Monthly Archives: June 2013

Celebrating the Solstice With Music

greta at fort tyron

Friday June 21st was the 2013 Summer Solstice–the longest day of the year.  To celebrate the occasion this year, I decided to join the Words and Music group gathering at the Fallen Flagpole in Fort Tyron Park (near the cloisters museum in NYC).

The flagpole is at one of the highest points in the city, enclosed by a tall stone wall, surrounded by tall trees,  that still lets you view the Pallisades on the west, the Hudson River on the North, and uptown Manhattan on the east,  The setting was amazing. As you sat there listening to various poets reading from their works, you could hear birdsong and trees rustling in the breeze, in addition to whatever music the musicians(guitars, bongos, trumpet, trombone, claves, etc.) provided for them. At one point we looked up to see the sun setting as a big orange ball in the West, as the Moon came up in the east–at the same time!

I had brought pre-recorded accompaniment with me to use for my two songs, but as I sat there listening to everyone else, I decided it would be counter to the spirit of the event. When my name was called, I got up and asked for some of the guitarists to accompany me, instead, and two immediately joined me at the microphones.  We made it through the first song-note to self: always bring sheet music–, but for the second, I decided to go with a fun jazz number, “Alright,, OK, You win”.  The crowd got into it from the beginning, and I suddenly realized that I had more than the two guitars playing with me, and then the audience members got up and started to swing dance!  I have never before moved people to dance, and it was really, really cool.  I can never thank Words and Music enough for that experience.  They were so appreciative of my efforts, and I have to say it was a nice change; to have people tell me directly that they appreciated my song.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say something.  Earlier last week I ran into someone who had played for me in a club, and made room in her open mike for me to sing.  They said, you’re really good, you know?  and I said, “it’s nice to hear someone say it”.   A lot of time, thought, and practice goes into  singing–often you spend hours just deciding WHAT to sing.  And unless you’re one of those lucky few being paid to perform, the praise is all the payment you’ll get.  People assume you know they liked your performance, just because you didn’t boo them off the stage, but really, please take the time to run some kudos by them.  You might be surprised at the reaction.

Again, THANK YOU to Words and Music at the Fallen Flagpole for the outpouring of love and appreciation, the dancing–and the photos–you sent my way.

Singing in the Garden

greta at ring garden june 15greta with hats

Saturday, June 15 was the annual Art Exhibit in the Ring Garden as part of an event called the Upper Manhattan Arts Stroll.  I look forward to this day because it’s the occasion when I bring out all my hats for sale, and get to spend the entire afternoon in the sunshine in a beautiful private garden.  From 1-6 PM various singers, writers, poets and instrumentalists get to perform for an admittedly small crowd while surrounded by tall rustling trees and beautiful flowers in the sunlight.  (I won’t lie, since the park is in the middle of a busy intersection on Broadway and 200th street, we also have plenty of motorcycles, ambulances and other traffic noise as well.

I count myself lucky if I sell even one hat during this event, but even so I love doing it because people do come to admire and marvel at my hats–and even take photos of themselves in front of my display.  Ah well, feedback of a sort, but it does confuse me when they say I should be selling the hats, then say, “but I’d never wear one”.

I sang a 20-minute set this year, as always, but decided to throw the crowd a few curve balls. I mixed in “Besame Mucho”, see video at http://youtu.be/zVGyq2iBUtM and “El dia que me quieras”–I don’t speak Spanish, but I learned them in the language anyway; after all, it’s what American classical music singers do.  Suddenly a lot of the people who had been sitting outside the garden all afternoon, listening, came inside to SEE who was singing.  I used 4 Sinatra songs, with “the Boy from Ipanema” thrown in just for fun, then ended with a sing-along version of New York, New York for which I had printed out song sheets.

People LOVED the set; and it was interesting that out of the 7 songs I sang, each person had a different favorite.  BUT New York, New York!  No matter how often you hear that song, people perk up and get excited just hearing the intro, and really love singing it.  I wonder; has it been declared the official song of the city of New York? Does anyone know?  I wonder if Kander and Ebb’s publishers would give the city a break like Oscar Hammerstein’s estate did for Oklahoma (the song Oklahoma is the state’s official state song).

HAS MOTHER NATURE LOST HER MIND?

Image

In the past two weeks Mother Nature has shown herself to be in a seriously BAD MOOD.  I don’t know what the people in Oklahoma did to tick her off, but she needs some serious apologies for something.  Tornadoes don’t often hit again in the same area with such fury.

And here in good old NYC, we’ve has some freakiness as well. Snow wen none was  predicted, then no snow when the weather channels did predict it.  We’ve had multiple tornadoes, massive flooding, and the hurricane of the century.  Thunderstorms were predicted for Saturday afternoon but we didn’t get them until late Sunday evening.  Mother Nature has evidently decided to tell the newscasters, “I don’t watch TV, and don’t know–or care–what your $4 million Doppler radar says, I’ll do what I want”!

Today I left my apartment at 2:30PM to drop off some artwork uptown after the weather channel assure me that the storms were pretty much over for today.  Being a Kanasan, I took that with a grain of salt, and grabbed my umbrella and rainslickers.  It was warm, and a little cloudy in the distance but looked like it would blow over.  By the time I reached 213th, the sky north of the city was a definite “you’re- in-for-it-now” blue-gray.  Over the next 30 minutes the sky became darker and darker until, sure enough it began to pour–straight down– like someone had turned on a shower.People were running for cover; and very few had umbrellas.

I had planned to go to the Broadway Food Festival downtown at 5PM but the way it was raining I knew it wouldn’t be worth the trip.  It continued to pour for the next hour as i struggled to get home, then at 7PM I looked up to see bright sunshine through my living room windows. Mother Nature had jerked my chain yet again….

[Note: if you’re curious about the photo, it was taken from a moving train coming down from Cold Springs, NY at sunset.  That’s not a fire; just the light of the setting sun.]