Tuesday, September 15, 2009


nine weeks since my last post. once again, my apologies. but i have big news, and worth the wait i hope.
the new project, which i didn't want to jinx last time by spilling the uncooked beans, is now officially a "Go", and i'm very excited about it. i owe it all to the aforementioned Suse-my-muse, who, it seems, had a plan all along when she gave me the book "Nothing to Be Frightened Of" by Julian Barnes.
i had been writing songs about and around death and certain aspects of spirituality, for want of a better word, without seeing the big picture. all the time i was trying to find an idea for a project, i was already working on one. this one.
so the first thing i thought was that Suse and i should do it together, from day one. the Blood and Fire show had been a collaboration as well, but not until half of the songs were written. but at some point - i have no recollection of how it came up, but would be willing to concede full credit to Susan - we decided to enlarge the collaboration by bringing in other songwriters and musicians, from the get-go.
we talked about who would be best, to work with, play with, who would create and perform with the most passion. that was easy, and to our great joy the three we picked jumped on board with exactly the enthusiasm we had counted on.
Carol is a songwriter who loves to be on stage, who sings and moves with panache. she vamps with a boa - and gets away with it. and she writes hilarious songs, as well as deep and heartfelt ones. it was obvious we were going to need some light moments in a show about life and death.
Roy is a multimedia star - a brilliant painter, sculptor and inventor as well as being an incredible songwriter with his own vocal and guitar style. we are hoping to add some visual elements to the show, and the ideas are already popping.
Deb is also an artist - one of the country's top knitting designers, and potentially a great drummer, 'though we're having to drag her out of the closet to do it. i was shocked and very pleased that she agreed to do it.
actually, all three are artists. i skipped the fact that Carol is a wonderful potter. no wonder we had so many great ideas for visuals when we met at Roy's farm yesterday.
Susan is the overseeing angel - a brilliant writer who travels in lofty academic circles but who has just as much passion for her home, her friends, and their respective passions. she writes songs for the love of it, and has recently renewed her intimate aquaintance with the piano.
Susan is the one who gets the big picture - she already has a very strong idea of what this is going to look and sound like, and will be great at integrating the disparate parts into a whole.
the songwriters have a number of existing songs that would suit the theme - we are all of an age to have been exploring our mortality - but we hope also to write at least a couple of numbers en masse.
the way we see it at this point is a series of short sets of songs and narrative, which we are calling "scenes", each exploring an aspect of death, including life.
our first meeting went well enough to get us on the same Page One, i think. i was unusually apprehensive, and thereby reticent. my friends around the table were wondering what was up. i couldn't explain it immediately, but soon realized that the difficulty i perceived was about sharing. it seemed a wonderful idea at the time, sitting on Susan's porch, to make this a project of five collaborators. but i had no idea how that was supposed to work. i wanted a true collaboration, equal ownership of credit and responsibilities. but i also had some ideas, vague as they might be presently, of what i wanted it to be. i didn't want to be deferred to at every step, but i had some fears about losing the bottom line.
it will be okay, i think. i will feel a lot better at our next session, which is all about the music, the most crucial part of the show. after that bit of fun, we will have a much clearer diirection and sense of just what this thing is that we've initiated.
we've given ourselves a deadline to be ready to do the show - February 2010, so we don't get lost trying for perfection. and we will do it all ourselves - no side players, singers or artists. there's enough talent in our wee pool to put on a decent show. this last topic made for some lively discussion - wouldn't you want the best players to ensure the best show?
Susan and i had discussed this on her porch. we are proud and happy to be amateurs, on stage and in this life. amateur: from the Latin, amator, "lover".
so, if you're around, come and see some happy lovers singing and talking about Life, Death and the whole dang shootin' match, next february.
the band is called Slim Chance and the Future Dead.
the show is "Tiny Rehearsals".

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