Friday, May 25, 2007

Violin dream

Last night I had a dream about playing a battered old violin in a pawnshop. I was trying to decide whether or not to buy it. It was dark in the pawnshop, and the violin was kind of scratched up and the bow needed work, too -- the hair on it was coming off and it only inconsistently made the strings sound. In the dream, to try it out, I was playing the opening melody from "Fiddler on the Roof".

I don't actually play violin. When I was 8 years old, though, I really wanted to. That summer, my mom had checked out a recording of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, "Eroica", from the library and brought it home to play for me. I'm pretty sure it was the first time I'd heard a symphony. I remember lying down in front of the record player listening to it and reading the liner notes on the back of the LP sleeve. It was from listening to that record that I first got inspired to try being a musician. And I wanted to be a violinist.

That autumn I was in 4th grade and I could be part of the public school music program. This before Proposition 13 was voted in, gutting California arts in schools for all time. The music teacher at my elementary school was Sabine Hersh. At a presentation in the school library, she showed large photographs of the instruments in the concert band and told us about them. I still wanted to play the violin at that point, but it wasn't available to me...I'm not clear exactly why. (No orchestra at the school? Parents didn't want to hear a beginner violinist practicing?) In any case, of the instruments I learned about that day, I chose the flute, I think because it most resembled the violin in its range.

My freshman year in college I was in the pit orchestra for "Fiddler on the Roof". But I didn't play that opening violin lick. That job went to the wonderful violinist Benito Cortez, who went on to play violin all over the place. Google him and you'll get all kinds of results!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Not Made of Stone" now available for pre-order

Hello everyone.

The new album by Polly Moller & Company, Not Made of Stone, is set for release on August 1. If you would like to receive your copy before then, you're invited to follow the link below to the Silver Wheel Music ordering page. Pre-orders will be shipped out in advance of the release date -- and shipping is free for any pre-ordered copies of Not Made of Stone.

Musicians on the new album are:

Polly Moller - vocals, flute, bass flute, acoustic guitar, autoharp, electronica
Daniel Magazin - piano
John Moreira - electric guitar
Will Grant - electronica
Jim Carr - bass
Jeff Davis - percussion

Engineered, mixed and mastered by Jeff Davis at Lucky Dog Studio in Eugene, OR, the CD consists of ten tracks -- nine originals and a cover of "Save a Prayer" by Duran Duran.

A new Polly Moller & Company lineup will be hitting the road this autumn. Stay tuned for all the latest news of our travels.

Thanks for listening!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Oakland Flip

Last night the Flip Quartet got its second performance. John Hanes, Suki O'Kane, Karen Stackpole and Moe! Staiano formed an all-star lineup. This time we did a 24-minute version (two complete circles) to see if it worked out better than the premiere, which at three times around and 36 minutes seemed a bit too long. We all agreed when it was done that 24 minutes was a good length.

We had 12-channel, quadraphonic sound courtesy of Austin Space from KFJC who was amazing.

After experiencing two Flips I have to say I like the exploratory periods before and after the performance just as much as the show itself. It's so much fun seeing the improvisers trying out all the objects and instruments as they first arrive, and seeing them jam impromptu-style when the show's over.

Here are some stream-of-consciousness highlights:

1. John gargling in the West quarter.
2. John bringing an e-bow for the stringed instruments. Genius!
3. John also bringing a bridal magazine for the East quarter. That was just weird.
4. Karen applying a hand-held fan to a slide whistle in the East quarter.
5. Suki bringing Dina Emerson's wine glasses for the West quarter.
6. Me bowing things in the South quarter before the show when nobody was around. That was fun. :)
7. Every time Moe! played the violin in the West quarter.
8. Moe! flipping stuff over, like the score encourages him to do. He has so far always remembered that.
9. Austin bringing a small accordion for the East quarter.
10. A cell phone going off right at the end of John's opening set as if to punctuate it.
11. Me basically standing around grinning like a fool while the piece was going on. I can't imagine ever getting tired of it.
12. Somebody who was not a performer grabbing the squirt gun from the West quarter and shooting at the artwork on the walls of 21 Grand! I hastily confiscated the weapon and hid it as my life flashed before my eyes. Luckily no artworks were actually hit. The squirt gun thereafter didn't get used until the very end, when Moe! shot it at the wine glasses. That worked out nicely.

And after the Flip I played my solo set in honor and memory of Leigh Ann. This was the part I had been most nervous about, and I feel like it went well. The audience seemed into it. I hold out the hope that Leigh Ann was into it, too.