Blier’s Blog: NYFOS@NorthFork / Day 1

DAY 1: August 17, 2015

There is a lot of drama surrounding the beginning of any project, and today–the official day one of NYFOS@North Fork–is no exception. Three of the singers arrived yesterday. and two of them (Anna Dugan and Alex McKissick) jumped gamely into rehearsal, clearly too cowed to say “I don’t want to sing after traveling all day.” Amanda Bottoms showed up a bit later–blessedly in time for supper chez nous. And singer number four (Dimitri Katotakis) arrives by ferry this afternoon. Bongo-master Josh Vonderheide gets here Thursday and moves into the little pool house on our property, which we’ve referred to all summer as “the Bates Motel.” (Actually, it’s a very sweet cabana with a lot of privacy and, obviously, a pool outside the front door. And a Murphy bed.)

A project like this feels a bit like writing a cookbook without having an actual kitchen. You look at the ingredients, the proportions, the temperatures, the timing, you know you’ve made this dish before, everything should work. But there comes the moment when you see if your predictions and educated guesses pan out. The dough will rise, won’t it?
To wit: The singers live in a donated house: will they get along? Will they burn a hole in the floor? Will they tell me if they burn a hole in the floor? Oh, and then there’s the program: did everyone get the right song to show off his/her unique talent? Does it flow, or are the little traffic jams I didn’t see in advance?

So far so good. Anna and Alex made a nice showing yesterday. I’d never heard Anna sing–just a bit of Cole Porter online, scarcely a way to evaluate her suitability to an afternoon of Brazilian, Argentinean, and Cuban song. But she came highly recommended, she has a great resumé, she’s of Spanish descent, and all of my correspondence with her had been encouraging. (She’s also Alex’s significant other–a recommendation of a very different nature.) But I didn’t know what to expect when she opened her mouth to sing. Verdict: oh Lord, what a gorgeous sound. Big, steady, opulent, rangy–wow. My Crackerjack toy turned out to be a diamond ring.

Everyone seems to be arriving here without having worked with a pianist on their songs, so the accompaniments are proving to be a slightly de-railing factor in their first renditions of the material. I am a lousy répètiteur, and have to resist the urge to bark “FIVE-SIX-SEVEN-EIGHT” like a hellish ballet teacher. But the atmosphere is so lovely here in Orient, and singing Latin American and Caribbean song one block from the Peconic Bay is not what I’d call a hardship. Peace reigns.


Mostly. It seems that every year my computer decides to die right around this time. No warning, no signal that anything is wrong. It’s fine when I go to sleep (or last year, when I got up to have dinner), but inanimate when next touched. I have chosen to behave like Gandhi about it. There is actually a computer repair place in our tiny town, and a man named Vincent whose shop is just down the road now has possession of my Mac Book. I proudly kept part of its hot pink cover on–the top. But I removed its pink hot pants so that he could have his way with the machine. Wish me luck.

–Steven Blier

Come see the product of all this hard work! NYFOS@North Fork: Latin Lovers, August 22 and 23rd >

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