In 20 Photos….Willie Nelson, a High School Reunion, and a Clean(er) Studio.

What I’ve been up to over the summer – in 20 photos.

1.Traveled up a winding road to the top of a mountain in Saratoga, California to see Willie Nelson and Kasey Musgraves at The Mountain Winery.
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2. Got to the top of the mountain and took in the view. Look at that sun!
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3. Gazed into the valley. Thought about my favorite novel, East of Eden.
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4. Checked out the amphitheater. Cool, huh?IMG_6702

5. Sat back and relaxed. Date night, beer, great music, no toddler.
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6. Watched the sunset and listened to Kasey Musgraves. Wow, she blew me away.IMG_7232

7. Watched the legend himself, Willie Nelson. More beer and “Always on My Mind”.IMG_7272

8. I flew to Florida, where I grew up. Usually the first thing I do when I’m in town is get boiled peanuts. If you are from The South, you know about boiled peanuts. Thinking about family and friends in Florida right now, as Hurricane Irma is blowing across the state as I write.IMG_6400

9. I was in town for my high school reunion. I attended The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a visual and performing arts high school. Ya know, just like “Fame”. It has changed a lot since I was there. Now they have a sculpture garden.IMG_6500

10. There it is, my old locker. IMG_6504

11. Did I mention a lot has changed since I attended there? Now they have a full fledged jazz recording studio! I went there the first year it opened. We just had a trailer in the school parking lot for a few music classes. It was really impressive to see how the school has developed over the years and the opportunities students now have to develop their artistic talents. IMG_6523

12. They also now have a fully built out theatre. Did I mention our theatre was the un-air-conditioned gym?IMG_6525

13. Every good arts school should have student sculpture in the library. IMG_6590

14. Also, an incredibly cool wire car sculpture. I wish I knew who did these pieces, as I would give them credit here. IMG_6589

15. Oh yes, the reunion itself! You know when you go to a performing arts high school, there will be “A Chorus Line” style kick line at the party. IMG_6649

16. Finally getting around to cleaning my studio.IMG_7769

17. See, nothing on the floor.IMG_7768

18. Last, but not least, the beach. IMG_7046

19. There is always a time for the beach. We sat and watched the waves.IMG_7055

20. Now the real last, but not least. Always time for a hug.IMG_6341

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Maybe my work studio should become my play studio.

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I have a room in my house that functions as my music studio. My instruments are in there. My computer and recording gear is in there. My desk is in there. Everything music related is in there. But somehow, I never seem to get around to organizing it or giving it much love. It remains a bit of a mess on a regular basis. What I find instead is that I work all over other parts of the house, inside and out.

For example, my dining room table is probably my favorite place to write out music and do research. My backyard has lately been my favorite place to practice, come up with new ideas on the guitar, or write in my journal. Soon I will likely start recording vocals in my bathroom. I keep giving myself the goal of cleaning and organizing my studio but I never do it. Maybe it’s because I lived in New York City for so long in small apartments with barely enough room for a music studio that makes me want to spread out. Maybe it’s because I’m a procrastinator. Maybe I’m just a mess maker. Who knows.

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I’ve started noticing that the places I end up working in are the same places in my house where my kid is playing. Right next to his train set in the living room. Right next to his dirt garden outside where he runs his trucks around. He doesn’t play in his room either. His toys, as you can see in the pictures above, are usually spread out all over the house. Maybe this means my work feels more like play. Maybe I can’t work in a space with four walls and a desk. I wonder if I make my work area seem more like a play area if I’ll be inspired to create in it. I think it’s time to bring the outdoors and a different set up to my studio. I’m thinking plants, flowers, a dining room table, and an Adirondack chair. Maybe also a sand box? What do you think? I’d love to know.

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That’s all folks. Hope you are having a great week and enjoying your summer, wherever you may be. Before I sign off, did you know I have a new Instagram account just for RachelLeeWalsh music? Find me there at RachelLeeWalsh if you want to connect.

 

My 66 Favorite Jazz Standards

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As you know, I’m in the process of putting together a jazz ensemble. I’ve been digging around, figuring out songs to put on the set list. In the process, I’ve been re-discovering some songs I really just love. Songs like “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” by Cole Porter and “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers and Hart. Below are my 66 of my favorites!  Why 66, you ask? Well, it’s just how many were really moving me this week. It also had such a nice “Route 66” ring to it! There are probably 1 or 2 on the list that aren’t officially jazz standards (Nina Simone), but I couldn’t resist including them. What are your favorites? Have any recommendations of songs I should add to this list and maybe add to my live set?

  1. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
  2. I Could Write a Book
  3. My Baby Just Cares for Me
  4. It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
  5. My Funny Valentine
  6. All of Me
  7. Body and Soul
  8. But Not For Me
  9. You Go To My Head
  10. Round Midnight
  11. Misty
  12. It Had To Be You
  13. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
  14. Blue Skies
  15. For Sentimental Reasons
  16. Take The A Train
  17. They Can’t Take That Away from Me
  18. Someone to Watch Over Me
  19. St. James Infirmary
  20. Our Love is Here To Stay
  21. Straighten Up and Fly Right
  22. Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?
  23. Ain’t Misbehavin’
  24. Stompin’ at the Savoy
  25. Satin Doll
  26. Blue Gardenia
  27. Autumn Leaves
  28. Lullaby of Birdland
  29. High How the Moon
  30. Black Coffee
  31. Night in Tunisia
  32. I Wan’t a Little Sugar in My Bowl
  33. Summertime
  34. Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?
  35. I’ve Got a Crush On You
  36. Black Coffee
  37. Come Rain or Come Shine
  38. My Baby Just Cares For Me
  39. Feelin Good
  40. A Tisket a Tasket
  41. Just One of Those Things
  42. Stella by Starlight
  43. Witchcraft
  44. Skylark
  45. Girl from Ipanema
  46. Nice Work if You Can Get It
  47. Stormy Weather
  48. Tea for Two
  49. Cheek to Cheek
  50. (I’ve got you) Under my Skin
  51. Honeysuckle Rose
  52. Fly Me to the Moon
  53. Stompin at the Savoy
  54. PaperMoon
  55. When I fall in Love
  56. Someone to Watch
  57. The Nearness of You
  58. Old Devil Moon
  59. Autumn in New York
  60. Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?
  61. Embraceable
  62. La Vie En Rose
  63. Lush Life
  64. At Last
  65. Birdland
  66. La Mer

Picking jazz band songs and my long-lost vintage shoes.

Remember how I said I was starting a vintage jazz ensemble and I’d be available soon to play weddings, cocktail receptions, and corporate events? Well, it’s starting to come together. I’ve developed a set list, started working with a new guitarist, started a new Instagram business account, and have been going through my closets to find my fun vintage shoes and dresses.

The Set List 

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I grew up listening to so many kinds of music, jazz being just one of them. In college, I had two types of music programs available to me. One was classical and one was jazz. It was never really a question to me that what I would study was jazz. It offered me the ability to improvise, the space to write my own music, and the challenge to expand my music theory knowledge. For this new group, I’m starting with songs from the 20’s – 50’s such as “Misty”, “Round Midnight”, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “You Go To My Head”, but also planning to do modern songs, just done in a jazz format.

The Outfits 

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What do I love as much as the music itself? The Outfits. I’ve been digging through my closet to find all of the vintage dresses and accessories I have, particularly the shoes. Oh, how I missed you dear shoes. I promise not to leave you alon for so long next time.

My Studio

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Launching a new project has made me get my studio in better working order. I had to give it some love, particularly my writing area. I put the song charts I’m actively working on out on the stand and put up knick-knacks of what inspires me. Pictures of my family, vintage postcards with images of cities and architecture, Harvey Milk stamps, the 642 Things to Draw and Write About books, and a picture of the incredibly well designed placemat at one of my favorite places to eat in NYC – Russ & Daughters.

Instagram

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I’ve started a new Instagram account specifically for my business as a musician.  On it, you will be able to contact me directly for bookings as well as keep up with what I’m doing on a daily basis. Find me there @RachelLeeWalsh.

That’s all folks. See you next week.