Rand and Erin album update (Seanan McGuire Indiegogo perk!)

As you may know, Rand and I are working on an album together. I’ve already shared our Indiegogo link once, but I wanted to take a moment to highlight a really special fundraising perk.

In 2013, we were invited to be the Filk Waifs (Toastmasters) at FilKONtario and our dear friend Seanan McGuire agreed to write our bio for the program book.

Of course, if you know Seanan at all, you’ve already guessed that what she supplied was no ordinary bio: she wrote an original short story, casting the two of us as characters. That story has only appeared in the program book, until now!

Campaign pledges of $30 or more get you a digital copy of that bio/story! And that’s not all the Seanan you’ll find on this project!

One of the tracks is a parody of Seanan’s song “Dear Gina,” with lyrics by me and Merav Hoffman. The song imagines that October Daye has gained sentience outside book world, realizes that Seanan is the one doing all of these horrible things to her, and threatens revenge. 😀 (You can see the lyrics, and an early performance of this song, here.

(Additionally, Seanan is going to supply us with some vocal tracks!)

I hope you’ll click the link and find out more about our project!

OVFF concert set

Rand and I had a truly fantastic weekend at OVFF. Among the highlights for us was our 4-song concert set on Sunday afternoon, during which we got to debut 3 new songs that will appear on our upcoming album! (Here’s our Indiegogo page, if you are so inclined!)

The four songs we played were:

I’m a much more confident performer than I was four years ago at FKO, and I owe it all to this wonderful, supportive, nurturing community. Thank you for making me believe I could do this!

I’m so proud of the songs Rand and I have written for this album. They are all the results of truly collaborative efforts–I don’t (yet) write any music, just lyrics, so the music/melodies are all Rand (except “Do As Peggy Says,” which was a collaboration with Adam!). With only a couple of exceptions, all the original lyrics on our upcoming album were written by the two of us together, with the actual process varying from song to song.

And I can’t end this post without mentioning the amazingly talented Amy McNally and Brenda Sutton, who helped make “Nasty” everything we dreamed it could be. <3

We also got to spend some time hanging out with the whole Vixy & Tony band to talk about some tracks on the album they’re going to assist us on. (squee!)

I’m probably not going to get around to a full con report, but it was an amazing weekend filled with friends and music and laughter, and I’ve got a bit of the back-to-work blues today. (And as usual, there was too much to do and I did not get around to a whole bunch of things I had planned on doing, so my apologies to anyone I neglected!)

As always, many thanks to the ConCom for all you do!

Nasty

Lyrics by Erin and Rand Bellavia, music by Rand Bellavia

My story’s been told and it’s older than time
Older than fables or nursery rhymes
They try me then try me then try to set fire to me
Though I’ve committed no crimes

Whatever the scene they aim to demean
Peasant, princess, servant or queen
They try me than try me then cry to the sky
Unclean, obscene, and everything in between

No broom or bubbling cauldron
There’s no evil in my eye
But if whatever I do is called sin
Then I confess that I

I am nasty
I am timeless
I will not be silenced
I am alive with fire and fury
And I will fight til the tide has turned

We are nasty
We’re the forsaken
We will not be shaken
We are the daughters of the witches
That your fathers failed to burn

You say that you’re blessed
There’s no need to redress
Surely your best
Destiny’s manifest

Then profess I’m possessed
You detest and arrest me
And suggest I confess to my sin

But as you might have guessed
I’m less than impressed
You’re obsessed, grotesque
And repressed; I request

I express my protest:
Unless Yes is the Guest
I attest the oppressed cannot win

No broom or bubbling cauldron
There’s no evil in my eye
But if whatever I do is called sin
Then I confess that I

I am nasty
I am timeless
I will not be silenced
I am alive with fire and fury
And I will fight til the tide has turned

We are nasty
We’re the forsaken
We will not be shaken
We are the daughters of the witches
That your fathers failed to burn

Do As Peggy Says

Lyrics by Erin and Rand Bellavia, music by Rand Bellavia and Adam English

If you’re listless and you feel like you were meant for more
If you’re enlisted but you always end up missing the war
Support your friends, always offer to help
Know your value, stand up for yourself

And do as Peggy says
Do do as Peggy says

If you’re at work and having trouble getting recognized
Taking shorthand when you know that you’re a super spy
Sometimes you gotta fight to make things improve
Just plant both feet and say, “No, you move!”

You gotta do as Peggy says
Do do as Peggy says

All the daring women have got to believe
Just like Sharon and Simmons and Steve
You gotta do as Peggy says
Do do as Peggy says

If you’re restless and you feel like we’ve been here before
Nothing’s too big to fail but some are too big to ignore
You know how to make a better world
Just know your value and fight like a girl
Better do as Peggy says
Do do as Peggy says

Fighting the Black Thing

lyrics by Erin and Rand Bellavia, music by Rand Bellavia

(inspired by A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle)

There’s a battle being fought across the universe
Who and why and where and what and when
Weak and strong or right or wrong
It’s been going on so long
Feels like we’ll never find our way back to the light again

There’s a lesson being taught across the universe
And all we have to do is imitate
It’s not who we are or what we say
It’s what we do: the Imago Dei
We were created to create

Not everything is black and white
But I know the wrong when I’m in the right
Sometimes even angels fight
Gotta dig through the dark until you find the light

So stand with me and fight with me
Dance and sew and write with me
We can’t win unless we all take part
Paint with me and cook with me
Make a comic book with me
We fight the Black Thing best by making art

There’s a refuge being sought across the universe
From desperation and despair
Grab a pen and find your voice
Find a tool and make your choice
It’s the only immortality we share

There’s a battle being fought across the universe
But there’s more of us who love than those who hate
Fear and anger feed the dark
But empathy can be the spark
That lights the light that shines so bright when we create

So build with me, invent with me
Conduct experiments with me
Engage the world with head and hand and heart
Sing with me, compose with me
Write poetry and prose with me
We fight the Black Thing best by making art

Day 14-Friendship

Make new friends

But keep the old

One is silver

And the other’s gold

Day 7: Creativity

Been away from the posts for a few days, but I knew this was one I wanted to tackle.

Creativity has always been important to me. When I was younger, I thought I was going to be a fiction writer. I’ve had a bit of success, here and there, at short fiction. Thing is, there’s not much of a market for short fiction, and I’m not sure I’m a novelist at heart. I don’t have BIG IDEAS. I’m kind of lousy at plotting.

My creativity manifests in other ways, though. I’ve been doing calligraphy since I was in high school, and I maintain an Etsy shop where I sell my calligraphy and paper crafts.

Lately, though, it’s been coming out in the form of songwriting. Well, lyric writing. I’m not a musician, but I am married to one. 🙂 And being married to one has brought me into a whole community that has nurtured and supported this creativity.

The past two years, I’ve participated in something called February Album Writing Month. (That link goes to my profile.) The idea is to write 14 songs-an album’s worth-in 28 days. Now, I haven’t made it to 14, or anywhere near, but it’s been a useful exercise anyway. This year, I posted three things…one of them, a lyric that’s been around for a while that has finally been set to music. I ended up adding two lyrics that aren’t quite finished. In my drafts I also have a Peggy Carter song (tentatively “Do as Peggy Says”) that I’ve been trying to write this for a year now. I’ve made a little bit of movement, but It’s giving me a rough time. There’s also a chorus inspired by a FB post conversation that still doesn’t have a song, and two brainstorming lists that I’m hopeful will turn into something at some point. I call that a win.

All of this is moving toward an album that Rand and I are going to record this year. (eep!)

All of this is to say that, while I’m not doing what I once thought I would be doing, I’m really happy with my creative life right now. I love being able to create and collaborate and feel supported and enriched by it.

(The poster imaged above–designed by Karen Paddison–features lyrics from the song “Take it Back” by Kathleen Sloan. It’s based on a speech made by Barry and Sally Childs-Helton when they were inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame. I am proud and humbled to count these people among my friends.)

Day 5: Gratitude

The first time I listened to Hamilton, this was the line that most stuck in my head.

How lucky we are to be alive right now.

It’s an easy thing to forget. It’s easy to get bogged down in everything that’s wrong. It’s good to remind ourselves about what’s right.

Right now, I’m grateful for the love in my life…the love of the wonderful man I share my life with, and the love of my families–of birth, by marriage, and chosen.

(I’m grateful for a lot of other things, too. Like the unstoppable ball of joy that is Lin-Manuel Miranda, and all the beauty he has created.)

Look around.

(If you want to know what this whole theme post thing is about, check my first post here. And feel free to join in–there are no rules!)

Day 4: Humor

Back when I was planning my wedding, I celebrated 27 things I love about Rand on my wedding blog, for the 27 days leading up to the big day.

Day 23 was: He makes me laugh. (I don’t want to re-hash everything I wrote there, but click the link if you want to read it. It’s not very long.)

Rand’s sense of humor, and the way he knows mine.–whether that means telling a joke he knows will make me laugh, or showing me a cat video I haven’t seen yet, or rewinding the TV show so I can see that pratfall I missed while I was looking at my phone/computer–is such an important part of our life together. He just really gets me, y’know?

When I started thinking about this post, I wanted to make a YouTube playlist of some of my favorite comedians, but I got overwhelmed and distracted and moved on to other things. Maybe that’ll come another time.

Just recently, though, we saw one of those faves, Mike Birbiglia, live at Helium here in Buffalo, working out his newest material. This afternoon, we watched his most recent filmed special, “Thank God for Jokes.” Both were fantastic. (During the former, I learned that he had grandparents who lived in Hamburg, and so spent time in Western New York visiting them when he was a child.)  Birbiglia was an up-and-coming young comedian when Rand and I were dating and starting to enjoy comedy together…we both identified with his “My family isn’t real Italian; we’re more Olive Garden Italian…” bit that was part of his early act.

I was going to end this post by sharing a clip, but I couldn’t pick one…so if you’re not familiar with him, go to YouTube and type in Mike Birbiglia, or go to Netflix, and watch “Thank God for Jokes” or “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” or “What I Should Have Said Was Nothing.” You won’t regret it.

(If you want to know what this whole theme post thing is about, check my first post here. And feel free to join in–there are no rules!)

Day 2: Heart

(Yes, I am a day behind. I’ll catch up eventually…maybe…) 😉

I sometimes make fun of Heart a little bit for going all ballad-y (and less rock-y) in the 80s. But this song. Is. So. Good. The ultimate power ballad.