I've found myself, this Winter, working from home. There's been a few performances here and there, the tail end of the Vagabond Opera CD release taking us to Canada and the Midwest but for the most part my days have been spent painting up the orchestral score for the musical I was commissioned to do over a year ago (Prince of Fences).
I've compared songwriting to visual art in past blogs and this comparison is most apropos when it comes to scoring a piece of work. You have a bare-bones outline in front of you—a canvas with only the melody line and piano accompaniment and then you have to fill in the rest using the brush strokes of the other instruments. It's fascinating, sometimes tedious and always a bit lonely.
The other work I've done this Winter is record a solo album. That's given me at least the company of a sound engineer! But that can be a lonely slog too...days spent in a basement listening to yourself can be seen as a creative endeavor or closer to solitary confinement.
Monday nights have been a warm contrast to these dim colors. I've been wined and dined and have heard rich stories of love unspool before me. It's felt imperial! I'll explain:
Lynn Duddy and Lawrence Howard from Portland Story Theater saw me emcee the Rock Against Alzheimer's Event here is Portland and asked me to emcee their Valentine's Day Show at the Alberta Rose. I didn't hesitate once I spoke to Lynn on the phone. Here was a chance to do something a little different. Not only would I be playing music and emceeing but I would also get the opportunity to tell a story. That IS what the evening's all about. Me, four storytellers, a bare stage, and the audience at the Alberta Rose Theater, here in Portland.
We've been rehearsing. If you can call gathering together in Lawrence and Lynn's living room—drinking wine, eating Lawrence's pot roast, and telling stories a rehearsal. It IS though. The process involves taking a story, telling it, honing it, playing with it, getting feedback, and refining and refining until it's water-tight yet still chock-full of air. Without giving anything away I've heard tales of jilted pianists, French-Resistance boxers, spying in New York, and 11th-hour prisoner conversions.
And those were the stories we THREW OUT.
|Slash Coleman (photo: Claire Folger)|
Art is always about the process and this Winter I've been partially sustained by and completely uplifted by gathering around a hearth every Monday and telling stories. Will you gather with us on February 14th—Valentine's Day, at the Alberta Rose Theater for Kiss and Tell? Joining Lynn Duddy and Lawrence Howard from Portland Story Theater will be Slash Coleman and Penny Walter (of Penny Puppet Productions). These performers are top-notch professional story-tellers. Here's Slash Coleman's bio:
Best known for his PBS special and Off-Broadway one man show, “The Neon Man and Me,” over the past decade Slash's work has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, American Theatre Magazine, Backstage Magazine and most recently on the NPR series, “How Artists Make Money.” As a performer, he's been featured at: The International Storytelling Center, Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Festival and The National Storytelling Festival.
As for me I may tell the story of how I started playing the accordion after being jilted. Then there's the time the streets almost ran red with my blood in Poland. Did I ever tell you about the time I dated an...no I can't tell that one...well maybe I will! You'll have to come and see. AND just to get some of these tunes out of the house I'll be playing TWO original songs from my upcoming CD. One was inspired by working with Brittany Walsh at the Alberta Rose. Here's a little sample.
AND HERE'S THE SHOW INFO:
Portland Story Theater is excited to present their new Valentine's Day show, Kiss & Tell at The Alberta Rose Theatre. It's a fast-paced and delightful encounter with all the facets of love including the dreamy, the romantic, and the scandalous! ONE SHOW ONLY! Valentine's Day February 14th.
We've got a terrific lineup including Slash Coleman who performed with us at Singlehandedly! last spring. We're thrilled that Eric Stern, probably best known for his work with Vagabond Opera, is going to be our Master of Ceremonies. Your favorite and ours, Penny Walter, will be telling a hilarious story about her prom night disaster. And Lawrence Howard and Lynne Duddy will be telling in tandem, using their beloved ‘butt-in-ski’ style where they basically interrupt each other while both tell the story – you know, just like a real couple. It’s all about their wedding and the hilarious and heartfelt moments: everything from the bride meeting the in-laws for the first time to the groom being propositioned just 15 minutes before the ceremony.
Advance General Seating is $18. Special VIP tickets give you priority seating, champagne, and chocolate for $36. And, space permitting, General Seating tickets may be available at the door for $20. Click HERE to purchase tickets via The Alberta Rose Theatre.