Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Back To The Beach

This past weekend I performed with my band at the Cedar Beach Blues Festival, for the fourth year in a row. Having been around for over 2 decades, the festival is a local tradition for the Long Island blues and roots music scene. I am honored to have been asked back so many times and as always, we enjoyed rocking the acoustic tent, which is often filled with a variety of acoustic-centered acts ranging from soloists and duos to full blown bands.

It's not uncommon for guest artists to jump in with other acts throughout the festival. In addition to my usual band, I met another musician that day, Jim Romeo, who sat in to add bongos to my songs - it sounded great! The event is a great place to hang out and network with your fellow musicians. It was nice to get a chance to talk with other musicians - some of whom I only have connected with on Facebook, or some who I haven't shared a bill with in years. What a great way to catch up with other artists and see other people's sets for a change.

When I'm among other musicians, I always fall into what I call "musician guilt", as I feel bad when I can't catch everyone's sets. Family obligations kept me from getting there at the start of the festival, though I was able to catch the 2 acts that played before me, and I stayed for a few others after mine. In a perfect world I'd be able to have been there from 11am-8pm. At least there's a wealth of online footage posted to Facebook afterwards, so I can experience some of the music that was missed.

The best part of the festival is the fact that it supports the local community. Having grown up in that area, I'm glad to perform for a festival that raises funds for local scholarships. That's one of the best things about being a musician - being able to give back.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fun with Covers

As an originals artist, I sometimes shy away from doing too many covers. But while I enjoy performing mostly my songs in my set, sometimes there are gigs that call for a more covers-oriented set list, like if I'm playing at a restaurant or happy hour. In the case of those type of gigs, I will play either 50% covers 50% originals, or 75% covers 25% originals, depending on how long they want me to play. Those gigs usually pay better than originals-only gigs, so I've started to not shy away from them, though I want to get back into writing new material now that I've learned a few hours worth of covers to add to my repertoire.

When choosing covers to add to my set list, I have two rules: 1) pick "unlikely" covers that aren't often covered by everyone else and 2) pick from some of my favorite songs/acts. Some of my favorite songs that I've chosen to cover include: Fade Into You (Mazzy Star), Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash) and You're So Vain (Carly Simon). Some of the covers from the more "unlikely" category include Did I Shave My Legs For This (Deanna Carter), Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead), and Strange Condition (Pete Yorn). And of course I sprinkle in some well known classic rock or country stuff that people will often sing along to, like Bad Moon Rising (CCR) and Take It On The Run (REO Speedwagon).

As I'm still predominantly an "originals act", I don't want to go too far into learning hundreds of covers, and then feel I'm just a human jukebox. My goal is always to present something new or different that other people aren't doing - whether it's my songs or other people's songs. To me that method satisfies me as both an artist and makes it feel less like work, and the most like fun.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Superstorm Sandy Fundraiser Next Week!

It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since the monster hurricane known as "Superstorm Sandy" hit Long Island and the surrounding region. For some, the damage was devastating. Everyone felt some of the affects, whether it was loss of electricity, long gas lines, and for many, major damage to their home or even the loss of their home. While 10 months have gone by, some people are still struggling to get back on their feet.

I was happy to help in the days after the storm with whatever donations I could give, as well as the giving of my time and talent to help those around me. This coming Sunday, August 25th, I will be a part of a very important event that will raise funds for those affected by the hurricane who are still very much in need.

Above is the flyer for the fundraiser with all the details. Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle, food sales and other activities will raise funds for the cause. As you can see it has free admission and free concerts - on two stages that will be both inside and outside Lake Grove Village Hall. I will be performing on the "inside stage" at 2:00 pm. I don't have the lineup at this time of who's performing on the outside stage, but here is the lineup for inside:

1PM: David Jensen
2PM Deborah Lombardi
3PM Us
4PM Christine Holt
5PM Jimmy Segall
6PM Pandafan
7PM Rorie Kelly

I've been lucky enough to hear and share the stage with most of the above mentioned acts, so I can promise you this will be a great day of entertainment. If you're in the area I hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

We rocked Astoria!

Last night I performed in a special "ladies night" of music at The Shillelagh Tavern in Astoria, NY. It was added to my schedule kind of at the last minute, but it turned out to be one of the best shows of the summer so far. With the tight backing work of Mike Salina on bass and Steve McCluskey on drums/vocal harmonies, my songs sounded tight and we even had the audience singing along to our rendition of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire.

Astoria has been gaining a reputation lately as a growing music and arts community, with The Shillelagh known as one of its best live music venues. It was a nice feeling for this Eastern Long Island girl to be welcomed with such open arms by the natives in attendance, as well as by bar owner Rusty - who said he really digged our sound - and the impeccable sound work of Miles behind the board. I will definitely reach out again to them for future bookings!

On a personal note, it was a rare parents night out for my husband and I. Usually, he's the one watching the baby while I'm off doing shows. But as I'm not one to drive into "the city" by myself, I arranged for my mom to watch the baby so he could drive me, and catch a show for a change.

We left early (and beat traffic!), the GPS didn't get us lost, and we found parking - after only a half hour of looking, but that was good considering how impossible parking looked at first. It was a beautiful night, not too hot nor chilly, which made the short walk to the tavern worth it. We enjoyed hearing the acts that came before me - and wished we could have stayed longer to hear the rest - but mom had to get up early the next day, so we left shortly after my set was over.

The only damper of the night was I should have planned better for dinner before heading to the city. Halfway through the show, we were starving from only grabbing some sandwiches in the late afternoon. I thought we'd have to resort to finding a 711 on the way home, as many gigs have ended with him buying some chocolate frosted Entennmann's doughnuts to hold us over. Not wanting to walk all the way to the car in my weakened state, my husband went to fetch the car so he could double park it while I loaded my gear in. And luckily, on his way to the car he stopped at the Chinese food restaurant next door and placed an order of egg rolls and fried cheese wonton (my fav!), which was ready by the time he got the car and drove up to the tavern. Next time we go out that way, I'll research some restaurants in the area for a pre-show dinner, but the Chinese food was a pretty good anyway.

Next week is the always awesome Sayville SummerFest. Can't wait to play there next Sunday with the band - and there's plenty of food vendors there, so we definitely won't leave starving!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Great Spring Gigs, Followed by Awesome Summer Shows

Summer is in full swing, after a great Spring season of successful shows. Highlights of recent months include flawless solo acoustic sets at 89 North, the Plaza Cinema Media Arts Center, Hoptron Brewtique (all in Patchogue - Long Island's hot bed of music right now), and an invigorating full band show at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, hosted by the Folk Music Society of Huntington. While new motherhood has created time limitations on my performing schedule, I'm glad to be in a place of "quality rather than quantity" when it comes to booking recent gigs, as I've been very fortunate to have so many renowned local music venues adding me to their lineups.

Another great local venue that I performed at in June was Tiger Lily Cafe, in Port  Jefferson, NY. I was asked to do one show a month over the course of the summer, so if you missed the first show, I have two more dates coming your way: Sunday, July 21 and Sunday, August 18th. Shows start at 3:30pm and go until 5pm, where I'll be doing an upbeat mix of songs from my 2 CDs as well as my favorite covers. Tiger Lily is an awesome eatery, with many vegetarian options too. Love their wraps, in particular the Kansas City Wrap or the Southwest Wrap.

I do have full band shows planned too - like my return to the Sayville SummerFest on Sunday, August 4th at 12:15-1pm on the corner of Main Street and Candee Avenue. I'm hoping to book something in Astoria, Queens as well before then, once I have details confirmed I'll post here too. Closing out the "Summer festival season", will be the Cedar Beach Blues Festival - this year at the beginning of October - and the band and I will be in the acoustic tent.

New songs are in the works - both new covers with the band, and some acoustic based solo songs of mine. I debuted 2 songs I wrote about my son recently, having played one on keyboard at 89 North, and one on guitar at the PlazaMAC songwriter series. They seem perfect in an acoustic arrangement as they're tender and introspective, so not sure if I'll play them with the band, but when I take them into the studio I definitely plan to add more layers of instrumentation, perhaps strings. Also added to my musical bag of tricks are more harmonies. Drummer Steve and I have been rehearsing vocal harmonies for him to add to many of my songs as well as covers, which make the songs so much richer. All the more reason to stop by some of these upcoming shows to hear all these new developments.