Monday, January 31, 2011

Victoria Theodore: February Performances & Online Hiatus: Week 3 & 4

"Love is in the air...quite clearly..."
– Stephen Sondheim, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum

It's February! The month of love! Let's hope it's full of love and better luck!

Um…yeah… January is gone. Thank GOD! Ok… 2011 has been a doozy of a year so far: My 14 year old dog got sick, then had a bad reaction to his meds. I spent several hundred dollars on a problem that didn’t really exist, and disappeared when I stopped giving him the meds. Sigh. Then my other 2 dogs both had bad skin allergies. Another couple of hundred dollars. Sigh. Then mom’s roof was blown off in a bizzare wind storm that behaved like a tornado (northern California, folks. We don't get those here!!). Insurance company only wants to pay 2/3, made the check out to the mortgage company, so it has to be sent back east for endorsement and approval before the contractor can be paid. Sigh. Then I pulled a muscle in my chest (feels like my diaphragm) while doing yoga. Yoga! WTF???? I've been doing yoga for 15 years. I've NEVER pulled a muscle. Sigh. Then my aunt Debra was in a major car accident. Sigh. Thankfully, no one died, and there is light at the end of each of the proverbial tunnels, but January has been taxing. Conclusion: My family and I overcome obstacles with confidence, grace and determination! Yes!

I’ve been doing an online hiatus. Or trying to. Well, to say I'm trying is lame. I intended to and failed. Oh well! I have managed to experience some great music. Last weekend, I played and sang for a fundraiser in Oakland. I did a few standards in homage to Billie Holiday. I’d never really done anything quite like it, and despite my still present cough (maybe I should go to the doctor?) I did a great job. Well, I haven’t seen the video yet, so I guess we shall see! Fingers crossed that I did the songs justice...

After the fundraiser, I went to dinner with my sister at Bistro Liason. Wow! I had a delicious veggie pizza with butternut squash, and a spinach salad with pecans and goat cheese. The next day, I went on a mini-vacation to Napa with my BFF Amy. It was her birthday and since the vacation was already paid for (no refunds), I decided to take advantage of the time off, despite the chaos in my family life. The highlights of the trip to Napa were the amazing meals we enjoyed. We had dinner at Farmstead, where I dined on delicious roasted chicken with kale, and a yummy kale salad. We had lunch at the CIA at Greystone. I was in a veggie mood, so I ate Brussels sprouts (one of my favorite things on the planet), Broccolini and butternut squash soup (yes, I’m a superfan of butternut squash). But the best meal by far, was the meal we had at Ubuntu in downtown Napa. OH MY GOODNESS! This was definitely one of the best meals of my life. All of the dishes were delicious, creative, full of flavor, delicious (oh! Did I already say that??) and DELICIOUS! And the chef is cute too! He came out to our table to serve our final dish and we both were effusive in our praise of his creations. The dishes were served family style but were presented as works of art. We started with the “garden snake”, a collection of leaves, flowers, roots and herbs gathered together in the shape of a snake with sprinkles of “soil” (if you go to Ubuntu, have them explain the “soil” to you and then don’t hesitate to gobble it up. OMG it’s good. For real.), the steamed bun with sunchokes persimmon and green tomato, the roasted potatoes with kraut ash (cabbage prepared in a specialized manner that ends up resembling ash, but tastes divine) and a celeriac based dessert (yes, that’s celery root, and it will totally surprise you). The chef, Aaron London, is brilliant.

I’ve had a few spectacular musical experiences in the past week as well. On Thursday night, I went to hear my friend Elaine Romanelli at the Union Room in San Francisco. She’s now performing her own music: a hybrid of folk, pop and bluesy jazz (when I met her she was doing mostly classical and standards). She’s a brilliant songwriter and I loved listening to her set. Friday night I went and heard 3 piece and a Biscuit, Ashling Cole’s band, most of whom also perform with Larry Graham, touring around the world: Brian Braziel, Eric “EQ” Young, Eric Daniels, Jimmy McKinney, Dave Counsil, and Wilton Raab. The first set was a tribute to the genius of Teena Marie, and I had the chance to sit in on my favorite Teena song, Portguese Love. But the rest of the night, I was in the audience dancing and having a great time listening to the band. They were HOT! Saturday night, I went to see my BFF Sundra perform with Miko Marks: country music in the Bay Area! Who knew? The band was great, and included my friends Brian Braziel and Victor Campos. I had a great time and even learned country line dancing with Miko’s uncle. Yee haw! And then Sunday night, I was present for the recording of Valerie Trout’s new CD, featuring more Bay Area musicians: Maya Kronfeld (one of my favorite pianists, and not just in the bay area!), Darian Gray, Jaz Sawyer and Dave Ewell. Stunning arrangements of standards and some beautiful tunes by Valerie. What an inspiring weekend! Time for me to get to work. I’m going to do myself a favor and REALLY not go online this week. See you next Monday with a report of the music I’ve composed! Yes, I’m making a challenging for myself to stop just talking and start doing! Love love love…

I have a couple of shows coming up in the Bay Area. Check out the calendar, and I hope to see you at a show!

Sat, Feb 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

Sat, Feb 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

Monday, January 17, 2011

Online Hiatus: Week 2

This past weekend I drove to Los Angeles to attend the NAMM show. I have been dealing with several personal issues that made me ambivalent about attending this year, but last week, things started working out, so I decided to go. Now I wish I'd made up my mind sooner so I could have arranged to stay the entire weekend. I keep doing that to myself: I go to NAMM, have a great time, leave way way way too early, regret leaving, and then immediately forget the following year until the last minute. Sigh... Anyway, this year, a huge crew of my bay area friends attended, including Mike Blankenship, Ashling Cole, Uriah Duffy, Joey Fabian, Dennis Dove, Darian Gray, Lloyd Gregory, Lynette Williams, Donte McClinton, Brian Collier, Dale Chung, Stephen Smith, Bryan Dean, Altoris Levar, Eric Barnett I also had the chance to hang out with my musical friends Wictor Wooten, Byron Miller, Brandon Brown (though I AGAIN missed a New Genesis show since I didn't have my own car...sigh...), Matt Cusson, Showboat Shavers, Eric Bostelman, Freddie Ravel, Kiki, Dennis Hamm, Ruslan Sirota, Ronald Bruner, Jr., Ellis Hall, Lynne Fiddmont, Jeanette Harris, Michael Harris, Kimberly Brewer, Gerry Brown, David Haynes, René Decker, my band mates Errol Cooney, Roman Johnson, Nate Watts, and Ryan Kilgore.

I think I got everyone...though it's likely I've left someone out...oops! I heard lots of great music and even had the chance to play...though that's an odd story:

I arrived at sound check for a performance on Friday night. Nate Watts had asked me to perform with him, and anytime that Nate asks me to play a gig, I say yes! Not only is he an amazing musician, but he's a lovely person. Unfortunately, I encountered someone who wasn't so lovely. Let's just say that someone that night chose to be an impediment and unreasonably rude. I don't want to reveal too much, because I'm choosing to not partake in a game of who can be more arrogant, but I was shocked that a professional musician would exhibit the type of behavior I encountered. Suffice it to say, that Roman Johnson and I had a good laugh while we attempted to play 2 keyboard parts on a single 61-key keyboard (on only 1 patch, since there was no time to program any splits), bumping into each other as we played. At least I was able to get all of my friends into the show. I just wish I'd had the chance to really PLAY. C'est la vie!

I made lots of new connections with equipment manufacturers, met some incredible new musicians, enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather and had an all around good time. I even managed to work on 3 tracks for clients over the past week. This week, I've got a few client tracks, but my main focus is my project and getting ready for a show on Saturday where I'll be playing and singing a few jazz standards.

See you next week!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Online Hiatus: Week 1

Hello friends! As I mentioned in my previous blog, I'm making space in my life so that I can focus on my music at a more intense level. I must admit, I'd become addicted to checking my email, checking facebook, commenting on the lives of others, etc. This past week was awesome in terms of releasing my addiction. I only went online once per day, and just to check for email messages marked "URGENT", only left facebook comments regarding my dog (who's almost back to normal...hallelujah!), didn't return many phone calls (sorry...) and enjoyed the space and freedom to work on music! I practiced, created new ideas for tracks, recorded a song with one of my songwriting partners, and had an overall sense of accomplishment. Yay!

Ok, disappearing again for another week. If you see me, online, please nudge me and say "hey! Aren't you supposed to be hiding?", just like my friend Amy K. did the other day! lol


Monday, January 03, 2011

Resolutions & my Best of 2010

2010 was a good year for me. I had several amazing moments, and clearly can't itemize them all. Here are the major stand outs:

Meeting Quincy Jones and performing at Fisk University

Participating in Naomi's wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation

On a day when I was feeling kind of lonely and needed a connection to home, I ran into a good friend in a piano store in Copenhagen. One of these days, I'll write at length about that magical day.

A friend too me to a lecture by Dr. Cornel West. I was spellbound. I love brilliance and Dr. West offers his brilliance to an audience in ample measure. I left the lecture inspired, enthralled and determined to reach my highest level of expression in life, music, art, beauty, intellect, humanity, kindness, empathy, responsibility and love.

Love continues to surround and support me, in ways that are beyond explanation in a simple blog. I am so grateful...


Poems That Will Save Your Life

A friend gave me this book for my birthday and I love it! It's a collection that includes some of my all time favorite poems, and is my source of achieving my life long dream of being a person who can easily recite poetry a la Dr. Huxtable. : >


This song was released in 2009, but I learned it in 2010. Hands down my favorite song of the year. Every time, and I mean, every time, it gets to the D sus chord at 8:31, I weep tears of joy. It's one of the most amazingly beautiful, well conceived, brilliantly re-harmonized moments I've ever experienced in music. After a particular chord progression is repeated over a gradual crescendo, the band introduces the new chord after a descending C aeolian scale and it strikes my spirit me like daylight after a heavy storm. Spectacular!

Sovereign God


I'm a fan of great pop music, and my favorite pop record of the year was Bruno Mars' "Doo-Wops & Hooligans". Favorite song "Grenade", but I love many of them. I LOOOOOOVE Bruno Mars!

My favorite jazz record was Esperanza Spalding's "Chamber Music Society". The project didn't catch me as swiftly as her previous work, but it's definitely grown on me. Favorite tune: run-off between "Little Fly", with it's very singable melody which evokes the Viennese classical music of William Blake's era (the poet responsible for the lyric, "What A Friend" with its metamorphosis from sensual ballad into funky modern jazz groove, and "Inutil Paisagem", featuring the beautiful voice of Gretchen Parlato.


Spectator: Hiromi, solo piano at Yoshi's. She is my favorite young pianist. She exemplifies everything I seek to achieve as a pianist: unparalleled musical expression, beautiful touch, fiery technique, and plain, simple fun while playing. Hiromi rocks!

Performer (band): Stevie Wonder in South Korea. I've never seen a crowd as enthusiastic and emotional as the crowd in Seoul.
Performer (solo): Well, not really solo, but it was performing my own music at Fisk University. It whet my appetite for performing more of my own music!