Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pix from Jazzbones: Waldorf Event

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Mizu, I have some pictures to share. All pics here are copyright 2008 Mizu Sugimura.....

Here's Mizu and I (photo taken by Mizu's husband, Yaz) after the performance...when my inner thermostat was about 212 degrees! It was a hot night, under even hotter stagelights.

Anna Hart, my colleague, my friend, my daughter.

Two more wonderful friends, Kim and daughter Erin...with some crazy woman!

Lorraine, cooked medium-well!

It was a great night with friends...thank you everyone, for supporting the Tacoma Waldorf School...and thank you to wonderful Waldorfians!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Summer Solstice Secret Garden Party

Ah, the blessed quiet of a Sunday morning with everyone else still abed. Kettle is on for another life-returning silky tea is the sexiest thing I know in the morning...pitiful pekoe punky junkie.

Ooh-la...I'm an old, tired, sore woman today...ah, but it was worth it. The great pie-in-the-sky was kind and shined (mostly) on a day they assured us would rain. A light breeze from the southwest, moist by evening. 'Twas the day of the Summer Solstice Secret Garden Party.

Imagine yourself walking through a metal-sculptured archway, lined on each side with ceramic shells and huge pots filled to spilling with a paintbox of flowers. As you walk through, you look directly at the firepit which is stacked and ready. Just beyond is the cairn that marks the grave of old Mr. Pig, our host's beloved pet. The path veers to the right, around the cedars and to the gazebo, where we were setting up to play amid more flowers, driftwood creatures and brightly-painted mobiles.

This is a garden of "rooms"...beyond the gazebo room, with its incredible flowerbeds and gentle lawn, you could choose to walk through an evergreen tunnel to the house, walk behind the gazebo into the wild woods, walk another pathway by the garage to the pond and rock garden to watch and listen to the waterfall, or you can continue around the back of the house, past P's studio, through more woods full of madronas, evergreens and the garden where the latest huge Mr. Pig lives. Turn and walk up the hill from here and you're back to the open lawn and gazebo, past the gobsmacking flowerbeds.

Our audience here is a very eclectic mix of generations, artists, writers, and passionate volunteers for community and world. A lotta ol' hippies, a touch of Goth to punctuate the Hawaiin Punch shirts, softened by the pastel summer dresses and the familiarity of this gathering. As my bass-player announced, "We've been playing this gig since 1939!"

I love when Anna can sing with me...her dreamy harmonies and being able to follow whether I slide or leap on a song like "Moonglow" make the elders melt. She was so tired and her hand was becoming numb...but she still sang the caboodle outta "The Weight"....oh yeah, my girl taking the lead! Eclectic is our mix aussi. Slipping originals in here and there, we also did a bit of Leonard Cohen (the great Canadian Velvet Growl) some Jimmy Cliff, Ella, Monk, Van Morrison, Tennessee Ernie Ford (Sixteen Tons...uh-huh) Lady Day, and even a little Tim Hardin. The trees danced and let go some leaves in their applause...the snapdragons smiled.

Let me tell you...I work my ass off at gigs...not that it's not cookin' on my spoon...but...if I'm getting up on stage, I'm goin' somewhere and I'm gonna take you with me...with voice, hands, hips...everything I've got. In my dance I conduct the band (sound doing some funny things in gazebos and gardens, so it's important to have a constant) and often leave the stage to get the dancing going. This seems to be done in some trance-like state of bliss that doesn't allow me to feel any pain. As an example, I've done a rehearsal, audition and gig before taking myself to the ER for kidney stones. Lorraine's hardcore...the show must go on! My beautiful daughter is a fruit not far from the tree.

I mean...we have to laugh at ourselves as we collapse back on her (oh how I love the memory foam) bed...each of us making noises somewhere between old-lady and seal-like in tone with each movement. After three hours of singing with an ill-fitting upper denture, I have rubbed my inner cheek raw and bleeding, and my jaw is out of alignment. Both of us have screaming joints and backs...but we're smiling 'cos we had our fix. The afternoon was beautiful, the potluck spread was as incredible as it's always been (since 1939) the breeze kept the skitters to a minimum, and an audience that clap, hollah, hug and make magic with you...what can I say that's big enough for that feeling?

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Sestina


I did it. I made it through the April "write-a-poem-a-day" month-long challenge. If you asked me what the hardest day was I'll tell you simply...Day 28...and the Sestina. I'd never heard of the form before and it required a bicycle tire pump to keep my left brain inflated enough to keep track of the formula.

You've got seven stanzas...the first six are six lines long and the seventh is three lines...six words are used to end the lines of the stanza and appear in a rotating math the seventh stanza two words appear in each line.

I know. My eyes were crossed by that point too! Making it through the challenge hinged on this though, so I was determined...grrrr. Many crumpled sheets of paper later I let go and let my mind create a painting. Once I had the visual, I picked six words from that visual and wrote them down in the order of the whole poem. Now I had the frame to hang a story on.

The Tulips

Sleepy morning had only opened one eye of light
while she'd been to market and back. Packages and tulips
litter the table, her hands cooling under running water,
knowing just which vase she wants, curving
through slices of sun, she opens
the cabinet and her hair falls.

Wave upon dark wave crests and falls
like carved mahogany polished with light,
one hand closing pulls it back, one hand opens
to the jar that will hold the tulips
waiting on the table, stems curving
to the sound of promising water.

She washes the vessel and halves it with water,
cuts the stem ends--a broken leaf falls,
behind on the white wall, her shadow curving,
but she doesn't see, eyes closed in the light.
The first time they met he bought her some tulips,
the magic phrase, "before the war," and her memory opens.

He told her he loved when a closed bud opens
and asked her to marry him down by the water,
he had hidden her ring inside one of the tulips.
She pushes him over, laughing he falls.
Remembering, she laughs with her ring in the light
round her finger, curving.

So long since she clung to him in their goodbye, curving
into the scratch of his uniform. Her mouth opens
to taste his promise on afternoon's light,
quenching her thirst with cool, clear water
she stirs the stew, awaiting the sound of his foot-falls,
the table set for two, with tulips.

He promised to come home if she kept tulips.
He had whispered it softly into her ear's curving,
"With two lips home waiting, a man never falls."
At the stroke of sunset the matchbox opens,
she flames the candle's glow on petals, glass and water,
a pleading, calling light.

A stub of candle's light kisses tulips
in a jar of water, abandoned lines curving.
The front door opens. Into his two lips, at last she falls.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Coyote Waltz

As a songwriter, it’s important to me to talk about more than just love in the romantic sense, though it could be argued that everything is about love. I didn’t just want to write about the back and forth, the comings and goings of lovers, which is another reason I left the more commercial business of music back east. I wanted to bite into bigger subjects sometimes. I wanted to talk about life, the universe, and everything; talk about my lifelong walk of spirit…without preaching a path to follow.

I love lyrics that can be understood in layers, for those who care to. As a performer it’s important, first and foremost, to entertain and not weigh down your audience with a lecture of life as you see it, or a sermon. That having been said, we all know of songs that managed to produce books in our minds, inside the slim four minutes they played.

Coyote Waltz can be seen as a nonsense performance piece. I often sing it straight after “Twisted” for a crazy little set-ender, the stand-up bass bringing in the jazz waltz. It can be left to enjoy just like that (I’m not selling anything, honest!) or the words can be heard with a mind to looking for and finding one’s spirit, within indigenous connections and the major religions. In these lyrics and the music sits my four-minute Theosophy Doctorate Thesis. First Nation stories talk of the coyote as a trickster, a teacher, even a creator…so he was perfect for a song…a waltz perfect for the twirling constancy of movement…the dance we are all caught-up in. What do you think it says?

Coyote Waltz copyright 2001 Lorraine Hart

Sometimes I dance with coyote
And fall on my ass…laughing
He’s a wolf
He’s a fox
He’s a dog
Oh my my my!

Sometimes I dance with coyote
And rise on my toes…gasping
He’s the truth in a lie
Such a fool
Ah…but who am I?

The fool is a wise man
And the wise man’s a fool
Our biggest lesson
Is our greatest tool
Every dance documents
The golden rule
That coyote can show me
Oooh…the jewel of cool!

As soon as he says it’s this
Baby…you know it’s that
Three hundred and twelve
All of them under one hat…

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Anna Willo

Walking The Wheel Mandala

For My Sisters Who Fight

An homage to all the incredibly strong women I have known who have fought Breast Cancer with grace and dignity. It's dedicated to my sister Mo, Anne and Jane.

Butterfly Eye

Willow Pond Mandala

Monday, April 14, 2008

When Christ & Mohammed Meet

When Christ and
Mohammed meet
they greet one another
as loving brothers
why can't we do the same
must it be Crusades
in their name for
more accursed gain

They both speak of Love
and what we're made of
choices and voices
and reason
rejoicing and fasting
in season
intent and service
and freedom

They both shed tears
over follies and fears
man's inhumanity
to man
human calamity
to land
buried oil in a sea
of sand

When Christ and
Mohammed meet
they take their seats
as prophets of peace
and greet one another
as loving brothers
why can't we do the same
end the Crusades
in their name for
some accursed gain

Then we will meet
and greet one another
as sisters and brothers
in Christ and
Mohammed's name
and cleanse the
bloody stain
from the cross
from the crescent moon
dragonflies land on
the soldiers tomb
and its shadow lifts
from a maiden's womb

On The Wind

I am no cultivated flower
no product nor progeny
of home soil
no homecoming queen
nor conquering hero
by lines made in sand
nations of the moment

my seed was born wild and
carried on the wind
sprouted crossing seas and
storms of intimate darkness
roots reaching somewhere
just beyond the moment
somewhere between the atoms

I will touch lightly the lands
I light upon
rest sweetly a moment on the
breast of the mother
seeking all my days her
secret and sacred spaces

to birth myself again and again
until my robes shred and
fly on the wind like the
fading coloured prayer flags
on a distant high plateau

Of Balance and Sweet Mystery

Grandmother Grandmother my heart is your drum
in seasons that have passed and in seasons to come
Grandmother Grandmother unbraid my hair
bathe me in sweetgrass be with me in prayer
Grandmother Grandmother wash me in light
wrap me in mystery's indigo night
Grandmother Grandmother take me to your breast
feed me your wisdom and comfort my quest

Grandaughter Grandaughter your heart is my drum
in past times of being and times yet to come
Grandaughter Grandaughter let me comb your hair
light up the sage, let me wrap you in prayer
sweet mystery there
the depth a woman shares

Grandfather Grandfather my hands are your fire
trusting and dancing are all that's required
Grandfather Grandfather I braid back my hair
and set to the work we humans all share
Grandfather Grandfather help me today
among my relations I touch on the way
Grandfather Grandfather walk by my side
in rhythm with my heart and the ocean's tide

Grandaughter Grandaughter your hands are my fire
open and ready to do what's required
Grandaughter Grandaughter walk here by me
we'll share the stories, the ones yet to be
sweet mystery
the distance a man can see

In the distant depths of my chemical sea
Grandmother, Grandfather
the God that made me
when I need counsel
the balance I see
is to walk beside Him and
sit next to She
when I need counsel
the balance I see
is to walk beside Him and
sit next to She

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Performing Intent

I want to sing landscapes in your mind
stark and serene as a Chinese water colour,
the grey green and white of rocks trees and clouds,
I want to give you a melody quick and deep as a Japanese Haiku
dances you through the seasons, Cherry blossoms to snow,
I want to play rhythms in your belly that move your hands and hips,
to tell stories wrapped in colours of Indian sarees and mendhi,
I want to sing the prayers that call you to Middle East temples,
to feel the cool mosaic tiles against your forehead
and the curling desert heat at your back,
I want to sing you into sweatlodge with the Ancients,
dance you to the heat in your own heart,
dance you to the stillness of the stone circles
on Turtle Island and gentle English hillsides,
I want to take you on a sentimental journey
over the white cliffs of Dover,
let you throw the colours of Holi and
prepare tea as a blessing,
take you to the Sock-hop or the Star Nation
I wanna take you higher,
tribal fires, open water, mid-air and down to earth,
lift you from your seat, adjust your heartbeat and
call you safely home to yourself,
I want to sing of manners and magic
for I know no other home than thee and me,
Creator between us, the Love
our creation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Belated Sayonara, Songbird

With great respect and fondness, I bid a belated sayonara to a most beloved songbird from my youth. Miyoshi Umeki, a wonderful talent, slipped quietly away in August of 2007. I found out quite by accident, a short while ago.
Perhaps you will remember her from the old film, "Sayonara," for which she earned a Best-Supporting Actress Oscar. She played the wife of Red Buttons. Marlon Brando was the film's star.
Others may know her from the musical film, "Flower Drum Song," and still more may know her from the old television show, "The Courtship of Eddie's Father."
Miyoshi Umeki is lovingly counted on my list of mentors. She was well-known in Japan and Southeast Asia as a singer when I was growing-up in Malaysia and Singapore. In voice, she made herself known to me and beckoned me down a musical road.
When she spoke, her voice was air...light, respectfully if she sighed and hid behind the fan of modesty, of expectation. Ah, but when she sang...she was water...fluid, deep, changeable and full of something that could not be described, something that made your chest ache and soothe all at the same time. She sounded like both the pressure and the pleasure of the deep end of the pool.
I went searching through yooztoobies and found this perfect gem of a video. I've provided the link below, to ease the load for those on dial-up computers.
Miyoshi Umeki was a guest with Gisele MacKenzie, just after her Oscar-win. Listen to her voice as she enters the scripted banter with her hostess. Hear the breathiness of her speaking voice and then allow yourself the pleasure of diving deep with her into the song, "How Deep Is The Ocean." Listen to her open her delightful instrument, deep and soulful one minute, high and shimmering with vibrato in the song's break.
So I bid you sayonara, little songbird. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Fling...from the music side...

Spring Fling was Jazz Musette's first gig of the year, after spending the winter doing the work of arrangements, rehearsals and recording. It may look easy when we're up on stage but many hours' (not to mention the years of training) hard work are behind it. I'm not complaining, indeed it's the kind of work that feeds me and I reach for the creative process hungrily. In a world where so much is out of our control, the music is where we go for sanity...and making worlds of our own.

After setting up the equipment, Bebop said, "Wow, I dreamt I found some musicians to play with...and we made a band...and ended-up onstage we are!!" The day any of us loses this kind of enthusiasm, we better hang it up. But, in nearly forty years this spark still ignites.

Bebop, Ed and Mark have played together much longer...but this year marks my tenth anniversary with the band...and T3's fifth. Reason enough to celebrate, I'd say. What a difference a decade makes. Meeting the fellas and having old jazz standards come back from muscle-memory was to begin a whole new chapter of my career...a career I thought was in semi-retirement from, upon leaving the New York scene. After all those years of belting out rock, R&B, and blues...jazz welcomed me softly and with a joy of being able to adjust my style for longevity. You have no idea the strength required to have your voice dominate over a wall o' amps. Even Janis Joplin wouldn't be screaming like Janis Joplin, had she lived to this age in her music. The first Thursday I ever joined the Musetteers still stands out clearly for the thrill of being able to play with tone, timbre and levels in my voice. Not since the early days of Folk music had my abdominal muscles been allowed to get out of crunch mode.

I didn't know that night would begin to mold all my melodies and stories into a whole new catalogue of songs...and into what seems like the most creative period of my life.

It's always a thrill when Anna feels well enough to join us onstage and supply her wonderful harmonies, her beautiful energy. She was three years old the first time she marched up onto a stage with me...and brought down the house, singing a perfect harmony. I had put the microphone down as far as it would go and went on my knees beside her. Up on the stage and with whatever band, she was at home...never going through that awful period of stagefright. We had always planned to sing together, until Lyme disease took away her strength to join me. Thankfully, under proper treatment, Anna is now able to be a part of Jazz Musette on her "good" days.

The Ides of March may not have been so good for Julius Caeser...but it was a great night and gig for us! We debuted a few new numbers, which the audience seemed to enjoy...Dance Me To The End Of Love by Leonard Cohen was given a little French flavour, with Mark playing accordion and Ed on clarinet. Leonard Cohen (The Canadian Velvet Growl, as I like to call him) is one of the best lyricists of our age. We did another of his songs to end the night, "The Tower Of Song," which speaks so much to us aging musicians.

"Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey...I ache in the places where I used to play...and I'm crazy for love...but I'm not comin' -on...I'm just payin' my rent every the tower of song..."

The third surprise for our regular and faithful audience, I dedicated to the current administration...and we launched into good ol Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons," to laughter...and a lot of people singing along! The solo for this song, we gave to T3 on drums...what better way to illustrate the hammering rhythm of owing one's soul to the Company Store than with drums? T3 was both tasty and expressive in his solo.

I had a pain patch on my lower back (oh...dem bones, dem bones...) and the music made the magic it always does in bringing me to bliss. I didn't feel a twinge as a Latin rhythm version of Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy," made my hips have a mind of their own. Mind you, OWWAM (the Old Woman Who Ate Me) grounded me the next day! But it was worth it.

How can I explain what performing does for me? If you thought of the best meal of your entire life...the best sex of your entire life...the best connection to Creation of your entire life...the best meditation in your entire life...the best intoxication...mixed all that still would fall short of the 'fix' performing is for me. Here's how I try to explain it...of course, in a song....

Recipe For Tonight copyright 2003 Lorraine Hart

I came a junkie for my fix
Of the starlight in the mix
Between the band...and your ears
Like to drive me to tears

Outside of time...there's a moment we can share
Mix up some moonglow for us there
Inside the Rhyme...and the reason
Add libido to season

Stir up a cosmic thought...over the fire
Raise the bar...let's get a little higher
Don't ya know, before we're through
We're swimmin' in a Witchy Brew
The recipe for tonight
You know...we ain't cookin' light
Let's make somethin' of the night!

It is the audience that completes the performer. I am ever mindful of that fact and grateful, always, for the magic we make together. See you at the Liveable Community Fair in May!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March is just around the corner and we count the precious minutes of light coming back into our daily lives. I thought I'd take this opportunity to give you a heads-up on one of my favourite Key Peninsula annual events, the Two Waters Arts Alliance's Spring Fling.

Here is just one beautiful example of the artwork that will be shown and available for purchase. These vibrant tulips, chosen for the show's advertising poster, are handpainted silk by Bev Pederson. Bev's personality is as warm and lively as her brushstrokes and her wearable art takes my breath away. This is your chance to meet and talk with the various artists from TWAA, to view their work and perhaps find that special piece that must go home with you.
The 6th. annual Spring Fling will be held at the Key Civic Center, 17010 South Vaughn Road, Key Peninsula, Saturday March 15th. Doors open at 7pm. Admission is $15 for non-members and $10 for members and patrons of Two Waters. There will be a no-host bar and hors d'oeuvres, comfortable seats and good company...and...did I mention music?

Entertainment for the evening will be provided by Jazz Musette! We're ready to kick it into gear for a new year...and it's a special one. This month marks my tenth anniversary with the band and I intend to celebrate for the entire year! We have been thrilled to be a part of so many Two Waters' shows and it just seems right to begin our season with this wonderful community of South Sound artists. Speaking of artists, I'd like to thank my daughter, Anna Hart, for the creation of the very cool "Jazz Musette Collage" shown here.
So, good Grit City folk, get your visas stamped and make up your car-pools with designated drivers. Take the jaunt over Bing Crosby's bridge and cross the historic causeway through Wauna (means 'shining waters') and down the peninsula to the flashing amber light in Key Center. Take a right turn, follow the road to a stop sign and you will see the Key Civic Center on your left. Join us for an evening of art, music, and a joyful celebration of the emerging spring.
For more information, write to

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Here's Looking at You

Lorraine Hart
photo taken by Anna Hart, 2006