January 11, 2014

All right, made it to 2014.

Look what this lucky gal got for Christmas.  A Regal Octofone circa late 1920’s.  Huggs, my bosses and my co-workers at Spruce Tree pulled a fast one and surprised me.  I had no idea.  It’s tuned like a mandola.  I am in heaven.  I don’t know if you can see it, but someone played the heck out of it at some point.  It has a lot of soul in it already; it sounds and looks beautiful.  Thanks Huggs and also Wil, Julie, Ed and Doug.  You got me good.  I am trying to get some pals together to play some string quartets with 2 mandolins, Octofone and cello.  We’ll let you know if it sounds good and get some sounds out to you somehow.


A couple colds, the holidays and the deep freeze really put the brakes on some of my practicing, so I am doing my best to get back in the swing of things.  Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht in an upcoming Sound Ensemble Wisconsin concert (http://sewmusic.org/) is keeping me honest and on my toes.  I am also working on a personal practice project, learning Campagnoli Etudes and John Harbison Violist Notebook movements (which he says were influenced by Campagnoli in the introduction to the Notebook).  Loving that.

I am most looking forward to working with my favorite Chicago musicians this spring.  Starting with Ken Vandermark’s Audio One at the Green Mill in Chicago at the end of January.  How does a violist fit into all that? I don’t know; but I sure have a blast making my way through Ken’s charts with all those guys.  Huggs also got me a new pre-amp for Christmas – it’ll give me a little extra juice and the confidence to put the volume-pedal-to-the-metal.

I also get to regroup with the Wrack fellas at the end of March for another go at …Awaits Tristero’s Silent Empire; Kyle’s latest and greatest free jazz phantasmagoria.  We’ll be charming the midwest with the piece that rocked the west coast last summer.

Milkhouse Radio is currently seeking a new vocalist/guitarist.  Russ Cannon, heart and soul of the band, is now a resident of Seattle, Washington.  Our final two shows in December were bittersweet….especially because I had no voice on account of a bad cold.  Apologies to all who attended,  because I sang anyway.  Couldn’t miss out on my last chance to sing with Russell.  I tried to stay away from the microphone.  Bruce pointed out the memorable scene, looking down at the base of each mic-stand:  beer…beer…beer…beer…hot-tea-and-a-pile-of-cough-drops.

Hugg and I spent New Years on a home recording spree.  We came up with some silly stuff and some interesting stuff.  We will be posting some on Sound Cloud in the near future.  It seems we may be best suited to be in a power pop instrumental trio with only two members.  I did some vocal takes even though I had a seriously stuffy nose.  (The Congestion Sessions.)  I nearly lose it every time I plug my electric mandobird into distortion effects and delays etc.  I should have done my dissertation on what happens in the brain of a long-time acoustic musician when they plug-in and turn it up.  It blows my mind how such a tiny movement can create such a wall of fascinating sound.

I have plans to record the first Bach Cello Suite on my variety of tenor instruments.  First movement is coming soon.  What became clear on New Years is that I need a little more practice!

How lucky can a gal be?  Cold nights, icy roads (stay home!), a pile of great books (on Cage/Zen, AACM, Morton Feldman, Blues Mandolin, Cowboys and Cossacks, Baroque arrangements for Ukulele) a lot of practicing to do, an Octofone, a recording engineer/songwriter/guitar guru roomie.  Gettin a touch of the cabin fever, but I am surrounded by great distractions.  Take care, and be careful out there.