Now Playing Tracks

This just in from Peter and Rick at Short North Stage where we held the Columbus preview: “The Wild Women wowed the sell-out crowd at Short North Stage’s Green Room Friday night with a varied and infectiously entertaining evening of spirited blues. Eileen Howard, a favorite in the Green Room, just keeps getting better and better. The addition of Jen Milligan, with her sassy confidence and inventive choice of song, and the inspired accompaniment of French guitarist Pascal Fouquet brought new levels of joy—or maybe rapture is the better word— to the audience. Though they call themselves wild women singing the blues the audience saw and heard remarkable sophistication!”

Music Therapy

I’m recovering from a full knee replacement three weeks ago.  It hurts and is a VERY SLOW recovery.  And it makes my back hurt like mad because of limited range of motion and pre-existing spinal stenosis.  I’m also bored and cranky.  

About a week after coming home, my husband opened up his computer and started playing some BB King.  I immediately felt better.   I realized I had hardly listened to any music.  I’d been distracting myself with TV.  Couldn’t concentrate enough to read. 

In spite of this I didn’t really do much about it.  Made a few jokes on Facebook about a Physical Therapy sound track, and looked up “Hurts so Good” (best PT song ever).

Last night really sucked.  I slept a total of maybe four hours and my back was screaming in pain.  Woke up sobbing and really upset at 4:00 am.  After I got sick of my self-pity, I thought, “this is stupid,” and sat down to make a playlist of “happy” music.  

So since about 6:00 am (sorry neighbors) I’ve been listening to “Walking on Sunshine”, “G-Bop”, “I’m a Winner”, “Your Sister Can’t Twist (but she can rock and roll)”, “Let’s Get Loud”, “Master Blaster”, “Shining Star”, “Keep on Movin’” and, of course, “Come on Eileen”.  

Not only has my mood improved incredibly, you simply can’t help but feel good and get moving when you hear James Brown get down on “I Feel Good”.  And Chubby Checker sure helped my back with “The Twist”.  

Now why on earth doesn’t Physical Therapy incorporate more music?  I swear I’ve had more fun moving, walking, twisting, and doing my excruciating exercises this morning, than you can imagine.

Let’s Get Physical!  

(whoops! I think I’ll leave that cheesy number OFF the set list, though!)

Reflections on Mad Men

First off, I have to say I love this show.  The writing, the acting, the attention to detail — all just perfection.  But there is one thing I find a little troubling.

In general, there seems to be a reaction from (or on behalf of) many men that paints this as some sort of nostalgic golden age.  The reaction from women, however, is horror. 

I’ve watched Peggy have an illegal abortion after being used by Pete, Joan be prostituted for the sake of business, secretaries be harassed, patted on the ass and denigrated.  Watched Joan and Peggy struggle for respect and an equal place in the office, and seen Don, Roger and Pete repeatedly cheat on their wives.  Everyone drinks and smokes to excess.  People regularly drink and drive.  Women drink and smoke while pregnant.  African Americans hardly have a place at all in the corridors of power, let alone ordinary equal rights.   They hardly even make an appearance in this show, which is reflective of the actual conditions of the 60’s.

Then there are the “minor” things, like mindless littering, no seat belts, and a truly sickening moment where Betty, as some kind of pillow talk foreplay, jokes about helping her husband rape a teenager.  Wow.

I have little nostalgia for this time.  How can anyone watch this and not be utterly grateful for the sweeping changes in consciousness, behavior, respect and inclusion of minorities and women?

It helps to have lived through this time.  I remember when highways were trashcans.  Remember the anti-littering commercial with the weeping Native American chief? It began the shift in consciousness to clean up the country.

I remember rolling around the back of our station wagon without seat belts and the startling highway fatality statistics that prompted Ralph Nader’s book “Unsafe at Any Speed”.  

I remember my surgeon father-in-law arguing with me that it was unproven that diet affected heart disease!

I remember my brilliant mother was told she could not join “men’s” occupations.  My generation was one of the first to break that pattern and have real opportunities in medicine, law, and business.

I was pregnant around the time when doctors finally started telling women not to drink or smoke.  Not to mention the revolution of natural childbirth and nursing. 

Sure women have a long way to go, especially around the world, but hey, we’ve come a long way baby!  (hmm…  that was actually a cigarette ad.  Maybe I should find another expression.)

Go Where It’s Warm

My friend Ed Moed is a brilliant pianist and musician, but what I like best about him is that he has a very encouraging spirit toward even the most uneducated musical efforts.  At The United Methodist Church for All People, where George and I spent the last ten years, Ed would patiently work with people who had written a song - to help them enhance it, play it for them, and write it down.  There was never a sense that he felt superior to others or resented the time they took.  He has frequently helped me develop chords for tunes I’ve written and done fabulous arrangements of them.

I have found that, when it comes to the arts (or anything else, really) there are two kinds of people:  Those who feel they must protect their status, and those who choose to live in generosity and gratitude. 

Before I moved to New York, I asked all my friends for contacts in The Big Apple.  I found that some of those contacts are immediately suspicious that I’m trying to “use” them or somehow take away from what they are doing.  Others have been generous and helpful. 

I met one such contact, a drummer from Chicago, for coffee one day.  He feels some musicians give off a bad vibe and it ultimately hurts them.  He eventually ended up with their gigs because they are bitter, resentful, and “closed off”.   Audiences, club owners and producers can sense this.    He became wildly successful in just six months by being open, positive, generous, determined, and (of course) talented.

One evening I spoke to a jazz guitar player I heard at Cleopatra’s Needle and asked him for his card in case I wanted to put together a gig.   He spent 10 minutes telling me what a pain electric guitar gigs were because of transportation, and nobody paid enough, and blah, blah, blah.  Needless to say, his card went directly into the trash.  Why would I hire him?

Another time I was at Smalls Jazz Club and tried to talk to three young musicians at a table near me.  They gave me the cold shoulder.  I thought, “Well, you might have just missed your big chance, buddies!” 

I mean, in case I get famous and all!

In contrast, my friend Daniel Bennett has been fantastically generous in providing me encouragement and opportunities to sing.  You can tell he extends this spirit to everyone around him and that it is reaping rewards for his career as well.

Another friend of a friend gave me this sage advice which has become my new mantra:  “Go where it’s warm”.

So, I don’t worry about rejection.  Instead I search for places where the atmosphere will be supportive and bear fruit,  and I try to bring love and generosity to each situation.    

When I encounter a cold shoulder, I try to give anyway.  I even sent a gig opportunity to one musician who was clearly just “too good” to give me any attention. 

I mean, why not?   "Give and it shall be given unto you" is the truth about life.    

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