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Miwa Gemini

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Tiny Desk Contest, 2018

We MADE IT!!! Just in the nick of time - we finished and submitted our video to NPR's Tiny Desk Contest.  We had a such a great time making the video and I couldn't be more thrilled to be playing/singing with these amazing ladies.  Hope you enjoy!

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The day we recorded straight on to vinyls - Leesta Vall Recordings

Ever wanted our songs on vinyl?  Now it's your chance and not only that you get to buy a truly one of a kind vinyl.  Read all about it.  And go ahead and make my day by buying one of them, please.  You won't regret it ;) Link right below.

https://leestavall.com/products/lvos114


Leesta Vall comes from “least of all” according to company owner Aaron, when I asked him what it meant.  It certainly was one of the smallest studios in terms of the actual size that I have ever recorded in, but it also was one of the most unique places I have ever recorded.

Rebekah and I arrived carrying our instruments, one sunny summer morning, at the building which is surrounded by huge street art.  It’s in Bushwick and creativity is certainly abundant here.  We chatted with Aaron for a while before we began, I asked him how he got started.  (Because I’m a nosy old-lady, ha!) Aaron who has kindly eyes, patiently told us that he is a musician himself that used to tour extensively and has a few albums under his belt.  But he got into doing bookings then he discovered direct to vinyl recording.  “Nobody was doing it,” he said, but it took him a long time to get the first listenable record,  2000 records to be exact!  Maybe nobody is doing it, because it takes craftsmanship and that takes practice and patience, lacking in the technology driven modern world.  I’m a sucker for craftsmanship - I’m in awe of the sheer dedication and years that it takes to cultivate it.  I believe anything worth doing is worth doing well and beyond.

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With our shared love for craftsmanship, we got down to the business.  Rebekah was placed in a small sound booth and I stood just outside the sound booth door so we could see each other through the glass window.  It helps us feel more comfortable to see each other.  It took us a few tries for Aaron to find our volume level and adjust the depth of the groove in the vinyl - really fascinating to see.  I was really nervous at first - when everything you do is being recorded straight to vinyl the pressure is on!  Or so I thought…but Aaron told us that the charm of doing this kind of recording as apposed to normal recording, where quite often you cut and paste a few takes to make one good take, is in the mistakes!  He assured us that the human aspects of the performance is what makes the recording special.  He recounted the time one of the bands he recorded even began one song but didn’t like how it was sounding so they stopped in the middle and started an entirely different song and finished it.  They kept the title of the original song so whoever bought the record sure is in for a surprise!  It reminded me of the days recording my songs straight on to cassette tapes in my own bed room, I relaxed and we had a great time recording our truly unique cuts.  Who knows there maybe some surprises sprinkled here and there?!

Selfie with the studio owner Aaron.  

Selfie with the studio owner Aaron.  

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Week 52 - All You Need is Love (The Beatles, 1967)

Week 52 - the Beatles

We made it! For our last song, well…the song says it all. Thank you for all your support - every comment, every “like” inspired us to keep going. We couldn’t have done this without all your support. Thank you. 

I’d especially like thank James for his loving and patient support, I know it was a lot to take on! The same goes for Evan - thank you! And most of all, Rebekah. You constantly challenge and inspire me to do better. Thank you lady, I love you so much!

As for the future, I don’t know…but I’m going to do my best to cover all the songs that all of you have suggested. Eventually ;)

And please come see us celebrate at Rockwood Music Hall stage 3 on Thursday, April 27th!

Yay! We. Did. It.

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Week 51 - Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) (Beyoncé, 2008)

Week 51 - Beyoncé  & The Dixie Cup

Last week, when I got stuck choosing songs, I asked for help on the FB and got some amazing suggestions.  This week’s idea came from some of those suggestions.  I confess - I know almost next to nothing about Beyoncé and her musical career.  It seems so crazy considering she is one of the best selling artists of all time!   It shows to see how much one can live in one’s own musical bubble…  Of course her music is so far away from anything I do, so I decided to bring in a little of my element, hence the 60’s girl pop group The Dixie Cups.   It was a lot of fun!  Hope you enjoy.  

I’d like to thank Megan and Cody for suggesting Beyoncé, and Sophie for suggestions the Dixie Cups!  You ladies are wonderful!  Thank you!

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Week 50 - You're So Vain (Carly Simon, 1972)

Week 50 - Carly Simon

This song followed me all week while I was in England.  It’s such a brilliant song.  I love good breakup songs.  The song’s history is intriguing as Carly Simon always alluded to the subjects of the song but did not entirely reveal them.  The only personality confirmed is Warren Beaty.  Warren Beaty proved he’s worthy of the song by claiming the entire thing for himself and even thanked Carly Simon, ha!  But Carly says it’s about 3 men and the other two remain something of a mystery.  Angie Bowie claims that she’s “the wife of a close friend” and that Mick Jagger was supposedly “obsessed with her.”  Interestingly, Jagger contributed very distinctive backing vocals to the recording.  Meanwhile, we had such a great time singing it - nothing to do with my own experiences, of course :PEnjoy!

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Week 48 - Mrs. Robinson (Simon and Garfunkel, 1968)

Week 48 - Simon and Garfunkel

The internet went down mysteriously yesterday and again mysteriously came back late last night…  Who knows why.  Internet wasn’t the only thing that was strange this week for us.  First we had to scrap the song we were planning on covering (long story, ugh) so then we had to come up with a song and learn it in an hour!  We settled on this song but to our surprise, it’s deceptively complicated!  We should’ve known, we tried to cover a Paul Simon’s song before and miserably failed.  One of the interesting thing about doing this project is that I get to peek into the personality of each composers.  I find Paul Simon’s songs to be exacting and fussy in details.  The combination that makes Paul Simons songs so genius but it doesn’t bode well with my personality…  But here we go, we must embrace challenges of all sorts.  Once we learned it though, it was so much fun to sing!  Hope you enjoy!

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Week 46 - I Love Rock 'n' Roll (Joan Jett, 1982)

Week 46 - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

A long time ago, when I went to see Brendan Benson and the Wellfed Boys, they jokingly started play this song on stage just because my friend said that was one of her favorite songs.  I was pretty impressed that they could play the song just like that!  Turns out, the song is pretty easy to play…  not saying Brendan and his co. aren’t talented, of course they are, but anyway it was lots of fun to learn and play this song.  It was originally written by the British band the Arrows but it was Joan Jett that made this song so iconic.  It doesn’t get more Rock ’n’ Roll than Joan Jett!

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Week 42 - Just Because I'm a Woman (Dolly Parton, 1968)

Week 42 - Dolly Parton

Can’t believe there’s only 10 more weeks to go!  Bekah and I were brainstorming for the last 10 songs and the artists that we definitely wanted to cover and Dolly Parton was one of them.  What’s not to love about Dolly?!  She’s inspirational in so many ways - her creativity, her humanity and her style.  This song that she wrote back in the 60’s was a response to her husband’s questioning (and subsequent reaction) to if she'd ever been with a man before him.  Of course it was a rather a daring statement to make back in the day.  These days with the imminent threat to women’s rights (jail time for abortion, seriously????) I think it’s very important to pay respect and give gratitude to women who paved the way for all of us.  Every courageous voice counts.  Thank you, Dolly! 

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Week 40 - Faith (George Michael, 1987)

Week 40 - George Michael

I couldn’t believe when I learned about George Michael’s passing on Christmas Day.  The horrible year that claimed so many talented souls, I honestly thought only one week left we were home safe.  I was wrong.  It apparently needed to take a few more away from us before it closed its door forever.  I haven’t really listened to George Michael for a long long time, listening to his songs, I felt really nostalgic.  He was such a craftsman when it comes to songwriting.  We were really happy to be able to do this tribute for him.  Hope you enjoy!

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Week 39 - "Heroes" (David Bowie, 1977)

He would have been 70 tomorrow.  It’s hard to believe that he’s been gone for almost a year.  In the madness that followed through out that year and the strange political climate that continues to this year, I realized I really needed to sing this song.  This song, originally recorded in the 70’s in Berlin depicts lovers separated by the Berlin Wall.  His performance of the song in West Berlina decade later is considered a catalyst to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall.   

Happy almost birthday, Starman.  We miss you dearly.

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Week 34 of 52 Weeks - Hold On (Tom Waits, 1999)

Week 34 - Tom Waits

Week 1 of Tom Waits December!  Things changed for me drastically as an artist the day I discovered Tom Waits.  I love his originality - in his music, in his lyrics, in his style and in his imagination. And I love and love his sense of humor.  Frustratingly I’ve only seen him performance once and that was for his Mule Variation tour.  Still to this day, it’s one of my favorite shows of all times.  This song has been stuck in my head lately and was thinking about covering it, but there are just too many songs I want to cover.  Since it’s his birthday next week (12/7) I decided to dedicate this whole month exploring his world.  Hope you enjoy!

This one goes out to miss Erika - not only because we went to see Tom Waits together but also she has the best sense of humor and the most infectious laugh.

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Week 33 of 52 Weeks - Where You Lead (Carole King with Louise Goffin, 1970 & 2002)

 

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!  This week, in honor of the revival of Gilmore Girls which happens to be one of Bekah’s favorite shows, we are covering this Carole King’s classic.  This song was originally on her iconic album Tapestry but when the producer of the show Gilmore Girls contacted her about using it as its theme song, she updated the lyrics to go with the mother and daughter theme of the show.  Then she re-recorded the song with her daughter Louis Goffin.  I also have a personal connection to this song - I got to work on the shoot with Carole King for the cover of her album Love Makes the World which the updated version was included.  I remember she was really laid back and easy to talk to.  

Hope you enjoy!  

 

This one goes out to Cody and Waylon :)

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Week 32 of 52 Weeks - Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen, 1984)

Week 32 - Leonard Cohen

When I heard Leonard Cohen passed away, I cried.  Not only he’s one of the artists that I hold dear to my heart but his passing seems to make things look even more desperate than it is, just when we need his music more than ever.  I argued with myself back and forth as to which songs I was going to sing for a long long time, but in the end I decided with Hallelujah, simply because I wanted and needed to sing it right now.   

Thank you, Leonard Cohen, for your clear and honest words and for your beautiful melodies.

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Week 30 of 52 Weeks - To Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan, 1997)

Week 30 - Bob Dylan 

I bet you are probably thinking “Bob Dylan again???”  I know I felt the same way.  Although it was written by Dylan in the 90's, Adele made it more famous, I think.  This song has been stuck in my head for the last few months.  I kept on finding myself humming it and finally it got so annoying that I had to learn the darn thing.  Everything about this project has been a surprise to me.  And finally, accordion!  Considering Bekah and I met through Main Squeeze Orchestra, an all girl accordion orchestra, we really should play more accordion…  

 

Anyway, Bob Dylan has been the talk of the town again, first with him winning the Nobel prize for literature, and then keeping everyone including the famous Swedish institute in suspense to see if he will even accept the prize by remaining absolutely silent about it.  I did read an article with him about his upcoming painting exhibition in London and in that he mentions that he will be attending the ceremony.  In the same article, I found a quote from him that resonated with me deeply.  

 

“Everything worth doing takes time. You have to write a hundred bad songs before you write one good one. And you have to sacrifice a lot of things that you might not be prepared for. Like it or not, you are in this alone and have to follow your own star.”

 

I’ve taken wrong turns and detours, have gone backwards and sideways, and have definitely walked in circles following my star.  And I’m pretty sure there will be lots more surprises, pleasant and otherwise, on the path ahead. Luckily for me though, I have found many wonderful companions along the way!

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Week 25 of 52 Weeks - Ruby Tuesday (The Rolling Stones, 1967)

Week 25 - The Rolling Stones (1967). 

Growing up I was more of a Beatles fan than the Rolling Stones.  Not that you have to pick one of them…  It wasn’t till we began collecting vinyl that I really fell in love with the Rolling Stones.  Especially with their early recordings.  This song although credited to Jagger/Richards, both Bill Wyman and Marianne Faithful mention Brian Jones’s contribution. 

I love it because it reminds me of so many of my friends.  I’ve been extremely lucky to have many many colorful ladies in my life. Although I don’t get to see them that often, even the ones that live close by, but I’m always grateful for their inspirational existence and I know I can call any one of them if I need a pick me up or a good laugh.  Thank you!  You know who you are.  I love and miss you!

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Week 24 of 52 Weeks - Long Ago (And Far Away) (Jo Stafford, 1944)

Week 24 - Jo Stafford (1944).  This song was requested by Bekah’s husband Evan’s grandmother, Tamar.  Her husband Emil passed away some years ago but it seems like they had a wonderful life together.  One can only hope that one’s relationship can be that strong and lasting.  

This song was written by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin and was featured in the musical Cover Girl starring Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth.

As we near the half way mark on this year long project, we would like to thank our husbands for all their support.  I’m telling you, it’s a lot to put up with ;)  And do you see the brand new microphone?  That was a gift from James.  Thank you, James!  

Wearing our favorite dresses found at a vintage store in Richmond, VA (thank you, miss Erika!) with the better sound quality, this just became my new favorite!  Hope you enjoy it, too.

 

 

 

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Week 20 of 52 Weeks - Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend (Marilyn Monroe, 1953)

Week 20 - Marilyn Monroe.  I love dresses.  I especially love vintage dresses and consequently I have accumulated lots of them over the years.  Half of me thinks that wanting to wear those dresses is motivation to get on the stage…  There’s something really fun about swaying around in a full length gown, even in 90 degree heat!  With that spirit we channeled our inner Marilyn Monroe this week - we had to dig pretty deep to find her!  It’s a mini-series continuing from last week’s Material Girl.  Enjoy!

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Week 19 of 52 Weeks - Material Girl (Madonna, 1984)

Week 19 - Madonna.  In honor of her birthday (August 16) we are covering her this week.  When I was little, I used watch Madonna live in Madison Square Garden on repeat.  I loved the whole concert but one of my favorite bits was at the end when she talks about how she came to New York with nothing and worked hard to make her dream come true.  It was cited in a sort of poetry style and I can still recite some of it.  I’m sure she influenced my decision to come to NY years later.  One of the first thing I did when I got to NYC was to visit the store “Love Saves The Day” from Desperately Seeking Susan.  Luckily it was still there then.  Cheers to Rebekah for doing an amazing job styling us.  Hope you enjoy!

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