Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Home Stretch!

At last, Matt and I are pleased to announce the newest member of the Tolentino family! As dyed-in-the-wool independent artists, we refer, of course, to the new Singapore Slingers CD, "When Summer is Gone". The album features a marvelous collection of works dating from the late 1800s to the 1930s - the orchestra sounds superb, and I'm awfully proud of the cover art:

As it happened, Matt and I both had this image in mind before discussing the matter - a like-minded couple, to be sure. While I've seen my work on many types of publications/media, this is my first album cover, and I couldn't be more pleased that it's Matt's first industry-standard CD.

And so, on to our news from New Orleans! Although the real reason for our road trip was for Matt to play at two gigs in Florida, our souls were thrilling for weeks beforehand - not only to see New Orleans, but to meet Matt's oriental foxtrot idol, George Schmidt. As a founding member of the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra (PLEASE look them up, their work is exquisite), Mr. Schmidt would surely have so much to share about music history, the character of his city, as well as art - he's also a wonderful historic painter.

We had no idea how delightfully enthusiastic, creative, and hilariously wacky George would end up. We were blessed with several audiences at his Julia Street gallery, talking about nearly everything under the sun - the aforementioned music, history and art - but included too were good cocktails, fine foods, embroidered underwear, public reactions to the orchestra's often politically-incorrect tunes, the importance of "educated amusement" (George considers himself the "Adolf Hitler of fun"), the woeful lack of nitrous oxide in modern dentistry... and, well, myriad other subjects. We were also treated to a sneak preview of the orchestra's upcoming CD - a joyful and surreal moment, in that our own album was still on the presses, being manufactured. At our final visit, Matt brought along his Petosa, and serenaded George with favorite rags and foxtrots. Jack Stewart, a fellow NLOFTO member, stopped in to watch the shenanigans. George sang "Palesteena" as Matt played - a photo will have to stand in, until I can upload the clip:

It's doubtful I've seen anyone sing with such animation - this is a man with a great sense of passion for life. In retrospect, I can see why I immediately had such a fondness for George - he reminds me deeply of my late father, who was full of wonderful stories, endless humor and joy. George treated us to several of the orchestra's albums, and I promised a good handful of voodoo lilies for the courtyard garden behind the gallery, as well as a more personalized gift. I'll be making a sheik's robe for Matt after the wedding, and offered to create one for George, too - he was thrilled, of course. In all, New Orleans was incredible - and I promise to write a blog about its uplifting, creative energy. But on to other matters!

Over the next two weeks, I'll be in garment heaven - I've at last found the materials for my wedding gown. And how. Yesterday brought news both positive and negative - one of the only fine fabric stores in town closed its doors for good, after 40 years in business. An upsetting loss, as it becomes more and more difficult to find couture-grade materials... but there was a silver lining. I managed to pick up scintillating duchesse satin, crepe and lace for my wedding gown - there wouldn't have been the slightest possibility of my doing so at retail cost. Everything in the store was 90% off, so Matt and I went a little crazy, snapping up yardage for future use. But what excites me at the moment is that I can push ahead with my gown... and it will be even more beautiful in its ragtime-era simplicity than I had ever expected. The lace alone, shown above, makes me melt...

So if I lag a little, it's because our wedding is less than three weeks off, and we are in the Home Stretch! However, I'll do what I can to post that clip of Matt and George - it's WELL worth viewing. If I don't hop by beforehand, look for engagement/wedding photos in a few weeks - I'll be posting them here!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Voice from the East...

Although my time is limited, I've stopped by to post a brief update from the road. Currently in Tampa, and soon to arrive in Orlando, I'm tagging along with Matt on a gig engagement. We were fortunate enough to stop in New Orleans along the way, enjoying the usual beignets and French Market coffee (as well as our favorite, the Ramos Gin Fizz) - but the focus of our stop there was to have an audience with George Schmidt, the almost indescribably ebullient painter and musician... a true character we'd been wanting to meet with for a good, long while. After our business here in Florida, we will be making a return stop in NO, to enjoy the city's amazing beauty and character... as well, of course, to see Mr. Schmidt once again before heading back to Dallas.

Updates to come - I'm infinitely excited to see how the energy of New Orleans influences my work. I have some awfully wacky ideas in the mix, to say the least...