Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

From filmmaker Spike Jonze, handbag designer Olympia Le-Tan and director Simon Cahn comes To Die By Your Side, a beautiful short stop-motion film that happens in the famous Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Sermonette: Say Amen, Somebody!

Director and producer George T. Niernberg's now legendary 1980 gospel film Say Amen, Somebody! is an epic must see documentary, if only for the chance to experience the legendary Thomas Dorsey in action as a choir director and musician at 83 years young. Christian music is a huge tree with many branches. Mr. Dorsey's take on gospel music combined Christian praise with jazz. It is blues based, it is explosive and it is most definitely infectious.

Before he came along, what did we have?  English hymns? Gregorian chants? This sound changed everything. I can't imagine a world sonically without it. 

Watching this trailer brought back a flood of memories. This was an enormous part of my Southern experience -- to be immersed in this music, this sound, day after day, week after week, for the entirety of my childhood. 

If you can't see the documentary, get the soundtrack.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Your MUST READ Drag of the Day

This is drag -- and a thorough one at that! -- is brought to you by (who else?) a black woman on Black Tumblr that refused to let some (racist) white girl get it twisted.  Enjoy -- and perhaps learn a little something in the process.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Peony Queen

I am full of all kinds of beautiful songs that God sends to me in my dreams.  They flutter within me long enough for me to get them out of me and onto an album, so I can fling them out into the world by any means necessary. The better I get at playing instruments, the easier it is to get those songs out of me.  The thing is, they were there when all I had was my voice and a tape recorder. Thank God.

This is what it feels like when I sing -- ever blooming, ever exploding, in everlasting technicolor.

Flowers have their own language.  I instinctively embraced the peony awhile ago, as it turns out, with good reason

Monday, October 19, 2015

VERY Giant Steps by John Coltrane

Who hasn't seen this? It's John Coltrane's Giant Steps, animated and somewhat illuminated.  Because sometimes you have to see it to believe it.

I need a momentary distraction from a sea of paperwork -- rewrites, bits of song ideas and lyrics, applications for workshops and residencies, graduate school and my parlor guitar -- and this Star Wars trailer isn't enough to tip me over in another direction. 

One song escapes me, slowly.  I can't chase it down with food or a heady conversation or a butterfly net. A long walk shakes something else loose, some other idea. Another song to distract me, maybe.  I sing into a voice recorder on my phone and sing it to myself all the way home as it swings back and forth in my head. Eventually, I unravel it on my sofa. Sometimes, I write it all the way down. And somewhere in there, there are phone calls and errands and money to be chased down and tea and solace and sleep and sunshine and work to be had and worry and much prayer and fasting. Somewhere in there, there are rewrites and emails and all kinds of funk and deliberation.  But mostly, there are those songs that escape me slowly and more often than not, they drift off right as I'm going to sleep.  Whenever I feel a song coming on, I hold still in spite of whatever else I'm doing. And I realize whatever else I'm doing is making way for the song to (re)surface.  Kind of like the technique that makes way for "inspiration" as Stanislavski explains it.

Songwriting is always the momentary distraction.  Like a tightly wound bud that is sure to bloom into a gigantic peony, there is always a song somewhere in me, waiting to come out.  All I have to do is wait it out.  And in the immortal words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Pretty China Makes Breakfast Delicious

If you eat on pretty dishes, the food tastes better. (Try it. It's true!)

Here's a snapshot of my gal pal @chickinslacks and I at breakfast in Passau, Germany last month. I zipped through Europe for a few dates with my Black Americana outfit, lingered with friends for a week or so in Berlin and Bremen and had what can only be described as an adventure of epic proportions.  More on that later.

Find more shots on my Instagram page.

Friday, October 02, 2015

October's NaBloPoMo -- DISH!

Again? apparently, I'll be posting lots of pictures of china -- complete tea services, mismatched flea market finds, pretty plates and the like -- for your viewing pleasure. 
Stay tuned.