Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Once in a Blue Moon Waltz

Lately Eberle & I have been listening to some of the old Alice in Wonder Band recordings—it’s not all nostalgia; Eberle’s working on some grant applications & she’s finding work samples. But it does bring back some wonderful memories, as well as remind us that the Alice in Wonder Band played some good music.

If there’s one song I’ll always think of first when I think of the Alice in Wonder Band, it’s probably a tune Eberle wrote called “The Once in a Blue Moon Waltz.” One fine spring morning in 2002 Eberle woke up remembering a melody she'd heard in her sleep—I’ve had the experience of hearing melodies in my sleep, but I’ve never been able to recall one after I awoke. It was a haunting melody with an int
riguing harmonic structure—not a lot of chords, but very pungent ones, I guess you could say. It seemed like you were in some old world café as you listened to it or as you played it.

At the time, Eberle was very interested in setting poems by women poets to music: she’d already composed settings for three poems by H.D., & it was around this time that she composed her setting for Dickinson’s “There’s a Certain Slant of Light” & Elizabeth Bishop’s “Insomnia”—sadly, we don’t have a good recording of the latter. I’d recently come across the following poem by Joanne Kyger, which we both found intriguing:

Not Yet

Not Tomorrow Night
but the night after
Not tomorrow
          but the night after
Then the moon will be full

Then the moon will be full

It’s been a long time.

We did alter the last line to “It’s been such a long time,” not because it’s better poetry, but because it fit the melody more naturally.

Around this time, Lois Fry introduced us to singer Deadre Chase. The Alice in Wonder Band already had a very talented singer, Kati Sheldon, but
she was the young person in the midst of us old coots & her time with the band was going to be limited by college. When we heard Deadre sing, we knew she’d be fantastic with the Alice in Wonder Band, & she was a good sport to hang out in the background for a few months while Kati was the front person. But to make a long story longer, we wanted her to have a few showcase pieces at a show we'd planned for the Alpine Playhouse in McCall, & “The Once in a Blue Moon Waltz” was one of those. I have to say that her performance of the song that night was one of the most electric happenings I’ve been a party to on stage; it was the last song of the first set, & I backed Deadre on the baritone uke with goosebumps. It was always an Alice in Wonder Band standby after that, & one of the songs Deadre truly inhabited.

Hope you enjoy this recording of “The Once in a Blue Moon Waltz.” It was made in the living room of our old house on the same day we recorded a number of tracks at the Marymount Hermitage chapel.

Top pic (by Tim Hohs) shows the Alice in WonderBand onstage during the ovation following the 02 Alpine Show mentioned above. Bottom pic shows poet Joanne Kyger.

The slide show includes images from Wiki Media & also photos by some of the following photographers: Earl Brockmann (Mr Brockman’s photos are those with a white border), Tim Hohs, & Sister Mary Beverly.

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