Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Theo Jansen and other art guys...

This is amazing. What an interesting and innovative art form!

then there are these guys: The Art Guys. They are part dadism, part comedian, and part WTF? I lOVE them.

Amplified Sideburns

These guys will be at U of H in May! wOOt!

They seem like the kind of guys that could easily fit into my circle of bizarre artsy friends and bohemians...I am officially extending an invitation to them for a beer and darts at Rudz after their May performance. Think they'll come?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

feast or famine

So true.

It is Tuesday and I (sadly) have nothing to blog about in relation to the pro-musician lifestyle.

The weekend's concert series was lovely. Saturday night was particularly memorable. I got chewed out for having water on stage on Friday. Granted, I NORMALLY would not take water onto the stage during a performance, but this nasty cough has plagued me during every rehearsal, thanks to the scream fest that is Carmina Burana. My logic: better to surreptitiously sip a bit to quell the tickle rather than lose it during the pensive quiet moments in the soprano's Carmina solo. Of course, I was caught on the big screen cameras. My luck. I was NOT the only one with water on stage by a very long shot. I was just the one that got caught in 20 foot glory. I was informed I should not have sung at all if water was necessary. Not by the director, but by the self important chorus manager. In hind sight, perhaps she was right. Needless to say, I had a far better remedy for Saturday night. I am STILL rolling my eyes in unabashed self righteousness about this. I have a problem, people.

Upcoming excitement:

Going in the studio with Devin Collins, Glen Ackerman, (hopefully) Chuck Payne, and Paul Peacock. Assuming we can fit all our open days/booked nights schedules into the studio's engineer's opposite schedule.

I was crazy busy the last few weeks and now I am staying in bed until noon and in my pajamas until I have to leave for HSC rehearsal.

Oh well.

Devin has almost finished my first ever commissioned arrangement for the new mini big band I am putting together this Spring. I am very excited about the whole project and really look forward to what this group will be capable of!

Paul has begun an arrangement of an obscure tune that Ella Fitz sang on an album with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, a gem of an album with several GREAT tracks that are NEVER done. I am learning every one of them and adding them to my book. I LOVE singing the lost jewels that no one does anymore!

Friday, February 22, 2008

eating crow

The orchestra certainly changed their tune (pun intended) at last night's rehearsal. A smiling, warm, stage full of musicians greeted the Maestro with good humor and pleasantries. I suppose they feel he is worthy to hold the baton after Wednesday night's passionate and productive effort. It couldn't hurt that he released us a full half hour early, either! The man is gracious and light hearted while being professional and intense. The perfect combination for any conductor. He is truly a marvel.

Got to hear the tenor Christopher Pfund last night for the first time. He performs his intense solo from the orchestra seating level in the audience. It is powerful, to say the least.

Tonight, the show that what you say in orchestral situations? Or is that only for theatrics?

Well, toi toi to me, any how.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

the Glory of Orff

Just a quick note about the surrealistic evening I had last night:

After the Mermaid Gig, I had rehearsal at Jones Hall with the Houston Symphony Chorus under Maestro Claus Peter Flor.

We rehearsed Carmina Burana by Carl Orff.

Granted I was VERY tired and more than a little over medicated, but the sheer magnitude of sound, the incredible musicianship of the orchestra, the angelic sound of the Houston Children's Chorus, the contagious excitement of the Maestro, and the magnificent voices of the two soloists, Ilana Davidson, soprano and Hugh Russell, baritone, were enough to bring me to tears. I am at peace in the concert hall. I am home on that stage. I had the private honor of being early enough to rehearsal that I sat alone on stage and merely basked in the quiet magnitude of the hall. I then had the pleasure of witnessing the maestro prepare his score for rehearsal, again, just the two of us were in the room (there may have been an ambitious clarinettist or two but it FELT like we were alone!) I was breathless, speechless, and transported to my happy place; a European stage, a small regional opera company, my daughter in the wings, reading her textbooks while I rehearse this weekend's production. It makes me sad to think that this is a dream I will likely never realize. Che sera...

Tonight, we rehearse Chichester Psalms, by Bernstein. Tomorrow, I reveal to the world (or at least my 20-odd readers) the poor behavior of the snotty symphony artists. UGH!

Tickets for this extraordinary concert here.

more marilyn

Here are the pro shots I bought from

If you clicked on the link in this blog you already saw these...

read about the gig here...

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shark bait

Yesterday's afternoon gig at the Downtown Aquarium

I was thrilled to be singing with the oh-so-talented-and good-humored David Craig and Henry Darragh. Both were stand up guys about the whole fishy affair.

I personally had a blast with them, fins and all, despite the excessive amounts of dextromethorphan in my system (thus the oddly glazed-over look on my face). I THOUGHT I was smiling, I swear! A friend of mine who was idiot enough in his younger years to use DM as a recreational drug (seriously the stupidest thing I have ever heard of) explained to me that it is a dissociative Mainly I was jittery and paranoid and had a few moments of phasing out--Henry and David probably think I was just the typical spacey chick singer, sigh. But by golly I wasn't coughing!! I will in the future be more careful with my Delsym. Oy.

The mermaid dress was a tad scanty for my taste. Yes, it was pretty, yes, I get the whole aquatic theme for the employee appreciation cocktail party for the Aquarium, but personally, I felt it undermined the band's credibility. Call me a wet blanket. But the client was pleased and J&D were happy with the end result, so I really shouldn't be so "flip" about the whole thing! (OK, last fish-pun, I promise! Maybe...)

The band and I were a tad disturbed to see the live goldfish swimming in the table decorations (fish bowls filled with orchids). Especially when we realized they were serving fish as an entree as well...hmmm...a little morbid for my taste. David wondered how many expired decorative fish the Aquarium disposes of daily, excluding the poached/grilled/fried/baked varieties served in the restaurant, of course.

The rain was a bit of a nuisance as the valet drop off is a good hike from the actual door to the restaurant. This makes no sense to me whatsoever. I caught a brief glimpse of Henry getting thoroughly soaked as he ran to his car after the gig. Sorry man! Of course, it lent a sense of authenticity to the mer-theme, I looked like I had recently emerged from the watery depths upon arrival.

I know, I know: quit yapping and bring on the seashell brassiere...

The band and Mer-babe: (note the blue velvet draped dais...sheesh)

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HA! I didn't notice until just now that they had draped Henry's keyboard with fish net! Wowser! I LOVE it!

And the Aquatic Hollywood Call Girl herself...

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Bet you'd like to be a part of MY world....
Bet you'd like a piece of that tail!
Tartar sauce anyone?
Would you like fries with that?
Oh I could go on and on...there are fathoms of pun possibilities...Anyone want to continue the fun? Just keep away from calling Gwendolyn overdeveloped caviar...I'll take THAT personally!

*title credited to Alexis Swartley and her uber-wittiness.

Monday, February 18, 2008

pics from ICON

Thanks to David Jones Photography, the master behind the lens! Be sure to check out his amazing online portfolio and amusing blog...looking forward to a possible "trash the dress" session with him in the near future...

without further ado:

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

and of course, the obligatory "ham and eggs" chick singer shot:

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NO! I was not ACTUALLY singing like was a total spoofy moment that David, being ever so quick and witty managed to catch...this is why he is such a great photographer, people! Always ready!


SO my little ticker says 101 people have visited my blog...but no one has anything interesting to say? No words of wisdom? No ridicule for the whole Marilyn thing? No thoughts on the whole "artist identity crisis?"

OK, OK. I know what it are all waiting for the post-Wednesday gig post to commence with the merciless wave of taunting, right?

I just hope I get some pictures worthy of my colleague's rapier wit....

Friday, February 15, 2008

danger will robinson!

Booked a GREAT band last night for a VDay wedding at Ouisie's Table.

Brought in my buddy PIDO from Denton to croon us a tune or two, had Devin Collins on keys, Glen Ackerman on bass, and my new favorite person, Chuck Payne with these funny looking stick thingies banging away on some weird fancy can-like apparatus. Hmmm....

We were booked through my colleague Robert Shipman of Haute Soiree for this wedding back when it was originally set for the couple's newly finished Montrose home, but rolled with the punches when it was moved to their favorite restaurant, managed by a personal friend, I would like to add. 

Had the pleasure of meeting and hearing the Mark Towns Duo with Tim Ruiz on bass...classy stuff, guys.

The band was (of course) as good as it gets. PIDO was all kinds of "On" and the guests actually listened and watched the band for much of the night--which I have NEVER seen at a wedding. The priest, the photographer and the manager (ooh! sounds like the opening of a good joke!) all asked for cards and expressed their true admiration. Good money, good food, free booze, and watching the last guest walk out the door an hour and a half before contract end; all in all a smashing good time.

The truffled mac and cheese was so good I nearly passed out from the tremors of pleasure that coursed through my body. Um. Ok that was awkward. My mom reads this...

The country fried venison steak was equally delectable. (Minus the gravy...ew.)

Avoid the greens. 

The best part about laid back gigs like this one is the quality time spent with "the boys in the band." A more, er, colorful conversation you have not heard until you sit in the break room with a bunch of jazzers. 

I heard the "Ackerman vs. the Lot Lizard" story for the 2nd delightful time. Everyone needs to ask Glen about this one...he tells it with a trucker's zeal.

Looking forward to working with Henry Darragh on Wednesday and an as yet undisclosed bassist...last minute calls always make me anxious...oy

*If you want to know what the heck this post has to do with its title, you will have to take me to dinner, get me liquored up and ask me to be indiscreet...the band knows and that is sufficient for my amusement.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

coming soon...and maybe going soon?

got a few pictures from here:

Thank you very much David Caceres!

I bought the digital copies thinking I could just download them but alas, they are being "shipped." What an eco-unfriendly solution!

I will post them as soon as I have the legal copies!

Still waiting on the other pro shots...

Got a call for a possible trio gig very soon at the Downtown Aquarium...

Should be good for a few laughs...YOUR laughs, not mine... ;-)

Let's just say they are taking the whole "Under the Sea" theme a bit far and they want me to be "Part of Their World..."

Any guesses?

In other news:

I have officially decided I am jealous of a fellow colleague who is at this very minute flying toward the beautiful beaches of Bermuda to stay in a luxury hotel, perform with Regina Belle, if I am not misremembering, and plans to be poolside with a Pina Colada by this afternoon. Plus it is a he is getting paid to take a mini vacation to Bermuda. Anyone want to cry him a river? Me neither.

I told him to be sure and mention me if any of his fancy gigs ever need another chick singer. When Bermuda is involved, I come cheap.

speaking of to get my passport RIGHT NOW. It is silly of me to be unprepared for the possibility of getting that last minute call: Can you fly to (fill in the blank with a fabulous international location) tonight and sing tomorrow for (fill in this blank with a wealthy VIP who is celebrating their (fill in the blank with a festive occasion)) with (fill in this FINAL blank with an amazing international star)?

If you followed that, kudos. If not, just go with the whole: Luck=opportunity + preparedness.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Marilyn are you still with us?

It is official: I am the latest comer to the impersonator field and Houston's newest Marilyn Monroe.*

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Yes, that is me in pink and platinum.

Wait till you see the pro photos taken by one of the 7 or 8 professional photographers who were at this HUGE party.

The event was at Mosaic on Almeda, a new high rise apartment building dedicated to living the life of luxury on the extreme level.
Only one of the two towers is completed but here is what it will look like when all is said and done:

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The space between the two towers is the 7th floor pool and clubhouse level where the party was:

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I could not believe how the guests ate up the whole "Marilyn" bit. Everyone wanted a picture with her or they simply wanted to chat with her, playing along with the game. My favorite line of the night inspired the title of this blog. One flamboyant fellow complete with black crystal beads, sports jacket, boots, and an east Texan accent that could peel paint exclaimed upon seeing me: "Marilyn are you still with us?" This deteriorated into a discussion in relatively poor taste about pills and headaches. But the amazing thing was that EVERYONE wanted to play this little fantasy game. I was flabbergasted.

In all honesty, as I told Jon and Dan, the agents from J&D Entertainment who hired me (and groomed me) for this gig, I thought SURELY the folks in Houston would find the mere idea of an impersonator corny, but nay, twasn't so. I even got the obligatory "I told you so" in an email from Jon this morning. I stand-with-my-backside-sticking-out corrected.

One thing I was NOT prepared for was the way some of the men looked at me. There was a sparkly-eyed look some of them got every time I passed near them. Now, as a fairly good looking lady on an every-day basis, I am used to getting a glance here and there, but I suppose the fact that I was "entertainment" and therefore MEANT to be ogled, combined with the fact that I was dressed as many-a-man's wet dream made things that much more intense.

The gig was three-fold:
1) mingle with the guests in character
2) sing two fave Marilyn songs with a CD track, I wanna be loved by you and of course, Diamonds are a girl's best friend and Happy Birthday Mr. President a cappella
3) sing two tunes of my choosing with the band (It had to be you and Our love is here to stay)

This last part worried me a bit until I learned from the sound guy, Chris, that the band was none other than the fabulous and celebrated David Caceres Band.* No worries there. The only concern for me was that the first time I would sing for David I had to use the breathy quick vibrato Marilyn voice I had (almost) perfected. But in truth, the woman was a terrible singer and cooing like her is hard on the chords. I remedied the problem by singing for David later on that night in my "real" voice, swinging a little to Bye Bye Blackbird. I also had Joel Fulgham (drummer who played with me at Hotel Icon) give me a shameless plug to David...Thanks Joel, your check is in the mail, baby!

My fellow impersonators, Frank and Audrey had similar successes that evening. Frank was actually flown in from Vegas as there is no one in town that does this act. Shocking. Here is the two of us next to the living oscar statue...yum.

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I found my nerves were absent before this gig, which made me anxious that they would hit at an inopportune moment, so I tried to PRETEND I was nervous to trick my way-too-calm head into getting it over with. This was a common problem (and attempted solution) for me in the classical world. At least I think it was a problem. I was NEVER nervous before a performance. If I was going to walk onto a stage I was simply going home and as I am a pro, (la ti da! Or la ti do, really) I am ALWAYS prepared. My solution: I found a quiet corner of a balcony and jammed out to Incubus in full Marilyn drag. Here was my view:

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Ah! Love! If only I could get a flat here! But at $180-200k starting price for the 1/1 studio style floor plans, I think it is a bit out of my price range. Maybe if this Marilyn schtick takes off...and someone dies and leaves me a BAZILLION dollars!

*exclusively from J&D Entertainment

*book the David Caceres Band through one of the following agencies:

aMUSE entertainment

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Penthouse, please.

Monday's gig at Hotel Icon was a smashing success according to the hotel management, the clients, and myself. I had the awesome privilege of playing with Joel Fulgham and Thomas Helton, Devin Colllins and my darling hubby Paul Peacock. The party was put together by Robert Shipman of Haute Soiree with help from Rob Smith of Events in Bloom.

We played on the private terrace of the Ritz Suite Penthouse, a 3 level suite of sheer opulence. I wanted to close the door to the second floor master bed and bath and slip into the built-for-three claw foot tub full of rose petals. Here's the lobby:

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The afternoon leading up to this gig was yet another comedy of errors. I discovered my books (binders full of my tunes in my keys) had been left at the Convention center on Saturday. So I went home to reprint the charts only to discover that BOTH printers were out of ink and nonoperational. No time to go to Kinkos, so I pulled out the months old stacks of charts that had a few of my tunes in them and shoved them into binders without first punching holes; a sloppy compromise but effective. Of course, Thomas and Joel didn't need a book, just a title, a key, and a tempo. Silly me.

In addition to the music snafu, my pianist had car trouble and I had to go pick him up before the gig. No big deal, really it was more or less on the way, but it set us back a bit time-wise. Then the valet, trying to be oh-so-helpful, took his clothes and shoes and somehow musplaced his shoes along the way. He had to play the gig in his hightop converse sneakers, (and black suit) which I decided was an excellent look for him and needed to become his "schtick."

Then Paul's jacket was moved by the staff. We still have not located that piece of clothing.

We also discovered that our keyboard music stand is long gone.

Then there was the wind. I was not completely clear on the fact that we were actually playing outside until we got there, so none of us had clothespins for our music. that led to some fun slapstick.

Considering the situation as a whole, this should have been a disaster of a night. But it was great. The band was solid and took good care of me. They had a good time and enjoyed the hotel's hospitality, which was impeccable. The decor was gorgeous and my dear friend David Jones was kind enough to take some photos of the band before he had to skeedaddle to another party. I will post those as soon as I have them!

Man this feels good.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Can you take me higher?

Saturday night's gig, it went smoothly, I suppose. No major blips, a few hiccups, but at least no one broke any bones, which was actually a genuine concern!

Allow me to explain. During the days and weeks leading up to this event, I was told the band and I would be performing on a 10ft high platform stage and that we and our equipment would be hoisted up to the stage via hydraulic lift. That changed to just the equipment getting a lift, and the band and I had to climb a ladder, me in my full length evening gown and stilettos. Cake.
Upon arrival, we find that the lift only lowers to about 4.5 ft and only raises another 12 inches or so, thus being a bit more like a large stair or step, up which we still had to climb a 3 rung ladder. To make matters even more interesting, the lift had no gate, so we had to climb, not just the ladder, but also the actual railing of the lift AND the scaffolding of the platform AND the round exposed architectural pipe work of the George R Brown Convention Center's Main Lobby, which looked like this:
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Those white round 8 inch pipes on the far right were what we used to get from lift to stage. Needless to say, I climbed sans stilettos. The second set I didn't even bother putting my shoes back on since no one below could see my feet.

Despite a few equipment snafus, a momentary miscommunication in the band during a tune or two and some scheduling issues, the end result was a good time and some decent music. Thanks to Jon and Dan of J & D Entertainment for this fun quirky gig!

The entire night was something of a comedy of errors, but Glen and Devin took everything in stride, and their calm demeanors set me at ease. It is hard to stay nervous and worried when I am doing what I truly love with colleagues I trust to support me and admire as artists.

So far, so good.