Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Wrap up

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne."
- Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne


January is fast upon us, hence, 2009 soon be gone. Of course, I’ve chronicled most of the year's events in my blog, The Musical Life, but for those of you who haven’t been regular readers – hint, hint – I’m offering a concise synopsis…well, that’s my intention as I sit here and type!

The grand theme of the year for me has been two-fold: practice more and start writing again. Of course, given the nature of my work, practice is a necessity, but as is the case with many professional musicians, practice time is often relegated to the fringes of life, because, to put it simply, we don’t get paid (directly) to practice. Student wants a lesson? Yes! I’ll practice later. Someone needs a keyboard player for a gig at the last minute because of a cancellation? Yes! I get to be a hero and save someone’s gig. I’ll practice later. A client wants to hire me to write and/or perform on some tracks? Yes! Someone getting married and needs a pianist? Yes! Someone needs an arrangement of a song? Yes! Anything that will pay and allow me to procrastinate doing the WORK of practicing? Yes! Hey … wait a minute! I finally came to the conclusion that the direct path to the musical freedom I seek is THROUGH practicing, and that I needed to shift my focus, at least for a while. So, here at the end of 2009, I’ve decided to make practice and sleep a priority. How did I come to this decision? Let’s go over the year, in my world….

But first a commercial plug! Here are some upcoming shows:

JANUARY 2010
Sat, Jan 2
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Fri, Jan 22
6:30pm - 8:30pm
E-22 Café
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me
1366 Powell Street Emeryville, CA 94608-2506 | 510.428.9334 | map

Sat, Jan 23
9pm-12
Kymberly Jackson
Taste of Joy
3909 Grand Avenue Oakland, CA 94610 | 510.891.1443 | map

And, now, back to my reminiscence....

As everyone knows, the US economy has been in shambles since the end of the Bush administration. Starting in August 2008, I personally saw signs of impending financial hardship, and that continued through the beginning of 2009. In all of my professional life, I’ve never seen bookings, students, session work, etc., fall off so badly. Without revealing too much of my personal financial matters, I’ll just say that things were challenging, and I respond accordingly. Many of my students were unable to continue lessons because of family layoffs, lost savings, job transfers, and of course home foreclosures. Everyday, I seemed to hear another story of financial devastation from my clients. Things had gotten so bad for people around me, that I decided it was my duty to be a shining light. I declared to the world that I was going to participate in an experiment: no complaining for 21 days! I heard about the experiment from my yoga teacher in November 2008 (A Complaint Free World), and thought that if I could do it, I might be able to offer encouragement to people facing serious life challenges. So, I tried. Oops. Complained. Tried again. Oops. Complained. Ah well, I’m human. But finally in mid February 2009, I completed my 21 days of no complaining, and I’ve made the practice (without wearing the requisite wrist band) a part of my life. Do I still complain? Of course, but I’m much more aware of when I complain and make a different choice when I catch myself in the act.

As for 2009 highlights, in February 2009, Stevie was a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show (I’ve included links to my blogs where you can find complete details). I didn’t get to meet Ellen, but all of the show staff and guests were friendly and gracious. Later in the month, I performed for the first time with Soprano, Candace Johnson, giving a concert of music featuring works by African-American composers. The concert was a tremendous success! One of these days, we’ll take the show on the road!

In March 2009, I performed in a concert entitled “Music, She Wrote”, featuring works written by the women performing in the concert, including 2 of my own works. We attempted to stage a repeat performance, but unfortunately, one of the women suffered a heart attack and it’s been postponed. It was a beautiful night of music, and I’m looking forward to the repeat when it happens. In March, 2009, I was moved to tears at a Stanley Clarke concert, and was inspired to work on my playing and singing chops by witnessing Esperanza Spalding in concert.

April, 2009 was the month I started performing at one of my regular performance spots: Marcello’s in Danville. I’ve developed a few regular “fans” over the year, and am grateful to all of them, and the owners and staff at Marcello’s for their support, understanding of when I have to leave for tour, and love the fact that so many of my talented friends come out to play and sing with me. It just doesn’t get better than that! See you in 2010!

I gave a lecture at the Oakland School for the Arts in April. I was invited by choral director, Cava Menzies, to speak to studnets in the excellent vocal program and answer questions about my life as a musician. The students were awesome, asked excellent questions and even performed for me!

I also had the chance to finally hear the legendary McCoy Tyner in concert in April 2009. He was in concert with his trio, and guest artist Bobbie Hutcherson. I wish I could say he sounded great, but unfortunately, the sound was terrible that night, and I could barely hear the piano. It was a shame. I’ll have to make a point of going to hear him again…and this time really HEAR him!

May 2009: Journey to Africa! Stevie Wonder took us all to Morocco to perform with him in the Mawazine Music Festival. It was my first time in Africa. I used every free moment to my greatest advantage and did some sight-seeing, made friends with some local Moroccans, learned a tiny bit of Arabic, and even had the exciting adventure of being left behind for a day after everyone else. Read my blog for details on that (multiple entries in May 2009).

A week after my African adventure, I had a Classical adventure: I performed with the Oakland Public Conservatory Chamber Orchestra! I hadn’t performed with an orchestra in many years, so it was a real treat to play pieces by William Grant Still and Aaron Copland.

In June, I celebrated Father’s Day by taking my dad to hear Roberta Flack at Stern Grove. San Francisco is notorious for its cold summers, but this day was absolute perfection! Sunny, warm, a crowd infused with love and music. Ah…

Later in June, Stevie Wonder picked up his tour again, and we traveled to a few US cities. After landing in Kansas City, MO, each of us in the band received a flood of text and voice messages announcing the unexpected: Michael Jackson had died. Michael was approaching the start of his upcoming tour, which included several people I knew second hand (the cousin of a former student, the close friend of one of my close friends, etc.), and I’d been excited for those people if from afar. Stevie was devastated and could not contain his grief in that first concert after the announcement. “The way you make me feel”…Stevie’s favorite MJ song.

At the end of June, we performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival...the biggest crowd I've ever seen. What fun!

In July, August and September 2009, I mostly performed local gigs, traveled to Los Angeles with local artist Kaylah Marin, spent some time with some of my musical mentors, and even auditioned for a commercial (I didn’t get it. Oh well!). I celebrated my birthday in September, going to a movie and to dinner at a few great restaurants (I like to celebrate for a few weeks!). Yum! I’m a serious foodie, so every opportunity to enjoy haute cuisine is a complete joy!

Stevie resumed the tour again in late October 2009, including a performance on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert. I had the opportunity to meet and perform with more legends. Surreal

In October, I was further inspired by a series of superlative performers. I don't often take time off to be a musical spectator, but I'm glad I did on these occascions.

November 2009 brought a return to the Oakland Opera for me. I played keyboard for “Dark River”, an original opera by local composer Mary Watkins. The show nearly sold out for every performance, so I’m hoping it will be run again soon.

I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family, opting to provide entertainment rather than cook. Just to be clear, it’s not for lack of ability. I do a mean Maple Roasted Turkey, and don’t get me started with my vegetable dishes. It’s just finding the time to shop, prepare and then cook is simply more than I can take on in tour season. I needed my rest! : >

Just after Thanksgiving, Stevie Wonder performed in Las Vegas…another first for me. Despite falling a bit ill, I had a great time performing, visiting with friends and family and appreciating the opulence of the town (I’m not a gambler, so I just walked around ooh-ing and ah-ing the sights).

Finally, Stevie’s annual fundraiser, House Full of Toys, was held in mid-December. I had the chance to play with more wonderful artists, and even had my photo taken with the heartthrob band of the moment, The Jonas Brothers.

I celebrated Christmas with my family, and will be celebrating New Year’s with family as well. Thank you to all of my friends who celebrated at Marcello's with me during my holiday themed last performance of the year. Thanks to Ric, Stev, Bruce, Amy, Alexis, Nancy, Michelle and Kyle for sharing their talents, and thanks to Diana, Michael, Evie, Dennis, Reinhard, Solomon, Tim, and Dean for being part of the lovely audience!

In sum, 2009 has been good to me. The exposure I've gained from working with Stevie Wonder has opened many doors for me, most of which I can't reveal at this moment. I've been given more opportunites for musical expansion and growth than I could have ever dreamed. I've decided to shift my focus so that I can be prepared to meet the challenge that these opportunities bring, which requires PRACTICING and COMPOSING at a level similar to what I did in Conservatory. I am a confessed workaholic, but I could and will do more in 2010 do further my own musical development and career. I'm looking forward to the journey!

Not every moment in 2009 has been easy, but I choose to see the good in all things (a friend once told me that, and I agree with her!). I look forward to 2010 being a great year of practice, adequate rest, creation, performance, peace, love, joy, abundance and MUSIC!

Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Cheer

Recently, a friend asked me what gift he should give someone he rarely speaks to and isn't actually fond of. I couldn't help but think "why bother with a gift at all, then?". He should rather turn the holidays into an opportunity to improve the relationship, and even better, help someone in the world who needs it. So, this season, if you are in a financial position to do so, I encourage you to make a gesture of reconciliation to someone in your life, and then seal it with a donation to a charity!

Here are some of my favorite charities, if you don't have one in mind:

• World Vision
Sponsor a child!

• The Girl Effect
Girls can change the world!

• Amnesty International
Protect Human Rights!

• For All Women
Helping one woman helps her entire community

• The Animal Rescue Site
Compassion for all of God's creatures

• Leukemia Research Foundation
Support Leukemia research!

• Bone Marrow Registry
Save someone's life. Now, that's a gift!

I've decided that it's more important for me to celebrate the holidays this year through genuine demonstrations of love, rather than materialistic and sometimes empty exchanges of "gifts". So, I've asked my close friends and family to (gulp) forego gifts for me and to instead make a charitable donation. More than any gift that I may receive (despite my unfettered joy in receiving), I love the idea that some precious person in the world will receive much needed support, aid, attention, and yes, maybe, a gift instead.

I'm in the midst of preparing my annual holiday newsletter, so keep your eyes open for that!

Happy Holidays! And may every blessing imaginable be yours!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stevie Wonder's House Full of Toys 2009

This past weekend Stevie Wonder hosted his annual House Full of Toys Concert in Los Angeles, at the Nokia. Every year, Stevie invites other high profile artists to participate in this worthy charitable event, and everyone comes together to create a great show for the audience all in the name of raising funds to provide holiday gifts for low-income children. This year was no different.

I flew to Los Angeles Friday morning, and after doing some practicing in my hotel room, was driven to the rehearsal space in Burbank. The band, including guest guitarist, Paul Jackson, Jr., spent virtually the entire day learning arrangements for a series of artists. Rickey Minor was our designated music director, and kept things moving along, fun and energetic even as the hours extended past the initial end time…and then further! Thankfully, I was able to get a good night’s rest Friday night, especially since, having done this event twice before, I knew perfectly well how intense Saturday would be.

On Saturday, the band arrived at the venue at 2:30pm, and shortly thereafter, we were in rehearsal. Many of the guest artists were not able to attend rehearsal, but the band certainly appreciated those who could! First up, the Jonas Brothers.

Honestly, I have to confess that I had never heard any of their music, and only was aware of them as a “Tween” boy band with a massive fan base. After learning three of their songs (S.O.S., Lovebug and Burnin’ Up - a medley with Superstition), and having met them, I’m now a fan! All three of the brothers were adorable (ok, maybe not the word young men of their age group want to hear…but they were!), personable, and courteous, and worked closely with the band. No egos at all! It’s wonderful to see such a successful musical act with musicians who aren’t arrogant and off putting! After the rehearsal, which went perfectly, the brothers, Nick, Joe and Kevin, shook each of our hands, introduced themselves (by name, thankfully…of course I didn’t know their names…oops!), and thanked us. And, further, during their set, they gave a shout out to the band.

Next to rehearse with us was India Arie. I’ve been a fan of India Arie for many years, and have both met her and performed with her several times, but I am always impressed by her musicianship and lovely demeanor. We went over a few songs, and all headed off to get dressed for the show.

The show was fun! Each artist performed 2-3 songs, most of which we were prepared to do, though in true Wonder style, there were plenty of surprises! The other artists included the winner of Stevie's Young Singer competition, sponsored by his radio station, KJLH, Trijean, the incredible a capella group, Mosaic, Michel’le, 3T (singing to a track), Robin Thicke, Ledisi (hometown girl and my friend), Kimberly Brewer (my angel-voiced friend and occasional band-mate) and the incomparable Mary Mary. Michel’le opened the guest artist segment with her 1989 hit “No More Lies” and a new song that isn’t yet released. Robin performed “Magic” and his 2006 hit “Lost Without You”, including a rubato intro that I played with him. That was fun because I love that song! Kimberly sang her Christmas hit with Stevie “I Love You More”, and sounded as lovely as ever. Kimberly was a tremendous source of support for me when I was hired to tour with Stevie, and has one of the most beautiful voices around. Ledisi sang an unbelievable version of “Silent Night”. Her voice always has been, and continues to be utterly, and ridiculously amazing. She is undoubtedly one of my favorite singers, and a vocal inspiration for me. As are Erica and Trecina Campbell, better known as Mary Mary. I’ve been a Mary Mary fan since their debut CD, Thankful, and I was thrilled to be performing with them. They sang a Christmas song with their regular pianist, who was incredible, and then performed their latest hit “God In Me” with the band, me playing rhodes. Wow.

During India Arie’s set, she took the band on a musical journey. Just as with Stevie, India is moved by spirit and her performance reflected the kind of spontaneity and passion that I’ve grown to love performing with Stevie. We were set to perform “The Truth” and “Brown Skin” (I played rhodes on both), but we played much more than those two songs, including Stevie and India singing a very cool, up-tempo R&B version of "The Christmas Song". What fun!

Of course, the audience made the loudest noise, most squeals and responded most enthusiastically for the Jonas Brothers. As soon as Stevie introduced them, the audience went wild. The brothers walked on stage, gave a great, high-energy performance, and we all had fun. I was positioned directly behind the guys, so I’m sure that I’m in hundreds of Jonas Brothers photos across cyber-space.

Throughout the evening, Stevie sang various holiday songs, including "Ave Maria" with me playing a harp sound. I was so busy reading the score (yes, I read it...I know, I know... I should have that memorized, but I didn't want to take a chance on making an error), that I didn't even notice the camera fixed on my hands. People in the audience told me that the image on screen toggled between Stevie and my hands, and that my hands looked beautiful as they moved across the keys. Very cool...

After the show, I took photos with journalist Tavis Smiley and India Arie. I had hoped to meet Mary Mary, but it'll have to be another time.


Me, Tavis Smiley, Lanesha Baca


Me, India, Lanesha



Happy holidays to everyone involved with the production and hope to see you next year! Be sure not to miss the next show. It’s always great entertainment for an even greater cause.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Cold Weather & Hot Music!

Is this really California? Low 40s in San Leandro? Snow in Modesto? Given the (relatively) frigid temperatures, I didn’t expect much of a turn out for my gigs this past weekend, but I was pleasantly surprised! It was a good weekend…

On Friday, I visited The Zoo, a new recording facility in Oakland, run by a few notable Oakland movers and shakers, including former Google engineer David Watson, Namane Mohlabane (manager and brother to singer Goapele), and others. What an amazing facility! It’s a space, conveniently located in an industrial section of Oakland near Jack London Square, that combines music, art, high tech and businesss saavy, encouraging collaboration across the disciplines. If you’re looking for a space to be creative, check it out!

After being inspired at The Zoo, I performed at E-22 Café, of course donning my Santa cap. I included a few Christmas songs in the set, as well as a bit more jazz than usual. As I performed, I started thinking that it’s way past time for me to upgrade my keyboard set up. I’ve had the same set up for many years, and I’ve grown weary of it. I’m grateful for the many performances that it’s gotten me through, but I can’t take it much longer. The sounds have grown irritating, the keys don’t feel good in my hands, and the entire set up feels desperately inadequate. Sigh… Nonetheless, I had fun playing and singing for everyone. Thanks to Jefrrey S., Wayne and Tim for listening, to Dale for playing percussion, to Bruce, Dwayne, Brad, Nina, Adrienne and Atiana for singing, to Steve for playing flute (the Mozart was fun!), and to Jeffrey M. for the superb tap dancing! You’re a GREAT dancer!! Wow! By the way, to all of you classical musicians, I LOVE to sight-read, and no challenge is too great for me to attempt (I’m rather fearless, musically)! So come to a gig and sit in! Let’s play through some masterworks!

On Saturday night, despite a rather cold and blustery evening, I had another great turnout at Marcello's Restaurant! I tried out a couple of Christmas songs that I’d just learned, most of which worked well. Thank you to Dale for playing percussion, to Bruce, Nina, Mayzella, Chelsea, Larry, Michael, Brad and Regina for singing with me! And kudos to Chelsea for playing piano and singing while I took my break! You’re awesome, lady! Bruce always brings down the house, and anyone who knows Regina, knows that she can’t help but be exceptional. The crowd was blown away with the talent of my wonderful friends, and my heart was filled with love and joy at seeing their beautiful faces and hearing their tremendous talent. I love you all!

On Sunday, I performed at 1300 Restaurant with Michael Cheadle for their Gospel Brunch. Michael is a singer whose talent I’ve admired since high school when we both were in the Young Musicians Program. What a pleasure to perform with him and his very talented daughter Mickala Cheadle, as well as the other guys in the band: Dante McClinton, drums, Cedricke Dennis, guitar, Nelson Braxton, bass. Everyone in the band exemplifies why I’m so blessed to be in the Bay Area. They’re consummate professionals, excellent musicians, and all around GOOD PEOPLE! People of the Bay Area! I encourage you to get out and support local musicians. We have more than our fair share of world-class musicians in this region. Many of us, like myself, get called away to work with Superstars, but we often come home and revisit our musical roots. Make it a goal to get out at least once a month and hear live music. I’d love to see you in my audience, but even if the performance doesn’t include me, I hope you allow yourself the opportunity to take advantage of the musical cornucopia that waits in abundance for listening ears. You won’t be disappointed!

Speaking of musical abundance, I attended Goapele’s concert at Yoshi’s SF last night, the last of an 8 show run. Despite my fatigue from working all weekend (teaching, practicing, rehearsing, performing, etc.), I did not want to miss an opportunity to listen to Goapele, Mike Aaberg, Errol Cooney, Stanley Randolph and Dewey Tucker. Goapele sounded great! Her voice was clear, warm and beautiful, and her background singer, Erica King, was also excellent, and blended perfectly with Goapele’s. The guys in the band rocked the house! Errol and Stanley are my band mates in the Wonder band, Mike is a Bay Area legend on the keys, and Dewey is awesome on bass, so I knew to expect incredible musicianship. My expectation was definitely met! The grooves were ridiculously strong, and I was virtually dancing in my seat the entire show. Oh, and, Goapele, Mike, Errol and Dewey all have Bay Area claim. ‘Nuf said…

And for you animal lovers, a video of my dogs sleeping:
Sleeping Dogs

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Victoria Theodore Christmas


My Christmas CD is available for online purchase!

Download CD:
iTunes
CD Baby
Amazon
EMusic

Purchase physical copy:
CD Baby

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Viva Las Vegas ... and Thanksgiving tales

This past weekend, Stevie Wonder performed at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. This was my first Las Vegas performance (ever), and I had a great time, despite the fact that my stomach decided to attack me starting Saturday afternoon before the concert. I have no idea why, but all of a sudden at 3pm, I started feeling terrible. That feeling lasted straight through the concert, but, true professional I am, I never let it quell my enthusiasm or affect my performance. Hopefully, no one in the audience had a clue as to how bad I felt. I managed to eat a little something before and after the concert, which helped settle my stomach a little bit, but something was definitely wrong.

A few days earlier, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my mother’s side of the family. My intention was to make it out to visit my paternal grandmother early in the day (1 or 2pm), and then head back to my maternal uncle’s home later in the day (5 or 6pm). However, my sister, her kids, my mother and 3 children close to the family all stayed in my house the night before Thanksgiving. Have you ever tried wrangling 5 children and 3 adults so that everyone is ready to go by 1pm? Oh, especially when the kids didn’t go to sleep until 2am? Oh, and the adults didn’t have all of ingredients for their Thanksgiving dishes, and had to go to the store and THEN start cooking?



Yeah…well, visiting my grandmother didn’t happen. We didn’t leave my house until nearly 5pm. Dinner at my uncle’s house was lovely though. He’d requested that I bring my keyboard and amp (yes, working on another holiday…) so that we could have “Karaoke Thanksgiving” after dinner. It actually turned out to be lots of fun, with everyone, including my very talented but shy cousin Torri, either telling a joke or singing a song. I had a great time, but by 9pm my energy was spent. I was back home and in bed by 10pm. Yes, you read that correctly.
10pm!!! Ms. Workaholic of the Decade, Lady Night Owl, was in bed early! After all, I had a flight to catch the next day.


I woke up at 9am Friday morning (I guess I was exhausted, eh?) and methodically set about packing and preparing myself for the quick trip to Las Vegas.








I arrived in Sin City at 4pm, dropped my bags, ate dinner and took a cab over to see my friend Tish Diaz perform (piano and vocals)
in the hit show “Jersey Boys”. I’d heard great reviews for the show, but really wasn’t sure
what to expect. I loved it!!! I was familiar with many of the songs from the show, but had no idea that Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were the artists behind them. I was dancing the entire show, and basically couldn’t sit still! It was great to see Tish on stage performing! She was awesome! If you’re in Las Vegas, GO SEE THE SHOW! You’ll love it. : >

After the show, I went with Tish to a performance by a comedy troupe featuring a friend of hers. The show was cute and had funny moments, but I’m not really a “food comedy” type of person, so it wasn’t really my thing. The “Apple Sisters” sang and told jokes in character (1940s radio personalities). Their voices were great, and I did enjoy the parts that didn’t involve food. Um…I won’t spoil the joke, just in case you like food humor…

By the time the comedy show ended, I was starving (maybe all that food humor), but assumed that the restaurants would all be closed. After all it was nearly 1am. I have a visceral aversion to room service ($50 for a salad?? Really?? Come on…), so I went to bed hungry (cue the sad violins). If only I’d had enough clarity of thought to have called the front desk and asked about restaurants. Of course there were restaurants open. DURRRRR! Las Vegas! Now I know!

On Saturday morning, Fausto joined me for my usual walk. We strolled the strip, checking out the architecture and ventured into the Bellagio to see the chocolate fountain. I didn’t partake in the yummy offerings (I’m not really a sugar person), but I will next time, now that I know about it! I then briefly met up with my cousin Tony and his friend, Crystal, in town celebrating Crystal’s birthday. It was a beautiful day, and we walked along the other end of the strip until it was time for me to return to my hotel room to prepare for the show.

As usual, we had celebrities in the audience. This time, Babyface was present, sitting directly in front of me. I’m a big fan of his music, and had to stop myself from staring and saying “wow…that’s Babyface!”, so I could focus on my job! They announced that Mike Tyson was there, but I didn’t see him. He’s been to a few of the shows, so I know he’s a Stevie fan.

Later, after the show, Tish, Tony, Crystal and I went to dinner at Wolfgang Puck (one of the late night restaurants I wasn’t aware of). I was still not feeling great, but the chicken soup did me some good. 3 solid hours of sleep later, I was off again for the airport. Ah, the life of a the traveling musician…I love it! zzzzzzzzz

Victoria Theodore December Performances

"...The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
– Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Hello Friends,

Though still nearly 3 weeks away, the chill of winter is upon us. The days are shorter, the wind harsher, the sun somehow dimmer. But of course, none of that diminishes my optimistic spirit! This month is packed with opportunity and potentiality. I've got music projects to work on, practicing and performing to do, writing to complete, visions to make manifest! Winter's chill? Bring it on! Just a bit of brisk air to invigorate my determination...

Please check my web site to see a full, up-to-date listing of when and where I'm performing. I'd love to see you at one of my performances. Please come say hello!

I'm gradually switching over to using a group email service. At your leisure, please visit the following link and sign up on my Yahoo Group page to receive updates and email messages about my performances:

Victoria Theodore Group

Here are a few upcoming shows, but check my website for the latest information:

DECEMBER
Fri, Dec 4
6:30pm - 8:30pm
E-22 Café
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
1366 Powell Street Emeryville, CA 94608-2506 | 510.428.9334 | map

Sat, Dec 5
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Sun, Dec 6
Seating at 11am & 1pm
1300 On Fillmore
Gospel Brunch w/ Michael Cheadle
1300 Fillmore Street San Francisco, CA 94115 | 415.771.7100 | map

Sat, Dec 12
8pm
Stevie Wonder
House Full of Toys
Nokia Theatre L.A. Live
777 Chick Hearn Court Los Angeles, CA 9001 | 213.763.6000 | map

Sat, Dec 19
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eco-VT!

Yesterday, I woke up too late to attend my yoga class. Disappointed, I got up, walked and fed my dogs, who, thankfully, let me sleep in...I needed the rest. Once that task was complete, I had the option to go about my day without any exercise, but I was (and still am) feeling extreme fatigue, and exercise always helps alleviate it to some extent. Then, I remembered that I’d rescheduled (for the 2nd time) my chiropractic appointment for Monday morning. I grabbed my jacket and purse, jumped into my car and took off. Once I reached the end of my driveway, I stopped and reconsidered: isn’t this a great opportunity to get some exercise by WALKING to my appointment? Why yes!

As always, I had an overwhelming amount of paperwork, phone calls, email messages, etc., to attend to, but decided that taking the extra time to make myself feel better via a good walk was the smart choice. So, I parked my car, and off I walked! I was starting to feel like myself again. My Chiropractor, Shane Whiteley, was heavily booked yesterday morning, so I had to wait a while before my adjustment. While waiting, my dear friend Gloria, the chiropractor’s administrative assistant, directed me to a new device in their office: a Hydrotherapy Massage Table.

Basically, it’s a pseudo-waterbed that massages you with movement of the water and heat. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh! That felt GRRRRRREAT! Lol I napped (one of my favorite pastimes) on the Massage Table for about 15 minutes before my adjustment, and then walked home rejuvenated. I’m so glad that I chose to walk! I need to make that choice more often. My life is too busy… in fact last night I dreamed about taking a vacation. Even in my dreams, I know that I’m overworked and fatigued! Sigh…

Monday, November 09, 2009

E-22 Café & Marcellos this weekend

This weekend, I performed at E-22 Café and Marcello’s again. The weather had been rainy and dreary, so I had plenty reason to expect a low turnout…but I had great crowds both nights! Both venues were packed with friends who came to hear me perform! For those of you who are not performers, we artists so appreciate when people come to a show. We put so much time and effort into honing our craft, learning material that we think people will enjoy. When people actually take time out of their busy lives to attend a show, it means all the world. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who offers me their support, whether by their physical presence, or from the love that I feel directed towards me. I love you!!!

At a diner, after the gig:



Thanks specifically to Amy, Linda, Stephina for their presence, to Bruce, Brad, John, Dwayne and Andrew for singing, and extra special thanks to Dale and Andre for playing percussion and making it a real party! And the party continued on Saturday night, thanks to Jeff, Ken, Kristin, Heather, Tecora and Evie for their presence, to Dale and Carl for playing percussion, and for Bruce, Stev, Michelle, John, Michael for bringing the house down with their voices! I love you all!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Victoria Theodore November Performances

"So dull and dark are the November days.
The lazy mist high up the evening curled,
And now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze;
The place we occupy seems all the world"
– John Clare, November

Hello Friends,

A few days ago, someone sent me one of those lovely excuses to procrastinate: a quiz asking me to name a place I'd rather be in this moment. The phrase from the above poem "the place occupy seems all the world" resonated strongly with me, simply because I'm content to be where I am...wherever that may be! I can't say that I've always had this perspective, but time, experience, wisdom has brought me here. It's all good! I hope that wherever you may be (physically, emotionally, financially, etc.) is beautiful, exactly what you need in this moment, that you perceive it as such, and that it will lead to even greater levels of good, joy and happiness for you!

I recently returned home from another fabulous tour with the legendary Stevie Wonder. One of the performances was for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert, which will air on HBO on Sunday, November 29, 2009. Two nights of concerts were filmed, including performances by Stevie Wonder, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Aretha Franklin, and many others. During Stevie's set, the band had the opportunity to accompany Smokey Robinson, Jeff Beck, John Legend, B. B. King and Sting!

Please check my web site to see a full, up-to-date listing of when and where I'm performing. I'd love to see you at one of my performances. Please come say hello!

I'm gradually switching over to using a group email service. At your leisure, please visit the following link and sign up on my Yahoo Group page to receive updates and email messages about my performances:

Victoria Theodore Group

Here are a few upcoming shows, but check my website for the latest information:

NOVEMBER
Fri, Nov 6
6:30pm - 8:30pm
E-22 Café
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
1366 Powell Street Emeryville, CA 94608-2506 | 510.428.9334 | map

Sat, Nov 7
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Thu, Nov 12 Sat, Nov 14 8pm
Thu, Nov 19 Sat, Nov 21 8pm
Sun, Nov 15 & Nov 22 2pm

Dark River A New Opera by Mary D. Watkins
Oakland Opera Theater
630 3rd Street Oakland, CA 94607 | 510.763.1146 | map
Advance Tickets: $14-28 general

Mary Watkins' new opera, Dark River, tells the history of the SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) and the biography of Fannie Lou Hamer, a central figure of the early to mid sixties Civil Rights Movement.

Sat, Nov 28
8pm
Stevie Wonder
A Wonder Autumn Night

MGM Grand Garden Arena
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, NV 89109 | 877.880.0880 | map

Sun, Nov 29
8pm
Stevie Wonder & other artists
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Show

HBO
If you watch the videos closely enough, you'll see me on the left side of the screen. But don't blink!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween!! - Last day of the tour...

Halloween! Friday morning, we left NYC and drove to Atlantic City, where we had 2 more shows to perform. Both shows went well, and on Halloween night, we had James “JT” Taylor from Kool and the Gang join us onstage for a few songs.





After the concert, we all changed into Halloween costumes and hit the club!

















Unfortunately, something caused me to have an allergic reaction. I don’t know if it was the tiny sip of tequila that I had (I don’t drink, but only because I hate the taste of alcohol. I’ve tasted several drinks, but have never had a reaction to anything), or the fog that was pumped into the club just before my reaction (I’ve been around fog before and never had a reaction). Who knows? All of a sudden, I turned into a hive monster and had to run to my room and take something to stop the reaction. After a while, I starting feeling ok again, and I returned to the club, where I had been having a GREAT time dancing with everyone, but had to leave again as I felt the reaction returning. Maybe it was the fog…hm…

So, I didn’t get my groove on to the full extent I’d wanted to, but I did cut a little bit of a rug! It was another fun tour, and as always, I can’t wait for the next one!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Show day!

I got up early to go get my hair done. Years ago when I lived in Harlem, I came across a hair salon that knew exactly what to do with my hair (an issue my entire life, I’ve tried all kinds of stylists but very few left me happy with the result). It’s a shop that specializes in curly hair, called Ouidad. They’re very expensive, but they do such a great job with cutting and styling my hair, that whenever I’m in NYC, I make an appointment. As usual, I left the shop with my hair looking great, quickly receiving compliments, knowing that it would just look better as the day progressed. Excited, I met the band in the lobby, and headed to the venue.

We arrived at Madison Square Garden at about 1pm, had lunch (with me sitting at the same table as David Crosby – what a great guy!!) and then hit the stage for sound check. During sound check, there were all manner of audio issues taking place. My keyboard set up was apparently giving off wicked feedback, so for about half of the sound check, I had no audio, and had to pantomime my parts. Not fun, but oh well! Finally, that issue was resolved. As each of the celebrity guests came to the stage, they waved and smiled at me as I stood at my keyboard station on stage right (which will be on the left side if you’re in the audience or watching me on screen). Believe me, I was very happy to be receiving waves and genuine smiles from these musical icons. While we were rehearsing with Jeff Beck, Bonnie Raitt (one of my musical s-heroes, I’ve been a fan since my college days) stood in the audience and grooved to the music. I wanted to meet her, but unable to make that happen, I had to be satisfied to watch her enjoy the band.

For most shows, I do my own makeup and hair, but for this show, we were allowed to work with professionals! My makeup artist, Sarah from Cleveland (thinking proactively…MY makeup artist), painted my eyes in a smoky style, dark, intense and fierce! I loved it! Oh, and did I take a photo? DOH! I’m sure there’s a photo somewhere out there in the Universe…but I don’t have it! Sigh…


On my way back upstairs to our designated dressing room, I passed the host, Tom Hanks, on my left, and Bruce Springsteen on my right. Let me tell ya: SURREAL! Walking by Tom while he spoke to the HBO film crew, and Bruce as he exited his limo, I felt like I was in a movie scene.


Finally, everyone dressed, prayed up (we pray before each performance…God Bless Stevie!), hugged by Smokey Robinson (I even got a kiss on the cheek!), and ready to go, we mounted the stage, which was arranged on top of a rotating table. At the appointed time, the table began to turn, and we faced the capacity audience, screaming at the top of their lungs for Stevie, all of us full of anticipation. Stevie lifted the microphone to his mouth, took a deep breath, and said “-------“

Huh? What happened? He tried again “-----------“.

Houston, we have a problem! Apparently the board through which all of our sound was being projected to the audience completely broke down at exactly the moment we hit the stage. So, the director of the of the program came to the stage (headset and all) and spoke to Stevie while the engineers worked frantically to resolve the issue. I still don’t know exactly what happened, or how they fixed the problem, but after about 15 minutes, we were able to perform, albeit with compromised sound quality. I’ve learned that the audio that will be broadcast on HBO on November 29 was not affected. I hope that’s true.

We went on and performed for Smokey Robinson, B. B. King, John Legend, Sting and Jeff Beck, and I had a great time. Tune in to HBO on November 29, 2009, to see the concert!

After our performance, Lanesha and I ventured out into the audience to watch Bruce Springsteen perform. I don’t really know his music (other than the monster hit “Born in the USA”), but was curious about his concert, as I’d heard that he’s a great performer. I can confirm that it’s true! He was amazing! Great energy, wonderful story telling, exceptional musicianship. Awesome! What a day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

REHEARSAL DAY 2 - meeting the stars!

I slept late Wednesday morning, just as a precaution, given my impending cold. I felt much better, and decided to take a trip to Steinway Hall, home to some beautiful concert grand pianos. Every time I visit New York, I make sure to stop by Steinway Hall. My friend Amy, also a pianist, joined me and we headed over to West 57th street. I had the chance to meet Betsy Hirsch,
a salesperson at Steinway Hall with an amazing story connecting her to Stevie Wonder. We all had a great time playing these fantastic pianos together. After leaving Steinway Hall, Amy, her brother and I had lunch at The Great American Health Bar, where I had the most delicious salad! I was expecting a typical, eat it in one session garden salad, but instead received a monstrously huge, and delicious, dish that I had to finish later in the day.




Salad for lunch...and later snack






At 3pm, we arrived at the rehearsal studio for a day of rehearsal with the celebrity guest musicians. First up: Jeff Beck! Jeff walked in, cool and confident, after his crew guys set up his rig, and Stevie immediately wanted to play the song “Looking For Another Pure Love”, on which Jeff had recorded the killer guitar solo. This was the first of many surreal moments to come: it was as if the recording had come to life before my eyes. After jamming on “Pure Love”, we then played “Superstition”. Apparently, “Superstition” was originally composed for Jeff, but Stevie’s management insisted that he record the song instead, and the rest is history. Eventually, Jeff recorded the song as well, but in a rock style.

Next on the agenda: Sting! Full disclosure: I’ve been a HUGE fan of Sting since I was a little kid. The Police was one of the first bands that made an impact on my budding musicianship. I bought all of the their records, knew all of the lyrics, made up choreography to their songs, etc. So, meeting and performing with Sting had been a dream of mine for many years. I had to work REALLY hard not to revert into a 12-year-old SuperFan in anticipation of his arrival. And then…he walked in! Outer self: calmly smiling at seeing this musical hero of mine, professional in my demeanor and performance. Inner self: OH MY GOD!!! THAT’S STING!! WOW!! I HAVE TO PINCH MYSELF!! SCREEEEEAAAAAMMMMM!!!

Sting took his position next to his bass rig directly in front of the horn players and myself. We rehearsed “Higher Ground” and “Roxanne” as a medley over the next 2 hours. At one point, during a short break, I began stretching. Usually during a tour, I exercise and do yoga everyday (for real), but sometimes it’s just not possible, so I stretch when I can. I was standing behind Sting, so his back was to me. However, seconds after I started stretching, Sting turned around, saw me and joined in! It’s well known that Sting is an avid practitioner of yoga, so I was doubly thrilled that he was doing yoga stretches with me, albeit across the room! Half Moon pose, anyone?

We rehearsed a while longer, and then, when satisfied that the medley was in shape, Sting prepared to leave, but first stopped to talk to Keith John, Stevie’s background singer of many years. The new singer, Lanesha Baca, and I looked at each other and tacitly acknowledged that this was our chance to meet this musical icon, so we dashed across the room and waited our turn to meet him. I reached out my hand to shake his, but instead, Sting took my hand, pulled me in for a big hug and kissed my face on both cheeks in the lovely way Europeans do. I was stunned, smiled, and immediately reverted to being that 12-year-old SuperFan: all giggles and verbal ineptitude. Sigh…

We then took a dinner break, and came back to rehearse with John Legend. We’ve performed with John before, and he remembered me, greeting me with a hug and kiss on the cheek. John had just returned from a tour in Brazil, so of course, I had to play the one song I know in Portugese “Águas de Março”. My geek side couldn’t resist! John sang the Marvin Gaye classic “Mercy Me”, and as the rehearsal went well, he left after only a few times through the song.

Finally, B. B. King entered the room, accompanied by his manager and assistants. What a gracious man! B. B. King exudes a warm-hearted kindness, similar to that which Stevie exudes, and kindly complimented the band, took photos with us, gave me a big hug, made jokes, allowed all of us to be at ease in his presence. We rehearsed “The Thrill is Gone” with him. Wow. What a day…



B. B. King and me

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

REHEARSAL DAY 1 - I can't get sick!!!

On Tuesday, we actually had a rehearsal! Over the past few days, during sound check, the band had been working on arrangements of the songs we’d be performing with various artists for the Rock & Rock Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert on Thursday. Today we focused solely on those songs, honing them and getting our performance in shape. It was a long day, and I had started feeling sick: stuffy nose, sneezing, aching, feeling slightly feverish. As usual, I’d packed my various natural remedies for illness, vitamins, teas, tinctures, etc., as I’m very hesitant to resort to drugs to alleviate my suffering. On this trip, I also packed a bottle of hydrogen-peroxide.

My mother has been a huge advocate of H2O2 for years, entreating me to gargle with it at the very first sign of illness. I’d tried gargling a 3% H2O2 solution before to no avail. It just never seemed to work for me. However, recently, I had the idea that I’d try swabbing it around in my sinuses, thinking that perhaps it would kill the germs/bacteria/virus/whatever it may be that was the source of my misery. Eureka! I believe I’ve fallen upon an amazing cure for the common cold. Well, at least it seems to be helping me get over a cold much faster than anything else.

Here’s the harsh part: it BURNS! Having been forewarned, here’s what I tried: I soaked a cotton ball with H2O2, and dripped a drop into my sinuses. OUCH!!!! Determined not to be sick for the rehearsal, and definitely not for the main event, I repeated this every 3-4 hours for a day. By Wednesday night, I felt COMPLETELY healthy again. Can I attribute it to the H2O2? I don’t know. I am wary of using it too much, but in an emergency situation, I’ve never had anything be as effective. I researched online about the safety of using H2O2 in my sinuses, and couldn’t find anything pro or con that was definitive. I just know I felt better. Hm…

Monday, October 26, 2009

SW Tour Resumes

On Wednesday morning, October 21, 2009, I left home for another short tour with Stevie Wonder. I flew to Boston and then rode on a bus for 2 hours to The Foxwoods Casino Resort in Connecticut. There was no time for a band rehearsal, and sound check was cursory at best. But, Stevie has learned to trust that we will all be ready when the time comes. For the first show, Stevie changed more than half of the set list, keeping all of us on our toes as we traversed his massive song catalogue. Back in 2007 when I first was hired, the prospect of performing without a guaranteed set list was daunting (read: terrifying!), but I’ve grown to not only appreciate, but to relish the spontaneity of Stevie Wonder’s concerts. I have no idea how my brain manages to recall the disparate keyboard parts, keys, lyrics, and background parts my job requires, but I’m certainly grateful that it happens!

First show of this run:






On the bus to Syracuse




After the show, we drove to Syracuse, NY, to the Turning Stone Casino Resort. The bus ride was supposed to be about 4 hours, but ended up being closer to 6 hours, thanks to rainy roads, and a fickle headlight on the bus. I settled into my row on the bus, and tried to sleep. Given that so many people on the bus wanted to talk (loudly!), I wasn’t able to sleep. I recently purchased some high quality custom earplugs, and literally forgot to use them (Oops!) until the last hour of our ride. During a rest stop break, I remembered that I had the earplugs, and I placed them in my ear: what a difference! I slept during the last 60 minutes, and was able to take a nap in my room for a few hours during the morning before departing to prepare for the evening’s concert.

Despite exhaustion, we had a good show that night and flew to Virginia the next morning for a much needed day off. We arrived in Virginia to a surprise of 80° heat! It was beautiful weather, and much appreciated by sun lovers, such as myself! After a nice walk with Fausto and Munyungo, I spent the bulk of my off day reviewing the music for the show (so not really a day off), ate lunch with several members of the group at Joe's Crab Shack, and later went to dinner with a few of the band guys in the hotel restaurant. While sitting at the restaurant table, it became clear that the cold was back: the wind was blowing fiercely and rain was pelting the ground with ferocity. The storm only lasted about 20 minutes, but shifted the weather sufficiently the next day to necessitate a change in wardrobe back to cold weather appropriate gear.



Lunch at Joe's Crab Shack






Battleship in Norfolk, VA






The concert was held in a venue on the Old Dominion University campus. My cousin’s son is a student at OD and attended the concert. I hadn’t seen AJ in years, and it was very good to see him, although I didn’t get to spend much time catching up. Every night, after a concert, I’m literally starving and have to eat dinner. By the time the concert was over, I changed out of my concert attire, and had my dinner, it was quite late. It’s my habit to eat late dinner at home, so my body is accustomed to it, and even more ravenous thanks to the tremendous energy I expend during the concert.

Next stop: Manhattan! Over the past 3 years, I’ve performed in Manhattan several times, but not once have I had the time to visit my old Harlem stomping grounds. This trip was no different. I arrived in town, and immediately went searching for food and clothing bargains with Monica, our fabulous new stylist, and my friend Amy, who happened to be vacationing in NYC that week. I was determined to find an old Asian restaurant that I’d frequented 10 years ago. I didn’t have an address, the name of the restaurant, or the name of the street. I just re
membered the general look of the area and the feel of the restaurant. I’m sure that Monica thought I was insane given how I walked her back and forth on Canal Street searching for the “look” of a neighborhood, but finally VOILA! I found what I was looking for! The restaurant is on Baxter. Now, did I write down the name? Nope! But I know it’s on Baxter, so I can find it again. I have an uncanny sense of direction, and literally never get lost. I may get off track briefly, but I always find my way.

Later that night, I wanted to go Salsa dancing with a group of friends, but I had to take a nap (so much travel is exhausting), and by the time I woke up, it was too late to organize everyone, so I ended up having a late dinner with Amy and Elaine at The Fatty Crab (yummy), and talked with them for a few hours before going to bed. I was disappointed that I couldn't meet with all of my wonderful NYC friends, but C'est La Vie! I'll have to visit again on vacation so I have plenty of energy and free time!



Dinner at The Fatty Crab

Monday, October 19, 2009

Local Gigs

It’s been a few days since I wrote anything for my blog. Let’s go back to last weekend. On Friday, I performed for a church function with Tommie Bradford on drums and Daniel D’Lucca on bass. We played a bunch of standards and a little bit of gospel. What fun! I hadn’t performed standards with other musicians in a while, as most of my gigs lately are solo piano and voice. Tommie and Daniel were both awesome and I had a great time. After the gig, I drove to Pleasanton to hear my friend Simon perform at a piano bar. Amy, Bruce and I sat and listened to Simon, and then took turns sitting in. Few things bring me more joy than just having fun making music with my friends. No pressure, just singing, playing, encouraging, laughing, emoting, dancing…MUSIC! Just pure joy.

On Saturday night, I performed again at Marcello’s in Danville. It was a busy night! Several of the guests had fun listening and singing along with me, making various requests and being surprised by my ability to span a huge range of musical styles. Thanks to Jane and Bruce for singing with me, and to Dan and his wife for coming to the gig!

On Sunday morning, I subbed for Simon at his church. The music director didn’t have a predetermined set of music he wanted performed, so he just threw out some names of tunes (“Jesus, I’ll Never Forget”, “Hallelujah”, etc.), wondering if I knew them. Having grown up in church, of course I knew the songs, and played them on an instrument that replicated an organ without foot pedals. On a tangent: I need to go ahead and learn to play organ. I’ve been wanting to learn for years, but have yet to set aside the time to make the effort. One day…

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Excellence

It’s one attribute that moves me to tears. It explains my drive and commitment to learning, educating, creating and performing. When I encounter excellence, I can barely contain my elation, and I am rendered helpless in the torrent of emotions, all positive and euphoric, that will surely follow. I’m profoundly moved by excellence in every form: corporeal (Ade and Melissa dancing Tyce Diorio’s “ This Woman’s Work” or Kupono and Kayla dancing Mia Michael’s “Addiction”), intellectual (President Barack Obama – the way he ran his campaign, his speeches, his mature responses to the often infantile lunacy of some of his opponents, etc.), compassionate (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”- every time they give scholarships to the children in the various households, I turn into a weepy mess!), etc. This past week, once again, I encountered musical excellence. More on that later…

On Thursday, I had a session with world-renowned producer, songwriter and percussionist, Narada Michael Walden. Narada’s studio is such a peaceful, warm space, and I so appreciate all of his excellence, encouragement and guidance. You’re beautiful, N!! I love you! : >


Thanks to everyone who came to my shows last week! I was invited to perform with Papa Gianni and the North Beach Band at the most recently opened Caffe Trieste on Piedmont in Oakland on Saturday afternoon. It was just me and the 2 Daves (Sturdevant on guitar and harmonica and Baioni on accordion) in the band, but Papa Gianni and many of the regulars entertained the crowd with stirring renditions of popular Italian-American love songs and classical arias. I was thrilled to see Rev. Lois, Bruce, Tony, Nancy, Alexis, Mandolin and Soriah in the audience, having a good time. Later that night, I joined Kymberly Jackson and the Urban Legends band at Oyster Reef in Oakland. It was a packed house! We entertained two groups of people celebrating high school reunions (from St. Mary’s and Holy Names class of 1984), and my fabulous family members as well! Thanks to William, Carla, Debra, Cecil, Jan and Dwayne, as well as my friends Dwayne, Michelle, Evan, Nancy (2 shows in one day! Yay!!) and Aaron. You all (and of course Kymberly, Brian, CQ and Mark) made it such a fun gig!


On Sunday, my friend and colleague, Amy, and I decided to attend a concert at Yoshi’s SF, featuring the Stanley Clarke Trio. On this occasion, the trio consisted of Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Hiromi Uehara. I’d seen the trio with Chick Corea only 3 weeks before, and with Ruslan Sirota back in March, so I was curious as to what the difference would be. As expected, some of the same pieces were performed as in previous concerts, including “Paradigm Shift” (which I heard with Ruslan on piano), and “3 Wrong Notes” (which I heard with Chick on piano). Each concert was distinctly superlative and beautiful, and tear inducing. At one point in the concert with Ruslan (during “Paradigm Shift”), I cried. I cried during the concert with Chick (on their rendition of “Overjoyed”, by Stevie Wonder), so elated and inspired was I by my piano hero. And in this weekend’s concert, during Hiromi’s solo on “No Mystery”, I cried. Hiromi played with such excellence JOY and emotional connection that the whole room was lifted. I could not contain myself!


I’ve had the chance to meet (and work with) some of the world’s greatest musicians. How utterly awesome is that? I feel compelled to do my very best to achieve my own personal level of excellence in music, body, intellect, compassion, spirit, love, etc. Excellence has been my dictum for most (if not all) of my life. It’s a journey, and I’m loving it!


“I don’t feel no-ways tired. Come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me the road would be easy. I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me!” : > Stay blessed, grateful and beautiful, my friends…