Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Old Haunts

Monday, February 24

5:25 PM - Here we go. A carry-on bag filled with a performer's essentials on one shoulder, Grudzel in a soft case on the other. I should leave now so I don't miss the train.

5:37 PM - It's so crowded and my luggage prevents me from being unobtrusive. Balance and bag-wrangling are the skills of the hour. I think about my set as we speed forward.

5:52 PM - Transfer successful and train #2 is on its way to my final destination. The child across the aisle is making noises somewhere between unhappily uncomfortable and ridiculously excited. It's amusing, but not enough to completely distract me from what I'm about to do.

6:05 PM - Off the train and on campus. I could easily be mistaken for a music student. College is such a strange place. I would have made a terrible collegiate music student.

6:10 PM - At the venue. Tommy's Place hasn't changed, but it sure is different being the performer and not the crew. The other performer for the night has arrived early too.

6:20 PM - Soundcheck ahead of schedule. I was worried I would be uncontrollably nervous, but standing onstage behind the microphone with my guitar plugged in feels more therapeutic than nerve-wracking. I am clearly not well warmed-up, but it's better to know that at soundcheck than to figure that out during the actual performance.

7:06 PM - The performer before me sounded pretty good during her check. I start to question myself. The deficiencies in my technique on both guitar and on vocals become obvious. Moments of panic rush forward as I tell myself it's too late to worry about that now. I can't help but worry that I haven't practiced at full-volume enough. I really should find a rehearsal space where I can be loud without disrupting the neighbors.

7:14 PM - It takes so much focus to remain calm. So much energy just pulsing through my veins. Got to keep things positive otherwise I'll likely destroy myself. Part of me is hoping that no one shows up and the other part is hoping everyone I know shows up.

7:21 PM - I feel so uncomfortable doing it, but when it comes to a show, it's absolutely necessary for the performer to declare his/her importance. I must claim my spot on stage. Whatever happens tonight, tomorrow I can work on making things better. Additionally, I've seen enough shows flop to know it's not the end of the world.

7:29 PM - Time to change and get dolled up.

7:45 PM - The show starts. Her smoky voice sits snugly in her guitar playing and everything glistens with reverb. There aren't many people here. I wonder who will come to watch me.

8:07 PM - The first set wraps up. I can feel the butterflies again.

8:10 PM - I invited these people!

8:16 PM - Head backstage to warm-up. I wonder if people can hear me though the thick curtain and the house music. I decide I don't care. That much...

8:29 PM - My alarm goes off. A deep breath and I'm onstage. The club is pretty empty, but I know there are eager ears listening in the shadows. Plug in. Make it through the intro of "Mary." The worst is over.

Sometime between 8:30 and 8:57 PM - I realize that there is nothing I would rather do than perform.

8:57 PM - Speed through an encore.

9:01 PM - Pack up Grudzel. I can feel my spirit expanding within me--decompressing after a week of excitement.

9:06 PM - Meet and mingle. Friends are good company at shows, but the two girls who came over from the bar to watch are equally kind and supportive. Cards are handed out with much gratitude and appreciation.

11:00 PM - Back home. Not sure what to do now. So tired, but still buzzing with the night's excitement. I have to find more gigs.

Now - The journey continues.

Thank you for all your support! It's not a show without an audience.

Be bold.

R

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Boom!

Please forgive me for my late post! Things have been happening all so quickly and I'm still figuring out what's going on. In reality, there are quite a few things I'm doing right now, but all you really need to know is this:


Hooray!!! Not that that's a great reason for not posting earlier...But in a way, it was the reason I didn't post earlier. This upcoming show is my first real solo performance that will exceed seven minutes in length, it will be only the second time performing with Grudzel, AND it will be in a venue that I hold very dear--I spent many hours helping run sound at Tommy's Place in a past life. 

For all those reasons and for the sake of good entertainment, I want this performance to be as amazing as it can be. I want it to be a demonstration of the power of the singer-songwriter. I want it to be emotional, visceral and moving. I want it to be beautiful, powerful and freaking sexy. But to accomplish that, I need to practice. A lot.

I know the songs and I have performed them before, but I know that being onstage on Monday is going to be different. The room will be different. The lights will be different. The distractions will be different. I also know that I am prone to sensory-overload. Not to say that I couldn't pull off a great performance while part of my mind tried to get past the shock of a new (and flashy) environment, but I know I won't be satisfied with that type of experience. Additionally, the set will be longer than what I usually perform and will include transitions and intros...

Yes. Practice is a must. Practice so I know what to say. Practice so I play at the right tempo (which is extremely important). Practice so I don't fall over in my heels. Practice so I don't mess up the words or the notes or the chord changes. Practice so that when the time comes, all I have to focus on is the delivery--the song is only a vehicle for the emotions.

But with all that practicing, I lose track of time--and lose time--which is why this post is so late in coming. So, my sincere apologies if you have been waiting for word from me, but I am happy to invite you to come watch me perform this coming Monday, February 24, 2014, 8:30-9:00 PM, at Tommy's Place (600 Downey Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089). 

Thank you for your support--it means the world to me!

Be bold.


(P.S. Monday's show is FREE!)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Enter: Grudzel



I realize where I am as I walk out of the Metro Station--Hollywood and Highland on a holiday. Great...I pull my purse close to me, put my sunglasses on and attempt to maneuver as fast as I can through the crowd of tourists and street-worn characters. This is not an excursion I particularly want to go on.

I have to, though. It must be done. Once past the swarm in front of Grauman's, my concern is no longer of being trampled by the mob. I readjust my sunglasses, put my street face on and speed up. I don't care if you whistle, holler or tell me I walk like a model--flattery will not make me stop. Onward.

Down the busy streets periodically checking behind me and always keeping an eye on the cars and the other pedestrians until I stumble upon my destination. A sense of relief swells from within as I walk into the store--there is more civility in such institutions than there is on the street.

Such places used to feel like heaven--rooms lined with beautiful instruments waiting like puppies to be played with and loved--but today it's a little overwhelming. I feel like a child in a grown-up's world, not allowed to touch such valuable items with my grimy, sticky fingers. I wander around the rooms slowly building the courage to pull an instrument off the wall. Who am I to feel like I belong there?

But...Who am I? I am a musician. Perhaps not as advanced or well-studied as others, but I am a musician with a gig coming up and I need a new guitar. More, I am a girl who just braved the strange streets of Hollywood and their abuses to get here. To go home empty-handed because of fear is NOT acceptable. Now resolute on getting what I came for, I pull down a guitar and play it.

I play a lot of them, taking stock of how they sound and how they feel in my arms and under my fingers. The combination of steel strings and hollow bodies is somewhat new to me and it takes some time to get accustomed to. Everything sounds slightly off until...

Its body is distinctly marked, exotic wood gleaming under a fine coat of polish. I am not sure that "love at first sight" exists, but surely "love at first sound" does. Less harsh than the others and a touch smaller, it seems to ring into my soul and it feels like it belongs in my arms. It's as though I wasn't sure what I was looking for until I hear it play.

I put it back to see if there are others that play like it--a test of love--but none feel so correct. The decision is made.

Back to the streets, but now with a box almost as tall as me under my arm. I take a different route back. My new friend requires a seat for itself and I can feel my fellow bus riders' slight irritation, but there are plenty of other seating options and I am not in the mood to let my new friend get abused by careless passengers.

Off the bus and almost home, a stranger offers to help me carry the large box, but it's not particularly heavy and I can manage. Into my building and to my apartment, finally inside. The excitement builds as I cut the tape and carefully pull out the reward for my anxiety and travel. He's beautiful. A quick tuning and a long moment of appreciation. And now, we play.

Welcome to the team, Grudzel!

Be bold.

R

NOTE: I know his name is ridiculous. Deal with it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What They Told Me


This is one of those songs that struck at two in the morning while I was lying on my bed refusing to acknowledge my weariness. Sometimes your fingers know what to play and all you have to do is recognize it as something worth remembering. Beyond that, I can't recall much of the process. I remember the lyrics being a pain (what's new?) and the excitement of stumbling upon something interesting...And I remember thinking to myself that it was incredibly simple in construction once it had been written. And then thinking, "So?"

So...Here's to simplicity, torn edges and the raggedness that is rock.

Be bold.

Rachel 

Friday, February 7, 2014

6PS


Something amazing happened to me. I went shopping for jeans and found a pair that fit. Actually, I found four pairs that fit (by "fit" I mean "went on without trouble, did not require a belt to be held up and could potentially be worn without alteration"). I was stunned--that had never happened before! Jeans have always been my least favorite article of clothing to shop for. If they got around my thighs, they would be huge around my waist and they would always need to be hemmed so I wouldn't trip on the excessively long legs. Shopping for jeans tended to make me feel like I was trying to fit into a world that was not made for me.

Yet, there I was in the fitting room with a pile of jeans that all fit and I started to feel a warmth spread through me. It was as though finding those jeans that I didn't have to alter somehow validated my physical presence, like someone was aware that my body shape existed and deemed it worthy enough to make pants for. It was the warmth of belonging--followed by the nausea of disgust.

I was letting my existence be valued by my ability to find clothes at a department store? And I had been doing that since I was in elementary school? It wasn't the disappointment of not finding pants that fit that I had always despised, in that moment, I realized the thing I dreaded was the pain of feeling like I was not supposed to be in the world because I was not shaped "correctly."

I mulled all this over as I walked out of the fitting room with what I imagine will be one of my favorite pairs of jeans. I thought about the Barbie dolls I used to play with and all my friends whose legs were/are longer and skinnier than mine. I thought about how ethnicity affects what's available at different stores in different regions. I thought about labeling things "curvy" and the implications of doing so. I thought about the shifting sizes that mark our clothes and how it feels to have to buy something that is both "petite" and "short." I thought about the happiness that comes with finding something that fits right off the rack. I thought about how I felt about all this.

On the one hand, I was happy. I had found what I was looking for. On the other hand, I was...pensive. At the end of the day, sizes are arbitrary and manufacturers' sizing systems are out of my control. Also out of my control, what those sizes translate into, what stores stock, the media's portrayal of female beauty, society's expectations of....I can't even finish that sentence, because, honestly, I don't care. All that doesn't matter. The thing that most struck me was how backwards our relationship with our marked size is.

You buy enough clothes and you think of the world in terms of small, medium or large, tall, regular or short, petite or plus-sized, or a number, or a set of numbers, and the thing is, you can get away with that. The system lets you think that you should fit into a set of numbers and letters, but the truth is that you are a physical entity that is not molded out of plastic to fit sample sizes. You are a lump of matter formed into some shape and only for convenience sake are you measured, rounded and assigned a size.

Where am I going with all this? Should you be expecting a song about clothes sizes? I'm not really sure. We are sized, but we don't have to fit the sizes people set. We are sized, but those sizes aren't the only options (it's sewing time!). I guess, looking at the big picture, the point is that we are labeled but those labels don't change what we are, who we are or what our "value" is. Perhaps this is another case where language is limiting us--chaining our perception to words that we have defined and set as reality. Perhaps we are afraid of being undefined. Or, perhaps we are afraid of leaving others speechless.

Be bold.

R

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Let the Battle Come

New video has been posted!


The process is still rough, but at least I figured out how to use YouTube's video editor to put titles in my video--that makes life a little easier and definitely less pixelated.

What's next?

Keep Posting and Tweeting
Consistency counts.

Get Gigs
Now that the internet contains proof of performance, I don't feel as bad about asking for opportunities to play.

Assemble a Band
Since all of my songs have been charted and the necessary band packet material has been created, it's time to get loud!

Keep Improving EVERYTHING
There is so much room for improvement in every direction! Writing, playing, singing, performing, mixing, editing, etc. etc. etc. Everything I am doing can be better and I am determined to make everything better.

It's time to move up in the world. I hope you will join me as the adventure continues.

Be bold.

R


(P.S. If you just want to listen:

)