Friday, August 21, 2009

A Blog is like a Frog

My last summer day in Padova, my neighbor who passionately belted distorted arias from 7:30-8 each morning was suprisingly quiet - his silence another kind of song. I felt like a twig being carved out by a child in these days, to make a small boat for the ocean.

The summer ended with one of the most honest, gorgeous concerts in my life, under a grotto made by Padova's city walls. The venue, Giardini Sospesi (Suspended Garden) had me on a big stage, lit by the art of Jill Auckenthaler and the 3 or 4 Padova stars I got used to wishing on every night. The minute before I was supposed to walk onstage, the sky started to drip, and the crew started tearing everything off the stage. For a moment the sky paused, and we did too...until whoosh! Pioggia. Molto. It was decided to move the concert under the walls.

Descriptions of each song translated into Italian were folded on the keyboard, and once the white plastic chairs were rearranged to make an audience shape, I held the papers out to Luciano, the resident card trickster, who had given me a brown cloth star on a string at my last show. He picked my newest song, Mother, and I started the show on a serene note, singing about a tree in Sicily that whispers secrets.

Every song came out like the first time I wrote it, and the rain created a sweet camaraderie with the audience. 2 encores left me skipping under all the arched bricks.

At the Venice Biennale, I visited the Italian tadpoles outside the Brazilian neon exhibit that I wrote about 2 years ago in the song "Everyone's in Love." They've grown into frogs!

Saw a glass table there with the settings cut out, a basement garden, a room of woven elastic, and braided kissing Egyptians.

An appearance on Padova's Radio Coopertiva, with 2-hours of engaging musical and literary questions from Leonardo Zoppei.

I met the incredible Padovan drummer Jimmy Weinstein this summer, thanks to NY multi-reedist Matt Renzi. Jimmy's Chicago-born like me - I used to touch every indented circle on the kid-high facade of his relative's building 2 blocks away. 2 hours of rehearsal and we were set to go for our Cantieri D'Arte concert in Vigonza. Debora Petrina joined us for a few songs on the gorgeous outdoor stage at Castello de la Peraga, where Jimmy's wife used to explore as a little girl. Artist Elisabetta Benfatto approached me, and happy to say she'll be creating a video for Mother. My new album project includes a different artist making a video for each song.

After Debora's blue-haired electrifying set with 3/4 East Rodeo, I fell asleep with friend Isacco and the keyboard in the backseat.

Took a wrong turn into lower Switzerland after climbing in the Dolomites, which was a right turn in the end. My heart melted into the dainty area of Engadin, perched above the Swiss National Park. The first night camping, we were sent to the town of Sent, where we discovered an accordion/tuba band, and at night from our tent heard a Swiss men's choir singing traditional hymns (with a conductor!) in the camping Bratwurst restaurant.

Pastel concrete houses with painted designs surrounded each mini-town's washing fountains and sculptures, and artistic couples with barefoot children climbed cardboard piles for fun.

And hand-shaped mushrooms filled the caterpillared, story-filled forest below.

This tower in Northern Italy is 1/4 in the water. Nearby's the real Apple Store.

In Chicago, visiting my family, and circles are containers of Italian seasoning for my niece and nephew, made of pom-pom sparkles.

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