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July 22nd, 2009
Billboard song competition....
I just received prizes for the six of my compositions that won honorable mentions (top 500) in the 16th Annual Billboard World Song Contest......Blublocker sunglasses and rainbow-colored guitar strings!!!! Whoooohoooo! Thank goodness for Ebay.....
Jan 2008, Amsterdam (on the way to Egypt)
With all the travels of the past year, I have a lot of catching up to do!! Here we go with Jan 2008....more on the way....xoxoxo
Melissa and I designed our flight to Egypt so that we would have an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam!! Here are all the pics along with their comments.Click here for Amsterdam gallery
July 21st, 2009
Jazz tour Nov 2007
....with Benny Green, Satoshi Inoue, Keith Loftis, Kenyatta Beasley, Ugonna Okegwo, Joe Strasser. Shows in nine Japanese cities. Tons of fun! Thank you Yutaka Matsuda and his wife for making me feel welcomed, for the beautiful Kimono, for wonderful food and laughs and for making the tour so easy for me. Thank you to all those others who helped with a million details, and especially I'd like to thank the Japanese people who came to hear us play.
There are too many photos to imbed them one by one, so I started making albums with descriptions for each photo.Click here to see the Japan gallery
ok ok ok
I know it took me almost two years to post this.......
more on the way!
November 6th, 2008
Summer/Fall 2007 in pics (more to come)
As promised, I'll just start with July 2007 and go until Oct 07.
Beliss at the Tin Shed.....
Beliss at Produce Row..... I love Portland (especially in the Summer)
Melissa and I really enjoy our outdoor gigs and the farmer markets. We have a song Melissa wrote for the farmers, "...grow your hope from the seeds of love..."
Speaking of farming, my garden went crazy!!! Here are my fava beans, raspberries and GREEEENS!
I can't resist, I was so proud of this meal that I captured it forever....homemade peanut sauce on chicken with cucumbers, cilantro and swiss chard, all from my garden.
July was also the month in which I went to the Big Red Studio in Corbett to record the Greenspace album with Benny Green, Nancy King, Phil Baker, Martin Zarzar, and Melissa Underwood. Nick Moon was our engineer.....
Last minute arrangements with Benny.....
Phil played bass on most of the songs. Here he seems like he's planning......
It's amazing to play and stare out the window at the field and trees and rabbits!
Wouldn't be a true Underwood production without my talented and beautiful sister....
Martin played the drum set and also layered percussion and hand drums.
Most important ingredient, FUN!!!
The Big Red Studio is surrounded by nature, and sitting outside is a perfect way to clear the mind between tracks. Nancy also has a gift for birdcalls....
In between recording dates I drove down to Eugene to play bass for the belly dancers at the Gypsy Stage at the Oregon Country Fair. Here's a picture of the stage. I'm on the left, wearing the genie pants.
Sedona danced there, too.
Toward the end of July I drove to Port Townsend for the Centrum Jazz Workshop. Here are some pictures of Puget Sound along the way.
John Clayton leading a faculty bass ensemble at the workshop.
Before returning home, I drove East to Ellensburg for Jazz in the Valley. Here's a picture of the BBQ joint at which I played with Dan Gaynor.
In August, I went once more to the Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp in Mendocino, CA. I took Benny along, and Sedona and Samer went too. We had our own little camp and gypsy chill tent. Sedona and I also thought ahead and doubled up on the Hornitos....
See my mosquito bite?? Mosquito, Hornito!!!
I ended up getting sick and missed about half of the camp (not sick from alcohol, that would have been better than the sinus infection and fever that had me balled up and sweaty in my tent for three days!) BUT the drive back to Oregon was amazing. We stopped in the redwoods and hiked around and played with the trees.
Officially a treehugger!!
See the face??
Benny loves the forest as much as I.
Here's a tree growing on top of a HUGE fallen tree.
Toward the end of August, Benny and I went to the Midwest to play some shows. Here we are at the Dakota in Minneapolis, playing with Tom Lewis on bass and Phil Hey on the drums. Thanks Andrea Canter, for the photos and the support!
We also had the support of Chris's family!!!
Next, we flew to Chicago and played two nights at the Green Mill with Larry Gray and Rob Amster on bass (different nights) and Greg Rockingham on Drums. I didn't take any pictures but there is a video of us playing here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNbhCdXTCM0
September's musical events were back on the West Coast. Next was the Newport Jazz Party in Newport, Oregon, where I performed with Benny Green, John Clayton and Todd Strait. I'm still locating show pics but here are some fun ones.
Melissa and Benny, silly after the gig...
Part of my family! Cindy (my sis), Mom, Dad, Jeff (Cindy's hubby)
Toward the end of September, I went with Benny to Monterey (my home town!) for the jazz festival where he was playing. Here we are with Moody.
I was honored to be asked to perform for a Kucinich fundraiser house party. Here is our new act!! Beliss and Dennis!! :)
Liz Kucinich is extremely beautiful and brilliant. We adore Dennis and Liz because they are real people with good ideas, trying to help our country to evolve!!!
Benny and I went to play at Steamers in LA again and Bake's near Seattle (sorry, no pics)
Sedona had a girl gathering for Halloween!!!
Shellinda came over to Melissa's house and we all carved pumpkins. Whose pumpkin is whose? Your choices are Belinda, Melissa, Shellinda, Benny, Chris.....
November 5th, 2008
3 songs nominated for ISSA competition
Hi there everyone,
I just found out that three of my songs from Greenspace were nominated for awards in two different categories, "jazz" and "green" (green meaning sustainable) in the Independent Singer-Songwriter Association Contest. COOOOOL
You can see the nominees here:http://songcontest.issa-music.org/nominees.htm
Hope it goes well! Winners are announced at the end of the month.....
October 3rd, 2008
I know, I know, it's about time!!!
Hi there people,
I haven't recorded my news in well over a year...all I can say is that I've been traveling and on tour more than I have been home. But never fear, I'm organizing my pictures right now to post a detailed account of my adventures! Stay tuned, highlights include Beliss in Egypt for a month, the Beliss Western States tour, Middle Eastern Camp, playing bass at Oregon Country Fair for the belly dancers, touring with Benny Green (9 cities in Japan, Green Mill in Chicago, Dakota in Minneapolis, Steamers near LA, Bake's near Seattle, Season's in Yakima, the Newport Jazz Party on the Oregon coast, Foxnote Wisconsin), singing at the Kucinich fundraiser, recording the Greenspace album, enjoying yoga in Mexico, CD release party at Jimmy Mak's, performing in Monterey for the Mother's Day concert and the Monterey Jazz Mass, learning how to ride motorcycles....
Also of note is that the album Greenspace (featuring Benny Green, Nancy King, Phil Baker, Martin Zarzar, Melissa Underwood and Alfred Gamil) is just now hitting the radio stations and is already doing well and charting. As of today, Greenspace is the #5 Most Added Jazz CD at CMJ this week. Whoo hoo!!
I'll get those pics ready for you....
June 21st, 2007
Year in Review - BIG Blog Catch Up!!
Because of all the healing, medical treatments and paperwork I've had to deal with this past year, I haven't had time to do things like blog. I still had many adventures this year but I had to rest a lot! Just recently I started to feel like my old self again. So here are all the details I missed sharing with you........
In June 2006 I went to Hawaii to play for a friend's wedding. While in Hawaii I checked out the Kamaka factory. Kamaka is the oldest ukulele-making family still in business today. I custom ordered a baritone, and gave them my jazz CD to check out. When my uke was ready, they gave me a good deal because they liked my uke playing on the track, "Say My Name" Unfortunately, the Beliss album tracks were already recorded, but on future recordings I'll be sure to use my lovely warm Kamaka ukulele!!
July was pretty relaxing. I organized a benefit concert for Nancy King's surgery recovery, and I went to hear jazz at Port Townsend again and to reconnect with friends there.
In August I went to Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp in Mendocino, and guess what??? I got to play bass every night! I learned a lot and got my butt kicked a lot and it was great fun.
Here are some pictures from the camp and the travels to and from:
Does Sedona's car look like it's on the way to Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp? I really like her bumper stickers too.
We stopped along the Oregon (or California) coast and did a photoshoot with the crystal we brought on the trip...
Like my West Coast still life??
We also stopped in some redwood forests in California and sang love songs to the HUGE trees.
Here's our tent set up at the camp...
We had redwoods all around us! Can you imagine being with 300 people out in the middle of nowhere and hearing drums and laughter and music for seven days and nights?
I did my own little tent-shoot:
Camp was so fun! We had seven hours of classes a day with master musicians flown in from around the world, three gourmet meals per day, a sit-down concert each night with a dance party afterward. The whole week was a big musical happy party, filled with enthusiasts who were serious about studying AND partying!!
Here's a picture of me playing with Selim Sessler and some Turks and Armenians:
Here's Sedona and me with our drummer friend, Ruman.
When Fall rolled around, Melissa and I were still working on our Beliss album (artwork, copyrights and other details) and I was harvesting my garden and making dozens of jars of salsa!! I did red tomato salsa and tomatillo salsa verde. Can you believe all these tomatillos came from one plant??
Then we went on a Beliss tour of Oregon and Northern California.
These were taken in Ashland, Oregon...
This was from our Arcata, CA show:
On the way back we stopped at the redwoods again!! Those trees are HUGE, even if the picture is blurry.
One of my Winter projects was making kitty hats. These are of my own design and I gave them away for Christmas.
Nancy King and me:
Sedona and me:
Those were some of the major events of 2006, now we can move on to 2007....
Beliss got commissioned by our Yoga instructor to make a yoga soundtrack. We did most of it but are still working a little to make it perfect.
New York jazz pianist Benny Green
and I enjoyed two nights at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton, CA, at the end of January 2007. Thanks to Terence Love for taking all of these lovely pics! Terence is the owner/operator of Steamers, and has been extremely supportive of artists. We played to enthusiastic and loving audiences who packed the house for us both nights. Yay! Kevin Kanner on drums and Dan Lutz on bass were awesome and sooooo fun to play with, and of course, Benny Green rocked my world! We'll be back at Steamers on October 12 & 13, 2007. Benny and I have a bunch of shows coming up, too...Seattle, Portland & Newport OR, Chicago, Minneapolis, Japan... so check the liveshows schedule!
Here's the press shot for Dan (pianist) and myself, taken at the Doug Fir Lounge one morning while we were all out at breakfast. Dan and I will be performing at Jazz in the Valley in Ellensburg at the end of July.
Melissa and I went to Mexico in Feb/Mar for our yoga retreat and to write/study music and visit friends.
Our friends, Paf and Laura:
A piece of vegetal coral with the trees and sunset in the background. That day we spent entirely at the beach!
In March, Nancy King had her surgery and the doctors were amazed with her recovery. She was up and walking the next day!!! Here's a hot picture of her a few days after the procedure....
Melissa and I also enrolled in a couple of wild foods workshops. We were out at various parks in the Portland area with a botanist who's specialty is wild edible foods. We learned about 20 different edible weeds!!! Good info to know.....His link is http://wildfoodadventures.com
These are all examples of yummy wild plants....
Bull thistle is eaten cooked:
False dandelion can be eaten raw or cooked:
Nettles must be cooked or dried:
In March, we also went to the peace march:
There were a lot of clever posters, but because I'm obsessed with pirates, I took pics of this one....
The next one is kind of over the top, don't you think?? They had arrested some kids who were lying across the max tracks but they look like they are ready for a big battle....who knows, maybe they wanted to protect the jewelry store...
Here's a picture of Elvira and the new rug my mom gave me for my birthday.
I had a bit of sad excitement with my chickens....three of them got eaten by raccoons!! The lil' bandits learned how to open the egg door and when we nailed that shut, they tore the other door off its hinges!! I put out 'coon traps and caught three of them!! Don't worry, we didn't kill them, just moved them to the woods far away.....
That's it for March....
In April I went to Egypt again!!! I went over to study with Dr. Alfred Gamil and to hang out with my adventure traveler friend, the lovely Sedona. We were there for almost a month...
We had a layover in Amsterdam on the way to Cairo, so these first ones are from there.
Sedona and I on the train from the Amsterdam airport to the city center:
Here I am in front of a "coffee shop":
Here's Sedona, getting in the Egyptian mood at a different coffee shop:
I found "Belindas" in Amsterdam and couldn't resist....
Here is the camel I rode to the Pyramids;
That's a Giza pyramid behind me:
Dr. Alfred and me at the Giza pyramids:
Here are some of Alfred's students at rehearsal:
Here is Basam playing the Qanuun, a lap harp-like instrument. The strings are triple and there are leavers to make the flats and quarter tones.
This is Somy, one of Alfred's students. He and another student took Sedona and me to the grand bazaar (Khan al Khalili). Somy plays piano and composes and he loves Beethoven.
Sedona and me at the step pyramid at Sakkara. Our friend Somy was with us too but they wouldn't let him in because he's Egyptian hanging out with tourists. They're trying to keep Egyptians from acting as tourguides, I suppose.
This is a date farm we passed on the way to Sakkara:
This is the view from Alfred's parents house:
Here is the view from the same place (Alfred's parents) looking in the other direction. This is the seat of the orthodox church in Egypt:
Here are Alfred's parents and the maid's little girl and Keith, an American pianist who was also staying and studying at Dr. Alfred's:
This is the view from out of my apartment window:
This is the apartment I stayed in with Sedona and later Keith. It's sparsely decorated but clean and comfy. I love the brass chandeliers:
Me smoking the hookah at a club where we were out hearing live music:
In May, Melissa, Sedona, Whitey and I went to the Women's Herbal Symposium in Northern California. There we took all sorts of classes, including "How to Communicate With Plants" and "Acorn Processing." It was so awesome to be camping and learning with 250 lovely ladies!! Here are some pics.....
I've also been gardening this Spring. Look at my lovely greens!!!
It might be kind of gross, but you should know that this chicken is a total survivor and she's almost all healed up by now. She got attacked by a Bobcat!!! I heard the noise outside and went running and shouting and spraying water at the hungry beast. He had dragged her all across the yard and almost had her in the woods by the time I scared him away!! She had 17 staples and I nursed her back to health with the help of antibiotics and tea tree ointment. We have cleared some land and are gearing up to build a chicken fortress so that the predators can't get in!!!!
How's that for catching up??? I think that covers most major events since last May!!!! Oh wait, I forgot to tell you that a plane crashed in my backyard and two of my neighbors' backyards. I don't have pictures, I was out of town and they cleaned most of it up before I returned. There is still a bit of airplane junk around the yard and we are picking it up as we find it....
I'm feeling a little better these days. The inspiration is flowing and the songs are forming, and I'm very excited to go to the recording studio next month with Benny Green and Phil Baker and Martin Zarzar and others. There are also lots of exciting shows coming up. Check my schedule and come say hello!!!
June 3rd, 2007
Beliss music video "Elvira"
This is way too cute!!! It's a music video I created using actual footage of my bunny, Elvira, set to the song I wrote for her and recorded with Melissa on our new Beliss album. Dan Gaynor plays the keyboard bells.
Did I mention that the Beliss album is finished and we have it in hand?! You can order it online at http://www.beliss.cosmikmuse.com/newpages/buycds.html
or come to one of our shows! Our "official" CD release party will most likely be in August.
July 2nd, 2006
Whirlwind May continued some more.....
I had to come back from LA right after the Steamers show because upon returning, I had to drive to Seattle for another show! This was for the Seattle Folklife Festival where my Middle Eastern band, Sarab, and Sedona's Troupe Leil Awalim were putting on the big finale on the International Dance Stage. Little did I know how much that drive to Seattle would alter my life......
Martin and I were driving along in the left lane of I-5 heading north. I was driving, Martin was eating tapioca pudding. We were in a 70 zone and were doing close to that when a pickup truck and trailer from the right lane spun out in front of us and was suddenly blocking all three lanes and the shoulder. I plowed into him going fast, with little time to brake. Airbags punched us, tapioca went flying, then we got hit from behind by the other cars too, in what ended up being a 4 or 5 car pile-up.
Here Lies Hondy, RIP....
I miss my rad bumper stickers!!!
Can you believe I survived???
Poor Hondy, she totally sacrificed her life for me and Martin!!!
My first thought after we didn't die was, "OK we gotta get picked up so we can make our show." I called Lara and asked her where she was. She answered, "I'm stuck in traffic, I think there's an accident ahead...." She was right behind us!!! So she and Lilah stopped and emptied my car into her car. By this time, the pain in my neck and upper back was just starting to show itself. Martin was complaining of a headache and wanted to get an X-ray, so we went to the hospital. Lara and Lilah came with us and waited while we got checked out. "No broken bones....here's some ibuprofin....how do we chase you down to bill you for this....blah blah get rest blah blah...."
We left and went to Seattle with Lara and played our show! And we did pretty well, all things considered.
It wasn't until the next day that I felt the true impact of my accident....nausea, back pain, neck pain, insomnia.....so I took more ibuprofin and got ready for my San Francisco show!
Jazz at Pearl's is a really neat venue in North Beach, San Fran. It's both famous and historic, located at the crossing of Broadway and Columbus, mixed in among the Italian restaurants and strip clubs. I had the immense fortune to be able to play with the Dave Mathews trio (the jazz Dave Mathews, not the pop star...) including Kent Bryson on drums and Michael Zisman on bass. What a night!! The audience was excited and so were we. Something amazing was happening. It's my deep regret that I didn't video the show, because I truly felt it was my best performance yet! That is due, in large part, to the musicians I worked with. There was also a lot of love and good energy from the audience, and that helped fuel us all, I know. No pics for this show! :(
I returned from SF and crashed hard! Into my bed! I had pushed my body and now it wasn't going to keep up with me. I went to the hospital again a few days later because my nausea hadn't gone away, and I was bleeding internally (don't ask me how I knew!) They said that all the ibuprofin burned out my stomach lining! I don't totally agree with this theory...I feel like something else was wrong...but the nausea went away in another week and the bleeding stopped, and I started getting treatment for my back and neck (which was sprained, by the way.) I was home for three weeks and it was great to not have to travel for a while. I still had to do a lot of work on the computer, but at least I was home and could lay down a few times a day.
So that was May......
don't worry 'bout me, I'll be OK
ps I'm getting a diesel Jetta so I can run BIODIESEL!!!! (There's a silver lining for you....)
June 29th, 2006
May can go down on record as being the month of the most tours for me. Universal Music Canada contacted me a few months before and said that they wanted to use two of my songs from Underwood Uncurling
on their new Monther's Day compilation. Then, the CEO of Indigo Music (the store handling the compilation) said she wanted them to carry my full CD as well. They ordered a bunch of CDs (my biggest single sale yet) and invited me to Toronto. So Chris (who does my booking now) planned some other shows there for me as well, and Lisa Reedy (who does my radio promo) got me an interview at the main jazz station, CJRT. And then Chris and Melissa and I went to Toronto and I played a bunch of shows. I had the pleasure of playing with Mark Eisenman
, David Braid
, and the Richard Whiteman Trio
(Brandi Disterheft rocks!!
Toronto is a lovely town, by the way, and the people there were soooooo friendly. There are tons of organic restaurants there, and Toronto has a zero tolerance to pesticide use in the city. We got around easily on the cheap public transportation, and even got away for a day to visit Niagara Falls.
Here is a pic of me playing with the Richard Whiteman trio at the Red Guitar (pic by Greg King
Here are some pics of Niagara Falls:
June 28th, 2006
Whoa, where did the time go???
So much has happened since last I wrote. Here's a start.....here are some pictures from my Egyptian adventure. In April, I spent two weeks in Cairo, studying Oriental dance and music. It was an amazing journey, and here are some highlights:
Jessaiah and me posing on the camel. We rode around the pyramids for a few hours, Jessaiah on the camel and Alfred and me on horses.
Alfred and me. Alfred is a doctor of music and head of the composition department at the Arab Music Institute. I'm going to go back to Cairo to study Arabic music with him....maybe in the Winter?
￼Jessaiah and me again. The sphinx head is between us under the pyramid. I don't know the camel driver's name...
Jessaiah is American but has lived in turkey for two years. I met her at the Mendocino camp (Middle Eastern music and dance), saw her in Turkey last June, and we were roommates in Giza at the dance workshop.
This was taken right before Jessaiah paid for the workshop (in cash!) One dollar is equivalent to about 6 Egyptian pounds, so the three hundred dollars for the workshop was about 1800 pounds!
￼The Egyptian metro, a palm tree, a mosque tower, and a cheesy hotel near the heart of downtown Cairo. Note the haze....Cairo is very polluted.
My friend Miles talking in Arabic to the faluca captain. A faluca is a Nile sail boat. The originals were made out of papyrus with linen sails?
Miles is an awesome bassist from California who is studying Arabic music in Cairo.
￼Me and Miles on the faluca. There were 7 of us just hanging out (and drinking the tequila I brought!)
With no wind, we just hovered off shore and dropped an anchor to keep from being swept downstream.
￼Me and my friend Mina at a bar for rich Egyptian yuppies. Mina is an American who was born Egyptian and whose family lives in Egypt.
He just moved back there, to develop a music/dance resort on the Red Sea.
This is one of the many shrines dedicated to Egypt's 30-
year dictator. This was along the side of the road to the Red Sea:
￼Here I am at the Red Sea, in a rich (Swiss) gated community with private beach. Crazy how no matter where I go, the white people seem to be the rich ones in gated communities and the brown people are usually the help....what's up with that?
￼I am always such a good influence on kids!! These are the children of Mina's girlfriend's sister. They were obsessed with my tongue piercing, but those are magnets!
￼This is at the Windsor hotel, where I stayed in downtown Cairo. They made the first Indiana Jones movie here. All the furniture is original antique, and the Shindler elevator is the oldest one in operation.
￼Here are some pics of typical Muslim fashions. The women cover their hair and wear long sleeves to show that they are modest and prudent (and then they wear tight jeans and high heels and lots of makeup!)
The following pics were taken at the Ramses Art Institute, a family commune (Mina's cousins) where anyone can come to learn weaving or pottery. The man who founded the institute in the 20s (the grandfather of the family) did it as an experiment, to show that all humans are creative, even farmers and peasants. He invited nearby farmers to come and learn artistic skills and allowed them to sell their works at his shops. He let them do what they wanted creatively and he paid them fairly. A whole new style of tapestry weaving has evolved here through the creativity of those farmers and peasants, and the tapestries are in high demand for the walls of embassies, mansions and castles around the world. The grandfather was also an architect and was responsible for a revival of old architectural styles that incorporate domes and arches. The descendants who live at the commune (also architects) are now the only ones preserving this style in Egypt.
You can see the brick shanties of Cairo beyond the far wall of the complex. Cairo's sprawl has enveloped the Art Institute commune. Those are wheat fields and cattle food fields beyond the trees. To the left is a huge organic garden to feed the people who live there, and to the right (off the edge of the pic) is where the water buffaloes are kept. I ate raw fresh buffalo cream and honey on pastry for the Easter party at the commune.
Here is an example of the highly intricate woven work that the institute turns out. This picture is of a 2 feet wide portion of a tapestry that was over 10 feet wide. The weaving isn't done just straight across, the rows meander. Looks like a painting, yeah?
April 7th, 2006
May is going to be an exciting month. I have shows in Toronto May 12, 13, 14. I'll be at Steamer's again on May 24th, doing a jazz show with the Brazilians. Then I'll be playing at the Seattle Folklife Festival with the band Sarab and the dance Troupe Leil Awalim on May 27. THEN I have a jazz show in San Francisco at Pearl's on May 30.
Mexico trip picture scans!
Here are the pictures from our Yoga retreat in Mexico.
This first one was taken at a cenote, but you can't see the cenote in the picture, only the jungle.
Minutes after the picture below was taken, at a different cenote, the sky darkened and we were struck by a "torment" (big storm with lots of rain.) Luckily we were close to a beach restaurant that served lobster pasta....
Here we are in the town with our "Matiz" rental car.
Below is our favorite breakfast joint, Mezzanine. They have the best huevos rancheros that we know of...
Stay tuned for our CD release announcement. The record still isn't finished, but closer to it. We just added some more drum tracks and some violin too....
March 25th, 2006
Relaxing Travels, Good Health, New Recording
At the end of February, Melissa and I rewarded our bodies and minds with a Yoga intensive in Tulum, Mexico. We stretched and practiced our poses for four hours a day! In between yoga classes we swam in the ocean, laid around in the shade, read books, detoxed, watched iguanas, and ate guacamole everyday. We swam in a cenote before being overcome and drenched by a storm, and then retreated to a beach restaurant that served us fresh lobster pasta.
My digital camera is dead but we did catch some highlights on disposable cameras, which we have not yet developed. I'll post pics when I get them!!
Our new Beliss album has survived it's first round of mixing. There are still a few changes to make, but we hope to be finished soon. We have been working very hard laying our plans and laying down tracks. We know you are going to love it!!
I just got back last night from four days in Sedona, Arizona, where a friend took me for my birthday. We hiked a lot and got spa treatments. My batteries are now charged and I'm ready for the busy months ahead.
I needed the break from too much work, even though the work is paying off....The recording is almost finished AND I have four tours coming up in May: LA, San Francisco, Seattle, and Toronto!! They are all jazz tours except for the Seattle show. I'll be playing Seattle Folk Life with my Middle Eastern band, Sarab.
February 8th, 2006
Steamers show a wild success
I wasn't prepared for the amount of joy I experience playing a Steamers Jazz Cafe
in LA last week. The Brazilians were HOTTER than ever, the music was so spontaneous and present, the audience was captivated, and the club owner was awesome (piano tuner, videographer, photographer, web designer, multi-tasker extraordinaire)!! I'm planning on playing at Steamers again in May.
Thanks all of you who came out to hear us play, including Miles, Whitey, David, Stan, Leo, Glenn Mitchell, Julio, the MYSPACErs, the jazz-lovin' rodeo clowns from Chicago, and everyone else too!! And thanks to the Brazilians, Sandro Rebel on piano, Paulo Gustavo on bass, Sandro Feliciano on drums. You guys made the show so exciting for me!
Check out these photos that the owner of Steamers, Terence Love, took of the show:
January 22nd, 2006
My favorite quote today
My favorite quote today is
"people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both"
Thanks so much, Oregon Art Beat
and to all the people who have come to hear Melissa and I play this weekend after watching us on OPB!!
If you missed it, there is still another showing today at 6:00 pm.
Elvira has been getting more fan mail than me......
Here are some pictures of Elvira and her friend, Humphry:
January 10th, 2006
2005 was great...
...largely because of the wonderful support of YOU! Thanks for coming to my shows! My tours were fun but the Portland community has been the best and most supportive of all. Thanks KMHD for having me on the air so often and for promoting my music. Thanks Marty Hughely, Lisa Lepine, Kyle O'Brien, Rita Rega, Paula Walker, the Thomsons next door, "Groovology Pete", Calvin Walker, Burnside Records, Tom D'Antoni and Oregon ArtBeat, everyone at the Bite of Oregon, all the Portland venues, Ezra, Gus, Darrell, Miz Kitty, Red and Black Cafe, People's Co-op, and everyone I forgot to mention. I love you all.
SPEAKING of Oregon Art Beat, stay tuned, Melissa and I and a special guest will be featured on the OPB TV show Jan 19. That's next week!
You may want to put the VCR on memory record so you can catch the first monthly "Arabian Nights" at Imbibe restaurant. I'll be playing bass with the Middle Eastern band while nubile and enchanting vixens dance you into a hypnotic state.....
Here's a picture of Melissa and me and Chris and the puppy Yoko at the Oregon coast on Christmas morning:
Seattle next weekend at Grazie restaurant, Los Angeles the first of February at Steamers Jazz Cafe!!
I also plan on going to Cairo, Egypt, for my birthday. There's a dance workshop there too, and I'll probably even get some bass lessons....
Melissa and I are still recording our new Beliss CD! http://www.belissmusic.com
We are almost done....
Peace and love,
November 2nd, 2005
Hello beloved friends!!
Melissa and I have been working on our new album!!!
We have about 15 newly composed songs that we are dying to get recorded so that we may share them with you.
Also of interest is that Oregon Art Beat is featuring the Underwood Sisters on a fortunate Thursday in January. Stay tuned because there will be a special guest featured along with us that you won't want to miss. As soon as the date is confirmed, we will let you know.
September 20th, 2005
Update....where have I been??!!
Gee, where shall I start??
I went to Port Townsend in late July to attend the Centrum Jazz Workshop for a few days. I mostly wanted to meet and hang out with other jazz musicians. I made some new friends and heard some fabulous jazz. Here's a picture of Benny Green with Nancy King:
The next few weeks I played gigs in Seattle and Portland, did a radio interview at KMHD, and prepared for my show at the Oregon Bite (which was really fun, by the way.)
My grandma died and so I went to Tennessee for the funeral. Ever had fried okra?
Immediately after the Bite, I drove to Mendocino to attend Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp. On the drive I became obsessed with taking pictures of the gas stations. I couldn't believe that I was seeing this in northern California. Here are a few pics....
WOW!! Camp was awesome. Imagine seven hours of classes followed by eight hours of concerts a day!! The camp is in the middle of the redwoods, far from any town. There are three delicious and healthy meals a day and the music is never-ending. I stayed in a tent this time, which I think is more fun than the cabins, and I went on a hike to a magical swimming hole deep in the oldgrowth forest. Here's a pic of me in that magical place:
I played bass in the Turkish and Moroccan ensembles and took a class on rhythm and movement. I also sat in on a Persian singing class and an Arabic Maqam class (which is like studying music theory.)
After the camp I drove to San Diego to start my Southern California tour. I played with four different bands (one in each city) and they were all wonderful musicians. San Diego was OK. LA made me tired (so hot and so busy) but I enjoyed the shows there because I played with three incredible Brazilian jazz guys. I filmed the shows and will post some video clips soon. In San Luis Obispo I played with Melissa in our band, Beliss. Our shows were packed and I had a surpise visit from a dear old friend. I also had a jazz show at a church in Monterey with hot locals there. I grew so much on this tour, I hardly feel like the same person after only three weeks.
I was welcomed home by an explosion of lemon-cucumbers which I picked and pickled with Melissa. We canned 33 jars!!! Anybody want pickles?? Email me!!
I just returned to Portland from Monterey where I went (again) to see and hear some of my friends playing at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
I should be in Portland and Seattle for a few months before traveling again in Jan and Feb.
July 10th, 2005
More Turkey Pictures
This camel tried to bite me in Cappadocia! He didn't succeed but he did slobber on my shoulder. This photo was taken from a safe distance. Scroll down to see him trying to bite Sedona too!!!
Notice the Smurf-house in the background. It's a house carved out of a stone formation!
We stopped at this little museum on the drive to Konya. It's called the Sultanhani Kervasansarayi and was some kind of fortified palace. Here we are sitting on the grindstone:
Heirapolis (Ancient Roman resort with hot baths):
Bodrum Castle on the Aegean Sea:
From the balcony of the Topkapi Palace (where the sultans lived in Istanbul):
UPDATE on my career
The first half of 2005 was eventful for me and my jazz album, Underwood Uncurling.
Did you know that Underwood Uncurling is now being played on over 120 radio stations across the United States? You can call your local station and request it!
Here are some other highlights:
- I opened for Peter Cincotti at the Aladdin Theater (Portland) in January.
- My February record release in Portland was so overcrowded, Sedona (that beautiful belly dancer) barely had any room to dance during our breaks!! I felt so loved, thanks everyone!!
- I was given flattering reviews in Jazz Improv Magazine, the LA Times, and about 18 other newspapers, magazines and webzines.
To check out these reviews: http://www.belindaunderwood.com/Pages/reviews.html
- I had successful tours to Minneapolis (where I played to full houses at the Dakota, Loring's Pasta Bar, and some underground bar in Dinkytown where I sat in with a blues band), Eugene (thanks LUNA and the Cigar Bar!) and the Bay Area (packed audiences at the Jazzschool, Cafe Claude, Cafe Van Kleef, and Gary's "Last Atherton Party".)
- I was interviewed live on KBOO (Portand), KPFA (Berkeley), KCSM (San Mateo), KBEM (Minneapolis), and KLCC (Eugene) and have more interviews lined up in San Diego, LA, and San Luis Obispo for my Southern California tour in August!! Thanks radio people, I love chattin'.
- I was featured on OPB's Oregon Art Beat with Melissa (watch out for those Underwood Sisters! And stay tuned, it should air soon...)
- I landed a spot on the Mt. Hood jazz stage at the Oregon Bite (festival) in August, in the same line-up as Bobby Hutcherson! They are calling it "Belinda Underwood and Portland All-Stars". I will be playing with Randy Porter, Phil Baker, and Martin Zarzar (same musicians that played for my record release.) See you there on August 14th at noon!
- I went to Turkey (not directly related to Underwood Uncurling but it was very exciting for me.)
In case you haven't seen my hot new press shot, here it is:
Aziza tour in late July (with the band Wazn - I'll be playing bass)
Seattle in early August
Southern California late August (San Diego, LA, San Luis Obispo, Monterey)
And of course, numerous local gigs with Underwood & Friends (jazz), Beliss (sister duo), and WAZN (Middle Eastern music)
New info every week (including tour schedule and reviews) at www.belindaunderwood.com
Thanks everyone for supporting me and my musical projects.
Love and Peace,
July 8th, 2005
...and then we went to...
Sorry this is so fragmented, I'm still processing the whole trip and all the lovely details. I wish I could magically or telepathically transfer my memories (not as I remember them now, but as they were recorded; complete with emotions and mental commentary) to others so I could REALLY share the experiences. I have often thought that if humans were all telepathic there would be an enduring peace because we would all have limitless understanding of each other....
Bodrum was an oasis after Konya, not that I didn't enjoy the latter...it's just that I didn't enjoy the repression. I was a hunk of meat surrounded by "sworn vegetarian" sharks. I'm sure you can imagine what I had to put up with. Bodrum offered the contrast I needed (I even saw topless female sunbathers!) and gave me a chance to rest and recharge before Istanbul. I recommend having a Turkish bath at least once in your lifetime. Imagine sitting in a heated-marble room with a vaulted ceiling, and next to you is a marble basin with a copper bowl. You dip the bowl into the basin's cool water and pour the water over you to wash away the sweat and to lower your rising body temperature. Then a gorgeous Turk scrubbs you with abrasive gloves that remove the top ten layers of dirty skin, right before another gorgeous Turk throws you on the huge marble slab in the middle of the room and gives you a soapy massage, shampoos your hair, pours bowls full of water over you, and leads you outside to be toweled dry by yet another gorgeous Turk. Sedona and I got pedicures too, although we had a little freak-out when the girls started to use dirty tools on our toes, right after I saw one of them shaving warts off a guys feet!! The skin was all over the floor and all over the tools, which we made the girls disinfect....eeewwww gross! It was a classy place too, and when we complained to the manager, she assured us that "all tools are disinfected between each client"...LIAR!)
I went parasailing!! Sedona has the aerial photos and I will post them when I can scan them in. It was my first time and I was surprised by the softness of the sound of the wind up there. I shouldn't have been surprised, I have flown a glider before, but maybe I was shaken by the silence because I had grown accustomed to the unbearable Uum tss Uum tss Uum tss Uum Uum Uum tss (...) of the pool-side bar. (Why do so many hotels and clubs seem to think that tourists want to hear "party" music at all times??) Ahhh...to fly. I really miss flying. I'm going to pick up the hobby again in a few years (right after they invent bio-jetfuel!!)
Another opportunity for peace (from the party music) arose when we went to a rustic Turkish village in the hills outside of Bodrum. This particular village's specialty is hand-knotted Turkish carpets. We spend all day there, talking to villagers, giggling with curious children, eating (we layed around on carpets and pillows in the shade of olive branches while they served us the most savory lunch and entertained us on handmade instruments). l learned to drop-spin wool, tie the double carpet knots, and to NEGOTIATE (in the art of haggling, success comes when both the seller and the buyer feel like they got the better end of the deal)...oh, and a five-year-old girl showed me some belly dance moves. I bought three carpets (two silk and one wool.)
Uh oh, exhausted again...
June 30th, 2005
Heirapolis was an ancient Roman resort built on the side of a mountain overlooking a fertile valley. The mountain has calcium-oxide-rich hot springs flowing down the side which have created white mineral falls and unusual formations. The pools you see in the picture formed naturally from years of deposited minerals. People can walk alongside the natural pools but cannot go in because tourist frolicking is damaging them.
There were chunks of marble and broken pottery all over the ruined city. Apparently earthquakes destroyed the city more than once. The Turkish government wants to rebuild the city as closely as possible to how it was 2000 years ago, and they hope to do so in the next ten years. The greek theater is intact already, and some of the gates and Roman baths are partly erected. The main street of the city has been unearthed along with a network of ancient aquaducts, water lines and sewer lines.
At the source of the hot water, we swam in a large pool that had broken marble pillars strewn about under the water. The deep blue and turquoise water sparkled as if carbonated, and it felt wonderfully healing. I believe the flowers are Oleander.....
June 27th, 2005
I had the best time in Turkey. I feel like my feet extend into the earth more deeply since I have visited the roots of our civilization and society. The Greek and Roman ruins were awe-inspiring, the music was fantastic (except for the Turkish Techno in Bodrum), the food was fresh, and the men were persistent. It was incredible to see HUGE churches built from recycled Greek temples. So much solid marble in so many colors!! I hate to think of all the bloody battles and wars that raged in Turkey (everybody wanted Turkey!) I suppose that the cost of monumental beauty is a tragic history and slave labor.
First we visited Ankara, the gem of which (in my opinion) is the Museum of Ancient Civilizations. My favorite artifacts were the Neolithic mama goddess statues, the nearly 4000 year-old clay tablets with cuneiform, and the Early Bronze Age solid-gold penis covers (worn by king mummies to prevent penis-eating by snakes.) I don't have pictures of Ankara because my baggage was lost for three days so I didn't have my camera yet...
In Cappadocia we saw entire cave-cities that were created by the early Christians who were trying to escape persecution. Some of the caves were churches and had lovely frescoes on the walls and ceilings. Here's a picture of one of the towns in Cappadocia:
Next we went to Konya and visited the Mausoleum of Rumi, who is known there as Mevlana. There was a peaceful holiness inside his mausoleum, and people prayed and cried before his sarcophagus. The walls were highly decorated with gold calligraphy of his poems. Near the door is a plaque that welcomes all in Rumi's own words. He also said, "When love arrives all kinds of religious disputes come to an end" and, "Look for God within yourself." It seems a sad contradiction that the town containing Rumi's remains is the most intolerant (in Turkey) of women and religions other than Islam.
May 31st, 2005
Going to Turkey!!
I'm leaving for Turkey tonight. I'll be there for two weeks, taking in the sights and SOUNDS!! The group I am travelling with is comprised of Middle Eastern music teachers & students. You can see our itinerary athttp://www.middleeastcamp.com/tour/tour.htm
I'll tell you all about it!!
May 1st, 2005
Bay Area tour was successful and fun.
Melissa and I got back from the Bay Area on Wednesday. Our tour was worth the 10-hour drive (and the speeding ticket!). It was wonderful to see so many friends and to be able to play with such great musicians. I have some thank yous....
Leonard Thompson - Piano
John Wiitala - Bass
Jason Levis - Drums
Josh Thurston-Milgrom - Bass
Steve Whyte - Drums
Melissa Underwood - Guitar & Voice see Beliss http://www.beliss.cosmikmuse.com
Serena Underwood - Piano (Thanks MOM! Everyone loved the part where we played together the best.)
KCSM (thanks Alisa!)
KPFA (thanks Jim Bennet and Derk Richardson, people came all the way from Stockton to hear me play because they heard me on the radio. Beliss now has a new demo too! Jim did tons of work for us out of pure love!!)
The Jazzschool (especially Lisa and Susan and Rob Ewing)
Cafe Claude (the delicious smells almost made it hard for me to concentrate on the music!)
Gary's (LAST) Pool Party in Atherton - thanks everyone for listening! Thanks Gary for having us!!
Cafe Van Kleef (thanks Justin for takin' a chance with Beliss. I told you you would like us!! We'll be back for sure. Thanks Uncle Kev for comin' in to hear us too!)
I love you all!!
Including but not limited to the yoga retreaters (Veronica, Renee, Christine, Gina), Gary, Candace, Tony, Axle, Nick, Norbert, Greg, Craig, Josh, Matt W., Matt T., Jeff, Betty, Dave, Jason S., Sorinne & Al, Merrin, Stacey, Nicole, all the other Mitchell Sisters, Michael, Linda, Colette, Jason, Uncle Kev, Sami, James, Glenda, Mom, Dad, Mwissa
We will be back in the Bay Area soon so keep an eye on the live show schedule http://www.belindaunderwood.com/Pages/gigs.html
Welcome to Belinda's Blog
I'll be posting news here. Please feel free to add comments and questions and love to this blog. For more about my projects, visit http://www.belindaunderwood.com