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Dan Loomis: Jobs Trials

Dan Loomis: Jobs Trials

Tomorrow night at 8:00pm, I’m performing Dan Loomis’ Jobs Trials at Ibeam in Brooklyn.

This music is based on the bible’s Book of Job. There are great musicians performing alongside with me. A wonderful singer out on the scene from Korea, Songyi Jeon, great guitarist, Jeff Miles, Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums (where did this guy come from? Awesome!), the all inspiring leader,composer and bassist, Dan Loomis and yours truly on voice.
Howard Fishman is our narrator and there will be some beautiful artwork by Sean Gallagher.

This is going to be epic!

December’s Artist Feature: Dana Lyn

December’s Artist Feature: Dana Lyn

Once again, I have dropped the ball and didn’t quite make my November artist feature. However, I have managed to put together this month’s feature on the amazingly talented violinist, pianist, and composer Dana Lyn. I have known Dana for over a decade and for a short period we were also housemates. (Dana taught me how to truly appreciate vegetarian soup!) I have seen and heard incredible music whenever Dana is involved.

Dana moved to NYC in 2000 and has gone through some interesting transformations during her 15 years here. When I met Dana, I knew her only as an Irish fiddler, which was her main focus until about 2007. After that, Dana began performing music by Bach, writing string arrangements for various music groups, and composing string quartets and other original music. Dana’s vast artistic versatility has made her an incredible force in the NYC music scene.

Dana’s main current musical project is her band, Mother Octopus, which performs Dana’s original compositions. This band has been in existence since 2011 under other names such as Yeti Camp and Aqualude but the members have always been cellist Clara Kennedy, guitarist Kyle Sanna, drummer Vinnie Sperrazza and multi-wind instrumentalist Mike McGinnis. Another important project is her duo with Kyle Sanna. A new recording of this duo will be coming out in the near future following their debut recording called, “The Hare Said a Prayer to the Rainbow and Followed the Fox Down the Hole” (2011). This last CD is a wonderful listen and a top pick for my husband. Another recording worth mentioning is “Bach Reformed” by Dana and Rob Moose (who plays tenor guitar and mandolin on it). The repertoire comes from J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello and the Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo, with the material arranged as duets.

Dana also has a project with actor Vincent D’Onofrio called “Slim Bone Head Volt”. This work is based on D’Onofrio’s journal entries which Dana creates music for. This duo will be releasing their first recording on March 3, 2015.

The string quartet Brooklyn Rider commissioned Dana to compose a work called “Maintenance Music” for their Brooklyn Rider Almanac. Dana also wrote eight string quintet arrangements of traditional Irish fiddle music for the Apple Hill Quartet which has a recording due out next year.

One more thing to mention is that this past summer Dana was musical director of Family Album, a musical by the Tony award winning team Stew and Heidi Rodewald.

You can see Dana perform with Mother Octopus Sunday, December 14th, 8:00pm at the Firehouse Space in Brooklyn. She will also be at The Living Room with Matt Kanelos on December 17 ay 8:00pm. Slim Bone 7ead Volt will be at Joe’s Pub on December 20 at 7:00pm to close out Dana’s performances for the year. If you have the opportunity to check out Dana’s performances, I recommend that you go and see all the shows to really experience the breadth of Dana’s musical talent. You will not be disappointed.

August Artist Feature: Miranda Sielaff

August Artist Feature: Miranda Sielaff

This month’s featured artist is the wonderful performer, educator and violist, Miranda Sielaff. Miranda and I go way back to when we used to teach music up in Westchester county back in our early days in New York City. Miranda and I have shared countless meals together over the past decade or so and I’m not sure what her favorite dish is but I think she does enjoy the oven fried chicken that I make for my annual Memorial weekend picnic. Miranda is pretty handy in the kitchen and I always enjoy her cooking every 4th of July and birthday celebrations.

Since 2001 while completing her Masters in performance at Juliliard, Miranda has performed with renown artists from all over the world and is a part of some incredible ensembles such as the self-directed orchestra, The Knights, The Caravel Trio with cellist, Jane Cords-O’Hare and violinist, Kristi Helberg, and is a regular performer in ensembles such as the String Orchestra Of New York (SONYC), the composition collective ensemble, Wet Ink and recently with Ensemble Pamplemousse. Miranda regularly participates in Concerts in the Heights which is a concert series held in Washington Heights, NYC.

Miranda is a dedicated teacher of viola and violin and she is amazing at teaching little children. She teaches in Manhattan at School for Strings, the Diller Quaile School of Music and has her own private studio in Brooklyn.

You can hear Miranda next month with The Knights at Roulette on September 18 at 8:00pm. This is a special concert to check out because it will be the first from a series of self-presented concerts from The Knights. The Knights have never done a NYC concert series before so this is hopefully the beginning of great things to come.

Miranda is a generous, thoughtful and kind spirit and I have had the honor of performing with her in a duo setting, which was one of my performing highlights in NYC. Miranda’s sensitive and emotional playing creates a wonderful environment for her fellow musicians to have a deep musical interactive experience as well as audiences being uplifted by the beauty of her playing.

Take the opportunity to go hear The Knights or see Miranda perform with her trio. It will not disappoint.

June’s Artist Feature: Benjamin Scheuer

June’s Artist Feature: Benjamin Scheuer

This month’s artist feature is the remarkable and talented song-writer, guitarist, singer and actor Benjamin Scheuer. I have known Ben for more than a decade and seen this wonderful musician grow into the amazing talent that he is now.

Ben is a foodie. It is guaranteed that if Ben hosts a party, there will be incredible food to be had. When Ben came to my child’s first birthday party I was in disbelief watching Ben continuously eating the fish tacos I had set out that day. I take that as a compliment.

Ben has a remarkable story and it feels challenging to try and tell it in a few paragraphs.

Originally from Westchester, NY Ben settled himself in NYC in 2005 and by then had already recorded with his bands, The Capability and Call the Cops. Soon there after he recorded with his other band Escapist Papers (2006) and collaborated with fellow songwriter and bassist Geoff Kraly in Lady Clown (2007).

In 2007 Ben wrote an original musical with librettist Zoe Samuel called “Jihad!: The Musical” that premiered at the Fringe Festival in Glasgow followed by the premiere in London in 2010. Also, in that summer, Ben was invited to be part of the Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Workshop. Things were going strong and Ben was continuing his artistic pursuits until the unexpected happened. In 2011 Ben was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma. He underwent six months of chemotherapy and as of now I am so happy to say, is cancer free. During and after cancer treatment Ben began to record his sophomore recording with Escapist Papers called “The Bridge”. A video was made for the track, “The Lion” (which yours truly sang additional vocals for) has received four international awards for best video. You can view this amazing video here.

Ben was invited to be part of Lincoln Center’s “Songbook Series” (Broadway’s Future) in January 2012. During this experience Ben realized that a story needed to be told. In the following year, Ben was invited to the Goodspeed Theater and there he met director Sean Daniels. Sean and Ben began to develop Ben’s storybook and has now become the musical called “The Lion.”

Ben performed the early draft of “The Lion” (which at the time was still called, “The Bridge”) at the Fringe Festival in 2013 and received the Best Lyrics award for “The Bridge” and in the same year was awarded the ASCAP Foundation’s Cole Porter Award for Song Writing. (On top of being a great song writer, Ben is an incredibly generous individual; he donated the funds from his award to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society).

You can see Ben perform his new musical “The Lion” at the Manhattan Theater Club now until July 13th. Tickets are only $30 and I urge all of you to see this moving and wonderful performance. During cancer treatments, photographer Riya Lerner did a weekly documentation of Ben’s journey along with Ben’s journal entries and created a book with graphic designer, Lia Strasser called “Between Two Spaces” which will be available at www.BetweenTwoSpaces.com. All sales will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Benjamin Scheuer is earnest, charming, fun loving person whose generosity is moving and humbling. He is a musical force to be reckoned with and I am so honored to call him a colleague and friend. Go see The Lion everyone. You will not be disappointed.

February’s Artist Feature: Thomas Morgan

February’s Artist Feature: Thomas Morgan

This month’s artist feature is about my longtime friend, the gifted musician and bassist Thomas Morgan. I cannot recall all the meals that Thomas and I have shared over the years but in the last decade, Thomas has followed a macrobiotic diet and I have learned to make many delicious dishes to ensure that we continue sharing meals together. Thomas really enjoys my macrobiotic granola which I make whenever I get the chance.

I met Thomas when he was at the tender age of 18 and even then, you just knew something amazing was happening with this young man. Thomas has been in NYC since 1999 and from the moment he began his studies at Manhattan School of Music, his performance career started to flourish. Now he is one of the busiest musicians I know.

The first time I saw him perform was with the drummer Joey Baron, and guitarists, Steve Cardenas and Adam Levy at the no longer existing venue, Tonic in NYC. His clarity of sound and unbelievable sense of time were just two of the many amazing features of his playing.

There are too many groups and projects to mention in which Thomas is an active member. Including my toy instrument band (in which he plays guitar!) and my quartet, Thomas regularly performs with guitarist Jakob Bro‘s trio, Craig Taborn‘s trio, Dan Weiss and Jacob Sacks trios and was a long time member of the Steve Coleman group, David Binney band and the late Paul Motian band. Most recently, Thomas has been playing with guitarist Bill Frisell.

If you would like to check out Thomas playing live in the next month or so you will have to get yourself over to Europe. Currently he is on tour with Jakob Bro’s trio and will continue touring in Europe with pianist Giovanni Guidi. In April, you can check him out at drummer Dan Weiss’ CD release show at The Jazz Gallery on April 11 and 12. You can also hear him at Carnegie Hall (Weill Hall) with the Jacob Sacks Trio on May 28.

I had my first gig in NYC with Thomas Morgan in 2000 and ever since then, he has been my favorite bass player and one of my favorite musicians ever.

A little amazing fact about Thomas: he does not own a cell phone! How is that even possible this day and age? Just goes to show you that great talent can be sought out by any means necessary. I admire Thomas for having the ability to not be enslaved by modern technology. With a crazy schedule like his, not owning a cell phone is probably the best way to get a little quiet.

The Lion

The Lion

While celebrating my birthday the other evening, I congratulated my friend Ben Scheuer on his multiple awards for his newest animated video for his song. “The Lion.” As I was telling my other friends about this song, it had just occurred to me that I had sung additional vocals on this track. I am honored to have been part of this great artistic endeavor and once again, Ben, congratulations!
Here is this wonderful song and video, “The Lion”.

100 Push Ups, 200 Squats and 200 Sit Ups

100 Push Ups, 200 Squats and 200 Sit Ups

It’s been four days into the new year and I’m trying to start it off right. It’s been tough getting to the gym. The snow cleaning in Brooklyn has been pretty sad and it makes traveling really difficult, especially with a baby. My doc says I need to bump up my exercise to get rid of the pre-diabetic status and to lower my cholesterol. I promised myself that I would return to the gym whenever the weather gets better (don’t care if it’s cold, just not snowy). To get me started on my new exercise regime, there are exercises that I can do at home that don’t require weights or machines.

Before I got pregnant I started doing the one hundred push ups. I was pretty good before the pregnancy (46 push ups in a five minute sitting). Now I am returning to the 100 push ups plus attempting the 200 squats and 200 sit ups. There are times when I think this is crazy but I am generally curious about what I am capable of achieving.

Today I did the initial test for the sit ups and yesterday I did the initial tests for the push ups and squats. Overall, I’m at an average ranking (thank goodness). Over the next several weeks I will increase my exercises and according to the plan, I should be able to do 100 push ups, 200 squats and 200 sit ups in six weeks. I think realistically it will be about twelve weeks. We’ll see if I have the will power to do this. I figure, if I can deal with hours of screaming from my son multiple nights in a row, a few push ups, squats and sit ups are a mere walk in the park. LOL

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