Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to: survival of the fittest in a 25 piece brass band

It is Fat Tuesday! Happy Mardi Gras from the Big Easy. This city does not sleep, and I can't find anything green in the French Quarter, the Marigny, or the Bywater!

And I have stopped eating I think. For now.

I have come back to the crib for a big green drink that I have made myself, and some quiet time. Luckily, I have run into Master Matt Hubbard, and I'm going to see his band tonight at the Three Muses. He is in a trio and the main guy plays Vibes. I'm stoked that there is more amazing music in my future; but for now I had to get off Bourbon Street. I was 2nd Lining with Panorama Jazz band but I had to call it off after a couple of hours. 

I don't drink, and since I have stopped drinking my system has become way more sensitive. And, maybe I have a couple of extra health concerns but mostly I have ants in my pants. 

I can't stay too long at any one place! I would rather walk/bike 3 miles back home to make a green kale drink and read my book and play clarinet for awhile. 

God bless is a nap in my future? Anyway, the rest of my band mates are still reveling out there in the masses and masses of people. 

My sax is out of whack - it always is at this juncture, it is a big baritone and inevitably gets knocked around. 

The other morning I woke at 5:30, marched for 3 or so hours in the Eris Parade, and then another 5 hours in the Thoth Parade. I was almost ill. I collapsed in the bed in a coma, while the energizer bunny known as Jeff Luna who was my comrade the entire journey drove across town to pick up my truck uptown. 

How??? Where does the fuel come from? Then, after an hour nap we met up with all at the country club (in past years all nude) for a much needed soak and a steam. It was glorious! Except it's not nude anymore. LAME.

One thing is I have really allowed myself to revel in the joy that people experience During Carnival. Yes, many are wasted and that can illicit anger within me in excesses. But this year I have danced more, costumed more, played the hell out of my horn for days on end and soaked up the amazing musicianship that exists here. I will come home tomorrow charged with chords, arpeggios, and a new desire to better my playing. 

Happy Mardi Gras wherever you are. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

When I say Minor Mishap has "changed my life" I mean it...

Like WHY? How? 

As I rummage around my house looking for yellow and black costuming for our impending Mardi Gras week, I put a Pete Fountain record on the player. It sets my bluesy mood and literally brings in the blues. I'm crying now! OH THANKS. 

It's important for me to reflect be thankful and grateful for the things that bring me pleasure and joy. I don't always feel that way, but I do now so I'm rolling with it. 

The band that is Minor Mishap (I know I talk a lot about it on my blog so go to a freaking show already!) has impacted me a lot and here's how. 

In 2012 I had just completed a near impossible feat of recording, producing, releasing and doing a big live performance and video release to celebrate Radixxx, DD Dagger's second record. I was EXHAUSTED and needed a break from it. A lot of things had been really stressful: Musicians being flakey, venues screwing up, extreme pressure on myself, and my dancers acting meshugeneh and stressing me out. 

I opened a space up for something new, and one day I went to lunch with The Wizard at Mr. Natural. We an into Thomas Van Der Brook and Jeff Luna. They invited me to play! They were looking for another sax. I had just bought a Baritone! See how that works? (as a side note soon after they recruited me they both took an indefinite hiatus from the band:( )) Jeff has since rejoined on sousaphone and we drivin together to NOLA in 2 days. !!!

Blah blah onto the part that's interesting. I'm already bored with this post. 

Here's how the band has CHANGED ME

-I feel changed inside. LOL

-I didn't know how great a huge band family could be. doctors, a scientists, amazing teachers, profoundly great musicians and people convene in this band. Besides that I'm pretty needy, so there's that. 

-Street art has become a big part of my life. I wrote a grant for the City of Austin around that concept this year and now will be producing some street music and art of my own composition with Rachel Weiss. (dancer, amazing)

-the extreme joy and surprise that I see on people's faces when we do a homemade parade in East Austin is enlivening to me. Many years of bar rock had worn on me. Don't get me wrong: I love playing in bars. But it has its limitations. 

-I'm a profoundly better sax player than when I joined 3+ years ago. In fact, I had put down the sax for about 4 years to play guitar. BORING plus I sucked. But my songs are good. 

-my soloing has turned a corner (it was always my favorite part) and now I pick notes out of the air like the empath I am.

-This band got me through my divorce this year. The whole time I was in so much pain. The music was a great diversion for me, and the support was so great. 2 people in the band were also going through a break up, 2 very loving and important people to me. Divorcio. I watched them (throat choke!) move through it with grace, love, and care and I have tried to act within that spirit as well. We've made it! The new-millennium divorce is complete, friendly and loving. 

-I get to tour more!  Love it. I don't know if I've conveyed how I feel. I guess you'll see the revelry from my pics on the streets of NOLA next week. BIG BANDS RULE go buy and instrument and practice till your lips are blue. 


Saturday, February 7, 2015

a word about sexuality. a word about MY Sexuality....

Something awkward happened to me the other night when I went to meet Derick to dance at a blues club near my house.

An acquaintance that I worked for many years ago, when I was in my mid 20's who was playing bass on stage came to give me a hug. He might have been tipsy. He said, you and those grandma glasses:: You act so good. I know you ain't!

I'm like, what? Yes I am. I'm just the same old girl you always knew. I said, "I'm just the girl next door."

It was weird. I was thinking, wtf is he talking about? I'm thinking he must be talking about the photos. The art photos I do with Wolfson and some of the other art photog's I work with that are periodically posted on FB and wherever. Mainly Wolfie's. They can get rac-y, but never any boob or anything even! They suggest a sexuality. A sexuality that exists in every human being! LoL.

Regardless, let me tell you:: this might be a surprise if you don't know me.  That is a character. That is not me. Just like the character I present on stage. I mean, it's ME but not really.


I'm an entertainer and that is part of the entertainment. I move like a dancer cause I am a dancer, and sometimes that is sexy.

allow me to use this phrase again: 'Let me tell you' I am a human being. I am a sexual human being like all others. But I have said before, I'm more Woody Allen than Karen O. I am NOT wild. I am not terribly adventurous. I'm not even an extrovert though I fear I'd be more successful if I were. I have had to cultivate a character that is interesting to me, for the stage, for photos, so I can sing my songs and be interested in it myself.

Maybe it's interesting to me cause it is SO different than me. DD Dagger is NOT Allyson Lipkin. It is a part of her, and that name is so not me I can't believe I have stuck with it and I don't know why I have chosen it.

It maybe suggests a strength that I have had to muster. A fighting sense. Have I mentioned being a live performer (but particularly a front-woman songwriter) is a challenge in ways that are psychological? Kind of like challenging yourself to a very hard-core cross country biking trip or a marathon. A marathon with no end....

I know some wild people. I have a dominatrix that lives at the corner of my block. She has a slave for a boyfriend! LOL I have no clue to these things. I wrote and recorded an album called EROD-ICA. Crossing erotica and eroding together. Come on.

I'm just a nice Jewish girl! LOL Well, just another Jewish Priestess.

Photo: last month: the incredible undeniable Todd V Wolfson Austin, TX

photo: ed verosky: NYC 2014

a pair of the infamous grandma glasses at the old Austin City Limits

photo by Ed Verosky: NYC 2014

PHoto Jerry Milton

photo: Raindogg Brooklyn

another pair of the infamous grandma glasses. Photo: Jerry Milton this week in Austin, TX

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Creative contrast, techies, weirdos, and nerds unite

What I love love about playing music...

It's the mystery! How come totally untrained musicians play along master- level musicians, happily!?

I'm reminded by that because my road partner for this overnight show is Chuck! 

He's a band director for Hill Country Middle School, and he's also the drummer for the band I'm in Catastica. We play dirty funk songs about Cats.

He also doubles as the drummer for my good friends Foot Patrol. We have travelled to Denton to do a double bill this weekend.

He has been talking a lot about the band he directs, and I have reflected on how little training I have had over the years. 

I had a year of empassioned piano playing in 5th grade; but we were too wild and loud and the teacher quit. 

I have fond memories of that year. I drew the keyboard on my desk at school in pencil and played all day, lol.

I didn't make it to lessons again (on sax) till I met my amazing teacher and mentor Wil Greenstreet - when I was 25! 

We studied together weekly for 5 years, but he moved to NY and I couldn't replace him:::: until now! 

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Shawn Jones! He is the best. ❤️❤️❤️.

We have maybe about a year together now, and I am site reading up from a kindergarten level to maybe junior high.

Since my ear is pretty awesome (my strength) I have memorized melodies (in the big band) and played them by ear. But I'm always on harmony! Aaaaaaakkk  it was hard and very frustrating for awhile - the other sax's are playing something different. I'm so glad I can read now.

But back to the mystery!!! How does someone like Chuck have the same appreciation for the dirty funk we play, and then switch gears and work with the big national productions that come through town?! 

My laundry list why:

-heart and soul can't be manufactured 
-talent isn't always technical
-have you ever wondered why classical musicians often can't improvise? 
-people that love music love all kinds of music and if they play past their 20's, it's generally for the love. I can't speak for other communities but that's the case in Austin. 
-creativity is king (for me)

Here's what Chuck says about this: he is dictating to me now, as prince is on the radio: he also has St. Vincent, a lot of Radiohead, Wilco and Beetles.
(Not my favorites !!! But you know! Not bad::: He is my gracious Pilot. 

-the friendship of his very first band was an amazing community, but the high-dollar gigs he plays are a different thing. He thinks it's fun to work with all the different styles and types of music. "It feels different to walk into the pit of the symphony then to walk into a Catastica rehearsal."

 [dude they ALWAYS cook dinner for us- total giving sweeties]

-"I've worked really hard to not be one kind of player. I want to hold my own with symphony players, but also in a band with funk songs about Feet." 

{Dirty Feet}

-I like the exchange with creative people on any level. Just cause you're not trained musically doesn't mean you don't have valid opinions."

-"I've come across plenty of highly trained musicians that don't seem happy at all. It's just a job, and I think that's unfortunate."

So there it is folks! Not terribly entertaining in itself--- but just a musing.

You'll have to come see our band Catastica: the next show is March 7 at Dozen Street. It's Nikki's birthday, (Mojo Queen, Fat Bottom Girls).

We have 5 singer/dancers, horns and a wailing guitarist by the name of Wil that is amazing. And, of course a rhythm section that sometimes features Chuckles.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!