Hong Kong: A Snake and a Moment

Lan Kwai Fong neighborhood of Hong Kong

The sold-out crowd, part of the grand finale of the 43rd Hong Kong Cultural Festival, clapped impatiently as they awaited our grand entrance. Just before going on stage, she leans over to me, and whispers, “Do you ever have to remind yourself that this is your job?” I think China (Forbes) was having a “moment,” one of those gaps in time I often have when I’m on tour with Pink Martini, an intense combination of gratitude and disbelief that envelopes me like a warm blanket.  A rare three-month hiatus from performing will do that to even the hardest of hearts, apparently. Continue reading

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Raleigh, North Carolina: Under The Radar

Storm Large, in her Christmas tree ornament dress

As we pulled out of the airport, I racked my brain trying to envision the downtown area of Raleigh, where we were headed, and would stay for three nights to perform our Holiday show with the North Carolina Symphony.  We have performed in this city, and in many small cities in the U.S. like it, several times, but I can rarely remember the names of the best places I’ve been to here, or exactly where they are. Thus, one of my main motivations for starting this blog; to have a place to refer to in these kinds of situations. Continue reading

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Napa Valley: Where Two Worlds Collide

Altamura Sangiovese 2000

Had I looked ahead at our schedule, I would have noticed that our first stop on this tour was Napa Valley, and I could have planned ahead by arriving a few days before the band, hiring a driver, making winery appointments, and dinner reservations.  But, I didn’t. And, to make it even more tortuous for me, our hotel was within minutes of scores of wineries! This was one of those times when my two worlds collide, but I couldn’t take full advantage of it–which is not to say I didn’t eat and drink well in our  two short days here.

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Paris: The New Portland

The historic Folies Bergères, in Paris

Though Pink Martini was formed in 1994 in our hometown of Portland, Oregon, I believe the first place the band truly enjoyed success was in France, around 1997, after we released a single in French that speaks about not wanting to work, only wanting to forget everything, and smoking.  (In Europe, the song is titled, “Je ne veux pas travailler,” which means, “I don’t want to work,” but elsewhere, its title is “Sympatique.”)  This song was released about the same time France had officially shortened the work week from 40 hours to 35, so the song was a huge hit!!  Of course, the smokers of France, of which there are many, took a liking to the song, too! Continue reading

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London: Brought to Tears

Our band leader, Thomas Lauderdale, in London

I often get asked if I get tired of traveling so much; all that moving around must get old, right?  It’s not for everyone, true, but there are so many things I love about touring!  Believe it or not, I even cherish the in-flight meals, that’s how much I love it! But, there is one facet of being on tour that I would love to do without. Continue reading

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Amsterdam: Totally Smitten

ted-amsterdam5-2

Hard to believe it has been almost twenty years since I was last in Amsterdam, and it’s crazy to think that Pink Martini has never played here until now, considering we have played almost every major city in the world! We have a great fan base (so we learned on this trip), which makes our switch of allegiance from United Airlines to Delta, a perfect choice. They have a direct flight from our hometown, Portland, Oregon, to Amsterdam, a now indispensable first stop on our regular European tours.

My favorite cities in the world are all very different from one another, but they have one specific thing in common; an exhilarating, thriving restaurant and bar scene. Not only can you smell it, but you can feel how in-tune the people are with food and drink. Amsterdam, however, is inching towards the top of my list. Continue reading

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Restaurant Review: W36, in Amsterdam

It's all about lighting, folks
It’s all about lighting, folks. At W36, they got it right.

When I’m on tour, I almost always seek out food and drink specialties of the region, leaning on locals for advice.  My Dutch friend Annemieke poured cold water on my wishes in Amsterdam when she said in her cute little Dutch accent, “Most of our specialties you don’t want to eat in a restaurant…they’re things you only want my mother to cook for you: mashed potatoes, roasted meats, foods to warm you up.” Since the invitation to Mum’s house never came, I did a little research online, and found a gem of a restaurant that opened just last week. Continue reading

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