Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Happy Days" Looking For New Venues

                                                         Litchfield Opera House      photo: Jana Frieband

It has been an amazing year and a half working with Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) creating this show.  From choosing all the material-to sitting down with a talented scriptwriter Beth Gilleland-to seeing it come alive with all of the kind and generous folks at various Minnesota libraries and venues. I thank everyone at MHS, especially Maren!, Beth, all the musicians, coordinators, librarians, volunteers and guests.  

I want you to know that  although MHS will not be offering this show as part of their programing, I am still interested in making "Happy Days" available, and traveling to more libraries and concert venues that are interested in a historical musical program about the 1930's, 40's and 50's with lots of national and local historical tidbits about the songs, the songwriters, the performers and the momentous time period.  

Uplifting songs were needed then and they are needed now! And, as always, I would love to hear from you about your experience with the show and with questions you may have.

I will be performing the show in April 2013 at the Bloomington Center For the Arts as part of the Annual Performance Series.  What a great place to do this show!!

So spread the word, and hopefully I can bring this to your town and meet all the wonderful folks where you live.  TTFN!! xoxo

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Arrowhead Tour

If you haven't guessed by now, I am a Duluth devotee.  Actally, I am drawn  to the North Shore, in general.  But after performing in Hibbing, Grand Rapids, Virginia and Cloquet, I realize I feel very tied to an even greater geographical region. Maybe it's the iron ore.  Maybe it's the bedrock.  Perhaps it's the  people who survived fires and rebuilt their towns from scratch.  I just know that I want to return and explore even more of the region.

Since I already devoted separate blog entries for Duluth and Grand Rapids, I will leave you with a few photos from Virginia, Hibbing and Cloquet.

This photo was from our performance of "Happy Days" at the Virginia Regional Medical Center.  What a fantastic audience!!!  Imagine my utter delight to roll into the town of Hibbing and see this!!!

Cloquet's performance was at the fairly new Encore Performing Arts Center!
The next and last stop of this leg of the tour  will be Upsala, MN on August 10th 2012.  Hope we can come to a town near you!!!  Until then....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Grand Rapids, birthplace of Judy Garland and soooo much more!!!

This was the performance that I have had to recover from.  It was also the one that in the back of my mind, became the standard for what a great show can be.  As wonderful as every audience is in their own unique way,  the audience at the GR Library was especially attentive and with over 120 people, the energy was palpable.  As you can see, all ages attended!

The standing ovation by all hit me like a ton of bricks.

If you have never seen the GR library, it is the "mother" of all libraries with one full side of windows overlooking the Mississippi River.  This fairly large modern structure has an enormous wood cathedral ceiling that is pretty spectacular.  I had a tour of the place by Bonnie Henriksen, library volunteer extraordinaire.

As you can see in the above photos, we (i.e. Rick Carlson-keys, Josh Granowski-bass, Gary Schulte-violin and myself), were strategically place in from of the picture window nook overlooking the river.  Perhaps we were all inspired by the grandeur of the interior and exterior setting, or the perfect day, or the spirit of Judy Garland, but I think it was all due to the wonderful generous folks of GR that made it all possible!!!

I visited the Judy Garland Museum which includes her actual childhood home.  I pictured her and her family sitting in the parlor around the piano!
"Over The Rainbow" from the Wizard Of Oz, is one of the songs featured in my show so I thought I would leave you with Judy Garland in a filmed radio show for our troops during World War 2. Rarely seen footage of Garland...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Makin' Whoopee Union Parody

An audience member in Grand Rapids, MN inquired whether I made a recording of the union parody I did in the show (to the tune of Makin' Whoopee).  I did not record this and was unable to track down another recording, so I am including the words to the union parody as a well as a video of Dinah Washington singing the original song.

Makin' Whoopee

Here are the parody lyrics:

Into a Union
Tune: Making Whoopee
Lyrics: Glenn Plummer

Another night, another day
Of living tight from pay to pay
But here’s the reason my life ain’t easin’
Ain’t got a Union

I go to work when work is there
I never shirk, I do my share
It doesn’t matter, my wallet’s flatter
Without a Union.

Sometimes I sit and daydream
Wondering how things could be
Silly to some it may seem
But I’d like seniority

Grievance procedure when things ain’t fair
Vacation leisure, without a care.
Benefit fringes, I know it hinges
On being Union.

We need each other, hear what I say
Sisters and brothers, there’s just one way
We’ve got to realize, we’ve got to organize
Into a Union.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Duluth is a treasure.  Much of it is a bit off the beaten path, but there for the adventuresome...I guess this blog installment is not so much about music but about the overall experience of Duluth.  Thus, the pictures that follow.

That is not to say that our concert venue, sound, turnout, experience was not awesome and we have many to thank for that!!! But my output tonight is going to be a photo journey of the wonderful city of Duluth.

Who knew but before MTV cribs, there was a real original crib sitting right out in Lake Superior!

Until next time Duluth!  It will probably be very soon and very often!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Arrowhead Tour

"Happy Days" Arrowhead Tour         5/1/12  to  5/5/12

I am  getting ready for going up north on Tuesday and performing  one of my favorite regions on earth: the Arrowhead Region of Northern Minnesota!! Here is my performance itinerary:

Tuesday May 1st         Duluth, MN
Wednesday May 2nd   Virginia, MN
Thursday May 3rd      Grand Rapids, MN
Friday May 4th           Hibbing, MN
Saturday May 5th      Clocquet, MN

more details at my website

I am extremely excited to meet alot of new folks, see alot of new places, perform with amazingly great musicians, visit Judy Garland's and Bob Dylan's birthplaces, maybe squeeze in a mine tour and who knows what else.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions. You can email me!

Here's an ad from the Duluth Tribune newspaper!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Next Stop...Lake City MN

Below is from the Lake City Community website 

March 31 - Saturday (says Thursday)
  • “Happy Days are Here Again.” City Hall Ballroom. 2:00P. Enjoy the spirited songs of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s with acclaimed jazz vocalist Rhonda Laurie and her band. Join Laurie on a journey through the music of the Greatest Generation.
  • Come dressed in your favorite attire from this generation. Prizes will be awarded to the most authentic/best dressed.
This is from the Lake City Community website 

Why, this adds a whole new dimension to this event!!  I am so excited that someone had the creative inspiration to invite people to dress for this!  How wonderfully nostalgic and retro-respective of America's Greatest Generation!!!

Need some tips on where to get some retro inspired clothing?  I personally love collecting vintage clothes, but the gals in those days had much smaller waist sizes, as Via's Vintage Wear expert Kelly explained to me.  On the other hand, if you want brand new clothes in sizes tiny to voluptuous try Bettie Pages's at MOA.  You might even find one of the Twin Cities' favorite dance instructors and super chic retro darling  at the ready to outfit you in a wonderful dress!!!

Now, what will I wear?!?!?!  xoxo

Monday, March 12, 2012

Belgrade Was Amazing

Unforgettable Belgrade!

There I was faced with the dilemma of half a voice due to illness and being face to face with an intimate, captive audience.  What's a singer to do?  At first I was not sure that I could accomplish the task.

Actually, it was a great challenge. Great, in that it forced me to use other communication skills to get across my message. I could not rely on my sound/tone/pitch to fully communicate the song.  It was as if the lyrics took the front seat, and I had to use my face and gestures more.... and I had to make sure, even though I could not always get the notes (Rick said I was limited to an Eb above middle C), I communicated with this audience.  I kept thinking about all the aging singers who may not still possess their vocal prowess yet put across their songs in a completely meaningful way.  And there I was, really communicating with this audience, in a completely vulnerable, authentic way.  And through it all, I feel I made a very strong connection with the fine folks of Belgrade who came out for the music and stories and got them with my small croaky voice.

Thank you Kathie Harris for doing such a great job at your library and in welcoming us,

and thanks to the fine folks of Belgrade who came out and graciously listened and gave me what I needed to get through the show! xoxo

Pierz, Cokato, Kimball, Sauk Centre, Belgrade, and Upsala!

WOW!  That was a whirlwind of shows with lots of great people and musicians and fun!!!

Musicians included:
Robert Bell on guitar or Rick Carlson on keys, Josh Granowski on bass or Jeff Brueske on bass, Gary Schulte on violin or Tony Baluff on clarinet.

St. Cloud became sort of the hub for the first three shows in Pierz, Kimball and Cokato-Mary took a nice shot of gary Schulte and I at the Cokato Library

I love the sign in the Cokato library entry way which reads:..."built through the efforts of the people of the community - to preserve the past, enrich the present, and enhance the future..."


Here we are at Kimball      
High.  The boys had their own dressing room!!!

After Kimball, The new hub became Salk Centre.  Sauk Centre is where Sinclair Lewis had his boyhood home.  I thought I was taking a photo but I guess it was a video...oops!

As always, was fun to explore new places and meet new folks.  Belgrade is my next blog, so please stay tuned.  In the meantime,
 I wanted to share an interesting (though blurry) version of one of my favorite songs in my show:

Glory Of Love-Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Graceville Was Greatville!


Thanks to their amazing librarian Vicky Grimli, and the help of Julie (and son DeAndre) from KDIO Radio, there was an amazing turnout of approximately 100 people.  Folks showed up from alot of the neighboring towns including the Dakotas!

The show went really well, and afterwards, I had an elderly gentleman come up to me and sing Among My Souvenirs to me, and suggest that I add it to the show.  What a beautiful suprise to be serenaded like that!

After the show, and after we were offered wonderful baked goods
which they had to twist our arms to take, (wink wink) we set out to have a late dinner.  Not expecting much to be opened at 9:30 at night in rural MN, you can imagine how delighted we were to stumble upon this amazing Italian Bistro, Bella Cuccina, in Morris MN.
Boy did we ever have a fabulous meal.  Rick said it put him in a meat coma and ended up falling asleep as soon as we got back to the hotel.  I, on the other hand digested my food for a little while, catching up on some late night infomericials!

The next day, we breakfasted in Starbuck MN, home of the world's largest Lefse!!   Not to mention a great breakfast spot:  The Nutcracker Cafe!

All in all it was a great trip.  We felt very grateful that we were able to make an impact on so many people.  Vicky, the librarian said that before the recent funding, this town never would have access to quality jazz concerts.  That is what I call the beauty of  Legacy Funding. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Next Stop Graceville MN

Well Cottage Grove was a wonderful welcoming first stop on the new season of Happy Days!  Rick Carlson, Gary Schulte and Jeff Breuske and I played to a wide span age group which was quite refreshing!!! I really love seeing young boys and girls in the audience enjoying the music.

Also, I had a great chat with Jeanne the librarian about how similar  things are to the Great Depression and how relevant this show is to the current times even though the theme of the show is centered mostly on the 30's & 40's...

Our next stop will be Graceville MN and I am already checking out the history and particulars of the town.  This is really fun for me having not grown up here in MN.  It is all new to me.  I found a great website with some old photos of Graceville:  Vintage Graceville

This Wednesday I will be interviewed by the nearby local radio station out of nearby Ortonville.  I might have to visit the Big Stone County Museum while I am there and check out the Charles Hanson North American Wildlife Collection.  More to come...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bing Crosby sings "Love Is Just Around The Corner"-

Bing sang many Depression era songs alluding to the American Dream.  Thsi song is from the motion picture "Here Is My Heart"and is one of Bing Crosby's many recorded songs of reassurance...


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Getting Ready!

As I near some dates for my return to Happy Days, I am getting very excited just thinking about traveling around Minnesota and meeting all kinds of new folks and seeing new sights. I anticipate the joy of sharing my love of the Great American Songbook and the reward that I get in doing so. I will be posting my schedule for the next few months as soon as I firm up a few dates. Next stop: Cottage Grove on February 11th!!! Please subscribe if you would like regular updates. Don't worry, I only post every few weeks so you will not be bombarded!!