Thanks for stopping by!

Hi! I am Marilyn, a singer/songwriter in Hudson, NY. You have landed on my personal website/ blog/ calendar, and you will find here all kinds of things about my musical life. Look around! My blog is below, but over in the right column under 'Pages', you can see links to videos, show schedules, song lists and the other musical projects I am working on. I really hope you will consider getting to a show or even have me (and my friends) come and entertain you at your party or event. People enjoy having us play for them!

When the music calls, I *will* be there....

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Embrace Your Mistakes?

I have been discussing ideas about practice with various people, and thinking about it a great deal lately. Neil Young fans like to make jokes about embracing mistakes. It is something Neil just about preaches. We tell stories about how some of Neil's most famous records had artists that didn't know how to play the instrument Neil gave them to play. Of course, it works. And, of course, you will never hear what DIDN'T work, will you?? LOL

So, anyone who knows me or has watched me make music knows that I admittedly make a LOT of mistakes. Sporatic, stupid mistakes. Even with the chords and words right in front of me, and for a variety of reasons. Sigh. Unfortunately, that has nothing to do with practice and everything to do with how my brain just sometimes misses things.... things that I know in my sleep.... just gone. No Warning. If you play with me, you learn to deal, or you are unhappy. As Rick tells me, I keep him on his toes. :) (Of course, I will also admit, practice helps with that issue too... but mostly, practice to smooth it out.... because it doesn't stop)

But, I am not discussing in this article how to put on a show. The art of the show is something I am still learning about and studying. I am talking about the difference between REHEARSAL and PRACTICE, and why both are needed.

Now, I prefer rehearsal. I like being around other people, I like being able to socialize around making music. And... you know, it just SOUNDS better to play with others. It is great FUN!!! It is also when magic can be made, when your instruments and voices weave sound around in a way that pierces through to the bone. AH!!! Sometimes that can happen on stage too, and I am sure it does more often as you become more confident in your music and stage show. Rehearsal is for social bonding, trying out different approaches and seeing what can be done with them, making your arrangements, figuring out the things that make you sound SOLID, learning how to work with each other with just a look or nod. Rehearsal is NOT where you learn the chord progressions, melody or harmony. That just wastes the time together with your band mates.

You learn the song in PRACTICE. Practice is what you do, in the woodshed, all alone. When you play that part you just can't quite nail so many times over that anyone within hearing distance is ready to shoot you. When you sweat to find the right key, figure out where to take your breathe so you can hold that note, write that guitar fill, develop your sound, put together your solo idea that takes that song straight to the heart, firmly and with meaning. Practice is where you learn the song so that when you get together with your band mates, you can refine the song and make your arrangement and make it sound special.

Practice is the work that you do so you have something to offer at rehearsal. Practice is why each song can sound different than the last one. Practice is what gives you your toolbox.

One my first, great lessons as a musician was given to me by my first adult teacher. When I told him of my love of music, but apparent inability to make it, he said, 'Can you hear songs playing in your head?' yep, all the time 'Then we need to teach you how to take what is in your head and put it into your hands.'.

In other words, he taught me to work, and it would come. And it has. Thank you, teacher.

The work is in practice. Then you bring it out and have FUN.

Practice and hard work will bring you where talent fears to tread....

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Catskill Farmers Market gig

Last night, after work, I rushed over the bridge to Catskill to sing at the last Catskill Farmers Market for 2017. Ok... I did not RUSH because the line to cross the bridge was literally a mile long... and moving SLOOOOOOW....

But I get there, and there is like five farmers and a couple crafts people and maybe five customers. I guess I am getting spoiled.... there was a time in my playing life where that would be just fine. But as I am looking around, I am primarily thinking, 'Is it even worth me setting up?'. You know, I have a strong sense of commitment... if I said I would do it, here I am... and I set up. A gentleman passing by said, oh, we are going to get some music? I tried hard not to sound as annoyed as I felt when said yes, I think so....

I was going solo. Rick decided he had something else he needed to do, and I am thinking about how smart he was to cancel as I strap on my guitar. When I play with someone else, it doesn't bother me that the venue is empty. I don't know why. But when I am going solo, I feel silly and exposed and embarrassed. But I came here to sing, and I open my mouth....

By the second song, I had a few people sitting at picnic tables, some eating dinner, but all listening to me. Smiling. Singing along. Rocking to the beat. And staying past finishing their dinner. More came. Some were families and the kids ran around as people sat and listened. I am not going to tell you that I grew a crowd.... but I will tell you that I sang for 90 minutes and kept the people who were there, THERE.

It is a beautiful setting, Dutchmans Landing. A piece of land that juts into the Hudson River, which is a mile wide there, so the river is all around the park. And this was sunset. And one of those beautiful early fall days when summer is still trying to hold on. And I sang... My amp is sounding great on the vocal channel, but the guitar sounds a thin as a plastic guitar (ok, it is composite... but still....). After a few songs, I discover the error and correct it, and I don't know about my audience, but I welcomed the better sound. And I sang. They were paying as much attention to the originals as the songs they knew. Couples with dogs. Women with kids. A few single men sitting on top of picnic tables. All listening. I could not have asked for a better 'listening room'!!!

After a while, I was getting surprised that no one was leaving, and wondering when I could stop! LOL. Then, I remembered, like someone making a comment in my mind--, 'Always leave them wanting more'.

So, I announced my last song, said something about being back next year and congrats on the last day of the market and started to pick up. People came over to me to put money in the bucket and talk to me about their enjoyment of this evening. That, of course, is the butter on the bread. Yeah, I enjoyed it too!

Another lesson learned. Don't judge a book by its cover or a market by the sparseness of the venders.... lol!!!

Today, I sing with Mike and Brian for the Lighthouse Preservation Organization, out in the middle of the river. My favorite gig. Singing songs to a happy bunch of people standing on a rock in the middle of the Hudson River is just a wonderful way to spend a couple hours. I look forward to it.

Then on Sunday, I will head down to Rhinebeck, where I will participate in their 'Porchfest'. I know a lot of my fellow players, so even though I am solo, I should see a bunch of folks I know. The two gigs I had with Rick this weekend were both cancelled... the bedraces (look up YouTube videos to see what that is about) and a Blues Brunch (the restaurant has refrigeration problems), But we start playing together again at the Austerlitz Fall Festival on October 8.

I am surrounded by crows this morning as I write this on my screened porch. That is generally a sign that the muse is with me. I hope that is true today. I hope that music can use me and give people a good time (while I stay out of the way). That is what it is ALL about....

Monday, September 4, 2017

Playing a Private Party

What a fine day it was yesterday. Rick and I had two gigs... one at the Schenectady Farmers Market (RAIN!!) and one, a labor day party at someones residence.

My first house party for a total stranger. It never occurred to me to be worried about it until a friend said, will you please give me the phone number and address so if you don't reappear, we have something to tell the police.
Huh?

Ok, well, in todays world, I guess that would be something to think about... but I would prefer not to think that way.

Nevertheless, I drove to the place a little earlier than I had to, to check it out. All the neighbors had long roads back into the woods, and I did get a little weirded out by that. But then, yes, here is the house, with tarps up in the back yard and lighting like a place that is planning to have a party in a little while. Whew!!! OK, they sure don't look like axe murderers!!!

We pull in, get our guitars and head to the back door. (At every new place I play, I always get my guitar out of the car and carry it with me to find where to set up. It acts like a calling card. I don't have to say, I am the musician. People take one look at you and point the way.....!) There is a gentleman there cooking and yep, he is the host. He directs us where to go and there is that absolutely, terribly, uncomfortable few minutes when all the guests are eyeing you while you set up. You try to be nice and answer questions, but you are really thinking about, Where did I put that cable now? Or... how did that A string get THAT far out of tune? Or...whatever.

Then, set up and ready to sing. We start our usual set list. We get a little interest in Folsom Prison, but, in short order, we have cleared the room.

Oh oh.... We made sure we were quiet, background music sort of thing, and of course, that is not the best for sound quality. People are filling plates of food and leaving the room... for where? I don't know. Finally, the hostess comes in and says, come outside with us, grab a plate and eat....we are having a blessing and a bagpipe player out back. So we do that. Everyone listens intently to the player and there is a moment of silence while Amazing Grace is played. Then he breaks the somberness with a joke song and everyone laughs and goes about having the party again.

We go into the living room and eat and chat with folks. Now people are warming up to us. A young lady comes over to ask us to back her up while she sings for everyone. Sure. We chat about that and get our plan and I hand her a mike. It is not too loud, and and we turn up, and she has a great voice and a good manner to her and she does a wonderful job on Me and Bobbie McGee. Yeah. We leave the volume up and continue to play for the next 90 minutes without a stop. Now, I can hear people saying, Oh, I love this song! There is often a smattering of clapping after songs. People stop what they are doing and grab someone for a little dance at the next one. Some smile and sing along. Lots of foot tapping. Even more smiles. What a good feeling!!!

As the party wound down, we are left with just the hosts and more time they have already paid for....So we played one last Neil Young song for the host, (who had given me permission to sing as many Neil songs as I wanted throughout the night), and packed up and went home, feeling really fine. Really fine.

Thinking about the evening, I realize that I love making music and making great sounds... but what i really LIVE for is the response I get from the audience. I can stay home and make beautiful sounds and feel real good. But what makes me rocket to the moon is ENTERTAINING an appreciative audience. Now, to do that well, I have to play songs that are meaningful to me so I can present them genuinely, so it is still true that my first responsibility is to play for ME-- what I like and feel good about. But then.... my next job is to make YOU feel good, and in doing that, *I* feel even better. Wow, what a perfect thing... and how grateful I am that I have the privilege to go into someone's home and make things a little more fun for them for a few hours. Wow.

Yes, this is something I really love to do. And I can't wait until the next time.....

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

750 Words

Every morning, I do a creative exercise called 750 words. It is the digital variation of Julia Cameron's 'Morning Pages'. Originally, I started the exercise because I was not happy and I thought the writing would be a sort of self-therapy.... which it is. It is a very interesting experiment, and if you have any interest, I highly recommend it. It is meant to be a sort of brain dump, where you put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and don't stop until the 750 words or 3 pages are done. I can't do that. I have to refill the coffee, check the email, document something... But the writing is still helpful. It is helpful just to get stuff out, 'out loud', where they exist somewhere other than just your head. I guess that why so many used to (do they still?) recommend journal-ling.

So, how you do it is: Just write. Not well. No restrictions. Just write. It is both harder and easier than it sounds. Harder because even I run out of things to say, and easier because even that doesn't matter. Just write.

Just. Write.

Now, why is it a creative exercise if you are not trying to WRITE (as in, well)?

I use it to plan my day, remember gratitude, record memories, document happenings, b*t*c*. I wonder 'out loud' why I haven't written a song in a while. I speak sternly about not finding time, again, to practice the bass.

You can see, it has a lot of uses.

Just. Write.

(No, I did not write this or plan this while doing my 750 steps. I think I am wasting time INSTEAD of practicing bass.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shows!!

Happy Summer!!! It is finally here, both officially and weather-wise. 

And Rick and Marilyn have SHOWS, lots of them, all summer. Every weekend! 

Without exaggeration, we will play at least one Farmers Market, local festival, and/or bar every single weekend that I am in town, so there are lots of opportunities to catch up with us somewhere.

AND we are still looking to play for YOU at your summer party or other event. Contact us here ------> , or on facebook, text or cellphone, and we can discuss how to make your event a lot of fun for everyone! Our fee depends on how many musicians (solo, duo or band), how much time you want us to play for, and if there are any special songs you want us to learn.... Contacting me does not cost a dime and you will likely be pleased!

Rick and Marilyn.... When the music calls, we WILL be there.....