A Lil’ Texas Tour- 1000 Miles of Road

Touring Texas: 1000 miles is just a lil’ Texas tour. Here are a few of the inspiring (and less than inspiring) things about being on the road.

Yes, in a state that is 268,820 sq miles (696,241 km²), driving 1000 miles is considered a ‘stone’s throw’ of a distance.  This is my 3rd time playing/touring with jazz band the Charles Hearn Quintet, and its awesome every time. Of course, like with any tour, it’s not all roses.

Great Things about Going on Tour to Play your Music out of Town:

The Regional Cuisine: TX-tiniTacos and a “Texas Margarita” with limes and olives.

txShrimpI fell in love with this place in San Antonio: Dry Dock. Oysters, shrimp, fried catfish, hushpuppies.

hou-bbqClassic Texas BBQ!

More inspiration: The Environment-

texas skies1929Aaah…those big Texas skies

Tough things about Touring Texas:

texasStateTexas is big.

6 cities of shows means we spend lots of time driving.  From the Rio Grande Valley- Harlingen, McAllen, Weslaco, Brownsville, up to the central part of the state- San Antonio, Austin…  This is why it’s only a “lil’ Texas tour”  Ha! You may cover 1000 miles, but you miss most of the state!  And so maybe next year we’ll take on new TX cities. Expand our horizons a bit.

Another tough thing about Texas- It’s just a lil’ on the hot side. 105-107f most days. Not much AC at soundcheck and load-in before each show.  It took awhile to adjust to the outdoor stages. You either melt or fry…

breakfast misunderstanding

Cool things about this Texas tour:

Tx tour-2013

The venues. The audiences! (We were happy to see full houses each night!) The musicians. It’s always hard work to roll into town, cram in a bunch o’ rehearsals and hit the road for lots of shows in a short span of time, but this group keeps it fun. I learn lots from this jazz band, the Charles Hearn Quintet, and love ’em all 😉 !!

A major awesome thing for me- visiting the DJ’s and radio stations who have been spinning Torch and Sass! (pics coming soon…)

Things that Inspire me After Tour:

My ukulele!

BandTL9102414_orig-med

The baritone is a perfect instrument on the road, like a tenor guitar. As awesome as a band is, solo is sweet too. I find myself swinging 180d to the simplest renditions of my songs when coming off the road. Now learning new 1930’s tunes with it!  And the last big inspiration of this tour…

Saxman Charles Hearn in situ:

chasStudio
An awesome band leader, producer, songwriter, musician, and all around great friend: this is Charles chillin’ in his über productive musical habitat. He & this space have made me happy hungry to get back to recording in my own space again.  Which is exactly what I’ve been up to since coming home.

That, and playing tortilla western shows locally since back in Cali. Traveling and performing like this always awakens new Muses, from jazz stages to the deserts of the southwest, again. A creative wind is coming on…

Last inspiration since coming home:

cuc

My garden! It grew! Someone must have watered it!  I now have salad stuff, squash, tomatoes…   Good thing: I’ve gone vegetarian since all that TX BBQ 😉

Roadtrip- Texas Tour

Back from a Texas tour, playing shows with a fun and inspiring jazz quintet.  Nothing quite like a road trip across Texas:

1200 miles would be called a “short” tour by Texas standards.  This one began South- from Harlingen, McAllen, and  Brownsville, to central San Antonio/ Austin, and back.   Whirlwind short; all just enough to warm us up for more…

So, what’s up with those endless Texas skies?!  I always feel like I can breathe beneath them.  über spacious and relaxing, with time enough to enjoy them, because, well,  ‘we only have 5 more hours until the next city.’   😉

I love this band sooo much. They recorded my new CD with me.  They are fun, accomplished (most are teachers and sidemen in the studio), and ALL are seriously humble.   We have WAY too much fun on stage, talkin’ story, and just doing what we love best; making music, all hearts combined.   (my blog won’t post pics of people just skies…! ergh. i’ll post the band tomorrow).  FB has a small album of pics posted/sent by others.

Recession Stomp: Lyrics & Inspiration

My video for new song Recession Stomp is a playful song about hard times getting better.  The song is in the early American jazzy blues form- the “stomp”- popular in the 20’s and 30’s.  I chose this type of feel to match the lyrics, and to parallel our economic tough times now with those of the same era.  A stomp was literally when people kept the beat by stomping on the floor!  But I wanted this song to also convey the hope I feel- that things will get better- so the chorus is a dance hall panacea;  a girl trying to cope, puts on her dancing shoes to get through it all.

Musically, Recession Stomp was one of those rare songs where lyrics and music came together during writing. It happened after listening to a week of Louis Armstrong, and on the same night I went to see San Francisco band Lucky 7 play at club Amnesia.  That night was a 1920’s Prohibition party that I was playing a short stint in for an accordion babes act- (accordion toting girls in the SF bay area… ).  It was a cool night- with everyone in costume.  But the headliner’s music! I was blown away by Lucky 7’s sound;  no one was doing 1920’s music like this.  It was bluesy, jazzy, all instrumental- the dance floor was packed with folks doing dances like the Charleston.  The band had a full horn section (trumpet, sax, trombone…). They also had a banjo player- which they explained was the rhythm keeper back then, long before drums were included onstage in this genre.  Banjo and the trombone together, were probably the instruments that gave that era’s music its old skool sound and feel.

I came home that night on fire to write something similar, but since I don’t have a banjo- I wrote the song on my ukulele (another super popular instrument during that 1920’s). The lyrics were inspired by Louis Armstrong Hot 5-s & 7’s records.  Nearly all those ’30’s songs are upbeat, humorous, tongue in cheek- even about heady subjects like loosing your job, or getting your heart broken.  Economically, you know times were rough back then- especially for Louie and the musicians at this time in his life.  Yet his music was so uplifting! I hear only celebration and that contagious joy of dueling horns all the way through.

I wrote each verse/stanza in Recession Stomp about 1 person I know- who is or has been affected by this economy, borrowing the tongue in-cheek style of the early jazz lyricists.

 

Recession Stomp

My boss he told me, I don’t need you anymore,
You been a good one, but I gotta close the store.
Too few are buyin’, no one needs us, that’s for sure,
We got it bad. You gotta go, we got it bad.

My Mama wrote me, she wrote me a letter,
Said “things’ll get worse child, before they get better.
But save your nickels and your pennies too,
‘Cause things gonna change, they’re gonna change,
they’re gonna change.”

Chorus:
Everyone’s talkin’ about it. Turns my blues skies into grey.
But I’m gonna tie up my dancing shoes, dance those blues away!

My banker told me, he said to my face, “If your check’s late again
I’ll need the keys to your place. Don’t give me tears doll, just green in the hand.
I got it bad, when you got it bad- I got it bad.”

My friend he left just yesterday. The only job he found was 3000 miles away.
Left his family but when he waved goodbye, said
“I’m coming back, things gonna change, I’m coming back.”

‘Cause everyone’s talkin’ about it. Turns my blues skies into grey.
But I’m gonna tie up my dancing shoes, dance those blues away!

My man he told me, the saddest news. “You’re spendin’ too much time
in those dancin’ shoes! You’re far too happy, you should be singing the blues!
We got it bad, you gotta go, you gotta go.

Drowned my sorrows at the Lucky café. Bartender says “Girl, wipe those tears away.”
Don’t let the others, rain on your parade. You got it right- we gotta dance!
You got it right, we gotta dance. You got it right, things gonna change,
come on let’s dance!!

c. 2012 Tara Linda.

The video looks the way it does all because of director Juan Alvarado.  I like how he made it a bit grainy and sepia toned 😉  I was thrilled to be able to work with him; he has shot video for lots of great music giants (Santana, Los Lobos etc.), and is the sweetest, easiest person to work with.   When we filmed this last Summer, I was also recording the album and was just a little obsessed with that. So I was extremely happy that he had listened to the words and drawn up a story board (yay!).

I guess we shot more footage of the hard times than the dancing times! 😉 but I like that juxtaposition too. Juan wanted to drive home the recession theme consistent with the song.  Shockingly, we didn’t have to drive far. It is heartbreaking to see how hard the recession has hit some American towns: McAllan, Texas is one. I had no idea it had changed so much; entire blocks downtown with factory building skeletons and for rent signs…

One thing I feel strongly about- we are all going through hard times together, so we can’t isolate waiting for things to improve.  Call it our collective Karma- it affects us all and I believe we need to stick together and keep finding things to celebrate about, even if they are only small things. We have life;  we have our humanity, each other, our art, and music 😉  We have to get out more (not less), b/c things will change, things will get better.  My Lanikai ukulele mates tell me that the during the great depression years, more people bought and played ukuleles than any time previous, and more than any other instrument on the market.

I am thrilled that Yoshi’s Oakland Jazz club has invited us back; my CD release is on May 23.  You can get advance copies of Torch and Sass here.

A Showdown with the Muse

…a song inspired by a visit from the Muse when she was particularly testy. Gorgeous and sassy, this time sauntering into my wildwest dream town with an edgy do-or-die challenge to “blow me away!” with my music, or she would take me down…

On my new CD, Tortilla Western Serenade, the song “Muse’s Duel” was inspired by a visit from the Muse when she was particularly testy. Gorgeous & sassy, dressed in a billowing peasant’s dress, & this time sauntering into my wild west dream town shouting an edgy do-or-die challenge to “blow me away!” with music, or she would take me down.  Townsfolk shifted uncomfortably in the dusty street, thirsty to see a showdown.  I awoke in a sweat; “how will I survive a showdown with the best?!”

She confronts me in the chorus:

“Go ahead, amaze me!
I’ll make it up as you go.
Go ahead and take me down
swallow me whole…”

You can hear it here:  http://taralinda.bandcamp.com/track/muses-duel

I sang this for years just on bass, solo.  It was a little more haunting then, but so nice to hear it now brought to life by the energy of bandmates and friends.

This has become my epitome song for the “Tortilla Western” sound I’ve been creating the last several years; part spaghetti western, part Tex-Mex, & rock.  A sound I don’t hear very much, and so songs I had to write & sing to fill the void.  The Southwest has a definite soundscape to it (more on that soon…).

Trumpet is by Al Gomez- (Westside Horns) in San Antonio, flamenco guitar David Gonzales.  Recorded at Wavelab Studios Tucson by Craig Schumacher (Devotchka, Neko Case, Calexico).