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Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Updates!

Happy Holidays from Florida!! - Photography by Darren Stone







So much has happened since I last updated my blog... sorry I've been absent but...well, my boyfriend arrived and it's the holidays so I've been happily preoccupied!





I finally got a car!



Her name is La Hondra, show some respect to her. Thanks.

My postcard from James Lake arrived in the mail...



Those who are close to me know that I love the written word, and I enjoy sending hand written mail, including postcards. I follow Frank Warren's "Post Secret" blog regularly, so to be on a postcard is a huge thrill for me. Thank you James!!

Here is some fantastic fan art & messages I got on Christmas Eve while performing at Epcot. They were done by a little brother and sister :)

I've worked Christmas Eve before, but never Christmas Day. It was weird, and hard to be away from my boyfriend - since he is here visiting me, but the audiences were in great spirits so the day went by easily.

Disney knows how to do Christmas, and has been doing it since the day of the American Thanksgiving, so for the real day to come and go was interesting. It felt like it was 'about time' that it happened. Being away from my family and friends was weird, but the Internet is good for keeping a close eye on each other ;-)



Check it out!
I can be heard on the latest podcast by Accordion Noir Radio. Thank you Bruce and Rowan!




Here is the link to the podcast, as well as their website: 
http://accordionnoir.org/drupal/node/253


Arigato Takane for my cute Mr. Santa friend!

Yoi otoshi o!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

24 Hours




I am going to be much happier in 24 hours. My boyfriend is making his 5000 mile way to see me. This Accordion Girl will feel more complete soon enough :)

There's nothing like being in a pic for the Vancouver Sun's Pride Parade story, with my bf in the background. Fun!




Orlando is crazy right now (all the time, actually) with all it's festive Xmas shenanigans going on. We'll have a great time trying to figure this city out, and avoiding the endless strip malls.

Photo by Darren Stone
Here I am with my old band from Victoria BC, from the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival in 2009.

Check out 3:53 in to the video.



I'm such a gush, but it's very sweet to have the moment I met Mr. Stone on a Youtube video :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Patience for the Accordionista

Go be a foreigner somewhere. I dare you. You might learn something about yourself.

For me, I am learning that I have a lot more patience than I thought was capable or possible ... when you're in the deep South.

I was brought up in a highly European influenced household, and all my extended family would say the same. There are mindsets, points of view, and attitudes that are instilled in me which had me feeling out of place in Canada, and longing for the Motherland. Now living in Florida, USA is a whole other story!

I have been having some intense moments here where I feel so overwhelmed by all the Americans I am surrounded by. Hearing their accents, and their political, religious, dietary, and celebrity gossip points of view scares me.

Many don't realize that I am an alien here, being white gets you dismissed, although they often ask if I'm French, or a model or a dancer and that I must not eat. They demand to know how old I am, or if I am from the "French Canada", if I have a boyfriend and if he's going to move down here soon, or what the name of my haircut is. Do I eat cheese soup, and do we still have those ketchup flavoured potato chips, I must be a great skier and love hockey, and of course... 'you people' say 'eh' a lot, and that I must be used to this 5'C weather/windchill of -frozen'C (which is something in the 50's if you understand Fahrenheit) because I'm from "CANADA". Canada, by the way, is that massive country above the US.

Patience. Deep breath. In. Out.



Did I mention it's the same temperature here, if not colder, as my home city back in Canada? My boyfriend is arriving soon for a 3 week visit, and I cannot wait! Especially because he has my winter coat and sweaters packed in his suitcase for me :)


Okay. Enough of my deep South rant....

They're grammar good!


No really! I'll stop ;-)
 
"There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian. What could be more absurd than the concept of an "all Canadian" boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate." - Pierre Trudeau
----

I acquired Ableton Lite and Logic Pro 8 in the past week, and am looking into audio inputs and mics now. Along with that I am still battling to take the final plunge into having mics installed in to my accordion.

I'd be interested to hear about other accordionists experiences with mic installations? Which mic system did you end up going with? How is the sound? Tips and thoughts please!

----

Another thing I acquired was another Internet stalker! Gotta love Facebook! And yes, 'another'. Gentlemen, learn some online etiquette.

----

Until next time, eh?!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Morning light, Mr. Peterman, Buckwheat, and midi giggles



You look so beautiful in the morning light.


I love the mornings here. Opening the french doors to my balcony, warm air coming in to my home. Good morning :)

My third accordion (14.5 pound black Hohner) lives in a closet, locked up, in the trailer where my dressing room is at work. I am playing the living daylights out of her.


John O'Hurley aka Mr. Peterman, walked past me at work yesterday. Not much to report, just that we all said 'hello' and he called The Ziti Sisters "...a lot of red".  And yes, our menstrual cycles are now matching up with each others - the Ziti's, not John O'Hurley and I.

Meeting Buckwheat Zydeco is way better though, especially when I watched my Mother bring him back inside of the Ambrosia Centre, from his touring van, holding each other's hands. Oh Momma.

Did I not tell you about that? Ya. My Mom and I danced it up at a Buckwheat Zydeco show last fall 2009. Afterwards my friends Aaron Watson and Alfons Fear and I chatted up some of the band members.

My Mother grew impatient about meeting Buckwheat Zydeco himself, and disappeared to then return with them holding hands and laughing together. She brought him over to me and he and I chatted about the accordion, and what I do as a performer.


He was lovely to me, and very encouraging.

----

Hee hee hee, check out what I consider hilarious today, and the ridiculous/shameful midi-accordion on the track:



Of course there is a part of me that wishes I had created this.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Accordion Girl's adventures in Xmas-land begin...

Coming from Canada, we remain biased, and are practically forbidden to say the word "Christmas" and instead wish everyone "Happy Holidays" during this "festive season".

Here in the US, there is a constant reminder of their Christian beliefs. Cross's are lit up, bumper stickers displayed, even skywriter airplanes announcing in the vast sky to "Trust in God" in white smoked lettering. I am in the land of Jesus...and CHRIST-mas. Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole, and landed in the twilight zone... aka: The Euro-Canadian is culture shocked!!!


November 26th, the day after the American Thanksgiving, marked the official day for xmas to bombard the city of Orlando.

Decorations have been up for the past two weeks already, but the xmas storytellers in the various countries at Epcot are now present, and the "Candlelight" ceremony - which has been prepared for since I started with Disney, has begun.


My blurry photo of Isabella Rosselini speaking at the "Candlelight" Ceremony

Isabella Rosselini was the first of the many storytellers that will be reading at the "Candlelight" ceremony happening at Epcot. I don't get starstruck easily, nor do I buy into the celebrity worship, but Isabella Rosselini is ROYALTY in my eyes, and I saw her up close yesterday and today. Both times she waved at myself and the rest of the Ziti Sisters. I would have loved to have been able to meet with her, but alas, a wave two days in a row tickled me just fine. She is beautiful, elegant, and looks amazing from 15 feet away :)

What's that?? YES! This is a blog about saving the world, with the accordion!

Back to that!

My mini-moo cards have arrived! 


If you don't know what moo cards are, you must learn and love them immediately! moo.com has a plethora of goodies available on their site. I really should be hired to be a rep for this company, I love their products so much.



Accordion Girl is ready to network (once again) in Orlando people!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Let's talk turkey

Thanksgiving in the US is called "Thursday" in Canada.


Cool, glad we cleared that one up!

Something else I'd like to address is:

One accordion being played - good!
Two or three accordion's being played together - also good!
An orchestra of accordion's - pointless

Never have I heard this instrument be more of a waste then when 10 or more of them are being played at once. Unless it is to prove a point and be a part of the "Accordion Revolution" and reach a World's record of how many squeezeboxes can be pumped at the same time, OR to be paraded through a city to promote this lovely instrument, it simply does not compliment itself well when played with so many other accordions.


The sound becomes muddled, unclear, and also, to me, sounds like one large church organ - which ironically, is what an accordion was designed to be in the first place. "The working man's church organ" has now become something of a tool to beat each other with. And with this I say loud and clear "MUSIC IS NOT A SPORT".


I do not think world championships for music should be encouraged. You would not catch me buying a ticket to see the prodigy that can play 'flight of the bumble bee' forwards and backwards 100 times within 5 minutes. I am going to spend my hard earned money on someone with creativity and thought, who can entertain a crowd, is performing from the heart, and not have me bored for one second.

True, the prodigy musician is probably playing from their hearts, but there's something robotic and calculated about being a 'champion'. Both have talent too! But the definition of a champion is completely subjective in my eyes. I want to be champed by experiencing something raw.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Birthday Update


Happy Birthday to meeee doo-bee-doodoo-DOO-doo!

This was the first time in my life where I spent my birthday away from my loved ones. It was, by far, the hardest.

I would be curious to hear about others with a similar experience of being out of town, or out of the country, or just far away from those who you love to celebrate your birthday with. Where were you? What did you do instead? Did you cry? Or - do you wish you could be alone for once?

My cast mates were wonderful to me, and bought me a cake, sang to me, took me out for dinner, got their cars towed... thank you Ziti Sisters :)

It meant the world to me to have all those birthday wishes sent to me on Facebook, private messages and emails, cards mailed, and my Mom had flowers delivered to me :)

For those I didn't hear from... you're dead to me.

 ---


"Jingle Eve" Self Portrait


On Friday, November 19th the Ivanhoe Village held their annual "Jingle Eve", and I was asked to be one of the strolling musicians.

What a blast this was! I had a great time meeting and greeting the locals, and getting to know downtown Orlando a little better. I must say I was a bit surprised that there was a Christmas themed event happening happening in the middle of November, but who cares!? I got to dress up like a cute little accordion elf girl, and be the only person in Florida to ever wear a fur hat!



While strolling and playing at this event I met plenty of fun families, and was able to meet with a very young blind boy. Being held in his Mother's arms, I played for him as he listened, and we both had him touch the keys and bellows.


Yesterday was probably my favourite day of performing with the Ziti Sisters since we've started. During our 2nd set I noticed adolescent twin brothers in the crowd, with their parents. Both boys were blind. I could tell they were hearing me quite well, and enjoying themselves. 

During one of our segments I was able to go right up to them to play, and to see their reaction to the accordion was amazing. They had so much enthusiasm, joy, laughter and were clapping their hands so hard. I wished I could have stepped out of character and allowed them to touch the accordion, and try out the keys and buttons.

I meet so many lovely kids every day, but these boys were mesmerizing to me. This happened the day after my birthday, and so I will remember this as a birthday gift.

---
I saved the best for last....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMALA!!!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

To illustrate my point...

Here is what is making my world shine a bit brighter this week:

I love photography, but there is something extra special about having your likeness done by the hand of an artist.

James Lake a.k.a. "Silent James" painted this fabulous painting of me (see below) and shared it with me earlier this week.

James has been working on a series of accordionist portraits, and had shared a previous one with me and I half jokingly/fully serious asked him to paint one of me, and as luck would have it - he did! 

I love the vibrancy, the whim and the bliss, my expression and all the ♡♥hearts♡♥ that are having a party around me.

This is the third one of his accordionist series. Check out his blog to learn more about James Lake and the wonderful things that he does: http://thesilentjames.blogspot.com


To add to the gallery, is this gorgeous, and calming (to me) portrait by Jeffrey Felker:
"Silently to and from the heave of the water"
I love the choice of colours, and that I'm placed in the ocean, near a lighthouse, which is all very reminiscent of the city I was born and raised in. I love the threat that is felt with seeing the accordion, and how could possibly get ruined by the water, but that my whole dimeaner is calm. 
His website is http://studiologica.com, so do me a favour and check out his beautiful portfolio of work.


Some other illustrations include, a "MADMEN Yourself" portrait I did a couple months back. 
  
What do you think??

(I've never watched this show, but have seen that is has a great costume designer for the show, and now wonder if there are accordions featured on the show since there was this red one in the gallery of accessories for the "MADMEN Yourself" website).



Next up: "Accordion Girl - The Action Figure" ;-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Accordion Girl takes on the deep South

Photography by Darren Stone
I've been here since September 20, 2010... and it's been nothing short of a culture shock. Do I fully relate to being a Canadian though? Not exactly. Has there been a day here where I'm not faced with "Do they ____ in Canada?" regularly reminding me where I am from, and having me constantly reflect on what Canadians 'do' and are 'like'? No.

I daydream about the days I will spend living in various cities in Europe, and when I think of those cities my mind rests, and deep in my thoughts I feel 'at home'. I love the country I was born in, but my morals, outlooks and opinions relate strongly to those that are rooted across the Atlantic.

American's seem to be in fear, a sense of anxiety, always peering over their shoulder. They are in shock, gasping for air... lock your doors, and buy insurance! Attacks, assaults, murders, all happen in Canada too, but our reaction is annoyance, we get perturbed, and it all ends with an off-coloured political cartoon in the newspaper. 

I find no one questions anything. In Canada we find a conspiracy within anything, we somehow find a clue leading to how the 'man' is trying to control our minds. Then again, I lived on an island on the west coast, and I was surrounded by hippies, new age mysticism, yogi's, Wiccan's, cyclists, protest signs, and anarchists. Power to the independent lentil bean people!
---
Happy Remembrance Day to those in Canada. Thank you to my Dad for mailing me my poppy. I really wanted one, and then one arrived!

NEWS!!
I have a new addition to my accordion family, here in Florida. My accordion friend Alan Zisman was selling his Hohner, and I have happily welcomed it in to my home.
She (she's a girl) is nice and lightweight - very necessary for my job, a 60-bass, musette tuned little sweetie. You can never have too many accordions, right??
---
Although my time here so far has been brief, my "get 'er done" attitude has been suffering. I desperately want to have several music projects started already, and meet lots of artists, and create photos, and put on shows, and and and...

It will happen, I haven't been here very long, and am still getting acquainted, and established.

I really adore Mickey Mouse. I must say his personality reminds me of what a cute little Asian man would act like. Actually, he reminds me a bit like Vick, the manager at my favourite sushi restaurant in Victoria BC.

My time in Florida is a lot like "the Wizard of Oz". People from my life in Victoria have been transposed into the new personalities here in Florida. I see inklings of my friends from home in the people I work with and am surrounded by here.

Performing for the public is a beautiful thing, no matter who the audience is. My favourite audience is children, and I am in the perfect place for that. Bright happy smiling faces, dressed as miniature princesses, swaying, hopping, and laughing to the music I'm playing with my accordion is pure bliss. 

Note: I miss wearing my sequin booty shorts, and they're hanging in my closet, calling out my name :)

I went through some tough personal battles over the past 4 years, and what came out of it was the desire to help people, and make people happy. I didn't want to continue doing a profession that didn't make me happy or make a difference for me, that didn't change someone's attitude or day. I redirected myself, and began doing music full time. Art, music, and performance is the right fit for me.

I have performed over 125 times since being here, which blows my mind. My boyfriend made a great point last night that I am batting with 3 bats, I'm a boxer training with weights in his gloves. Everything will be lighter from these experiences I'm learning here.

I leave you now with knowing the Accordion Girl continues to move forward with saving the world, one heart at a time...

Friday, October 22, 2010

The first month...

My first month spent here in Orlando, Florida has been hard, a learning experience to say the least, a major adjustment, and of course: A LOT OF FUN!

My new friends ;-) 

I've had many moments this month where I think, "I'm in Orlando?!?" Yep. It's a city full of many cars, strip malls, vultures lunching armadillos, crystal blue pools, palm trees, lakes, wonderful puffy cloud filled skies, and me!

It mystifies people that a Canadian is HERE and she plays the ACCORDION. Can you handle it Orlando? EHHH!? Check me OOT?!

I have been car-less so I've been dependent on the kindness of my new friends with whom I work and perform with. Found an apartment to rent, looking for furniture to fill it up, and awaiting the arrival of my boyfriend this weekend.

As I adjust to my new home, I find I'm missing places like Caffe Fantastic, Habit, Ferris's Oyster Bar, and The Geisha. Hoping my boyfriend brings me Rainforest crackers, I am happy to watch plenty of "Housewives of _____" on Bravo, but I miss Canadian television. The Canadian cooking shows, and news. These are all searchable of course.

Who knew I found comfort in Rick Mercer? Who wouldn't!? http://www.cbc.ca/mercerreport/video.html

There are parts of Epcot that remind me of Victoria as a whole. Both have a big mix of international residents and visitors. I have departed from one tourist location, and landed in an even bigger one, but everyone on site is either from Germany, Morocco, France, Italy, Mexico, Japan, England, let's not forget Canada! I haven't met many Canadians yet, but there is a miniature Butchart Gardens here:


I'm looking forward to having my own car here, being able to explore on my own, find my own little hang outs. I'm also looking forward to settling in, meeting more musicians, and stirring things up with them. There is a lot to be done here with my accordion, and saving the world with it!

PS: I fixed my second (light weight Hohner). It was an easy fix of the refastening the reed blocks that were knocked loose. Fantastico!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Planet Florida



Accordion Girl is an alien. She has landed on a planet, completely new to her, and nothing like what she has seen before. This planet is Florida, Orlando to be precise.

It's a new experience every day that I am here, and 'adjusting' is the word I use the most.

I love my Guerrini "Camillo", but I asked my lovely boyfriend to ship my lighter weight Hohner over to me, only to find something has become loose within it and half the keys on the keyboard are not producing sound anymore, and only releasing air when played. SACRE BLEU!

What is Accordion Girl to do!!? Well, I have called upon my trusted accordion friends from around the globe, and asked them what their advice is on this problem!


 It looks like I'll need to find some pliers, a tiny screwdriver, and a hammer... Some exciting surgery will take place soon enough to repair whatever has come loose. I believe it is the reed boxes that have come loose from being in transit, and as securely packaged as it was... 'Panada Cost' probably threw it around the trucks during it's shipment.

Ah well, I needed something new to stress out about, right?

Meanwhile, I'm surrounded by new bugs, plants, geckos, armadillos, bobcats, vultures, and have yet to meet an alligator. Who doesn't want to meet an alligator? The heat is bearable, I love it actually, but I haven't experienced the summers here yet. I have been warned about them by the locals. Otherwise, hanging out by the pool, basking in the sunshine, and BBQing in October is sublime.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

“silently to and from the heave of the water"

The painting above is by Jeff Felker, a very talented artist who contacted me because he wanted to paint me in one of his paintings. Jeff had been working on a series of paintings inspired by quotes from Walt Whitman concerning water and music. 
 
One of his ideas involved an accordion player inspired from Whitman's quote: “silently to and from the heave of the water." I loved the concept and what was influencing him, and so we collaborated from there.

I am honoured that Jeff did this painting with me in it, and also appreciate that I am seen in the ocean, next the lighthouse. This (for me) symbolizes where I was born and grew up, in Victoria British Columbia.

If you enjoy this painting and need to see more of Jeff Felker's portfolio, then please visit his website HERE.


From Pacific to the Atlantic I go...
 
My Accordion has taken me on many journey's, most are far from boring... bathroom stalls, parade floats, pedicabs...


...boats, the beach, the back of a pick up truck, wine cellars, magic shows, birthday parties, weddings, openings, radio, television, theatre, the stage, and your kitchen... but this time my accordion has taken me to Orlando, Florida!

I'll be here for a while... enjoying the heat, seeing what the humidity does to my squeeze box, figuring out my way around this huge city... adjusting to the culture shock... and continuing to save the world with the accordion... I'll keep you posted on my progress :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

What's happening!

Check out the article on me from the September 15, 2010 Times Colonist issue HERE



A lot is happening these days.... 



I've tied up all the important loose ends. The gnomes are safe and sound with my cousin...


The remaining accordions are with my Mommala...

Pretty Mommala
D-Rock is watching over the robots and paint-by-numbers...



With everything being taken care, what else is there to do you ask?

Well...



I'M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!

"All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney

Friday, September 10, 2010

End of August update

I saw Crowded House on August 30th. The concert was beautiful. They are music heroes to me, I am proud to be a fan, happy to have this ongoing cosmic connection with New Zealand, and I hope to one day work with them, or a Finn in some capacity :)



The party that my gypsy band and I threw on August 28th 2010, was INSANE!!! I had a blast, The Bolting Brassicas were fantastic, The Carnival Band were amazing, and my gypsy band and I had a 'no pants party' on stage, complete with sweat, screaming, stripping, and a vacuum hose.



Towards the end of the evening my gypsy band and I welcomed The Bolting Brassicas and The Carnival Band back to the stage for one massive performance. It was glorious. I felt the earth shift. To prove it's impact I couldn't hear anything but ringing in my ears for almost a week after wards. What?

Logan's Pub sound man -Scott Henderson- had his hands full with 43 musicians performing that night, but he did it with grace and no one got hurt :)


My gypsy band has been a true blast, a fabulous ride. I've lived, breathed, slept, ate, bathed, laughed, cried this band...It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up, and the last thing before bed. Creating, leading and directing it has been very educational to say the least. 

I have had the pleasure of performing with some of Victoria's finest and talented musicians, and met and worked with some amazing event coordinators, promoters, musicians and bands.

Performing with David Gifford, aka "The Great Giffoni" has been a gift as well.


Underscoring this magic show for children's birthday parties, private events, and even opening for bands, has been very special. It taught me how much I love to play music for children, and playing for kids is best described as FUN.





Having an audience with no pretense, and always giving you their full honest feelings for what your doing is very helpful to a performer. You know when you're boring, and you know when you're doing something right. Giggling, laughing and screaming is always a good combination, and a little interpretive hoppity hop dancing means 'they like it' but looks best when you're miniature... don't try it if you're over 4'5 feet.

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