Saturday, August 31, 2013

Swallowing bugs and honoring civil rights

A good attitude is always preferable when accidentally swallowing a bug. Rather than be grossed out about it, maybe you just call it protein and move on? But how do you deal with a tasty bug treat when you are mid-song in an outdoor performance? Well, Julie showed us it can be done gracefully. No one had any idea that she had just downed a little bugger...she continued on like the pro she is. Only afterwards did she humorously share her experience and ask pardon for a quick drink of water before moving on to the next part of the program. Which gave Kami and myself...and the audience...a moment to sing "There was a young lady who swallowed a fly....."

Our last performance in our busy singing summer was in Clinton for a High Priest group summer social at a local park bowery. Kami's aunt and uncle set the whole thing up and hosted us well. And though we don't usually like to eat a big meal right before singing (hard to get those notes out sometimes when you have a newly full belly) how could we pass up dutch oven chicken and potatoes?
It was an especially enjoyable performance...we had a fun audience and Kami had a lot of family members there. Besides the bug incident, another moment that stuck out at me was when we sang "Blackbird"...a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney written in reaction to racial tensions in the United States back in 1968, specifically the black people's struggle in the southern states. It's a neat song and we've thoroughly enjoyed singing it throughout the summer...but this just happened to be a special day. It was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. So to have the opportunity to share the history of that song and the history of that day before we sang, was also really neat.

It was a great way to end the summer....
(This is Kami's mother, Becky. She has been our biggest fan from day one. And we trust her enough to not only tell us how great we are but also be honest about the things that didn't go so well or that we need to change. We love her!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Neighborhood Family Home Evening

Originally we had been booked to perform two different dates during Cherry Hill's summer concert series. After performing quite a few shows in early summer, we breathed a sigh of relief when we realized we had a good month to slow down a bit and prep for our second Cherry Hill gig. Rather than do the exact same show, we had planned to change things up a bit...adding in some brand new songs, now that we had time to work on them...including a debut of our new original song "Reach Higher."
But a couple weeks before our August date, we got a call from our contact at Cherry Hill. He told us that a couple of earlier weekends in July had been rained out and those groups scheduled to perform had not been able to. Would we be willing to give up our second date so that one of those groups could have the opportunity to perform? Though quite a bit bummed, how could we say no?
(Can you find the 3 mics in this picture? I'm holding one for Kami to sing into, Julie is holding one down low to pick up the guitar, and the one peeking out over my shoulder...that one is for the two of us to sing a little back-up on the chorus. And then of course Kami's darling daughters who accompanied with percussion.)

We'd had many friends, neighbors and family all set to come to our Cherry Hill show, the majority of which had not been able to make it to our first. So it was with disappointment that we shared the news on our Facebook page letting everyone know that the show was off.
(Often times we see pictures of ourselves performing and think, "is that what I really look like when I sing??" Clearly the camera caught all three of us with some silly singer facial expressions this night! So why not accept it and document it, yes?)

A sweet friend and neighbor of Kami's and Julie's decided that there was no need to cancel the show entirely...just to move the venue. And she offered up her backyard as an alternate. We were touched at her kindness and jumped at the chance to make this an even more casual Monday night/family night neighborhood party. Everyone brought treats to share and a blanket to sit on. And we had a great time singing some fun songs and interacting with all of our friends and family after all!
One of the highlights of the night was inviting up all the kids in the audience do the Cup Song with us. We gave print outs of the lyrics to all the parents and invited them to sing along as well. I personally can't even do that cup thing...let alone sing and do the cups at the same time! So I put myself on camera and video duty and enjoyed watching the whole thing take off. Dang, those kids are good!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Reach Higher"

Kami is a songwriter, did you know that? Melodies and lyrics just come to her....sometimes at the oddest of times. We laughed when she had us listen to the recording she had made of herself singing a section of a song she was working on....the melody woke her up in the middle of the night! And rather than get up and write it down on sheet music, she recorded it on her phone so she wouldn't forget.
Last fall she started working on a song that has since been titled "Reach Higher". When our group of five became three this past April and Julie, Kami and I started re-inventing ourselves a bit, we asked Kami to pull out "Reach Higher" again. She had played it once for us back in January but getting ready for our March programs and this, that and the didn't get the attention that it truly deserved.

So we gathered around the piano while Kami played through the melody and sang the lyrics. All three of us had chills by the time she was through and we knew that this song needed to be heard.

It didn't take too long to decide that if this was to be our signature song, we wanted a great accompaniment track for it. Kami has worked with Jim Funk (husband of Jessie Clark Funk....and an extremely talented composer in his own right) on projects in the past. (See here) She called him, told him what we were after and asked about his availability. He said he'd be delighted to collaborate with us and it wasn't too long before we were in his studio in Bountiful sharing ideas and watching Kami record the melody on the keyboard and sing the lyrics in the recording room to get Jim started.
(See Kami back in the recording room? I had some great shots of Kami playing the keyboard....but they were lost in Sarah's-tragic-laptop-disaster. Sigh.)

We made multiple trips to work with Jim and watch the whole thing take shape. On one such trip, after Kami sang the melody once again to make sure the rhythms and timing were correct, Jim sent Julie and myself into the room to sing out some harmonies to give him an idea where to go with the accompaniment. So with Kami's voice singing melody in our headphones, Julie and I made up harmonies off the cuff! It was a lot of fun, actually.
Once we got a rough beginning practice track, we sat down together, all three of us, and collaborated on harmonies, going over countless options and finally writing down the ones that sounded best to us.

Another afternoon we stopped by to watch Michael Dowdle lay down 4 different guitar tracks for our song. Michael Dowdle!!! I mean, you've all heard of him, right? The man is tremendously talented and besides being featured on albums and in concert with just about every other local musician you've ever heard of, he has multiple solo albums. It was fascinating to watch the process!

(He did a few different tracks on acoustic guitar in the recording room, and then a couple on electric guitar out with us.)

A few tracks more featuring light drums and live piano and we now have the completed accompaniment track. (Which we then immediately used in a performance.) We are hoping to get back into the studio soon to record ourselves singing it. Stay tuned!


Thursday, August 15, 2013


Kevin Jones, the amazing beatboxer from the popular A Capella group, Eclipse, is a friend of mine from high school. If you've ever heard any of Eclipse's music or seen them perform, you know what I mean when I say this group is tremendously talented.
(This is a picture they took during their concert and posted on FB....we're up in the grass near the big spotlight...) 

I've gone to Kevin in the past for advice as to how to run a performing group....the behind the scenes, day-to-day stuff. And he was hugely helpful, giving me details of who does what and how and when and all those things that keep the group running without hurt feelings or stepping on anyone's toes. I can't tell you how much we've appreciated his feedback and encouragement!

A few weeks ago he sent me an email offering comp tickets for Higher Ground and our families to Eclipse's big summer concert at the Sandy Amphitheatre. We gratefully jumped at the opportunity, and though at the last minute Kami and her family were not able to make it, mine and Julie's families had a such a great time!

Go catch one of their shows if you won't be disappointed. They are doing a free concert at Brigham City Peach Days on September 7th. Or their traditional Christmas concerts at the Grand Theater in December. (Click here to go to Eclipse's website.)


Saturday, August 10, 2013

4th of July

The 4th of July is one of my very favorite holidays. Is it yours too? Parades and fireworks, family and community...all wrapped around patriotism and love for our country. How can you beat that?
We were asked to do a 30 minute set for the Kaysville City Independence Day carnival. We were excited and flattered because this wasn't something we called about or auditioned for....the organizers had heard about us and got our contact info from the people running the Kaysville Arts Festival.
So though I had to come back to town from the middle a family camping trip down in Springville and Kami left a household full of extended family and friends BBQ-ing back at her house, we got ourselves all dolled up in red, white and blue and did our show. The summer heat was intense....we were red-faced and sweaty by the time we were done. But we had an energetic audience and we had a wonderful time! When we stepped off the stage, the organizers came running over to tell us how great we did....and then asked us right there on the spot if we'd come back and do it again next year! I guess they really liked us....


Friday, July 12, 2013

"Oh Say Can You See....."

Last June we had the opportunity to be a part of Davis Arts Council's Broadway talent show. (Remember this?)

A few weeks later they had us back again to sing the National Anthem for their Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband concert. Both experiences had been fabulous...we've really enjoyed our association with the Davis Arts Council and singing at the Kenley Ampitheatre is always a lot of fun.

So it was with great pleasure that I took a phone call from Brianna of the Davis Arts Council a few weeks ago. She said they'd love it if we could sing the National Anthem at their season opener. It was going to be a big bash, she said, and they wanted someone who was a familiar face and who people really liked....and they thought of us.

Color us flattered.
So we said yes, of course.
Even though we were getting ready for our Cherry Hill concert that same week.
The performers for the "season opener bash" were two bands, actually, who went out on stage together and played not only their own sets but also collaborated on a bunch of numbers together. Code Blue and Midlife Crisis...and they specialized in 50's and 60's music.

We had a great time hanging out with them backstage in the green room...even singing Don McLean's American Pie all together before we took the stage.

We then got comp tix to the show and cheered for our new friends from the audience. They were singing all sorts of well known oldies but goodies and were absolutely terrific!
Davis Arts Council says they'll call us again sometime soon. I hope they do....


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rocking the Lucky 7 stage

I tell you what, I think all three of us were so much more calm performing at Cherry Hill this time around as opposed to last summer. Basket case of nerves...well, me at least. Having already performed much of our repertoire at the Kaysville Arts Council and kind of feeling like we'd had a dress rehearsal of sorts, was really nice. We felt so much more casual this time around, playing off each other and the audience and just having fun with the whole thing. Our theme loosely wrapping all the songs together was, "It's a beautiful life"....sharing music and talking about our freedoms and blessings. 
(We went all gospel-style with our version of "Down in the River to Pray" with choir robes, swaying, snapping...the works!)

One of our favorite new songs we've added to the show...."This One's For the Moms." It's a funny little tribute to mothers, the new lyrics put to Martina McBride's country-stye accompaniment of "This One's For the Girls." Props to Kami for coming up with the idea, the lyrics and our choreography! 

Vs. 1
This is for all you moms with a new baby
No sleep at night can drive you oh-so crazy
Poopy diapers seem to never end
And a shower...wish I could fit it in

This one's for the moms.

Vs. 2
This is for all you moms with kids around 4
Spilling their milk and breakdowns at the store
You can't hear a talk in church at all
Don't get through an entire phone call.

This one's for the moms
Who drive around a mini van
Eats chocolate when she can
Has every size of Pyrex pan.

This one's for the moms
Who've memorized the Wal-mart
Who's fridge is like a work of art
All around the world
This one's for the moms

Vs. 3
This one's for all you moms with busy teens
Always hungry and needing a new pair of jeans
Late night chats and homework always due
Oh and mom, can you bring me my gym shoes?


Ya we're all the same inside
Sometimes you just need a cry

Repeat chorus

We've been booked twice this summer for Cherry Hill so we have our next performance on the Lucky 7 stage on August 9th. We have plans for a few changes, taking out a song or two, adding a few more in. We're looking forward to it!
(And maybe next time I won't have the stomach flu....ha!)