Saturday, June 18, 2016

Day 18: Queen Esther & The Hot Five at the Kennedy Center!

On Saturday June 18th, the quintet and I performed a set of 1920s vaudeville blues on Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, then returned later that night to play 1930s swing music for Jason and Alicia Hall Moran's Forever Gershwin after party.

Our little road trip turned out to be a pretty fun adventure.  We got to see Forever Gershwin, which included selections from Porgy and Bess, and later we noshed on sushi with that indefatigable showstopper Norm Lewis as well as the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, whose enthusiasm while gliding the orchestra and the 168 person chorale through It Ain't Necessarily So was nothing short of contagious.  I must say, it took the top of my head clean off to hear that many people scatting simultaneously.  Thrilling, inspiring gut-wrenchingly brilliant stuff. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

I miss singing in a chorale.  More on that some other time.

I had to post this video to give you an idea of what I saw and heard. So lush! I don't know if I could ever get sick of this song...! 

I'd say this newest addition worked out just fine, wouldn't you?  I'm just relieved that it fits. There's nothing quite like buying something you can't try on before that point of purchase.

To see our entire set of vaudeville blues, click here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Day 14: YAY! A Guitar Lesson!

This is guitarist Jim McLaughlin. Thankfully, he can play anything.  I'm going to make him sing a LOT. With this, we are off to the races -- trading guitar lessons for voice lessons.

The good news is that I'm farther along than I think I am with the guitar, which is kind of a relief. It's not nearly enough, of course -- so I'm still way frustrated. I can't think about any of that, though, or I'll quit. I have to do stuff to make it fun and take my mind off of how far off the mark I think I am.  Stuff like writing songs and working up new ideas and practicing while I channel surf. Mindless, meditative stuff.  Stuff that will distract me, keep some other part of me bouncing around.

The good news with James is that he can actually sing and he's got an ear so he can sing harmony. (Sweet victory!) The rest of 2016 will be colorful and interesting...!

Here's the latest fingerpicking pattern.

I don't care how long it takes me to learn how to play guitar. I don't care if I figure it out by the time I'm 90 years old.  I'll be an old lady and I will be bringing the heat and I won't care at all.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Day 9: Another 1930s frock...!

Because I sing a wide variety of (mostly!) American jazz from the turn of the century through the 50s (amongst other things), I'm always in dire need of formal vintage clothing. Although usually I can shop in my closet for a crisp modern look that can accommodate the 1940s and the 1950s, I'm flummoxed when it comes to The Gilded Age. I'm not flatchested enough to pull off an androgynous look, so I get away with as much as I can by finding inspiration in bias cut gowns and cocktail dresses from the 1930s. Here's my latest gown: an elegant, curve-hugging bias cut satin number that simply slips over my head, like a t-shirt.

I know it looks pink but it's really peach.  And I'm a Georgia peach. So there's that.

Walking around my apartment with all that luscious fabric billowing behind me made me feel as though I were floating on a cloud.  Plenty of room for the ladies -- not constricting at all.  Maybe I'll try it out when I perform at the next Jazz Age Lawn Party in August.

Thank God I can write this off. Happy birthday to me!

Now I'm off to search for accessories...

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Day 7: Buddrick von Boy Goes to the Vet

Our sweet little 5 month old brindle terrier mix puppy -- Buddy the Furboy! -- caught a cold and went to the vet for a complete examination. Before that, he spent the morning at Camp Canine, getting a complete assessment to make sure his temperament is a-ok for overnight stays.  So this is him, completely knocked out in the back of a cab, heading home.

If you want a dog or cat, I highly suggest you rescue one from your local shelter.  Our Buddy was rescued from a 3 day kill shelter in Camden, SC by ARF -- Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.

I'm starting to think he knows how lucky he is.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Day 6: Mouth Wide Open - Literary Open Mic, 6/8!

Looking forward to reading some fresh new flash fiction at this event on Wednesday at Jimmy's No. 43. I'm grateful that the organizers are kind enough to include me. This feels good, all this writing I'm doing -- not just songs, either. I'm revisiting essays and short stories I wrote and sifting through them all over again and that's bringing forth a slew of new ideas. They spin out of me in this effortless way and I pick them up, like seashells on a beach. I've never had writer's block, thank God.  I was and still very much am a procrastinator, which is probably why I love a deadline. Quite often, that's the thing that gets it done.

I love words. Writing came so easily to me when I was a kid, I took it for granted. The rest of my life has been running me over for so long and in every direction imaginable, that I never thought I could lean on writing, that it could be as promising or as fulfilling as performance.

Having a chill downtown literary moment will be the calm before a very busy weekend of Black Americana at Jalopy on Friday night with my beautiful band The Blue Crowns and of course singing my heart out at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Saturday. I have to go back on Sunday to dance -- and of course try to win the pie contest..!

Maybe I'll read Chicken Lips...!

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Day 2: I'm a Featured Playwright at Playwrights Playground, 6/6!

Because I'm determined to create work that I want to see, I'm a 2016 Playwright in Residence at Liberation Theater Company, working on a ton of new ideas.  A scene from my latest full length play currently in utero -- a serio-comic romp about white fragility -- will be read at the Classical Theater of Harlem's Playwright's Playground Cold Reading Series on Monday, June 6th at the Dwyer Cultural Center.

For more information and/or to reserve your spot, click here.

And now, back to rewrite purgatory.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Day 1: Beauty Treats!

There's nothing like beauty treats to make everything sublime and luxurious. I started this month's birthday shenanigans with a Curlbox loaded with summer beauty products from Shea Moisture. Everything in the box -- lotion, soap, you name it -- is coconut & hibiscus, so I smell kind of fantastic. It's hard to be in a foul mood when I'm gliding around smelling like coconut cream pie.

This is me, after having wiped away half of Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Mud Mask. (Yes, it's amazing.)

The world of beauty products is a many splendored thing, and maintenance and upkeep is a constant.  I'm always doing minor level research on some new product or experimenting with scents to figure out what works for me. Good habits are hard to break, thankfully -- and rules that seemed strange for a black girl to live by, like always always ALWAYS wearing sunscreen, have paid off for me like crazy. 

I have other rules, too. Like no alcohol. No smoking. And most of the time, eating clean is still my default option.  I wish I could fall in love with a physical activity that didn't cost me an arm and a leg.  I still love boxing.  I still have my handwraps and my boxing gloves. No workout has ever worn me out so thoroughly, given me results so quickly or made me feel as confident.

Oh, wow. That's my first birthday wish!