Posts Tagged ‘music’

Summer is now almost over, at least as far as my children are concerned.  My oldest begins 10th grade on Monday, August 17th, while my youngest will be stuck hanging around the house with  me until August, 26th.   I am loath to use the word “epic”, but epic is the only way to describe my summer.    From a really fabulous show at Winter’s Tavern with Debora Iyall and Girls with Guns, to a month-long vacation in Europe, it’s really been a once in a life time kind of summer and I feel so amazingly grateful and blessed to have experience it.

While I will not bore you with my vacation photos, I will give you a quick excerpt from my journal.  Now I must warn you that while traveling through Europe I read Keith Richard’s autobiography Life, and as I tend to take on the voice of the book I am reading, this excerpt is written in the style of – well, Keith Richards.  So here is a bit of my summer vacation retold to you as filtered through the literary work of Keith Richards:


In which my family and I take a trip through Europe,  Hunter Something requests a great deal of sweets, and Fat Daddy seeks out only the best.

There were the four of us then: Zed, Fat Daddy, myself and Hunter Something, Hunter S. for short.  Hunter S. was a complete snack-head at the time, couldn’t go more than a few hours without a hit, even though we kept trying to get him to take to regular meals.  It was the sugar.  He’d go completely bonkers for it.  We tried to keep the whole thing under wraps.  No meat, dairy, or any opened foods when crossing borders, but the tour bus rides were long and we learned to put the choco granola bars at the bottom of our bags just to get past customs.

Fat Daddy was useful for keeping him in check too; he was good at playing the heavy, so to speak.  Fat Daddy had his own taste in sweets, much more refined than any of ours at the time.  He was used to the creme de la creme of dessert and wasn’t settling for the likes of what you get off of your typical food trolley.  Of course we made it through London just fine with the sticky toffee and Amsterdam with its stroopwafel  worked out quite well.  But we got a bad batch of marzipan in Estonia and that took a couple of days to shake off . . .


Estonian marzipan – purely decorative.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.  I leave you with a couple of videos of my band at Winter’s Tavern.


Despite my best efforts to maintain this blog on a regular basis it seems I’ve gotten caught up in a lot of other things that demand my attention and have taken away my time and motivation to write.  These other things include my youngest son’s Little League participation, my older son’s play rehearsal schedule, my ever increasing commitments to play keyboards for various musical projects including my own, and finally, my current need to watch every television show or film that features Benedict Cumberbatch. (IMDB says he was in War Horse, but I don’t remember his part.  Perhaps I will watch it again . . .)

Upcoming on my musical horizon is Shot in the Dark‘s show at Hotel Utah on May 9th, and then a one-off performance with NYC singer/songwriter Marianne Pillsbury at Doc’s Lab in San Francisco on May 23rd.

Here’s a clip from Shot in the Dark’s last show at 50 Mason Social House, featuring Sunni Mcgarity on vocals.  She will also be performing with us at Hotel Utah and hopefully beyond.

I met Sunni while working with Emily Palen and KnightressM1.  Emily is currently working on her first studio album, so KnightressM1 is on hiatus from live performances.  This clip is from a show we played last October and gives you some idea of the amazing energy and talent driving this project.

Also, I’m pleased to announce that the track I played on with the Debora Iyall Group, “Watching the Detectives” is now available on the Elvis Costello tribute CD, Beyond Belief .  The wonderful thing about this compilation is that the proceeds benefit the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, an organization that donates musical instruments to schools that otherwise would not be able to offer music programs to their students.   The range of artists who have contributed is also amazing, so definitely check it out.  Here is a taste of the Debora Iyall Group’s rendition of  “Watching the Detectives”.

Finally,  if you are still in need of more music, here is a recording of my most recent Second Life performance.  My Second Life stage name is Demolicious Wonder, and while I’ve mostly sworn off performing in the virtual world, I will do a show now and then.  I think this one turned out fairly well, and also features many of my original songs that will never be performed live otherwise, so take a listen if you have a moment.


Thanks for reading and listening!



A long time ago, 1996 or so, I wanted to be Kate Bush fronting Marillion; a winning combination certain to win the hearts and minds of middle America.  Unfortunately I had neither the voice of Kate Bush nor the enigmatic charm of Fish and so every project to which I brought this vision floundered for a bit, hemorrhaged drummers, and then died a slow, whiny death.  I’ve gotten over that now.  It took me almost 20 years but I have  finally come to realize I cannot sing and perhaps more importantly, prog really is the fine china of the music world- it should only be used on special occasions under certain circumstances.

Despite all this, I believe I came closest to my dream in this song.  Inspired by a binge of both watching and reading Dune,  “Little Death” is performed by a short lived band tentatively named , Make Way for Ducklings.   My poorly drawn husband is killing it on piano, and Glen Douglas  plays lead guitar;  I think Russel Pickett is on  bass, but that may also be a midi controlled keyboard bass.  The drums are programmed, because just like my vibrator, programmed drummers do exactly want I want them to do for exactly as long as I want them to do it, and don’t expect me to make a sandwich for them afterwards.

The video was filmed in Second Life in Forgotten City.


Welcome, Little Death

Black wings flutter in a flag of surrender

My dreams like vultures pick the corpse bare and fly off to another

Welcome, Little One

The world in your head is immense and you cross it with a step

Reluctance conquers and rules with innocence

She was never pretty, she was not the best,

She had expectations just like all the rest

She was not the brightest, she was never blessed

She held out for more, and ended up with less

Welcome, Little Fear

You sense your time has come, you jump the gun and march

on your own country

Compromise the borders and find

There’s nothing left of me

Welcome, Little Death

We always knew you’d come our sole excuse

and all forgiving friend

So kiss this demon dream goodnight

And let it end

She was never pretty, she was not the best

She had expectations just like all the rest

She was not the brightest, she was never blessed

She held out for more

And ended up with nothing

Unforgivable, the things we do sometimes

The posture we take in a room and the way we hold our eyes

The stares we never meet and the things we never say

We think we’re holding out but we’re giving it all away



only loversjpgI spent Saturday afternoon at The Opera Plaza Cinema watching Only Lovers Left Alive, exactly where I had wanted to see the movie when I first heard about it. While the film does have a very 90’s feel – Jarmusch, vampires, Tilda Swinton, a soundtrack of moody, heavy guitar, it did not allow me to time warp back to 1995 as I had hoped: Indie Movie  Time Machine. You can travel back in time, but only while the movie is playing. No, I didn’t get that experience.   Instead I felt anchored to my present reality, one in which I’m rather busy with my family and new music and the slightest attempt at starting my own business. It’s nice to be so connected to my current life, but I do enjoy getting lost in a good movie and I’m afraid this one just wasn’t powerful enough to make that happen.

When it was over, my fellow film goers agreed it was visually beautiful, but slow-paced, with moments of dry humor. It seemed to me that seventy percent of the main characters’ dialogue consisted of historical and scientific facts, a constant reminder of the ages and information the vampires had witnessed and absorbed in their long lives.

“Do you think it was written that way out of sarcasm or irony?” asked one of the women in our group. “I mean they were such snobs. Was he  making a point about snobbery?” I’ll go with that. Perhaps the point is that the thinking-man’s vampire will become turgid, not with blood but knowledge that, while impressive, can become just as much a crutch as violence or melodrama when used so extensively.   Or perhaps I’m the real snob here. . . But then, Tom Hiddleston.

Meanwhile, back in my everyday life, I’m excited to be part of KnightressM1’s upcoming show at the Milk Bar in San Francisco on June 5th. Violinist/vocalist Emily Palen is the creative force behind KnightressM1, and she is one of those rare people with a direct connection to the music god(dess).   I first saw and heard Emily at The Red Devil Lounge with the band, Dolorata and she has since gone on to play and record with many groups in the Bay Area as well as the Foo Fighters. The music I’m helping her bring to the stage is more electronica influenced than the music she regularly performs with her power trio. It’s beautiful and compelling and I was immediately drawn to it. It’s also subtly complex and nuanced. It is definitely challenging me in regards to knowledge of my gear, Ableton Live, as well as my musicianship.

Here’s a song we will be performing on June 5th.  Enjoy!



I mess around like this all the time but rarely bother to record it. I’m not sure when I filmed this. Based on the length of my hair, probably a year or so ago.

For the gear heads:Korg Kaossilator Pro for drums, Moog Little Phatty run through a TC Electronics delay, Yamaha CS2x and a loop pedal.

Hope you enjoy it!

Moog FXToday I dug through my all-things-old-and-forgotten cupboard of musical gear and pulled out my Digitech bass effects pedal.  Then I connected that bass effects pedal to my Moog Little Phatty and now I am in love!  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Moog before.  Nothing else sounds quite like it and I have consciously decided to build my sound in Shot in the Dark, my electro-rock project, around the Moog.  This just gives it an extra dimension.

Previously I had a T.C.Electronics multi-effects unit attached to the Little Phatty for a bit of chorus and reverb or the occasional delay, but it’s a second hand unit and it’s outbound signal is dirty, so it’s not anything I would want to take to a show and put through a PA.   Plus it is a rack unit,and the foot-pedal bass effects just work so much better for me.  I’m pretty excited to integrate it into my current set up for my next show with Shot in the Dark which happens on Friday, December 20th.

This will be the first show we’ve had where we can turn up.  Our maiden voyage, when we weren’t yet a band, happened in the front room of El Rio in San Francisco and we were a little unprepared when it came to understanding how our live sound needed to be handled.  Then we played at Wild Side West and understood we needed keep it down.  Finally we’ll be able to crank up the bass and drum machine and guitar and play the way we (mostly) play in rehearsals.

This will also be my first time out running Ableton as part of the performance.  I feel I use about 5 percent of Ableton’s capabilities, so I’m a little self conscious about getting on stage with a laptop and the Akai controller.  However, I’m also playing keys and singing so it’s not like I have an additional 2 hands to tweak the Ableton tracks on the fly.  Ableton is replacing my Roland SP-555 sampler which I had in my set up for a few years.  I felt really sure of the sampler.  It’s been a bit of learning curve, getting the feel of the controller down, and then I’m left with the question – what constitutes live performance?  If I’m triggering the samples on the fly, but I have a chance of screwing it up, wouldn’t it be better to just sequence everything?  And if I’m just sequencing everything, then what is my added value on stage?  Before I go spiraling out of control on these questions, I’ve promised myself to just keep everything as it is right now and worry about making changes after the December show . . . except for adding in the bass effects pedal; and re-recording a keyboard track for the Ableton tracks; and replacing the high hat part on one of the songs; and re-editing the ending on another song. But after that, I’m on lock-down, practice mode only.  Really. I mean it.

Post script on the War Horse entry – I actually ended up talking about watching War Horse to my therapist.  Isn’t that weird?  Also, that wasn’t even rock bottom. I’ve discovered Suburban Shootout.  I need to get out more!


In the wake of last night’s VMA’s I have come up with a subversive idea for the music industry.  Why not start promoting new pop artists who are over 35.  What more mature artists may lack in youthful good looks and reckless abandon witnessed on last night’s show, they make up for with years of experience, a serious understanding of paying your dues, and self-respect for one’s craft and performance.

Now I recognize that self-respect doesn’t really sell the way youthful good looks and wild abandon do. This could actually be a good thing.  It could be a reset button, a way to lower the bar for the young performers who feel the need to top all that’s come before, because topping all that’s come before is eventually going  to take us in to Annie Sprinkle territory and I can guarantee you that Annie Sprinkle has done it  better.

We’ve come a long way from Elvis swiveling his hips on Ed Sullivan, or even Madonna humping a wedding veil.  It takes a lot more to shock the audience.  There was a time when playing around with a bit of religious imagery was enough to get some cries of outrage.   However, religion seems to be on the decline in America so it’s hard to get the public riled up over something they may or may not care about.  Besides, Madonna drained that well dry in the 80’s and 90’s and Sinead O’Connor all but paved it over.

It seems we’ve lost the knack for subversive imagery and we’re left with nothing but the actual acts we once artfully paid homage to via creative symbolism.  Or maybe we have nothing left to rebel against.  However, there are things that still seem subversive in our society – conspicuously aging, being fat, being poor, being gentle, being average and being okay with it.  Unfortunately, none of these things make a marketable train wreck.

I maintain that here are a lot of musicians in this world, who in my opinion deserve way more attention than some of last night’s VMA acts received.  Here’s a list of some  artists/bands that would have shocked and amazed the audience both by delivering a compelling performance and also by breaking the ever devolving pop-star mold.  Check them out if you get a chance.


Adam Beach

The Hodges

The Clarences