Surefire Cure #1: Celebrate Solstice with XR & a new SFC Single!

Hello from a sunlit room in the not-quite-frozen-actually-unseasonably-warm-northern-Illinois,
I’m currently visiting family in northern IL for our Xmas festivities including lots of group singing <3
I’m personally reveling in the fact that we have made it to the other fulcrum of the seasonal teeter-totter, yall – HAPPY SOLSTICE!
Also (after a day of slight technical difficulties)
My new single is now available on CDBaby! 
You can simultaneously give me and yourself a Solstice gift by purchasing this new track for just a single simple dollar.
If you want to give me an even greater gift, please share my song around on some form of social media 🙂
Thanks again to Anna Martel for the album art!
In case you’re looking for some way to engage in musical activist community this eve, my Petting Kazoo bandmate Rafael Natan will be playing with Eleanor Elektra at the Seeds of Light concert this very evening in Harvard Sq at 7pm, organized by Extinction Rebellion Mass. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
Aaaand in case you were wondering,
here are my more current responses to my younger shadow side:
1)  If ignorance is bliss & suffering is pointless,
how do we know anything at all?
Ignorance may seem like bliss at times, but increasing awareness can also increase total joy once we learn to wield it.
Suffering may be unnecessary most of the time, but some forms of it can bring opportunities to increase empathy.
And so, many of us learn as much as we possibly can, attempting increase both our empathy and our understanding of the intricacies of this world.
2) If everything that ends is only a beginning,
how can we feel anything at all?
Since everything that ends is indeed a beginning, and in fact everything does end, it is all too easy to sit in numbness. This past year I had a personal experience of awakening into an understanding of impermanence that left me often in tears, my heart feeling quite raw but more in touch with the shivering aliveness and tangled love in every interaction. Thanks to Pema Chodron for your wise words in how to breathe thru the times When Things Fall Apart. And thanks to my family and friends who were there for me during many tender days.
3) If there’s nothing new to say and silence is courageous,
how can we say anything at all?
My answer remains the same: “If you speak your mind, the words will not ring false – though we know full well how smart we think we are” We think we need to say something totally novel all the time, but even the same conclusions filtered through your unique consciousness need only be full of authenticity and it will hit whatever point of cultural acupuncture we are meant to find.
May your days be filled with the promise of the return of the sun.
~ Nora

Surefire Cure Newsletter ~A New Single~

Hello friends, colleagues, family, frozen northerly companions,
The time has come to revive the Surefire Cure mailing list!
My website is live again, thanks to the efforts of Michale Vermette, with shiny new art from Anna Martel, a member of a Somerville Arts Coop called the Ministry of Bad Decisions, which currently houses my teaching collective, the WholeTone Music Academy.
Wrap your brain around all those tasty names, eh?
If you’d like to hear more about what I’m up to, be sure to follow my Instagram, surefirecure, since that’s the first place I go to announce gigs, projects, and meditative musings.
There are also throwbacks to sweet summer moments like a solo from the Choralies festival in France and highlights from tour in Germany & France with Rafael Natan & Anais Azul.
However! I have an important announcement and some equally important questions for you.
Time is of the essence here.
You see, I’ll be releasing a new recording ~tomorrow~ of my original song documenting dialogue between some of my lighter and darker selves, “Lullaby for a Nihilist”
In these days nearing the apex of seasonal darktimes, nigh even to the end of an entire decade, I ask you to turn towards your shadow side for a few spacious moments and ask yourself how you bounce between honoring contrasting slivers of self.
These three questions in particular sat heavily with me a couple years ago:
1) If ignorance is bliss & suffering is pointless,
how do we know anything at all?
2) If everything that ends is only a beginning,
how can we feel anything at all?
3) If there’s nothing new to say and silence is courageous,
how can we say anything at all?
Not to keep you in suspense for too long;
I will be sending you a response in song-form in just about 24hrs.
How would you, dear reader, respond to a voice that asked you such things??
I am awfully curious to know…
Thanks so incredibly much to Natan Wythe for recording all the layers of these songs. I could not have possibly recorded them with any other engineer friend, I’m quite convinced.
Also there are more to come, trickling into your inbox every month or two this coming year 🙂
Or if you’d prefer not to hear from me in this digital format, just let me know and I’ll remove you from my list.
May your joy bucket never be empty,
Nora

Community Over Consumption

Feeling the inhumanity of late capitalism?? Community Over Consumption to the rescue! Ava, Yui, and Destiny will open your hearts so so wide, you won’t know what hit you. Aaaand then there’s Ani Arias-Aragon<3! I’ll be joining my duet partner Rafael Natan in Petting Kazoo, playing with Anaís Azul in one of their last performances before moving out west – a bittersweet occasion if ever there was one! I have truly loved being along for the ride, truly inspired watching them grow ever more into their power in the Boston area & abroad. We will send them off to be embraced by a thriving artistic community, inevitably to blossom yet further, if I know them. This event heralds the end of an era, and the promise of the continuation of much love that has been cultivated – let’s spread our seeds wide and reap a harvest of songs from coast to coast – or at least make some really nifty events in the next year to tempt Anaís to come back to visit, eh?

Harvard Common Spaces

what a lovely stage we got to play on today! complete with a freshly tuned piano for the occasion, what lux treatment. thanks @clubpassim for inviting @anaisazul to play for your #harvardcommonspaces lunchtime series; it was delicious to be along for the ride, backing them up along with @flightorvisibility. This was my third time playing the cajon on stage and I’m so hooked! In other news, I’ve been a bit sickly lately and am super grateful to have excellent health insurance thru masshealth, and also amazing friends like Anaís who make sure my schedule is full of bitchin gigs even when I don’t have the spoons to do much booking for myself. I’ll still be releasing another of my own tunes later this month tho, and I’ll have a few philosophical quandaries to put to you in preparation. get your thinking caps ready… #lunchtime #smithcampuscenter #cajon #sicklycute#unicorntearslipstick @ Smith Campus Center

My name (is Joanna)

Rough day at work? Ready for that Netflix and Chill? Lucky for you, Petting Kazoo songwriter Rafael Natan just released a 25-minute “TV” special on youtube complete with 3 songs featuring Petting Kazoo and Anaís Azul as well as a deeply personal analysis of how they relate to gender presentation and identity! Topics include sense of pretending, self acceptance, response to misgendering, presenting more vulnerably and therefore being more susceptible to harm. OH, AND THERE ARE COSTUME CHANGES! So the next time you want to decompress with netflix, might I suggest you give this a watch instead?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIdCX2gZEEk&feature=youtu.be

The Art of Being Human

Mind so blown! I JUST finished a truly rewarding couple days of meditation training with @shambhalaboston in The Art of Being Human, really feeling the glow of allowing more joy (along with all experience) into my awakeness! It turns out that being with myself more fully and walking away from personal addictions also means returning to a practice of talking to myself a bunch (heyo, only child right here) rather than compulsively seeking a constant soundtrack or news update to attach myself to. Talk about a surefirecure if there ever was one, for real. Next up, I’m headed to The Strand Theater in Dorchester, so glad I’ll have the opportunity to experience this socially relevant opera! Thank you so much @ukrainka_m for inviting me to hear you rock this as concert master, and to @lidiyaconductor for helping making sure such projects are receiving the visibility they deserve. I’m so proud to know you both @ Strand Theatre (Dorchester, Massachusetts)

Happy Halloween! Purple Brains!

Happy Halloween! Tbt to opera zombie days! Here, have some zombified lyrics I just made up to a well known song:

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted one time to see you feasting
I only want to see you feasting on those purple brains
Purple brains, purple brains
Purple brains, purple brains
Purple brains, purple brains
I only want to see you feasting on those purple brains
I never wanted to infect your mother
I only wanted to moan with you again
Baby, don’t think I want to bite any other
It’s such a shame our friendship has to end
Purple brains, purple brains
Purple brains, purple brains
Purple brains, purple brains
I only want to see you eating all those purple brains
Honey I know, I know, I know times are changing
It’s time we all reach out for something new
That means you too
You say you want a hoard
But you can’t seem to make up your mind
I think you better give over
And let me guide you to some purple brains
Purple brains, purple brains
Purple brains, purple brains
If you know what I’m singing about up here
C’mon, raise your hand
Purple brains, purple brains
I only want to see you, only want to see you eat some purple brains

Song Therapy

 

had some gloomy days lately, so let’s have some song therapy – and of course color therapy, as highlighted in my story Also as a bespectacled fall cyclist, could someone please make me tiny finger squeegees so I can wipe the rain off my glasses more effectively? Or itty bitty robotic windshield wipers, either way works. Just gonna plant that idea seed here… #ideagarden #rainyglasses #colortherapy #musictherapy #jazzstandard#wholetonemusicacademy

Tom Asher

One college summer I interned with Tom Asher, learning a bit about his craft. He’s an incredible artist, both in his music and the beautiful instruments he creates. (I still have the violin scroll I carved – never know when that might come in handy).

Listen to his Rockford Register “Meet the Artist” podcast here.

Thank you!

Thank you SO much to those of you who came out on Sat for what will surely be the first of many opera raves! We at WTO were completely blown away by your generosity and your beautiful enthusiasm for our cause. Next up! We need people to sing for US at our auditions for “The Werewolf” this weekend!