Twelve of my singers performed songs from the 90s on Sunday afternoon and one of our favorite spots in town, The Evening Muse.
Why 90s? A few years ago I saw that wonderful documentary about studio musicians in LA during the 60s, The Wrecking Crew. It was the beginning of the summer, and I left the viewing all a flutter with the spirit of 60s music. I encouraged all my singers studying that summer to work on a 60s song. They were all so eager; all ages! By summer’s end, everyone was excited to sing their songs. After one singer picked a song we realized was written in 1970 it was decided we would have to put on a 70s concert the next year. And, so it began. This year it was the 90s.
This was the start of some of my themed concerts. A couple of times a year we have a showcase of songs, anyone’s pick. And, now we have a decades theme and sometimes a genre theme. In March we will sing Jazz Standards and Irish Ballads. Many of my singers enjoy the challenge of learning music and discovering new genres outside their usual listening. Sometimes folks just appreciate narrowing down the choices… there are a billion songs to sing; sometimes it’s hard to pick one!
The biggest challenge for this performance was not getting to run the songs with the full band until the day of the performance. I simulate the best I can on keys or guitar (singing guitar licks) in the studio for practice, but it’s never all clear until we’re all together doing our parts. Those specific guitar licks and patterns and drums are crucial to getting that feel for the song, especially in contemporary music. My singers were ready! Once through with the band, worked out a few kinks on intros and transitional places and away we went. It was a super fun hour of songs!
My singers inspired me. I go to a lot of open mics around town and play my originals and covers, but it’s just me. If I’m not rehearsed with other people, I hesitate to jump in. But, the performances on Sunday exercised my impromptu muscle and I asked my friend Kathy to sing a couple of songs with me at the Smoky Joe’s open mic this Tuesday. This open mic has a house band that will jump in with you. Just tell them the key, and anything you think they should know, and they’ll follow along. That’s the thing that makes me nervous; and we did it! And, it was great! It wasn’t perfect - remember last week when I said not to strive for perfect? It’s still my default (rolls eyes at self!) - but it was great! And, it was fun! I’ll look for more ways to jump into musical situations to practice just going with it!
How might you challenge yourself this week? Musically or otherwise?