Black Vessel EP Release (Pearl and the Beard)

Fancy! Photo credit: Shervin Lainez (

What a crazy-busy few weeks.

I decided to shave off some stress and hold off posting for the 365 until a huge wake of gigs has subsided, and the Pearl and the Beard EP release is off and running.  It was a necessary sacrifice, unfortunately, and one I absolutely didn’t foresee going into the 365 a few months ago.  But it’s all culminating into one glorious moment surrounded by friends and loved ones at the EP release show which is TONIGHT!

We have been writing, practicing, arranging and filming over several weeks for tonight’s show at The Living Room in the Lower East Side in Manhattan.  We even got a fancy-schmancy photo shoot by the one and only Shervin Lainez!  You can view his extensive catalogue here: The guy is a genius.

To top it all off: our new EP has been released online and is ready for you to own it, too!  You can listen, purchase and download it here:

It is a special recording for us because it contains 3 solo songs from each of us and one rearrangement of our song Vessel from God Bless Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richarson.  For the EP, I chose to do a fancy recording of a 365 song, Manek and Ilona (hear the EP version here). I approached Franz Nicolay about producing and arranging string parts for this song, which he did so beautifully.  I absolutely love what he’s done, and my dear friend Emily Jane Price (who has also done a 365 with me!) drove all the way up from Baltimore in hours and hours of traffic to lend her beautiful violin playing to the song as well.  I’m so blessed to have such wonderful friends to help me create something so meaningful.

Lastly, I am sitting on an awesome surprise that I hope I can reveal to you soon (the suspense is killing me)…and, of course, the 365 will be up and running once again!  (Thank you for your patience!)

Much love to you to today….


The 365 Sleepover Show Teaser!

The 365 Sleepover Show Teaser!

Well, I’ve been absent a bit from the 365 but not gone!  I have a wonderful surprise for you, and it’s been in the works for a  few weeks, and it will be a bit more waiting until you see the whole thing, but, until then, here’s the teaser trailer for the fancy schmancy-caught-on-video-live performances of :





What are Sleepover Shows?

(In their own words)

Sleepover Shows are three song sets of acoustic or stripped down versions performed by bands that we love as they make their way through Boston. Though it started as something we did when bands needed a place to crash on the night of their shows, we now mostly film the sessions before a show and let the bands find their own ways home (though the offer still stands).

Basically, we try and use our spaces as creatively as we can.  We’ve filmed in the back seats of cars, on top of playground equipment, in doorways and alleys, in bathtubs and stairwells.  We try our best to get the bands to take their music outside of the confines of the studio and have some fun.

And that’s the point: to capture some great music that maybe isn’t always as polished, but shows these artists having a good time doing what they love. We’re doing what we love too, and hope you enjoy the videos!


Kelly, Rob and Aviv: you are three of the coolest people I know!

My full set of songs will be coming soon, until then, check out some of my favorites:

210-213. Anthony Da Costa Week!


Someone gave me the idea of posting the dailies as multiples on one day instead of filling the holes as separates (which really annoy me, bee-tee-dubs) just to catch up.  I’m feeling overwhelmed, so how do I cope?  AVOIDANCE!  Well, no more!  Here I am, and I am sojourning on, creating a temporary catch up by showing you what I’ve been doing for the past five days on ONE day.

Today ends Anthony Da Costa week!  I’ve been arranging and rearranging cello solo, trios and quartets for Anthony’s new record.  I’m heading into the studio for a good chunk of the day today to get it all down on digital tape, and then it’s done!

I’ve also had the opportunity to play with the fabulous, and most beautiful, ukelele-ist Sophie Madeleine at Joe’s Pub this week and have yet another show with her on the 24th at The Living Room here in New York City. (Which just so happens to be where Pearl and the Beard’s EP release show is, too – and on the exact same night!  Kismet!)

These are smaller clips from larger arrangements.  These tracks are working drafts and most are improvised.

210. Cello Quartet (Day Three)

Ah… suspensions! Creating tension, one note at at time…

211. Cello Trio (Day Four)

I love what this does within the context of the song.  This is only :15, but I love it.  There is a piano part which is a standard progression, but these cello parts twist it and give it so much color.

212. Bells and Cello (Day Five)

This is actually a second version of day 209 (Day Two of Anthony Da Costa Week).  Day 209 had bells and two cellos and totally different feel.  If I do this one (212), it strips it down to one cello that only comes in one time and then dies.  I’m liking this simpler version much more.

213. Cello Trio (Day Six)

This is a second version of the river from day 208.  I’m thinking a tasteful combination of both might work well.  If you had the opportunity to create a river from a musical instrument, what would you use?  One of the greatest examples of this kind of musical representation is Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev.  I grew up listening to this version on vinyl.  I loved it!

209. Anthony Da Costa Cello Excerpts (Day Two)


Continuation of yesterday’s business… writing, writing, writing… and more writing.  This is a draft excerpt from slow song of Anthony Da Costa’s (see yesterday’s song).  He didn’t request bells, but I tried them, and I’m in love.  The draft here is just a trial for the sound, the arrangement I ended up with you’ll have to hear on Anthony’s album when it’s done! (hee hee)

The great thing about arranging for multiple stringed instruments (or what have you) is that you can take the base stuff away (the guitars, drums, etc.) and really hear a totally new piece.  In this case, I can hear lines that I didn’t want or melodic ideas that sound to similar to a track I just did…. which I find the inherent problem with arranging many things at once… I think you risk everything sounding the same… It’s okay. It’s good to try to overcome this, I think.

Sleep comes to me and I must bid her a welcome hello to her!

Anthony Da Costa Cello Excerpts (Day Two)

208. Anthony Da Costa Cello Excerpts (Trials)


Anthony Da Costa

The next few days (who am I kidding?  It’s weeks right about now) are very (in a “glass-half-full” kind of mentality we can use the word: wonderfully) busy for me.  So, for the next few days, the 365 is going to be a bulletin board for trials I’m running for arrangements.  If you’ve been following the 365, you know Anthony Da Costa.  He has appeared more than once within the project, and now, he is recording a brand new album and has asked me to take part in doing some cello parts on it.

For obvious reasons, I can’t post the songs these trial excerpts are for, but I can tell you they are beautiful songs.  I’ve been working on 5 of them for his CD.  This first excerpt I’m posting for you to hear is a very rough draft of a smaller section of a song about a river.  This, for me, is the fulcrum of the song.  It’s in its beginning stages, but I like the ideas that are happening… can you hear the river starting to be born?  It might be cliché, but I like it!  And when you get Anthony’s album you can hear the final product (if he ends up liking it and using it).  Exciting!

Since arranging I’ve allow to be part of the 365, here is it, as it’s all I’ve been working on… (not to mention some other live performances coming up with Sophie Madeleine, a quartet and a solo show I’ve needed to get parts for… phew)

Hope your evening is absolutely smashing.

Anthony Da Costa Cello Excerpts (Trials)

207. Across the Coals (Intonation Exercise)


In honor of Sunday, I have tried to sing you an out of tune song.  I was with some friends last week, and we started talking about song writing.  The topic was: What makes a good song?  Intonation was discussed among other things, but it got me thinking: in this world of auto-tune, what if we take perfect intonation out of the songwriting equation?  I started with a simple exercise:

Detune the uke strings then detune the vocal. As far as the uke is concerned, it wasn’t a free-for-all detuning, mind you, but just enough that you know there’s something not quite right.  Here is the first version with improvised lyrics/melody and (sort of) in tune vocals but detuned uke.  Then, I did a version with tuned uke and detuned vocals. This was difficult.

Within this discussion about songwriting, we also talked about one of the most beloved songs in American songwriting history: Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  We talked about what makes this song really great and why almost everyone and their mom knows it and can sing it.  The first two notes of Somewhere Over the Rainbow are the interval of an octave.  Intervals can make or break a song, and this one in particular has created one of the most memorable two notes in history: Some….. where…!!!! So, in honor of the octave interval, I used it.

Observations: When the uke was out of tune, I was less tight with melody and vocal style.  I created something wobbly and loose both in style and intonation.  The out of tune vocals were interesting because the goal was to sing decently and still out of tune.  Meaning that I couldn’t make it a joke and sing silly, which was a challenge.  Singing out of tune was so hard, I just tossed trying to sing the lyrics, too.  In the end, it was too much, and I stopped (as you’ll here).  I’d like to try this again with something more solidified in form.

(This topic could actually go one for ages as there are many genres of music that use intonation as expression or as a singular part of its character… Sacred Harp Singing (among quite a few others I could list) is an example of slight imperfections that function successfully within the genre and being a part of the special character that is created by many distinct voices singing together.)


Across the Coals (Intonation Exercise – Uke)

Across the Coals (Intonation Exercise – Vocal)

206. I Don’t Like Your Tone


I Don’t Like Your Tone

Have you ever written an email and the reply you get is: “I don’t like your tone.”?  Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has happened to me much more than once, and I usually, absolutely do not see it coming.   It happened again today.  So, again, unsurprisingly, I used it as fodder as the 365 today.

What is tone?  (Taken from the online dictionary!)

any sound considered with reference to its quality, pitch, strength, source, etc.: shrill tones.

quality or character of sound.

vocal sound; the sound made by vibrating muscular bands in the larynx.

a particular quality, way of sounding, modulation, or intonation of the voice as expressive of some meaning, feeling, spirit, etc.: a tone of command.

an accent peculiar to a person, people, locality, etc., or a characteristic mode of sounding words in speech.

stress of voice on a syllable of a word.

This is 8 cello tracks staggered and starting on f#, e, c…etc.  The notes themselves are bent to each other just a little, adjusted to micro tones as they’re played.  Sometimes the sound is made “unlikable” by rougher strokes (changing the weight or speed of the bow on the string) and intonation, and a bit more “likable” by being more kind in general.  I find it very hypnotic, but I didn’t run it for very long.  I wanted you to hear the whole thing.

Pearl and the Beard arrived back in New York yesterday, and I have been arranging ever since. I’ve got a few recording projects outside the 365 that needed attending to, and they’re still not finished.  But not to worry!  I’m posting my brains out for the 365!