Thanksgiving 2013 Newsletter

Hello All!

 

I haven’t posted a blog in a while! Thought it might be nice to send out a Newsletter this year on Thanksgiving (and it’s an early Hannukah this year!) rather than Christmas and beyond. Things get so hectic in December, for all of us, I know. So, I’m hoping that you’ll have a little more time to check something like this earlier rather than later! And if you don’t get to opening this until next Spring, hey, that’s okay too!!!

 

I can’t believe I just celebrated being here in Prescott a year in October! How did THAT happen, right?? It went really fast! I’ve found that things here are done “cyclically,” i.e., there seem to be “seasons” for performances, academic calendars, etc., and then there’s a whole other “vibe” to Prescott in the summer. This past year, I’ve accompanied many students, taught a few students piano, attempted to accompany some choirs at the local college (but classes were in the morning and way too classical for this jazzer!! :), I played background piano for a Gallery in town’s Annual Auction, I put together a Fundraiser for the Sandy Hurricane Victims back East at a small Deli shop in December, I took a wonderful swimming class at the college, I sang with a group of singers at venues around town around the Holidays and in the Spring. I haven’t sung in a group like this in years! In the summer, I was asked by the same Deli shop where we had the Fundraiser to put together a Summer Series of music. I was able to round up some great musicians in town, and some folks participated who were on tour throughout the Southwest. It was the restaurant’s first attempt at doing something like this. We didn’t get as many folks as we had hoped (there was a lot of competition, i.e., other gigs in town at the same time and we had a lot of rain!), but it was fun listening to great music all summer long out on the back patio! In the Fall, I was asked to help with the Main Stage production at the Prescott Center for the Arts. We put on Burt Bachrach’s/Neil Simon’s Promises, Promises, which was a blast! I met some wonderful actors, hired some great musicians to form a great pit band which I had to conduct(!), and had a lot of fun putting the show together. I feel like I have a new “theatre” family now as a result here! I also was asked to “revive” a Youth Singer’s Group last Spring which is back in full swing now. We have gigs lined up every weekend in December! So, I guess you could say I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy! 🙂

 

I’m also still working with folks over in Europe to put together a Multi-genre Music Festival in Holland. We did an Indiegogo Campaign in the summer, and are hoping to attain sponsors to make this a reality. Big meeting with a potential sponsor next week in Amsterdam..fingers crossed!!!

 

Charcoal and Calico are really enjoying their new life here. They have the run of the house, as well as the garage. I have been feeding 2 strays in the neighborhood also. I have been toying with the idea of getting a dog. Seems practically everyone in this town has a dog (!). But it’s too soon to decide that. Feels like we just landed here and are still getting used to everything!

 

I am staying here for Thanksgiving this year, celebrating with friends. December is completely booked with gigs and fun things to do!, and then I’m heading to NY this year for Christmas. Long overdue! It will be nice to see family and friends and be “home” again, although I must admit, Prescott is definitely starting to really feel like “home” now.

 

Finally, I did want to mention that a good friend of mine from Los Angeles, Rena Richards, has unfortunately contracted kidney disease, and is looking for a kidney donor. She has been diligently working on this, and asked that I send something out to my “list” since, as she put it, “you know people all over the world!” Well…I guess I do (!). So, if anyone is interested in helping Rena with this, and/or knows someone who could, please contact her at forpetmama@yahoo.com. (Rena runs a petsitting business.).

 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Here’s to a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Holiday Season ahead!! (Here’s a picture of The Dells, which I look out on every day!)

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–Monica, Charcoal and Calico

 
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THE FESTIVAL Update

Hello Music Lovers around the world!

I haven’t updated my blog in a while..a lot has happened since I moved to Prescott, AZ a year ago. I won’t go into all of that, but I did want to send you all a link about this incredible Music Festival I have been involved with now for over 2 years, called THE FESTIVAL.

In 2010, I answered a request on MySpace (yes, MySpace!!) for applications for musicians to perform at a Music Festival in Austria. I submitted my CD, a cover letter, press release, etc., etc. and was accepted into the Festival. Unfortunately, the Festival didn’t happen in Austria, that year, but instead, I was lucky enough to become a part of the festival’s Production Team, which was moving the venue to Holland, since the Festival became too big for the area in Austria where this was going to take place.

Since that time, the Festival was re-named THE FESTIVAL, since it is the ONLY musical festival of it’s kind…a multi-genre world music festival that will last 7 days! And I became a part of a Production Team from all over the world who skyped with each other every week to make this happen. I have been doing this now for 2 years, and I feel like I know these folks really well from Austria, Holland, Canada and Northern Ireland!

We are now at the stage where we have secured the venue for the event, the Assen TT Motor Raceway in Assen, Holland for August 2014, and we are starting to look for sponsors and funds to make this happen.

I know nowadays, we get hit with a lot of requests for money, and I don’t know about you, but there are so many things I want to give to that I just can’t, but if you are in a position to do so, THE FESTIVAL has put together an Indiegogo Campaign to get the word out about this incredible festival, and we would like your help keeping the Team going so this can happen next summer. It was my job to put the Indiegogo page together, and I even made a short video including all the Team Members which was a lot of fun to do! One of the members, Rene Smit, was in Spain on Holiday (!) and his clip was done on the beach on a phone!

Here’s the link to the Indiegogo Campaign which runs through September 15, 2013:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-festival/x/1595534

Please send this on to folks you know who would be interested in contributing to this campaign and/or attending this Event. I know I’m excited to be going to Assen next year….hope to see you there!!!

Many thanks for your support!

Blessings to you all,

Monica

monicaashtonproductionsllc

http://www.monicaashton.com

http://www.monicaashtonproductions.wordpress.com

http://www.youtube.com/monicaashton

Office: 213-613-1149

An Epiphany: You Only Live Once

Well folks,

As some of you know already, I decided to bite the bullet and move out of Los Angeles this Fall. I only told a few folks I was doing this because it all happened so quickly!!

After I got back from London this summer, I took a trip to see the Grand Canyon and the Southwest. I had always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and figured I might not have the opportunity again. I had tried to go 2 years ago, but my cat at the time got very sick, and they had terrible wildfires in the area.  This summer, I had the time and the money, and someone offered to come and stay at my place for 10 days to take care of my cats, so I was free to “roam about the country” as it were.

Needless to say, the Grand Canyon was magnificent, as were its surrounding areas. I traveled to New Mexico as well, and started to visual myself in the Southwest! I visited Santa Fe, which was beautiful but too “commercialized” for my taste. I almost bought an adobe-style house outside of Albuquerque! But thought better of that when I realized I would be locking myself into something I might not want later down the road. But believe me, it was tempting. It was a beautiful house for practically NOTHing!

I traveled back towards Flagstaff, AZ, then through a gorgeous forest down to Sedona (beautiful, but also too “stuck up” for my taste), through some amazing mountainous terrains to Jerome, AZ (which was beautiful, but too high up in the mountains) and finally came to a valley, Prescott Valley, which I absolutely fell in love with! When I came up to the village green in Prescott, and heard live music in the Courthouse Square, I knew this was where I wanted to be! I started to look around at some “rentals” there, and lo and behold, was offered 3 different music jobs within one day!  I decided to come back in a few weeks and begin the process of relocating, which I did by October. I signed a one-year lease on a house, and I’ve rented out my property in California for the year. I figured I’d see how it goes for a year before really deciding whether to stay permanently or not.

So far, I’ve really been enjoying living here. Not only is it physically beautiful, but the people are friendly and really down to earth as well. There is a real sense of community here which I found lacking in LA.  I remember having to travel great distances in LA just to get anywhere. Here, everything centers around the “town square” which is within a 15-mile radius of everything. It takes me no more than 10 minutes to get downtown from my house! (Believe me, it’s really wonderful to only have to fill up your tank once in a while..and for a lot less!)

In the 3 months I’ve been here, I’ve already been a part of a Musical Theatre production run by the Prescott Performing Arts Center, I’ve accompanied students for veteran voice teachers in the area whose students have won scholarships given by the regional Symphony Guild, I’ve been performing as a jazz pianist in town at various locations, and I’m starting to work with other local musicians as well. This past weekend, I produced a Fundraiser for Sandy Hurricane Victims in Staten Island, NY (where I lived for 10 years) at a great local sandwich shop which was very successful. Several really talented musicians and a well-known local author/playwright participated and we raised a few hundred dollars.  And we had a lot of fun doing it! I’ve attached a few pictures from the event.

IMG_4147 IMG_4148 IMG_4149 IMG_4150 IMG_4151 IMG_4152

So, I guess that’s my biggest news!  I’d say this probably falls under the “you only live once” category, so I’ve entitled this post accordingly. 🙂 As we approach Epiphany (Jan. 6th), I figured…I should share the latest one I’ve had with all of you!

I just found that LA, even though there were certain aspects of it that I loved, wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wasn’t very happy there socially, and it was getting more and more expensive. I realized too that although I’m glad I started my business as an LA Composer/Producer, I really could write and produce music anywhere in the world via the internet, so I didn’t have to stay in LA for that. And finally, I realized I’m not getting any younger, so I figured..better do this now while I can. So far, I’m really happy I did. We’ll see when the lease is up in a year if I still feel the same way. 🙂

I still haven’t given up on the idea of getting a full jazz band to Europe to tour, although I must admit, the chances seem to be getting slimmer and slimmer as time goes on, unfortunately. As we all have relocated, it’s been harder and harder to connect with all the band members which formed in the Bay Area a decade ago (!), so time will tell whether we’ll be able to do this. If not, I’m still hopeful to get back to Europe myself, perhaps with a Trio at least. I have been working with some great local artists here in Prescott. If that turns into anything, I’ll let you know, and of course, if we do somehow get a windfall, I’d still love to get as many folks as I can to tour with me who would really want to play and promote my music over there. Guess time will tell with that…

In the meantime, I am still involved with THE Festival Team in Holland and Austria, http://www.worlds-end-music.com. We have been skyping with each other every week, working hard trying to secure a location outside of Amsterdam for a huge World Festival of Music in the summer of 2013 (we hope). I put together an Indiegogo Campaign for The Festival recently which should be launching soon.

I’m also seriously considering doing an Indiegogo campaign to get myself and hopefully others back to Europe to perform soon. I’ll definitely let you all know if I get a chance to put this together as well…

In the meantime, I’m still trying to get more settled here in Prescott. I’m hoping to start teaching piano/theory/composition in the coming year here, as well as securing local gigs and more accompanying jobs.

I’ve also been writing music again. I was having a hard time getting motivated driving on the 101. Here, I take long walks and hikes, I ride along beautiful roads for miles with only the moon to guide me. Somehow, that setting has been much more conducive for my creative juices to flow.  I’ve already written one song since I got here. I haven’t had time to record or arrange it yet, but I hope to soon. I’m also hopeful that I’ll be able to record and finish arranging several songs I’ve written that could constitute a second CD. But that, together with so many other projects I’ve had to put on hold with all the changes in my life (!) will have to wait until I’m more settled in my new digs.  I do plan to get more of my London gig videos up on YouTube this year, and I’m hoping to write something for a video my stepson took of the White Cliffs of Dover this past summer while he was traveling throughout Europe. I just haven’t had a chance to do it yet.  I’ll try to send these things one at a time this year as I’m able to get to them, so you don’t have to read another long e-newsletter from me!

In other more mundane news, I did incorporate my business this past year, which I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog.  It was really nice to receive a “black beauty” for my own business (the legal documents), since I had to put together several of those myself when I was back in New York as a paralegal for other businesses! It felt like I was in a scene from Working Girl when I went to the law firm to receive it! 🙂

Also, since I’m now an “official” business, I decided to streamline and consolidate my websites. My production website, http://www.monicaashtonproductions.net now automatically redirects to http://www.monicaashton.com which I have been slowly updating and upgrading. I hope to have this be THE place for folks to go to see where I’m playing locally, as well as what I’m doing otherwise musically. I’m also still not giving up on the idea of having an “App” someday, but to be honest, I’m starting to veer away from the “high tech” stuff. I’m more interested in connecting locally as a musician here in Prescott and growing my small music production company.

In the meantime, as 2012 winds down, and 2013 begins, my hope for all of you is to keep pursuing your dreams. This is it folks. Life really is too short, as we all sadly know too well with the recent tragedies both here in the U.S. and abroad.  If it’s one thing I learned from being right in the middle of 9/11 in New York, it was to re-evaluate my own life and make sure that life didn’t pass me by. I’m happy to say I have been true to that ever since.

Please don’t let life pass you by. LIve it to the fullest.

All good things for 2013 and beyond!

Monica

P.S. My business is still based in Los Angeles, so if you need to contact me, my current information on http://www.monicaashton.com is correct. I’m still going back and forth to LA as needed.

 

Fall 2012 Check In…

Hi guys,

As promised, I will try to make this brief!

First of all, thanks so much to all who took the time to look at and listen to my latest blog entry about my gig in London this summer. I really appreciated all of your comments and emails. I am hoping to get more of the London Showcase up on my YouTube page (www.youtube.com/monicaashton) and will send more videos along shortly.

In the meantime, I am happy to report that one of my production projects, Keepers of My Dreams, by Siggi Jung has recently been released. Check out the website at http://www.keepersofmydreams.com. You can order the mini-CD I helped Siggi arrange and record in my Studio in Pasadena, CA online there, together with a wonderful little booklet she put together about the REAL anti-aging process. 🙂

Finally, I am happy to report that my business has incorporated. The official title for the business is now Monica Ashton Productions, LLC, based in Los Angeles, California. The address will still be P.O. Box 926, Pasadena, CA 91102.

All for now…look for another blog soon about more changes on the way….

Happy Fall Everyone!

Monica

Monica Ashton Productions, LLC
www.monicaashton.com (website and e-list)
monicaashton@yahoo.com (email)
213-613-1149 (text and phone)
monicaashton (Skype)
www.monicaashtonproductions.wordpress.com (blog)
P.O. Box 926, Pasadena, CA 91102 (snail mail)

A Reflection Overseas

It’s the 11th Anniversary of September 11th today.  As President Obama said, “It’s never an easy day.”  How well put. Nothing more to say, really…

I’ve uploaded a video on YouTube today of me playing “Thanksgiving ’01” in London this summer at a showcase I did at Jazz After Dark in SoHo. ’01’ is my tribute to all the victims of Sept. 11th. A recorded version of this is available on my CD. http://www.monicaashton.com.

Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/H6A-P69jJvA

Unfortunately the background noise was pretty bad (because the place was pretty small and packed in), but it still turned out pretty well, thanks to my wonderful videographer Andy Fukuba.

Much love to all,

Monica

Monica Ashton Productions, LLC
www.monicaashton.com (website and e-list)
monicaashton@yahoo.com (email)
213-613-1149 (text and phone)
monicaashton (Skype)
www.monicaashtonproductions.wordpress.com (blog)
P.O. Box 926, Pasadena, CA 91102 (snail mail)

I’m a New York Celeb!!!!

Here’s a press release someone in London did for my upcoming gig there…apparently, I’m a celebrity now. 🙂

http://www.platonicmedia.co.uk/2012/07/monica-ashton-performing-at-jazz-after-dark-26-july-2012/

Will definitely let you all know how it went (it will be taped also)….and if you have friends in London, tell ’em to “come on down” to SoHo next Thursday, July 26th for a fun evening of jazz and blues!!! The Band that follows me is a really good blues band. Check them out at www.bluesmix.com.

Thank you all for your incredible support!

Musically,

Monica

http://www.monicaashton.com

Kickstarter, Keepers and More…

Hello MAJB Fans,

I have BIG NEWS! I am GOING TO LONDON in 3 weeks! I will be promoting the Monica Ashton Jazz Band over there the week the Olympics start! I have secured a gig at Jazz After Dark, a place in SoHo, London on the eve of the Olympics!  Here’s the flyer my stepson Andy Fukuba made for the gig. Gorgeous, Andy!

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I will be there from July 22 – 30th, promoting the Band and hoping to secure more dates in the UK, Germany, Austria, France and Italy for a full European Tour with the whole band in 2013.

I have started a Kickstarter campaign for the Promo Tour. Kickstarter is a great way to fundraise for projects exactly like ours. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a great site. Here’s the link to our campaign. We only have 3 weeks to come up with our goal….please help us get there. If we don’t make this amount, we don’t get any of the money. So, any help is much appreciate. If you can’t give money, I’d appreciate you at least looking at our campaign page. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the Band. We’ll do another campaign next year as well. Thank God for Kickstarter! 🙂

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/477871222/the-monica-ashton-jazz-band-european-promo-tour

Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to help produce a wonderful project my friend and very talented singer/songwriter Siggi Jung http://www.siggisongs.com has put together and is about to launch. It’s the perfect antidote to the middle-aged blues for women..especially for those of us in this crazy image-conscious town of LA!  It’s called Keepers of My Dreams. (website will be http://www.keepersofmydreams.com, it’s not up yet, but will be soon), consisting of a book of quotes and lyrics, and a CD.  We recorded 2 of the 3 songs on the CD right here in my Studio in Pasadena! It was quite a learning experience for me as the recording engineer and arranger, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with Siggi on this project. I can’t wait to help Siggi promote this wherever she needs me to, as I definitely have many Keepers!!!

In other news, I have been playing out here and there, but not extensively.  I’ve been doing more marketing for the Band, writing commissioned music, and producing projects for others this year so far. I did play back in January 2012 for a private fundraiser at Maggiano’s at The Grove accompanying a jazz singer. Recently I played at a showcase for folk musicians at The Firefly Bistro in South Pasadena, playing piano with an old childhood friend Laurie Jennings Oudin and her partner Dana Keller, http://www.jenningsandkeller.com. who were coming through town on tour. It was fun to have a “reunion” musically like that!

As far as composing, I am hoping to finish a Suite for Brad Hubbard in New York who has commissioned me to write “serious” music for the Baritone Saxophone. Not so sure it’s serious, but so far, it’s been a lot of fun. A while back I wrote some cues for a crazy web series trailer about 11/11/11 for Jacqi Bowe, a great comedienne here in LA. http://www.jacqibowe.com. I’ve finally had a chance to put up 2 songs I wrote from that (rough cuts) on http://www.myspace.com/music/my-music under My Playlists, American Cheez. Rock out Space Aliens!!!

The Musical I wrote back in 2010, Banjos and Bugles, is being considered by the New York Historical Society for staging in the Spring of 2013…keep your fingers crossed!

And finally, I am seriously starting to consider incorporating my business since I’m becoming more and more global it seems. Will definitely keep you posted if and when that happens. That reminds me..I’m using Skype a lot more these days, so if you’d like to contact me that way, my ID on Skype is monicaashton.

Have a terrific first part of your summer, and I will definitely give you all a report when I get back from London!!!

Musically,

Monica