Sunday, March 22, 2009

Music, Music, Music (part one)

WoW! With so much happening here at the farm in the past couple of weeks, I haven’t had a chance to tell you about all the music that’s been happening in our lives lately. Music - I don't think I could live without it - after singing professionally for 21 years, I have begun to realize that I miss the connection to my soul that I get when I sing. Plus, I have lost a lot of the strength and range that I had. So, I've turned off the talk radio in my car - well mostly - and have put the CD's back on -

We are extremely lucky to have this wonderful venue in Bellingham called the Mt. Baker Theatre. Located in downtown Bellingham's it is the largest performing arts facility of its kind north of Seattle. A beautifully restored 1927 architectural treasure, it is listed on the register of National Historic Places. The theatre is dedicated to showcasing some of the best live performing artists (we are situated about half way between Vancouver BC and Seattle so it is a quick and easy stop for a lot of top flight performers) It draws its audiences from all over the North Puget Sound area and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

They have a series of a dozen or more shows each year and many of them are sponsored or underwritten by different people or companies in the community which allows them to have affordable ticket prices ($40 and under for most shows) They also have “memberships” to the foundation and for the $40 membership that I have, we get first notice of shows, priority ticketing, and a couple of passes to the Director’s Receptions that they hold before each big name show- a little dessert reception where the performers speak. The theater has been renovated / rejuvenated several times in the past 30 years – most recently they added fire protection and upgraded the electrical and the sound systems. (this nice picture copywrite Mt. Baker Theatre)

We try to get tickets to three or four shows every year and as luck would have it, three of the shows we chose this year were in March. Our first show, on Sunday the 1st was Sweet Honey in the Rock, the internationally renowned a cappella ensemble made up of five women plus another member who signs the entire show. They sing "blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, Hip Hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation". They are occasionally accompanied by hand percussion instruments, and "produce a sound filled with soulful harmonies and intricate rhythms."

In 2008 “Sweet Honey” celebrated their 35th anniversary – They have won two Grammy’s and been nominated for numerous others. In February of this year, they were invited by President & Mrs. Obama to perform at the White House for Black History month – (even the performers were in awe of that!) Because they have an “onboard” translator for the deaf and hearing impaired, their concerts are a welcoming place for these folks. We were sitting amidst a group of these concert goers and they were having such a great time - My recommendation if you ever have an opportunity to see Sweet Honey in the Rock – GO, the music is joyous, the company will be diverse and exciting. You won’t regret it. (this nice picture copywrite by Sweet Honey in the Rock - what a gorgeous bunch of women, huh?)

Our next tickets were for a concert called “Guitar Blues” on March 7. Three leading blues guitarists have spent the past two months on tour and swept through town with this one night gig. They included (this info is from the Mt. Baker web site – easiest way to tell you who they are, since blues guitar is not part of my music collection):

"Jorma Kaukonen – The leading practitioner and teacher of fingerstyle guitar, one of the most highly respected interpreters of American roots music, blues, and Americana, and at the forefront of popular rock-and-roll. Jorma is a Grammy nominee for his highly acclaimed "Blue Country Heart." Along with the other members of Jefferson Airplane, Jorma was a 1996 inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ruthie Foster – A Texas singer/songwriter whose blend of gospel, blues, folk and soul has drawn comparisons to Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Tracy Chapman and Joan Armatrading. Her latest CD, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, charted in the top 15 albums on Billboard's Blues chart, and is in the top 25 and still rising on Amazon's music sales chart.

Robben Ford – One of the premiere electric guitarists today, particularly known for his blues playing as well as his ability to be comfortable in a variety of musical contexts. Chosen by George Harrison for his Dark Horse tour (Harrison's only solo tour), Robben has also toured or recorded with numerous music greats including Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Phil Lesh, Little Feat, Michael McDonald, and KISS. "

They each did a set individually then came together at the end. I enjoyed Ruthie most of all – she is an amazing singer and musician - I'd have been happy to have her do the whole concert! Jorma was OK, and my appreciation for Robben Ford was, how do I put it? – minimal at best. (actually, I could have gone out and sat in the foyer and it still would have been too loud and raucous), but, you know what, The Shepherd really enjoyed this concert – he’s a blues kind of guy - and I know he has gone to some concerts where he didn’t have much appreciation for the genre of music that I enjoy – so all in all, it evens out.

Next on the line up – “Cat Tales” and Gypsy Jazz -


Franna said...

Fun stuff. It's really nice to see performers who care about how they look - nicely dressed and coiffed.

Kathy said...

You're right, DO need to keep singing. Why is it we can remember to do things for others or work, but forget to do what makes our souls sing?

Leigh said...

Sounds like you've been having a good time. I didn't realize you used to sing professionally. Music is the soul of life, so I can see why you've missed it.

Sharon said...

I have both Robben and Jorma on my iPod but am unfamiliar with Ruth, those I don't tend to listen to that music style. What a concert - lucky you!!