Tag Archives: Music

Coming Out of the Closet

Not a lot of people know this, but I am a closet keyboard player, and despite my electric keyboard being stored away in a cupboard for the past few years, this week I took the decision to bring it back out of hiding and start playing again.

It all started way back when as a child I wanted to play the piano. My grandparents had an upright in their lounge. My uncles played a little and my father could bash out a fair rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B minor, but us grandchildren were never allowed to touch it. It was always kept locked, although we would lie underneath it and hit the strings till Nan appeared and we’d all run like hell into the garden, each blaming each other. Happy days.

Still the urge to play gnawed at me but my parents could not afford for me to have lessons, let alone buy a piano. To them, my weekly dance classes (ballroom and Latin American) were enough. A friend from infant and junior school, Peter, had a grand piano in the lounge at his house, I was always envious of such a highly-polished and large instrument. A few years ago, Peter and I found each other through Facebook. He has gone on to greater things with music – he’s Organist and Director of Music of the Royal Memorial Chapel, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in England as well as an accomplished accompanist, arranger, composer, conductor, and opera singer, with works performed on stage and radio. Oh, what I might have achieved too had I been able to play.

Over the years the urge never left me. In the 1980s, at home full time through long-term illness, I was determined to learn to play so purchased an old wreck of an upright from a dealer. It sat in our dining room, often out of tune but good enough for practice. I found a piano teacher and began to learn, this was necessary as I couldn’t even read music. She doubted I would be able to master the instrument as I have small hands and hand span but I managed. I wasn’t keen on the type of music she taught, after all who wants to play The Merry Widow all day long? Soon she thought I was ready to take my Grade 1 exam. For this she wanted me to sing. Why, I have no idea but that was a big no no. I cannot sing. Never could, never can and no one will ever be able to teach me. After that, I never went back.

A short while after, I overheard a conversation with a lady I knew vaguely talking about an electric piano she had bought. We chatted, and invited me to see it. I was hooked. I wanted one, and she offered to help me play. After several months, I went out and bought my own. Not an electric piano, I couldn’t afford that, but a six octave electric, all singing, all dancing (well not quite), multi instrument and tempo keyboard. And thank goodness for headphones. I could now play at my heart’s content without disturbing Dave or the neighbours. I was never brilliant at it, had no intention of playing for anyone but I enjoyed it, which was and is the main thing.

So now it is sitting back in the office/art studio/Kit’s cave/spare room where it belongs and I am starting over learning again by going back to basics with the help of online lessons on YouTube. Just need to buy some new headphones now. Who knows, I could be playing at a venue near you some day. No, I doubt it either.

Happy August

Jillian here. I’m looking around and wondering exactly where this year has gone. Can’t believe it’s August already. Zipping along through 2019 for sure.

My August started nicely with a fun wedding. As y’all know, I have two sons. I’ve been blessed with having one best friend of each of them work for me for a time while they were in college. One went on to be a lawyer (the older one) and the other one works in the governor’s office (the younger one). I like to think I had a little something to do with their successes, but that just may be my ego talking. Lol.

Anyway, the older one has been married a while and is the father of two adorable children. The younger one got married this past weekend. There was a a lot of laughter and love in the room. He’s Hispanic and his mother sang for him and his bride and also had some lovely Spanish dancers perform and there was a red ribbon they danced with and then wrapped around the couple. It was an interesting insight into their culture.

The mother of the bride was a different story. The bride herself is charming and shy and doesn’t say much. The mother offended a number of people by her rude behavior. Even my son, who thinks I overreact and see rudeness where there isn’t any, thought this lady was rude.

A number of people were walking down the entry hall toward the chairs set up for the service—we’d literally just walked in the door—and this woman starting yelling at us all to “Turn around, turn around. Stop right there and face the wall.” (Like we were bad schoolchildren).

Stunned, we did as ordered and in about a minute, she said, “Turn back around. The bride was in the area. You can do what you want now.”

I thought she was the wedding planner who was full of herself, but my son pointed out she was the mother of the bride. People talked about it all night. It was that weird.

Other than that, we had a nice time, some people overindulged in the wine which was kind of surprising. I’m always amazed that some folks take the risk in over doing it with no designated driver. Not that I’m preachy or anything, but that can lead to tragedy. It’s irresponsible.

The venue was the Mission San Luis. An interesting museum in Tallahassee that encompasses a lot of history of the state. They even have a virtual tour on line. Check it out if you have the time.

Here are a few photos. Oh, and the cake picture reminds me that I saved the groom from his first marital faux pas. The ladies cutting the cake asked him if they were saving the top and he said no and they could cut it. I told him he better check as they are supposed to save it for the first anniversary. He told me they didn’t have room in the freezer and turned to the ladies and told them just to save two pieces. I reiterated that he better go check and that he was no longer autonomous and had to confer with his wife. He returned a few moments later and told them to save the top. He hugged me for saving him.  😁

Atlanta, RT and Booker T.

Jillian here.  I just got back from Atlanta, Ga where I attended the Romantic Times Convention. The convention itself was fun and it was good to see other writer friends as well as chat and interact with readers. I had two pretty awesome things happen in the reader arena – with the same book. I wrote a story called Rex, the Ex and the Hex– first draft was done in 12 days – it was such a fun story to write as the hero believes himself to be hexed and visits a number of hoo-doo folks to try to get rid of the hex (like a witch doctor, a haruspex, a tarot reader, etc).

One reader mentioned she read it and thought it was really good and she could tell I was having a blast as I wrote it. That made me happy as I was glad that shone through.

Another reader saw the cover on a magnet on my table at the signing. She grabbed it and said, “You wrote that?” When I said yes, she said, “I loved it so much, I read it twice and I never do that.” – Her words were worth the trip to Atlanta for me.

The other best thing about the conference wasn’t really related to the conference. My friend Sandra and I went to a concert at a local winery/cafe where they serve tapas and their own wines. I love 1960s music and when she said she wanted to go see a man named Booker T. Jones, a Grammy winner, I was all on board for that. I said, “Booker T. and the M.G.s?”

Well, these days, he travels with his son and two other guys. The music is still wonderful. He and his son played a ballad version of Purple Rain by Prince and it was so moving it brought me to tears.

We got a chance to chat with him in the lobby afterward. What a nice, humble, kind man he was. I could’ve stayed there all night. It was that amazing.  If you get a chance to go, do!

here’s one famous song  and another with his son on guitar.  I tried to upload one of the videos I made but for some reason, the computer said no.  We were seated right by the piano. It was awesome.

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Gallery

Happy December!

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Jillian here- nope. I haven’t fallen off the edge of the world. It just seems that way. Laurie is always telling me she doesn’t see how I can do all I do and alas, she is right. I can’t. Things … Continue reading

A Wee Bit O’ Fluff by Valerie J Patterson

I thought it would be good to just write a fluff piece this month, so I hope you enjoy the lighter side!

I find it amazing how different my day is if I wake up with a song in my head.  I have found out that there are mornings the song in my head is apropos to whatever I have to face that day, and other mornings it’s completely bizarre.  For instance, one day last week the hymn You’ll Never Walk Alone played on an endless loop in my head all day, and that evening I found it to be a comfort.  Some of you may recall, I have an elderly aunt with Alzheimer’s who I moved down to an assisted living residence near me after it was determined she could no longer live alone.  This day, I went to see my Aunt Sis and she wasn’t able to use my name.    This particular visit, she recognized me but was unable to tell one of the nurses there that I am her niece and that my name is Valerie.  That evening, while we visited, she struggled to converse with me as well.  So, on my way home while I was lamenting the fact that her Alzheimer’s is progressing, I once again could hear the lyrics to the hymn in my head, reminding me that neither my aunt nor I were walking through this storm alone.

Then there are those songs which seem to be replayed over and over simply to torture me!  They have no relevance to anything going on in my life, but merely seem to be stuck there either because someone planted the song in my mind or I heard it on the radio and it got lodged there.  For instance, not long ago the lyrics to I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas were playing in my mind as soon as my feet hit the floor one morning.  At first I thought, “Cool, I really like this song.”  Never mind that Christmas had long past and it was springtime.  However, by mid morning I was like, “Get out!  Get out!  Get out!”  I would hear myself singing it or humming it and those around me would frown and respond, “Thanks!  Now it’s stuck in my head!”

I rather like when that happens because then I’m not alone in my madness!

Songs centered around a female name are generally complimentary and are usually popular.  There is an older gentleman who frequently has business in my office.  Instantly upon seeing me he breaks out into song, and the song he is singing is Valleri by The Monkees.  He really belts it out, and I always, always smile or laugh and instantly feel my mood lighten.  He’s been serenading me with this tune since 2007.

One day I asked him how come he never sang Valerie by Steve Winwood and he said because The Monkees’ tune was better.  So, a debate ensued, but was never settled.  He was just in my office a few days ago and still we have not reached a conclusive end to the debate.  So, here are videos of both songs.  Please have a listen and cast your vote and the reason for your vote.  I’ll take my findings to work for the next time he serenades me!

Oh, and what’s the wackiest song you’ve had stuck in your head?

Until next time…may the song in your head brighten your day and lighten your mood.