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A little bit bad

24 Nov

The downside to songwriting is that the dishes don’t get done.  But I can always catch up with the dishes, right?

Besides, as my friend (and fellow-songwriter) Richard says, “It’s nice to be creative, making something that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you, and it’s (hopefully) pretty, with no carbon footprint, and it might even inspire people or make them dance.”

I’ve posted a video of the latest tune I’ve been working on.  (I put it up on my Facebook fan page — have you “Liked” it yet?)  It’s so much fun to share a work in progress, so let me know what you think!

(And by the way, yes, Michael is currently in Russia. But don’t feel like you have to take the lyrics literally. *winks*)

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Fawn at Arts in the Park 2011

7 Jun

Arts in the Park, June 14, 2001, LePage Park, noon to 1. Featuring Fawn Fritzen with Marg Tatam on piano.  Hot vocal jazz in the summer sun.

Here’s one of the projects that is keeping me busy this month: rehearsing for a one-hour set at Arts in the Park next week.

Please keep your fingers crossed for good weather, as this is an open-air concert!  The show will go on, though, come rain or come shine.

Spread the word!  And if you’re in Whitehorse, I would love to see you there.

New Year’s Eve at Tippler’s

6 Jan

How did you celebrate New Year’s?

Michael went out and did a winter camping trip on the night of the 30th, so he was happy to veg at home for a few hours on New Year’s Eve while I took my parents out.  The three of us hurried home to be with Michael before midnight and we toasted the New Year with sparkling wine, sparkling juice, jelly donuts, and deep-fried sesame balls, staying up and gabbing until the wee small hours.

But before all that, there was jazz.  Some friends of mine were playing jazz at Tippler’s that night and invited me out to sing a few tunes with them.  My parents hadn’t seen me perform jazz before, so I really wanted them to come out.  You see, sometimes real magic happens when you’re playing live with great musicians.

Jazz is, at heart, about improvisation.  In vocal jazz, the usual formula goes like this: the singer sings through the melody once or twice and then the instrumental musicians get to take over for a while.  They take turns, improvising and riffing over the basic structure of the tune, maybe using the original melody, maybe coming up with something totally different.  Then the singer comes back in.  And the singer can improvise, too.

Sometimes, playing with other musicians, stuff comes out of me that I never thought to do before, that I never would have thought of doing if I weren’t there, in that moment, playing off someone else’s energy, someone else’s groove.  Sometimes it comes out of the blue and leaves me breathless at the end.  And that’s what makes it all so exciting.

My dad took a couple of pics and videos from New Year’s Eve.  (Thanks, Dad!)  He didn’t catch any of my very favourite moments — they happen so randomly! — but I thought I’d share one video with you here.

(Can I also add how amazing cameras are at taking videos nowadays?  The video-taking conditions were truly less than ideal.)

I’m not doing anything spectacular here (I was totally concentrating on not flubbing all the words at the end because I decided to come back in with the German lyrics!) but there are some very cool moments in the instrumental solos.  Grant Simpson takes the first solo on piano.  (You can just see the top of his head behind the music stand for a couple of seconds.  The pianist always gets buried from sight…)  Steve Slade comes in next on harmonica.  (He is a harmonica god.  Too bad the camera’s pointing the wrong way during his solo!)  Finally, Duncan Sinclair solos on tenor sax.  And there’s Jon Heaton on the upright bass and Ken Searcy on drums.  A great group of guys and a great group of musicians.

Black Coffee

19 Nov

Michael’s been out of town for a week and I am feeling the effects.  I don’t drink my coffee black, but I do like it strong, and this past week it has been the sorry saviour in my life.  And I serenade the sweet, sweet, drink at the end of this post.  No wait, I guess it’s not sweet if it’s black.  Whatever.

Here’s a quickie update on the week past.

Halia had her birthday last week and we had a wonderful day.  I wanted to write a post about the incredible little person she is, because she is an impish ray of sunshine who deserves a thoughtful post dedicated just to her.  But we spent the whole day being together as a family and then the next day Michael left and well, there you have it.  Sorry, sweetheart!  I’ll make it up to you in hugs and kisses and letting you walk up the wall, since that’s one of your favourite things to do.

Jade had an eye-opening visit with an audiologist — wait, is that an oxymoron?  Anyway, she has failed a couple of hearing tests (just in one ear) in the past two months, and this week she saw an audiologist who determined her hearing is normal (or it was on that day, anyway) but there was, despite no sign of infection, fluid in her middle ear.  We’re going to test her again in a few weeks, but it looks like the fluid might be a chronic problem that gets worse whenever she gets a cold, which currently is monthly because she’s being reintroduced into a school environment.  This might shed some light on her motor / balance issues and possibly some things going on with her speech, as well.

I went to a lunch information session at the Child Development Centre to talk about transitioning Jade into Kindergarten next year.  I won’t lie, ya’ll, I am petrified.  Nobody here has ever seen a child with Jade’s particular needs before.  How are we going to make this work?  I am repeating to myself Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous proclamation: “You must do thing you think you cannot do.”

Then there’s my birthday tomorrow.  32!  I’ve always loved birthdays, particularly as an excuse for a party.  I haven’t had one in years, though (parties, that is, ahem) so this year I’m breaking the drought by having a brunch with friends on the weekend.  Most of them have kids around Jade and Halia’s age.  I’d really have liked to do a music jam type party, but the logistics of having an evening party when we have kids who have early bedtimes just made my brain melt, so having a kid party is much more realistic.

Anyway, wow, this post wasn’t supposed to be this long.  How did you make it this far?  Wasn’t the whole point of this post to show you a video?  Yes!  Actually, I also wanted to tell you, half-sheepishly, that I now have a fan page on Facebook.  (Go ahead.  “Like” it.  You know you want to!) And tonight I thought I would upload, at long last, a short clip from my gig at The Capital Hotel way back in February.  But Facebook wouldn’t let me upload the darn thing, so I’m posting it here, instead.

As I say on the YouTube description, it’s interesting to watch this video and realize that I’ve done a lot to improve in the last nine months.  But anyway, it’s a taste of the jazzy-type stuff I’m totally obsessed with these days.  To the huge detriment of my sleep.  (And necessitating yet more coffee.)

(Props go out to the lovely and amazing Annie Avery on that one grand piano, and the fabulous and always-charming Grant Simpson on that there other one.)

Oh look, it’s my birthday now!  Um, I think that means I should go to bed.

It’s Not This

30 May

Yesterday I sang in celebration.

Yukon Women in Music is an amazing volunteer-run society that supports women musicians.  Many of my public performances in Whitehorse have been at concerts organized by YWIM, and I’ve met some wonderful and inspiring musicians.  Last night, at a concert to mark 10 years as an official not-for-profit society, I was honoured to be asked to perform two of my songs, sharing the stage with about a dozen other women.  The room was jam-packed, both on-stage and off.

One of my favourite moments was listening to Nicole Edwards speak about starting to perform ten years ago, and how she didn’t think she could be a performer in her own right, without a band to back her up.  I could really identify with her story; in so many ways I feel like I am standing at an edge right now, realizing that I could do so much more and that the biggest obstacle I have to overcome is fear.

My least favourite moment was definitely the part where I fell off the stage. I was exchanging spots with another performer who needed the piano.  I sat down, perhaps a bit too jauntily, on a chair whose legs were precariously close to the back edge of the stage.  Thank goodness the stage was a mere 12-inches high, although I wasn’t thinking anything like that as the chair plunged backwards with me in it.  The small of my back painfully took the brunt of my fall while my head slammed into a cabinet.  I lay stunned for a while, wedged between the stage and the wall, my legs dangling awkwardly over the front of the chair.  I’m sure the entire room wanted to run over to pick me up.  I kind of wished the floor would swallow me up.

Anyway, the show must go on, and on it went.  And there really was fabulous music.  And I recovered enough to do my second song, which I wrote last month and have been waiting to post here.

A bit of background on the song: my dear friend Shannon came to visit us several years ago, and we spent many days in long and deep conversation.  During one gab-fest in which we were talking about a relationship she had ended, she made a comment that has stuck with me ever since.  “Some things that are said a relationship can never recover from,” she told me.  “They’re just too damaging.”  I’ve often thought about that insightful remark, and I think it has kept me from saying rash things in the heat of argument.

Last month her idea somehow transformed itself into the lyrics for this song, and its first public performance was at last night’s concert.

One of the ladies in the audience was kind enough to operate the camera for me.  Onstage with me are Lisa Turner (playing the brushes on her cajón — another favourite moment, with some of the ladies joining in!), Brenda Berezan, Kim Rogers, and off-camera Susan Phillips was strumming along, too.

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On my own

28 Mar

I’ve been thinking a lot lately.  Thinking about things like the difficulty of making new friends when nobody seems to have time to spend time with new people.  And about the pros and cons of different back-to-work arrangements.  And about the boundaries of being open versus over-sharing.  And about writing new music.  And about the comedy and tragedy of multiple diaper blow-outs.  And, oh, you know, stuff.

Some of this stuff would make for some good meaty blog posts, but I just don’t seem to have the energy to hash it out.  I’ll get through it eventually, though, I promise.

This past Thursday was Amanda’s last day working with our family, as she left Whitehorse on Friday to go to school in Vancouver.  She’d been with us for almost an entire year.  She witnessed a miraculous transformation in Jade and helped us find our footing in life again.  She became a dear, sweet friend and I already miss having her around.

We are just starting the process of trying to hire another helper.  Our funding agreement has changed so we’ll be getting fewer hours of support, but that’s fine because Jade no longer requires supervision every minute of the day.  I’m trying to stay very disciplined about tidying and doing dishes every evening so that things don’t get too out of hand — one reason for the lack of energy when it comes to all things bloggy.  (Michael’s home, but super busy getting work done right now, since it’s government year-end.)

So, since I’m going to be on my own (with the kids, of course) for at least a few weeks and I don’t have the wherewithal to write anything that requires thought and careful wording, I’m throwing the video of “On My Own” up here; this was the second song from the final night of the North of 60 Idol competition from way back in 2004.  Hope you enjoy.

Danny Boy, 2004

17 Mar

I got the video back from my night at The Capital.  Michael was away the first time I watched it and I confess that I was rather aghast; some of the moments I remembered being really great sounded, well… downright awful on the film.  When Michael got home we watched a few minutes together and he confirmed that there is a lot missing in the sound.    Hey, there’s only so much you can ask of the microphone on a little camera.  But what a relief to know it wasn’t just in my head!

I’m still really happy to have the video because despite the limitations in the sound, it is still educational to watch myself perform, see how I move, catch some of the mistakes I made, pay closer attention to the two pianists, and so on.  I may still be able to salvage a clip or two for you, but I’ll need a bit of time to experiment.

In the meantime, I remembered that there was some other video of me performing that I’ve never shared here.  Back in 2004 (wow, a time before blog!) Michael convinced me to participate in a “North of 60 Idol” competition organized by the Royal Canadian Legion in Yellowknife.  I thought he was nuts, since Yellowknife was a 9-hour drive from our home in Fort Liard and competing would mean travelling there four times in the course of eight weeks.  He persuaded me in the end,  telling me that I could win us the honeymoon trip we’d never had, since first place was a trip for two to Disneyland.  (I thought this was hilarious; Michael’s not a Disney fan and he’d never have chosen it as a honeymoon destination.  But I’m a Disney fan, so hey.)

This video is from the fourth and final night of the competition, when the Legion brought in some professional equipment to film it.  Each of the finalists performed two songs;  I did “Danny Boy” and “On My Own” (from Les Miserables).  How fitting is it to post Danny Boy on St. Patrick’s Day?

So Happy Paddy’s Day to all ye who celebrate it.  I think I’ll go make myself a cup of green tea since it’s the girls’ quiet time.  And maybe I’ll go dig out those pictures of our trip to Disneyland…

(Also: happy birthday, Opa!)