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.
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!
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.