Dispatches from Europe

oh the Caspian Sea!

My hotel view is magnificent.  It’s on the 16th floor of an office building and it’s pink!  First thing I did in my room–after spending 5 minutes with light switches on and off only to realize it was my key that had all power access-was open the window and voila!  There it is–the lovely Caspian Sea. WOW.  it’s so great to be here and know that this is truly a special experience.  Thanks for having us on the program this year US State Dept and AMA!

Our travel to get here was met with some challenges that we faced head on with aplomb and with Gluhwein!  Yes–we had a longer layover than expected in Vienna and so off we went into Wien mitte for the Christmas market celebration.  Only 3 Euros for a cup of that sweet wine and then some yummy potato pancakes and roasted chestnuts.   It was nice to  have a moment in a familiar city and to feel the European kind of holiday cheer.

But it has been a tiring double red eye kind of travel and I feel a fatigue that is part floating zombie and part excited tourist!!  How can I just go to sleep when there is local cuisine to try out and city lights tempting me? I’m sure there is some 80’s dancing tonight somewhere.  Or maybe Karaoke and I do know the Azerbajiani Eurovision hit song, “Running Scared”!!  In fact we played it this afternoon at our first concert with some local music students in the town of Gusar.   We loved the unison applause and the support and enthusiasm from our audience.   And then on the drive home, we all sacked out!

tomorrow’s adventure includes coffee first thing….


Off to Azerbaijan today!

It has been wonderful to start our tour in Washington DC in beautiful crisp weather.  We played for bright and enthusiastic 2nd graders at the Filmore Arts School and were hosted by our sponsors at American Voices and the State Department.   I took a walk today on the mall and was very moved to see the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, the White House and so many other sights.   We have been vested with the title of cultural ambassadors and can’t wait to meet all the people and musicians awaiting us in Eastern Europe.   Here we go!!

Bon Voyage concert!

well that was fun! Thank you San Francisco Performances for hosting us on your Salons at the Rex concert series.  It was great to have a reception after the show and chat with people about our upcoming adventure.  Yes I am writing here when perhaps I should be packing or better yet–sleeping (it is 12:36 a.m.)

We had a very full house and shared new tunes for our tour–a folk song arranged by each of us from our host countries including “Sene de Qualmaz” from Azerbaijan, “Jovano, Jovanke” from Macedonia and “Mujo Kuje” from Bosnia.  Dina and Irene will have to get the Latvian and Lituanian songs to you since I never did get the song titles.

attempting to add some photos from the night!

Packing for WINTER!!!

Irene here. Packing for a trip is one thing. Packing for a trip which takes one to Latvia in December is another. We know some of the concerts we play will be in very cold halls, so warm concert worthy clothing is a main focus. We leave in one week, starting in Azerbaijan. I have only seen the Caspian Sea on a map. We will be looking at it for real in about a week and a half from Baku, Azerbaijan!

It’s Alive! and well and living in SF!

Gordon’s alive!!  Flash–we only have 24 hours to save the earth!!

So glad it’s Obama still in the white house before we embark on a month-long residency representing the good ole US of A.  We can be proud of our country that much more and the fact that we are going overseas to play our music and supported by the US State Deparment. How cool is that?!

My friend Sandy said this is a program that started with Louis Armstrong during the cold war in the 1950’s when he brought his horn to the Pyramids in Giza. I am proud to continue the tradition and bringing my own ax to some famous and probably not so famous spots.  He said there’s a book (kinda academic) that gives a bit of history to it all called, “Satchmo blows up the world” and well…I got a lot of flights ahead of me for reading….check out the link here for your own education.

next stop: red eye from SFO to Dulles!!