Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stevie Wonder Soul Traveling Tour 2010: Dublin, Ireland

All of my life, I'd heard that relatives on my maternal grandfather's side were from Ireland. I really don't know much about them, but the stereotypical ethnic markers of freckles and reddish hair greet me each morning (well, not so much the reddish hair anymore...though I occasionally still find a stray red strand that hasn't yet grayed). We flew from London to Dublin and were dispatched to small hotel on the waterfront, close to the venue. The day was cloudy and overcast, but not too cold.

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for me to investigate my genealogy, but I did manage a leisurely walk along the waterfront with some of my bandmates, taking in the scenery of bridges, boats and a memorial to the Irish Great Potato Famine. After our walk, Lanesha, Ryan and I went to dinner at an Italian restaurant (in Irelend!) that served delicious food. I had spied a sign offering a yoga class in the hotel later that evening, so I didn't eat much, saving my appetite for after the yoga class.

And what a lovely yoga class it was! Taught by Gillian, the class was exactly what my body needed. The class was full of regulars, myself and one of the crew guys. It was tough enough to make me feel like I had a good workout, yet focused enough on breathing and meditative centering that I felt peaceful and revitalized afterwards. Many thanks to Gillian for being an excellent teacher! Believe me, after class, I went back to the Italian restaurant and had a delicious, full meal!

The next day we had the show. The venue was huge (the O2 in Dublin), the show went well and the crowd was great. Much love to Dublin!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

European Tour Rehearsals

Again, I’ve allowed weeks to pass without correspondence. Today, I’m in Monte Carlo, relaxing a few hours before show time. So far, the tour has been amazing (as if it could be anything less)! I will try to catch up over the next few days:

I arrived in England on June 19, in a little town best known for its being the location of the original British television show “The Office”. We settled into the hotel, and spent most of the next few days rehearsing on a movie set (likely the only space available for the expanded group of performers now touring with Stevie – including the usual 13 piece band, a group of guest percussionists from a variety of ethic musical traditions and a revolving gospel choir, a different one for each city). Rehearsals were long, but always musically fulfilling. The sound of the additional musicians is awesome!

In my down time, I went once with the rest of the band to try the requisite fish & chips (I’m famous for my tendency towards healthy food): the fish & chips were tasty if rather greasy.

I was also treated to a tour of nearby Windsor by my dear friend Marc. We went to lunch at the aptly named “House on the Bridge” and took photos in front of Windsor Castle (no time for touring, but the Queen was home – as indicated by the hoisted flag).

Next stop: flight to Dublin for the first concert!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Victoria Theodore June Performances

"summer, summer, summertime
time to sit back and unwind"
- Summertime, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Ok, given, we Californians are a weather spoiled bunch, but is anyone else as tired of the rain as I am?? Enough already! Wow... Summer is approaching and this summer, like the past 3, will be filled with traveling the world with Stevie Wonder. I can't wait! Keep your eyes open for updates from the road : >

I have several great performances coming up. I hope to see you soon!

Sat, June 5
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Come hear me play and sing! Probably your last chance before I head off for a summer of touring with Stevie Wonder!
It's also open mic! Sing with me! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me! Any style!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Sun, Jun 6
Truevine Ministries
Grand Lake Theater
3200 Grand Ave. Oakland, CA 94610-2739 | 510-208-4565 | map

Sun, Jun 6
Independant Holiness Church
605 South 16th Street Richmond, CA 94804-3716 | 510.235.8688 | map

Sat, Jun 12
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour
Bonnaroo Music Festival 2010
700-acre farm, 60 miles southeast of Nashville & northwest of Chattanooga Manchester, TN | | map
Thu, Jun 24
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour

North Wall Quay, Dublin 1, Republic Of Ireland | map

Sat, Jun 26
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour
Hard Rock Calling Festival
w/ Jamiroquai, James Morrison and Corinne Bailey Rae
Hyde Park, near Park Lane, London, England | map

Sun, Jun 27
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour
Glastonbury Festival, Pyramid Stage
Worthy Farm, Pilton, England | map

Tue, Jun 29
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour
M.E.N. Arena
Victoria Station Manchester, England M3 1AR | +44 (0)161 950 5000 | map

If you feel so inspired, please take a moment and leave a *positive* review for me on YELP:
Victoria Theodore Piano And Voice Lessons

You can also join my Fan Page on Facebook:
Victoria Theodore Fan Page

And my ReverbNation page (plenty of options!):
Victoria Theodore ReverbNation Page

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

DC & Q!

Last week, I flew to Washington, DC, to perform with Stevie Wonder at a private concert event held in honor of the memory Abe Pollin, former owner of the Washington Wizards and the Verizon Center. The concert (held in the Verizon Center) was free to Pollin's employees as well as public sector workers in the Washington DC area. The arena was packed and the audience happily enthusiastic.

I arrived in DC Tuesday evening, thankfully, with plenty of time to relax and recuperate from the long flight. The next morning, I went for a lovely walk, cut to a shorter time than usual because we had to depart for sound check earlier than usual to accommodate for the terrible DC traffic. At sound check, we did the usual run through of tunes for the engineer’s sake, making sure everyone has proper levels in their ear monitors, but then had an extended wait for concert time. I usually fill this time with – no surprise – practicing! I practice virtually every spare moment when on tour, as I never know where the Maestro will go with the set list. The show on this night was no exception! The set list was all over the place, and required every morsel of my focus – but I love that intensity. It’s so gratifying to be presented with that level of challenge…and to meet the challenge!!

After the concert, a few band members and I joined our friends Frédéric and Carla Yonnet for a late dinner. Fred is an amazing harmonica player (known as the urban jazz harmonicist) who Stevie invites to sit in with the band whenever they're both in town. Stevie usually starts playing “Boogie On Raggae Woman” as the cue for Fred to join us on stage, which he did again for this show. At the harmonica solo, Fred and Stevie take turns in a harmonica “battle”. They both played with ferocity and tremendous energy! It was amazing! Stevie was having such a great time, he extended the song, and then went into a blues. It was a great moment in the show. Fred and Carla are incredibly gracious, beautiful people and it’s always a pleasure to see them.

After the show, we all returned to the hotel to deposit our belongings and then headed off to the restaurant to meet Fred and Carla. To my surprise, there was another face at the table that I instantly recognized: that of Mr. Quincy Jones. Wow. I was speechless. This man is a musical legend, icon, producer, composer, arranger and mentor to several of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever met. I was thrilled to have the chance to meet him. I was able to converse with him for about 20 minutes about music, language, travel and his new artist, Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez. What an honor!

When I was a college student, DC was my favorite region to visit during Spring Break, for the temperate spring weather, the architecture and of course the endless museums. I was not disappointed on this visit, even though I didn't have time to explore museums. Meeting yet another musical icon is a fine substitute!

Back home, I experience my own musical intensity. I had happily agreed to substitute for two of my fabulous pianist friends this past Sunday. Both play keys for beautiful churches in the East Bay, performing mostly contemporary gospel music. If you don’t know this style of music, I’ll tell you: it’s not easy!!! Much of this music is similar to jazz fusion in terms of the chord structures and progressions, full of rhythmic variance and key changes. Of the 10 songs that I needed to learn, I had only heard and performed 2 before – but it had been a while, so I needed to review those as well. Essentially, I had only a day to learn all of this music to performance level. Given that I also had students, gigs and went to hear my friends perform late Saturday night (A Band Called Pain – a metal band that ROCKS!), I found myself in the position of staying up all night (literally) to learn the music. Sleep deprivation combined with my east coast induced jet lag, left me exhausted, but I was energized by the content of the lyrics (such beautiful words of praise to the Almighty), the talent of the band and the voices of the singers. Somehow, I made it through! Hallelujah!

Days later, I still find that I’m not 100% rejuvenated. Can anyone say V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N??? Maybe after the tour…but, I’m not complaining!