex and big wigs kept us entertained for a good long while as they got progressively drunker. Steve-the-guitarist questioned if we were in still in Nevada. Shots of Patron and Jameson’s flowed freely , and the highlight of the evening for me (the designated driver who was not having shots of Patron) came when Rob-the-drummer passionately recounted the music video for Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself”.
When last call came we headed out but forgot to leash our drummer and he escaped to the bar across the street, The National Hotel Saloon, where he stayed for a good long while, supposedly ghost hunting.
I got to bed at 2 AM, woke up around 6:30 AM and was on the road by 7:30 AM. Road trips alone aren’t so bad after all.
* The correct answer is E.
Tags: benefit, biergarten, Downtown LA, live music, Nette Radio, The Standard Hotel, The Talking Stick, Twilight fans
I grew up in Pennsylvania watching movies about ordinary girls who run off to Hollywood, get discovered and become famous. By the time I was in my teens I had decided I would move to Los Angeles as soon as I could, to start my music and acting career. I finally moved to California in my 20’s, but to Northern California, which is a separate beast from Southern California. I love the Bay Area and would not live anywhere else, but I still feel a tingle of excitement over the prospect of LA, so when I saw an opportunity to play a show in Southern California I jumped on it.
Nette Radio, an internet radio show dedicated to promoting unsigned female artists, is hosted by Annette Conlon. Annette has combined her passion for music with her desire to make a difference in the world by putting together benefit shows once a month at The Talking Stick in Venice, CA. Any artist who submits music to Nette Radio is invited to play a show, and that’s how I came to be traveling down Highway 5 on a Thursday evening with my friend, Gina.
Taking a road trip sans les enfants is a bit hedonistic, so I was particularly glad the show I was playing was benefiting the Los Angeles Veterans Hospital. That helped balance out the guilt. Gina had suggested we stay the The Standard, a cool hotel in downtown LA. I had no idea how the hotel was going to tip the scales of hedonism versus altruism way over in hedonism’s favor.
We had an easy drive down to Los Angeles and pulled into the parking lot around 8:30 pm, except I couldn’t tell if this was actually a hotel or a disco because even with the car windows rolled up I could hear the thumping bass of dance music coming from inside the lobby. People in club wear milled about outside while the valets helped us unload the car and take our things inside. As far as I could tell we were checking into a nightclub.
Once we had our room key we headed up to the 6th floor. Despite the party in the lobby, the red carpeted halls were deserted. “We need a big wheel to ride up and down these halls like in The Shining,” Gina joked.
Our room turned out to be quite spacious with a 70’s minimalist flare. Two mattresses sat atop of dais, a phone sat on the floor between them. One of the mattresses was just a foot or so from a plexiglass wall which turned out to be part of the shower stall. Upon further inspection of the sparse, European style bathroom, there were two floor-to-ceiling shower curtains that made up the shower enclosure. The see through shower wall gave me pause, but upon inspection of the mini-bar I realized my suspicions were correct. In addition to full bottles of Patron Tequila, and splits of Veuve Clicquot champagne, one could also purchase condoms and scented candles, all at moderately outrageous prices. Spontaneity is expensive. It would appear we were staying at The (One Night)Standard.
Gina and I were starving so we decided to head up to the roof where there was food and drink to be had, but first we had to go back to the lobby and get a wristband to prove we deserved to be on the roof.
The rooftop bar provided an amazing view of downtown LA. There was a pool, cabanas and a large lounge area, all very crowded. Due to extreme hunger and the need for immediate gratification, we chose the Biergarten. Yes, I said Biergarten. Nothing says downtown LA like a good liter of Hefeweizen and a bratwurst. We sat at a white table surrounded by an ivy draped trellis, astro turf beneath our feet, 80’s pop music sung in German blaring from a nearby speaker, and for no reason we could discern, a movie projected on the wall of the parking garage across the street. It was sensory overload-a-go-go; completely surreal, like Disney World for drunken hipsters.
After our boozy, greasy repast, we headed down the street to catch the remaining few moments the Downtown Art Walk, did a bit of shopping at a nearby bazaar and then headed back to the hotel. I wish I could say we then turned in for the night, but we didn’t . . . “Early the next morning” describes both when I went to bed and when I woke up. It doesn’t get much rougher than that.
I spent most of Friday morning recuperating, and then finally pulled it together enough to set up my equipment and practice while Gina went to the hotel gym, which is apparently just as surreal and kitschy as the rest of the place.
We lunched at The Abbey in West Hollywood, where everyone was fit, beautiful, and potentially famous, before braving the late afternoon traffic over to Venice. I couldn’t help but feel star struck driving down Santa Monica Boulevard through Beverly Hills, although some of the awe was buffered by not moving more than 15 miles per hour for most of the trip.
I arrived at The Talking Stick a little after 6 pm. My good friend, Erika, and her family were already there, having made the two hour trek up from San Diego to catch my 25 minute set. Having both Erika and Gina there to show their support made me feel truly blessed to have such amazing friends.
The Talking Stick is a nice coffee shop venue with a full stage, PA and fun ambience. The tables filled up quickly and I was up first. One of the biggest challenges I face in my life is learning to speak up for myself and ask for things I need; in this case I needed more of a sound check than the other performers. The others were using acoustic instruments, save for a keyboard player using the venue’s keyboard. My electronic instruments are a bit more dynamic than the average acoustic guitar. When I hit the Roland sampler to trigger the drums for Fulcrum at the beginning of my set, the beat crashed through the PA in an auditory assault, causing everyone to cringe and jump. This was not my first time to cause an audience to cringe and jump, and sadly it probably won’t be my last. Still, I lost a bit of confidence right away, which never makes for a great performance. I did my best to pull out of it and put on a good performance, but my vocals felt off, and when I got to my final song, Fan Fic, the Roland sampler gave me more volume level problems. In a button-mashing panic to get things under control I screwed up the beat. I really should have stopped and started over again, but I pressed on, embraced my failure and sang like I didn’t care. Gina claims it worked, but I wasn’t so sure . . .
You can watch it all here on Nette Radio’s Ustream channel, as it was broadcast live.
The other performers were very good: Gypsy and the Merry Mystics played some beautiful acoustic rock that incorporated two guitars and a keyboard player who doubled on flute; Ann-Marita used soulful country music to tell stories of her incredible life, having found her way to America from Norway by way of Australia; and The Red Herring wailed out some blues with punk rock rawness on acoustic guitar and harmonica. The Conlons, comprised of Annette and her husband, Doug, finished the evening with joyful Americana music that showcased soaring harmonies and thoughtful lyrics.
I also picked up a cool Susan Nichole bag which was auctioned off as part of the fundraising for the evening. It was money well spent for a good cause.
Gina and I left the Talking Stick around 10 PM and the night was still young. We went back to downtown LA and walked around LA Live for a bit looking for a place to eat. We settled on Trader Vic’s and enjoyed some tropical drinks with our food.
On the way back to the car we came across a tent city. Thinking it might be an Occupy encampment we moved in for a closer look. It turned out to be people camped out for the “Twilight:Breaking Dawn” Red Carpet event that was taking place on Monday.
After that we were back at The (One Night)Standard. Gina and I both enjoy photography (which is not the same as “Photography, know what I mean? Wink Wink Nudge Nudge”) so we wanted to make use of the spectacle that was The (One Night)Standard. Camera in hand we went on a photo safari of the 70’s kind:
And made a friend who was feeling the vibe of The (One Night)Standard something fierce:
After our friend was escorted out by his friends, we continued with the photos:
The next day we woke up late-ish, grabbed some breakfast and hit the road by noon. I’ll admit I felt just a touch sad that I’d had no brush with fame during the visit; no coincidental chain of events sent Michael C. Hall into the Talking Stick for a soy latte just as Fan Fic began, where his eyes would meet mine as I deftly hit the “sexy serial killer” trigger on my Roland. . . Nope, didn’t happen, but a Pennsylvania girl can dream.
Tags: El Rio, live music, original, San Francisco, synth pop
Thanks to everyone who came out to the show on Tuesday, October 4th! It was a completely enjoyable evening, having the chance to play some music, spend some time with friends and make a few new ones.
Tags: first concert, live music, Peter Gabriel, The Greek, Up
We took my oldest son to his first concert this past Friday. Okay, technically it wasn’t his first if you count The Wiggles when he was 3 (for the record, The Wiggles really work it; obviously it takes more than a little red car and a dinosaur named Dorothy to stay on top of your game as a major act for the preschool set, and The Wiggles delivered . . . But I digress). But on Friday, we took him to The Greek in Berkeley to see Peter Gabriel’s New Blood tour.
This happened to be a perfect first show for my son, Z. First and foremost, the song “Darkness” off of Gabriel’s album Up, is one of his favorite songs at the moment. Second, Gabriel is touring with an orchestra this time around, which means the sound level was bearable, particularly for an 11-year-old who has an aversion to loud noise. And finally, because it was an orchestral show the mood was sedate and even somber at times (and also perhaps because the age of the average audience member was somewhere around 45) everyone stayed seated. Z, being himself, wasn’t particularly excited about going to the concert. However, he was awed by the video projection that accompanied the music, he thankfully did not question the strange smells that wafted through the air, and when Gabriel performed “Darkness” my son was mesmerized.
At first I found it odd that my son was drawn to a song about fear (“I have my fears, they do not have me” goes the refrain). But Gabriel explained that the song was inspired by venturing into the woods near his home as a child. An old woman lived in a caravan in those woods and he and his friends decided she was a witch, so it was scary to go there and see her house. In that light, it makes sense that my son is connecting with the theme of childhood fears. I’m not sure he hears the message in the song, but I hope he does.
On the downside, the concert was outside and it was cold; my son is not a night owl and the show started just an hour before his bedtime; Peter Gabriel did not jump inside the big human hamster ball he used on the “Up” tour, which my son has seen on DVD and was hoping to see in person; and “Darkness” came up before the intermission, dousing any desire Z might have had to brave it out for the next half of the show. So yes, we left early and my husband and I missed out on all the songs we had hoped to hear. But we also missed out on the post-concert traffic jam, and that was ok too.
Tags: hotel utah, live music, Maren Parusel, ready!ricochet
I’m very pleased to announce my first live show on Saturday, May 28th at The Hotel Utah in San Francisco, CA. I’ll be opening for the always amazing, Ready!Ricochet and San Diego artist, Maren Parusel. It’s a particularly auspicious occasion, as it is also Ready!Ricochet’s CD release party.
For my performance, I’ll be doing a few songs solo with my keyboard and looper, and then I’ll be joined on stage by Ready!Ricochet drummer, Gina Montel and bassist, Erica Liss for two song off of my upcoming EP. Also sitting in with me will be Pauli Gray on guitar and my husband, Scott on keys.
Scott and I haven’t shared a stage since the mid 90′s when he decided he’d had enough of the musical life. He has supported my musical endeavors 110% all these years and even plays some key on my CD. I’m thrilled that he’s “coming out of retirement” for my show.
Pauli, Gina and I used to be in a band together called Candy From Strangers. CFS was a fabulously trashy, glam-punk-pop affair. It was most likely the best band I will ever take part in, so I remember it fondly. It will be great to be on stage with Pauli and Gina again also.
I’ve always excelled at making beginnings ending, and occasionally vice versa. While I would love to think of this show as the starting point of something, I’m thinking of it more as a milestone. I’m conflicted when it comes to performing live. I’ve had some amazing experiences on stage, but I’ve had more bad nights which have left me wondering why I do this at all. Sometimes being a performer feels like being a lion tamer working with an unpredictable beast, the audience. You put your head in its jaws hoping it will eat you up in the best possible way, rather than just chewed up and spit out. I guess lion tamers never want to be eaten at all, so strike that last attempt at metaphorical language.
If you happen to be reading this from the San Francisco Bay Area, let me at least recommend you come see the show just to catch Ready!Ricochet, particularly if you like post-punk/industrial/synth-driven music. Here’s a taste from their last show.