Sunday, August 11, 2013

Singer's Salon August 11!!!

The Singer's Salon continues to be an awesome, joyful and rewarding experience in every way! I plan to resume blogging more about it this week! In the meantime, come out and sing!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Singer's Salon June 2013!!!

My behindedness (word?) seems to be epic! Well, let it not be said that the Singer's Salon isn't continuing to be awesome as well as meeting regularly! Come on out and see what the fuss is about. Sunday, June 9, 2013, 7:00 p.m. Come to sing, to watch, to encourage, to marvel, and to enjoy. Bring yourself and your singing self.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Life’s changes create

Strange bendings

In the road

Willingness to unfold

Unwending of woes

Unbinding of blows

Sister to sister

I stare at my old face

I see what she was

Her sorrow and passion

I know what she does

and doesn’t -what fashion

Her delights take

What seasons her nights

I creep past her quiet

And into her busy

Her mind all buzzy

And see out her eye holes

That mask of fool’s gold

Now I slip in and out

Like a ghost or a cipher

Giggles I stifle   

But secretly boast

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Singer's Salon February!

Please come out February 10 at 7:00 p.m. (as always on the Second Sunday of the month) at 3160-Chicago Piano & Cabaret! Bring your LOVE songs (or any ol' songs for that matter) and make it happen!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Singer's Salon, A Relevation: Part 2

So now that we've establish the basic philosophy behind the Singer's Salon, let's get to the really good part. The Singer's Salon is turning out to be a very gratifying experience, and not exactly the way I thought it would. I am getting so much more out of it then expected, and I hope (I'm pretty sure...) I'm not the only one. True, I get to host the Salon and make silly jokes and try to be a positive influence on the proceedings. But I also get to see the hearts and minds of the lovely people who come to the Salon as they open to the experience, and share of themselves. I get to participate in the growth of people who come regularly, to see first hand the way they are transforming themselves from nervous or timid or awkward performers, to confident, charismatic and polished ones. I am witnessing beauty in the ranks from all sides, as people encourage each other with real sincerity and heart, afterward comparing notes, singing praises and offering sympathy. Wow! What a thing!(As stated in Part 1,  this doesn't happen at other open mics that I have been too, not so much. I'm not saying NEVER, but it's a different vibe.)
Here are some examples from the recent January Salon: a young lady, whom I won't name so as not to embarrass her, began to sing a song from a popular singing icon of the day. She broke down almost immediately in tears, suffering from extreme nerves, and having forgotten the words. Now apparently earlier that day she had gone to an audition and had a similar experience. But lo and behold, the group all encouraged her to keep going, try again, don't give up and tough it out. It was great! The young lady got through parts of the song, broke down again, gave up, then reneged on giving up, and then kept going AGAIN. She was cheered and came off stage to hugs and support all around. So what about that? Do you think she will ever forget that experience, or will the audience for that matter? Did she learn what it was like to go through the fires of your fears, keep going, survive, and still feel the love? I think so. She did not defeat the problem in that one moment, Hollywood movie-style. No. But she had an important experience.
Erick Deshaun Dorris sharing his talents at the Singer's Salon

Others get on stage and sing with less drama, although they may have issues such as singing in tune, or with very little feeling, or inability to sustain enough breath to make much sound come through consistently. And almost everyone is struggling at some point or another with nerves. Instruction is available to those who seek it (please call yours truly first!) classes and workshops can and will be utilized, (and, in fact, I am beginning to offer a unique workshop series designed especially for Salon goers). But the Salon itself offers its' own rewards, to each and every one of us.
Not every person who comes to the Singer's Salon will become a professional singer, nor do they all even want to I'm sure. But they are surely all becoming better singers and much more importantly, better people.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Singer's Salon: A Revelation. (Part 1)

When I first started the Singer's Salon here in Chicago, I had a couple of things in mind, but the main one was to have an opportunity for my students to perform on a regular basis. The time honored recital, while useful in many ways, has certain limitations. Recitals seem better for kids somehow, or perhaps for the classical singers among us, but not so great for adult jazz people, music theater singers, and just plain wrong for pop singers, R&B folks and rock and rollers in general. I wanted something of the real performance about it, something with a little cachet, and maybe, possibly a way to share commraderie, information and skills with each other. There are plenty of open mics about, (You can say that again!) and even some geared toward singers in particular. Most however, are geared toward the singer/songwriter who often plays guitar or keys to accompany themselves, or bands, duos, etc who play instruments.  There are a very few that have an accompanist on hand to lend a hand (or two!) and those are most often attended by the aspiring cabaret artist or musical theater actor/singer. Naturally we love all of those types of singers and can in fact, be counted among them.
Still, I wanted my Salon to be a place where folks were welcome to do ALL possible kinds of music-no exceptions. So not only do we have an accompanist on keys (Rock on Maggie Dahlberg!) But we try to facilitate, when possible, the meeting up of singers with musicians if possible for a little help on songs that ain't really designed for piano accompaniment. Thus my esteemed colleagues, members of my band, The Red Apples (Props to Ron Lowy, and Dave Lenef, in particular) have been really awesome about lending their talents to the singers and sometimes even going so far as to rehearse ahead of time with people who are so motivated. And we welcome other instrumentalists to help out any time naturally!
Jeanne Williams singing at a Salon at Deagan Music

There is one other thing I very much wanted for the Salon, and which I have tried hard to create: a place where people can come and sing and work through their fears of performance by having a non-judgmental audience that understands this: fear can make you perform REALLY BADLY. I speak of this from years of experience. As someone you used to be crippled by paralyzing fear when performing, (singing in particular) I remembered all too well, the times I had been to open mics, or other singing opportunities, only to be surrounded with people who gave me the "psych out" once over and clearly hoped that I would fall flat on my face with a loud thud. This does not help.

I have come to realize from my years of teaching that encouragement is a powerful tool, and one that brings out the best in people. Non-constructive criticism and negativity serves only to pull people down further into the abyss in which they are so often, already drowning. So the folks who attend the Singer's Salon are aware of the basic philosophy behind it, and are wonderful adherents to the idea. And this brings me to the main purpose of my post.
Stay tuned for the second installment!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Singer's Salon January 2013!!!

Thanks to everyone who has been coming out to the Singer's Salon at the new location and special thanks to Dan Neniskis and the staff at 3160-Chicago's Piano & Cabaret. So far the feedback has been good. Everyone seems to be enjoying the ambiance of the space, and of course, the general vibe of the Salon is never anything but POSITIVE! I have been so gratified to see students, friends, and colleagues, as well as complete and total strangers, come forth and share their talents with their peers. Not only are we hearing some great singing, we are hearing lots of interesting songs, some old favorites, some totally new and original tunes, and sometimes a twist on the old and new combined. As we start off the new year I just want to stay a giant thank you to everyone who is participating in the Salon. YOU ROCK.