About Larra

Last month, I began my first visit to the rainy city by watching the film ‘Sleepless in Seattle‘ on the plane ride over.  After the movie ended and my tears had dried, I glanced through the airplane window, and punched my boyfriend in the arm. “Look,” I said, “There’s a mountain above the clouds.”  Before us, a gorgeous sight to behold; a snow-covered Mount Ranier breaking up a line of fluffy, white nuages.  Breathtaking.

I fell in love with Seattle, with its signature Space Tower skyline, the plethora of lakes, the Dusty Strings guitar shop, Pike Market and the many, many vegan restaurants.  Since returning to Toronto, I have dreams about eating just one more vegan donut at Mighty-O in Wallingford (with sprinkles on top).

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21st, 2010

Two budget travellers drive at breakneck speeds from Toronto in order to catch a flight from Buffalo to Chicago, and Chicago to Seattle.  Arrived in Seattle in the evening only to discover our reserved rental car was SOLD OUT.  So we sulked and they gave us this:

I know what you’re thinking — pretty sexy ride, right?

We were exhausted from two plane rides, but that didn’t stop us from driving the minivan to our first VEGAN BAR, a very cool place called Highline.  It was Tuesday Karaoke night, and it was the rowdiest karaoke I’ve ever been to.  An angst-ridden version of Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants” had the crowd going wild.  We ordered vegan reuben sandwiches and “fish” n’ chips.  I think the bartenders were having a contest to see who could grow the longest dreads:

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22nd, 2010

My friend Paul Mathew is a great bassist and all-round cool dude who is on tour with Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer right now.  So he got us tickets to her show at the Triple Door in Seattle, the day before my show.  Perfect timing!

We spent our daylight hours exploring the city by foot.  Had to visit Pike Market of course.

I’m not sure how many levels there are to Pike Market, but there are quite a few.  We went to the lower level, into a great record shop that sold vinyl, CDs, and also a full wall of cassette tapes (!).  An older gentleman was rifling through the tapes when we arrived.  We previewed and bought a Willie Nelson record to give to a friend.

Our visit to the Market was capped off with drinks from the original Starbucks store, where the coffee chain began many years ago.

In the evening, we went to see Sarah Harmer at the Triple Door.  What a club!  We were escorted to our seats, which were angled to the stage.  The club looked like a place where you might go to hear Frank Sinatra, like the Copacabana (the club was formerly a vaudeville theatre).  The opening act was a 2-man band called Bahamas, and the songs were quirky and great.

I love Sarah Harmer’s voice and melodies.  The band was tight; the sound was good and she played some songs I recognized.  I think the band felt a bit strange about playing to a seated dinner crowd, somewhere in-between a bar and a soft-seat theatre.  But they played a good set to a very appreciative Seattle crowd.  We had a quick beer with Paul and then the band was off to the next tour stop.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd, 2010

Almost showtime!

So the plan for breakfast was to have a donut or two at a vegan bakery called Mighty-O.  But somehow or another, the plan started to multiply into this:

2 people.  12 donuts.  Not all in one day of course.. that would be too gluttonous, even for us.  But let’s just say I had more than two (smiley face).

With our bellies full, we went to the Dusty Strings guitar shop to rent a guitar for my concert that evening.  On our way there, we were accosted by a troll under the bridge:

I made a decision not to fly across the country with my acoustic guitar.  She’s been through a car crash with me (survived with only one scrape), but I didn’t want to end her life on Alaska Air.  I’ve heard the song ‘United Breaks Guitars‘, and didn’t want to take a chance with checked baggage.  Plus it might  be hard to write lyrics that rhyme with ‘Alaska’.  So I decided to rent a Taylor guitar at Dusty Strings for my show.  Easy, peasy.

The gig was in Ballard, a pretty neighbourhood in west Seattle.  Before the show, we went to the Hiram M. Chittendem Locks.

The show was at Egan’s Ballard Jam House.  The owner/soundman was super friendly.  I shared the bill with a Seattle singer/songwriter named Tai Shan.  Tai put up this video of the show on YouTube:

After the show, I went to Lucid Jazz Lounge where I jumped in with the funky house band and started improvising vocal lines. It was late and we did an upbeat bluesy number together to close the night. A couple tangoed to the song. Very cool place.

Before we left, the drummer shook my hand, exchanged a few words about working together, and invited us to another late show. Turns out we were in Seattle for the Decibel Music Festival. So we followed him to a club called Neumos where DJ Flying Lotus from Los Angeles was performing. Our new friend spoke briefly to the bouncer, and before we knew it we were all three standing side-stage in the sweaty nightclub and dancing right next to the sound crew. The drummer dropped his sticks a few times by our feet. It was loud and too much fun (and we even ran into a friend from Toronto, who was in Seattle specifically for the Fest).

And so our trip ended on a high note.  THANK YOU, Seattle, for listening attentively to my music, for your radio station KEXP, and for your great vegan cuisine (especially the food at Wayward Cafe). I will be back, armed with my new album, in no time.

SPECIAL THANKS:

Tai Shan, for putting the show together

Jason Parker for recommending Dusty Strings to me!

Vegan Score blog, for writing about my Seattle show here



Had a lovely time playing the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival again this year.

Here are some photos (thanks to Christopher Lansing):

I was fortunate to have two special guests for our show; David Occhipinti on guitar and Jessica Stuart on vocals.  David ended up playing an entire set with the band.  He’ll be joining me again next Wednesday at Clinton’s for a duo gig.  He sounds great on my original tunes!

Here is a video of us doing a cover of the Gnarlz Barkley tune ‘Crazy’ (the Shawn Colvin version), featuring Jessica Stuart on vocals:

Peace & love,
LS




Here are the internet TV interviews I did to promote my CMW appearance.

Thanks for hosts Hugh Reilly and Erin Ademoglu from Liquid Lunch, and Nikki Clarke (nix on da mix) from And the Beat Goes On for having me on their shows.

LIQUID LUNCH — I’m in this video at approximately 84:50 mins (you may want to skip ahead.. or not):

AND THE BEAT GOES ON — I’m in this video at approximately 47:45 mins… there’s some funny stuff before & after worth checking out!  High-larious!

Time ran out before they did the “old school” photo part of the show — we’ll save those interesting 80s photos of my life for the next interview perhaps… 🙂

LS


Check out the soundcheck photos from yesterday’s video shoot, courtesy of my new favourite photographer, Miss Simona Mindy:

The rest are on Facebook — check out the photo album by clicking here.

Simona has a great Flickr page here with more of her creative photos.

Video clips & fancy jazzy photos coming soon!

Larra
xo


Warren Beatty

Pull Me In
(C) 2009 Larra Skye

Wipe that smile off your face
I don’t have time for games
I want a man to hold me tight
Not just a lover for one night

I tried to look away
When I saw you just the other day
But oh you kill me with those eyes
I think I need to pray

You pull me in
In the wrong direction
And I don’t know if this is a fight I can win
You pull me in
In the wrong direction
Like a hot summer sun
You feel good
But you’re bad for my skin
Mmm, you pull me in

You were always at the downtown cafe
That I went to almost every day
Held all your women by the hearts
Your lying was an art

Yesterday you sat alone
And I felt your gaze shoot through my bones
I shook my head and had to run
Before I too was won

Chorus

Modern-day Casanova
Dont want to be another page in your book
Your smile is warm but it’s not sincere
You can’t conquer me with a line
I’ve heard you speak many times

Chorus

When I finished high school, I couldn’t wait to leave my medium-sized town to move to Toronto.  I was 19 years old, and the city held promises of new friends, late nights, live music everywhere you looked, and above all, freedom.  I didn’t want to live in the university dormitories (I cringed at the whole concept of frosh week), so I moved into my older brother’s house on the Danforth and took the subway to my bookstore job and to my school.

Seven years in, I still love my city of Toronto —  but now I enjoy escaping to the quiet life outside the 416 area code.

My parents live in the country now.  Not in Newmarket, where new subdivision homes are being built in the blink of an eye. No, they live a bit further away.  A few hours further.  Take one road, then another, and then stay on that road for more than 100 clicks.

It’s so beautiful.  Simply beautiful.

And here’s where I find the differences between country and city.

You know you’re in the country when…

1.  You have to clear the snow from your driveway with a tractor, as evidenced below (my stepdad is driving this):

2.  You have three cats and a dog.  In our Toronto apartment, not even one pet is practical.  My kid sister took these photos before I could tell her not to use the camera “flash” directly in the animals’ eyes (but aren’t these animals beautiful?):

3.  You’re going to sleep and you don’t hear anything.

In the city, there are no shortage of noises — buses, cars, neighbours, the annoying motorcycle driver who speeds by your bedroom window at 3 a.m….

When I travel north, I leave the sounds behind.  This allows me to create new sounds that turn into new songs.  My latest song, “Don’t Think, Just Feel” (unreleased) was finished during my last trip to the country.  It’s a nice place to put your thoughts in order.  Aside from the four animals running about, it’s generally quiet and peaceful.

Enjoy the photos below of the winter wonderland that is Grey County, Ontario.  The first one looks like the surface of the moon to me (minus the glare from the window).

Now I’m turning on my electric guitar amp to practise for my Canadian Music Week (CMW) showcase with my new muse, the Epiphone Sheraton.  I’m back in the city, after all.  The acoustic guitar can stay in its case for the time being.

Cheers,
LS


My good friend Kevin Zarnett (above) and I recently recorded some quick tunes for a Beatles project we’re involved in — two guitars, and two voices.  We perform the Beatles songbook at private events / corporate / weddings.  Here are two of my favourites; “Here Comes the Sun” and “Let It Be”.  Enjoy.  If you’re interested in bookings, please contact larra@larraskye.com.

Here Comes the Sun

Let It Be