Hallo Beautiful Peaceful People!
Phew! What a whirlwind! We had a fantastic time in California. When we got home, my computer wouldn't get online, so I have been waiting and waiting to tell you all about it. Here goes...
We had a fine flight to Oakland on Tuesday September 2nd, and stayed with one of my Oakland moms for a few nights before heading to San Francisco. We didn't have my car this time, so it was fantastic to be able to walk two blocks down the street for yoga each day. We were busy publicizing the Yoshi's show, making flyers and phone calls and hanging posters.
Then on Friday morning, my Oakland mom drove us to our hotel, just blocks from Yoshi's and KPOO and the Kabuki Springs and Spa. I got to take some time to relax in the spa's hot and cold baths on Friday afternoon. And on Friday night I did a live interview with Francesca at KPOO. We gave away 4 pairs of tickets, had fun talking about community radio and my music, and played "Even Free," "Aged," "Give," "Hooker," "Littlebird's Flight," "Crossing Into Dreams," and "Blessed Community" on the air. It was a great time. I had a jolt of sadness when I talked about Littlebird's death live on the air. I was talking about the album "Ravengirl" and the song "Littlebird's Flight," just like I always do, and then realized how very close I was at that moment, to Lands End, where she died. I had a moment of trepidation too, that one of her friends would hear my voice on the radio and call in to berate me or the DJ while we were on the air. Thankfully, my fear has not yet manifest in their action. Hopefully it never will.
On Saturday I got to go to my friend Alex's yoga class. I am so proud of her, following her love of yoga all the way to India and studying to become the fine teacher she is now. Her class was fantastic! If you are in SF, you should check out her class schedule
and take a class! We ate lunch at this great healthy eatery called The Grove on Fillmore. I love their salads! I had one of their salads every day I was there! That evening I was blessed to get a long shiatsu massage at Kabuki Spa. I needed it! I can't wait until I have my own personal masseuse on the road with me, for massages before and after every show. These piano arms know how to hold Tension!
Sunday brought me another of Alex's classes, while Kim walked all over SF hanging posters and handing out flyers for the Yoshi's show. She also looked online every chance she got to check how many tickets we had sold. We were getting very excited. On Sunday night we had nearly sold out Yoshi's. All day I focused on resting my arms and voice so that I not only played well but felt relaxed during the show.
On Monday, we had so much to bring over to Yoshi's that we took a cab even though it was only blocks away. The sound check was at 4. The sound engineer, Keith, set things up while I got acquainted with their exquisite 9-foot Steinway grand piano. Keith told me that they traveled to Germany to hand-pick that piano, and I believe it is the finest instrument I have yet had the honor of playing on stage, although I have played a fine Baldwin, a couple of very nice Bosendorfer's, and several stunning Yamaha's in past performances, as well as a lovely Yamaha and a beautiful old New York Steinway for my recordings. Keith was a pleasure to work with, and I was thrilled to try out the KSM9 microphone I have been reading about recently. The sound was simply fantastic that night!
The dressing room there is large and clean and well-equipped, and it nearly made my cry. Gone are the days where I am changing and putting on my make-up in a dingy, dirty, tiny club bathroom, or even in my car because the bathroom is that gross. I showered in the bathroom of the Yoshi's green room. I was served a bit of sushi before and a bit of sushi after the show in the dining room of the green room. I sat in front of those mirrored lights for about an hour before showtime, to tie my hair in about 30 twisted coils to dry naturally before the show, and to put on my make-up. Kim brought Chuck, our friend from Democracy Now, backstage to take a few photos of me before I got dressed.
Then I put on my dress and heels and let down my hair for the show. Kim walked me to the backstage entrance. While I waited for Keith's introduction, I remembered one of the very first performances I ever did. I was three years old and in a tap dance recital. I had on a black leotard, a hot pink skirt with black polka dots, and patent leather tap shoes. All us little girls in the same dance outfit walked out on stage to dance for our families and friends. And as we walked out and started dancing, I saw my grandfather in the audience with his camera, and I waved and shouted, "Hi, Pepere!" So when Keith introduced me and I walked out on stage, receiving so much excited applause, I decided to start by telling everyone the story of my first dance recital.
It was a special night, a moment of arrival, a moment of homecoming. The audience was so happy I was at Yoshi's, and I was so happy I was at Yoshi's and that they were all there with me, and Kim was beaming so much joy and pride from her seat in the audience. It took me longer than usually to calm down and get started. I had to stand and see and say hello to the 300 people packing the house first. I can't tell you how many times I saw that moment in my mind in the weeks leading up to the Yoshi's show. It was just like I had imagined: me, happy and near tears, full of gratitude for Kim and Yoshi's and everyone from KPFA who spread the word and attended the show, and everyone else who spread the word, and all the people who were there.
I had made the set list to suit the piano and to showcase lots of my newest songs:
4. Autumn Nightwork
6. Gutter Mouth
8. This Space Is All Mine.
9. Sacred Whore
10. Dear Sister
11. Blessed Community
12. Warrior Daughter
13. Into the Fog
14. Littlebird's Flight
18. Even Free
I talked even more than usual, because of the specialness of the night and this reunion with my oldest fans. Although I am usually so good at being exactly on time with my set lengths, I played longer than I had planned because of all the stories I told between songs. I heard everyone listening and laughing and got many reports from the audience that I made them cry more than once that night. I got a standing ovation and held back my tears yet again.
I went backstage to Kim, to the greenroom. She went out to greet the fans. I quickly peed, changed my clothes, and had two bites of sushi. I am always ravenous after I perform. I could hear my sister and her husband talking outside the backstage door. I opened the door and we hugged and they walked me to the lobby. I didn't actually know exactly how to get there. They held doors open for me, laughing that now that I made it to Yoshi's that is how it had to be. I got another huge applause when I entered the lobby. And a long line formed of people wanting to say hello, thank me, get my autograph, give me a hug, take pictures with me... a rich and special night. I wish you all could have been there.
We then took a cab back to the hotel, and Kim went out into the dangerous night to get me some ice cream. :) I could hardly sleep that night from the thrill and joy of my success. This is a long long time coming, y'all.
So, the next day, we walked around Fillmore. We had grown to really like that little corner of SF. We had really yummy gelato one day, I really enjoyed the Kabuki Springs and Spa, we loved the yummy food at The Grove, I loved visiting the gorgeous Stretch Studio behind the great yoga clothes at Nomadic Outfitters with Alex, and there was this new little store with tons of organic clothing and body care called Clary Sage that we can't wait to visit again next time.
We had planned to rent a car and stay with friends in San Rafael for two nights before heading up to Laytonville for Earthdance. This all fell through when we found out that car rental places don't take out-of-state debit cards. Sigh. So, we changed out plan and got a taxi to our friend's place in the Oakland Hills. We were so lucky! We stayed in a house with an amazing view of the bay AND a baby grand! Wahoo!
We walked down the hill to have breakfast at Rick and Ann's the next day. Then we found Star Grocery. We really wish we had a little grocer like this in our beloved Providence. Not only do they carry all the essential organic stuff you could want, but their mear guy, Jesse, LENT US HIS CAR, so we could easily go make flyers for our show. He really wanted us to go to Krishna Copy because they are independently-owned. And he knew there was no easy way to walk or bus there. And he totally trusted us with his Honda Element (just like my car but black!). We were stunned as he handed us his keys. Krishna couldn't do it quickly enough so we went to our old trusty Copy Central, where I always made programs and flyers and even my masters thesis, when I went to Mills for my MFA! Then we returned Jesse's car, got a few essential groceries, and took a taxi back up the hill to our temporary home. Wow.
On Thursday we packed up what we needed for Earthdance and took a taxi to the BART to SF to meet a friend of a friend who drove us up to Laytonville. They did business on their cell phones almost the whole way up. And we also all talked about the festival itself and its history. The festival put us up in the nicest place in town, a little tiny batch of cottages called Cottage Motel. We almost felt like we were camping; it was cute and comfy and COLD at night! We had no cell phone reception there, so Kim actually turned off her law office and we had some very nice time together. :)
I think our favorite part of the festival was the prayer for peace and the organic food vendors. We had the yummiest ginger lemonade, ice cream, and sesame chicken fried rice! We also enjoyed some of the vendors' clothes and this one place that had yoga slings. I tried it out and really enjoyed hanging upside-down. I think I should have been a gymnast or aerial acrobat. I have always liked flying and tumbling. Maybe that's why I so love yoga.
We were saddened by just how stoned seemingly every single person was at Earthdance. We think it was more because of the location than because of the festival itself. But it was truly shocking that all but a very few people were high. I was very sad for all the little kids running around, knowing their parents could not be there for them in their condition. Also, the sheer volume of the main stage bass was dangerous for adult ears, let alone the ears of small children. All that broke my heart. And I know that no one can really make peace in the world if they can't be at peace with themselves enough to be present. And I know they can not be present if they are that drugged.
The stage and the little keyboard they had for me to use were a bit of a let-down after Yoshi's, but I loved performing for all those listening peacemakers. And I enjoyed hearing Blame Sally and Medicine Drum and Wisdom. I sold and signed lots of CDs to new fans. I wish I had been able to see Digable Planets Saturday night and Michael Franti on Sunday night! The noise level, smoke, and dust were too much for me, and I had to go and sleep to be ready for my Saturday sets, and on Sunday, we had to leave early to take a bus and a train to get back to the Oakland Hills for our flight on Monday.
Our new kitten Toby is growing up strong and healthy and bold. He met a little tortoise shell stray kitten right before we left for California. She looks a lot like our elder cat Sadie, but blacker in the front and orange tiger striped on the hind legs and with orange eyes! She is sweet and very scared and very hungry. So, we fed her a little before we left. Toby seems to be both watching out for her and popping her in the head if she tries to eat before he does. And the two of them definitely like to play and snuggle. When we came back home, I sat outside with the little one for a while, offering her food and being quiet and still so she would not run away. I have kept up like that, every few days, to help her get used to me. We wish we had the money to get her spayed and all her shots, but it is expensive. Still, we are feeding her and trying to calm her down. We are hoping we can help her make it through the winter. And we think her name is Sophie. As soon as Kim saw her she wanted to take her in, and she realized she was becoming a crazy cat lady! In the room where they see our cats, our vet has a little action figure in a plastic and cardboard container called, "The Crazy Cat Lady!"
Meanwhile, lots of our local Rhode Island fans have been asking when I will be performing in my homestate! We are so sad to tell oyu that our favorite Cornerstone Playhouse (formerly True Brew) has closed. We are steadily losing some of our favorite RI venues, and we are steadfastly searching for a RI venue with a grand piano. If you can think of one we are missing, please let us know! We miss our fellow Rhode Islanders!
We've got some exciting NYC stuff coming up! This Sunday, I will be joining a whole lot of OUTmusic and other musicians and LOGO/MTV to record a video for Deepa Soul's new song, "Stand Together." It is harking back to the "We Are the World" video, and I am very excited to be a part of it. We will tell you how you can see the video as soon as we know!
Shortly after we get back from NYC, I'll be doing a live phone interview for SARFM, "the heartbeat of Africa in New York." I am so happy and honored to have their support! Details on the tour schedule to the left.
And the following weekend, we head back to NYC for my feature at the OUTmusic Open Mic Benefit for Breast Cancer Awareness, held at the NYC GLBT Center. I was Secretary of OUTmusic way back in 1994, and I played at their open mic almost every month for about a year before I moved to California. It will be very special to play that grand piano again, and to reconnect with my old and new friends and fans from OUTmusic. They have put together a star-studded female line-up for this night! Details on the tour schedule to the left.
Here's a way you can help spread the word about my music. Go to CD Baby Link
and add the link to your web pages and blogs. The more people recommend my music, the more people will get to hear my music, the more CDs and MP3s I will sell, and the more music I'll be able to make for you all! Personal recommendations are by far the most effective publicity! Thanks in advance!
See you out there!
Love & macintosh apple & autumn sunshine,
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Kristi Martel, avant-soul piano diva
Featured on MTV/LOGO, NPR & in Curve Magazine
Best Female Vocalist of Rhode Island
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