I’ve been making new friends this week. Musician friends that is. I went to play with a new ensemble, went to hear a great New Orleans jazz band in Oakland, and scheduled a few upcoming meet ups to play with a couple of piano players and other bands. I took this little amp and some new songs with me to play with the new jazz ensemble.I’ve also been doing more research on renditions of songs I’m including in my set list. I went back to one of my all time favorite jazz standards,How High The Moonand my favorite rendition of it by Mary Ford and Les Paul. I just love Mary’s voice on this version and if you watch the video you can see Les Paul using some early multitrack recording tactics, which he pioneered. I’ve also been listening to some older Norah Jones songs. I might have to add my own version ofCome Away With Me to my set.
That’s all folks. Have a great week. See you on the flip side.
The last two weeks have included doing research on arrangements of jazz standards, learning a digital music scoring program, and a trip to Los Angeles for a bit of vacation.
I have a long list of jazz standards I want to perform so I’ve been writing out the music for them. All of my years playing folk music had me writing song charts for musicians to play with me, but charts for jazz can be a bit more complex. It’s been taking me a bit longer to do them. I’ve been on a re-learning curve, brushing up on my music theory knowledge. In the past, I would have just written out my charts by hand, but I have quite a bit of songs to do so I’m learning a digital scoring program called MuseScore in order to write them faster.
In coming up with how I want to arrange the songs for performance, I’ve been doing a ton of research on how different artists have done them, both current and old renditions. For example, I’m meeting some new musicians this week to play with and have chosen “Fly Me To The Moon” as one of the songs to sing with them. It’s such a popular song that so many people have recorded so there are lots of versions to choose from. Of course Frank Sinatra made it quite popular. But given that I’m not a Frank fan (yes, I did just say that. I’ll probably never be allowed back in NYC after saying this publicly), I dug up many versions of it that I like better. Judy Judy Judy Garland did a beautiful slow version of it that brings a bit of sadness and drama to it. Anita O’Day did a version of it mixing up time signatures and where she kills it leading the band. The technical expertise she had blows my mind. Jason Mraz even did a few versions of it. One where he did a mash-up with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and another where Cobie Caillat joined him on the mash-up with her song “Lucky”. I’ve linked videos for all of these with the artists names and songs above if you want to check them out. I’ll keep you updated on how my version goes of it.
My short short trip to LA last weekend was for a bit of vacation, where I stayed in a really fun Airbnb with lots of charming vintage furniture and knick-knacks. My favorite was the collection of mini instruments like a tiny piano and a tiny accordion. Since it wasn’t my house and they weren’t my belongings, I didn’t touch them, but I couldn’t help but take pictures of them. Also, always great sunsets and street art in LA. Upon returning to the SF International Airport, there was a really cool exhibit put on my SFMoma of old vintage typewriters. I feel as if I need one, so don’t be surprised if you see one of these show up in my future posts or pix on social media. If you find yourself in that airport anytime soon, you should check it out.
Anyway, that’s all folks. Talk to you on the flip side.
This week, there have been some beautiful days here in the Bay Area. It’s generally a beautiful place to live with really nice weather, but the last few days have been particularly nice. I was sick the last few days so being able to get out and sit in the sun in my back yard felt pretty amazing. I even grabbed my guitar and sang a lullaby. I did “The Mockingbird Song”, using the words in the Carol Thompson version of the children’s book. I followed the words almost exactly with an additional twist at the end to make it a Mommy and Mama song, since my son has two mommies. Check out the video I recorded here on my RLW YouTube page. I love the backyard in my rental house and have found a new spot in it to sit, relax, and play guitar. It’s now My Little Slice of Heaven. It’s the perfect reading and recording video nook. For fun, I included some pics below of how I set the camera up to record video and how I taped up the lyric sheet in front of me to keep it from blowing away. This is what ladders are for, isn’t it? Also a pic of the book, should you want to get it for your own child. Great words in it. Less buying of animals and diamond rings and more loving of nature and tickling of babies toes. That’s all folks. See you next week. Here’s to good weather, good music, pretty flowers, and singing songs to our children.
It has been a while since I’ve written a post here on FiftyTwoinFiftyTwo. I’ve heard some of you say things like “What happened?” or “We miss hearing your songs and seeing your posts!”, and “What are you doing now?. Actually, I have been doing a lot. I just haven’t been posting or talking about it all that much in a public format. Mostly, because I’ve been allowing myself time to figure out what I’m inspired to do these days, finding different muses, so to speak. For example, I’ve started putting together a new vintage jazz ensemble for events. I’ve been researching old jazz songs and writing charts for the set list. I started playing with a new guitarist. I’ve been researching new gear to get for my studio. I’ve been playing songs to my family in my back yard here in California where it’s amazingly warm most of the year. I’ve been getting monster trucks added to my guitar by my son (see picture above). I’ve been learning new cover songs. I’ve been attending local songwriter circles and meeting new writers to work with. I’ve been participating in songwriting competitions. All good stuff that’s been allowing me to find passion again in my work.
Also, I’ve been letting myself say “I don’t have time” to send updates. That, I’m working on not doing anymore. I started listening to a new podcast called “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” by the songwriter Cathy Heller. If you are a musician or creative person of any kind, you should check out her podcast. She’s really enthusiastic and genuine in her delivery and has some great interviews with creative people and pointers on profiting from your work. One thing I was reminded of after hearing one of the episodes is that I can’t blame not creating work on not having enough time or money. Every time I say I don’t have enough resources like time or money to create or promote my music, the bigger reality is that I’m not being resourceful. Yes, I have a small child. Yes, I have another job besides being a musician. Yes, I have a spouse. Yes, I have housework. All of which I love (well, I don’t love the housework) and am grateful that they “consume” my time. I’m not always left with a ton of space in my day to write or perform or post about it. The reality though is that there is time, even if it’s just a small amount and a small amount can add up to a large amount in no time at all.
So, here’s my update and promise to you. I’m letting some new muses guide me and seeing where it takes me. I’ll get back to keeping you updated every week. It may not be a video. It may not be a new song. It may just be pictures like the one above of me playing guitar in my back yard with my kid. Either way, I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for the reminder to stay connected. I’ve missed you too.
I also recorded a song I rarely ever play out live. It’s called “All That I Need is You”. I wrote it a few years ago as part of a songwriting group I was a member of. We would come up with a weekly word or idea prompt for a new song. One week during December the assignment was to write a holiday song. This is what I wrote. Check it out right here.
Lastly, yes, a song about being pissed off with God. It’s called “Oh Lord”. I wrote it after hearing a man speak on the news who had just watched his whole house be blown away by Hurricane Katrina. Check out my YouTube performance of it right here. The song was also on my last EP “The Singles”. You can listen to the recording with a full band and buy it too by going to my main website at www.RachelLeeWalsh.com.
A friend I’ve known for many years requested that I do an old song of mine called “Baby Blue”. I wrote it years ago back when I first branched out my own as a solo artist. I’ve had the song rolling around in my head for a couple of months now so finally decided to play it here for 52in52. Check it out on my RLW YouTube page. This one goes out to Jennifer.
I also uploaded a couple of other songs last week, including covers of “The Wayfaring Stranger” and “The One I Love is Gone”. I was cat sitting at a friend’s place in San Francisco and didn’t have a guitar, so ended up doing some a cappella performances with a bit of hand percussion.
Thanks for listening. Hope you enjoy. See you next week.
Each night I put my toddler to bed, we say goodnight to everything he loves. For example, we say goodnight to his animal toys, goodnight to his cars (he loves cars), and goodnight to the people in our lives. Obviously, I had to write something I could sing to him at this time of day. What I came up with was “Goodnight To You and Me”. I’ll probably write other verses to it in the future, but for now I’ve posted a short version of the song.
I also missed the last two weeks of posting videos, but now have them up for viewing. I played “Something About What Happens When We Talk”, an old favorite of mine by Lucinda Williams. I also played “Leaving Train”, a sweet song by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. With this one, I experimented adding percussion to my performances by using an ankle tambourine. You can view all three videos by clicking the links below.
I started working on “Man on The Wire” a couple of years ago after seeing the film “Man on Wire“, a 2008 documentary about the high-wire artist Philippe Petit walking on a tight rope strung between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. It’s an amazing story about preparing for the walk, getting to the top of the buildings in secret, and the walk itself. I have an intense fear of heights that I’m always pushing myself to get over, so watching his story was beyond inspiring to me. I will certainly never do a tight rope walk between two buildings as tall as the Twin Towers, but I can at least work toward getting up to the top of high mountains, which is what I wrote the song about.
I’ve recent months I’ve been attending songwriting workshops with a chapter of West Coast Songwriters. I played this song recently at one of the meetups and changed it a bit based on the groups input. I’d love to hear your insight as well.
This time last year, I was living in NYC and it was ZERO degrees. Now I live in California and it’s pretty darn sunny and warm, basically around 65 degrees. I’m guessing this is why my brain went to doing a cover of the song “You Are My Sunshine”. It’s also a song that I sing often to my toddler so it was swirling around in my head.
I’ve started to experiment a bit with accompanying myself on other instruments besides guitar and piano including hand percussion and even children’s musical toys like my child’s xylophone. This week I tried having some fun with rhythm eggs and a small ankle tambourine, pictured below (along with a chalk sun drawing of course).
This week I was in the mood to do a cover of a Patty Griffin song called “Trapeze”. I find the lyrics of the song to be so beautiful and inspiring, so much that at one point I thought of getting a tattoo of the chorus. I didn’t end up doing that…yet.