Questions of questions

Another image from my journal.  Read the journal FAQ here.

I like this description of music as a series of questions of questions of questions ... It somehow seemed right to me when I read it.  The quotation came from the book The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. 

What are you reading?  Do capture any thoughts, lines, words when you read them?  If so, how?  What's your way of keeping these shards of words and phrases?  Tell me.  Tell me more.

Want to sing with me Thursday night?

'cause I want you to sing with me ... at the REDSTACK gig, Thursday, December 11 at 9:30pm sharp! at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3.

I've got a little song in mind I want to arrange for two or three or fifty voices.  But I am only one little person and Jules doesn't know the song (yet) and still that would only be two little people.

So if you are coming to the gig and you want to sing with me, send me an email assistant.kateschutt@gmail.com

And if you're not coming to the gig and you want to sing with me, send me an email.

And if you want to come to the gig and sing with me but you forgot to get a ticket or didn't have the internet or 10$ to get a ticket and it's now sold out, send me an email. 

How sweet it is to be loved by you.  It's true.
XO,
Kate

A little hand-made, collaged, show poster goodness, by yours truly

Best thing I've done all week v1

The best thing I've done all week is play drums and guitar along with the album "Coltrane Plays the Blues."  The first two tunes "Blues for Elvin" and "Blues for Bechet" have totally lit me up!!! I am playing along with them multiple times a day!  Seriously!  It is like some kind of musical crack. 

Rick Considine, my drum teacher, told me to play along with that first track and once again I understand why he is the man and why I travel to Bushwick and sit in a tiny, dimly lit, freezing cold, grungy little practice closet to study with him.   Thanks, Rick.  Seriously.  Thank you for once again blowing my mind.

What makes playing along with these two tunes so great?

  • Because playing along with real music is the next best thing to playing real music.  Ha!  What I mean is, it is the next best thing to playing a gig with your heroes ... and I love playing gigs and love playing gigs with my heroes even more.
  • Because the tempos of these songs are MY JAM.  These slow tempos speak to my soul.  I get so pumped to find music that exists in this slow, spacious land of time.  Ben Webster plays a lot at this tempo and he is one of my touchstones.  Gillian Welch plays at this tempo.  Damn.  So much good and soulful music at these slow tempos. It is a kind of soul food for my ears.  Delicious.  Sweet.  Lingering. 

Check out the entire Coltrane album here.  And you tell me -- What was the best thing you did all week?


How are you creating community?

The awesome gals at Kind Aesthetic wrote this great little wrap-up about a house concert I had in my apartment in NYC last summer. 

In the post, they write about how the night CREATED community.  How it made community and connection happen.  The night was full of great people, all of whom I wanted to introduce to each other.  Sure the music was great (especially because I was playing with the King of Newfoundland gypsy jazz guitar, Mr. Duane Andrews and the King of the Beaches in Toronto, the bluesman, Mr. Paul Reddick), sure the vibe was killing, but the best part of all ... getting all of my cool peeps together in one room and seeing what happened!

Here is what happened: Boom!  Ideas flying back and forth!  Sparks!  Collaborations!  Laughs!  New friendships!  New workout partners!  Hilarious, revealing convos!  I think there was even a late night trek to the 55 Bar to see Julian play??  (Can someone who was there confirm?)

How do you make community happen?  Talk to me.

Augusto Monk

Multi-instrumentalist Augusto Monk is one of my oldest musical friends.  He's been in the trenches with me since we first met at Berklee College of Music way back when.  We would meet in the school's shitty little practice rooms with the broken-down pianos at midnight almost every night of the semester to practice ear training together.  We'd stay until they kicked us out at 2am.

Originally from Argentina, he's lived in Boston, London, and now Toronto.  His music is equally as nomadic.  At any given time, I have no clue what instrument he is playing, what kind of music he is making, or if he is even making music at all -- sometimes he paints, draws cartoons, or makes films

(PS: watch the entire film; the password is Brass)

We go a long time without seeing or talking to each other, but when we do, we always fall into deep discussions about the nature of making music.  Invariably, we wonder: did those endless nights of ear training teach us anything? Anything at all?  Or were they just an exercise in stamina?  Or was that the point?

(This interview is part of the TENACITY series.  Read the FAQ here.)

I get a kick out of you / u

I'm working away on new songs this month.

Often, writing songs includes a lot of research: looking up words in the dictionary, checking out synonyms and antonyms, using a thesaurus, reading up on the etymology of a word, seeing how else it's been used, etc.  Sometimes, I end up down the rabbit hole.

It happened to me today, working on a new tune that is kind of a "list" song.  It made me think of other great list songs (someday, I'll make a list of list songs ... there are some great ones out there).

I wanted to remind myself of the lyrics to my hero Cole Porter's "I Get A Kick Out of You," so ... I googled it.  After reading the lyrics and listening to a bunch of different versions, I came upon this wonderful rendition / spoof.

It made me smile!  Hope it makes you smile too ...

Do you know other equally as inspired takes on popular songs?  I'm talking Weird Al and beyond?  Clue me in, will you?  Leave a comment below!  Share the wealth!

Your most important word as a musician is

NO.

NOs are how you become a player (or band or singer or songwriter or producer) who has something to say. 

Nobody remembers the players who can do EVERYthing, who do ANYthing that comes their way. 

We remember and love and get absolutely rabid about the players, singers, and bands who are unabashedly good at, basically, one thing.  That's why we love them!  They do one thing to the maximum!  They don't give a sh*t about all the other things they could do or should do.  

You can think of a bunch of examples, can't you?  Some that come immediately to my mind: Tina Turner (fiery vocals, legs), Mick Jagger (energy, lips), Stevie Ray Vaughn (blistering guitar, that black hat), etc.  I'm not even gonna start listing jazzers who kill one thing, one sound, one emotion.

So your most important word is NO.  Actually, it's HELL NO.  (Many thanks to John Morgan and Rich Litvin for teaching me this invaluable life lesson.)

HELL NO, I'm not spending 1000 hours learning how to play Cherokee backwards in all 12 keys at quarter note = 248!  Screw that!?  (Unless, of course, that is exactly the thing you want to say HELL YES to!)

How to be nimble and quick

How do you become able to respond in-the-moment to whatever comes your way ... in music, or in whatever it is you are doing?

What the heck am I talking about?

A little back story might be in order here.

When I came to NYC to play music, things got real.  Meaning: being able to play my guitar at a certain level got real, being able to put on a great performance got real.  Real meant having to do those things with no rehearsal ... or very little rehearsal.  Or maybe, if I was lucky, an hour of rehearsal.  Which meant all the responsibility was on me.  (Of course, the responsibility was ALWAYS on me ... but when you know you have a few rehearsals to work the kinks out -- aka slack off -- you don't prepare as well.)

So how do you man-up and get real?

Django Reinhardt "J'attendrai Swing 1939"

This month's theme is "by hand."  Now, here's something: the only video where we actually see Django Reinhardt's hands playing the music we hear on the soundtrack.  Awesome.  And kind of the holy grail of videos for those that play gypsy jazz. Or so my main man and bandmate, Duane Andrews tells me.

You see, I've been working on la pompe for our new band, the FIERCE DREAMERS.  The Fierce Dreamers are Duane and I playing two guitars.  I sing sometimes.  Our music sounds a bit like Bonnie Raitt meets Django with a little Jim Hall and Tina Turner thrown in for good measure.  We are still (obviously) working it out.

In the gypsy jazz tradition, la pompe is how the rhythm guitar plays.  Essentially, it replaces the drum kit.  What you are after is a percussive, swung sound that keeps the music chugging along.  I'll let you go down rabbit hole on this yourself.  If you want to work on your pompe, start listening to Django first and foremost.  If you want a little instruction, I recommend the Gypsy Jazz Guitar School.  These are the best lessons I have found on the web.  But go to the source, young grasshopper.  Watch the vid and weep. 

Do you have a few vids of your favorite gypsy jazz players playing -- hands and music synced up?  Show me!  Leave a link below.

A Letter to Yourself

I'm constantly writing letters and postcards to other people, but it has been awhile since I wrote a letter to myself. 

When I was 15 my camp counselor said, "Write a letter to yourself, seal it up, and address and stamp it.  In addition, on the outside of the envelope, put a date on it.  When that date rolls around, I'll mail it to you."  I wrote that letter and tucked a sprig of Wyoming sagebrush in the envelope.

What a concept!  What a gift.

That letter arrived out of thin air almost a year later at a time when I desperately needed a boost of confidence and a bracing breath of Wyoming sage.  I'll never forget reading the simple words of wisdom from a girl who'd just spent more than 4 weeks in the back country of Wyoming backpacking and horsepacking.   With her ten closest friends, she'd bushwacked through the burliest section of the Wind River Range losing ten pounds in one four day stretch.   She'd taken a string of pack mules up the trail for five days, loading and unloading panniers, throwing the diamond hitch, making coffee on an open fire at daybreak.  She'd run for her life over a mountain pass as lightening sizzled the alpine wildflowers around her.  All of this made that algebra test look damn easy.

The Postcard Project is about writing letters to others.  It is about being vulnerable and connected and slowing down.

What about writing a letter to yourself?

One of my heroes Maya Angelou wrote a whole book called "What I Know: Letters to My Younger Self."  And one of my favorite corners of the web for letter writing just featured one of those letters. 

How about writing a letter to yourself? 

If you seal it up and send it to me, addressed and stamped and with a date you want it sent back to you written on the envelope, I'll make it happen. 

I swear I will.

I dare you.

I dare myself to write one to myself dated for sometime next year.  I'll post a picture of it up here as soon as I write it.

 

 

Colin Stranahan

I've been wanting to ask Colin to be a part of the Tenacity series since I first met him, and I first met him through Facebook. 

He came to know my music in some mysterious way (who ever really knows how these things work) and he reached out.  We had a lot of musical friends in common, so it was only a matter of time before we met and played together.

And play together we did at one of the last gigs I had in NYC before my Mom got sick and I took two and a half years off from making music in public.  Colin brought his small kit, crammed himself into a corner at the Gershwin Hotel, and we played a set of tunes.  It was a magical, memorable night.

(This interview is part of the TENACITY series.  Read the FAQ here.)