The Spectacles are in the Recording Studio
From 2017 — now, I’ve been singing in a trio called “The Spectacles”, with two lovely, bespectacled friends. We did meet in the Balkan women’s ensemble Dunava, but that’s only relevant because we know how to blend and we like each other! Otherwise, our music is completely different than anything else I sing. Our songs are definitely not Eastern European, with irregular rhythms or polyphony, BUT many songs do have their roots in jazz. So I guess there’s still some weirdness 🙂
We’ve just started the recording process, and BOY, is it humbling! When you record as a trio, you have to be really ON — and if you aren’t, it’s noticeable. Another take! Hopefully we’ll have something we can put up on Soundcloud, or CDBaby or bandcamp. Researching options at the moment.
Here we are at our first real gig (besides singing for our respective parents). Here we are singing for other people’s parents, at a retirement home in Tacoma.
When you sing old chestnuts like “Goldmine in the Sky” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, old folks nod and sometimes even sing along. I’m not sure they quite know what to do with our more modern songs, but that’s okay.
We’ve sung our more modern songs with more woke audiences like our show at Copious in Ballard, where we did our a capella version of Schoolhouse Rock’s Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla — complete with a new verse about they/them pronouns.
Blast from the Past
I stumbled across the famous (well, to some circles) EVA Quartet, part of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. The two ladies on the left are teachers I had the pleasure of working with briefly when they came to Seattle for their concert at Town Hall.
These ladies are amazing vocalists, composers, and teachers! I was just reflecting to a friend about the most recent moment I felt true happiness — learning the low voice of a simple Bulgarian folk song from Gergana Dimitrova and feeling like the only student in the room when she held her gaze with mine and knew that I was catching what she was laying down. Bliss!
I was pleasantly surprised to hear very familiar text from an old Phinney Chorus song (probably originally from Village Harmony Mckenzie Bridge 2007 or even earlier, Maggie’s 1999 VH camp in Vermont?) Sveti Bozhe, a Bulgarian sacred song!
Here’s that same text, presumably from the Bulgarian Orthodox church, but in a wildly different arrangement.
3 days of Folklife
onefourfive will perform in the Voices of the World Showcase at Northwest Folklife Festival on Friday, May 27th. This is a particularly exciting performance for us, since we did not perform at NWFF last year. This year, our group didn’t get in, but with a few emails and a phone call saying, “hey, we have a great set prepared and would love to sing if you can find space for us”, and suddenly we’re the VoW showcase! Good thing, too, since we’re featured on the holiday postcard and the theme is Folk Singing!
onefourfive will also perform as part of the Turkish Showcase on Saturday, May 28th. Although our performance is a short section of a larger event curated by our own Izumi Fairbanks, we plan to make the most of our 12 minutes with some interesting mashups of Georgian/Turkish songs, as well as a little bit of Chechen thrown in for good measure.
Dunava will perform on Sunday, May 29th, as part of the Slavic Choir Showcase. We’ve been working on Sephardic songs from the Balkans, which we’ve integrated creatively with some of our more well-known repertoire from Bulgaria. Dunava 10th Anniversary
It looks to be an exciting weekend!
What better for a first blog post, than to tell you about the music I’m currently digging?
The other day, I discovered these lovely ladies by accident:
Anna and Elizabeth sing mountain music from Appalachia, with the best twang, and with CRANKIES!
I’m also digging the Starry Mountain Singers new album, particularly this song: So’ centu voce di l’esse and this one: Hungry, faint and poor
I also just found this Sardinian song, which is particularly enjoyable because it has the English translation during the song: