Musical Meanderings

This is a blog centered around some of the musical encounters and experiences that I come upon in my daily life as a musician.

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Location: Alameda, California

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My favorite Messiah to play is at the Unitarian Church of Berkeley. The conductor, Bryan Baker, dresses up like Handel!

Wow- Christmas is already here. Unbelievable. We have inlaws in town. They are even in house. Help! No- just kidding. I really enjoy Scott's parents. Probably more than he does!

I have a Christmas Eve midnight mass to play, and then a church service on Christmas morning. After that, Isabelle and I are off to Lake Tahoe to ski. (If we can get over the pass!) It should be fun.

Not too many concerts coming up. Isabelle and I have two benefit concerts though. They are both for the Aids/Lifecycle series, to benefit the San Francisco Aids Society. One is on January 24th in Berkeley and the other is on March 14th. You can certainly check my calendar on my webpage at to find out details. These are variety shows. Isabelle and I get to go first because they don't start until 7:30 at night. I am not sure what we will play yet. She might sing this year. But definitely we'll do some cello duets also. We are working on some great Irish music, so maybe we'll put some of that on the program. Isabelle is now working on Suzuki Book 3. She has learned the first two compositions and she is playing beautifully. But, as always, it is still a challenge to get her to practice. We pretty much try to practice every day, except on Sunday, when she gets the day off from cello.

The big surprise recently has been her vibrato. We talked about it a little bit this summer. She just started shaking her arm one day at the Colorado Suzuki Institute after watching some of the other kids doing it. Her teacher at the institute, David Evenchick, told me to just really exaggerate my vibrato when I played my cello around her. So I did that, and she now has developed this really great vibrato. I haven't told her anything about how to do it---I only encouraged it and told her how beautiful it sounds. She is very proud of that vibrato. Vibrato, at age 6!

The other big concert coming up is on Friday, February 13th at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto. It's a really nice concert series in this beautiful theater. I am playing there with Ramana Vieira and her Ensemble, my Portugese fado band. We are excited about it. We have a new CD that is almost out now, and a new record company, Pacific Coast Jazz, that is promoting it. We are also on the prowl searching for the right booking agent for the group. To find out more about that group, go to .

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Butterfly Girl is here!

I got the new CD! It's very exciting, and I just want to give it out to everyone. Very bad for business... I can't listen to it because after writing the music, making the sheet music, arranging the music, rehearsing it, recording it and mastering it, I don't want to hear it ever again. But you can listen to it with a pair of fresh ears! I hope you like it! Seriously, the new CD "Butterfly Girl" is a fun listen. It's classical-gypsy-circus-world-cello music at it's finest. It combines cello, guitar, percussion, vocals, and a little mandolin and violin. Some of the performers are: Terrence Brewer, Katja Cooper, Ana Nitmar, Ramana Vieira and Steve LaPorta, and Robin Lewis and the Agave String Quintet. Oh- and also, Kelly Park and Reid Whatley make a guest appearance on the song "Lost in Isabelle". Go Alameda musicians!

I am working on updating my webpage---but, you can hear the title track on it right now. So, have a listen at . Let me know what you think!

I would like to find a record label that would be interested in promoting the new CD, but I am not sure where to begin to look for that. In this won't be easy to find. But I am hopeful that someone will help me to share this soulful CD with the world! If not, then I'll just have to promote it and distribute it myself.

We played a party Wednesday night in Mill Valley for a new company called was very interesting to say the least. It was a gorgeous giant house in the hills, with dark wood floors and picture windows with amazing views and outdoor fountains and hot tubs...the people seemed to be wearing kind of strange wasn't clear what the theme kind of reminded me of Rocky Horro. Anyway, the people were nice and very attentive. They seemed to love the fado music of the Ramana Vieira Ensemble. I enjoyed myself very much. It left me with the feeling that I love to perform and that if I could just be doing this kind of thing every night, I would be forever happy.

Last night I finished "The Soloist", a wonderful book by journalist Steve Lopez. It's about a bass player that went to Julliard and then had a mental breakdown and ended up playing a two string violin on the streets of Los Angeles. This story greatly touched me. I went to Manhattan School of Music in New York City for my master's degree, and then, after that, I played on the streets of New York for about six years. I fell in love with the street music and the musicians that made it. I wrote a fiction novel, based on truth, about a doo wop group called "Hot Ice" that I managed and ended up singing with. I fell in love with one of the men in the group, and the book is really about the duality between a classically trained well educated cellist and a street oriented doo wop singer. It's called "Four Part Harmony", and I sell an audio version of it on my website, at . But my dream is to get it published in novel form. Anyway, this book by Steve Lopez touched my heart and, at times, I shed tears. For Nathaniel Ayers, the street bassist in Steve's book, and also for those I loved on the streets of New York City: Bobby Thompson, street singer, Jaco Pastorius, bassist, Charlie Barnett, comedian...

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