Then Suddenly There’s Music Again… Women Of Substance Radio

And then there was music again

My rock & roll past is no secret. In fact, most who know me are aware of how all-encompassing music was, has been, for most of my life. It wasn’t a hobby, a little thing I did on the side; it was MY LIFE… in all caps.

I started singing professionally when I was a teenager, hit the road with a rock & roll band before I was old enough to drink in the bars we played, and I ate the LA music scene during the ’80s like it was the best damn meal out there. No matter what else I may do in my life as a creative artist, being a singer/songwriter, and being able to get up on stage or behind the mic in a recording studio with incredible musicians making magic around me is, seriously, one of the greatest highs to be had.

But rock & roll dreams tend to be built on the alchemy of youth, opportunity, contacts, and, in some case, sheer luck, and as luck (or destiny or fate or whatever it is that drives these things) would have it, and as much fun as I was having, I didn’t quite get to the mountain I had in mind. There was disappointment in that, surely, but still… what a journey!

So now, as I write my articles and books, take and share my photographs; do any of my beloved creative activities, I keep my Music Muse nearby, always ready to tap her shoulder and say, “Wanna come out and play?” And she still (I see my Music Muse as a “she”!), miraculously, does. A few months ago I was in the studio singing backups for the upcoming album of my friend, Ken O’Malley, and his new band, The Ne’er Duwels. Friend and frequent songwriting partner, Jason Brett, and I cut one of our songs this past year and will get to others when I’m in Chicago next. Occasionally people write to tell me they picked up my CD and, still and always, I sing my lungs out in the car. It may not be Madison Square Garden but damn if the acoustics aren’t good! 🙂

Then, out of the blue, a music colleague of mine shared some information from an Internet radio station called Women of Substance Radiothe music brain child of musician and entrepreneur, Bree Noble; they were looking for new music from female artists. I had not heard of the station but loved the name and mission statement:

WHAT IS A “WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE”?

Substance can be defined as “significant quality with the implication of a hidden or special significance.” Music of Substance is not just entertainment or fluff, but has an essential “core” brimming with heart, soul, and spirit.

Women of Substance are female performers who deliver high quality music that speaks to the listener through vocal excellence, depth of character and emotion, and lyrics that leave a lasting impression. This includes Label Artists, Indies and Unsigned artists alike.

Women of Substance Radio has been on the air for 7 years. We are an Internet Radio station garnering fans from all over the world. WOSRadio plays the BEST female artists, both label and Indie, in all genres. We hand-pick all of our music starting with icons of the past like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Tracy Chapman, Mariah Carey, No Doubt, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Michelle Branch, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, Adele, Carrie Underwood, Amy Winehouse, Feist, Christina Perri, Ingrid Michaelson, and so many more.

As one who sings, loves, and – hopefully – writes the kind of music that has an “essential core,” I raised my hand without hesitation. And, lo and behold, one of the two songs I submitted, “Comfort Me,” was chosen for their new music playlist and will be put into rotation starting tomorrow (9.8). As the title says… then suddenly there’s music again!

I’d be delighted for you all to click onto the station, listen, vote, do that thing you do. The necessary information and links follows, and I sincerely thank you in advance for your ears and your support. Of course, I mostly hope you enjoy listening to my song and the music of other singing, songwriting “women of substance”!

COMFORT ME (written by Lorraine Devon Wilke, David Resnik & Rick M. Hirsch) will debut on the “What’s on my iPod” Show, our weekly new music show on WOSRadio. See the playlist HERE.

Show airs September 8-12, 2014 at 2 PM PT; same show airs every weekday this week.

Listeners and fans can tune in at: http://rdo.to/WOSRADIO (click on “Website”). 

You can also tune in on Mobile Devices by downloading our Mobile App. Just search for “Women of Substance” in your App Store or use these links to download:

iTunes Store (Apple): Women of Substance app on iTunes
Google Play Store (Android): Women of Substance app

After this week, COMFORT ME will enter heavy rotation on WOSRadio for 2 weeks. Fans are invited to vote “thumbs up” for your song by clicking the “thumbs up” icon while it is playing on our desktop player (and some Android devices). Fans can also request your song right from the desktop player top menu. Songs that receive votes and requests will remain in heavy rotation for an additional two weeks (possibly more depending on voting) and will be considered for the Top 20 which is posted on our website and linked to our player.

There you go… now go rock on!  🙂

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Advertisements

I Write The Songs That Make The Whole World… Well, I Write The Songs I Love And We’ll Go From There

SOMEW TRAYIN.QXD

I spent a weekend in Chicago recently with a group of old friends celebrating a birthday. This particular group embraces people from every era of my life – grade school, high school, college, and beyond – and every single one of them is supremely talented in one creative arena or several. Particularly music. Which meant the weekend, like all weekends with this group, was filled with music: the singing, playing and, this particular weekend, the writing of it.

Writing songs used to be a major part of my life. I wrote my first real song back in the 80s, a very era-centric pop ditty called The Ghost, which I co-wrote with the drummer and guitarist of my band, Tony Alexander and David Resnik, respectively. It had a boppy sing-along chorus and a great synth part and the words worked with the rhythm. That song, for some odd reason, became a popular tune in France and was one of the band’s top requested numbers at live gigs. And I was singing my words… I was hooked.

The process of songwriting was mentored for me by both players but mostly Tony, who, though a complex fellow I didn’t always understand, was a deeply creative musician who organically understood the flow, rhythm and meter of music. He taught me to listen to what the music communicated and trust what it told me. He taught me to trust my own skills as well, and gave me plenty of opportunities to practice them. I became a good songwriter, predominately a lyricist at that point, and we – Tony, David and I – wrote some great songs together. One of my favorites, one that also, strangely, made it to France, garnered us the attention of 80’s icon, Kim Fowley, who thought we “smelled like money,” as well as thought we had an 80s hit in “What Can I Do?While the song never fully blossomed into the commercial boon we hoped, it was one that remained emblematic of the mood and musical sensibilities of the era and our part in it. One of my dearest friends, Tina, knows she was the inspiration for the lyrics and to this day presumes most of my lyrics are about her. 🙂

DEVON band photo w-logo

I eventually began writing melodies as well as lyrics, a process that relied on my ability to grab the “music in my head,” since my hands never learned to play an instrument well enough to properly assist me in the task. I’d listen to a recorded track over and over, locked in my “songwriting bubble” of focused, meditative concentration, and eventually the melody (and the words) would come to me. Sort of magical, always very exciting. As I was sorting out these various songwriting methods that worked for me, I discovered that the process is as personal and individual as any craft and, as my own confidence rose, I listened and learned where I could, but also came to understand that no one else’s process need be my own. When I’d read articles about that great writer who “wrote 5 songs a day” and all I could manage were one or two a week, I didn’t let it bother me. When friends from Nashville told me everyone there sits in a room together and hashes out lyrics line by line, it wasn’t hard for me to say I worked alone inside that “bubble” to find the story of a song. When others said you should do this or that or the other… well, I followed my own drummer and became my own songwriter. We each have our way.

My second prolific songwriting period was what I called “the English chapter.” A couple of longtime Rod Stewart vets, the inimitable Jim Cregan and Kevin Savigar, were looking to put their own side project together, looking for a singer/lyricist specifically, and mutual contacts “made the marriage.” We worked together under the moniker Third Person (ironic that in the only band photo we took, Jim couldn’t be there so our “third person” was a mannequin!) and together, as well as with other writers the guys knew, we created a catalogue of songs that are still some of my favorites.

It was with “Tender Mercy” that I stepped up in this particular incarnation to first contribute melody parts. Both Jim and Kevin welcomed my contributions (and were very fun guys!), so writing with them, as well as with the other writers they brought along, was always fabulous. Lots of laughing and wine. Our process was, typically, that they’d give me already recorded music tracks with some melody ideas hummed over them, and I’d come up with the words. As we continued, tracks started to come without melodies so I could find my own, and, eventually, we started songs from scratch, sitting around Kevin’s music room or Jim’s Sunset Strip vintage condo bashing out songs we’d later record in some stellar Hollywood studio. Notable was the opportunity I had to provide Rod Stewart, at his request, with lyrics for the song that would ultimately become “Forever Young.” He didn’t use my words, but just the asking was a heady experience at that stage of my career!

After that chapter came a few years of writing and recording songs for films (my favorite being one I wrote with my old guitarist, David Resnik, for the independent film, To Cross the Rubicon, a tune called “I Surrender”). But the next big foray had to be my most profound and satisfying as a songwriter. I’d always wanted to write and record my own album; it was, in fact, a life-long dream. But as the music business undulated in the changing, churning tides of the digital and internet revolution of the 90s and into the 2000s, things changed. When piracy and downloading shattered all previously known paradigms, leaving the bar for “rock star success” so high and down so long and winding a road that few know how to follow, it became, for me, simply about the music.

In the early 2000s I started working with a deeply talented guitarist and songwriter, Rick M. Hirsch, doing a blues/rock gig, which was incredibly fun but largely built on classics rather than originals. Two years in, it finally felt time to create our own music and so we did. The first song we wrote together was built on a guitar riff Rick had in his personal library, one so evocative and emotional that I was immediately drawn to the melody and words of Drowning.” Songwriters are often asked what compelled certain lyrics, if they’re fact or fiction, and this one was definitely inspired by an outside source. Mira Nair had directed an emotionally wrenching film called Hysterical Blindness about a floundering young woman struggling with the fallout of her father’s abandonment and her own inability to find meaningful love, and the ache of that script jumped out at me; “Drowning” ended up being an homage to that very heartbreaking story.

LDW_RH

Another of my favorites from our collection was hatched in its melodic and lyrical entirety in the “songwriting bubble” inside my head, assisted by no music track or chord progression. It was just a musical line that ran over and over in my mind, its melody slowly attaching, with lyrics to follow. I sang it into a boom-box recorder (yes, that’s what we used back in those days!), gave Rick the cassette, and he came up with the chords and arrangement that not only supported it, but built on the words and melody. The song, Richer For Rain became an anthem of sorts, a testimonial to the triumph of realizing that one’s hurts and heartaches only add to the richness of who we ultimately become. It also became the title track of Rick’s and my CD of 11 original songs which, later, after the incarnation of our project took some turns, I released as a single artist under the new title, Somewhere On The Way (a refrain from “Richer For Rain”). That CD, a true labor of love and one I will remain forever proud of, is up at CDBaby and iTunes, if you’re interested.

While I continued to dabble in the craft even after that album was done and out in the world, as anyone reading this likely knows, my creative focus shifted more predominantly to other writing arenas: fiction, non-fiction, journalistic, etc. But the music Muse was always there, always tickling my brain with snippets of melodies and lines of verse that begged be formed into something cohesive and melodic. But circumstances to collaborate were fewer and farther between and so I suggested the Muse sit down for a bit, relax, and wait until some new turn of events offered an invitation. That came with this glorious gathering of friends.

One in particular, Jason Brett, is a brilliant and accomplished producer (About Last Night), entrepreneur (founder and CEO of MashPlant.com, an emerging artistic and educational platform for school/student interaction), and all-around creative enthusiast, who also happens to think I’m one of the funniest people on earth (the feeling is mutual so you can imagine the time we spend falling to the floor in laughter, particularly if certain mutual friends – Pam and Louie, that’s you! – are there to egg us on!), and while I was visiting recently, he pulled out his guitar and we sat quietly for about 30 minutes banging through a chord progression he came up with, recording it on our iPhones to listen to later.

Later was back home in Los Angeles; I ran it over and over, inviting my Muse to sit with me and see if there was something to hear and translate from the music. We listened, again and then again, and there it was… slowly emerging from the tinny, muddled recording on my phone. First a melody idea, than a lyric or two; before long the whole song flowed out of that progression and I rushed to type up the story that was being told. I went back to Chicago a couple of weeks ago and we sat around Jason’s music room to work out the bridge, find the right key, come up with the feel and flow of the arrangement and, before I hopped back on the plane, we had our song. It’s ready to be recorded, but we’ve decided to accrue a few more before we go into a studio to experience something both long-distant and oh-so-familiar to me, as well as one of the most exhilarating experiences any singer/songwriter can possibly have: going into a good studio with excellent musicians and top-knotch technicians to record a song you wrote. Nothing much better than that in the spectrum of creative experiences.

I’m writing about this today because it reminded me of how powerful and energizing the creative process can be – whatever creative process – and how life can prove so circular and unpredictable. How things that once seemed to have disappeared can come back anew; how something we long ago abandoned or felt we had to put aside can suddenly move right into the forefront to bring us back to some part of ourselves we loved… and missed. My Muse is delighted to be back in the room. I’m delighted to have her there.

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

May I Introduce My Other Muse?

We each come into this world with a penchant, an inclination; a psychic nuance that gets under our skin, drives our goals and, simply put, makes us really happy. The list is long of those many things that inspire and clearly it’s a very personal thing. What incites creativity, passion and ambition in one can be a complete flatline for another. It’s as individual as a fingerprint. A snowflake. That dish my friend Lotta makes that no one’s ever been able to figure out.

For me it was the creative arts. Always. I don’t know why. I could point to the lack of TV in my youth and childhood – and the books, music and art that filled the gap – but, frankly, my younger sibs who did not do without are just as artistically inclined and they were definitely Children of the TV (similar to Children of the Corn only in that their eyes are a bit large). Perhaps our penchants are pre-programmed. A carry-over from a previous life (if you believe such things). Certainly they’re influenced by parents who, in my case, were passionate about the arts, injecting them at every turn, convinced that even rearranging the living room was an expression of the creative mind. It is, Mom; I agree. And thank you, both, for your fine contribution to my artistic journey.

So armed with my many Muses who kept me company throughout an eclectic life, I happily bandied in a bevy of mediums, even past the point when others tried to convince me to “pick one and stick with it.” Creative monogamy, so to speak. But I had arrived in LA pumped by youthful years of writing, acting and singing, poised to take it all on in this fine creative mecca, so I chafed at the notion of exclusivity. Seemed so…exclusive. Still, I was a naive and eager young lass, addicted to my ambition and ultimately easily swayed, so I threw aside my concerns and did just that; I chose acting, forsaking all others like a good, faithful spouse, convinced that by committing to only one Muse I would certainly conjure its success into being.

Yeah. That worked.

Don’t get me wrong, I had loads of fun as an actress but ultimately fell out of love, particularly after it was clear that a viable career was not to be had and, it turns out, I really didn’t care all that much. Mostly I missed the other Muses. I remember telling my manager at the time, after five years of acting fidelity, that I missed music and wanted to get back to it and he literally laughed in my face. Seriously, he laughed. His perspective of me was so narrow that rather than explore a new path and its many possibilities, he presumed I was a deluded little dilettante. Big fat tipping point, that laugh. I dumped him, quit my acting class, threw out all my vapid 8×10’s and spent the next decade or so deliriously happy as a singer in a rock n’ roll band. And a writer. And a taker of pictures. All of it. Even some damn acting. My creative harem. Welcome home.

As I see it, this business of artistic monogamy is foolishness. Fidelity is for marriage, not art. Do what you love, do everything you love, and if you do it well, all the better…share it. Yes, I know the world is now saturated with loads of purported artists in every genre who do not do it well, whatever it is in this age of immediate and ubiquitous shallow-stardom, but if they enjoy it, enjoy away. We don’t have to pay attention and perhaps over time they’ll weary of the exercise. One can hope.

mountain-chapel_sm

Anyway, this is a long, roundabout way of introducing you to a particular Muse I’ve been deeply involved with for many years but have kept close to the vest for various reasons. While I’ve done session for family, friends and artists; have prints hanging on a few office walls and on various websites, this has been a somewhat stealth pursuit. No particular reason other than, as I viewed the many talented professionals attempting to build their photography businesses in a unfathomably competitive market, sorting out how to monetize the craft as I performed it eluded me. So I just took pictures and learned some worthy skills in the meantime. But after years of shooting, more requests for prints, a growing number of calls for sessions, I decided it was time to come out of the creative closet and throw this, too, into the mix that is my creative life.

Friends, meet my other Muse; Photography, meet the gang.

mezquita-arches_smThough you’re just meeting, I’ve actually been shooting pictures for most of my life.  For whatever reason, the idea of visually chronicling the journey was as natural as blinking an eye….and this was before Smart Phones and Facebook! I had a crappy little camera I took everywhere and I have many of those pictures still. They’re amateur and silly and some are as crappy as the camera taking them, but the eye was there, the composition was good and, bottom line, they are responsible for inciting my interest. It’s only been in the last couple of decades, however, that the passion to do it well became a pull. In fact, there was some regret that I hadn’t actually taken it more seriously earlier on…damn if I didn’t find the whole darkroom ritual of lights and chemicals and magically appearing images a romantic one! In fact, if I hadn’t rushed headlong into the performing arts I’ve always said I would have either been a professional photographer or a zoologist. Seriously. Either one. Primates or pictures.

2-baby-in-a-flower-field_smBut given my lack of aptitude for the sciences, photography, albeit peripherally, was at least able to come along on the ride – as much as possible given the limits of time and money. And though that first crappy camera held me in good stead for many years, it was when my mother-in-law bought me my first good Canon 35mm about 20 years ago that my world changed. Suddenly the pictures in my mind’s eye translated to paper. I began viewing things from the perspective of frame and light. Even when I didn’t have the camera, I was like Pam in The Office wedding episode snapping invisible pictures of perfect moments. I learned that the excitement of capturing an image of true beauty or amazing candor was as exhilarating as belting a killer song or writing that brilliant paragraph. I was hooked. And when the digital revolution exploded with all its heady possibilities, I took a leap of faith, invested in a top line Canon DLSR, a couple of stellar professional lenses and have been in a solid relationship with the Muse ever since.

toledo-castle-graytone_sm

I have great respect for technicians but I am not one. Perfection of skill and deep, expansive knowledge of the science of photography belong to those who made it their business to prioritize learning the technology from the ground up. For me, Multi-Muse Gal, learning the craft and technique of photography has been a slow, steady process of personal experimentation, research, book and hands-on learning. My education has been mostly instinctual, with excellent tutelage and guidance from renowned, respected photographers and teachers along the way. I studied printmaking with a master printmaker, learned camera basics from a Canon specialist and, particularly in the last three years, worked with a noted photographer and designer for whom I shot countless photos, did digital processing and printing, as well as extensive restoration and repair of older, damaged files. I learned a tremendous amount by the sheer action of doing it and what has evolved through all of this is the skill I have and my particular style of visual storytelling, examples of which have found their way onto my site (and some in this article!).

I chose the pictures I did for the site galleries because, simply…I love them. I have my favorites, certainly, but I love them all. Not to sound childish but they make me happy and represent amazing experiences in which I participated. Some depict historical places that took my breath away, some are those decisive moments in real life captured in a flash of serendipity; others are simple beauty or sweetness with no other explanation, and some are stories I wanted to tell or people who grabbed my eye. A few are even technically dubious but exude something unique or special in a way that won them a spot on the site despite their flaws. It’s a collection that speaks loudly to how I see the world and I happen to like what it has to say.

I truly hope you also enjoy the statement.  There are over 600 photos posted on the site so don’t attempt to view them all in one sitting. Take the time to enjoy them in incremental visits when you can freshly view each gallery. I promise it’s a more enjoyable experience that way and I’ll be adding new things from time to time anyway!

And beyond the sharing of creativity, I chose Fine Art America, the company hosting the site, because they have streamlined the process of printmaking and that, after all, is part of the goal here: to inspire you to order prints for yourself, your friends, your office; your gift giving. Because ultimately I realized the way I could best monetize my craft was simply to shoot what I love and then put it somewhere where others could access it and, hopefully, find a piece or two they’d like for their living room. Or the kitchen at Grandma’s. Or that space in the den that always looks so bare. Should you wish a print, a photographic Christmas or holiday gift, a box of cards or a canvas of any one of these photographs, I would be honored.  Fine Art America makes it easy to get the commerce done so click the link below and go commerce a little…my Muse and I will thank you.

But whatever you do, first and foremost, enjoy!

flying-nun-on-set_sm

LorraineDevonWilke: Fine Art Photography

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
All photos courtesy of Lorraine Devon Wilke

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.