Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flying Down to Rio!

 Winter is coming to Champaign-Urbana and many folks are thinking about heading south. My sister and her husband are traveling down the Oregon and California coasts to San Diego and taking a Caribbean cruise. My friend Bob is going to Guatemala over the holidays with family to visit Mayan ruins. What about David and me? In addition to vicarious vacationing via friends' e-mails and photos, we flew down to Rio de Janeiro for the weekend, figuratively speaking of course.
Last weekend we went to the Iron Post (approx. 15 blocks from our house, so closer than South America) for the Brazilian band called Bate Calado. Yesterday, Desafinado played there. David remarked in the middle of a lively number at last night's gig, "It's like being in Rio, isn't it?" Good enough for me!
 Bate Calado--which specializes in performing Brazilian bossa nova, MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), choro, and contemporary Brazilian light pop and rock music--features Gina Reynolds singing rhythmic tunes in Portuguese, Dave Cubberly on electric bass, Rick Deja on saxophone and flute, Eduardo Herrera on guitar, and Andy Burton on drums. This time Ian Middleton joined them on congas and various percussion instruments as well.
There was a good-sized audience and the sets were energetic. Gina dances around a bit as she sings and the beat was a toe-tapper!
Than last night we heard Desafinado. As our regular blog readers know, we've been following this group for years and years. The band members have changed some, including recently, but the terrific samba and bossa nova sound is very consistent and the musicianship is always top-notch!
Greg Jahiel is the group's earliest member and guitar player (and he does Portuguese vocals). But he's "on leave" right now with happy parenting. George Turner has been playing with them for a while, but George is busy teaching right now. So a new guitarist has joined the group.
 His name is Gabriel and he is from Brazil.
 Gabriel is a terrific guitarist and is fitting in just right with the Desafinado style!
The very talented Luciano Tosta, who used to play with Bate Calado, plays electric mandolin in Desafinado most of the time. But he also plays guitar and tambourine, triangle, gourds, and a number of other funky and interesting percussion instruments.
In addition to Giraldo Rosales, long-time band member and wonderful master of the congas, there was a new drummer tonite named Niko who did a fine job.
Another crossover from Bate Calado is Dave Cubberly on electric bass. We enjoyed Dave's playing last weekend and were happy to see him back again with this band!
One of the earliest band members is, of course, the multitasking musician Tom Paynter, who is equally impressive on keyboards, flute, and melodica.
We were lucky enough (and early enough) to get a table right near the band and this time we were close enough to Tom to watch some of his amazing runs on the Baldwin and his flute fingering.
As with many photos of pianists, we usually just see the back of Tom's head, but here we caught a close-up with a bit of profile, including a great expression of what looks to me like "feeling the music." 
But it wouldn't be Desafinado without the voice, beauty, warmth, and energy of the incomparable Elis Artz!
As always, Elis really lights up the stage with her dynamic performances, belting out soul-shaking sambas, definitely spirited contemporary Brazilian tunes, and old favorite bossa novas by Antonio Carlos Jobim.
At this gig, Elis was so open-hearted and generous in bringing up other friends to sing with her. Here Brazilian friend Robert Perrerre joins in for some great numbers.
Another Brazilian friend, Paulo Henrique, provided some very lively percussion.
And Gina Reynolds, the singer from Bate Calado, was in the audience and came up for some solos, duets, and three-way performances with Elis and Robert.
Gina has a lovely voice that is quite different from Elis' and the two blend together very nicely indeed.
It was a terrific gig, with two sets full of wonderful music, great performers, and a real sense of being in South America--flying to Rio--for a Saturday night! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

International Gem and Jewelry Show

What fun! Last weekend we made a trip to Collinsville, Illinois to the International Gem and Jewelry show. We had a wonderful time exploring all the new beads and buying some great new crystal, lampwork, and metal trim to use (soon!) in new designs for Beaded Jewelry by Susan.

We had a beautiful fall day for the trip down, about a three-hour drive from Champaign-Urbana. The fall color on the trees was fantastic, and we saw a few hawks at the edge of the interstate. Once we got down south a bit, the terrain started to be less flat and there were rolling hills and river valleys that we don't get to see much around Champaign County, so it was a nice treat.

 Our friend Bob dropped us off at the Gateway Center for the show and went on to spent a pleasant afternoon in nearby Edwardsville, checking out the historical houses there. Meanwhile, we entered the center excitedly and began the great bead expedition! It had been quite a while since we'd been to a bead show and the anticipation had built to a peak.

This year my focus seemed to be on Chinese crystal. I love crystal and it makes such wonderful trim and accompaniment for lampwork and other delicate glass beads and pearls. Of course, I have a big collection of crystal already, both the expensive Austrian Swarovski and the new Celestial Crystal. But there were new colors in the lovely faceted rondelles I like so much and excellent prices. So I stocked up!

Also found some lovely lampwork that was faceted: colorful patterns inside clear glass rondelles with the whole outer bead faceted. Got some more of the interesting opaque lampwork beads too--with swirls, clusters of flowers, and geometric patterns. Although I didn't photograph them, I also found bags of tiny adorable bead caps in silver, gold, and bronze plating ... just right for earring trim.

I saw a lot of lovely stone beads at the show as well, but many of them are too large and heavy for earrings and right now I am mainly doing earrings and some pendants. I also saw lots of those charming ribbon necklets for suspending bead charm pendants, like the ones that Theresa and Sara Jones have been making. I have already made a few pendants and a bunch of new earrings for them to sell at the Holiday Market inside Lincoln Square (now that it's too cold for the outdoor Farmer's Market), beginning next weekend for the entire month of November.

I had to get a new Plano storage box for all the new beads and do quite a bit of reorganizing of my crystal collection. That's always time well spent because it makes it so much easier and faster for me to locate the bead I want in the middle of a design moment. I have started making new designs with the new bead and am looking forward to doing more of that very soon.

Hopefully, at some point I will take new photos of new jewelry to add to the Etsy site. In the meanwhile, I will continue to pass new work to Sara and Theresa for sales at Holiday Market and, at the end of the month, the U of I Holiday Bazaar in the Illini Union. I hope that local fans of Beaded Jewelry by Susan will be able to come to some of these events. If not, you can always shop online in my Etsy shop.