Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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(I wrote this on Sunday, 8/4. It's really long. There's a TL;DR at the end.)


Last night (Saturday, 8/3) was the final night of The Rock Orchestra's BeatleFest 2019.  BeatleFest (or, our event we call BeatleFest) is where our group of anywhere from 7-40 musicians play every single Beatles song (all 215 of them) in the order they were released, over a series of six consecutive nights. I equate it with running a marathon, but instead of running 26.2 miles on the streets of Boston, we're doing it on a tightrope. We do our damndest to recreate these songs note-for-note, as best as we possibly can without the help of studio magic... though we also really try to recreate those studio sounds live as best we can, too. 

Out of 215 songs, I'm only tacet (not doing anything) on about 7 or 8 total.

For the show, I'm the 3rd singer (I sing the unintuitive harmony parts since I'm a choir nerd). I'm also the "if you get stuck vocally, Jill's got you," and this can even be in the middle of a song. Joe might give me a look and I know to cover (or double) a particularly high part, or I might hear a harmony and notice two people singing the same part, or I might see that someone forgot to sing, so I jump to the missing part on the fly. Or we might have given a female guest singer a song that goes too low for her, so I'll double those basement notes to give her support. Backstage I'm also in charge of running/checking harmonies for that night's tricky spots. I absolutely love getting to do this stuff. It keeps me on my toes, and I secretly love feeling helpful or being able to fix stuff in a pinch... it's been a weird thing of mine since I was a really little kid. 

In addition to my vocal duties, I'm also the main percussionist (shakers, tambourines, maracas, casaba, etc) and one of the two 'aux-players' -- which means if there's an instrument we don't have covered either because nobody knows how to play it (see Indian tanpura and swarmindal) or everyone else is too busy to cover it (hello 2nd drums all over Abbey Road, or organ on Savoy Truffle), I figure it out. Up on my platform I have a billion nouns: everything from a drumset, a glockenspiel, soprano recorder, kazoos, Korg Triton keyboard, motorcycle exhaust pipes (for 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer,' 'Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey,' and for the alarm clock in 'A Day in the Life' when played with a different beater), an Ableton Live rig (for the scant sound effects we can't recreate live, (like the animals at the beginning/end of 'Good Morning, Good Morning') in addition to the usual tambourines and shakers and a bazillion other percussion toys.

Matt, however, is the real MVP aux-guy... he covers all of the melodic extra instruments, playing everything from extra piano, bass, guitar, synth, bari, alto, and soprano saxes, secondary percussion, plus backing vocals when we need four voices. He's a monster!  It's a lot of fun going through our music at home and saying stuff like, "Wait, what do you do on 'Savoy Truffle?'" "I used to play the electric organ part, but now I'm gonna play bari sax. Can you cover the organ now?" "Yup! On it!" 

My dear friend from college, Stefan, who specializes in Medieval and Renaissance instruments and runs Phoenix' hella-awesome early music group Bartholomew Faire (of which I am an alum), flew out from Arizona again this year to help us play the Indian-based songs using his assortment of unusual ancient instruments. He played hurdy-gurdy on most of the Indian tunes (Within You Without You), and he also took the recorder solo on Fool on the Hill, and he even played a crumhorn (that melodic buzzy sound) on 'Baby You're a Rich Man.'  It was so wonderful having him stay with us again-- he is the perfect house guest: cheerful, low-maintenance, a late sleeper like us, funny as hell, self-sufficient, up for anything, friendly with all of the other musicians, and good for reminiscing, too. Anyway, I was sad dropping him off at the airport today. 


This is the second year of the event, and you can tell we've refined things a bit. From a personal perspective, I was able to streamline all of my percussion gear thanks to some new racks, stands, and rack-mountable versions of some of my usual percussion instruments, so I wasn't the thing holding us up between songs like I sometimes was in 2018. I also had more room on my platform this year, so I had everything I needed within easy reach, as opposed to last year where I had to (for example) drag out and then put away a floor tom or a snare and hi-hat every time I played them. 

I also added a footer to the last page of every song with the name of the next song and what I play on it... that way as we're playing the last chunk of a song I can quickly eyeball where my next batch of instruments are, and how I'll transition to them from what I'm currently doing. Why put the tambourine down if I need it at the top of the next song?

Performance-wise, Night 4 (aka "the long night") was probably my favorite-- that's the only night where we play 3 albums instead of just two (Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, and Magical Mystery Tour), though the final Night 6 (Abbey Road and Let It Be, as well as the singles and Past Masters from that year, e.g., "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)") was a very very close second.  My own personal roughest night was Night 5 (The Beatles (aka The White Album)), because I whiffed a harmony or two (in my defense, I was sight-reading one of them after I got a nod on stage to cover it), but it was still a hell of a fun night. Good GAWD how I love recreating 'Revolution No. 9' live. It's a riot!


Once again, like last year, I got totally emotional and lost my shit during "A Day in the Life."  Good god, it's an overwhelming magical brain explosion to play it live with a string section, horn section, and with all of these people I just love so much. At one point I took out my in-ear monitors so I could hear the sound with my 'real ears' and holy mother of crap, it's just stupendous. Plus, it's cool as hell seeing the younger folks in the string section fall in love with The Beatles. 


Physically, this year was a bit rougher than last year. I was getting woefully low on iron in May, and the earliest I could get in for an infusion was the morning of Day 2 of BeatleFest. I did BeatleFest last year sans iron and the crash afterwards was fucking awful, so I decided I'd rather get the infusion on a performance day and run the risk of playing percussion with a freshly sporked arm, because holding off was not a healthy option. Besides, the brain fog was getting bad, and I needed to be on my A-game for this thing.  Infused iron takes about 2 days to fully absorb, and I was excited to be feeling better by Night 4 (the big night).  The infusion went smoothly, and as expected, I felt better every 8 hours or so.   (Speaking of my infusion, I just wanted to jot this down so I remember it: I'm very happy to be back at the hospital's Ambulatory Infusion center as I did from 2006-2010 as opposed to getting my treatment at the Cancer Center as I'd been since about 2011. Contrary to what you might expect, the care is just somehow better and cooler at Ambulatory Infusion than at the Cancer Center. Sure, the Cancer Center has the therapy doggos and the VR goggles of peaceful scenes, but it's still somehow impersonal and production-line-ish; and the blare of TVs blasting The View or whatever is so fucking annoying and inescapable. Also, the Cancer Center's specialty is chemo, not iron infusions, and they actually do iron infusions kinda stupidly backwards there. So yeah, I was happy to be back to the infusion center.)

By Wednesday morning my brain fog had significantly lifted, and my skin sans makeup was no longer corpse-guppy-translucent. :-)

Matt and I both agreed that this year, our biggest challenge was being able to see our goddamn music. It's like in the last 365 days our eyesight has hit that tipping point where music on a stand or tablet is too far away for reading glasses but too close for our usual distance glasses. It might be time to talk to our eye doctor for musician glasses for that middle kinda sheet music distance.

Speaking of sheet music, my magical tablet worked out perfectly-- not a single glitch during the show -- and HOLY BALLS was it a total, total game changer. It's amazing not having to turn paper pages and instead just tap a foot pedal. I was in heaven. It saved SO much time and so many headaches! I kept my paper sheet-music binders on stage juuuuust in case my tablet exploded, but I never needed it for a second. Whew!

We went back to the theater around 12:30pm today to load out the rest of our gear and break down the platforms, and that was pretty sad.  As soon as we got home, we unloaded the car and then immediately loaded it up with Stefan's stuff and then I brought him to the airport. I just walked in a moment ago, and the house is eeeeeeerily quiet and calm. Nobody's rushing around, nobody's woodshedding parts last minute or getting music in order, figuring out what to wear, etc etc etc.  It's kinda nice? I think?


I am pretty distracted by how much my hands really hurt, though. They hurt during the shows, but the combination of joy + adrenaline made it ignorable. But walking off the stage they'd be throbbing. Right now they are still distractingly painful; neither turmeric nor Advil even takes the edge off.  A few years ago I bought a faithful replica of a late 60s-era skinless tambourine that sounds amaaaaazing, but also weighs about 98523823 pounds. Playing fast 16ths on that thing song after song after song really did a number on my right hand from having to grip it so tightly to maintain good control. My metacarpals are on fire as are the muscles in the meat of my palm. Holding things, turning doorknobs, and just generally using my fingers hurts pretty damn good.  But also just doing nothing hurts.  Typing sucks too, but I really want to write this all down, so fuck it. 

In May when we played "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" twice in one day, I strained my right bicep and tricep from that goddamn tambourine, and that's when I became a disciple of KT Tape. Starting on Night 4 of BeatleFest I taped my arm and it really did help tremendously (and had the added bonus of reducing under-arm flab wiggle! Yay!). I may try taping my hand later. 

In some screwed up way, having my body hurt after BeatleFest somehow feels good; like I have evidence that I gave it my all. I'm sure a better, healthier measure of success would be an internal feeling of the satisfaction of a job well done, but whatevz.

I've typed way too much. 

===========================

TL;DR: BeatleFest 2019 was awesome. My tablet rocked; taping my arm helped a lot; getting an iron infusion was smart; I fucked up my hands but I somehow like it? I love getting to make music, especially with these people. I can't wait until next year. 

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you are AMAZING. xoxo
Jenn A 8/6
Your joy shines through. Thank you for sharing it with us!
So happy to hear that things went so well! Sorry to have missed Stefan. Sounds like I may get a chance to catch up next year though, since BeatleFest doesn't sound like it's slowing down at all. :)
I am so proud of you. Congratulations on surviving that high-wire act!
Loved to read this write-up!

Can you take naproxen (Aleve)? I've found that it's the best thing for me when I've jacked my back, knee, or elbow and I need to interrupt the cycle of "this is injured, so it's inflamed, so it hurts, so it's inflamed." Two naproxen to make it knock it off, then another one naproxen 12 hours later, then one again every 12 hours until -poof-. On the stomach irritation scale it's more likely to irritate than ibuprofen but less likely than aspirin. Anyway I think it's the bomb diggity, handles swelling better than ibuprofen, and is not always on people's radar.

Did the City of Wilmington do anything to boost the event as a tourist draw, do you know? I think I recall after last year's success that there was noise about maybe they would do that.
Y'all were amazing, we're talking about engineering it so we can see a weeknight next year. And of course there will be a next year... Right?

Regarding distance vision, these days I'm wearing progressives. it's nice to get most of the benefits of bifocals but there's no line. I'm not sure if the range of options it provides would cover the case you're talking about or not.
I LOVE when you expound on your musical expertise. Love love love. Generally speaking I have musical anhedonia, but your technical and functional descriptions light up my nerd soul like a Christmas tree.
You might want to look into an athletic sleeve instead of tape. All the compression goodness, plus flab compaction and it is reusable.

I owe a post about my vacation but I am too fried right now.
This is gonna sound like an epic humblebrag, but it is the annoying truth: I have tried all of the athletic sleeves I could find, and they're all too damn big. It's ri-god-damn-diculous.

(Insert 5th grade joke about going to Dick's and only finding things too large. Hhuhhuhhuhhuhuhh!)

In other gnus, I look forward to your vacay post. Hope it was spiffy.
Try shopping for a boy's athletic sleeve.
 

(I wrote this at 4:00am on Saturday morning.)


Hi, all!

It's been go-go-go land here, so I apologize for not writing or generally being more present or responsive. I have been reading here and trying to comment where I can, but that's about all I can offer for the next 8-9 days or so.


We are now just a few days away from Beatlefest 2019. It's going to be the same format as last year, in the same location, etc.

The biggest change for me is that instead of using three enormous 3-ring notebooks full of sheet music, I'm trying to use my new tablet that I bought expressly for this purpose. I struggled so much last year juggling several percussion instruments and having to turn pages, so I needed something electronic with a bluetooth foot pedal. I labored over my decision, and I chose the Boox Onyx Max2 Pro, 13.3" e-ink tablet, so it's crazy-light, and easy on the eyes, and displays a sheet of music at full Letter Page size that my 48-year-old eyeballs can read.  I've been using this amazing app called MobileSheets Pro which is everything you want in a music-performance device. 

Sadly, the app blew up last night (Friday night, just 11 hours ago) and I lost 4 days' worth of the notes I transcribed from my paper notes from last year. I am heartbroken. The app developer is ridiculously responsive, so he may be able to salvage some of it. I am not hopeful, but we're trying.


It's very late (or early, depending on how you view days)-- I've been trying to fix this since 5:30pm and now it's 4:09am (good morning, Jenn!). Today (Saturday) we core-band BeatleFest people move into the venue and get everything wired up for sound, and then we run a quick sound check with the core band.  Then the strings, horns, and Indian musicians come in Sunday to get them wired up and rehearsed.  

And then we start Beatlefest on Monday! 


In other news, my iron levels have crashed, but I go for an infusion on Tuesday (yes, a Beatlefest day). That was the fastest they could get me in, so I'll take it... and hopefully I'll be feeling magically awesome by Thursday night when I really need to be thinking clearly. It's remarkable how fuzzy my brain is when it doesn't get oxygen. 


Away we go!

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I miss you
I miss you, too. Genuinely, sincerely.
I can't believe your app crashed at the worst time! I hope you get something back!
Karen 7/28
The good news is that I got it all back! The bad news is I lost 3 days doing so, so now I'm 3 days behind in getting the rest of my written notes re-written into the tablet. Tonight (Night 3 of Beatlefest) is the last night of notes I have in my tablet. Nights 4-6 have no notes written, and they are also coincidentally the hardest friggin' music.

I'll get it done, though. Just gotta do it.
good morning! :)

booooooo to that app crashing, that completely sucks. but all that tech sounds so cool! i always wondered how people using a tablet for music turned the pages, didn't realize it was a foot pedal. i feel like i'm living in the future.
Jenn A 7/28
Yep! It's a bluetooth pedal! Some folks prefer to just tap the tablet which turns the page, which is still infinitely easier than turning paper pages. They even make a drum-pad that triggers the page turn for drummers.
 

I've been getting hired to play a lot of percussion gigs lately; and these gigs require actual sheet music and precision. When hands are busy, it's hard to turn paper pages, so for my recent Genesis gig I used a tablet with a bluetooth foot pedal to turn the pages.  This was extremely liberating, and I will never go back to paper!

In the past, if I have a singing gig where I only need lyrics and not actual sheet music, my fabulous Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1" I inherited from Matt Lichtenwalner is the perfect thing. However, it's got a pretty big bezel, so it's just too small for actual sheet music that I have to *read,* like for BeatleFest. (I cannot memorize the harmonies  plus percussion parts to 215 songs, because the harmony I sing changes on each song. Am I singing top? Middle? Switching on Page 4 because Brendan has been singing a certain part for 20 years and so just for these two words I sing this other thing?)

I looked at the new iPad Pro, but for $1200, I couldn't justify it... plus, I really just don't "get" IOS. It's unintuitive to me, which I know makes me weird.

After months of research, I settled on the Onyx Boox Max 2 Pro, which is my very first e-ink device. It purposely doesn't have a backlight, because I find that backlit devices cause eye fatigue like whoa, plus they can mess with the look of the stage when you have a fancy light show goin' on.  (I can always use a judiciously-placed stand light that can't be seen from the audience if necessary.)  This Boox Max 2 Pro sucker is 13.2", so it's larger than a sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper-- I don't have to squint or zoom to see my music. Yippee!  It's so much easier on my eyes, too!  And for making notes in my music, it's got Wacom 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity for the stylus, so making notes feels just like writing on paper, no lag, no bullshit.  

But what makes this tablet very different from many other e-ink devices is that it's an Android device that isn't locked down (runs Android Marshmallow), so you can install stuff off the Google Play Store to your heart's desire.  It runs Mobile Sheets Pro (my favorite-- and the publisher even made an e-ink version just for this specific tablet since so many pro musicians use it now), and has no problem with my bluetoof page-turner pedal. YES!

My goal was to buy a high-speed two-sides-at-once scanner, take my 3 GIANT binders of Beatles music and scan 'em in, and stick them on my tablet for BeatleFest.  Alas, the scanner I purchased for this purpose scanned lightning fast (35ppm!), but only if you didn't need to deviate from the defaults. The moment you wanted it to tweak any setting (a little more contrast, please?) it crawled to an unacceptable speed. Like, I would still be scanning my Beatles music long after BeatleFest 2019 ended. :-) 

I did a test run and scanned/imported my music for The Who tribute show we do (much less sheet music to scan), but I noticed that no matter which scanner settings I picked, I still couldn't easily read whatever notes I had written on my sheet music once I was viewing it on the tablet... which means I had to re-write 90% of my handwritten notes... which then looked sloppy because I was trying to trace over my original handwritten notes with the stylus. So annoying.

(So first world. I know.)

To Summarize:

So because the scanner was a bust, I will be returning the scanner, and I'll just import the original, plain PDFs of my BeatleFest music, and I will transcribe my handwritten notes using the tablet stylus. It'll save a ton of time in the long run, I'm sure.

I'm really excited to be able to use this tablet for BeatleFest. I'll have my binders there as a backup, of course... 

I'm also excited to get rid of that giant music stand that was blocking some of the cool percussion stuff that I was doing.  I know this tablet is large, but it's not nearly as intrusive as a music stand. And yay: hands free page turns!  Wooot!


There will still be plenty of gigs (mostly Hot Breakfast gigs) where I will prefer to use my smaller Samsung 10.1" Galaxy Note tablet, mostly because that smaller tablet is a full-color device (very helpful for lyrics) where e-ink tablets are obviously greyscale only. 

But it's nice to have the choice.  My eyeballs aren't getting any better as I get older, so having some options is really nice. 

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Tell me more about this Bluetooth foot pedal.
Most people's sheet music is just in a PDF, so these foot pedals are just a way to tell your app to flip the page.

Even fancy-pants sheet music applications (I use Mobile Sheets Pro, which is one of the popular ones) is really just a glorified pdf reader-- it just has easy ways to group and display songs into set lists and stuff, and has tools easily write notes in your music, zoom, crop out huge borders, too. You can even tell it "When you get to Page 4, turn back to page 2 because I have to take the repeat. Then when I get to Page 3 the second time, jump to Page 5 for the coda." That's all in the app, not the pedal.

The pedals have been around for a long time, honestly... I just never needed one until recently. The pedal effortlessly pairs with your tablet via Bluetooth, and then when you hit the footswitch on the right it turns the page forward/up, and the left footswitch turns back one page. They have a no-stick back so you can't easily accidentally kick it off the stage. :-) The cheapie pedals are fine-- no need to spend a fortune. This is the one I own-- the PageFlip Butterfly. (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LIROF7W?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share)

Some people like their foot pedals to have a click so they have some kind of tactile feedback. I got a silent one because nobody wants to hear clickity-click during a quiet moment.

They also make pedals with four foot-switches, and you can assign from a bevy of actions you want to each footswitch. Forward/back, and maybe "back to the top" or "open next file" or whatever.

Forward and backward is all I needed.

I imagine a foot switch could be handy for table reads, or even transcriptionists, too.
Now I want a series of foot pedals for all my online reading and browsing...
It's the "Crazy Train" sound. :-)
 

Yesterday morning Matt had to get some bloodwork done, so we got up early (well, early for us) and got that taken care of, and then went to brunch.  When we got back, Matt said, "Oh man, I think I might be coming down with something. I'm not entirely sure... I just feel kinda off." That was around 1:30.

By 5:00 Matt had a 99.4 degree fever, and by 8:30 it was 101.7 and he was praying that the sweet lord would just let him die. He had the power-pukes of doom (though he admittedly felt better after Round 3), and the cold/hot/ugh of the fever, and this awful cough that came from the pit of his soul.

Around 11pm my pal Kerry texted me and mentioned that she had the similar plague the day before, but thankfully it seemed to be a 24 hour thing because she felt 89% better.  

Matt debated taking something to knock his fever down, but we agreed that we shouldn't mess with millennia of evolution, and that we should just let the fever cook out whatever it needed to.  We did give him a delicious Wal-Som to knock him out though, and he slept fairly well through the night despite a few puke-breaks.

He woke up this morning and his fever is back down to 99.4, and he feels better than he did yesterday but is still bed-ridden.

I am avoiding him as much as possible, which means I'm sleeping in the guest room, and staying out of our bedroom unless I absolutely have to go in there to bring him something.  Poor guy.

This wouldn't be a big deal, but this weekend is a Really Important Weekend.

On Friday, Matt has his very first gig with 53rd & 3rd, which is a brand-new Ramones tribute band that he's the lead singer for.  Matt has never fronted a band without also holding a guitar before, and he's nervous (though very prepared). He reaaaaaally doesn't want to be sick for this. I suppose the good news is that the gig is at Bar XIII, which is about 7 minutes from our house, and if worse came to worst, he could show up, sing, and leave.  This isn't what we want, of course.

On Saturday, Matt and I are part of this really neat show called "Shine a Light," which is a 50+ musician fundraising show that raises dinero for the Light Up The Queen Foundation, which raises money for Delaware schools that lost their arts/music funding. It also runs a jazz school, and does some other cool things, too.  It's held on the big stage downstairs at The Queen, and it's almost already sold out. Tickets are $125 each, and VIP tix are $250... so it's a pretty big to-do.  Anyway, each year's concert has a theme, and this year we're doing all songs from 1969. It's a prestigious thing, and this is our first year being a part of it.  As Freshmen members, we are singing backups and are in the horn section... so no lead singer or guitar duties, but honestly, we really like being right where we are. 

Anyway, Saturday's show is an all-day thing... we have to arrive by 3 so we can be all sound-checked and cleared off the stage by 6 because that's when the house opens for the VIPs.  The music starts at 8.

The downside to this show is that there are over 50 players involved, so there are going to be over 50 musicians crammed into the backstage area where there is not enough room for even 20 people, really... plus I'm sure many will be drinking throughout the day/night... and as an introvert it's hard to endure not having a place to be quiet where there isn't a person (drunk or not) trying to talk to you... but it's a billion times worse when you're sick.  So I'm thinking about bringing a pillow or some kind of cushion so we can sit in the stairwell where (hopefully) nobody else will be. 

As for me, I feel like my body is working really hard to fight something. I'm doing everything in my power to make sure it wins.

We were in Austin all last week for work and got home on Saturday, and then Matt had a Ramones rehearsal at 10:00am on Sunday because we had an all-day dress rehearsal for Shine a Light that started at noon and went until around 7 or 8-ish (can't remember).  So between travel, being on an airplane, being in two rehearsal spaces crammed with people and sharing mics and stuff and just running running running, it's no surprise the plague got a foothold.

So, we're hoping Matt feels better ASAP.

In the last bit of news: I'm typing this in procrastination, because I'm an idiot and always wait until the last possible second to get my books in shape in time for my accountant to do my business taxes and then my personal taxes. I see my accountant tomorrow at 2pm, and I am just now starting to hand-type in all of my bank and credit card transactions for the year, because naturally I am too cheap to spend the $9.95/month for Quickbooks access.

Anyway, if I owe you an email or some kind of reply, it'll likely be next week sometime. I've gotta get through this week and the weekend.

xo

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O lawd. Good luck kids.
Sending love and strength.
 

Last night we played a show in Kennett Square, opening for an impro comedy troupe.  We played a 25 minute set, and then sat in the back of the theater to watch their improv show. They invited us on stage to participate in the final improv game of the night and I protested because I'd never done any improv whatsoever... and it turns out I did kinda OK given my total lack of skill. That was kinda fun to try. Matt did great because he's freakin' effortless at everything-- I don't know how he does it. 

Today (Friday) I put my phone in Airplane Mode and stayed offline pretty much all day in what we call a NEDNOP day (NEDNOP stands for "no electronic devices, no other people"). We spent some time at a little spa down the street to finally get the last of the playa dust out of our pores.  (After we got home from Burning Man my skin was so dry and angry that I desperately wanted a facial, and I also wanted a massage because my muscles hurt from building shit and pounding the playa for a week. So today we finally took care of that.)

Matt and I got massages and facials (his first facial!), and I also got a body treatment where they dry brush you and slather you with shea butter and then wrap you in warm towels and plastic and stick you under the heat lamp like a piece of Roy Rogers NJ Turnpike rest stop chicken.  The facial and the body treatment were maybe a 7 out of 10 (perfectly delightful) and the massage was an 8.5 or even a 9. She was amazing.  

Matt and I went to get a bite right afterwards, and then hit the hardware store for some stuff for the house, and then he started feeling anxious so we came home and crawled into bed around 6PM-ish... and we fell asleep... and then I woke up around 2AM, which is why I'm typing this at 6;19am. 

While I've been writing this, I've been listening to "Who's Next" on headphones. Good lord, what a masterpiece. Roger Daltrey is a MACHINE. Pete Townshend's voice is so smooth... and John Entwistle's bass playing is so melodic and he plays it like a lead instrument. And my friend Rob summed up Keith Moon's playing perfectly, like "someone kicked Keith and his drumset down a flight of stairs and he landed on 1."  What a band. Man oh man.

OK. I'm finally getting sleepy, so I'm gonna end this. 

Xo

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10/13 '18 13 Comments
NEDNOP is kind of an amazing idea. I'm not sure how we'd survive, though. Read a book? Conversation? Walks? Huh. Maybe?
Sean M Puckett 10/13 '18
Do it. You won't regret it.
Just pretend it's 1991, and you'll be fine. :-)
I'm not shocked that either of you would be good at improv. I think the 80/20 of improv is being 'quick'. Assessing, processing, and being able to respond quickly. We all know that there are different kinds of intelligence, but you both have that in spades. Glad to hear you tried it!

I'd like to say that I'm due for a NEDNOP day, but I think most days look pretty much like NEDNOP to most folks. I have so little real interaction with anyone. Problem with that is that it moves the bar. Now, on those days where I talk to one person, I'm all "Whoooaah! That took it out of me." #GoodProblemsToHave?
I'm kinda with you re: real interaction with people. We don't have much, honestly. We play gigs, but that's not real interaction-- it's very one-sided. We also eat at Angel's a few times per week and chit-chat with the staff and the regulars, and call that enough interaction. We also see people at rehearsal but we've got a job to do there and always go right home afterwards.

Kinda bums me out that I don't hang out with anyone really, but then again I'm also totally OK with it. Deep down (OK, not very deep down) I'm a very lazy person who just wants to lay in bed all day, so I get to live that dream most days.

This makes no sense.
It makes _perfect_ sense.

Hello bed.
NEDNOP is something koozbanians should have said. NEDNOP!
Thomas Boutell 10/13 '18
I really wish I could put my parents up in a swanky hotel with a spa and restaurant for a long weekend, and then take over their house for a long weekend of All The Space I Need. I would hire Bobbi to teach a master class in improv, so we could all benefit from all the listening and "yes and" and stuff.
That sounds like a damn fine weekend for all involved.
Hell, just wait until your parents go away on one of their vacations and we'll do it then!

Or... we'll do it at Anne's house. VERMONT ROADTRIP!

(You are also welcome to do it here anytime. If our great room can handle 7-person Beatlefest Core Band + 8-person string ensemble rehearsals, we could do an improv workshop. Wouldn't be nearly as roomy as your folks' place, but it's something.)
I can't remember whose line it was about the Who being "a singer plus three guys all of whom think they're playing lead" but it's nowhere more evident than on Who's Next and Quadrophenia.

Moon in particular on Quadrophenia is fucking supernatural. if you haven't fired it up on headphones before, allow me to recommend.
CM Adams 10/16 '18
I think I'm gonna make Quadrophenia on headphones happen tonight. I need me more Keith Moon!
there's some awesome Moon segments in the Kids Are Alright film, btw. he was one crazy ass motherfucker.
CM Adams 10/17 '18
 

I've never said or typed "herml-blermbl" before, but it just seems to fit.

I have a buncha half-written drafts here on OPW and I want to finish them and tell y'all what's been happenin' (and also to remind myself later what was happenin'), but I just... don't do it. Herml-blermbl.

So, here's a redux:

-- Beatlefest (July 16-21) was unfathomably satisfying and I really feel like we pulled off a nigh-impossible feat with very high quality... the highest to date. We had top-notch musicians/players who were all incredible readers, which was gonna be the only way we'd ever get to play 215 songs over 6 nights. Reading the charts, listening to each other, and watch Rich or Joe for the ending for the songs that faded out on the actual record. I'm really proud of what we did, and I'm excited it's now officially an annual thing and has caught the attention of all of the Delaware tourism groups and chamber of commerce and politicians and hoteliers and stuff... so they're gonna throw money and marketing behind it next year to make it something that the state celebrates and hotels offer package deals and yadda yadda yadda.  They're also trying to move it to the 1200-seat Grand Opera House, which is pretty amazing. 

-- I jumped back on Facebook because people were "very upset" they couldn't tag me in BeatleFest photos. #firstworldproblems  It is time to disable that shit nowwwww. 

-- We are derg-sitting Riley The Mutt again; she belongs to Nick and Nancy D'Argenio. They actually spell her name "Rylee" but when this derg is here she is MY derg and that's how I spell it, so there. I love having a doggo in the house. She is such a good, good, good, and pretty girl. JD was such a guy-dog, but Rhieleighe is so dainty and girlie, even though she's a mutt and not any kind of fancy foo-foo breed. She's still very much a doggo, though. 

-- I give the WeRateDogs guy sole credit for inventing the little dog-lingo the entire internetz now uses have when talking about dogs. The whole "heckin' good doggo 12/10 would pet" sentence structure amuses and delights me (and I didn't even do it right).

-- I've had a co-worker for the last 6-ish years that I've only ever worked with remotely... I'd never met him before in person. But this week he was teaching in Philly so we invited him down for dinner and for a jam session, because he's about to retire and do music full-time. I'm so happy for him! We had a great time. He said that he's the only democrat/non-Trump guy in his entire neighborhood... ugh, poor guy. I let him drink from our ITMFA mug and he was delighted!

-- Andrew Durkin (my musical collaborator since 1986) flew to the east coast today, and he'll be here for a week. From this-coming Monday to Thursday we're gonna get together and work on Sunnyvale material... Sunnyvale is the band that is me, Matt, Andrew, and Leo. (In the '90s I was in a regionally-successful band called The Evelyn Situation with both Andrew and Leo (and some other folks)... so getting to make music with them plus Matt is a musical dream come true for me.  We're gonna rehearse and record at my folks' place in north Jersey. 

-- My parents' 51st anniversary is this coming week, so we're taking them out to dinner on Sunday night. I asked my brother how many folks from his clan were coming, and he said "Just me and Mindy" (his wife).  I said, "No kids?" He said, "One kid is at camp and the other one has something else going on, and the oldest lives near college now. So yeah, just me and Mindy."  Call me weird, but whether I was 14, 17, or 22 (the ages of their 3 kids), I never had a choice about whether or not I'd attend a grandparent-related event... it was expected I'd go.  It feels weird to me that it's just kinda optional for them.  My folks are gonna be really disappointed, but hey, it's not my call. 

-- Matt and I are going to Burning Man this year... the last time we went was 2011, which was Matt's first time, and we left before the man even burned.  This year we are determined to stay for the man burning (Saturday before Labor Day) as well as the temple burn (Labor Day eve), but I'm not sure if it'll be do-able given his near-daily anxiety attacks.  He is hoping for some mystical, magical, cosmic ass-kicking. Perhaps some, um, molecular encouragement will help... or it'll kill him when his brain separates from his body permanently. We'll see. Or we won't.  But either way, this is the 10th Anniversary of Patty and Mike's Burning Man wedding that I officiated, so they wanna have a Vow Renewal Ceremony with me at the helm again. It won't be nearly as elaborate, but just a little something to commemorate a decade of awesome. 

-- We had our 8th Hot Breakfast Summer Blowout at Bellefonte Cafe on Friday the 27th and it was sold out since the Wednesday before. That was nice to hear. 

-- My music schedule is super-busy between now and the end of November. This is cool.

-- There's a new edition of ITIL (the thing I teach) coming out in Q1 2019, and the ITIL Mothership has chosen me (me!) and my videos to be the one they wanna help be first to market.  This pleases and flatters me greatly. It's nice to be recognized by the creator of the thing I'm a specialist in that yep, they agree I don't suck.  Woot! 


-- Food has been getting stuck in my dumb esophagus for years, which means I only eat a few bites per meal... which means I'm down to 111 pounds which is TOO DAMN SCRAWNY​​​​​​.  So my GP finally prescribed a thing I can take before I eat that will loosen things up and allow me to eat a full meal without having to pause after two bites and sit awkwardly and uncomfortably.  I'm so excited!! Hopefully I'll get some friggin' meat back on my bones. I look like Skeletor. 

-- I sleep on a towel every night and soak through it every night. Very sexy. I wish someone would yank out my girl parts... I DON'T NEED THEM.

--Matt's MiniCooper (Janice) doesn't have too much life left in her, unfortunately. So we need to decide: New Mini? Or Chevy Cruze which we fell in love with unexpectedly on a business trip when I was randomly assigned one by the rental car place?

-- I paid for the NYTimes digital edition as well as for access to the digital versions of their crosswords. I loooove their mini-crosswords (they take me anywhere from 40 seconds to 2-3 mins). But their full-size crosswords start easy on Monday and get harder through the week. I can only do their Monday and Tuesday ones, and then they get too hard for me because I'm dummm. But I love doing them. 

-- I'm sorry I haven't been posting or commenting here much... but I have been reading everything.  I love you all very much. 

-- I'm forgetting stuff but I need to sleep. 

(In fact I just nodded off and dreamt that Nik Everett is Matt's cousin Amy's grandfather and he was giving a speech on a baseballfield about having to give her away at her wedding. But she wasn't there to hear the speech so I was recording it with my phone and then a muslim hardcore/speedmetal band started setting up around him and just started playing playing in full burqas... but they turned out to be guys just trying to push the envelope... but they were really good! My brain is weird.)

Okbye.

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Congratulations on many things and best wishes on the test. I miss you.
Thank you, m'dear! Miss you right back. Lots.
I'd describe this as "too much on my plate".

Speaking of dogs and Burning Man. My dog and I have an appointment on Monday at the vet to get her reassessed for her cancer. I'm really hoping I don't have to send you to the burn with something for the temple.

See my next post about dogs, re: my latest foster dog.

You are not twenty any longer. Time to suck it up and drink some ensure. And follow up with your doctor. Get the medicine. Take the medicine. BE the medicine. Ohm.

For what it's worth, get rid of the baby factory but keep the playpen.

The mini cooper news reminds me that I saw a VW Scirocco on the highway this morning. I beeped the horn and gave the guy a thumbs up. I always wanted one back when.

Get a motor home for the trip to the playa. That way Matt can have a rest spot that he can retreat to. And lock the door. Plus, air conditioning.

Sorry I missed the Beatles Fest and the summer show. Too damn busy with the house.
Ray Conrad 8/3 '18
Oh no... please keep me posted on your dog's appointment. I hope everything is fine and you have many long years of belly rubs ahead of you. And if you want me to bring general good wishes to the temple, say the word! It doesn't have to be all sad. I can even post some gratitude for your roof!

The good news is that we have already rented a foo-foo trailer for Burning Man (I always rent a trailer or RV because I am a princess... but this one is extra-nice) so we will have an extra-comfy refuge for when we need to hermit. Plus we'll have air conditioning if things get extreeeeme (though really, opening the windows and getting a cross-breeze really is lovely and often plenty adequate). And we'll have a fridge and a shower... and best of all, the Home Toilet Advantage. PortaJohns be damned. :-)


Oh-- I didn't realize I stopped typing in the middle of my medical bit above (gonna fix that now)... but I just took this new med today and HOLY LORD I ate a full meal today and it is miraculous. If ClassicJill ever knew there would be a future day I wished I could gain 15 pounds, she would laugh me the hell out of the room.
I’m always amazed that you can be in a state where you have too much on your plate, yet reading your posts makes me feel more pragmatic and positive. You have an ability to embrace the notion that happiness takes work and that makes me feel like doing happy work.
Lindsay Harris-Friel 8/3 '18edited
Here we go - in order. (Sorta.)

*inhales deeply*

-"herml-blermbl" are EXACTLY the right words there.

-Beatlefest - I'm really sorry that I missed it, but I'm overjoyed that it went so well, that you enjoyed it so thoroughly, and (perhaps most especially) to hear about the marketing push you guys will have next year! That sounds super rad. Do kids say rad these days? I doubt it. Maybe it's retro again? I'm old - what I'm saying here is that I'm old.

-"Rylee" - Why is there no doggo pic for this post?! I feel terribly let down by you Miss Knapp. Also, I genuinely burst out laughing when I read "Rhieleighe"

-"heckin" - this lingo absolutely slays me. Watch this video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCY3xsz-6zI )if you haven't seen it already - but really, just the first dog (giant poodle) because they're the 80/20 in just a few seconds of video.

- Durkin's visit - Well shit. Of COURSE it's the week that I'm headed to Maine with my family to see my grandfather. Please give Durkin my unending respect and lerv. Very sorry I'm going to miss the guy.

- "51st anniversary" - Please give them my lerv and congratulations!

- "Burning Man" - I wish like Hell I could make it this year for Patty and Mike's anniversary. I've been thinking about the Burn a lot over the last couple of years, and I kinda have the itch to go again - even if it wasn't for such a good 'excuse', but it's just not in the cards. I may have to send something with you for them if that wouldn't be too much of a PITA? I hope the RV helps soothe Matt's experience. Still renting from the same lady?

- Bellefonte Cafe - Sorry I didn't make it. Went to Slackerbot, and you woulda dug it. You guys get me for the next one. Promise. ;)

- ITIL - This is SO good to hear, even if it's not terribly shocking. You're amazing at what you do. You think things through and prepare. You actually work at that annoying little thing called 'quality'. You f***ing _get it_. I know my opinion doesn't amount to a hill of beans here given my vast influence in the industry which is why I'm so psyched to hear that the people whose opinions DO matter are paying attention. Endlessly and eternally proud of you despite my having no influence on your work whatsoever. ;)

-I wanna new drug, so I can actually swallow - okay, so after my inner Beavis shuts up for a minute... glad to hear this. Pretty sure I speak for the whole clan when I say that we like our Jill healthy. :)

- New Car - I legitimately have no advice here. I drove a Cruze once - in much the same circumstances that you did, but mine was not cleaned properly after a smoker had it and it was just... gross, so no real love there for Yours Truly.

That about covers that for now.
Last time we met I was wondering if you weren't maybe starting to approach scrawny ... though it's not my business I'm glad your doc found something that will help you stay healthy!

An annual BeatleFest with city/state arts funding support sounds AWESOME. I fear that Joe may have taken himself to the cleaners putting it together, so hopefully some real and steady funding will come through for next year.
Thank you for not mentioning my scrawniness in person (though if you had, I would have known it was out of love).

People (mostly acquaintances) either say "OMG YOU'RE SO SKINNY GAAAH EAT A SANDWICH JEEZ" to which I want to reply "I would actually give anything to eat a sandwich," or they say "Wow girl, you look soooooo great and skinny!" to which I want to reply, "Thank you that's lovely, but I have pretty serious health issues because I'm so undernourished. But hey, I'm glad my illness pleases your sense of female aesthetics." :-D

Hopefully neither of these will be a thing soon. Yay!
I haven't seen you for a while (sorry) but I always thought of you as Jill shaped and birdlike.
Well, this is the thing, right? As to any "you look great because you're skinny," fuck that shit and the horse that those commenters ride in on and smash the patriarchy.

As to health, I can say, "Oh, hey, Jill, you're lookin' a little on the slim side lately," and, you know, I'm guessing that YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT. You already know if, say, your pants are a little looser than they used to be and whether your favorite top is starting to look a little baggy. Also, you're an adult, and so I figure you're taking care of it or you're trying to, and I'm not your mom. And also I'm not going to embarrass both of us by bringing it up in public -- there's no comfortable response to "you're skinny" -- or risk maybe throwing you off your performance game by saying something just before you get on stage.

Not saying anything ever will possibly make me look like I don't care, but it's a hard needle to thread, figuring out what to say and when to say it about someone's appearance. I try to hit the MYOB eye of that needle.

In conclusion, I'm really happy you're getting some medical help with it. Here's to sandwiches.
Michele Grant 8/5 '18edited
Yep! You get it entirely.

I know what I look like and how my pants fit, and I know that it's noticeable. And I also I know you love me, and I know you know I love you, and I know you're polite and awesome enough not to say anything about my potentially unhealthy appearance unless I bring it up. This is the way the universe should be. (But again, if you did bring it up randomly, I wouldn't have been offended or mad, because I would know it was coming from a place of love and concern. It would take a HELL of a lot to make me mad at you.

The best kinds of friends are ones where you never have to question the friendship... you just know it's good good good.

Sing it! "Thank you for being a frieeeeend!"
You never cease to amaze me.
SFM 8/5 '18
Hey! It's great to see you here! Welcome!!
My parents do the NYT crosswords all week and solve them "together" (one takes a crack then the other then I think they work together). Good stuff!

Also: AWESOME about all the music. Keep me posted on dates for next year.

Lastly, we're hoping do see the Dead Milkmen at the Ardmore Music Hall on 9/21 if we can (it's sold out, we're on a ticket waiting list) and then have GA tickets for Paul Simon's LAST CONCERT EVER in NY the next night. Just in case you're doing any of those things...
Avocado Tom 8/9 '18
How many tix do you need for the Milkmen show on 9/21? I miiiiight be able to getcha on the list. Lemme see what I can do!
Two would be AMAZEballs.
Avocado Tom 8/15 '18
 

I forget if I mentioned here this ridiculous musical undertaking we decided to attempt: We are putting on Delaware's very first Beatles festival, and this festival means that we are playing every Beatles song ever released (and even two that were recorded and never released) over a course of six consecutive nights... this means we do two albums per night, plus any singles that were released around those albums.  There is one night we're only doing one album, and that's the night we're playing The White Album since it's a double-album... and one other night we're playing three albums because that's just how the math worked. 

The festival started tonight, and we were kinda expecting the lightest crowd tonight since it's a Monday night, and since we just kinda figured this is their less interesting material.  But holy crap, we had 130 people tonight, and the theater only holds about 250... so it felt very full, and the crowd was very enthusiastic. One of tonight's audience members was actually in the audience when The Beatles played on Ed Sullivan!! GAAAH!!  After our show tonight she said she was so happy she came tonight so she could actually hear the songs, unlike the Ed Sullivan show where all she heard was screaming. :-)

We've been rehearsing this material since January-- two rehearsals per week -- one a vocal-only rehearsal, and the other rehearsal was with the whole band. 

The name of the group putting on this BeatleFest is called "The Rock Orchestra," which is an tribute show organization headed up by Joe Trainor and Matt Urban. Joe and MattU (not to be confused with 'my Matt' (aka MattC)) choose what tribute shows they want to perform (basically curating a season's worth of music), and then writes all the arrangements, and hires the right musicians to play it. So there's no set band member list to The Rock Orchestra... but they have an extensive Rolodex from which to draw. :-)

This BeatleFest takes 40 musicians to play all of this music as true to the albums as we can, once you get strings, horns, traditional Indian instrmentalists, harmonica, harp, even sound effects... all in addition to the core band. 

Because we're playing these songs in release order, tonight was the "simplest" material, so we only needed the core band tonight.  But we've been rehearsing in release order, too... so our most recent rehearsals has been the REALLY complicated stuff requiring all 40 players.  We had two final rehearsals this weekend... Saturday was sound-equipment load-in, and Sunday was all 40 of us... and we played all of the hard stuff (we're even doing "Revolution #9" live!)  We intentionally left the stage set up with all the (empty) chairs for the strings and horns, all of my 73,000 percussion instruments were out on display, MattC's guitars and saxes and keys were all set up, even though we don't use them until Wednesday.  We really want the audience to watch and feel this stuff build in complexity as we move through the Beatles' catalogue and timeline. 

So tonight when we got to the theater for Night 1 of BeatleFest to play "Please Please Me" and "With The Beatles" and the surrounding singles, only the seven core band members were needed, and we were like "Where is everyone? Oh, wait, it's just us tonight!"  

We've got Joe Trainor singing mostly Paul McCartney's parts and also playing piano and keys; we've got Brendan Sheehan playing guitar and singing mostly John Lennon's parts, Rich Degnars on drums (he's amazing), Josh Dowiak on bass and some vocals, Joey Lopes on lead guitar (he is freakin' awesome), and then Matt and I are the utility players.  (Utility players are people who can sing and play many instruments, so they play whatever is needed.)  I sing backing vocals on almost everything (I sing lead on a few, too) and I play about 22 different percussion instruments (everything from simple handclaps to timpani and anvil and concert chimes to a motorcycle exhaust pipe), keys a few times, and I also handle all the sound effects (think the animal sounds in "Good Morning, Good Morning").  Matt sings whenever we need 4-part harmony (and he also sings lead on a few), and he's playing guitar, bass, sax, keys/piano, and percussion. 

Tonight was an easy night music-wise, and tomorrow night (Tuesday, Night 2) is also just the core band again because we're playing two more " simple" albums: "Beatles for Sale" and "A Hard Day's Night" (plus some singles).

Wednesday night (Night 3) is "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" (plus some singles). Wednesday night is when Matt and are the guest singers, so we sing lead on a few songs. This night is also when more band members arrive... Indian musicians arrive, some horns and strings...

Thursday night (Night 4) s the big night where we do three albums (‘Revolver’, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘Magical Mystery Tour’) and also the point when all 40 musicians are on stage through the rest of the festival!

Friday night (Night 5 of 6, also Matt's birthday):  Tonight we only play one album, which is "The Beatles," aka The White Album. It's a double album.  We'll also play any singles released during that time. And once we tackle that, we're brought to closing night, which is "Abbey Road" and "Let it Be," plus the singles. And that's it!

During the show, we have fun projections as a backdrop that sorta gives you an idea of what "era" of The Beatles we're in (in Hamburg, the Ed Sullivan stage, their psychedelic stage, the rooftop, etc... and we have another projector with a slideshow that displays the song name, album title, and a counter that counts up the number of songs out of the 215 we've played already.  

I'm really proud and excited to play this music with these people-- it sounds great, and best of all everyone gets along, so it's been a very joyful experience!  It's also been exciting new really exciting to feel how the songwriting got more interesting and complex as The Beatles' progressed, and also to note how they were able to do all the things they wanted to record thanks to advances in recording technology.  

There was more I wanted to type, but I've forgotten because I've fallen asleep a few times while typing this... haha... and it's now 3:55am so I'm gonna post this now. 

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7/17 '18 8 Comments
These shows sound amazing. Do your best Norwegian Wood for me, and Maxwell's Silver Hammer for Mr. Archer. <3
Thanks! Tonight is Norwegian Wood-- that actually features me and Matt (along with Day Tripper and Ticket to Ride.) Maxwell's Silver Hammer is tomorrow night-- I love that song!
I am not normally a tribute show person, but this would absolutely have drawn me in, especially the White Album night. Alas, I'm in Virginia Beach for the week. So I shall console myself with sun, surf, sand and ludicrous amounts of cozy time.
Thomas Boutell 7/17 '18
Both are equally magical. Have a fabulous time, sir!
It is absolutely killing me that I can't be there (or give Robbb the gift of being there). I hope you all break all of your legs!
Michele Grant 7/17 '18
Thanks, babycakes! It's very strange not having you guys here... you are both missed very much!
This sounds like so much GD fun. I can feel the glow from here.
Anne Mollo 7/19 '18
Damn, that sounds fun!!
Kate Haney 7/24 '18
 

If you told me a month ago that I'd genuinely give a shit about Bruce Springsteen, I'd give you 100 reasons why I wouldn't... starting with how in north Jersey we were loyal to Billy Joel, not Bruce.  And his lyrics ("Show a little faith there's magic in the night / You ain't a beauty but hey, you're all right / don't turn me home again, I just can't face myself alone again / Don't run back inside, darlin'  you know just what I'm here for / because this dick won't suck itself / and I'm desperate so I guess an ugly chick will do for now / Ohhhhh THUNDER ROAD!" -- I may be paraphrasing and messing things up a bit.)

But in the spirit of rocking the early '70s and punk male bravado, I put that all aside and fell in love with this music last night.  I got to play a Bruce Springsteen tribute with The Rock Orchestra at LiveNation/The Queen to a sold-out crowd, and I learned a totally new instrument in just a few weeks and I, dare I say, fuckin' rocked it considering.  (Sorry. I don't give myself props often, but I'm pretty proud.)

This band, which had many people I'd never played with before, was a fucking well-oiled machine. It was a level of excellence I haven't experienced in a tribute show before. I mean, playing tribute shows are always fun (and lucrative), but this band is really stacked with TRUE pros... it feels good being a weak link and really having to hustle to keep up... and still feeling like one of the band.  Matt, who I consider 73 times the musician I am, also felt like a second-string player to these guys. But it was so freakin' wonderful watching the cougars in the front row LITERALLY licking their lips at him like drunk sorority girl wannabe porn stars when Matt took a sax solo. I am not shitting you.

The only crappy thing about doing these shows is that we work our asses off to nail this music only to play it twice.  Our first show was last night (1/20), and the second and final show is this coming Saturday at the Milton Theatre in Milton DE, down by DogfishHead and stuff.  It's almost sold out already, so if anyone wants to come and wants a comp ticket, let me know ASAP. 

I sing backing vocals and play percussion which is my usual gig for these things... but I had to find a glockenspiel, write out all my parts, and learn how to play the damn instrument in less than 3 weeks and 2 rehearsals.  Fucking nuts. 

Here's a little clip of the GlockenspielCam of me doing a bit of "Born to Run."  A pro-mallet player I'm not... but I'm proud of what I could do having never played one of these in my life a month ago.  (...and if it sounds like shit, please remember you're listening to my monitor mix through a phone camera. This isn't what the audience heard.  But GAAAAH I LOVE THAT THAT HAMMOND ORGAN SWEET JESUS!)

Goddamn do I love being a musician.

And if I may be totally superficial for a moment (and I am NOT fishing for compliments):  It is startling to me how one moment I look like a ridiculous old lady struggling for relevance and hipness and failing terribly, and other times I... don't? 

I'm not really a fan of the physical aspects of this aging business, I'm not gonna lie.  *sigh*

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1/21 '18 14 Comments
You are so fucking awesome.
Yes. This. Always and forever.
I thought you looked amazing. I wouldn't say that if it wasn't true (I just wouldn't say anything).

Also, IHNJH IJLS GlockenspielCam
Matt Lichtenwalner 1/22 '18edited
The only Glock you’ll ever need. :)
Glockidarity! I played glockenspiel in marching band back in the day.

Age-idarity! I'm getting jowls. 0.o

Sad! I am dead for missing these TRO shows. The FB clips are showing me barest shadow of the skill and talent and energy you and everybody else are putting into the music.
Michele Grant 1/22 '18
I didn't know you played glockenspiel! Did you march with it via the (ahem) strap-on model, or did you get to park at the sideline? I can't imagine marching and glockenspieling, but I saw folks do it in high school. Insaneballs.

Dood, we miss you and Robbbb 'round here.
I parked it on the sidelines because I handled a few other pit percussion things for our tiny, tiny band. But I did have to carry it in parades, and damn, the bruises I'd have on my hips afterward, because the harness was stiff fiberglass IIRC, and built for someone with a bigger frame than myself. Best memory: we were gearing up for some parade, and I got bored, so I started picking out "Axel F" from "Beverly Hills Cop" (www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOc7gL7Le9E) on the glock. A bunch of the better musicians in the band jumped in, including the sousaphone player (who's now a music teacher IRL) for that fun bass line, and we riffed until it was time to get moving.

Miss youuuuu toooooo.
Michele Grant 1/23 '18
That’s so awesome.
Seconded.
We also totally played Axel F!

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE, etc etc
I've heard marching bands do that before and I SO SUDDENLY WANT TO BE IN A STADIUM HEARING THE BAND DO THAT. G-dangit where is summertime. This cold winter business is OLD LIKE ALL OF US ARE FEELIN.
Karen 1/30 '18
And now I'm remembering that there's a different style that most people use, which sits upright and over to one side. That's not what we had. I carried it straight in front of me like a short-order cook's grill. I think the upright kind is a "bell lyra"; mine was a glock, but we did call it the "bells." Also it was beat to all hell; that gear must have been 25 years old when I was using it.
Michele Grant 1/23 '18
I imagine that 'beat to hell' must be frustrating when you're trying to make music with it, but in the retelling of tales, it just seems awesome. Like a beat up and well loved book.
Yep, the "bell lyre." In parades, our glock players also played "bells" (which was the bell lyre) kinda right out in front of them. Yup yup! I still can't imagine walking while playing... that seems impossible to me.
 

I had to run out for a second, and Folkadelphia (it's a radio show) was on 88.5 WXPN. A song came on, and I listened to it on the short drive home and then couldn't leave the car until I found out what it was. 

It's a song called "You Missed My Heart," and it's performed by Phoebe Bridgers. It's a cover... but holy shit, the words, the performance, the arrangement just all took my breath away. 

Here's info about it. You can listen to the song there and also read the lyrics.

Just... wow.

The Christmas Plague

In other news, everyone around me has been sick with this two-week head cold of death. I've been feeling pretty cocky and invincible until yesterday when I woke up with a giant spike sticking into my throat from my inner ear.  

It wouldn't be Christmas without me having a friggin' cold.  Matt has it too... though I think he's a day sicker than I am.

We're supposed to be the in-studio on-air guests on WDEL's afternoon show this Friday to sing a few Christmas tunes and to plug our upcoming comedy show at Logan House on January 5th. Let's hope I have a voice that day.

Driveway Moment #2

Driveway Moment #2 just happened now. I am still in the car, now in a totally dark garage because the inside garage light timed out. 

I just watched Anne Mollo 's absolutely gorgeous story of Her Winter of Bill (as I call it).  I was absolutely enraptured. I got choked up. There were a few times I caught myself not breathing.  Thank you Annie-- really. Thank you. What a beautiful story. 

Watch it here-- she starts at the 37-minute mark. 


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12/20 '17 2 Comments
I love those moments of discovery on the radio. I remember hearing Chris Smither (being broadcast live) for the first time just as I was leaving a supermarket parking lot. I had to put the transmission back in park and just sit and listen to the rest of the show; I was so enraptured I didn't even want to drive!
Anne Mollo 12/20 '17
I just ran across her debut album (the one that song appears on) a couple weeks ago and have really been digging it. There are a few weak pieces, but the first 3 tracks are aces.

I also love that the album title, A Stranger in the Alps, is a fairly "in" Big Lebowski in-joke.
CM Adams 12/21 '17
 

I should not be awake right now.

I drove exactly 300 miles yesterday over 6.25 hours driving between rehearsals, Matt's performance at a north Jersey wedding (nobody we knew-- it was just a gig, and I did not attend... I was just the chauffeur), my parents' place, and home. 

I was very happy to see my folks yesterday, even though it was a quick visit. 

I have two more rehearsals today and another performance. 

I bought my house exactly 10 years ago Friday. 

​​​​​I still have boxes I haven't opened since they were moved here from my old apartment. 

I spend a lot of time waiting for my phone to do what I'm asking it to do, which often isn't much.

I think operationally, not strategically.

I move gently.

If I have a problem, I solve it fundamentally.

I think mentally-- and when I fly I'm so high, I do it intercontinentally.

(Those last three lines courtesy of Robert Bryan and Dave Peters. Listen here.)

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11/12 '17 6 Comments
Wow you are one seriously busy lady! I hear you re the phone... it gets old. How hard is it anyway for my $600 machine to perform simple tasks? Ugh.

Congrats on 10 years of home ownership and enjoy all the gigging (exhausting as it is). And I hope you get some rest soon!
Leela 11/12 '17
Oh shit.
I thought, “That sounds familiar... wait, that’s me, that’s Dave.”
Wow. Thank you.
Robert Bryan 11/12 '17
I sing that song ALL. THE. TIME. I love how he delivers your lyrics (the inflections make me soooo happy), and the little vocal percussions he sometimes does betwixt verses.

I fly a lot. So that line is in my head very often. :-)

Thank you to the both of you for giving us all that song.
Holy crap! I completely recognize those lyrics from the mix you put that on about a bajillion years ago. I didn’t know that was Mr. Bryan‘s work!
Yup! Rob wrote the lyrics and Dave set it to music, played it, and recorded it. Fun, right?
Fun indeed!