Monday, June 28, 2010

The Moonshine Cafe

Our weekend with Sally had a glorious finale tonight at the Moonshine Cafe in Oakville!

The Moonshine is casual, quirky, and just overall wonderful. It's like singing in an awesome, relaxed living room. Tonight, we took the stage for a Nashville-style round.

Sally opened with "Little Voice" and played a great selection of folk and country influenced songs. Gerald covered everything from rocking party songs to his always beautiful 9-11 song, "Angels in the Dust." I emceed and did my Gospel thing, including "Brighter, Happy Day," which got a few laughs.

It was great to do the round tonight - we've really had a lot of fun with Sally over the past week. We've kept busy and had a lot of fun, so tonight, we just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company on the stage.

The crowd included two 8-year-old musicians - one who plays guitar and one who plays drums. They both write their own songs. Amazing!

It's been such a successful and wonderful week! Gerald and I have a few things coming up on Canada Day, and then we're taking a few days off. I'll post photos from the weekend on my site soon, and we might have some more things coming up at the Moonshine in the winter - I'll post more info as things unfold... there's always a new challenge waiting to begin...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Music in the Garden with Sally Barris!

After weeks of prepping and planning and praying, we held our first Music in the Garden backyard concert today! Sally Barris arrived on Wednesday, and we've kept her busy with songwriting students, singing at church, and shopping in Kensington Market.

This afternoon, we started prepping for the backyard concert under serious threat of rain. We decided to be brave and set up outside. Then the rain started, so we moved it all inside. Then the rain stopped and the sun came out, so we pulled everything outside again.

A wonderful group of music lovers dragged their lawn chairs into our backyard, filled their plates with cookies and fresh fruit, and sat back for a great afternoon of music. Gerald and I opened with a short set of our own songs, including Gerald's "Saturday Morning" and my new song, "I Wanna Make Some Noise."

After a quick break to refill glasses of lemonade, Sally took the stage. Her gentle presence and great songs quickly won over the audience. The sun shone, and the whole afternoon was just lovely.

More lemonade, CD sales, and lots of great feedback followed the concert. People were thrilled with the venue and with the whole experience. Gerald and I have talked about doing more backyard concerts in the fall, so we'll talk about that in our postmortem.

And just as we were cleaning up, the rains came fast and furious. God is good!

Gerald, Sally, and I are singing at the Moonshine Cafe in Oakville on Monday night.
Join us if you're in the area!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Praying for Strangers...

Last night, Gerald, Sally, and I were on our way home from an evening of Thai food, when a young girl sat opposite us on the subway car. She couldn't have been any more than twenty - gorgeous, curvy, tanned, bleached hair, too much make-up, not enough coverage - but it was the shoes that gave her away. Not many professions require 5-inch bright red stilettos. Her awkward gait suggested a walker, not a dancer.

It was hard not to look at her - she was really striking - but what really caught me were her eyes. They held a quiet kind of sadness.

Every once in a while, our eyes would meet for just a second. I tried to smile, but she would quickly, without attitude, look away.

The other thing that struck me was the 50-ish tattooed man that found a seat opposite her - the perfect position to gaze upon her.

When we switched trains, she sat in our car again, and again, he found a seat next to her.

I had this strong desire to speak to her. I didn't know what to say, but I felt like I wanted to say something...

"Be safe."

"Do you need someone to talk to?"

"If you need a ride home tonight, give me a call."

I wanted to speak to her, but I didn't get that knot-in-my-stomach urge to say something. When I asked, "What do I do?", the answer came in one word:


So, I prayed.

Silently, with no showiness, I started to pray for her. I prayed over and over and over. I kind of couldn't stop. I prayed that she'll find friends and family to support her. I prayed that she'll discover God's love for her. I prayed for healing and wholeness of being. And again and again, I prayed for her safety.

She won't be aware of my prayer, but I trust that God heard me, and that He'll do the work that needs doing. I don't know how, but I know my prayers will make a difference.

I'm not saying this because I think my prayers are so great - I'm saying this because God has promised to hear and respond to our prayers - always.

So it got me thinking -

What if we prayed for the strangers
we encounter each day?

The guy who cut you off on the 401, the telemarketer who called during dinner, the neighbour with the dog who poops on your lawn - what if we prayed for them? What if we asked for their protection, for healing in their lives, for their salvation?

Imagine a world where everyone is walking through their day, covered in prayer...

I wonder how this could change us, our communities, our world...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Picture yourself here....

... lounging in a lawn chair, sipping lemonade, enjoying the beautiful songs of Grammy Nominated songwriter, Sally Barris....

Only a few more days til our backyard concert! Sally has arrived in the country and will arrive at our house in just a few minutes. I've been cleaning, gardening, and just getting everything ready for days now. So excited!

We'll set up the sound equipment on the slate patio (where I'm standing with the camera) and the area in the photo is where the audience will sit. We'll also have a table with lemonade, cookies, and CDs.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's the info. Comment or email me with any questions. Hope you can join us!

Sunday, June 27, 2010
an intimate backyard concert with SALLY BARRIS
Also featuring your hosts & opening act,

Comer House
11 Don. Ridge Dr, North York
3:00pm - Rain or Shine!

TICKETS: $20.00

Near Yonge & 401, and York Mills subway
Free street parking available.
BYO lawn chair
FREE cookies & lemonade will be served.
Please feel free to bring your own snacks & beverages.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sing in Peace, Maureen...

Today, Canada has lost a musical icon.

Maureen Forrester's rich contralto voice and beautiful stage presence endured her to audiences for generations.

I remember watching her from the stage one night. I was singing in the Opera in Concert Chorus - she was our superstar guest artist. Every word she sang had intention and clarity. I remember feeling overwhelmed by her combination of awesome talent and genuine humility.

In 2002, I, along with the cast of "Most Happy Fella," had the privilege of singing for Ms. Forrester in a tribute concert. I was so nervous, so honoured, to sing for this amazing lady. So gracious, so elegant.

Today, heaven's choirs sound just that much better...

Thank you for the inspiration....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dreams are Resilient...

Dream messages have been coming to me all day.

This afternoon, I was a judge in the Senior Star talent competition. We watched a dozen seniors sing and play in an attempt to win the trophy and move on to the next level of competition.

Some had been making music their whole lives.

Some had finally found time to do it in their retirement.

I spoke with one lady who only had the courage to follow her musical dream after receiving her cancer diagnosis.

It reminded me of SARK's statement that:

"Dreams are resilient - they will wait for you!"

A well-timed thought, indeed, because this evening, I spent an hour listening to SARK in another cool teleclass. In the class, we focused on doing a few active things each week towards pursuing our dreams.

She reminded us that dreams are meant to be a part of our daily lives, and not pushed into a corner like an old and unwanted piece of furniture.

I'm feeling very inspired tonight...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Music in the Garden with Sally Barris

This is what I've been working on all day.
Mark your calendars and join us for this intimate and unique music event!

with Sally Barris
Grammy Nominated Songwriter

With your hosts & opening act, Allison Lynn & Gerald Flemming

SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2010
3:00 pm - Rain or Shine!
Comer House
11 Don Ridge Dr., North York

TICKETS: $20.00

Near Yonge & 401, and York Mills subway
Free street parking available.
BYO lawn chair
FREE cookies & lemonade will be served.
Please feel free to bring your own snacks & beverages.

Comment or email me with any questions!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn...

This month, I've written my final article for You can read it here.

As much as I love the site, I've decided I really need to reshape my focus and prune away a few activities.

I think I explain it well in the article. Hope you like it, and of course, if you keep reading this blog, you'll know where all the redirection is heading....

Monday, June 07, 2010

Please Don't Jump

So yesterday I went on one of my favourite blogs, Post Secret.

People write their secrets on postcards and mail them in. The secrets get posted on the blog and get made into books. They reveal deep, beautiful, and sometimes disturbing pieces of our humanity.

Yesterday's offering contained a secret that was completely frightening.
On the postcard, the person wrote:

I have lived in San Francisco since I was young.
I am illegal.
I am not wanted here.
I don't belong anywhere.
This summer I plan to jump off the Golden Gate.

My stomach dropped when I read this. I flashed back to the night I got the phone call about Steve - how I wished he had told someone his plans, how I wished he'd revealed how dark it had gotten, how I wished we could have known what was coming so someone, anyone could have stepped in...

I'm not alone my reaction. People around the world have immediately sprung into action. Some have sent emails through the Post Secret blog. Tens of thousands have joined a facebook page to send notes of love and encouragement to this anonymous friend.

I pray that this secret-writer will see the notes, will call for help, will change his or her mind.

But my heart still hurts because I know there are countless others feeling that lonely, countless others who are trying to decide if today will be the day they end it all.

To anyone who is feeling this way, please let me say this:

Don't! Please don't!

You are not alone.

You are loved by people in your life, even if you don't feel it at this moment.

You are loved by God, even if you don't feel it in this moment.

There is a better day coming, if you don't feel it in this moment.

If you're feeling overwhelmed today, please call someone for help.

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
U.S. and Canada

Please feel free to share this post with anyone who may need an extra hand today.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Another St. John's Double Header!

Gerald and I continue on our quest to sing at every St. John's church in Ontario.

(Just kidding, but it does feel that way!)

This morning we sang at the beautiful St. John's church in Rockwood. Dad is doing an interim there, and it worked out that the one Sunday we had available was the one Sunday that their organist had to take off!

We started with a few originals, and then led the congregation in "How Great Thou Art." When you have a smaller crowd, the fear is always that they'll be shy and not sing, but let me tell you, these people SAANG! (say "saang" with a Southern accent for full effect.) It was awesome!

We led all the hymns, and did some originals and signature pieces throughout the service. It was just a wonderful service, and so great to hear Dad preach.

After a short turn-around time, we made our way over to St. John's York Mills for the Gathering service. Drew had asked us to kick it up a notch this week, and we were up for the challenge. Our team included us, Brian on drums, and Monika and Derwyn on vocals.

I'm not bragging, but I have to say, tonight felt great! There was a flow to the songs, and the energy was all very positive. We had some great harmonies happening, and they all kind of built and flowed very naturally. Gerald's guitar grooves kept the energy moving, and Brian's rhythms lifted us in all the right places.

We also featured a song Gerald wrote last year with Sue Smith called "My Soul is Spoken For." It fit in well with the theme, and at the end, we added a repeating refrain so the audience could join us.

We really felt like a team tonight. Awesome.

I've said this before, but it's so true:

Church is always pretty good, but some times, it's just really good!

Today, it was really good!