Joke Blog #1

Anyone who’s seen a Milkshake concert since we released the Great Day CD may have caught us doing “Happy Place” live. It’s a song off that Grammy-nominated CD, and has become a big favorite of ours, not just because it’s a neat song, but it allows us to connect with the kids in the audience in a unique way.

 There’s a line in the song that goes like this: “someone tell me a joke…” which I repeat as the band pauses and Mikel or some other bandmate tells me a joke. It’s usually pretty bad, causing ughs and head shakes from the audience. So I reach out to the kids, asking them for another joke, since after all it can’t be hard to top the one we just heard. Inevitably, hands shoot up and the jokes start flying. It’s a really a cool time in the show. Some jokes are just okay, others are really funny, but it’s the immediate sense of sharing and community that really shines. I love it. Unfortunately, I forget most of the jokes so I’ve taken to tapping them into my iPhone as soon as I can after the show.

Jokes are great things, and as I can attest, there’s an art in the telling. I am not a good joke-teller. But I sure do love hearing kids tell me one. So here is the first of what I hope will be many Joke Blog posts, featuring jokes we’ve heard at our concerts. Enjoy and share them as you like, and if you have a joke you want us to include in the next post, post it on our Facebook page or share it at the next Milkshake show!

What’s the best place to hide from zombies? – In the living room.

Why did Mickey Mouse go to outer space? – To find Pluto.

What did the egg say to the other egg? – You crack me up.

Why do chickens sit on eggs? – Because they don’t have chairs.

Why did the boy chew the calendar? – He wanted to eat a Sunday.

Why did the whale cross the ocean? – She wanted to get to the other tide.

Why didn’t the skeleton ride the roller coaster? – He had no guts.

Why was the broom late for school? – He overswept.

What do you call a bear with no teeth? – A gummy bear.

Why don’t bears wear shoes? – Because they have bear feet.

Why is the Sun rude? – Because it peeks through your window.

What did the math book say? – “Boy, have I got problems.”

tell me a joke!

 

 

Is It Always So Beautiful In Santa Barbara?

Milkshake, like most East Coasters, had just about enough of the wind, rain and snow of what seemed like a never-ending winter. So needless to say, we were looking forward to performing in California, as we have for the past few Aprils. This time, it was a concert at University of California at Santa Barbara for the Family Series UCSB hosts each year.

We had a 9:50 AM flight on our usual Southwest Airlines, and all seemed fine until Cord and Brian were stuck in a slow-moving security line and missed the plane. Luckily, they caught the next available nonstop and would meet us in Santa Barbara some hours later, in time for a late dinner at Enterprise Fish Company. When we arrived at our hotel, we were pleasantly reminded of our time in Ixtapa, Mexico years ago, when Milkshake played a Club Med. No, this Best Western wasn’t nearly as fancy, but the gardens were beautiful and we ogled the palm trees, cacti and flowers. And did I mention it was warm? Coats came off at the airport! It was lovely, with blue skies and sunshine. We walked to Trader Joes, got some kumatos, mushrooms, tapenade and other munchies and sat by the pool. Life was good.

Tom & Shepp enjoying the sunshine.

Tom & Shepp enjoying the sunshine.

The next morning, Mikel and I drove to the beach, which was only minutes away. Cactus flowers decorated the shore.

Flowers on the beach.

We walked along the beach, just taking it all in. Paddle boarders, seabirds, even a beach bar. Walking up the shoreline, we marveled at an incredible group of buildings which jutted out to the edge of a rocky shore. We soon discovered that was UCSB. Gosh, why didn’t I become a marine biologist and come here instead of Hunter College?! It was gorgeous. On our way back to the car, I came upon the absolutely prettiest shell I’ve found in years.

My pretty shell.

We fetched the guys a few hours later and headed to, yes…the beach bar. Oysters for everyone, including Shepp’s mom and sister, who live out there.

Milkshake on the beach

Milkshake on the beach

Then we headed to Campbell Hall. The folks there were great, and the hall beautiful. The show was SO MUCH fun and the kids were fantastic.

In concert at Campbell Hall

In concert at Campbell Hall

And just when we thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, we were invited to the home of a sponsor of our show, Thomas Kenny and his family, for a party in our honor. We were welcomed into their beautiful home and met some families who had attended our concert earlier. At one point, a group of mostly girls gathered around, wondering where my tutu was. After I explained it was fragile and I only wore it in concert, conversation moved to favorite movies and we all broke into a rousing version of “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. The girls knew all the words!

Getting ready to sing "Let It Go"

Getting ready to sing “Let It Go”

Then we moved over to a beautiful grand piano, Mikel brought out his acoustic guitar and we did a mini concert featuring “Go Wild!” and “Bottle of Sunshine,” complete with Tom on “table” drums. Shepp’s sister Valerie took a home movie of our performance. Here’s “Go Wild”: 

It was time well spent, and I could’ve stayed chatting with everyone forever, really. But the sun was setting and we had to head to LA that night. I will never forget the intense beauty, kindness and good times of that weekend in Santa Barbara. Special thanks to everyone at UCSB’s Campbell Hall and the Kenny family.

Grand Rapids, Michigan Has Great Boxed Water.

Mikel, Shepp and I set out for a Milkshake trio show in Grand Rapids, Michigan a few weeks ago, to play a festival called Laughfest. I had never been to Grand Rapids or heard of the festival and I was pleasantly surprised. The Laughfest folks picked us up at the airport and took us to the Amway Grand Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids. It was indeed a grand hotel, originally built in 1929 and then bought and renovated by the Amway corporation in 1981. That accounted for the unique Amway bath products in the rooms – honestly, I didn’t know they still made shampoo and conditioner in one bottle anymore. But there it was, a true hair-product wonder. In each of our rooms we found a swag bag from Laughfest, complete with coffee mug, t-shirt, sunglasses and other things with the cheery yellow Laughfest logo – a bright smile. Also in this bag was the most remarkable invention: a carton of water with the writing “Boxed Water Is Better” on two sides. Duh…of course it is! And why isn’t this in every Starbucks across America? You put this empty boxed water carton in a landfill and it will eventually go away. An empty plastic water bottle remains with us forever. But the Boxed Water people don’t stop with a great concept. They also donate 10% of their profit to reforestation foundations and another 10% to world water relief foundations. I’d like to find a distributor in every state, starting with Maryland. Right now, only 16 states, Hong Kong, Canada and Mexico distribute Boxed Water. For more info, visit www.boxedwaterisbetter.com.

ImageThe Laughfest people were all super-kind, and even drove Mikel to and from a ski resort during downtime. The festival was started in 2011 by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids to raise funds and awareness of the emotional health found through laughter and community. Gilda Radner, who these clubs are named after, would be happy. It’s rare to find a festival – let alone a week-long one – that is so well-run for such a great cause. Photographer Dave Kagan took these pictures of the first show, with the exception of the last trio shot, taken by Brian Kelly for Laughfest.

 

Snow Day

It’s one of many days of snowy weather we’ve had here in Baltimore this winter, and while the power is still on I thought it would be a great time to catch up. Usually Milkshake puts on what we like to call a “Valentine’s Day Spectacular” around this time, but instead we had scheduled a video filming for this weekend. A few weeks ago the video shoot got bumped to early March, and we were left with a free weekend…full of snow! I guess things work out the way they should sometimes.

snow outside my window.

snow outside my window.

So this year, after 2013’s fantastic shows and the release of Got a Minute, we’ve decided to film new videos. Our first effort will be something we can shoot indoors, a song called “Girls Wanna Dance,” for which Tom had a brilliant idea: film it in a school gym, with the band in white tuxes and brightly colored shirts. It’ll be like a school dance circa the 70’s, complete with mirror ball and nerdy teachers. And the funny thing I’ve found in recruiting kids for the shoot is that it’s much like Mikel’s original idea behind the song: the girls wanna dance but the boys just stand around “with their hands in their pockets.” That is, it seems we have more girls than boys wanting to perform in the video! Can it be true that boys don’t wanna dance?! I guess we’ll see when we film in a few weeks.

With all this snow piling up, and new videos on my mind, I think I’ll do as Cord suggests and go across the street to borrow my neighbor’s little white dog. He’ll make a great Snowy for our song “Snowy”  and it’s a perfect day to go outside and play. Hmmm, maybe “Girls Wanna Dance” will be our second video of the year!

Be safe, have fun.  And look for a special Valentine’s Day post tomorrow.

xo,

Lisa

Back To the Future?

Years are passing, and our kids are growing up. The Milkshake project is fulfilling its original purpose, which was to write and record songs that reflected our kids’ journey through childhood. 12 years have passed, and Mikel and I have watched as our babies have turned into our almost teen friends. So it seemed fitting to now revisit our catalog of adult tunes as we release the fifth and probably final Milkshake CD. Mikel and I decided we’d see if the music we had written years before Milkshake, for our adult alt-rock band Love Riot, would still sound great. We gathered some of our favorite musicians and booked a show at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. Thinking it would be especially fitting to have a date around Valentines Day, on February 10th at 2 PM we invited old and new friends to come hear us perform.

After a few rehearsals and many changes, we set up on the Creative Alliance stage, and decorated the theatre with candles, flowers, chocolates and Sweet Tarts.  I was excited about these old tunes, and to sing love songs again. Some of Milkshake’s songs are, as The Washington Post says “…more like love letters from a parent to child.”  But most are simply describing the world from a kid’s point of view, and singing love songs from an adult point of view would be refreshing. I added a favorite Donna Summers song, “On the Radio,” a new song called “Disaster,” and then even some Milkshake songs that work on an adult level while still being love songs (“Enemies,” “One of a Kind”), which of course, was our theme.

The band was a mix of old and new, featuring Love Riot violinist Willem Elsevier (who also played on the latest Milkshake CD), and Milkshake drummer Tom Moon, bassist Cord Neal and keyboardist Brian Simms. We added acoustic guitarist extraordinaire and good friend Howard Markman of Palookaville, and even my husband guitarist Miles Anderson, who joined us on a couple songs. To round it all out in almost retrospective then-now fashion, Mikel’s son Eric played drums on a song called “One of a Kind,” and my daughter Jesse performed her original song “One Day“. The show would be a perfect blend of Love Riot/Milkshake creativity.

New friends Bumper Jacksons opened with a short and incredibly captivating set, playing their blend of swing, jazz and Americana. We took the stage and it was as if we had simply taken a short break, and despite initial nerves, I was just as at home, tutu-less with my guitar, chatting and singing to an adult audience as if it were 12 years ago.  Yes, the band was different, but they brought a new intuition and musicality to the old songs, and capability to the set in general. I know it might sound totally ridiculous but love permeated the air in the room that afternoon. Old friends we hadn’t seen in years came out and it was very much like a gathering of good friends and good music. Everyone wanted to stay long after the show was over, and the good folks at the Creative Alliance had a hard time kicking people out.

Afterwards, we all said it was so much fun, we should do it again.  Perhaps we will 🙂

Special thanks to good friend and photographer Steve Parke for these pictures.  And big thanks to the Creative Alliance – what a great place for the arts!, and the musicians and friends who made the afternoon so memorable. xoxo

Radio, Radio!

I’ve always been envious of DJs: What fun it must be to spin music and chat all day, taking the occasional phone call from all sorts of people. I love visiting radio stations, too, giving unpredictable answers to unexpected questions, talking about a new record or show my band is doing. I never know exactly how it’s going to go, as every DJ I meet is so very different.

Recently, I got a chance to both be a DJ and to talk with one within a couple weeks of each other, and both were exceptionally good times.

“Lisa the DJ” was asked to create an hour-long special for WXOJ’s Hilltown Family Variety Show, 103.5 FM in Northhampton, MA. My show would air on Saturday & Sunday, February 16th and 17th, right after Valentine’s Day, and since my theme was love and social consciousness, the timing was perfect. Little did I realize how much work it would involve. Gathering the right songs seemed the easy part. Putting it all together in a way that made sense, writing a script and making it all fit neatly into 58 minutes was no small task. Luckily, I had great helpers. My daughter Jesse would say yes or no to some songs – like when I asked, “Do you think kids of all ages would be okay with Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’?”

“NO, Mom!  That’ll scare them!  Especially the burning flesh part!  It’s horrific!” she said. I was impressed she knew the lyrics so well (not to mention the word “horrific”). In our family, racism isn’t tolerated, and the school she attends teaches her the same thing.

So I settled with “God Bless the Child” instead.

When I asked my husband if he thought Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was a good social consciousness song, I received an emphatic “YES!”  That went into my playlist. Happily, Milkshake had some great ones to use, including our new anti-bullying song Let ’em Know and the look-outside-yourself gem More Than Me.

When it was time to put it all together and record the show, I headed down to our favorite studio, Invisible Sound, and handed everything to Dave Nachodsky. We started with my read of a little Danish story called Frog In Love.  It fit perfectly with my theme of love and social consciousness, since frog falls in love with a duck and, despite the naysayers, they manage to become a couple: “A frog and a duck.  Green and White.  Love knows no boundaries.” The read took all of 5 minutes, and then we worked outward from there.  Some songs had to be cut, like Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Night and Day,” and Pink’s “Glitter in the Air,” along with my story of watching Pink swinging above us as she sang at the Grammy Awards a couple years ago. It was breathtaking, but I didn’t have time to share it on the show. In the end, I think we put together a thought-provoking show for growing musical ears and minds. You can hear it when it’s been added to the podcast list: Hilltown Family Variety Show

Alex Cortright, Mikel & Lisa

Alex Cortright, Mikel & Lisa

On the other side of the radio mic, Mikel and I headed down to WRNR in Annapolis, MD to play a few love songs and chat about our Valentine Concert Matinee at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore.  We chatted with DJ Alex Cortright about the good old days of Love Riot, and our wonderful time with Milkshake. Alex was excited to spin an unreleased song we wrote and recorded toward the end of Love Riot, a song I wrote for my dad called One of These Days. To my surprise, it didn’t sound old or dated, and it reminded me of what a wonderful band Love Riot was.

The Valentine’s Concert wasn’t a Milkshake thing.  It was more a Love Riot thing, pumped up and expanded. We did some old songs from the Love Riot catalog, along with a couple new ones and some favorite covers. Look for pics and more about the show in my next post.