The bartender says, “Hey you two deadbeats! You haven’t paid your tab from the last time!”
Bill looks the bartender straight in the face and pleads, “but you know we’re both baroque!”
Here she is, Linda Lee Thomas, reigning Queen of our piano project, The Advanced Pianist. Linda and her esteemed husband Jon Washburn live in an ivy covered fairy tale house in Vancouver. There are crystals and tango shoes in the garden out front, and orange wooden steps that lift you up to the orange front door of the ‘Casa de Tango.’ Come inside, and discover Linda’s expansive living room welcoming you with warm reds and oranges, and wherever your eye falls you’ll find out something fascinating about her!
Next week we’ll be completing our twenty-tune audio/video recording at the ‘Casa de Tango.‘ Then we’re onto edits, and publishing and promotion…in a way, this has been a perfect dream to develop during good old Covid diciannove.
Linda Lee Thomas, Principal Pianist of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra since 1972, was Artistic Director of Masterpiece Music, a hugely successful chamber music series for 17 years. In 2000, she was inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame for her outstanding contributions to the industry. Her passion is the music and dance of Argentina - the Tango. She is one of Canada’s foremost tango musicians, performing and recording with Argentine bandoneonists Daniel Binelli and Nestor Marconi and with harmonica sensation Franco Luciani. In her latest recording project, Tango Con Fazioli, Linda Lee is putting together two of her favourite things - Tango and Fazioli pianos. For more information, see www.lindaleethomas.com.
What’s in a name? Cole Porter was married to a different Linda Lee Thomas. There’s even a musical about her!
We used to do that tune, “What a Difference a Day Made” as a nice bright samba cookin’ along at about 120 bpm. I also sang it in the present tense, using “makes” rather than “made” it seemed more vivid that way somehow. Shirley Granger was the first performer I worked with who did the tune that way and it just stuck. Shirley’s band performed all over Vancouver in the 70’s along with Clive Guard and Gary O’Bray. We played places like the International Plaza, the Cave, and all over Gastown. Shirley had a larger than life pirate-like steel-hulled sailboat with her husband Alex called the Black Eyes, famous for its wild parties. Many a fond memory of Shirley, our gigs together and all the fun in between.
Hurtling from the disco era into the present, Bill and I have been busy creating our latest labour of love. It’s a collection of Twenty Interesting Pieces for the Contemporary Pianist with lots of beauty and character and treasures for the ear. For example, we had just finished one of our new pieces and suddenly found ourselves singing and dancing ‘What a difference a note makes – twenty four little half tones…’all over the living room. Stay tuned for more on these tunes!
Spring starts making her entrance long before the calendar says it’s official and proper to be Spring, eh? It’s undeniable, unstoppable, and the most welcome thing in the world. A signal that maybe the cosmos does care about us, after all. Climate change notwithstanding, is it wrong to enjoy some early warmth in February and March?
I wanna tell the world how wonderful it is to have such a creative and accomplished partner! These musical flowerings are nourishing for all of us. Like my swirly leafed begonia plant…it’s been in bloom for weeks now! But plant music is tremendously quiet <PPPPP>
Bill’s new Quintet is exciting! dynamic! filled with verve! His writing is peerless and he’s chosen his musical companions well. Come and find out tonight!
Featuring a bucket list of favourite tunes from Weather Report, Steps Ahead, Don Grolnick plus some of Bill’s best original pieces from his recordings. Bernie Arai – drums, Nick Apivor – vibes/perc, Miles Hill – bass & Kristian Alexandrov – piano. Reservations recommended.
Aaaand at Frankie’s too this Saturday:
Are you the type of person that scrolls all the way to the bottom? Well here’s your reward! A sneak preview of this hot new band!
A thrilling dance experience can be yours this weekend! I’ve written a bunch of new music for the Kozmik Keyboard to accompany YOU, while Jacob Larmour speaks inspirationally, and you, of course, dance.
Rain or shine 2-6 pm @ Davie and Bute st. You know, the rainbow walk! Jacob Larmour and I will be on from 3:30 – 4:30 for a fascinating guided experience of the human story. Not to be missed!
Here I am playing a new tune called ‘Reunion.’ I just discovered the bass function on my Kozmik Keyboard – super fun. I may have overdone it though, ‘cos the arpeggiator broke shortly after making this little video. hmm…
Every Monday night for a while now, I’ve been taking my little Portatone keyboard three blocks to the Denman St. Community Centre for QiGong class. Sometimes Bill carries it, otherwise I dump it in my laundry cart and bash and clatter down the lumpy sidewalk, lurching over the paving stones lifted by slow moving tree roots, or a pet python someone forgot about? The first time, I felt quite self conscious about all the racket I was creating and worried how I might be perceived as a shopping cart lady, or worse, a musician. Now I really don’t give a rats ass.
Playing for the class has given me a great opportunity to explore the many previously unused buttons on my Portatone…over four hundred delicious sounds, the “God” button, the arpeggiator! Oh…it’s like squeezing raspberry jello through your fingers…but better.
Like the movie“The Blob” or Dr. Seuss’ green Ooblek...Kozmik Keyboards has grown a life of its own and will be oozing away next Saturday @ 2 – 2:45pm in Alexandra Park
FEATURING: Bill Runge (wind instruments) ZZ Wonder (spoken word) and Jacob Larmour – performing “Cosmic Traveller” (I’ll be in the back, pumping the sustain pedal a lot, and pushing various buttons)
Whatever you do, do not come (unless you love raspberry jello) Just cover your ears. Walk to other side of the street, and keep moving…
As I sit around here twiddling my thumbs still waiting to be over the whole concussion thing…I came across an interesting envelope in my desk. “Hols Costa Rica memories,” in my mother’s handwriting no less. Bless her dear heart! I wrote and played a lot while I was living up in that incredible location, on the Continental divide, Monteverde, C.R.
“I wasn’t sure if I should really mention anything…but a large ape has been coming to me out of the forest, almost nightly, and for some time now. What I like so much about him is not having to deal with the whole Spanish thing. What is Spanish anyway? you put an ‘ito’ or an ‘a’ or an ‘o,’ or sometimes a ‘dad’ at the end of English word, and that’s Spanish, pretty much. True there are occasional surprises, like the word “banano.” But think about it, of course a banana is male. Frank and I (he’s so wonderfully direct) often enjoy a kilo or two of bananos together, all in good fun. The locals here prefer them nice and ripe and even feed bananos to their horses.
Then there’s the pig farm down in the valley. I had to go down there to check it out. It’s actually more like a concentration camp. Barbed wire, large grey windowless buildings, dour looking men in gumboots and the cries of the damned, that’s what. I’m so glad I stopped eating bacon. I’ll occasionally get a good whiff of pig shit up here but I still tell myself it’s paradise.”
Ok – it’s actually the second snow…but it’s SNOW! and it’s still magical and awesome…especially through the eyes of my young Mexican neighbor across the lane who saw snow for the very first time TODAY. He is about four…I didn’t see him try and melt it on his tongue though…I’ll have to tell him about that one…and snow angels, snowballs, skiing and the whole glorious business.