Oakland Drummer- I

We hear him first

two blocks away, past Grand Avenue

the din of a parallel freeway, his bass and back up.

Loud, small, young, maybe 14       he plays     alone,

nested in a 5-pc kit, on a throne, sidewalk street corner 

while hundreds run, tightrope-walk-balance, drive

play soccer around him.

 

Hard hitting and lush

his tempos tame time in waves that roll 

connecting our smiles from inside out before moving 

across the Lake      into open windows and back through

the Farmer’s market and up      on beyond blue where

hungry stars and planets await this little gift

of rhythm.

 © Tara Linda 2016

 

INspired in Oakland-dog01421-SML

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Orkestra Obsolete~ Plays Blue Monday

This is a most original and fun video! I love this band, their concept playing tunes (Blue Monday by New Order) with old instruments. It all makes me so happy!  All of the instruments are from the 1930’s.

I’m inspired by the theremin, the single string on wood that sounds like a deep vina (does anyone know what this is?), the wine glasses (good in any era), and my favorite; short wave radio noise.

I want more.

Pharrell Williams’ HAPPY Up for Grammy; But Streaming Royalties~Make You Cry

“Happy” by Pharrel Williams. It has all of the elements of a perfect pop song: infectious musical hook, mantra-like lyrics that resonate, and rhythm and tempo that takes you OVER- no matter WHAT you are doing, or WHERE you are… But here is a blue note about it all.

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

As with so many millions of other listeners- I can’t get enough of this song!- “Happy” by Pharrel Williams. It has all of the elements of a perfect pop song: infectious musical hook, mantra-like lyrics that resonate, and rhythm and tempo that takes you OVER- no matter WHAT you are doing, or WHERE you are HA!

Sir Pharrell Williams is up for several Grammy categories, including best video- and I do hope that he bags it righteous clean.

But here is a blue note about it all: As the world moves more and more into streaming, we musicians and songwriters make less and less every year for our song and lyric writing, recording, and distributing. My music yields just a %of pennies each play. But it must be better for a hot musician like Pharrell, yes? Here is what it looks like for a musician who has ‘made it’:

Through the first three months of 2014, “Happy” was streamed 43 million times on Pandora, while “All Of Me” was played 55 million times on the service.
“Happy” brought in just $2,700 in publisher and songwriter royalties in the first quarter of this year, while “All Of Me” yielded just $3,400.

At current rates, Bandier said, one million plays of a song on Pandora typically translates to only approximately $60 in royalties, which then gets shared between the songwriters and publishers.

Source: Fusion.net

So, Spotify should, and Pandora will~ “revisit” royalty rates next year. Uh, Yah, you all do that. Meanwhile, some bigtime artists are removing their music from streamlining services. This is just one more reason to make music for ourselves and fans, and distance ourselves farther from the powers that be in the music industry.  Sing your Bliss as one friend says, and “don’t hold back.”

Here come bad news talking this and that
Yeah, give me all you got, don’t hold back
Yeah, well I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine
Yeah, no offense to you don’t waste your time
Here’s why
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy

Music: Pharrell Williams
Here is his 24-hr video for HAPPY. Skip around, it’s fun to see so much much bliss on the streets. 😉

Poet Rescues Song: Abducts Musician

I’m writing lyrics now for at least 5 of our new songs, and wasn’t quiet finished with 3 of them by last night. This is ONE fun thing about writing poetry (and one great thing about writing more often in April): As a poet, you get into the habit of seeing poetry everywhere…

Last night, I did something fun.  I played a small show, our first in Oakland, with new project “Fistful of Stars”.  We’ve played radio spots, making ready.  We go on tour next month to Europe- so it’s all coming together fast.

I’m writing lyrics now for at least 5 of our new songs, and wasn’t quiet finished with 3 of them by last night.  This is ONE fun thing about writing poetry (and one great thing about writing more often in April): As a poet, you get into the habit of seeing poetry everywhere; in couples drinking coffee, overheard conversation, positing scenarios from across the room, and just plain imagining things. And if you don’t have that gene for remembering lyrics (I don’t), or you haven’t quite finished the words-no worries: Poet-in-You will deliver, often taking you utterly over, hijacking your body, setting sail in your soul, borrowing  your lips to say things you never dreamed before ;). This is pure bliss, of course.

Last night, for one amazing song written by guitarist Rafael- that I didn’t quite finish lyrics to- I called it Mesa Song, and strung together all of the poem pieces for my one poem called “Unravel”. I read/talked the words as a single poem over the verses instead of singing. For the choruses, I sang (moaned) like the wind. Yes, Unravel– the poem pieces I haven’t yet posted all here, beyond the first because I didn’t think they were finished enough. 😉  Surprisingly, friends said that Mesa Song was their favorite of the night: it had a story they said, some mystery, and they got lost in the poem. Yay!  I promise to post another piece of Unravel for my next  poem post. Not tomorrow though- off to a Pow-wow.

So- I usually do a wrap-up post for NaPoWriMo.  I have to say, this year, I wasn’t as engaged in publicly participating as in past years. In fact, if there was one word to sum things up for me this year, it would be a verb:

 

REBEL-OaklandBethE

 This time, I was loathe to do anything on cue. And I didn’t want to follow anyone’s prompts. Hahaha!  But I still wrote lots. AND best of all, I don’t want to stop!! And so I won’t. Yet another good rule to break.

 

You held us last night-

soft woods, laughter,

warm arms that offered sweet

champagne and love.  We drank it all

down, and from across the room

 I gave you a poem 

like a kiss.

taralinda c.p. 2014

Divas in the House! Women of Soul~ White House Concert-PBS

Did you see it? I missed Monday’s show this week, but you can see it was most definitely a night to remember; Legends who defined the genre, crazy-great energy onstage, and mad love in the room….Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae, Melissa Ethridge, Ariana Grande.

Did you see it? I missed Monday’s show this week, but you can see it was mos def a night to remember; Legends who defined the genre, bringing their crazy-great energy onstage; so much love in the house. Didn’t realize this series has been going on for decades. But this concert, I’m sure, must take the cake; Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae, Melissa Ethridge, Tessanne Chin, Ariana Grande.  I just love seeing Janelle Monae and all the risk she takes; she does that old-skool-meets-new with so much flair and confidence; always leaves me wanting more. But then, Divas do that- don’t they!!!!! 😉 ahahaha!

Click on the photo to get to the video on PBS website.

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Independent Beauty~ Juana Molina

Can’t stop listening to this Argentinian artist Juana Molina. She is the epitome of the stand-alone musician; interesting songs and compositions laid over an ambient backbone of electronics, loopers, backup vocals and guitar.

Can’t stop listening to this Argentinian artist Juana Molina. She is the epitome of the stand-alone musician; interesting songs and compositions laid over an ambient backbone of electronics, loopers, backup vocals and guitar. Her expressive hypnotic voice transports across genres. She takes risk. Sometimes things get strange, but they always stay cool. She inspires me toward independence, more equipment. Less make up~ 😉

Retro Jazz: Singer Mildred Bailey and Pearls

When I write new music for a project, whether for my own CDs or someone else’s, or a video, there are usually two seemingly opposite creative things going on. First, once a song or idea ‘takes’, I become obsessively focused with it; the concept, the genre, the instruments, the writer, the frontmen- exploring everything around “it”. All of this led to my discovery of the “First Queen of Swing” songstress Mildred Bailey.

A friend asked recently, “what’s up with the pearls in your shop? I never thought you a pearl person.”  True, I used to only make pearl jewelry for my working friends- simple and classic. But singing retro jazz has changed that: I love to layer pearl chokers with longer necklaces, and now make pieces- similar to what I wear on stage- for a new “Onstage and After Hours collection.” Actually, there are specific musical influences that make these more retro than modern…  😉

pearlCollage

When I write new music for a project, whether for my own CDs or someone elses, or for a video- there are usually two seemingly opposite creative things going on. First, once a song or idea ‘takes’, I become obsessively focused with it; the concept, the genre, the instruments, the writer, the frontmen- exploring everything about “it”. Second, I always keep a lazy ear open to hear what others on a similar track, are doing/ or might have done, with a similar Muse; it could be 2012 or 1912; a rapper or a legendary composer. These sparks all go into the mix  of writing a song several ways, until one ‘catches’.  The final version is usually something that self selects; usually by the next morning, when I wake up mindlessly humming one version. Ha! That is my litmus test, if even I can’t get a hook out of my head. 😉

For my latest CD, Torch and Sass, when I was exploring “retro” jazz, my vinyl collection scattered across the floor was only the first springboard of discovery.  Then came visits to my favorite music and record stores to talk to experts. I would say “I’m listening to X, and I want to discover more.” I love to see my friends go into overdrive to inspire others, pulling music from bins, spinning turntables, talking story on their favorite artists, songs, labels, with those very cool little known tidbits of info in between. Ah… this fading art!  I mean, Wikipedia is good and all, but nothing beats a listening tour back through time, with pictures, and luxuriously long liner notes from album covers.  (*Sigh*.)  JC at Downhome records is my favorite contact for this, and Dave at Dave’s record shop, Emeryville.

So, this kind of musical sleuthing led me to vocalist Mildred Bailey; somewhere between looking for ukulele jazz, blues driven jazz, and 1930’s composers for Louis Armstrong- Mildred Bailey’s name popped up.

Mildred+BaileyMed

Mildred Bailey from the Pacific Coast, called “First Lady of Swing”,  was said to be one of the very first woman singers in jazz, the first to sing with emerging big bands (Paul Whiteman, Eddie Lang, Benny Goodman), AND is said to have been a primary influence for the young Sarah Vaughan. Here is an early tune of Mildred’s, 1931.

Mildred was also the first female musician to get a guaranteed pay in the business, less than half the male musicians of the day, but significant considering. Being one of the first- the road was tough as her biographical notes hint at- Mildred called the “Queen of Swing”, had a versatile voice, and was established quickly with the big-band orchestras of the day. But as the sound of big band grew, so did the preference for women singers who fit a certain look and profile.  Though radio made her popular, and her voice was gorgeous, big-band leaders favored more petite female singers.  Sadly, this, and health issues, affected her career.  A song from the peak of her career in swing- Darn that Dream:

Mildred’s lilt, range, fine, bright tones, and her emotive delivery- that morphs with every song- inspired my singing for Torch and Sass. My voice is a low alto, and many in the lower registers have to work harder to get clear tones in the higher registers; so these women are definitely role models for me.

Mildred’s alleged taste in furs and jewelry, inspired this pearl jewelry collection in my Etsy store.  (And grandma’s Majorca pearls.)  I was never into pearls before, but these “vintage” pearls of the past seemed a great way to celebrate Mildred’s beautiful voice and contribution toward establishing women in jazz.

Use code pearls20 to get 20% off anything with pearls-until May 31st.

pearl2 Collage