Playing with Blocks

 

 

Creative Block

 

 

 

 

LA was lovely, it was warm and sunny, I walked on the beach, ate tons of fresh veggies and concentrated completely on work. Absolute Heaven! Returning to an, as yet, delayed spring, a thousand undone domestic tasks and a space in the calendar before my next projects kick into gear brought on a serious case of post-gig ennui.  I allowed myself a day or two to wallow in my own crapulence, and then decided it was time to force my tuchus back into gear. Not so easy when you’re feeling creatively depleted and buried under a mountain of mundane tasks.

 

 

Into the void comes Danielle Krysa’s (AKA the Jealous Curator) new book Creative Block. She interviews fifty visual artists about their work, facing their inner critics and how they deal with creative droughts. At the end of each interview there is an exercise from the artist to get your creative mojo going again. It’s a gorgeous book, the art alone is enough to inspire. Add the interviews and exercises and it’s a feast for any artist no matter your medium.

 

 

I am champing at the bit to try some of the exercises, but as I was going through the book I thought how wonderful it would be to gather a group of people together to work through the exercises.Then meet to show our work and discuss the results. Then I thought about coordinating schedules, deciding on meeting times and places, and who will provide the snacks and I had to put my head down on my desk for a while.

 

 

Then I realized that living in a technologically advanced age meant that I didn’t have to do any of those things. I could start a virtual Creative Support Group that wouldn’t be bound by distance or time restrictions. So I’m issuing an invitation to all my artistic friends out there be you performers, visual artists, or artistically curious, to join my happy band.

 

 

Here’s how it will work. We’ll put together a private Facebook group and once a month I’ll chose one of the exercises from the book. You’ll work on it in your own space and time and then share your pics and thoughts on the experience with the group. The group is a “secret” Facebook group meaning that anything that is posted is only visible to those in the group, although, I’d like to do a summary post every month on this blog sharing some of our work and thoughts about the exercise. Don’t worry though, I’ll only publish those ideas and snaps that you give me permission to share with a wider audience. While the exercises in book are geared towards the visual arts most can be easily adapted to singers, musicians and actors. The only prerequisites for the group is that you be interested in exploring your creativity and are willing to share your thoughts with like minded people in a kind and supportive way.

 

 

If you’d like to participate send me a note through the Contact page of this site, or message me through Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s in a Name

 

 

Hot Coffee Gen Store 2

 

 

 

From the moment Michele B. and I started working on our current project we’d called it Hot Coffee, Mississippi as sort of a place holder, always intending to come up with something else.  But when it came right down to it Hot Coffee, Mississippi was the only name that seemed to fit.

 

 

 

Hot Coffee, Mississippi is both a real place and a figurative one for me. The real Hot Coffee is in the Mississippi Delta about two hours from Biloxi. It is the place where both my mother’s parents were born, and my mother and her sisters spent much of their childhoods. I’ve been there. There isn’t much there there actually, mostly a stop light, a church, and a general store where you can buy anything from groceries to a treadmill.  It is hard to comprehend how we get from this tiny rural place where agriculture is still pretty much the main industry to my world of tall buildings, eternal traffic, and constant motion in the space of three generations.  Yet, still there is no doubt that this place is a large part of the person I became. This is the place where much of my family’s story began, and because of that it is part of me.

 

 

 

This brings me to the metaphorical Hot Coffee. I grew up with women who told stories, and many of those stories were set in Hot Coffee. I know these tales so well, that sometimes it’s hard to believe that I didn’t witness them firsthand. It took a long time for me to understand that what was being shared was more than an amusing anecdote. These women wanted me to hear them, and in hearing them I would know them. Understanding their stories has helped me understand who I am. Hot Coffee represents family in all its messiness. The good, the bad and the crazy. The people who may not always like you, but never fail to love you.

 

 

 

 

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Thank You for Being a Friend

 

 

Michele & Me by Cindy Banescu

Michele & Me by Cindy Banescu

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who shared the details of the Gardenia gig on your Social Media pages. It was wonderful to have so much help! I took everyone’s name who helped pass the news along, put them in my trusty sequined hat and drew one out at random. And the winner of our Fabulous Prize Package is…Cindy Banescu .

 

Cindy, in addition to being a PR angel, also happens to be a very dear friend and a talented photographer. I am proud to say I was one of her first models way back when we were in high school, not that I’ll ever show you those pics! She also took the shot on this page of me and Michele B. which is one of my very favorites.  So thank you, Cindy, your gift is on its way! I’m looking forward to seeing you in just seven days!

 

 

 

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Icons & Inspirations: Walker Evans

Left: My version Right: The Original Walker Evans photo of photographer Berenice Abbott

Left: My version
Right: The Original Walker Evans photo of photographer Berenice Abbott

 

 

 

 

There are no tricks in Walker Evans’ photography. The people he captures aren’t posed; there is no elaborate makeup or lighting. The shots are stark, real, and utterly beautiful.

 

 

Evans started out wanting to write. He spent time in New York and Paris working in bookstores and writing fiction and essays, but it was photography that brought him fame.  Looking at his photos you can see the writer within the frame. Each one has its own story to tell. I suspect that each person viewing the pictures has a different idea of what the details of those stories may be, but that’s what makes them wonderful. While there is obviously something going on there, he’s left it to the viewer to figure out what.

 

 

During the depression he did a series of photos of the American South. These were my first experience of his photos. Seeing them brought me back to a place that I had loved but left. They reminded me of the stories that my mother and grandmother told me about growing up in the Delta, and some of the people they knew.

 

 

 

I have never seen one of his photos that I didn’t want to somehow find my way into it. To inhabit that world and talk to the people, smell the air, and feel the textures.  He captured things that others would find ordinary and illuminated just how much beauty there is all around us, every minute of every day even in places we would not expect to find it.

 

 

 

On the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Website there is an extensive archive of his photos. It is a wonderful place to spend some time when my creative battery is low. Even better I don’t have to leave my chair to be transported to his world. If you happen to be in New York City and want to see some of his work in person there’s an exhibit at MoMA that runs through March 6th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Icons & Inspirations: My Friend Erv

 

 

 

Erv & Ashton

 

 

Erv Raible was a promoter of live entertainment, an impresario, a teacher, a mentor, a connoisseur of talent, but most of all Erv Raible was my friend. This is a tough one. The last twenty-four hours have moved references of Erv from the present to the past tense. You see, my friend Erv passed away last night.  In the next few days there will be tributes from the New York entertainment press and fellow performers praising his support of talent, and the work he did in opening some of the most wonderful nightspots for entertainment New York has ever seen, The Duplex, Brandy’s, Don’t Tell Mama, and 88’s. This is as it should be, it is praise richly deserved, but I will leave that song to others. I want to write about my pal.

 

 

 

On the table in my living room is my favorite picture of Erv. You wouldn’t know it’s him as his face and hands are covered in a skeleton mask and gloves and he is holding a plastic scythe to Spawn’s five year old neck, but both are clearly having the time of their lives. I love this  Erv, the silly Erv who could have fun whether it was chasing a five year old around the living room or going to a formal event in a mink coat and jewels. I believe that the night this photo was taken was the night that, after Spawn went to bed, we dressed all his savage Lego Bionicle Warriors up in feathers and rhinestones and lined them up atop the TV in a kick line.  Spawn was not quite as amused by this as we.

 

 

 

He was a creator of adventure, no matter if it was a walk down the street, or a trip to an exotic locale, if the walk happened to combine itself with the exotic locale, so much the better. We’d leave the house for a quick trip to the store to look for something and then somehow return twelve hours later exhausted and laden down with “FAAAABULOUS” treasures. His energy for the hunt was inexhaustible. There was one search for the perfect bustier to go with a tux I had just purchased that spanned three states and at least 35 stores.

 

 

For a girl who grew up apologizing if the sun rose in the morning, the fact that Erv was so fiercely himself was a revelation to me. He never apologized for who he was or his opinions. He created the life he wanted for himself and refused to back down. I know of very few who have been able to accomplish this. It takes guts and brains, and he had plenty of both.

 

 

 

Erv gave great presents. He didn’t  “do” birthdays, and that was okay. He more than made up for it by giving wonderful surprises at unexpected times. One of my most treasured possessions is a beautiful necklace he had designed and made for me as a thank you gift. There were treats brought back from trips, or things he picked up just because he thought I might like them.  I know his heart was in every one.

 

 

 

I will miss all the things he had yet to teach me about art, and design, and wearing earrings proportionate to my head size (bigger is always better, don’t you know?).  I will miss picking up the phone and hearing him say “It’s Erv!”, and launching into the details of his latest wonderful find. I will miss the road trips, and laughing and wonderful meals shared. Mostly, though, I will just miss my friend.

 

 

 

 

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Then & Now: A Little Bit Ladylike

 

 

 

 

Tulle Heaven VS Badass Tooth Fairy

Tulle Heaven VS Badass Tooth Fairy

 

 

 

My Grandmother used to keep a box on her back porch full of my mother’s old prom dresses. The fifties kind in various pastels with  huge tulle skirts  that are now a fortune in vintage boutiques. Being a girly girly girl who wailed whenever my mother attempted to put me in pants, this box was Heaven. If my mother would have allowed it I would have taken those dresses home and worn them all day every day everywhere. Although, somehow I think that even in Mississippi wearing them to first grade would have been frowned upon.

 

 

 

I am still a pretty girly girl, but I have learned the value of a well cut pair of pants and no longer have to be bribed to wear them. I do retain a borderline unhealthy love for tulle, and fifties cut dresses. I blame my Grandmother’s back porch and all those hours spent twirling around pretending to be a world famous chanteuse (I may not have known the word then, but I definitely understood the concept).

 

 

 

 

2014-02-13 17.07.07

 

 

For this edition of Then and Now I decided to see what I would do with tulle as a grown up in charge of her own wardrobe, and not the six year old pulling things out of the dress up box. The Then photo is my Aunt Bettye and her friends on the night of her Junior Prom. I love the slightly uncomfortable guys in their white dinner jackets and the girls in their dresses taking up all the available seating. As for me, I decided to go with my Rebel Tooth Fairy outfit. Fluffy tulle skirt (of course) paired with leather jacket, and pointy leather boots a little fifties prom girl, a little eighties era Madonna and a whole lot of Redhead with an attitude.

 

 

 

 

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Hot Coffee, Mississippi Glimpse & Gifts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve been following the countdown to the big LA gig on INSTAGRAM you know we’ve reached day 28. With yet another major winter storm barreling down upon us in the next few days that is not nearly close enough.

 

 

I have to confess, the pending storm is really not all bad, as it gives me lots of time to focus on perfecting Hot Coffee, Mississippi. Immersing myself in stories and songs to illuminate the lives of some remarkable women has been a great privilege. Each time I perform this show I feel a deeper connection to the material. I am extremely proud of it, and profoundly grateful to my creative collaborator, Michele Brourman, who has been with me every step of the way with encouragement and sage advice. I cannot wait to share this piece with the world (at least the West Coast) at the Gardenia.

 

 

In fact, I’m so excited about it that I’ve created a little promo video to give you a feel for the show. You can check it out above or go to my VIMEO or  YOUTUBE channels to watch it there. Thanks to  Johnny Harris and his company Simple Flare Productions for  putting it all together.

 

 

Promotion can be a lonely road so it’s always fun to have a little help from my friends. As a little extra incentive to join me on it I think a giveaway is in order. All you need to do to be eligible to win is post a link to the video on your Facebook, Twitter, or other favorite social media. Once that’s done post a comment to this blog with your link. I will pick a winner at random on March 5th.

 

 

Now for the good stuff….the prize package. As my life and work so often consists of combining disparate elements our swag bag reflects that. Representing warm, sunny LA  and the locus of all things celebrity related I have my fave fashion bloggers Tom & Lorenzo’s brand new book Everyone Wants to Be Me or Do Me their fabulous and opinionated guide to celebrity life and style. Funny and full of useful advice like how to match your red carpet dress to your movie’s genre (Sci Fi = Metallics, in case you need to know right this second). For Hot Coffee, MS (it is, indeed, a real place, by the way), figuring you’d be peckish after all that reading  I’m throwing in some uniquely southern treats. Mississippi Mud Puppies, Mud Munchies & Delta Fudge pie mix. You can get an exact description of those delicacies HERE , but suffice it to say they all involve copious doses of chocolate. But wait, there’s more! Well, one more thing…you may need a little extra light to read by so I’m adding a SoDelta candle in a sweet honeysuckle scent called Mississippi that comes in its very own mason jar.

 

 

Go forth and spread the word, y’all!

 

 

 

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42 Days and Counting

 

 

An ever growing to-do list certainly makes the time fly. Already we’re forty-two days out from my Gardenia gig! The first official e-flyer went out this morning, you can get a gander at it HEREYou can also easily share it with your nearest and dearest, if you are so inclined.

 

Meanwhile, over on INSTAGRAM the countdown in photos continues along with behind the scenes peeks, and other miscellaneous goofiness. Hope you’ll come join the fun! Now back to plotting, planning and rehearsing…

 

 

 

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Hair Affair

 

 

Phase Two finally arrived yesterday!   Just a brief refresher….Several weeks ago my beloved beauty gurus Edwin & Mario  asked me to help them out with a demonstration they were doing on precision haircuts and styling (the whole story is HERE) . I jumped at the chance. Well, Mother Nature intervened and the event ended up being postponed not once but twice! At last the happy day dawned yesterday and I was publicly sheared before an eager audience of cosmetology students.

 

 

The result was a bi-level, asymmetric bob, with pieces. Bet you didn’t know there was a technical term for that. I had been letting my hair grow over the past year until it was longer than at any other point in my adult life. In theory, I love long hair, the kind that flows gently over your shoulders with just the right amount of wave and bounce. In reality, my hair  neither waves nor bounces.  Instead I am blessed with stick straight baby fine locks and a problem hairline at my neck. Long hair, for me, takes a lot of work and patience that I really should save for some other area of my life.  It was fun to grow it out a bit to see what would happen, but by the time last night rolled around I was more than ready for a major change.

 

 

I am thrilled with the result! It’s edgy, and highlights my unusual bone structure. It’s still a bit of a work in progress. We want to amp up the color just a tad next, but for the moment I’m having fun accessorizing  my new do.

 

 

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Artist Share

 

 
I am very blessed to be surrounded by friends who are smart, talented and just generally amazing. I have made it one of my goals for 2014 to share as many of these lovely people and their gifts with you as I possibly can.

 

 

I’m starting with my singer/songwriter/actor/photographer pal D.C. Anderson. I’ve known and admired him for quite a while, in fact, when I lived in Washington, DC he stayed with us while working on a show at the Kennedy Center. To this day he is, quite possibly, my favorite house guest ever. But in addition to his impeccable manners he is passionate, articulate and writes a great song.  Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking his tunes tell wonderful stories that draw you in and leave you wanting more.

 

 

Beyond my love for DC as a performer and singer I have another reason for posting about him today. He’s currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund his next album. He has from now until February 15th to raise the money to produce this project.  Please drop by his project page, and if you can, pledge. Since Kickstarter is all or nothing funding if he doesn’t reach his goal by the deadline he gets nothing. Having done a Kickstarter campaign myself I can tell you it can be a nerve wracking experience, and every little bit helps. Those little bits will add up to a wonderful new album being brought into the world. Of this I am certain.

 

 

 

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