I’ll See You in C-U-B-A (Joanna Miakowska’s Photoshoot – 1)

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(Photos by Joanna Mialkowska)

My friend Joanna Mialkowska is a photographer (as well as an architect and a painter). In January she had organised another one of her creative photoshoots in Stag’s Head and invited us to come either to be photographed or to take photographs. I didn’t have ambitions to be a photographer, so I got the easy job.

It’s been a while since I got the photos from the shoot, and I’m finally getting around to posting them – these are the first batch – I’ll be putting more of them up over the next week among other posts.

While I was going through the photos today, I was listening to a Youtube playlist of Irving Berlin. It’s brilliant, very early century. One of the songs that particularly reminded me of these photos is “I’ll See You in C-U-B-A” which was recorded by Jack Kaufman (Irving Kaufman’s brother, I think) in 1920.

Not so far from here
There’s a very lively atmosphere
Ev’rybody’s going there this year
And there’s a reason, the season
Opened last July
Ever since the U. S. A. went dry
Ev’rybody’s going there and I’m going too
I’m on my way to

(chorus)
Cuba, that’s where I’m going
Cuba, that’s where I’ll stay
Cuba, where wine is flowing
And where dark-eyed Stellas
Light their feller’s panatellas
Cuba, where all is happy
Cuba, where all is gay
Why don’t you plan a wonderful trip
To Havana hop on a ship
And I’ll see you in C – U – B – A

Take a friend’s advise
Drinking in a cellar isn’t nice
Anybody who has got the price
Should be a Cuban
Have you been longing for the smile
That you haven’t had for quite a while
If you have, then follow and and I’ll show the way
I’m on my way to

(chorus)

They’ve worked the melody of “Habanera” from the opera Carmen into the instrumental of this song, which is interesting.

I also like Berlin’s “Blue Skies” sung by Irving Kaufman. The guitar accompaniment is excellent.

I’ll post more soon. Many things to sort through! which is only a good thing. I’ve finally cleaned up and changed the look of my fashion blog, so this blogsite is next. And yes, I’ve been playing – only busking now, until this season is through.

Alumni Reunion

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2012

/Thursday 17 May 2012/

I believe I live in the what is possibly the most windy part of Dublin suburbs. There is a huge space of lawn at the bus stop across from the shopping centre around my house, and almost everyday I get convinced that I shall most definitely be blown away by the wind when I arrive in town and walk, for the wind across the area is mighty and my guitar case (though I’ve recently started using a guitar bag) acts as a heavy sail which adds to the terror; only to find that all is peaceful and well in city centre, and the experience of the great wind seem but a dream.

So imagine how it was like here when last Friday the sky poured down hailstones on the whole city. I had been watching the glorious early May day afternoon sunshine and thinking I must get out of the house earlier than I had planned, when it darkened and rained and hailstoned as forecasted. The sound of big hailstones landing on my attic window, and the thunder and lightning, was unexpectedly impressive; so that for some moments I did worry if going to my college alumni reunion later in the afternoon would be a problem, even after adjusting the adverse weather condition for city centre. Fortunately the rain soon got better, and by 4pm had mostly cleared away.

I think it was the first alumni reunion my school had held in the last five years, so it was a relief that it wasn’t spoilt by weather. We had tea and coffee at the college’s No.1 Merrion Square Oscar Wilde House, then headed over to the McGrattan’s Bar down the road across from the National Gallery of Ireland. There was a new art addition in the corridor of the dining room of the Oscar Wilde House, a oil painting rendition of the picture of Dorian Gray, (I think) donated by an Irish artist, who I must try to find out about from the college people and credit properly here. Mr Chandler has very kindly sent to me today the photo above, as I had forgotten to take a photo on Friday. I at first thought the painting was of Oscar himself, but then I read on it that it was Dorian Gray; I fancied there was definitely an influence of the new Dorian Gray movie, too (which I don’t think I will see). I find it rather interesting how people seem to incorporate so much of Oscar Wilde into portraits of Dorian Gray (after all, he did say that Dorian Gray was what he “would like to be”), while there was a real-life model who contributed to the character Dorian Gray, a John Gray who was a poet and friend of Oscar Wilde.

I have been reading too much of John Gray to not to anticipate to see something of him in every Dorian picture, but then I can go on about him for pages – which I probably did at the tea – so I’ll just say that Dr. Jerusha McCormack, whom I’m most indebted to for knowledge on the subject, has published two most informative books about Mr Gray.

I felt I was still socially dysfunctional, but I’m glad I went to the reunion. It was a strange feeling by comparison when, the next day, I was talking to other buskers on Grafton Street and it was more possible to hear each other.

There was a rainbow across Merrion Square when we came out of the house to head to the bar. I thought it looked so clean so I gazed at it a bit.

Two Months

2012

(Photo by JEG)

I must admit that it’s been nearly two months since I wrote a real post. I don’t know why, since many times I had wanted to write. Maybe I had been feeling that I was leading a meagre musical existence, not writing songs and not even sure I remembered how to play my old songs. It’s been some struggling two months.

On the other hand I was writing another blog which asked for a good bit of my time.

It’s my new fashion blog that I’ve been writing since March – or more precisely a vintage fashion blog – paired with my newly opened online vintage boutique. I have meant to tell about it, but I guess I was too embarrassed. Well, the shop (which is on Etsy) as well as the blog are called Pretty Bones Jefferson, and it would be great if you would have a look at them and tell me what you think. I’ve only made two sales so far, but it has been very exciting because both of these customers were total strangers and also I’ve been able to make connections to many like-minded people on Etsy. The boutique is still just vintage ladies’ wear at the moment, but I’m planning to add on my original designs soon.

This project plunged me into the world of fashion, and it has been and continues to be a slightly surrealistic experience. My mother used to do dress-making and fashion design, so it was her dream to work with fashion; never had I expected that I would one day be the one to actually be doing (or maybe more accurately at the moment, aspiring to do) business related with clothes. It feels sort of similar to how I always think my mother would look great in pale green, and I end up wearing pale green myself more than she does, while feeling a little confused and amused. I’m now even on lookbook.nu, a “street fashion” website, and I have got seven awfully nice fans (should I be very proud?…oh…).

So what inspired me to start this venture? I suppose I’ve just been wearing so much vintage dresses that I felt I must share my fondness and accumulated archaeological knowledge of vintage fashion. All the more excuse for vintage treasures to pass through my hands – sourcing and buying in stock is fun, especially when you’re imagining someone else will be wearing them. (That dress on top of the post is vintage 70s from my own collection, which I wrote a post about here on my fashion blog.)

I’ll probably start crossing some blog posts here and at Pretty Bones Jefferson – after all, it’s the same person talking. But I’ll make sure to keep the emphases distinct. You see, one of the reasons that I’m writing the fashion blog is to keep me from talking too much about dress here while I’m supposed to write about music (imagine me discussing types of zippers here…); though I do hope you’ll also find some of the fashion blog posts interesting, when you go over for a visit.

Back to music, I’ve “appeared” in two gigs recently. One at our friend Fin O’Brine‘s EEP (yes, it’s spelt “EEP”) lauch at Odessa Club on the 13th of April (Fin says, Friday the 13th of April!!), playing guitar on one of Monsieur John Gray‘s songs playing support for Fin; the other at the weekly Saucy Sundays in The Grand Social last Sunday the 29th of April. Well, nothing terrifying, but these were the first times that I got Monsieur Gray to play with me, so can we say they were ground-breaking?

(Photo from Fin O’Brine)

(Photo by Giuliano Nistri)

I’ve got more photos and videos from the gigs, which I will start putting up shortly. But let me not get too excited and make this post over long. I’ve missed writing here and keeping things in order, so I promise I’ll continue to do that after this little unexcused break. There are actually so many things I want to talk about, but they’ll have to wait a little longer.

! It’s also been confirmed that I’ve passed my thesis (a B+). Whew. Whew. So I must get down to revising the report to be sent to all the musician participants in my thesis research – thank you my wonderful people.

Two old recordings newly posted, Plasir d’Amour and Shady Grove

2012

Yesterday I dug up in the emails these two old recordings from back in 2010 and put them up on Soundcloud. They were little recordings done live in a home studio and I didn’t think I’d put them up, but since I have rarely played these two old folk songs since then and I think the recordings actually sound interesting (I was obviously a bit younger), I thought why not.

Plasir d’Amour

Plasir d’Amour is a very familiar tune which is a French classical art song from 1780 (Wikipedia talks about it here). It’s in one – two – three melody parts I would usually think, but the popular English folksy version is the taking of just the first melody part (I think Nana Mouskouri and Joan Baez rendition had at least the second part, though!). This recording of mine is just the first melody. I always loved the second part sung in French but well, perhaps next time, and it would be really nice to be able to play a guitar instrumental version of the whole song – I think I might faint.

Shady Grove

Shady Grove is also from the 18th century and is reputed to an American folk song (again, Wikipedia talks). I used to have a bit of research done on the song so I’ll post some more links on the song when I find them. It was one of the first songs I was playing (and I still haven’t gotten much better on it) and I heard it from Tom and Jerry the Mongolian Bluegrass band whom I was doing sound for; I really can’t remember how it sounded to me in the first place, I wish I could but I think I must have really liked it for some reason.

So that was just being a bit lazy and not editing new videos and unearthing more recent recordings – but perhaps soon! Definitely soon, at least computer’s working now, and I’m really dying to listen back to the recordings for Oscar Wilde songs from late last year. I’ve also started writing new homework songs again; two finished ones are called “The Thief’s Song” and “I Want a Little Sunshine in My Life”, both very bitter and mediocre.

I think I’ll start a series of my lyrics and chords of old folk songs too.

Still no word about thesis result yet, but it’s only been a week and we must have patience. Many thanks indeed to all the musicians who were so kind to take part in my research, and hopefully I’ll have the revised report to send on soon when I get the thesis result (or maybe even before I get the result…).

Songs recorded and mixed by JEG 2010.

Archived “The Latest” from frontpage – January 2012

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2012

This month a little late – very late! Just finished thesis. Here’s the archived little frontpage updates from January.

23 January 2012

Lute al-Raad in gauze overlay dress by Joanna Mialkowska photography in Stags Head, Dublin, black and white

The long-anticipate debut album of Mr Conor Ebb’s now available (read post here). It’s free for download at his website and Bandcamp page, and you can hear a bit of me in five of the songs.

A couple more posts coming later this week. Finishing up the thesis  and some photoshoots, one of them with the talented Joanna Mialkowska and her friends!

Photo by Joanna Mialkowska

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17 January 2012

Lute al-Raad in red velvet beret hat with pearl hairpins and vintage gold filigree earrings with peridots by Peter AtlanticI’ve been awful busy with the thesis. The final report will be ready by the end of this week and then I may write a little more about it. SPSS data analysis is a little trouble-giving, if one hasn’t been using it on a daily basis, as I’m sure everyone who has tried it for social sciences will agree! The fourteen-day trial is quite short – I mean we students kind of have to be using the trial version if the buying price is €5,000 right? Anyways, I’m trying to have it installed properly with help from the college this time now.

And I’m very, very obliged to everyone for helping out with the thesis.

Was playing at Mr Aidan Murphy’s new Monday Echo last Monday the 7th. And went to Saucy Sundays to hear Garret and the Twin-Headed Wolf  (both of whom I missed, as apparently my bus was not willing; and I nearly gave myself a detention for having this happening). Saucy Sunday has a really cool stage and space upstairs at Grand Social- I thought I could see old-fashioned balls happening there.

I promise (to whom?) that I’ll get more interesting things done after the thesis, including music essays on Marlene Dietrich and Fritz Kreisler (separately, though they were both violinists), and playing and recording more and writing new songs, as I haven’t written anything new since September. There are also a few things in plan; the  Oscar Wilde album of course, and something else by popular demand, kind of a surprise and related to the photo above.

I also just got my results for last semester from college and I didn’t fail anything, so back to typing thesis.

Photo by Peter Atlantic.