Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I don't play this song anymore so it was fun to hear it again, especially with Jessica and Miranda singing harmonies...if you go to the vimeo link there are more songs from the same concert (I just learned how to cut up videos, yay!)
And this one I wrote for my nephew (he turned 5 yesterday!...):

Friday, November 19, 2010

A perfect day to read

This weekend brings us rain and winds and even a storm, and the perfect excuse to curl up on the daybed with a book. A good book. 

I've been on somewhat of a reading rampage lately, currently enjoying Paul Auster's Brooklyn Follies- which seems to be one of his best recent books, on par with the adventures in mankind of the early ones. So far, even more exciting than Invisible, of which I thought the same thing (and I wasn't disappointed) when I started reading it a few weeks back. 

Another book that kept me reading all day last weekend was Houellebecq's La Carte et le Territoire- which just won the Goncourt prize in France, to great controversy (but don't the French love controversy?). Despite all the bad rep he's garnered with the critics and the press in recent years- not being quite PC enough for Paris' liberal intelligentsia - I still think he wrote yet another great book, one with unexpected depths and layers. One only has to look at his brilliant passages on the nature of creation and art, the fascinating (and hilarious) use of himself and other public figures as characters, or his astute vision of his country only a few years ahead, with a countryside revitalized by tourism and the young eco-entrepreneurs. He's merciless in his analysis of the modern world, yet almost tender when it comes to humanity, but without any sentimentalism. And need I say, it's all extremely well written.

(Have you noticed, I'm actually reading male writers? it had been a while. But I still want another Pagano for Christmas, and a Hélène Bessette is next on my shelf.)

What have you been reading lately?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Expecting to fly

So ecstatic about the Kickstarter project being completed and successful! It was an epic last 24 hours but we made it. Thank you everybody! I feel a little bit like this woman, ready to take flight but still a little afraid:

(photo borrowed from an online friend, source unknown to me...)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

She feeds you tea and oranges

While in New York I got to make music too, not just visit museums (or, ahem, shopping...).

Through a friend I made another one, Chris Carlone, who kindly offered to play some minimal drums and slide guitar on my songs. Chris is a cool guy, he used to live in San Francisco and is now in the Upper West Side with his family. He does a lot of different stuff - photo, video, music - see some of it here, and there for instance.

So there we were, a first rehearsal one day, a show that night. Then another gig a few days later. That one was at Building on Bond, a sweet restaurant in Brooklyn. They close one half of the room, and everybody gets very quiet. No mics, no tricks. It was wonderful. Even the bartender was careful to wait for the end of a song to use the foam machine...and Chris sounded as though we had had ten rehearsals, instead of that lone one - very tasteful. We had a nice crowd, of both friends and strangers, and oh so very attentive. I ended the set with Leonard Cohen's Suzanne, because for all the years I've been playing it, I always envisioned Suzanne walking to the East River, or maybe the Hudson - even though I'm pretty sure he wrote it in Montreal...

Chris also did a set of his own beforehand, played guitar but also the ukulele, and did a sweet rendition of Moon River on it - such a classic New York song to me: 


Another day  we ventured to Central Park to make some attempts at shooting something. Here I go walking to the shoot:

I thought I'd wear this black dress with the white collar to sort of give it a more Halloween feel, and match the Fall theme provided by the changing trees. At times it made me look like a little girl:

...not so great. But the leaves truly were magnificent, and I think I managed an ok rendition of Orpheus on that one.

Thank you New York City... see you next time, you always amaze me!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Edward Hopper

Went to the Whitney for their Edward Hopper exhibit, Modern life: Edward Hopper and his time. The exhibit focused on Hopper's influences and contemporaries, each room about a certain group of artists he shared themes and influences with (the Ashcan School of painters from the early 20th century, the Precisionists who like him explored abstract architectural shapes, another group who depicted common American life scenes, etc...).

Edward Hopper is one of my favorite painters, and seeing his works in person was amazing. It has little to do with looking at a reproduction. What struck me the most, and that I've always liked anyway, is the way he paints light. And apparently he has said that his favorite thing was to paint light on the side of a house. But he can paint it remarkably well on someone's face as well, like in Soir Bleu (1914):

It's hard to see on the reproduction, but there is this little patch of light on the standing woman's shoulder, it's so delicately rendered. I like the composition too, it's one of my favorites of his.

Most of the time I buy postcards when I go to a museum, usually of the exhibit I just saw, but this time I just couldn't, it made me sad looking at books about Hopper and posters. It would've ruined my memory of it. Strangely, I found better reproductions on line, and maybe it looks better on a computer screen because of the light already in here. Anyway, here are a few of my favorites that I got to see live yesterday:

Night Window (1928)

Gas (1940)

Railroad Sunset (1929)

That was my favorite of the show I think. There was also a funny little one, Untitled (Solitary figure in a theater) - which was black and white. An oil painting from his beginnings, 1902-04:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Autumn in New York


This is the upper west side. Did you notice the 2 awesome ladies crossing the street? They had the best style, but unfortunately I didn't take the photo fast enough...this neighborhood is so full of characters.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The land of the free

On Sunday I went to Philadelphia and learned all about America's forefathers, the Liberty Bell and the beginnings of this 'great country'.

Independence Hall was under renovation, which seemed pretty metaphorical...


Then on tuesday I went to see a play - which I first thought was just going to be a historical farce set in Louisiana, but ended up being a reflection on the founding of the United States - how it came to be so big with the Louisiana purchase from Napoleon, the quest for a waterway to the West, the Lewis and Clark expedition,  and the irony of Thomas Jefferson's words ('all men were created equal') in light of the practice of slavery. I never go to the theater, so it was a treat...

...and a history lesson, courtesy of the East Coast!

The show was at the Lincoln Center, it's called A Free Man of Color.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The anticipated unexpected

Sometimes I think I go out of town only so I can see this:

It's like those times when you've been wishing for something for a long time, and when it finally happens you're still slightly unable to believe it actually did. Still surprised by your own dreams...


Speaking of deer, I am still raising funds to release the new album on vinyl (with a download card!). I am  planning an early 2011 release at the latest, and you have until November 9 to contribute and reserve your very own copy. Visit the project here

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Linda Perhacs

Tonight I went to see Linda Perhacs at the San Francisco Art Institute. She was so cute with her reading glasses, her music stand and her knit vest. A great show,  she had talented musicians backing her up, not to mention her own sweet voice...

Here she is doing a duo with Julia Holter on Delicious:

and a couple of songs from the 1970 album:

hauntingly beautiful.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

O movimento

As I was doing research on Brazilian music - and specifically bossa nova - for my 5th grade classes, I came upon some pretty funny stuff...there was a pretty rich cultural exchange between France and Brazil in the 60s, which led to some French singers covering Bossa Nova tunes, or penning some numbers inspired by it. Or even coming up with some interesting collaborations, like Françoise Hardy working with Tuca on La Question.

But there's also Sacha Distel doing Incendie à Rio...! Check out also this funny video of him dancing a bossa on the quays in Paris, complete with female dancers. I wonder what the kids would think if I played it for them...he's also supposed to have covered Desafinado and Samba pour une seule note but I couldn't find it. I know he does a pretty decent version of Corcovado. By this guy:

(Antonio Carlos Jobim)

I also found out that Moustaki did a cover of Aguas de Março, one of my favorite Tom Jobim songs: Les eaux de Mars. I still think Elis Regina sings it best. See her do it live with Tom, this is amazing:

And I knew about Pierre Barouh's love song to bossa nova from the movie Un Homme et Une Femme, Samba Saravah, a cover of Samba de Bençao, by Vinicius de Morales and Baden Powell- but I didn't know he also recorded a version of Agua de Beber, another beautiful Tom Jobim tune.
The French adaptation is actually pretty nice, a little wistful, maybe too wistful for fifth graders?

And speaking of Baden Powell, I might have to play them some of his Afro-Sambas to illustrate the link to African music- like this Canto de Xango

I could go on and on really, but to end, here's the muse of bossa nova, Nara Leão, doing another one of my favorites, Morena Do Mar:

It's been a crazy 90˚F (30˚C)  in San Francisco, so this is perfect...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Invisible Ocean

Next weekend will be spent in the trees for music making, star gazing, river swimming and fishing, forest floor sleeping, food sharing and more...I'm playing on saturday but you might as well stay both days to take in the forest and the Yuba river - not to mention the impressive array of performers...details and tickets are on the festival’s website.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Martha Argerich

On one of my last few days through France, my aunt (who plays the piano) lent me a book about Martha Argerich, Martha Argerich, l'Enfant et les Sortilèges, by Olivier Bellamy. I read it when I got home, and it started me on a little youtube-video-watching binge of her. Truly amazing. And the character, the woman, the musician. She played the piano for the first time in nursery school, when a little boy dared her to play the instrument, and she went up there and played one of the songs her teacher would play for them sometimes, perfectly, in rhythm, and then another one and then another. She can read a piece of music and instantly know it. She learned a Prokofiev concerto in her sleep: her roommate was practicing it while she was taking a nap. Insane, right? And then you listen to her and her playing is so clear, distinct, articulate. But also passionate and strong, like a roaring lion, or a race horse going full speed. Here's one of her performances for the Chopin International Competition in 1965 - she was 24 - that she eventually won:

I love watching the expression on her face when the camera is on it, and especially when the main theme returns, that young, amused sense of triumph. I feel like she could play any piece of music and really explain it to me, like she did with this Prokofiev Sonata. And watching her hands I could do for hours, here she is doing Ravel's Jeux d'Eaux:

I like it best when it's just her and the piano, but some of those concertos are worth her take on it too, like Schumann's Am or Prokofiev's No 3 (the one she learned in her sleep!).

All this made me long for a piano... even though I could never play like her, there is something about playing it that makes everything right for me, somehow. To console myself I resolved I would go and see Hélène Grimaud play with the Symphony when she's here in January. She's supposed to play Schumann's concerto, which she does beautifully too. And maybe I will want this for Christmas.

For now here's a little video of Martha Argerich in her home, when she lived with the Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit, her husband at the time.

And finally, if you can listen past the very crappy sound, another 1965 Chopin competition piece, Scherzo no. 3. I really like this one:


Friday, September 3, 2010

A day in Paris

One last travel post...I'm back to California and its schizophrenic weather (furious winds, fog and jacket wearing temperatures immediately followed by solid blue skies and digits in the 80s). While getting back into my life, which sometimes feels like putting on clothes you haven't been wearing for a long time, it's nice to still think of the sweetness of being in France.

I ended my trip with a day in Paris, most of it spent following my friends around as they were strolling around shopping, slowly making their way to Gare Saint-Lazare where they were to meet another friend and I'd hop on the metro back to their place.

The weather was muggy and wet, it even rained a few times. But it made for a pleasant walk, and a quick little taste of the city. We took our time though, and stopped for lunch, and saw all the terraces full of lunch eating Parisians, it was somewhere between 12 and 2, and you knew they were soon going to empty out after that...

Here are a few things that caught my eye:

(that's how all that good meat travels)


window ears

the Opera's newly refurbished angels

where all the cute shoes live... the Repetto store.

wouldn't it be nice to play there one day?

or to walk through a film shoot

full of 1930s beauties.

saw the mosaics of the Printemps store

and the restrooms at the Ritz!


When I found myself on my own again, I walked into a Fnac for a last minute book and music browse. I came out with another Emmanuelle Pagano (Les Mains Gamines) (I loved this one before), an Anna Karina CD of songs from movies, including this sweet lil' one - and the last Jean-Louis Murat album, Le Cours Ordinaire des Choses.  I listened to it that evening - while smoking cigarettes at the windowsill, taking in those rooftops under grey skies and the late nightfall - and have been listening to it a bunch since. There are two obvious hits - the title track, and the second one, Falling in love again, which had tickled my ear when I heard it on the radio a few days before - but also a few other beautiful numbers, like La Mésange Bleue ('on n'aime plus...d'amour') or La Tige d'Or, and at least one funny song, Comme un cowboy à l'âme fresh. I don't know that many albums of his, but for this one Murat went to record in Nashville and it came out so very well produced- yet never over the top or tasteless, but close to perfectly balanced. It's like he went in there and brought all his favorite Neil Young albums for reference, and got those guys to work on their guitar solos. Even though there is much more to it than just guitar solos.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Memory lane

This week I went inland, to Rennes, where I went to University. It felt very strange to walk through those streets again, a little like walking through a dream, and at the same time nothing felt like it was before - maybe a sign that I've truly grown out of the person I was then...or just that it had been sooo long.

I eventually found a record store where I spent a bit of time - they had a listening station, that was nice. Found a Kristin Hersh album I didn't know, and discovered a funny French Madagascan pop outfit from the 60s, The Surfs. I also had to take a photo of those two goth kids across the street:

It turns out they appeared right above the Sister of Mercy bin, I didn't realize when I was taking the picture...

At my parents' house I pondered my teenage reads -

and old photos:

We liked to dress up!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eric Rohmer's Brittany

When D and A were here, D kept talking about how this area reminded her of an Eric Rohmer movie. She did a little research and found out that at least one of them was shot in the region, Conte d'Eté. Here's the trailer, and a few stills:

I yet have to see this one. I seems to be very Rohmeresque - a summer romance, or romances, that features a young male character torn between several women, and incapable of making up his mind, or committing himself. I found a good summary here.

...and some photos of the beach I took, for supporting evidence. The weather has turned to grey so it's at least a reminder of the sunny days:

(I like that lonesome 'parasol')

Those were all taken around here, but the movie was actually shot in Dinard and around,  a couple of towns east of here - I was there yesterday, although it was too overcast to show you the likeness. Here's a photo I found online, recognize the striped tents?