Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Paddling to Squaxin Island

The beach at Alki yesterday was full of colorful Native American canoes as members of area tribes stopped on their way to their annual gathering which is being held this year at Squaxin Island in south Puget Sound.

Here is a map of the journey undertaken by the tribes participating this year. Some have come from as far away as northern British Columbia and have been underway for over a month. All expect to arrive at Squaxin Island in time for the potlatch that begins on July 29th.

To understand the significance of this journey, I read portions of the Canoe Journey Guidebook. The 10 Rules of the Canoe are valuable life lessons, even if you never undertake a journey like this one. This guidebook also includes historical information, the legends of the 7 inlets, a description of canoe culture and the canoe movement. There are lots of photos and stories that make this guidebook interesting reading.

I got to the beach yesterday after most of the canoes had arrived. I missed getting to hear tribal chants and songs, but the scene was colorful all the same. I'm learning to use my iPad to do videos and this was an opportunity to practice.

OK, enough of my amateur attempts. Here's a professional video of the landing at Alki during the 2011 Canoe Journey. It explains the event and its significance in tribal culture.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Harmonizing with The Beaconettes

I was browsing YouTube the other day looking for videos to post to my "Music" board on Pinterest. I wanted to include some local musicians. I remembered doing a sing-along at Seattle's FolkLife Festival last year with The Beaconettes, a women's a cappella choir from the Seattle neighborhood of Beacon Hill.

At the festival, they led a one hour workshop that started out with them teaching us to sing a round of some sort. Then they went on to teach us to sing "Dream a Little Dream of Me" in three part harmony. They had everyone get up and change seats so that sopranos sat in one section, altos/tenors in the middle section and bass/baritones in the third section. Then The Beaconettes, in their signature black and white striped shirts and neon colored wigs, moved out into the audience to sing the respective parts with us, while their choir director coached us through the song. When we had the harmonies pretty well learned, a teenaged boy, presumably the son of one of The Beaconettes, did a video of our performance.

And here it is. I think we sound pretty good for having had only a few minutes of practice! (That's me in the white shirt on the far right.)

The Beaconettes are well known for their creation of alternative lyrics for popular songs. That and their tight harmonies have made them a hit at the annual Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition held downtown Seattle in December. Here's their re-write of the words to "Dream a Little Dream." Enjoy!

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