Friday, March 15, 2013

Two Caricatures - Di Anne Price

As we're looking through different things, we're finding  more wonderful items to share.  Both of these drawings were in the same sketchbook from 2006.  The first one is from a club in Memphis; the other is from The Vault.  Enjoy!

 I wanted to share the lyrics of her final song from her sets: "I love being here with you":

I love the East, I love the West
And North and South, their both the best
But I only want go there as a guest
'Cause I love being here with you

I love the sea, I love the shore
I love the rocks and what is more
With you there, they'd never be a bore
'Cause I love being here with you

Singing in the shower, laughing by the hour
Life is such a breezy game
Love all kinds of weather, long as we're together
I love to hear you say my name

I love good wine and fine cuisine
And candle light, I like the scene
But baby if you know what I mean
I love being here with you
I love being here with you

I like a dance by Fred Astaire
And Brando's eyes, Yul Brynner's hair
But I think to tell you's only fair
That I love being here with you

And Cary Grant, oh do-dah-day
His utter charm takes me away
But don't get me wrong, how do you say
I love being here with you

Basie's band a-swinging, I like Ella's singing
Because there's something else, you know
They know how to say it, they know how to play it
They wind it up and let it go

I love the thrill of New York shows
I'd love to kiss Durante's nose
But I'd like to say before I close
That I love, and is love, I love being here with you

Di Anne Price and Muley at the Vault (2007)

While prepping for our memoriam yesterday, we found some video footage from the interior of a club (which is why it's a little dark) called The Vault on Highland in Memphis, TN.  One of the neat things about going to see Di Anne Price perform is that if she thought it was fun, she'd do it.  We'd talked before and she said I should bring Muley over at some point, so I did, and this was the outcome.

While there is another video online of Muley singing "When You're Smiling" and "Fly Me to the Moon," this video offers an alternate version of "When You're Smiling" along with "Sweet Home Chicago" in which Muley does some pretty rotten math, other than to say, "1 and 1 is 2, 2 and 2 is 4, I love this woman right here, she's the one that I adore!"  Yep, Muley, Kevin, and so many other adore Di Anne.

Di Anne performs piano assisted by Captain Phil McGee on Saxophone, and vocals (?) by Muley the Mule.  It was a fun night!  Then again, any time with Di Anne was fun time!

Click the image to see the video.
Videography by Lin Workman.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Sky Is Crying: Di Anne Price, a Memoriam

Our lives are full of comings and goings, and one of those who came into my life, Di Anne Price, was a joy to me.  I feel I happened to have met an angel in my life with her as a friend because it was truly a blessing from Heaven to have had her in my world.

With Di Anne at Itta Bena.
I don't know how the story starts, or rather what year the story starts, but there is a start of which I'm proud to have been a part of.  You see, I heard some beautiful ivories being tickled in the second floor level of a Victorian Village piano bar called Cielo's (now Mollie Fontaine's) off Adams here in Memphis, TN. 

I made my way up the stairs and there on the second landing was this woman, cigarette hanging out the side of her mouth as she plays the piano in the darkened area and belting out the blues.  I made my way around to the side of the piano and stood to listen which gained a smile from her and a nod.  I watched those talented hands move across the keyboard as some of the most beautiful blues were falling all around me.  There was someone sitting on the bench with her, but at the end of the song they excused themselves.  I applauded the song, and she invited me to sit on the bench with her and I did.

And I am glad I did, that moment forged a friendship with a lady who always said, "If your mama ever don't want you, I'll take you."  And before I left that night, was told, "You're one of my babies!"  And being one of her babies was a great honor from that first time to present and in the future as well.

You see, my heart broke quite a bit when terrible news came to me today as I learned that I've lost a friend from this level of existence and onward to the next:  Di Anne Price has passed away.  (By the way, typing through tears is a hard thing to do!)  The news shocked me, and I ran from my office out to my vehicle and began calling her numbers over and over and over again, finally leaving a message through my tears, "Di Anne, I heard a horrible rumor.  Please be okay.  Please call me back."  I contacted one of my friends I met through Di Anne and she affirmed the unreal news was real.  I felt my heart crack.

Let me tell you what you've missed out on if you aren't familiar with her:
She's the type of performer who isn't holier than thou--she's one of us.  She is a welcoming performer, inviting you to sit on her piano bench with her for conversation.  She is a performer through and through, but while she's playing her music and singing, in between the verses she has conversations with everyone (maybe smoking, maybe sipping a drink), and introducing strangers to one another and spreading the love and making friends out of folks who've never met before. 

She's a person who meets you once and knows your name forever, and when she's known you a while calls you her "baby," because she never had one of her own.  Which would be fine with her because those of us she adopted numbered way many more babies than she could have had on her own!  And every one of those babies loved her dearly because of how personable she was. 
She always greeted you with a smile, would sing a song she knew you loved, introduce you to others, and tell them why she was proud of you.

She's a versatile performer and plays blues, jazz, country, rock, soul, R&B, gospel, name it she could do it.  "Will you sing Etta James' At Last?"  "No, but I'll sing Di Anne Price's At Last."  Why?  Not that she couldn't do it, but why do it in their style when she has her own style.  Her own sound.  Nobody can play or sing the way she could--that was her OWN style.  And it was perfect, so there was never any need to do it in someone else's style.

At The Vault on Highland.  Here, she used to have banana split
parties for us.  Muley performed with her at that piano quite
a few times.  That was fun!  I think she liked "When You're Smiling"
because Muley would tell his really dumb jokes, and she would
laugh and laugh--a beautiful sound to hear.
But, what did she mean to me?  Well, we both talked forever and wanted to work together forever.  Sure, we sang some together at The Vault (and one night Muley took over), Mollie Fontaine's, and other places; but, our discussions went on about work between her and Muley.

2007 - The Vault

In November 2012 she and I discussed that I wanted her to be in the Muley TV show and she was glad that it was going to happen and that she would be in it.  I had written notes for a script of a show to have her guest star in.  I needed to have that with her because I respect her so much!  She's a person so dedicated to her craft that she always made the date no matter the weather or her health at the time.  That dedication is inspirational and it pushes you to do all you can to match that love of your work.  I respected her for her talent, but also for that personable treatment EVERYONE got.  She had a huge love for everyone and had enough to spread that love around to everyone she knew.

She came to visit me at my office one day, and I had a plant that had died.
"What happened to your plant, baby?"
"Someone put something in it and it died."
"Why somebody want to do that?  I'm going to get you a new one."
The next day, she pulled up at my office, and came in with a new plant.
"Keep it by sunlight and water it, and it will live a good long time," and she gave me all the details I needed to know about the plant she'd brought me. 

Yeah, my 'green thumb' is still brown.

It was always the little, loving things like that which were wonderful things between friends.  Late night phone calls, helping her buy her favorite perfume off the internet, silly conversations, and song.  There was always something to let you know you were in her heart.

But, never enough ways to express that you loved her, yet when you did and bragged or complimented her for it, "I love it!  I love it!  I love YOU!"  

I appreciated her ear when I had a problem.  She would tell you advice from her life, but if she was on the job, she'd pull a song from her repertoire and if you paid attention there was advice in the song she'd just sung to you.  Sometimes, she loved to play things for fun: One night she earned her title "The Storytelling Piano Player" as she tried singing songs from all around the USA, one from every state.  We were all trying to come up with a song and when we did, she'd say, "Oh, yeah!" and she'd go right into it.  There was an enjoyment to her job, but I think really it was that she enjoyed the people who were there.  And, she always had words of comfort that she'd reiterate as she signed cd's or magazines for you:
Don't ever change - you are perfect!
I am so glad you are in my life!
You are my sweet baby boy and I love you.

Click the image to find a way to own all her CD's!

At the end of her shows, she would sing "I love being here with you."  I hope she knew that everyone of us who were there with her loved being there with her.

I can't really say enough, otherwise this will end up being one of the longest posts on our website ever.  Hopefully, you can see some of the following photos and get a grasp of what a wonderful person she was.

I've posted already elsewhere, but it can stand repeating:  Our loss is Heaven's gain as she transitions from Living Legend to Legend, leaving our world a bit silent ~ stages on which she performed will never hear as sweet a sound as a great repertoire of talent and music is closed forever and the last of her kind of performer is gone.

To see that smile once more, to feel that hug, to hear that voice...oh, what a wish!

What can anybody say, Di Anne, other than I love you?
I'm certain, knowing you, that's enough.
God speed, Mama.  God speed.

At Huey's in Midtown (Madison). She was a
staple performer there forever!
At The Westin Hotel. I'm certain I did something stupid by
how we look in the photo.
Master Replicas sent their Kermit Photo Prop Replica on a tour
of the United States, and when he came to Memphis
we had to take him to Di Anne at The Westin.
2007 - The Vault on Highland

The Levitt Shell - Overton Park. Click the image to see
her perform on Youtube.

The Levitt Shell - Overton Park

DaMarco Randle, me, Dawn Coffman, Di Anne Price - Itta Bena.

...and you shall always be in my heart.

I hope you will do some research, buy her music, and give yourself some joy in knowing her by at least that much.  There are ways to not miss out completely.

Related stories:
Fox 13 News
The Memphis Flyer
News Channel 3
ABC 24 News

 Before she passed, she did an interview with The Downtowner magazine in their My 2 Cents segment.  You can read more about her life as told by Di Anne Price by clicking here.
Article about her on "Fear of a Blank Planet."

Chris Herrington wrote about her in "The Year in Memphis Music 2013" and stated:
Remembering Di Anne Price: When I first moved back home to Memphis after college, more than a decade ago, Di Anne Price was my favorite discovery. A barrelhouse piano player and jazz-blues singer, she played free gigs regularly — at Huey’s Midtown, at King’s Palace CafĂ©, at what was then Cielo. I saw her play a lot back then. My biggest cultural regret of 2013 is that, in more recent years, I didn’t see her play as much. I took her for granted. Price died in March. If you didn’t have the privilege of seeing her live, know this: She was a brilliant singer and a performer with an enormous reservoir of charisma, heart and wisdom. Her loss still hurts, but she lives on via video (search YouTube) and on record (search out 2000’s Wild Women). Don’t just pay respect; treat yourself.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Muley-Mini strips 3/2/2013

Well, the flu has had me knocked out for the past week.  When I wake up, I use my phone to access Facebook or other websites, and those sites show me that folks don't know the language they are speaking (or typing), so I'm going to be a grammar cop and post a few items of interest up for a while.
This first one:  If you know your English, you will have no problem understanding this now.
Know, no, now your Engrish.

And, of course, a little snow falls and everyone freaks out.  Yes, this is the scene in our town when it snows...
We like to call it the "blizzard-ocolypse."