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Two Well Read

Because two reds are better than one...

Updated: 2014-10-03T02:56:13.254-04:00


So Long Farewell


Thank you all who have visited our space over the last few years. Alas, we find that keeping up with this blog plus our individual blogs, plus our websites, plus our other social networking obligations have left us with precious little time to actually pursue a life out in the real world. Thus, we are making a few changes, one of which is that we will no longer be writing together on Two Well Read. All is no lost though, you can keep up with us on our individual blogs, and . Thank you for reading and commenting with us, we hope that you will continue to do so on our other sites.
Wendy Lane & Laurel

Makenzie Makes Music


One of life's great joys is making music, and running a close second to that is being able to help others make music. This can take many forms, sometimes we do it through coaching, teaching or being there to provide an understanding ear for a fellow artist working through an issue. And sometimes we do it by opening up our wallets and making a direct contribution to the cause of art. All of this brings me to my wonderful and talented friend Makenzie Caine. Makie is an actress, singer and songwriter who is working on funding her first album through Kickstarter. She is trying to raise $10,000 by December 16th, and you can help her reach her goal by pledging to the project. It doesn't matter if you can pledge one dollar or a hundred every little bit helps, as I well know from my own Kickstarter adventure. There's something in it for you too. Not only do you get to help bring a brand new project into the world, but there are some pretty cool incentives for pledging. Even if you can't be a patron of the arts right at this moment you can help by spreading the word to your friends. Pay a visit to Makie's Kickstarter page, and tell her the Redheads sent you!

Why Don't You Come Up & See Us Sometime?


Recently, we got a call from one of our favorite people, Barbara Gurskey of Edison Valley Playhouse, reminding us that it has been far too long since we paid them a visit to work with singers in New Jersey. Fortunately, Barbara is helping us remedy that situation by inviting us to give a Workshop for singers at EVP on Saturday November 5th from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM. If you’ve been looking for a chance to get on-stage and get inspired here it is. We’re limiting the group to ten people so there will be lots of performance time and individual attention for each singer. We love working with singers to help them bring their own unique persona to every performance. A lot of ground is covered over the course of the afternoon from handling mistakes on-stage, working with arrangers, and putting together your set, to off-stage topics like what to wear and how to network. You’ll get to work with a terrific pianist and two redheaded singers who believe that people learn best in an atmosphere where everyone is treated with respect and that the process of improving one’s musical skills should be a joyous one. The cost of the class is $150 and you can sign up by sending us an email or calling (646)831-0359. Edison Valley Playhouse is at 2196 Oak Tree Road Edison, NJ 08820. The theatre is not too far from Manhattan for those who might fancy a trip across the river. We hope to see you there!

The Pause that Refreshes


All is well here in the land of the flammulated follicles. We’re just taking some time out for some intensive rejuvenation, and planning sessions.  Soon news and chatter will abound. For now we’re enjoying the cooler temps after the crazy weather events of the last week, and happily anticipating the arrival of autumn. Here’s a little something to keep you moving until we get back…

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Dancing on the Sand


I've got Beach Music on the brain today. If you weren't lucky enough to grow up in a beach town in the Carolinas, Virginia or Georgia like I did, Beach Music is a regional genre that developed in the late 1940s and combined Rhythm and Blues, Big Band Swing, Country Blues and a whole bunch of other stuff to create the perfect music for dancing the Shag (also called the Carolina Shag). Sort of kind of like the Jitterbug, but not. I’ve never claimed to be a dancer but I can do pretty mean shag (I can tap dance too, but that’s another post for another day). Beach Music is not to be confused with the Beach Boys; they’re great but another coast entirely. It’s the music of summer and just hearing it makes you feel like dancing. So turn your speakers up, kick off your shoes and go for it!

If you want more beach music tunes you can click here for  the top 100 Beach Music songs. I can’t say that it’s the definitive list, but it’ll definitely get you started.

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Rules to Love By


Magnolia photo by Imogen Cunningham

Bailey’s first rule of life is just because you can sing in that key doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. The second is like thereunto, just because it comes in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it. I have frequently cited these rules as the creed I live by, and when it comes to issues related to my career and image I certainly try to. They’ve worked out well for me, but recent events have had me thinking about more important rules that I want to live by and where I learned them.
My Aunt, my mother’s sister, died recently and overnight my cousins, sister and I became the “elder” generation in that part of the family. It was sudden and none of us were remotely prepared. In spending time with my cousins I realized that while I had always thought of myself as my mother’s daughter, I am also my aunt’s.Traits that I thought were uniquely my own I have actually inherited from her. I suspect if you asked my cousins would say the same thing about what they got from my mother.
Aside from the fact that we all inherited my Grandma Carter’s high cheekbones it would seem that my six cousins (five girls, one boy), my sister and I have little in common. We lead different lives with widely varying interests and temperaments but that is just the surface. Underneath all that we share a pretty consistent way of looking at the world instilled in us by our mothers.  They taught us to love fiercely, work hard, laugh often, and never EVER give up. They believed that this and good manners would get you far.

These women, my mother, Frances Terra Carter Winters, and my aunt, Elizabeth Lane Carter Pratt had presence, and character. You noticed when they entered a room and we have felt their absence now that they have gone. I still think wearing something flattering and singing in the right key is an important part of life, but because of the lessons learned from these extraordinary women I know that these things are much farther down the list. If I can follow their example of persevering with love, humor and grace I will have done very well indeed.

One of Her Favorite Things


Flowers by Karen Tran

I am sending a big virtual bouquet to Amanda McBroom, artist, friend and all around lovely human being, for mentioning Breathing as one of her favorite things for the month of July. As I may have mentioned ten or twelve times the title song of the album was written by Amanda and Michele Brourman, and this makes her support of the finished project that much sweeter. Click HERE to check out the link.



It's too hot to think let alone blog, so I give you this from my friend Russell Fox's blog.

Hit the Road, Red


I just returned from an unexpected road trip down to Southern VA. Actually,” just returned” is a slight overstatement. Physically I have been back for several days, but it took my brain a bit longer to make the return trip.
My efforts to stay awake on the drive home (why is it that the way home is always so much longer than the way down?) included copious amounts of Smartees, Dr. Pepper, and turning up the tunes and singing along at the top of my lungs. Here are some of my favorite road trip tunes guaranteed to keep you awake and amuse fellow drivers. Just turn up the volume, sing out, and repeat as needed. What are your favorite road trip songs?

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The Elements of Music Style


Photo courtesy of The Constant GathererI am looking for new material. I am spending hours tolling I-Tunes, You Tube, Music stores, artists’ websites, my own personal sheet music collection, bugging  all my song writer friends  and doing anything and everything it takes to hunt down material that’s just perfect. Finding a great song is an art unto itself, it’s sort of like being a museum curator. You have a number of wonderful possibilities in your collection but you have to pick just the right ones for the given moment. There have to be just enough to tell the story, but not so many that your audience is overwhelmed. They must work well together but each piece must be a gem in its own right able to stand on its own.  I make endless lists of songs when I’m on the prowl. To put together an hour of music which is somewhere between twelve and fifteen songs I will usually start out with a list of fifty to sixty songs. With my tendency to over prepare sometimes it gets close to a hundred. Starting this process for the umpteenth time has me thinking about what it is that, for me, makes a great song. I think it really comes down to three basic things that have to be there, if a song doesn’t have these three elements then I don’t want to sing it. I can’t list them in order of importance because they are all equally important. Take away one and the other two are meaningless.Emotional Resonance: A song has to reach me on a visceral level, and have emotional integrity. I look for emotional honesty, because it’s impossible for me to sing a lie. By that I don’t mean that I have to have actually experienced everything that happens in a song to be able to sing it (that’s where acting comes in) but there has to be a core of truth to the story. I really REALLY dislike songs that attempt to manipulate the listener into feeling a certain way. A great tune stays out of its own way and allows the listener to have their own emotional response without pre-programming it.  Fantastic Lyrics: It doesn’t matter how honest a song is if the lyrics aren’t good then forget it. I’m looking for a complete story not endless repetition of a single thought.That is not to say that all songs have to tell a story in a traditional linear fashion, many don’t, but that the lyrics have to leave no doubt that there’s an entire emotional journey there.Wonderful Melody: This isn’t just about how the song sounds, but how it feels too. A terrific song physically feels good to sing. The melody should support the story the lyrics are telling and not work against it. Melody can be seductive though.There have been times that I was so enamored of the melody that it took me a while to figure out that the lyrics weren’t up to snuff. In fairness, this has happened in reverse with lyrics catching my attention and the melody being subpar, but not as often. Tempos, keys, arrangements, all these other things can be worked out if the bones are there. Truly, this is all it takes to make me a very happy girl, see how easy it is? [...]

Monday Music


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I woke up this morning with Born to Run playing in my head.  I am not a lifelong Springsteen fan, I’ve always like his music and thought he was a great songwriter, but I never quite understood what inspired such fervent admiration from his fans.  Well, I didn’t until I saw him live. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another performer who could establish a rapport with an audience so quickly and so (seemingly) effortlessly.  Bruce is not out there going through the motions, he’s present and engaging and obviously enjoying himself.  He has that rare ability to make a cavernous arena seem like an intimate space where it’s just him and you and the music. He’s made a believer out of me!
Being a woman of a certain name, Born to Run has a special place in my heart.  One of the first things my mother in law ever said to me was that I could never be president because my name was too girly. Musically, at least, she may actually have a point, if there’s a Wendy in a song most likely she’s going to be sweet, perky and picking up the Lost Boy’s dirty socks.  This is why I’m partial to Born to Run. Springsteen’s Wendy is an adventuress running off with the hot bad boy. She may never be president either, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't care.

I'm posting this version of the song because it has some great footage of Bruce interacting sax player Clarence Clemons who passed away June 18th following a stroke. His music will be sorely missed.

I Could Read a Book


I’m not one for summer reading lists. I really think it’s sort of strange that summer is the declared “Season of Reading”. As a year round reader I see no need to restrict the pleasures of a good book to one part of the year.There’s always a pile of books by my bed threatening to topple over upon me in the middle of night. The Kindle I got for Christmas this year has eased the clutter and threat of being crushed under an avalanche of literature, but hasn’t done much to calm my book buying frenzy. In fact, I think it’s made it worse. It’s so much easier to buy books with it. If I want a book, I have only to  open up my Kindle, go to the storefront and download it. Instant gratification at its finest. There are currently a whole bunch of good things waiting to be read on my book pile. While I was out and about the other day I lucked into a wonderful sale and came home with a bagful of bios. I’m looking forward to spending time with several artists whose work I have always admired. Somebody: The Reckless Life & Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando by Stephan Kanfer I know Where I’m Going: Katharine Hepburn a Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler Ethel Merman: A Life by Brian Kellow Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and his Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto On the virtual pile in the Kindle are yet more biographies, some history, some fraud and  a really old conspiracy theory.Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare by James Shapiro America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation by David Goldfield Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home & Abroad by Jehanne Wake The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and SpectacularFall of a Serial Imposter by Mark Seal Of course, there’s also the distraction pile which includes my annual re-readings of Mary Kay Andrews’ novels, Ann B. Ross’ MissJulia Series, and Jennifer Crusie’s Maybe This Time. These should keep me out of trouble for a few weeks at least…[...]

Sweet Inspiration


Part of the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exibit at the Met's Costume InstituteI decided that I have spent way too much time with me, myself and I of late, and that it was time to get out into the world to search for fresh inspiration. I spent Monday tromping around a historic site in NJ (you know how I love a good ruin) the earliest parts of which dated back over three hundred years, which inspired the thought that my own constantly in need of attention eighty-three year old pile of bricks wasn’t so unmanageable.On Tuesday I went to the Metropolitan Museum to see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Even though McQueen, who died last year at the age of forty-one, left school at  sixteen to apprentice to a Savile Row tailor and went on to become one of the most influential fashion designers in the world this is not an exhibit about clothes. This is an exhibit about how an artist takes disparate influences from nature, politics, art, culture, history, and even Darwin and uses them to create singular masterpieces. Each piece told a story, and the variety of materials used was mind boggling. In McQueen’s hands Razor- clam shells, painted medical slides, burlap and even etched glass become tools to express his vision. And what a vision! The exhibit is filled with colors and textures that just beg to be touched. Although, I wouldn’t recommend this as there are large guards stationed throughout to prevent a hands on experience. Beyond being a visionary McQueen was a superb craftsman. He spent his youth studying with master tailors, and costumers. He understood not just how clothes should look, but how they should be constructed and how they should move. Every piece in the Met’s show is impeccable. There is a quote from McQueen used in the exhibit that I love, You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.  You don’t know what rules are worth breaking until you know what the rules are. Every good artist spends part of their early creative lives learning what the rules are so that they can make informed decisions later about what parts of tradition are worth holding on to and what parts don’t apply to them. This is where the fun is, every artist chooses to break different rules to come up with their own unique voice.This was definitely a much needed jolt of inspiration for me this week. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of the importance of vision and craftsmanship, and making your voice heard. I am looking forward to going back to see it as much as I can before it closes on August 7th.More images from the exhibit: [...]

Good Morning Dolly


Photo by Ewing Galloway

Of course, the other sure fire cure for the Bad Day Blues is a good day at the salon. Yesterday as the colorist was troweling the goop onto my head I noticed he was wearing a button with letters BMW with a red slash through it. It was not, as I first thought, a protest against a certain motor company, it was a protest against Bitching, Moaning & Whining. I took it as a sign from the hair gods perhaps that it was time to shake off my grump and get on with it.

I woke up in a Dolly kind of mood this morning. It’s virtually impossible to be in a bad mood and listen to Dolly. Who needs Prozac when you’ve got Dolly, Amy Sedaris and Circus Couture?

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Bad Days & Baked Goods


Photo Courtesey of Shorpy Photo Archive
Yesterday was a bad day. A hide under your desk in the fetal position clutching your teddy bear B-A-D , bad day.  So bad that my normally attention hungry felines, Lucy & Ethel, were steering well clear of me by day’s end. Pages stayed blank, songs unsung and no brains were stormed despite hours of stewing and fretting and spinning in my chair.
So, what did I do? Did I forge bravely onward in the hopes that a breakthrough was just around the corner? Nope. I gave up. I gave up because sometimes knowing when to stop is the better part of valor. When the ideas aren’t flowing and I feel depleted walking away is the best thing I can do.

I needed to reset so I headed for my drugs of choice, a delicious Mary Kay Andrews novel and a sizable cupcake. It didn’t cure all my ills or cause a sudden flash of inspiration, but it gave me just enough space to escape. The mental time out gave me the energy and optimism to get back to work the next day.  After all, as Scarlett O’Hara would say, tomorrow is another day.

Sweet Tooth


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I'm off to the dentist this morning with this stuck in my head. Not the best thing for your inner DJ to be playing while someone is coming at you with needles and drills, but I suppose it's better than certain scenes from Marathon Man.

I absolutely adore Steve Martin's website. It'll be a great distraction while I'm waiting for the Novocaine to wear off!

Picture This


I always carry my camera with me but alas, it rarely leaves the confines of my purse. I have every intention of using it to document all the places I go, and the people I see, until I get so caught up in events and forget that it's there. Friday I was going through my camera and found the pictures from a family wedding we went to in Portland Oregon between Christmas and New Years. Actually, I should say picture because it was one picture of spouse taken at the end of the reception when he was falling asleep at our table. I can't even say for certain that I took that picture as I have absolutely no memory of doing so.

This leaves me to depend upon the kindness of strangers to snap and send me pictures so that I can remember the times of my life. My newly made half-year resolution is to try and do better in this area. In the meantime, here are a couple of snaps of recent events that have made their way to me.

Steve LaSpina, Wendy Lane Bailey, Rick Jensen, Laurel Masse' & Tex Arnold right before hitting the stage to perform for the Colleen Giblin Foundation's annual Humanitarian dinner. Thanks to BC Magazine for the photo.

Spouse, Me & Joe Piscopo at the 2011 New Jersey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  Photo Courtesy of Michelle Oates.

To Sir With Love


There’s a lot to do in Beacon, NY. Shopping,great restaurants,the world class Dia Beacon Museum ,and on Saturday June 18th at the Howland Cultural Center our very own Laurel Massé. Since next Saturday also happens to be the birthday of Sir Paul McCartney she’s celebrating by calling the evening To Sir, With Love and performing some of his great tunes along with the songs of other writers whose work inspired him.  Laurel’s sister Babette will join her for a couple of numbers and, just to keep it in the family, her nephew Alex will be there on guitar. Tex Arnold, as usual, will be at the piano.

Advance reservations are strongly recommended and can be had here.

Mothers & Sons


Mother's Prayer Clip frameborder="0" height="20" scrolling="no" src="" width="246">When spawn was only a few months old he figured out he could get from place to place by rolling over and over and over until he had reached whatever it was that he wanted. I imagine that for an infant who has so little control over the world this sudden freedom of movement was a revelation.  For me it was sort of bittersweet. I was happy that he was reaching all the milestones that proved that he was a healthy child. On the other hand, I knew that rolling over leads to crawling which leads to walking which leads to running and so forth.  As long as he was small and immobile I knew where he was every minute and I could make sure he had everything he needed and protect him. As he grew older and more independent (and being his mother’s child he was VERY independent) I had to let go and let him figure things out on his own. There have certainly been moments when I wanted to throw myself in front of the door and prevent him from ever leaving the house, but I know he has to learn to negotiate the world on his own terms.  Besides, how can I turn his bedroom into a closet if he never leaves home? I love my son, but I also like him, and I’m profoundly grateful for that gift. He may make some questionable hairstyle choices (really, the Mohawk did make him look like My Little Pony) and mock my ignorance of Zombie culture, but he has grown into an intelligent and kind human being who makes me very proud. Michele B. was the one who suggested that I record MelissaManchester’s Mother’s Prayer.  Michele is also a mother of sons and we often compare notes on motherhood. In fact, many of my performer friends happen to be parents as well, and we talk about our children as much as we talk about our work. You’d be surprised how often the two areas overlap. Having children affects the way we view the world which, in turn, affects how we see our work.  Melissa’s song is the perfect expression of the prayers we all send into the universe when we send our children into the world.[...]

More! More! More!


Jean-Honore Fragonard's painting The Swing

I am not a minimalist. I have tried, really I have. The other day I went to get ready for an event and I pulled out my oh, so chic and understated eggplant sheath dress, I added my not too large, not too sparkly stud earrings, and then it was time for shoes.  For about a millisecond my hand hovered over the classic black pumps with the not too high, not too low heel, and with a mind of its own passed right over them for the buttery yellow suede stilettos with the six inch heel. I eschewed the sensible cardigan and threw on my antique coral silk shawl embroidered with a garden’s worth of colorful flowers, and since the earrings seemed a trifle lonely, I topped it all with an engraved Indian cuff bracelet.  It was minimalism only by Liberace’s standards.
If you want to live in an all white room with bare windows and a black leather chair go for it. I don’t judge.  As for me, I need my books, and photos and curtains on the windows to keep the neighbors from viewing my clutter. My closet space runneth over and that’s just the way I like it.
Thanks be to Michele B. for writing an anthem for those of us who love wretched excess and irrational exuberance and letting me be the first person to record it. Sometimes more IS more.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject…I’m still looking for your stories of glorious excess. Click here for details and maybe even free chocolate!

Sometimes More is More


A sample of track three "Sometimes More is More".
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Please Stand By


We've been experiencing some technichal difficulties with the service that allows us to post sound clips.This was a real problem since I wanted to give you a little taste of the first two tracks at the time I wrote about them. Happily the problem seems to have finally resolved itself, and so here are a few sound clips from the first two tracks of Breathing. The first clip is from track two which I wrote about on Monday, and the next two clips are from the track one guzinta of Breathing and So in Love. There will be more clips this week of the other tracks as I write about them. Enjoy!

Night Ride Home Clip


A little bit Track 2 of "Breathing" Joni Mitchell's "Night Ride Home".
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So In Love Clip


A taste of Act II of the Breathing/So In Love Guzinta.
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A sound clip from the title track.
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