Many of you have heard of GMO foods, but probably do not fully understand the impact. The dangers of GMO are very real, and to anyone who is interested in sustaining life you'll want to inform yourself as much as you can. Did you know that Russia is now refusing to buy our GMO produce and conducting their own study to understand the hazards of consumption?Below is a video of my sister, Katrina Vaillancourt and her thoughts on California's Proposition 37 to enforce labeling of GMO products. This is not just a California issue. This issue effects everyone; the US and everywhere that GMO products have been made available. Katrina makes reference CRIIGEN, a committee dedicated to understanding the effects of GMOs. Here's their website: http://www.criigen.org/SiteEn/
I care for you all deeply and want you to live happy and healthy lives! Please inform yourself and demand that GMO products are labeled!
We are in our second week of having opened Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Portland Center Stage
, and it seems we've gotten quite a bit of attention! We've gotten reviews in The Oregonian
, Portland Monthly
, and Willamette Week
. Have I missed any?
Often when reading these reviews, you will find a synopsis of the story in addition to information about the actors and their singing, the costumes, make-up, stage and scenery, etc. Essentially, you will read about everything that is readily apparent to the audience. The irony is, seldom… very seldom do the reviewers discuss, or even acknowledge the pit orchestra; the very thing that makes a musical a "music"al! Seems odd, doesn't it? However, Bob Hicks from Oregon Arts Watch
knows what's up. "So let's talk about the music." he offers in his review that compares our 10 piece orchestra to the Portland Opera. It's well worth the read
Most importantly though, come see Sweeney Todd
, 'cause we're working our little hearts out to make it one hell of a performance that you won't want to miss!So my friends, here's a list of the wonderful musicians (straight out of our program) that make up our 10-piece wonder orchestra conducted by the fabulous Rick Lewis:
Jeffrey Childs, KeyboardsSean Vinson, BassBen Wasson, PercussionMary Rowell, ViolinDale Tolliver, CelloClark Rust, TrumpetAmy Vaillancourt-Sals, French HornAl Torres, TromboneEryn Vercammen, Reed IWard Baxter, Reed IILee Elderton, Reed II(Added Oct. 1st, 2012)
Oregon Music News just released an article today based on an interview with our music director Rick Lewis. In the interview, Rick tells it how it is; "If I could’ve had 16 musicians, I would’ve used that many" and "It would’ve been great to have had the score a year ago and then work on reducing it. But we are flying by the seat of our pants... It’s not the way that I’d like to do things, but that’s what we have to do." Click here
to read the whole article!Portland Center Stage
is located at Gerding Theater, 128 NW 11th Ave. Performances are at 7:30 pm Tuesdays-Saturdays, 2pm Sundays, with alternating Saturday matinee and Sunday evening performances. Noon select Thursdays. Through Oct. 21. $30-$70, $20 rush tickets available an hour before the performances!
Hope to see you soon!
The front of our program
Dear Amanda Palmer,
I was sitting down to draft you a very different letter, and then I read this article: http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/09/19/869601/amanda-palmer/?mobile=nc
, and then your blog
Let me first start by saying, good on you for making the ethical choice! It takes a lot of courage to look at all sides, weigh options and make a choice that's in everyone's best interests!
Please understand, when I wrote the original letter I was speaking as someone who has truly appreciated you and your musical prowess. When I saw that you were making a request contrary to the message I imagined you were wishing to portray to the world, I called you on it. Honestly, I had no idea the gravity my letter would have considering that (if you look at my blog history) I really haven't had many hits and mostly talk about fun musical events and delicious recipes. That aside, the people who are the closest to me are the ones who have the chutzpah to call me on my shit. When I wrote the letter, that was who I was hoping to be for you.
In response to your invitation, I wish I could accept, however I'm playing horn in the pit orchestra for Portland Center Stage's production of Sweeney Todd
; a job that I'm grateful to have been asked to do and so far it's been a blast! If you have time and it works in my schedule too, it would be fun to meet up and get drinks (and maybe even hug and high-five. ;-) )
For all that participated in this discussion, I am highly impressed by those who contributed in intelligent, thought provoking, and courteous ways. Thank you for your contributions! I've learned a lot from this and I hope you have too. This event obviously struck a chord with a great many of us. I invite you to raise your voices if you see something like this happening again! You never know what effect you might have. I sure didn't know what I was getting myself into.
To those of you who have chosen to react harshly towards myself or Amanda were/are losing the point and may want to ask yourselves why this was so upsetting to you that you would resort to bullying tactics. How often does critical thinking and progress occur for you when you're busy feeling the need to defend yourself?
Now I'm feeling compelled to sing "The more you know!", but alas... I will refrain. On that happy note, let me say goodnight to you all. It's late and I just got back from a preview performance of Sweeney
. (Which is where I've been all week while you all were keeping the fire burning...) Thanks all! Goodnight for now.
I'm so glad that there's an open dialogue about this. The organizer for Grand Theft Orchestra has asked to speak with me and I sent him a message saying that I would be happy to talk with him and discuss a positive way to move forward.
I like to think that Amanda's intention was not to slight us. (But that's just me wanting to believe the best in people.) I'm hoping she just didn't think it through, and will understand that her choices are causing a certain impression to the public eye. I would certainly want to be made aware of how my choices effect others, and given an opportunity to make things right.
What Amanda may not realize is that her request is perpetuating the fundamental problem that most musicians and other artists face; the fact that we are asked time and time again to volunteer in order to get exposure or further ourselves when in fact this largely helps no one, including our colleagues. The music business can be tricky and manipulative. What may seem like a grand opportunity is often a slap in the face. So we have a choice, is this what we want to perpetuate, or do we want to start a revolution of all musicians saying "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"
Though Amanda Palmer is being made an example of, her kickstarting campaign plus the request for volunteer players equals a catalyst for many of us who are realizing that we need to stand up for ourselves and our professions. I think it's fair to say that many of us are shocked and appalled that this is coming from someone that we've greatly admired, hence the uproar.
What I don't understand is how she can come from our position as being a struggling artist, suddenly have this wonderful break and resources to help others who've also been struggling, and not think to give back! If I were to raise that much in funds, I would celebrate in the fact that I could actually pay my fellow musicians adequately (and perhaps more!) to collaborate with me! It would be a victory for us all! (And it still can be, Amanda! In fact, I'm inviting you to be a positive example and make all the difference in this very moment!)
In addition, I would also like to ask her if stagehands, airline personnel, bus and equipment drivers, management, venues personnel, hotel staff, music video creators and editors, and countless others putting together her (music concert) tour are providing services in exchange for hugs, beer and merchandise or if it's just us… Something to chew on…
Thanks for all your feedback everyone! Keep it coming!
Amanda Palmer is someone who I've deeply admired. She's a wicked awesome, passionate musician, artist, advocate, and activist. Not to mention, she's married to one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman
. I recently learned that after raising over $1 million on her kickstarter campaign
, more than enough to cover her costs, she's been asking for local volunteer musicians to play with her while on tour
. Below is my response:
Dear Amanda Palmer,
I admit, when I heard that you were going on tour and looking to have local musicians play for you for free my first reaction was "sign me up!". You've been an amazing role model for musicians everywhere, giving your time for the Occupy Movement, empowering others to express themselves, and showing musicians everywhere that they can create their own vision and be successful at it.
In fact, you are so successful that your last kickstarter campaign for your new album and tour raised over 1 million dollars. This is fabulous news, and obvious evidence of how your music and stance inspires!
The other night, while spending time with some of my musician friends, I learned that you may recruit volunteer players from resources such as Classical Revolution for your tour. This makes perfect sense, given that we have branches worldwide and our musician base has grown exponentially with individuals that are largely musically educated, in addition to discovering their own voices and aesthetics. We're a perfect match for you and your tour!
Classical Revolution, by its very nature, empowers musicians. We're a fantastic community that inspires and stands up for one another. We have each spent countless years developing very keen skills and wish to share our talents in gratifying ways. These are all things that I'm sure you can appreciate. Not only have we spent years doing this, but we're also paying off student loans, and trying to cover basic bills in order to survive and continue to use these very honed and valuable techniques.
We have unions that stand for us, but they can only do so much. Artists are feeling desperate. I confess, I have found myself giving free performances in order to get ahead and perhaps have something notable to put on my resume. You'd think that this would help, but it doesn't and in fact it's made my position worse. Volunteer opportunities have effectively lead to more volunteer opportunities. Very very seldom have I found it leading to compensating gigs. As a result, my desire to share my craft and my feeling of self-worth have waned, while people around me are mocking, saying "yes, but aren't you happy you get to create music?" Not while I'm starving, stressed and frantic… no! I can only imagine the clever and snarky retorts that you would tell those (insert expletive and plural nouns here) that approached you with that sort of BS. In fact, it makes me blush just thinking about it!
My friends and I are looking to bring back the respect that musicians deserve. As a personnel manager for my branch at Classical Revolution, I've been working towards assuring that my musicians are compensated for their talents and hard work. So, looking back at your ultra successful kickstarter and your request… Here you are, and you've raised over $1 million for your tour and album release. Here we are as musicians on foodstamps, maxing out their credit cards to keep the lights on, are hoping that we have enough money to pay next months rent, and have instruments that are in need of repair, need to be replaced, and even need to be insured. We are looking at you now and your request for musicians to come play with you for free, and most of us have even fallen in love with you and your music, and how do you think we'll respond? We're f*&king perplexed, agitated and disheartened, to put it mildly! What would you say to you if you were in our shoes? I have a pretty good guess...
The naive ones will say "sign me up!" I most certainly had that as my first response. But in looking at the whole picture, this time you're coming across as the 1% looking to exploit us. I'm guessing this is not the impression you were going for. If this is the case, please respect the musicians who are giving you their time and specialized skills. We would love to play for you! Please do the right thing, Amanda. This all seems so contrary to your vision.
The future of music is musicians being compensated for their specialized skills and the beauty and difference that their craft brings to the world! We all know you can certainly afford it…
Your fellow musician,
Amy9-19-12 Addendum: Amanda has just announced that she will be paying all of her guest musicians on her tour in every city! Major kudos to Amanda for making the ethical choice! It takes a lot of guts to admit that her request, though it felt reasonable enough to her at the time, was perhaps not the best call for action. Hopefully, we have all learned a lot from this and can move on in a way that empowers performing artists and everyone alike!
Mixed it all together and this is what you get! Well, mostly... Oh my, this is so delicious that I had to make one last night. And, now you're looking at it! I first experienced this amazing key lime pie
during a visit to be with my father and second mom in Hawaii. It was my 29th birthday, if I remember correctly. I was astounded when Sally (second mom) whipped up coconut milk, fresh squeezed limes, avocado, vanilla and a few other ingredients and made this decadent treat that was gone in seconds! Guilt free too, because it's vegan, raw, gluten-free, and low-glycemic! Heck, as long as your not allergic to any of the ingredients (which you could probably find substitutions for), anyone of your friends and family can enjoy this dish!The master minds behind this dish come from Café Gratitude, a raw, vegan, and gluten-free restaurant that began in the Bay Area, and has been making impressive waves! Not only do they provide amazing foods that are delicious and work for everyone, they also name their dishes with traits such as "I am Luscious", "I am Worthy", etc. Their key lime pie
is called "I am Awakening". You can find the book where I got this recipe here
, and enjoy all the other incredible recipes that are within its pages!For those of you wanting to try this recipe now (and I highly encourage you), this is how you make it:Key Lime PieMakes one 9-inch pieMACADAMIA-PECAN CRUST1 1/4 cups macadamias1 1/4 cups pecans6 Medjool dates1/4 tsp liquid vanilla1/8 tsp
saltTaking your 9-inch pie dish, grease the bottom with Coconut oil. Using a food processor, chop up dates until they make a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until it has a crust-like dough consistency.
Spread the mixture into the dish and press until the crust is spread evenly along the bottom and up the sides. You may form the sides of the crusts how you prefer. LIME FILLING3/4 cup lime juice1/2 cup agave syrup
or coconut nectar1/4 cup coconut milk
(better if you crack open the coconut yourself!)1 cup avocado2 tsp liquid vanilla1/8 tsp salt2 tbsp lecithin1/2 cup and 2 tbsp coconut oilBlend all ingredients in a blender (leaving out the lecithin and coconut oil) until completely smooth.
Add lecithin and coconut oil and continue blending until completely dissolved. Pour filling into the pie, spreading evenly, and stick the pie (uncovered) in the freezer for 1-2 hrs. Move it to the refrigerator a couple hours before serving, and feel free to decorate with you own personal style. Enjoy!!p.s. Due to the raw content, this is very perishable. Eat within 3 days or freeze it and it can last at least a week.
Oh, how I love playing in musicals! In fact, when I was sixteen (going on seventeen) my father took me to see Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco. The first thing I did upon entering the theater was run straight up to the pit orchestra, lean my head over, wave to the horn players and say "Someday, I'll be doing what you're doing!" The following year, I was invited to play my very first paid gig with Cabrillo Stage
in Aptos, CA. The show? You guessed it! It was The Sound of Music.
Sixteen years later, here I am playing The Sound of Music with Broadway Rose Theatre Company
! We just finished an inspiring and heartwarming opening weekend, and are happy to be working on this show for the next three weekends. Hope to see you in the following weeks! And when you come to see the show... please don't hesitate to come visit the orchestra and say 'hi'! We love it when you do that!! (At least I do, in any case...)
Another fun tidbit of this show is that during rehearsals for our production, our Captain Von Trapp (played by Portland's own Isaac Lamb) became world famous for proposing to his fiancé in the most epic way. This video is a feelgood must see!
Oh my, where to start... Perhaps I will need to write another blog expressing the last couple of months worth of "The Life and Adventures of Amy." For now tho, I would like to introduce you all to one of my new favorite musicians, Emily Wells
!Thanks to Facebook, my friend and fabulous flutist, Elise Blatchford posted that she was playing a show in Santa Cruz
with the Portland Cello Project
and Emily Wells. I happen to be in Santa Cruz at the time and knew that my awesome horn friend Leander
was also going to be there. This seemed to coincidental to pass up. So, I found myself at The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz with my Portland friends playing a show. I love it when my worlds collide! Before last Wednesday, I only vaguely heard about Emily Wells. Then I heard her sing. She's got an eerie, almost southern-soul voice that is very unique and otherworldly. I loved her music from the moment she opened her mouth! I've attached a video below so you can hear for yourself. Not only do I love her voice, I also appreciate how brilliant she
is with all of the gear that she uses and her enjoyment of unusual sounds. I appreciate her like I do Tune-Yards
. Both woman are amazing musicians, loops artists, and have a very unique vision that expresses themselves to a tea!It was a real treat to hear the Portland Cello Project, a well-celebrated musical group from the pacific northwest, and my friends Elise and Leander playing with Emily Wells.
It was nothing short of amazing!!! Thanks for the awesome concert guys!!! <3
Do you have a gluten and/or lactose intolerance but love pancakes? No problem! I learned of these pancakes during my switch to a low-glycemic diet. Most flours and gluten-free mixes are super high in starch and sugar, so I feared I would have to bid adieu to some of my favorite breakfast classics. It is, with great honor to supply you all with this recipe; one that has become a major staple to my breakfast regime. Enjoy! Nom, nom, nom...
Almond Meal Pancakes (serves 2)
1 Cup Almond Meal (Trader Joe's carries bags of this at a reasonable price.)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
(Feel free to add spices here: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, go for the Pumpkin Spice, be creative!)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tb honey
(Add berries, other fruit, chocolate chips, etc...)
Viola! Cook 'em up and top with your favorite garnish. Some of my ideal toppings are peanut butter, jam, yogurt, cottage cheese, fruit, maple syrup, etc. Here's a picture of the almond meal pancakes that I made for my last birthday, topped with bananas and young coconut custard:
Mmmmmm.... so good! Makes me want to have some tomorrow morning... =)
I would post my new number here for all to see, but that doesn't seem very smart these days. So, if you would like to know what it is, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. =)