You Are There at an Online Performance by Garrison Starr

August 8, 2017

These are my notes on Garrison Starr’s “August Residency #1” at ConcertWindow.com, 8/8/2017. (Who the hell takes notes on a concert? Sheesh, I guess that makes me a journalist.)

This is the first time I’ve attended a live musical performance online. It’s an exciting concept for me since I am unable to attend concerts in person.

Garrison Starr performing online, 8/8/17, as part of her August residencey at ConcertWindow.com.
Garrison Starr performing online, 8/8/17, as part of her August residencey at ConcertWindow.com.

Like any real concert, it would appear that this one is not starting exactly on-time. Ooops, turns out I didn’t have Adobe Flash turned on on my MacBook Pro.

She’s starting with an oldie (after complaining about the heat in her home, where she’s performing). I didn’t catch the title. It’s got, “I am born again” in the lyrics. Will try to figure it out later. (Had to switch to taking notes on my iPad, lest it bugger up the audio on my MacBook Pro.) She forgot the last verse of the song. The performance was halted for a moment due to technical sound difficulties, and while Garrison consulted the lyrics. It’s got, “Singing like a victim” in last verse.

It’s too hot for make-up, Garrison commented. She’s performing in a black tank top and looks like she’s sweating profusely. The next song is, “Nobody’s Breaking Your Heart,” written with Maia Sharp. This is not a song that I’ve heard on albums by either Garrison or Maia.

Each week will be different, and next week, she will have some “special guests.” Hmm, I wonder who it will be? I would so love to hear her with AG and/or Maia, but that’s probably too much to hope for.

This must be so hard, performing without a visible/audible audience. It’s like doing a reading, which I’ve done, in front of people who close their eyes and drop their chins to their chests while they listen. You wonder, “Are you deeply moved by what I’m reading, or are you all sound asleep?” My motto: Hey, no sound of snoring, no problem.

Technical problem: One person isn’t getting the sound. The rest of us are. Oops, now that person “tipped” Garrison and is now getting the show.

Garrison is in good voice tonight. Hearing her in a stripped down situation puts the emphasis on her voice and musicianship.

She is playing “Put Your Weapon Down,” from the new EP, “What If There Is No Destination” (2017). She’s singing her heart out, despite the high humidity. Proves that she is at least water-resistant, if not water-proof. (The scene is almost as wet as, albeit not quite as artsy as, the water scene from the movie, “Flashdance.”)

Garrison Starr's newest EP, "What If There Is No Destination."
Garrison Starr’s newest EP, “What If There Is No Destination.”

Now she’s playing one of my requests, “Sit with Me Tonight,” from the 2010 album of the same name. A beautiful song, and she is sounding terrific this evening. I was afraid that sans backup players or over-dubbing, some of the songs would come across diminished, but that’s just not so. For a moment, it sounded like she was swapping riffs with a bird outside. (smile)

Garrison Starr's 2010 album, "Sit With Me Tonight"
Garrison Starr’s 2010 album, “Sit With Me Tonight”

Amy Wilkins is handling the video and audio. Garrison says her dog, Gracie, is there, too, but I haven’t seen her yet.

Cool, she’s doing my other request, “Slow Crawl,” from her 2012 “Amateur” album. It’s wild to be able to type in a request or encouragement and have her respond to it directly. Ah, modern technology!

Garrison Starr's 2012 album, "Amateur"
Garrison Starr’s 2012 album, “Amateur”

Next, she’s doing, “The Lucky One,” from her 2017 EP, “What If There Is No Destination.” She seems very relaxed and into the songs. The one song she didn’t remember, she promised the requester she’d perform in a future show. (Ah, she wants to keep us coming back!)

Finally, Gracie has a few things to say (she’s the pup). If you tip US$12 to get an MP3 recording of the show, Garrison says she’ll add some sparkle to make it sound better. (Note to any other physically/medically challenged folks out there. Getting the MP3 is a nice way to hear the whole show even if you don’t have quite the stamina to sit through the whole thing. Luckily, I’m doing well tonight.)

Next is “Tough Girl,” off her latest EP. What a beautiful song. This ought to be picked up to be used in some TV show or something. It’s a very woman-positive song that shows some really vulnerability. (She lost her voice, just a wee bit, at one point. She came right back, though. Real pro.)

Next is “Burn the Dark,” which apparently got played in its entirety on some TV show. I can’t find it in the albums/EPs I have by Garrison. Does anyone else know if it’s on a recording?

Sign on the back wall of the area of her home that she’s using for the performance, “Proud Owner of a Rescue Pet.” You go, girl.

Next is “Other People’s Eyes,” which she wrote while living in someone’s basement when she came back to California. This song was definitely written at a low point for her, “feeling washed up…all the dreams I once had are dead.” It’s a good song. Maybe that’s a cricket, rather than a bird that is occasionally harmonizing with her.

(Note to Garrison, if she happens to read it: You really ought to be kind to your fans and get someone to put the lyrics to the songs on your albums and EPs on your web site. These days, I get my music by download, and most of the lyric sites on the web don’t do a decent job of covering your catalog. I had wanted to put in a snippet from this song here, but I can’t find the lyrics. Grr.)

Next, “Train bound for glory.” (Cool, my Apple Watch tells me that I’ve met my move goal for the day while sitting here listening to this concert. I guess I’ve been rocking and rolling, and bouncing around as I’ve listened to the music.) (Smile.)

I lost the audio and video for a moment, but a page refresh got it back quickly.

Next, she’s performing “Closer My Love,” from “The Forgotten Street” (2014). She’s doing a nice retrospective of her compositions. I’m really enjoying this.

Gracie, the dog, is once again, having her say. We still haven’t gotten to see her.

Next, she’s doing, “Sing It Like a Victim,” off “The Sound of You and Me.” This is the song she started with that she didn’t feel right about since some of us couldn’t hear it at that point. So, she’s doing it again.

Garrison Starr performing online, 8/8/17, as part of her August residencey at ConcertWindow.com.
Garrison Starr performing online, 8/8/17, as part of her August residencey at ConcertWindow.com.

Each of these shows she’s doing will be different. There are still three left to go.

She’s ending this set with “Bend It Till It Breaks,” another song I cannot find on the albums and EPs I have.

She’ll be performing in Fairfield, CT, this fall. Even though that’s in my state, I won’t be able to attend. At least this way, I get to experience a live performance by a musician I really admire.

I’ve had a very enjoyable hour, and if you think of it, surf on into ConcertWindow next week, and check it out. She’s a very talented composer, singer, and musician, who puts on a good show.

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Garrison Starr: What If There Is No Destination

Released June 17, 2017

We’ve moved down the block, a bit, in going from the Rescues to Garrison Starr, but it’s still in the same neigborhood. Adrianne Gonzalez (AG) of the Rescues is also a member, with Garrison Starr, of The Silent War, a writing and performance collaboration that has produced some fine music and one video. Also, both AG and Garrison have toured and performed with Maia Sharp. All three of them together are a pretty damned awesome combination.

Adrianne Gonzalez (AG), Garrison Starr, and Maia Sharp
Adrianne Gonzalez (AG), Garrison Starr, and Maia Sharp

But Garrison is also a singer-songwriter who has released 15 solo albums and EPs. Some of the songs she’s done that you might recognize include “Superhero,” “Sit With Me Tonight,” and one my faves, “Slow Crawl.” Interestingly, it was AG who wrote and directed the video for “Slow Crawl,” and if you look closely in the “Superhero” video, that lovely harmonizer with the neon-red/pink? on her head is none other than AG. That girl gets around.

Cover of EP, "What If There Is No Destination," by Garrison Starr
Cover of EP, “What If There Is No Destination,” by Garrison Starr

Her latest effort is an EP, “What If There Is No Destination,” which is a collection of six new songs.

Screenshot of "The Stuff We're Made Of," by Garrison Starr
Screenshot of “The Stuff We’re Made Of,” by Garrison Starr

Along with the EP, she has released a series of four essays for Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls” Project, under the title, “The Stuff We’re Made Of.” (Here are the links to Part 1, “The Stuff We’re Made Of”, Part 2, “Just Start Walking”, Part 3, “Where Do We Go from Here?” and Part 4, “Epilogue”.) These essays relate some of the most important events in the evolution of this talented musician and songwriter, including her fairly horrifying coming out in college.

Garrison Starr
Garrison Starr

The six songs on this EP are strong, honest compositions. They show the artist in a reflective mood, and they cut closer to the bone than some of her earlier work. The songs and arrangements are engaging and have stayed with me.

Here’s the video for the powerful sixth song, “Put Your Weapon Down.”

It’s hard to pick favorites, but personally, I was most moved by “Tough Girl” and “All About You.”

You can pick up this album from iTunes or Amazon or Garrison’s web site.

If you’d like to see Garrison performing these songs, she’s performing live online on Tuesday Aug 8th at 9:30pm EDT through the ConcertWindow site.

Albums

Pinwheels (1993)

Stupid Girl (1995)

eighteen over me (1997)

Songs From Take-Off To Landing (2002)

Airstreams & Satellites (2004)

The sound of you and me (2006)

Fans’ Greatest Hits, Volume One (Live, 2007)

The Girl That Killed September (2007)

ReLive (2010)

Amateur (2012)

The Forgotten Street (2014)

EPs

24/7 (1998)

Somethin’ to hold you over (2000)

Not For Nothing (2012)

What If There Is No Destination (2017)

The Rescues: The Rescues

Released June 1, 2017

’Tis the season for albums to be drop, drop, dropping ahead of summer tours. It’s like a tropical Christmas for music lovers!

The Rescues' latest album, "The Rescues"
The Rescues’ latest album, “The Rescues”

Somewhere between their sophomore 2013 outing, “Blah Blah Love War,” and their latest, eponymous1 release, “The Rescues,” this Indie Supergroup has gone from a foursome to a threesome. The current line-up consists of out lesbian Adrianne Gonzalez (who has also performed solo and with others as Adrianne or, more recently, AG), Gabriel Mann, and Kyler England. I’m sorry to see the group lose Rob Giles, but this latest album is as strong as anything they have done previously.

The Rescues: Kyler England, Gabriel Mann, and Adrianne Gonzalez (AG).
The Rescues: Kyler England, Gabriel Mann, and Adrianne Gonzalez (AG).

If you need some background on The Rescues, you might start with the video of their early release, “Can’t Stop the Rain.” It’s an off-beat but catchy song. If you just can’t get enough of it, you might enjoy their more recent rendition of it, which features a fair portion of a marching band.

Or you could check out one of my favorite Rescues songs: “Break Me Out.” This is a live version the foursome performed back in 2010. It’s a great song, and I love the energy of the live performance. Plus, we get to see Adrianne front and center, which is always nice.

One more suggestion: The Rescues do a fascinating cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.”

Anyway, that brings us to the album at hand. The first song I heard off this album was “Haunted.” There’s no video, per se, for it (ah, the joys of low-budget indie existence), except for a lyric video. If you can listen to this without getting goose bumps, well, it would make me wonder how much you have lived.

The refrain,

You can’t leave this life without being haunted
Somewhere between what you got and what you wanted

is powerful, but when Kyler begins listing the many kinds of things that haunt us, the song really cut me to the bone:

All the ones I couldn’t save
All the ones that slipped away
All the things I broke in two
All the times I cheated you
All the times I let you down
All the dreams I left to drown
All the ends I couldn’t change
All the times I turned away

It’s a brilliant piece of song-writing, arrangement, and performance. I’m sure some TV show will snap it up to use to add emotional punch to a pivotal emotional scene of some kind. (A number of the Rescues’ songs have shown up in the soundtracks of television shows.)

If “Haunted” is a bit too dire for you, the album also offers more uplifting fare, like, “We Are Not Alone” or “If It Were Not for You.”

The songs, the harmonies, the arrangements, the moods are all engrossing and wonderfully done. This is an album that I’ll be listening to all summer.


Albums

Crazy Ever After (November 2008)

Let Loose The Horses (June 2010)

Blah Blah Love and War (November 2013)

The Rescues (June 1, 2017)

EP

The Rescues (March 2010)


  1. To avoid confusion, perhaps I should mention that the group also released an eponymous EP, “The Rescues,” in 2010. So this one is the eponymous album, not EP. What’s an “EP”? According to Wikipedia: “An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP.” So a wee album or an album-ette, as it were.

Damn, but I love music

One of my mother’s greatest gifts to me was sharing the many kinds of music she loved. She might follow Ravel’s Bolero with Sarah Vaughn with Rhapsody in Blue or a record of mariachi music she picked up in Mexico. Her influence helped create my very eclectic tastes in music, which is a very important part of my life.

The late, great Sarah Vaughan, one of Mom's favorite singers.
The late, great Sarah Vaughan, one of Mom’s favorite singers.

Am I any kind of music professional? No. I taught myself to read sheet music in second grade, and I played first trombone in my high school’s marching band. Today I play a number of different instruments (badly). I also have the dubious distinction of having taught two different people how to play the saxophone even though I have never played it. When I was a kid, I was big on singing, but in my teens I developed a cyst on my vocal cords that ultimately ate the middle out of my range. This bummed me out greatly. That’s about the extent of my music credentials.

Oh, and often, when I sleep, my dreams are accompanied by music. My niece and I share the ability to “play” music in our heads, note for note — in my case, even very complex orchestral pieces.

While I could go on at length about my love of Chinese flower music or the English concertina, in this blog I want to focus on women making music, with a special emphasis on music by members of the LGBTQI community and their allies. Why did I choose that focus? Well, as in most things, it seems as though women don’t get as much ink (digital or otherwise), and anyway, it’s an area of music that encompasses a huge array of different instruments, styles, and attitudes — just the ticket for an eclectic listener like me!

I am old enough to remember sitting around a record-player listening with awe, excitement, and a little bit of terror to “Lesbian Concentrate,” which was at least the first lesbian musical (and poetry) anthology, if not the first explicitly lesbian album. How we howled at Meg Christian singing ”Ode to a Gym Teacher”! It was so new — it felt both so daring and a little bit naughty to be hearing it.

Front cover of "Lesbian Concentrate: A Lesbianthology of Songs and Poems," which Olivia Records released in 1977.
Front cover of “Lesbian Concentrate: A Lesbianthology of Songs and Poems,” which Olivia Records released in 1977.

For a time, a long time, the performers we had came almost exclusively from Olivia Records: Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, Linda Tillery, Teresa Trull, and others. Now, we have come so far that I was reading a 2010 list of “The 50 Most Important Queer Women in Music”, and guess who wasn’t listed? Cris Williamson. That sort of blew me away. Her music was so important to so many of us. I don’t think many who followed would have followed if it hadn’t been for those intrepid foremothers of women’s music.

But I’m not here to teach history or rant about who got left out of a dumb article on a now-mostly-defunct web site. There is music happening, right now, all around us, and that’s what I want to focus on.

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