Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Greetings, I hope this post finds you well in this ever-changing world.

I participated in the fall Americanafest which was a beautiful experience (thanks BK Roads for the review!) and took the banjo I checked out of Brooklyn Library. I was compelled to take a risk and play a song on it I just learnt in Spanish because of something that had just happened.

A young woman in Iran named Mahsa Amini had been arrested by the morality police for having her headscarf slip and expose her hair. She died in custody three days later under suspicious circumstances, and witnesses had observed the police beating her. This later sparked a massive movement of protest in Iran and internationally.

This song in Spanish is called Nada by a Colombian-Canadian musician/activist named Lida Pimienta. It’s about being a woman who is fated to die and carries her pain inside of her. She is strong and unafraid. I was a bit nervous as the trains were passing loud above me and I had technical difficulties with my pickup and hearing myself, but I dedicated the song to her and to all women.

Yo te soy sincero
Si es que mañana muero
No le tengo miedo
Pues soy mujer y llevo
El dolor adentro
Soy mujer de lluvia
De sangre, en luna
De tierra, sal y duna
Con amor, sin duda
Si es que mañana muero
De aquí yo no me muevo
Yo no le tengo miedo

Translation:
Let me be sincere with you
Because tomorrow I will die
I am not afraid
Since I’m a woman and carry
My pain inside
I am a woman of rain
of moon-blood
of earth, salt and dunes
Because tomorrow I will die
I am not moving from here
I am not afraid

This reminds me of four years ago, when I also took the stage at the Guatemala International Jazz Festival. I was nervous because I was premiering a song I had written two nights before when I heard that 40 girls had been burned alive in a children’s home where they had experienced abuse and were protesting their treatment. Trembling onstage, I dedicated the song to these girls and the women in Antigua, where there were also reports of femicide.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. All we can do as humans and as artists is to try so speak to what’s happening and bring people together. There is so much darkness in the world, that it can be a struggle to find beauty and light. But I feel like that’s the calling. I have been getting so many emails about how to rack up views or go viral on TikTok and stream content, but sometimes I just don’t feel like doing those things. So you are hearing less from me these days but I hope that the little I put out there has some meaning.

It’s all one can do these days, other than roll with the changes. Apologies for the infrequent postings, work and family upheaval has taken me away from artistic pursuits, although I still get up to the occasional jazz jam. My email server had been down for a bit and I finally fixed the issue. So you can contact me here or hit me up on Facebook and Instagram.

Peace and love. Hopefully some new stuff this winter.

Opening night

So, the upcoming concert is on Friday, June 24, and the link to get tickets is here.

Opening Night of Brooklyn Americana Music Festival at Jalopy Theatre, Friday June 24th!

Unfortunately, I tested positive for Covid a few days ago. I think there still may be a small chance I can participate, but current guidelines put the end zone just at the weekend. I will still test day of to see what’s possible.

In any case, I was in illustrious company and am proud to be considered part of such a lineup. So many different backgrounds and voices, it’s really a can’t-miss affair and I strongly recommend you go see it and stick around the weekend to catch some amazing talent all weekend.

Full schedule here: http://www.bkamf.com

Also, a PSA that even though things have opened back up, keep that mask handy, especially if you plan to take a flight soon. Don’t be afraid to be that person, it may save you some rescheduling.

Coming out of hibernation…

As we are deep into 2022, the pandemic is receding, as is the economy. COVID is still here, but we are more preoccupied now with abortion and gun regulation and the shifting tide of the body politic and civil discourse.

Speaking of, I have been in hiding for the most part. Changes by Bowie is my theme song of the moment, as I struggle to find inspiration to create coming out of survival mode and several adjustments to my life.

I do have one public appearance on the horizon. at the Brooklyn Americana Music Festival’s opening night concert at Jalopy Tavern on Friday, June 24 at 8pm (tickets here). It’s my first stateside appearance in over two years, and I am playing alongside some amazing artists, so I hope you can make it!

Likewise, there is a fundraiser on June 9 for the semi-annual festival that celebrates local music and women artists in particular. It features some Americana stalwarts and looks to be a wonderful night. Tickets here

Lastly, my cameo appearance is only the beginning of a phenomenal weekend full of music. Check out the schedule, there is something to see all weekend, tickets here. June 25-26, Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Here’s hoping for a beautiful summer and more in life and music! Feel free to touch base, sign up for updates, and stay in the mix!

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Where’s your shame?
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time

How will I be now?

As we start to reopen as a nation, there is still lots of uncertainty. When 60% are still unvaccinated, what does that mean to the 40% that can resume their lives? Even so, we aren’t going back to the way things were, but rather a modified state. The title above refers to a song I wrote, inspired by Henry Miller, which originally was about falling in love, being forever changed by meeting someone. That phrase takes on new meaning now, heavy with meaning and loss.

Sorry to start with such a downer, but that’s where my headspace is at lately. It’s been really hard to be creative, I am either working myself to exhaustion on the essential worker hamster wheel or self-soothing/procrastinating in a kind of solitary sensory deprivation of sorts. Not the best time to flourish or write about your life that’s skid to a halt.

That being said, somehow I managed to eke out a couple of songs. One is a collaboration still in process that is about this endless winter that just passed. The other is a completion of that acoustic song I threw together right at the beginning of lockdown last year. “Isolation Blues” marks that year-plus of confinement that is finally ending, it’s not quite as country folk as I had started. It just got grittier and funkier as I added tracks. These days, I just want to write bangers. I think Tarriona “Tank” Ball once said that somehow it’ll be all right if you can put a beat to your pain. So I hope this is one you can turn up, groove to, and reflect on the tough times we survived.

The long winter…

Well, this cold season seems endless, and although it looks like the pandemic is finally being dealt with, it’s been a struggle to find the time and energy to be creative.

Slowly but surely, I’m digging out of the hole and providing a sneak peek at the long-awaited final full-length record I’ve been working on for the past three years. I first heard this as a Concrete Blonde song, heard the original, and loved it immediately. This song is by Leonard Cohen and was released on his February 1988 record, I’m Your Man. His words are eerily prescient and speak to these times, so I did my rendition here.

I played this song a lot live with band the past few years, especially in Antigua, and always loved the juxtaposition of the dark doomed lyrics and the joyous groove, much like a second line celebration of what we have lost. And looking back over the past year, we have lost so much…

F-2020

As we wrap up this dumpster fire of a year, things are looking up. A new president, a coronavirus vaccine, and a stimulus package are but a few things to look forward to in 2021. I am looking forward to finally releasing my record next year as well. As we are negotiating how to celebrate the holidays, I wish you well and send you this playlist to enjoy while bearing out the winter season.

2020 in Hindsight – a playlist by Alice Lee

New Video

Also managed to make a video to the track I made at home to round out the year.

This is a track I recorded at home and put to video.  Lagrimas Negras is a traditional Latin Caribbean song from the 1930s, here set to a hiphop and reggaetón beat.  I wanted to capture the energy of the wave of youthful protest this past summer, from underground street dance to taking to the streets and expressing joy, love, fear, and anger.  I feel like the fever broke from lockdown with marches and vigils and a community for change. Recorded on Garageband and produced on iMovie using Rotor footage.

Well, best wishes for 2021. We’re not out of the woods yet, I know, but hopefully in for some new developments and changes that will be positive.

I will be finalizing my album soon and dropping some singles down the pipeline, so stay tuned.

Lagrimas Negras

Summer Jam for the Summer that Never Was

Hello, a lot has happened in a few short months, but time has simultaneously dragged on and flew. After pulling myself out of a funk and some uncertainty at work and at home, I finally finished a track or two on the computer at home, and posted one I’ve been working on this summer in stops and starts.

Lagrimas Negras is a son-bolero (cuban-style song) that originated in the Dominican Republic by the Trio Matamoros in 1931. It has become a classic standard, covered by the likes of Buena Vista Social Club and Celia Cruz.

I wanted to do a banger, something you’d hear in a block party or blasting out of a car in the summertime. Some joyful noise in the midst of so much pain and confusion, as a tribute to my brothers and sisters who are marching against a system that has never worked for them. Black people have had to endure every type of indignity, yet still can sing and dance and celebrate life on a level that is admired and emulated. And in the Caribbean, the African influence has been strong and set the roots of Latin music, so I thought doing something raucous and driven with an army of voices to echo what is happening. So R&B/hiphop and reggaetón in equal measures, side by side.

Anyway, I will be better about making tracks, and hope to drop some breadcrumbs leading up to the record release. Stay tuned to the usual outlets for more music soon.

Peace and love.

Isolation Blues

So, as you know, all hell broke loose in March. The world turned upside-down, life was put on hold, and we were all staying home to keep from dying or infecting other people. Lots of people lost their jobs with no warning, businesses were forced to close, and people had to keep faith that what they were doing was for the greater good.

Well, we are in the second month of quarantine, and collectively, we are starting to lose our minds. The uncertainty and anxiety of how long this will last has started to come out in weird ways, some people breaking the rules, travelling, seeing friends for some relief, others lashing out, as it becomes apparent that we are not all equal in this crisis, and that some will suffer while others play and ride it out. It is extremely difficult to come together when so many forces tear us apart.

I wrote this song in one wine-filled scrawl on notebook paper, left it for a couple weeks and then added structure to it one late night before bed. A friend of mine keeps bugging me to enter Tiny Desk, and I didn’t think I had it in me to do one of my chestnuts, but this song came out, and I decided to bite the bullet and put myself out there to get this across. Mourning my twin heroes, John Prine and Bill Withers, men who served their country, spoke the truth, and weren’t afraid to tackle social injustice.

It’s not a “stay home, we’re all in this together” anthem. I wish I could make you feel that good, but I speak my truth about the general anxiety of this time and how perplexing it seems at times what it’s doing to us. I hope I don’t offend, I am just expressing my current reality as an essential worker, waking up every morning, taking my temperature, wondering if I have it or not. The mask, though unnecessary indoors, helped with my nervousness and served to document this moment in time, when it is such a flashpoint for our daily lives, to cover our faces and what makes us individuals for the sake of public health.

I hope you can understand or see some of this reality I am sharing with you. I hope you can be kinder and more understanding to your fellow human, I know it’s easy to be angry when we are in different boats in a turbulent sea, but I feel like our survival hinges on reaching for the better parts of ourselves and finding ways to cope, create, and continue community.

“Afraid in water…”

Quicksand was originally a Joni-eque acoustic tune with ambient cello that lent itself well to remixing. We did a drum and bass remix and then this one, which I really loved. Found a bunch of stock footage from old TV shows and wanted to make a trance-like presentation that you could project onto walls during a party or as an installation. The track is quite long, so the hypnotic approach was the only one that would work if I didn’t want to radio edit.

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