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!


Kim Thompson said...

We played Cohen's "Dance Me To The End Of Love" and "Sisters of Mercy" at our wedding! Loved it!

Lorraine Hart said...

Leonard Cohen is one of my song-writing mentors...will have to do a piece on him sometime. Have you ever heard "Closing Time?" There's a youtube of it.

Dance me to the End of Love makes a great wedding song!

I'd actually love to do a program based upon some of my favourite songwriters....John Prine is another I just love...Paul Simon...Joni Mitchell. All are painters and story-tellers of such texture and depth.