Thursday, March 3, 2011

@ Kuumbwa & the Rrazz Room

I've just returned to Los Angeles from two Bay Area concerts. It was wonderful to see so many dear friends and to feel the comfort of their warm smiles and embraces.

In the past when I've played venues such as Kuumbwa and The Rrazz Room I've been accompanied by a jazz trio or quartet. This time I performed as a duo with my guitarist/husband Jerry Holland. The two of us have played gigs at small venues such as wine bars and house concerts but this was our first show together on a bona fide concert stage. We took the difference very seriously and made sure we were well prepared.

A lot of work went into these shows. First we chose songs for the set list which is not an easy task because we invariably have to leave out some of our favorites. The arrangements were then roughed out and fine tuned. We had a few clashes during this process but as soon as Jerry realized that my ideas were best things went as smooth as silk... I'LL LEAD THE WAY:) The lyrics, melodies and chord changes must all be memorized so repetition is key. We worked separately on difficult passages of the music... over and over and over. Since we live in an open loft Jerry would often practice in our car 'down under' in the parking garage. After rehearsing for several weeks we taped the entire show to make sure the sequence flowed naturally. We often record in our bathroom to minimize the street noise. Finally we went into the rehearsal studio for a run through with amplification. Jerry's old folk guitar wasn't quite the right tool for the job so he tried out a new arch top aka jazz guitar and I picked out a dress... Fair enough! I thought about what I'd say between songs. We rehearsed some more. One of the great things about working as a couple is that we get to practice every day. It is so much fun when the show starts coming together and we share in the joy of it's creation.

Besides the musical preparation there is promotional work to be done. It's important to get the word out so we send emails to fans and friends as well as reaching out to the media. There is an old adage in show biz, "Advertising you pay for, press you pray for..." I'm in no position to buy ads so I do a lot of praying:) Promotional work is time consuming and I'm not very comfortable with self-promotion. Ninety percent of the time journalists don't return calls or emails and it can be difficult to remember that it's usually nothing personal. It is all part of the music biz.

It was almost show-time and we were excited to be back in the Bay Area. Then, on Friday morning I was floored by a sudden spell of vertigo. No dizzy blond jokes, please. This was really bad. I awoke to a  room spinning so fiercely that I could barely stand up. I had never experienced anything like it. My doctor assured me that this kind of vertigo was quite common, but no less debilitating. The worst of it passed in 24 hours but it left me shaken and stirred. I was still unsteady on Saturday but of course the show must go on!  I had to be careful or I would wind up singing from the stage floor.

Photo by Joanne Olivieri
With a lot of help from my fans and friends there was an amazing crowd at the Kuumbwa on Saturday night, and the Rrazz Room was sold-out on Sunday. The warmth of the audience in addition to the preparation helped me to get past the vertigo and really feel the music. There is nothing I love more than singing my heart out for an attentive audience.

I haven't looked at the video from Kuumbwa yet. I hope the lighting was OK and the audio was well balanced, etc. If no one coughed extensively in front of the mic or walked back and forth in front of the camera on their way to the bathroom I'll be able to post some clips in the near future... In the meanwhile, here are a few photos from the Rrazz Room show. A big THANK YOU to everyone who came out and made these concerts a successful debut for Jerry and I.

On stage at the Rrazz Room. Photo by Terry Dudley
Jerry's new Godin Guitar. Photo by Terry Dudley
It was a sold out show @ the Rrazz. Photo by Terry Dudley

Giving a hand to the audience! Photo by Terry Dudley


  1. What a great post. It was a magical whirlwind weekend. Both shows were spectacular and completely delighted the audiences.

    The banter between you two made the shows even more entertaining and special. I like your "Ill Lead The Way" story :) Everyone was commenting after the show on how comfortable you two were on stage.

    Your choice of songs were right on!!! I particularly enjoyed the "When I Fall In Love" Medley. It was soulfully expressed and just beautiful.

    I have to say that I think it was your BEST YET! Loved every moment.

    Thanks for choosing one of my photos :)

  2. I've seen quite a few of your shows over the past past six years since the January 9, 2005 date when I got my first CD ( On a San Francisco High CD at Amoeba Records )- and I've been to all sorts of venues from the Park Hyatt in Toyko to the Cafe Louvre to Kuumbwa. I've seen you perform with an array of stellar musicians as well. This weekend was the ultimate, I believe, in every respect. You and Jerry were perfection. You wowed us with the music, your delightful banter, the professionalism you display in your work, the respect you always show for your fans. It was such a special time for all of us.

    Please do this more often, Sony and Jerry. I know the L. A. move was done for a reason but you are greaty missed by your friends and fans in the Bay area. You've been gone a year and a half and, as you can see, we love you more than ever!!

  3. Great article, great pictures.