Friday, February 27, 2009

kindness ROCKS!

One of the many different shows I work on is an Abba tribute, called Abbacadabra, for a company called Mooncoin Productions. The power couple behind Mooncoin, Jonas Falle and Jeanette OKeefe, are two of the finest human beings I have ever had the privilege of knowing, and I am extremely proud to be a part of their talent pool.

If anything is to be said by me, about the concept of the law of attraction, it is that I believe in it wholeheartedly. I first noticed Jeanette O'Keefe about a year ago, when she and I both joined a facebook group called Positive Fabulous Women.

Jeanette's attitude in her posts on the groups wall, made so much sense to me, that I felt to check her out. I was very impressed with her website . It is a slick, fun, sparkly, showy, perfect web home for her company, full of bright photos and professionally shot videos of fully produced soft seat theatre scale productions, complete with dancers, choreography and costumes.

I recall thinking, wow, what a LOT of work. I didn't have a clue how you get to that point, and was quite terrified to even try. I didn't even have a website at the time, I was quite content to just plod along and work in my duo. (the seed that day was planted however, and it was only a matter of time before I started to see more for myself as far as performing goes.)

I browsed the site, and I noted that Mooncoin had a number of different shows on offer, an Abba show, an R n B show, a Retro Diva show, a Country show, you name the show, they could provide it, and pull it off to perfection. I looked at a few of their videos, and stopped to really look at one called Kindness Rocks, which is an anti bullying show designed to educate young people on the realities of bullying.

This taken from their website:

"Through the magical power of music, entertainment, laughter and the sharing of true personal stories, "Kindness ROCKS" spreads the powerful messages of social responsibility, self esteem, empowerment, forgiveness, compassion and individuality. Our goal is to help stop violence and bullying in schools and communities throughout the world by inspiring youth to take kind and positive action on a daily basis and to let them know how important their individual contribution is to the world as a whole. "

I was so impressed with the video I saw and the message they seemed to be sending, that I sent a message (probably long and rambling) to Jeanette, (who at the time was a virtual stranger), and told her how moved I was with her work.

Months later we met in person for the first time, and it was instantly easy to be around her. We talked about how people can constantly strive to make positive connections to one another, we considered synchronicity for a while, and the fascinating notion that there is something inexplicably divine placing people and events in our path, which led us to contemplate and discuss how our choices regarding those events (be them good or bad), are what define our character and leads us to our current situations. etc. etc.

I think the most important thing we learned about each other that day, is that we both love to examine what it means to embrace this crazy journey of being a human. And inherent in both of our natures, is that we would rather prop someone up, than put them down. I walked away from that first meeting, impressed and inspired. It never dawned on me that several months later I would be working for them, but in hindsight it all makes perfect sense.

Fast forward to yesterday, I was invited by Jonas and Jeanette to see one of their Kindness Rocks concerts which was being held at a nearby High school auditorium in honor of Anti Bullying week. This was my first chance to see this concert live, in person, and I have to tell you . I nearly cried throughout the whole thing.

The show started with a smashing rock number, and as I watched my friends up there on stage, I was filled with pride and happiness for how awesome they all were. Once again, I was impressed with Jeanette, her amazing vocals and stage presence, and I sat back to enjoy what I thought was going to be a great musical show.

But it was more than that, SO much more.

After the first song, Jeanette introduced herself to the packed audience of teenagers. Here she was this gorgeous ( and I mean gorgeous ) singer, in a bright costume on an amazing big stage, singing with a smoking hot band, all confident and secure, yet, she begins to tell a story about her experiences growing up.

As they showed a slide on the wall, of her as a child, Jeanette talked about how her family was a little on the unusual side. For instance, her father painted their house in stripes, trimmed their evergreens to look like palm trees, and put crazy yet artistic sculptures in their front yard. To the neighbors, this just made the house look, well, weird. And of course, the way kids would see it, anyone who lives in a house like that must be weird right?

Not helping matters any, Jeanette was a part of a very large family, and she only ever got to wear hand me down clothes that didn't quite fit and had little style. This gave all her school friends yet another reason to single her out as different, and she spent most of her childhood as a loner. Kids were cruel to her in fact. For her birthday party one year, the girls who had been so mean to her, suddenly seemed to have a change of heart, and told her hey, yeah, we will come to your party! So Jeanette, SO excited, went home and told her Mom that she actually had friends coming for her birthday. Together they got her whole house ready, cake, decorations, the works.

And no one showed up.

I cry even as I type this, and I tell you, I was BAWLING when I watched the show. I cried for the little girl who suffered so much, who was beaten and beaten but never lost her fire. I related to her on so many levels, because when I myself went to a new high school, I never really managed to connect they way I had with my old friends at my old high school. I had years where I wandered the halls at lunchtime, trying to look like I was going to be hanging out with someone or doing something interesting, when the truth was, I mostly just went to the library, sat in the drama theatre and read a book, went for a walk and listened to music on my walkman, or skipped out entirely, and went to the stables to hang out with the horses (who I felt, understood me completely).

I wasn't tortured as openly as Jeanette was, I was just mostly ignored, never sought out, and only begrudgingly allowed to stand just outside of the crowd if I did try to include myself. And I did hear the comments once in a while, which confirmed to me that the way I was viewed was not very positive. I remember one girl calling me a beached whale, out loud, in front of the whole classroom, as we watched a video of our swimming class, and I was shown laying by the side of the pool.

I cried as I watched the Kindness Rocks show, I recalled those feelings of not quite fitting in, not knowing how to put myself out there, wondering what was wrong with me, why didn't I get it, what was I missing? I wondered why couldn't I talk to people about the things they were talking about? I just didn't get anything that seemed to be 'cool', wasn't in the loop. And I cried for all the children sitting in that audience right then, the ones who knew and felt exactly the feelings Jeanette was sharing with them, and I suddenly KNEW why Jeanette was driven to create such a show.

And it wasn't just Jeanette, every artist on that stage came out and told their story, be they the victim or the bully. Yes the people who acted as bullies spoke too, because they all suffered as well, they later regretted their bullying ways, and carry it with them to this day. It's almost worse to be the bully, because it is the bully who has the character flaw, and once you realize that about yourself, it is tough on the soul. I am not guessing at this, I know this, because I also can recall some kids in my elementary school whom I teased right along with all the other kids. I know how crappy it feels to be the bully too. What I think is important here, is that both sides of the story were represented in this show, and all events were told without judgment.

This wasn't even just about one day of shows either. Jonas and Jeanette came and worked with the high school drama class for a few weeks prior to the event, and the kids developed a skit which addressed how hurtful rumors get started. They performed the skit for their peers during the show, and not only that, the two dancers in the show, also came for several weeks prior, and worked with the school dance club on a number they all performed onstage with the band.

Now, tell me that is not inspiring to kids?

These are people that strive to make a difference folks. These are the people I admire.

I looked around at the audience full of teenagers, most wearing pink for anti-bullying day, and was hopeful that those kids would see their future in this group of people on stage that had struggled as teenagers themselves, but who became successful and confident adults anyways. I was hopeful the kids would be able to see past the hell we know as high school, and leave their fears and worries behind them, replacing them with strength and purpose because 'if these people who were just like me can believe in themselves, then maybe I can'.

I was inspired because of the person Jeanette is, that she has not become a mean, spiteful, bitter, woman, but instead became a dynamic and beautiful performer, and a deeply sincere person who puts out only kindness and good energy into the world, despite how it treated her as a child. Jeanette is a clever survivor, and only surrounds herself with positive people now. If you are not on a purposeful path or if you are not positive by nature, you wont get a job with her company. I have always been proud to know the people behind the Mooncoin team, to be considered talented enough to work in their shows, but after today, I am also honored, to think they also consider me a friend, because I can see how valuable it is to them.

I leave you with this final suggestion. If you are a parent of a child anywhere in the Lower Mainland, (or anywhere in the world for that matter, because Mooncoin does tour worldwide) I strongly encourage you to find a way to get this incredible production to your school.

Your children deserve it.

With love and hugs to you........... Rachael. xoxo

Saturday, February 21, 2009

my AMAZING day backstage with BLONDIE~

Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow,......oh yeah.............WOW~

Guess what happened on Thursday night folks?

I was playing with my band at Lulu's lounge in the the River Rock Casino, and it was just one of those great nights where everything was feeling groovy, I was singing well, and my band was in top form. I was so glad to be there and I was just having a great time doing my job.

After the first set, on my break, a fellow named Jim came up to me to tell me that he and the group of guys and girls he was sitting with, were really enjoying the band as well as my vocals and performance, and he said that after hearing just a few songs, a bunch of them had decided they were going stay for the night to watch the band. He complimented me and all my guys so highly, I was very touched.

We chatted a while longer and then Jim let me know that he was in fact, the production manager for Blondie, who were in town for a concert at the River Rock show theatre the next night. Jim said he was there with the crew ( as well as a number of band members who floated in and out of the venue throughout the night). I was invited over to meet them and join them all for a beverage.

Once again I was complimented on my vocals and I was so very, very humbled by the warmth and sincerity they all showed. I visited with them on my breaks after that, and a few of us closed down the bar after the gig (which I rarely ever do). What a fun, warm group of people.

I was invited to come see the show the next night, but I had a gig out in Mission (darn), so instead I was told I would be welcome to come to the rehearsal the next day, which was an even COOOLER experience, because I was able to actually go onstage before the rehearsal to take pictures of the set, chat with the crew, and witness all the activity backstage, as they prepared for the band to arrive.

When the band members did arrive, most of them recognized me and told me that I did a great job the night before. It impressed me a great deal that they took the time to acknowledge a little minnow such as myself, because really, the way it was all set up there on that big stage, those guys could have easily never crossed my path or spoken to me at all (and it wouldn't have been rude in any way, its just so busy back there), so the fact that any of them took a minute to say hello, was really very special to me.

So, anyhow, without further adieu, here are some pics from the day!

This is myself and the very charming Jim Roese.

Not only is Jim is the road production manager for Blondie, he also plays bass in an amazing band called Redlock, who are currently in studio recording.

Of course, I had to shoot a pic of this.............

See the cool backdrop? ( yep, that is me standing there....)

Blondie are hitting the road to sold-out performances across the U.S. and Europe, for the band's "Parallel Lines 30th Anniversary Tour." (click link for tour dates and venue info)

Just a note of interest to add,...... Blondie's album, 'PARALLEL LINES' was reissued by Capitol/EMI, in an expanded 30TH anniversary edition. For more info, you can find a link to purchase the CD here.

Backstage was filled to capacity with dozens road cases FULL of gear and music equipment.

Rick, the uber-cool drum tech for the band, tells me that he writes the set lists on the snare drum skin before every show. I thought that was a pretty neat idea, and I had to take a pic. This is the set list from the last show, before he changed it out for a new skin.

The guitar tech Grady was a super nice guy with a great sense of humor. Grady has a very busy job taking care of these gorgeous instruments for Chris Stein (guitar), Leigh Foxx (bass), and Paul Carbonara (guitar)~! All of these guys are just so excellent at what they do, I am a big fan of guitar players in general, and there were no dissappointments while watching these talented players do their thing. I had a chance to talk to Leigh for a quick moment backstage, and I really got a good vibe from him, he seemed like a really nice guy, and man, what a solid bass player. I really thought he was great.

This was perhaps the neatest thing I have ever seen. Debbie has a computer monitor set up which displays lyrics if she wants to see them, she can scroll around and find any song she wants at the click of a button. Jim was the one who set Debbie up with this handy rig and I think its pure genius, it looks far cleaner and classier than pieces of paper taped to the floor (which is how we minnows do it)!

A shot of the backstage monitor sound board. I had to take this pic, both because the board is impressive, but also, if you look there on the laptop, it is logged into a page on my website (we were listening/watching a couple of my vids and songs).

Once the band started rehearsals, I went up to the main soundboard to watch. I was so touched and humbled to be there that I actually got teary on a number of occassions. The band were going over songs and tightening everything up and I just loved watching the process, loved seeing exactly how a monster band worked it all out together with such incredible professionalism and camaraderie. I wished I was up there doing BGs, but they had it covered.....LOL. Speaking of background vocals, some were provided by the keyboard player Matt Katz-Bohen , who is truly a phenomenal player, and I really enjoyed watching him play.
Everyone on that stage was just amazing, and Deborah Harry had me utterly mesmerised. Her voice is as gorgeous as ever, so rich and textured in the low range, and spot on when she was hitting the big notes. I absorbed every second of it, and found it to be so very inspiring to think that I was hearing in person, the voice that was a big part of the musical tapestry of my youth.
( Yes I sure did have the Parallel lines CD's and I practically wore out the grooves on the record)
I was able to meet Debbie briefly afterwards, and I told her how inspired I was by her. She graciously shook my hand and gave me a lovely smile, and I couldn't help but notice how beautiful she is. Her skin is like porcelain, and her features, well you know what she looks like, she is gorgeous. Even wearing no make up, dressed in her comfy clothes, she was stunning, and there is just something about her energy that is very, very special and impossible not to pick up on.
I swear it was a day and moment that I will never forget.

After the rehearsal I was saying good-byes, and while I was supposed to just take picture of gear and the venue, Jim suggested we try for one last photo op!

I was wildly impressed with Clem Burke drummer and one of the co-founding members of Blondie. Clem is one of those guys that is not only a wicked drummer but a great showman, and he does all those nifty tricks that audiences love to see like throwing his sticks up into the stratosphere and catching it without missing a beat. There is never a dull moment when you are watching Clem play drums.
By the way, if you click on any of the band members names that are underlined in this post, you will find more bio and info for all them.
On Clems page I found this.......
"Blondie drummer Clem Burke is teaming up with British researchers to investigate the potential health benefits of playing drumming-based interactive computer games." Full story here:

Nice eh?
There is a lot more to be found at the official Blondie website so do check it all out~

Special thanks go to Rick who not only gave me the old drum skin that he changed out of Clem's snare drum, but he asked the band to sign it for me. I was also given this drumstick which was made specifically for Clem ( with his signature on it ), and the nifty official Paul Carbonara guitar pick (pictured in the photo at the top) with his name and BLONDIE, printed on it.

And of course thanks to Jim who came to chat with me in the first place, and who was my host for the day at the rehearsal. I had such a fun time, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
Finally to all of you reading, no matter where you are in the world, I encourage you to grab the new CD and watch for this 30th Anniversary tour to come to your town. The band is smoking hot, and Debbie Harry, well what can I say, if you get the chance to see her perform live, she is going to blow you away!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I read the news today Oh boy.......

Does it worry anyone else out there, that you or someone you love, may not make it home tonight?

Over the last month in Vancouver, there have been 6 deaths by gunfire. Some of those incidents involved people who were targeted in gang related hits, while others were innocent victims, either caught in the cross fire, or mis-identified as a gang member. No where seems to be safe, nothing is sacred. You could be sitting at a stop light, parked at a shopping mall, or driving along the street, and be caught in a hail of gunfire. That is our reality today. I used to think that as long as I stayed away from shady people, this sort of thing would never touch my life, clearly, this is no longer the case.

Yesterday, a Mother was driving down the street with her 4 year old in the car, and was fatally shot as she drove down the street.

Did you really read that people? She was fatally shot in front of her son.

Excuse me, I have to breathe for a second................

I could talk about bad parenting all day long and blame it for the gang problem in this city, but it's too late for that really. The problem is here, now, and we can't ignore it. Part of the bigger picture involves our lame-pansy-ass justice system that we operate under. So what if they throw officers at the problem? Even if these hoodlums get caught for a crime, they barely do any time. Do something bad in this city, and the slap is so weak, you may as well have been given a nice little vacation with 3 squares thrown in.

By comparison, I think back to when I used to live in the Middle East. I felt safer there, oddly enough. I could leave my purse on a park bench overnight, and it would still be there in the morning. If you get caught stealing there, you could lose your hand. Its darn good motivation to walk the straight line if you ask me. I really don't know exactly what we do to punish criminals in this city, but clearly its not enough.

And while I am discussing this, lets talk a little about why the gangs are operating in the first place OK? Forgive me because I really don't follow these things very closely usually, but I gather they make their money largely off of drugs, correct?

Here is what I don't understand about all this gang nonsense, why they are allowed to operate at all?

I know they weren't given 'permission' to operate, but they are basically left alone and allowed to operate (in my opinion), because the Govt. is inexplicably acting like the trading of drugs is not a business that is actually going on. Even though we all know it is. These gangs have no competition, no overhead and no responsibility to the government, so the profits are huge, and they monopolize the market. No wonder its become a matter of life and death.

And the Gov't lets these hoodlums have this monopoly. Too afraid of letting us take responsibility for ourselves. So instead of digging into the pockets of the drug lords and requiring them pay taxes for their business like the rest of us, the Govt. throws money and resources (police and justice system) at a losing battle.

What a waste, when there is clearly bountiful money resource right there. Legalization would devalue the very product that the gangs are in business selling. Making their product less lucrative, would make it less life threatening. I would just love to see what would happen if the Govt. would just choke the crooks cash flow by legalizing their Enterprise and requiring them to comply with licenses, paperwork and tax forms.

Did anyone notice that no one is shooting anyone over vodka or smokes?

Bleeding hearts try to make it so difficult for the Gov't to legalize drugs, yet people can legally choose to kill themselves with cigarettes and alcohol, and that makes a pile of money for our govt. Why don't all those people who don't want anyone to have any responsibility for themselves, GET that?

People are going to do what they want to do, no matter how the Govt restricts them or tries to take our personal responsibilities away. If they suddenly make crack legal, it wont make it attractive to me. I am not going to be wandering down to pharmacy to pick some up for a Friday night. The dollars earned in collected taxes could go to education, as well as helping with the treatment and recovery of the relatively few who do encounter problems. Quite frankly, I think we NEED to take responsibility for ourselves.

I do have compassion for people who are struggling with addiction, but quite honestly, I would rather let a drug addict kill himself with drugs he can legally buy at the pharmacy, than have a gang member kill me,......... or someone in my family.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Vancouver City Limits, songwriters workshop!


Yesterday I attended the first ever, Vancouver City Limits Songwriting Workshop and Concert, which was held at the Beaumont studios in Vancouver, BC. I would say it was a roaring success. Our teachers for the day were Ron Irving, and Steven Mclintock, and doing sound was Bruce Gerrish who hosts the Vancouver City Limits New Music Review on Monday nights. Both Ron and Steven are extremely prolific, published, charted, award winning songwriters with enormous talent and endless amounts of experience, which gratefully, they are willing to share.

And share they did. The workshop was an all day event which touched on all things songwriting and discussed various aspects of the music business. We were given exercises and instruction, and we all were given the chance to have a song of our own critiqued. They spent a decent amount of time on each and every person who brought or performed song, whether it was a polished gem, or still just the seed of an idea and needing a rewrite. They gave good honest constructive criticism and also found the strong points of each composition, so that people could focus on what works as much as what doesn't.

I played Overboard, quite badly actually, from a 'playing and vocal performance' point of view. I couldn't have been any more stiff and uncomfortable, or sang more poorly in my scratchy morning voice, and knowing what I am capable of, my human pride in myself had me feeling pretty disappointed, however, I was able to let it go pretty quickly because what I did manage to do, was at least get the basic song idea across. Which was really the point of the exercise. I received a really decent critique which I was very pleased and proud of. I had clued into the fact that in a songwriter workshop, the performance is not exactly relevant, and so that was not the time to try and be a big vocal show off anyway. It is entirely possible that this was 'natures' way of keeping me humble and in check, lol, sometimes I do require the assistance of my otherworldly angels to help me curb my enthusiasm................ but still, it doesn't ever hurt to have a rocking performance. ;)

Another interesting part of the workshop for me, was when Ron and Steve were telling stories about how their own songs were inspired and written. They talked about how connections were made, and a guitar was picked up and played frequently to illustrate certain points as they discussed various tips and tricks on the craft and business of songwriting. The two men were charming and funny in an easy way, and they seem to like and respect each other a great deal. I felt that they really worked well together, and I felt safe in their class, like I was in very good hands.

The setting was an intimate theatre/stage, which is attached to an art gallery as well as an acting and music studio. The vibe was comfortable from the moment I walked in the door, very artistic and non-judgemental. I love arty places like this. Everyone just loves everyone else for who they are. Peace brother. I swear in a moment of reverse deja vu, I could feel a video about the Beaumont studios being shot and edited for All Access Pass, happening somewhere in my future. (Maybe perhaps on the night when my gal pal Jen Hershmann is playing her showcase there on March 23rd.)

The day was even more inspiring than I had hoped it would be. It never ceases to amaze me how many nice people there are in the music business. As I was waiting in the lobby for the theatre to be opened, in walked BC recording artist Rick Tippe ,whom I have known for a few years through our mutual addiction to little toy cars (Rick and his wife Bonnie, host a Hot Wheels Show a couple times a year, which me and my son attend whenever we can), so it was great to see a familiar face and have someone to chat about toy cars and music with while we waited to be let in.

Rick is a monster performer, one of the most dynamic guys I have ever seen on stage, with a list of top 40 hits that's longer than his arm. He was fantastic at the 2008 BCCMA awards show this year (you may recall I was there filming/editing the backstage all access video with Kelly Brock), and I highly recommend you check out his latest single release Last Call for Alcohol ., which will begin playing if you click the underlined link to Ricks website.

And this video is the official music video for Forever!

Everyone, Rick Tippe

I swear I am the luckiest girl sometimes, the first people Rick introduced me to as we all wandered into the theatre to claim a seat, were the teachers themselves, Ron and Steve. Besides being very talented, they are genuinely nice fellows. If you ever see Ron or Steve are hosting a songwriting workshop in any city, I would highly recommend you go, and if its in held in Vancouver, you can bet I will be there.

Workshop participants were also invited to the evening performance, which was a songwriter in the round concert (that is when songwriters sit on stage with only guitars and share with the audience stories and experiences attached to the songs they perform).

Steve and Ron were joined by two more incredible artists, Bonnie St Croix , a well known Vancouver artist with a number of beautifully performed & written CDs. Bonnie has the sweetest voice, and writes the saddest songs which literally brought people in the audience to tears. I love songwriters who can rip my heart out and stomp all over it. I really do. Some songs are like a little roller coaster ride for the heart, and that's just magnificent.

The video below, is one of the songs that Bonnie played last night, this was her closing song, one of the few songs she has written that doesn't make you want to weep. ; ) I loved it, and all the players onstage joined in on the song, each talent adding exactly the right amount of texture to the tune. I could pick out each part clearly as they tastily laid little licks and rhythm patterns all over the song and talked to each other with their instruments and voices. I am vibrating now, remembering it, and all the other moments like it.

Also on the bill, Michael Vincent who has an incredible voice that had me mesmerized. Michael gave so much to the audience by providing one of those magical musical moments that you just have to experience in person to truly appreciate. He invited us to sing along to his song and provide callbacks and ooos and ahhhs. The whole room joined in sweet harmony and it was simply divine. I was resonating on some sort of frequency that made me feel very centered and happy to be there. Ron Irving by the way is producing a CD featuring Michael Vincent and Friends, and more info can be found on this link to his website.

Speaking of harmonies, we were treated to the lovely guest harmonies of several ladies in the audience, including Michael's daughter Zaena, and Ron's wife Sue Irving, who also works for SOCAN. Sue was great, and she had a lot of time to chat with me, and gave me advice about a couple of my songs which will be getting some short TV airplay soon (probably 2 seconds worth, LOL).

I will leave you with this video, performed by Steve Mcklintock,the song is called 'Don't let this plane touch down'. We were told that this was the first song that Steve and Ron ever wrote together. They played this song last night in the second set, and it was without a doubt, one of the many great highlights of the night!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

my valentine's day love story


Valentine's day is about to pass us by and I will be spending this one solo. I am just stating fact here, not feeling sorry for myself. Feb 14th is one of those day's in the year where you really can't successfully ignore it if you don't have a significant other, so I am deciding what I am going to do with it.

Even in the days building up to the big Heart day, it is impossible to not notice everyone is all, love happy. For instance I receive daily messages into my inbox lately; - informing me of specials on roses for my darling, -heart related gift ideas, -places to fall in love all over again, -sweetheart parties, -love song playlists, -love, -love, -love......

That's fine, really. You deserve it. Smoooch! I heart you. There I played.

Our love stories are a part of the fabric of our lives, and I really do hope you have a great love story to tell. I have a great love story. It didn't have the ending we anticipated, but all the same, it was a lovely time in my life that I will always remember and hold dear.

So, I am thinking here, in the spirit of Love, this is what I am going to do. Rather than do a rant about Valentines day, I am choosing to turn it around and share something nice with you all. I'll tell you a true love story, it's my story. One that is easily told, if I am asked or inclined to tell, and today I am inclined to share it with you.

My story actually is quite different than some of the stories that have been told about me. I hear that when I left Canada to go back to the UAE way back in 1996, there were some fantastical tales told which involved myself, a mysterious sheik, some camels, and possibly a harem. Ha! They were brilliant actually. I only wish I was as adventurous as some of you think I was. I can see how the tale may have blossomed and evolved over time and distance, but to shed some light, here is a condensed version of my love story.

J and I met on the other side of the globe in the Middle East, both of us working thousands of miles from our own homes and families. J was working in the financial branch of an oil exploration company, and I was on a three month tour with an all girl band.

One weekend near the end of our stay in the UAE, the band was invited out on a beach trip. This was pretty much a weekly event, where a large group of about 20-30 friends would take their boats to a deserted sandbar island. They would pitch gear, and hang out all day long, water-skiing, tubing, swimming, cooking, eating, drinking, listening to music, and just enjoying the white sandy beaches, endless blue skies, and crystal clear water.

I saw J the moment he stepped off his boat, he was gorgeous, all scruffy and relaxed because it was his day off. His thick black hair was overdue for a cut so it was covering his chocolate brown eyes as it fell over his face and he had to keep flicking his head to the side so he could see, which really seemed to annoy him but I thought it was quite sexy. When he spoke he had a rich deep British accent which appealed to me in every way, and I could not help but steal glances at him as we danced around each other all day, just close enough to be aware of each other, but never quite engaging beyond polite conversation.

I can feel some of you rolling your eyes at me, yes, I admit was very lame, a chicken, I am aware of that. To be fair to me though, I was running on common sense too, and felt that since I was going home soon. It seemed so pointless to me to do anything but admire the beautiful boy from afar, why torture myself by trying to speak coherently? So, admire him I did, and it was lovely for me.

J and I had seen each other a few times since the day on sandbar island, and it was always more of the same, we figured we liked each other, but wouldn't do anything about it. (it never even occurred to me for a second to move back to the UAE , cause that would be crazy right?). Anyhow, it actually took some outside intervention, but we did finally manage to connect.

And looking back, I really do have to laugh at what a couple of weenies we were.

The band were invited to a gathering where J also happened to be, and upon our arrival, one of J's friends decided it would be a fabulous idea to hand-cuff me and J together, so that we would stop running away from each other. It was a bit drastic, but the plan worked and we finally fell into an easy conversation that excluded everyone else in the room but us.

I barely knew J, from a time perspective, but both of us knew we had made a very special connection, there was no doubt for either of us, and the day I made the long flights home to Canada, I felt hollow, as if I was leaving my heart behind me, dying in the sandy desert.

It did not take long for that sadness to be replaced by excitement however, as shortly after returning home, the letters started to land in my mailbox, and then flowers arrived, and then,........ the boy showed up.

He had literally crossed oceans for me.

Mom was impressed, as was I.

J came on the road with me for the next couple of weeks ( I was playing music all over the BC at the time so it was the perfect way to show him around my beautiful province), we may as well have been handcuffed to each other all over again, we barely left each others side.

It was a magical time, we were glowing, we experienced all of the cheesy cliches that supposedly go along with falling in love, the comfort, the magic. We saw every falling star and made wishes on them, and we were sure of each other, in every way. At the end of the summer, after he had been back home for several weeks, he sent me a plane ticket to come see him. I arrived back in the Middle East on my 26th birthday.

Within a few months, we found ourselves getting married at the towns city hall where we lived in the UAE. The entire "ceremony" was in Arabic and we, stared at each other from across the room, giggling and feeling like we were in the principles office, waiting to hear if we were in trouble or not.

To this day we still have no idea what was said in that office on the day we got married, but apparently, J "purchased" me, and according to our marriage booklet, (which is also in Arabic) he can legally have a couple more wives if he wants to. I told him that if she was really cute and willing to do the dishes, I would consider it. ; )

It was all a marvelous whirlwind, and truly the great romance story of my life, complete with all the fun, travel and adventure that a young girl could ever dream about. We wanted for nothing, we didn't want much, we just loved being in love, loved being together in a another country, loved learning about the places we traveled to. We enjoyed exploring new cities and, meeting new people and finding new things to do. I had some incredible learning moments along the way, and I experienced parts of the world that you simply have to see, taste, smell, and feel, to fully comprehend or believe.

We lived on 4 different continents over 7 years, and along the way we adopted a chocolate Lab, and made two wonderful children. I am so glad to say that I lived this life, glad that I had the opportunity to experience the world this way. I gained so much from living abroad and finding my way around the world with a partner. We really had it all for a while. I think we were lucky for that, and that should be remembered.

We do still have it all in a way, but its a just different picture than we had first imagined, life just happens sometimes. We are still very close friends, and I can trust J for anything. And we love those kids, so wouldn't dream of hurting or dis-respecting one another, for fear of putting them in the middle.

In a day and age where broken marriage is sadly becoming the norm, I am thankful that if a split had to happen to me, at least I picked a guy who is still being a supportive and caring Dad. Not every woman can say that. But not every woman keeps an open door for their childrens' Father to easily connect with his kids either, and women really need to do that. For their children, they must. It's true, J and I couldn't keep the marriage intact, but we sure figured out how to co-parent well together, and that's really saying something.

So, I have had my love story, I don't begrudge you yours. I count myself as lucky for having a love story in the first place, considering I had to be handcuffed to a fella in order to even talk to him properly, it's actually a wonder that I got married at all.

And I am not going to sit around looking like I suck on lemons all day either, because, well, you all know me by now. On Feb 14th this year, I am going to take the lemons and make lemonade. I have signed myself up for a songwriting workshop this Saturday. I have been on a creative little run lately anyway, so this is a good place to channel my energy. I have never taken a songwriting course, so I believe it will be quite enlightening and probably very inspiring.

The silver lining here, is that musically this whole being single thing actually works for me, being unencumbered as I am, I am free to imagine whatever I like, and the ideas just seem to flow because I don't have to explain anything. I write without self-editing, and I can use any muse that appeals to me. This opens the door for a great deal of free expression, and I am simply loving it! It's clearly my time for this so I am not going to worry about what I don't have, and will instead be grateful for all that is good in my world.

So for those of you who are gearing up for a lovey-dovey evening with the person you adore, I wish you the very best Happy Valentines Day ever! And if you are like me, and are going to be flying solo this Saturday Feb 14th, do something fun anyways, treat yourself, embrace it, and go face the day head on. Or, better yet, go and handcuff yourself to the person you fancy, you never know what could happen.......



Sunday, February 8, 2009

painters and musicians


There is a woman whom I met through You Tube last year named Amanda Delight, she is an incredible painter who films herself as she paints her masterpieces from beginning to end. She takes the footage she shoots and speeds up the film then edits it to music, sharing with the viewer her process as she creates her magic on canvas. She then posts the videos to her You Tube account and shares them on her blog.

I just came across this new video she has put up, of her painting President Obama, and thought I would share it with you ........

Sometime last year Amanda came across my song on You Tube called "Standing all the Way" ( a song about being diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and deciding to hope, fight, live and love well ), and she contacted me to tell me she was so inspired by the song that she wanted to do a painting and make one of her videos, she wanted to know if I would please let her use my song for the video. She told me that she planned to use the video to remind women not to forget to get their mammograms done. [Little side note: Amanda is not only a painter, she is a mammographer, so she is dealing with issues surrounding breast cancer on a daily basis]

I was very honored to be asked. This woman is a true artist. I was blown away by her talent as I watched a number of her previously made videos. I immediately and without hesitation said yes, and told Amanda that I would be delighted (pun intended) to give her my song. I just had to find a way to record the song (at the time the song was only in rough draft form on You Tube which is how she found it), but she also had to do the painting yet, so we had time.

Part two of this story involves the recording of the song you will hear in this video, but for now, here is the video that Amanda made to my track. The picture you will see being painted, was donated to a Charity fundraiser, and now hangs in a Hospital somewhere in the US! Nice.

It was kind of exciting to think that we worked on this from different parts of the continent at the same time, it was my first collaboration on You Tube. I lucked out big time by choosing the right person to ask to record the song. I recorded the track at Millennia Sound Design. The production, recording, mixing, engineering, instrumentation, and arrangement was provided by Mick Dalla Vee. I am forever grateful for his help with this project, I had only asked for a guitar and vocal track because that was all I could afford. Instead, Mick delivered to me, a beautiful song with full instrumentation. He said he put in the extra time, knowing this track was going to help support a cause. That's the kinda decent person he is.

Not to mention, incredibly talented. If you have ever seen the incomperable Randy Bachman in concert, chances are good that you have seen Mick Dalla Vee, as he has been playing with Randy in his band for years. Mick also has a number of different music projects which are counted amongst the country's top acts, and he also runs a rock n' school for teens, which I will be probably be blogging about in future because we are working out details for the McRockskool to open a branch in the facility where I teach the kids their dance classes.

So, in case any of you singer/songwriters/bands who are reading in the Lower Mainland are looking for a studio or a top notch producer, or, if you simply want to go see a great band, check out the links provided ( anything underlined )!

And on that note, for your rock and roll enjoyment today,....... I'll treat to to the talents of of these highly regarded, hardworking entertainers.....

When not on the road with Randy, Atlantic Crossing, or backing up other major artists and touring overseas, Mick works with his rock trio Cease and Desist, These guys are all so enormously talented, Mick can sing play and sound like anyone, Marc LaFrance is an outstanding drummer, and Brent Howard plays so clean and tasty. They all have wicked vocals, and as players they get out of each other's way. Its just a joy to watch them. If you are looking to go see some great rock and roll being played to perfection, go to one of their shows.

On the website, I found this video that I will share today, the boys are treating us to some Led Zepplin (yeah)! The following is a description taken from Mick's website:

“This is from 2006. Brent hosted a jam at The Point in Port Moody. One night I was there hanging as was Rick Fedyk (Spud). Spud is a monster drummer - especially on Led Zeppelin tunes...the guy has studied Bonham like a thesis. We decided to do Whole Lotta Love and it was caught on video...the sound isn't great, but you can tell it was pretty magic. Spud's drumming at the end is stellar.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

rehearsing tunes for gigs *video*

Sometimes you just find people online who are a little extra special to you, and Bryn is one of those people! Yesterday, she posted a video on her blog , and dedicated the song she sang to MOI! She had me smiling and laughing from start to finish! She is most adorable human, and a talented artist.

Her video, prompted me to make this video for her today.

So, this is for Bryn, seeing as she posted her cute adorableness singing Karaoke in her living room for me, I am sharing my own living room theatre where I spend time learning tunes for work! :)

All the songs you hear by the way, I am learning for my next Lulus gig at the River Rock Casino. Please feel free to check out the band if you are in Vancouver, Richmond, surrounding area.

We play on Sunday Feb 15th, and Thursday Feb 19th. more info at my website