Creative endeavors worth checking out

I have a few posts in the pipeline, but I wanted to take a minute to direct your attention to the awesome creative work of other people first! I am lucky enough to know loads and loads of people who do amazing work, and you should check them out:

Princess BusinessPrincess Business

If you’re in the mood for some goofy, edgy humor, quirky female leads, and a funhouse look at the life of a working actress/entertainer, check out Princess Business. Written, directed, and starring a bunch of friends of mine, this is a new webseries about the trials and travails of a pair of princesses-for-hire. It’s frequently raunchy and silly, filled with pop culture references and 20-something hijinks, and showcases the developing talents of its cast and crew.

Princess Business is currently raising money for its second season, so drop over to their IndieGoGo page and help support young artist and lady-centric media!

PigPen Theatre CoPigPen Theatre Co.’s National Tour

Saturday night I had the great pleasure of seeing PigPen (a group that you may have noticed I like a lot) kick off their first national tour at the Barboza right here in Seattle, with opening act the Tragic Thrills. They’re heading to basically every part of the country over the next six weeks, including playing the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX, and sharing a ticket with Sir Mix-A-Lot in Tucson, AZ.

The PigPen boys are mad talented, and they are great fun to watch live — funny and witty, delivering a fast-moving show with many of their best songs from their albums and several new ones. Their choral harmonies are great recorded, but they’re even better live.

And last night they ended with the Band’s “The Weight,” a song that they seem to have been born to cover, and you should not miss that if it is at all within your power. Check out the schedule; if you live near a major city, it’s almost guaranteed they’re coming to a venue near you. Then you, too, can say that you saw these guys in a tiny venue before they got big (and expensive) (although given that they already won a bunch of awards off-Broadway it may be too late to say you saw them before they got big) (your mileage may vary).

Photo by Fred Burmer, Burmer Music LLC.

Photo by Fred Burmer, Burmer Music LLC.

Dante’s Inferno: The Ballet

This is a somewhat after-the-fact plug, but as many of you know, I spent the last year and a half working as a production assistant/social media supervisor/webmaster/assistant stage manager for Burmer Music’s new ballet, Dante’s Inferno, and its companion pieces Demeter and Persephone and Sacred and Profane, all produced in collaboration with Ballet Bellevue and Tice Dance Works. After two years of work on the part of the whole production team, we finally performed last weekend at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with such incredibly talented, dedicated dancers, and to have the chance to be involved with a world premiere of such a unique project. You can get the music through CDBaby and check out production stills at the Facebook page, and hopefully soon you’ll be able to get video of the performances as well.


A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting

The New York Times — and every other media outlet, including Fox News — reports that Pete Seeger died tonight at the age of 94:

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died Monday. He was 94 and lived in Beacon, N.Y.

His death was confirmed by his grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, who said he died of natural causes at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

… In 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he testified, “I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature.” He also stated: “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

Mr. Seeger offered to sing the songs mentioned by the congressmen who questioned him. The committee declined.

… Through the years, Mr. Seeger remained determinedly optimistic. “The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

I have vivid memories of my mother singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” to me to calm me down when I was little and having some kind of crying jag. (Which backfired, because I was apparently just old enough to comprehend that the song is about people dying; I have an equally vivid memory of starting to cry even harder.) I remember arguing with my sister about the harmonies in “Turn! Turn! Turn!” I belted “If I Had A Hammer” and “Little Boxes Made of Ticky Tacky” and I’m sure I sang “This Land Is Your Land” in grade school — and then again in college when I learned the verses about the signs that read Private Property.

I can’t possibly say how much influence Pete Seeger had on me and my taste in music, because not only did I grow up with many of his songs, he also influenced so many of the artists I have grown up with or grown to love: Bob Dylan, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bruce Springsteen, Ani DiFranco. And so on and so forth — through his music and through the musicians inspired by him, his influence goes on down to folk singers and rockers and musicians of all kinds that I love now.

Goodnight, Pete. We’ll hear you in our dreams.

Music reviews: “The Way I’m Running” and “The Electric Lady”

PigPen Theatre Co., The Way I’m Running

So last year around October 6-8, I was in New York on my way to Seattle via Spain, and while there I got to see PigPen Theatre Co.’s The Old Man and the Old Moon. It was really exciting to me that this year, almost exactly a year from when I saw PigPen live, they released a new album of music — just in time for my birthday, no less.

Important disclaimer: these excellent dudes graduated with me in CMU’s School of Drama Class of 2011, so I’m not a totally unbiased reviewer. That said, these guys are some of the most talented artists, storytellers, and musicians I’ve ever experienced, and even if I didn’t know them I’d be stanning for them.

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“This Year”

I did a thing with my face! And a piano! And my terrible, terrible computer mic!

I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t harbor dreams of being ~discovered~ via YouTube. Hopefully only for singing and not for playing piano, though, as I have never managed to record myself playing a song perfectly.

But y’know, the perfect is the enemy of the good, and all I care about at this point is that this song turned out good. It’s a good song, in basically every sense of the word. It got me through a very low patch in my life about two years ago.

And it also turns out to be super fun to play on the piano, although trying to pound out eighth notes with my left hand stretched over a whole octave is kind of awkward. (I have tiny T. Rex hands.) You can find chords here, although I futzed with them a little for this.

Jungle gyms for the artist: Songs on repeat

Nina Simone.

Over the past, oh, six months or so, there have been three songs that get stuck in my head/that I will start singing to myself if nothing else is going on. One is Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband” as covered by Ed Sheeran, which has been on my eternal playlist since about January:

The more recent additions came from listening to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack on repeat, and its associated Pandora station. One is “Go to Sleep You Little Baby”:

And the last is “Bold Riley,” specifically as performed by Kate Rusby:

Someone who’s better at musical classification than me would probably be able to tell you exactly what genres each of those songs fits into (blues, bluegrass, and sea chantey, I think? I feel good about “Bold Riley” as a chantey, anyway). Whatever classification they might fall into, though, they all have a certain level of structural similarity that fascinates me. They’re incredibly simple songs, each with different repeating elements.

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I Am the Very Model of a Modern Glaciologist

I’ve been updating my portfolio website ( and trying to collect and showcase some more of the things I’ve done. And I’m not sure I can really put this on my portfolio, given that it’s mostly not my work, but I am a) proud of what I did do, and b) EXTRA PROUD of my sister for being so awesome. (Check out her blog at

So! I present: That one time my sister and I created a song about Climate Influences on Crystal Orientation & Growth in Snow and Firn. (She wrote and performed it, I accompanied and edited the video.) We won a prize at her conference!