Sunday, 30 December 2012

cover #5

A quiet snowy morning version ukulele of Robert Johnson's "Come On in My Kitchen".

Big thanks to my Seanny Boy for his video editing skillz.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

cover #4 with several special guests (teehee)

I got my first guitar 35 years ago this year and have been playing steadily for more than 30 of those years.  I started teaching music lessons (primarily guitar but also bass, violin, mando and lots of uke) 14 years ago this year and while sometimes it was full-time and other times part-time, once I started, I never stopped.  Aside from Sean, teaching music is the love of my life.

This past Xmas Eve I conducted a little sing along time with the kids (and the awesome adults who chimed in too).  It was the first time I ever whipped out an instrument at a family gathering.  It was so much fun.  I've wasted so much time.

Please note that's my billowy shirt all bunch up under my uke.  Not a pregnant/fat belly.  Oh, vanity!

Friday, 28 December 2012


The holidays have set back my "one video a week" goal but I will be rectifying that soon.

In the meantime, here is a photo from one of my very first performances.  I was 4 years old and had become a member of Yolanda Gambino's "Angels" youth choir.  I was so proud to be a member of that group.  And how cool were we in those awesome t-shirts?!

The little girl to my right was Amy, who was at that time my very best friend.  I wanted to be just like her (she being older, and therefore cooler, at age 5) so I was delighted when her mom invited me to tag along to Amy's choir practice.  I sat on the sidelines with Amy's mom and sang my heart out.  Yolanda saw my enthusiasm and asked my parents if I could join.  She also told my parents to "get that kid a piano" because I was such a musical little thing; a natural, she called me.  My folks didn't have the space for a piano so they bought me a guitar instead (thank goodness!).

I took lessons from Yolanda's Dad for a while but he just wanted to smoke and yell at me so I took a little break from lessons until we found Mr. Mameli.  He was the dearest most wonderful man and he believed in me.  He called me his "little star" and would clap with delight when I showed up for lessons each week.  But he's a story for another time.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

cover #3 with special guest!

Here my husband, Sean, and I cover Peter Murphy's "Cuts You Up". The camera's mic does nothing for the sound of my guitar but that's what happens with this type of recording.

Sunday, 16 December 2012


Last night a relatively new, but dear, friend asked me if this (playing/sharing music) was something I've always wanted.  The answer found itself quickly on my lips:  Yes.  Yes, more than anything in the whole wide world.

The question got me thinking:  Being a musician is how I identify myself.  It's who and what I am.  It defines me more than any other part of me.  It has since I got my little red Global guitar at age 4.  It has since I was singing into clothespins in my Nonnie's basement to entertain the guests at Easter dinner.  It has since I saw Jose Feliciano (don't laugh!  i was 5!) playing guitar and singing on an early 70's variety show and decided I had to do that.  I am many things but, first and foremost, I am a musician.  Always.  But, since I've hidden it away for so long I don't think it's how others, especially the relatively new folks in my life, see me (I'm not talking to/about the friend who posed the question...her question just got me thinking).  I mean, everyone knows I teach and play but who has seen it firsthand?  Not many.

But that's gonna change.

I hope.

Because I want this more than anything.

As soon as I can decide on a song, I will post a new video.  I'm still seeking special guests to help me out so speak up if you wanna be a part of this soon to be epically famous (har har) video series!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

cover #2 with special guest!

Here I am joined by Gary Robertson on lead guitar and Sean Ryan on percussion and backing vocals.  It was the first time Gary and I played together and the first time I'd played with anyone other than Sean (or my students) in many many many years.  It's not perfect* but man it felt good!

The Kinks - "I'm Not Like Everybody Else"

*I really need to let go of this idea of "perfect" and I also need to stop pointing out that the things I present are not perfect.  ha!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Thank you all for the comments and private emails you've sent in response to my video.  It means everything to me and has given me a shot of confidence that I was in desperate need of.  Thank you!

Last night at my husband's gig his wonderful and generous bandmate offered me some time to play a few tunes during one of their gigs during their residency at a local pub.  Just the thought of it made me nervous!  As he said, "you're really nervous about something that is months away?"  Yep.  Really.  Even an hour after the conversation my hands were shaking so hard.  And I didn't sleep.  Again.

So I'm not ready yet.  But I will be.  When the excitement outweighs the fear I'll be ready.  Having folks like him (and you) helps more than I can say.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

cover #1

It's not perfect.  I was nervous and my guitar wasn't loud enough and the focus on the camera was off.  And every take I tried after had problems of their own.  So you know what?  I'm posting the first try, warts and all.  It's raw and it's real and it's what you'd get if you came over and said, "Hey Sugar, sing us a song."

PJ Harvey's "Hardly Wait"

Friday, 7 December 2012


I was planning to post a video today but stage fright wins, I'm afraid.  My hands aren't working and I can't get my voice out.

Yes, I'm even afraid of the video camera when I'm all alone.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

giant baby steps

On Tuesday night a professional musician friend of mine came over and we played together (Sean joined us too).  I had slight butterflies but none of my usual stage fright symptoms showed up.  None.  My fingers worked, my voice came out on pitch and strong, I didn't blank out on lyrics or chords; amazing.  It was fun and it was easy and it felt so good.  Better than I can ever begin to explain.  I'm so grateful to my friend for not hesitating to come over and play with me (and offer to come over as often as I like).  It was a tremendous experience and a huge step for me (because my stage fright is not limited to the stage - it applies to playing in front of *anyone*).  A few months ago I never would have even entertained the idea of doing something like this.  And now I have and I can't wait until next time.  I had some weird energy to process after the fact but in the moment it was pure joy.

Video evidence to follow.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


One of my assignments this week was to go through my tickle trunk and dig out my "fan" letters from performances past.  I've got a little box with photos and press clippings and notes, etc. that I haven't actually looked at in years.  I dug it out yesterday and found some amazingly beautiful notes in there from friends and strangers alike (oddly enough, mostly strangers).  I should have posted all those things on my wall all those years ago.  I might have never stopped.

Anyway, this one really got me.  It's from my sister and I know it is from the early 90's but I've no idea what it is in reference to.  It doesn't really matter.  The sentiment remains.

What do you have to lose, indeed.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Busy, busy writing

The first several weeks of lessons with Jess was more like therapy sessions than anything else.  I went in thinking our sessions would be all about the technical aspects of songwriting.  Much to my surprise, spent our time together getting to the root of my stage fright, examining it to better understand it and, ultimately, overcome it.

In our first meeting, I was astounded how Jess got right to the heart of things within the first 15 minutes of our session.  This illusive monster I'd been struggling with for 34 years was so clear to her and suddenly, it was clear to me too.  And knowing is half the battle, right?  That doesn't mean "poof! it's all gone!" but at least I know what I'm fighting now.  The big scary monster lurking in the dark has had a light thrown on it and it's not so bad.

Just having it suddenly make sense felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.

So the first several weeks were about talking and writing.  At her request, I journal every morning (a la "The Artist's Way"); some entries off the top of my head and some with directives from Jess.  One of the best exercises Jess gave me was to take something I said ("who the fuck do I think I am that anyone would give a shit to hear me sing?") and pretend my 13 year old niece said it about her dancing and write her a letter explaining why anyone would want to watch her dance.  It was extremely effective and an exercise I will most definitely return to.  I think anyone could apply this exercise to any self doubt they may be having.  Choose someone you love, turn the tables, explain to them why they're wrong.  You'll be amazed.

Monday, 3 December 2012

An Introduction

Welcome to my blog.

Very very very long story somewhat shorter:  I have debilitating stage fright.  

However, I refuse to die with my music still inside of me* so I am doing everything I can to get over it.

This horrible stage fright, the paralyzingly debilitating kind, is specific to my music which, oddly enough, is what I've done longest and what I do best (as opposed to dancing, modeling and acting - which I also do in both amateur and professional capacities!).  There are many reasons for that, many of which I will talk about in this blog.

Two years ago, when I moved to Toronto, I decided it was the time to get over this stage fright and do what I truly believe I was put on this planet to do.  I got to the point where my fear no longer out weighed my passion to perform my beloved music.  Quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of carrying this around.  I'm ready to put it down and get on with it.  

It wasn't until I met Jess McAvoy this past October that I actively began working on it.  I signed on with Jess knowing she was a song writing coach and I needed help finishing the tunes I'd been working on over the last year.  Little did I know that she is an innate healer and lessons would be about so much more than the technical aspects of songwriting.  She is giving me the tools I need to get past this block to not only make my music but also to share it.  I am so grateful.

We've been working together for a month and already the change in me is massive.  I wish I had started this blog last month but so it goes.

With Jess's help, the support and inspiration from my incredibly talented husband and the network of incredible friends I've made in the music community I know I can do this.

I will be using this blog to chart my progress, make note of important lessons and share recordings and performances.  I plan to post a video each week of a cover song and eventually start sharing my original recordings.  In time, I hope to be posting recordings from gigs.  Only time will tell.  I hope you enjoy reading about my journey from playing in my living room for my cats to playing gigs around this amazing city.  And for those of you who hide your art away because of fear of any kind I hope it serves as inspiration for you to shed that heavy cloak and step out into the light too.

* paraphrase of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer's beautiful quote "do not die with your music still in you" which was passed on to me from my amazing cousin, Rene.