Favorite Performance?

Come-Out-Love-1We  were recently asked if we had a favorite performance. It is a tricky question to answer because there are several that come to mind but the one that stands out the most happened at a jazz festival in Martha’s Vineyard last year. We were honored to be invited to perform alongside many talented and accomplished musicians…and to be completely honest, we were also a bit intimidated. It was our first year performing together and we still had our doubts. To make matters worse, I was getting over a cold and my voice was not cooperating with me. The bands who performed before us were amazing and received deafening applause after almost every song. You could tell that the crowd really enjoyed them. When it became our turn, we played a few covers to ease them into our unique style and what an upright bass and voice duo can sound like. Perhaps it was a friendly audience because we too received our fair share of applause. As my voice warmed up, we became more confident and decided to perform one of our originals called Come Out Love. Its soul stirring melodies combined with intimately introspective lyrics invoke emotion when we are at our best. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult for Sadiki to play and me to sing, especially when my voice is on the mend. On that evening, we both made a few mistakes but nothing catastrophic…or so we thought. When we ended, there was no applause. There was no movement. There was only silence. We looked out at the crowd and saw many with their heads down and eyes closed. The lively atmosphere that we inherited seemed like a distant dream. In its place, there was a calm and peaceful state that would be more appropriate at a meditation retreat than a jazz festival. The quiet was eventually broken by a few people whispering their wonder. After that performance, we finally believed we had something special.

eL

 

Ode to Robin

Robin Williams. For those of us born during the 1980s, he was as much a household name as Sesame Street. Although he was a comic genius and a phenomenal actor, I was always especially impressed with what he was able to do with his voice. My parents were stricter than most so as a young child, I often wasn’t allowed to watch the films and shows he starred in. Because of that, I ended up listening from hallways or other rooms (they never said I couldn’t “listen”!) and it became a game for me to guess which voice was his. Robin was far too talented so I almost always lost but it was the most enjoyable losing experience of my childhood.

Like all of his fans, news of his death was shocking to me. Hearing that he committed suicide struck an even deeper chord. It’s always difficult to accept death but Robin brought so much joy and laughter into our world that it seems like he violated an unspoken rule by moving on without warning. The more thought I gave the situation, the more unfair it seemed that he fell into such a dark place despite the bright light that shone through him. This led me to dig deeper into his story so I could attempt to understand this tragedy. I heard and read everything from “he was tormented by demons who possessed him while he performed and wouldn’t leave once the curtains fell” to the all too common struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, infidelity, loneliness, etc. In the end, I realized that understanding what he actually went through was impossible. All that matters now is a beloved man and quite possibly the most creative force of our era is no longer…and all because of suffering so heavy that it seemed like it could never be resolved.

There’s a song on our upcoming album called Resolve Me and its message is quite appropriate for this topic. The song is basically broken into two pieces. The first piece describes the factors that cause us to be stuck in an unhappy place. Some of these factors include habitually chasing unhealthy desires and embracing poor perspectives of our circumstances. The second half of the song is written from a place of awareness of where these choices are leading us and who we are inadvertently becoming. With that awareness, we can seek the truth and implement it by embarking upon the journey of letting go of the past, discovering, taking responsibility for and loving who we are each and every day and then making the decisions that are truly in our best interests. While we all hope that adopting a new mindset will lead to a change in our circumstances, what happens externally is ultimately out of our control. It may be cliche but all that we can control is how we react to whatever happens. Fortunately, choosing a brighter perspective means we are more likely to see the message and humor in situations that previously would have made us sad or angry. And if we can learn to find the light in life’s darker times, we’ll ultimately be more joyful and at peace.

One last note about Resolve Me. It’s by far our most demanding song to perform. Its melodies, rhythms and lyrics are exceedingly difficult. When we perform it flawlessly, it leaves everyone who hears it feeling vulnerable, convicted and ready to take an honest look in the mirror and deal with their issues. But when our performance of it isn’t quite right, it leaves us feeling haunted and incomplete. This is ironic for several reasons but most of all because it’s so hard to perfect that it’s the last absolute last song we choose to perform whenever we are asked to perform some of our original music…

It’s difficult to find the proper words to end a somber post like this but first we would like to say thank you to Robin Williams. We can’t begin to express how thankful we are for captivating, entertaining and inspiring us all. You will always be missed and may you rest in peace. To those of us that are still here, may we all encourage each other to look inside ourselves, love all that we see, good or bad and accept the daily task of repeatedly solving ourselves. It’s tremendously hard work that may never truly be complete but the reward is well worth the effort.

 

eL

Robin

Implications…

Here’s a little something for those of you who can’t sleep at night because you’re dying to hear some of our original music. We recently had the pleasure of performing as part of The Belletrix Exhibit at Raw Space NYC in Harlem. All of the artwork in this video was from the exhibit and it’s set to the first song from our debut album, “Effloresce”. Hopefully this will be enough to hold you over while we finish up our masterpiece…and we say that with much humility of course.