• gig - songwriting

    LOST song gets trumped by LOST voice

    Irene writes,

    I had a song in the bag for the Creative Mornings Rotterdam session on Friday, 15 November – inspired by the theme, LOST. But, unfortunately, I LOST my voice due to a bout of flu with added complications and we had to cancel.

    We hope to be able to share a Two Doors Down version of the song with you soon. Meanwhile, here is some of the backstory.

    “As of the 2000s, a total of roughly 7,000 natively spoken languages existed worldwide. Most of these are minor languages in danger of extinction; one estimate published in 2004 expected that some 90% of the currently spoken languages will have become extinct by 2050.” (wikipedia)

    I do believe we can all play a part in rescuing languages from extinction by giving our mother tongue (first language) our full support. Other languages may serve us well, but our mother tongue serves to keep us fully human and connected to our roots and ourselves. That’s what our LOST song, “Mother tongue”, is all about.

    Here are the lyrics:


    Verse 1
    Mother tongue – faded and flickering
    Mother tongue – what’s to become of me?
    I sold you out to the highest bidder
    Mother tongue – I feel so dumb

    Verse 2
    Mother tongue – I am ashamed to say
    I lost respect for you along the way
    My heart went cold and I kept my distance
    Mother tongue – I did you wrong

    You taught me to say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’
    and helped me to stand on my own two feet.
    You taught me to speak up for what’s right and true
    and not to be afraid to say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I’m here for you’

    Verse 3
    Mother tongue – let’s plan a grand reunion
    Mother tongue – I want to recommit
    I want to taste all life has to offer
    Mother tongue – you hold the key

    Join me at the table as much as you are able
    Mother tongue
    I mean to keep you close so you keep me on my toes
    Mother, mother tongue



    David Treuer – Language Carries More Than Words

    The Lost Words: An Illustrated Dictionary of Poetic Spells Reclaiming the Language of Nature

  • busking

    BTW … we did go busking on 24 August

    We set up here (in the shade of the tree, next to this huge artwork) and played for about an hour, entertaining the passersby on their way to and from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, with our “straatartiestenvergunnen” (busking licence) at the ready.

    The highlight was meeting a father with his very sick little boy who were taking the air in the park next to the children’s hospital where they made regular and lengthy visits for treatment of a serious but repairable birth defect. A plucky dad and a plucky boy.

    And here’s Margriet surrounded by all our gear, post-busking.


  • contest - songwriting - video


    Irene writes:

    Last Tuesday Margriet and I recorded our Art Rocks video, with our friend, Theo Huijgens behind the camera. It all got a bit late, and I forgot my capo, so I had to play a whole other set of chords. Also, my guitar strings need replacing and our voices were a bit shaky. But we did it. And then came the challenge of taking the best bits and tweaking the audio and turning it into a video. Amazing how much I’ve learned in the process.

    Here’s the result:

    If you like the song, please vote for us on the Art Rocks website.

    Note: The artwork on the easel Irene had made years ago.

  • contest - songwriting

    Art Rocks 2018 song is called “Ramses”

    Irene writes,

    My Art Rocks 2018 song is finally coming together. I’m calling it “Ramses”.

    I was inspired by the life of Ram(e)ses II and his legacy (as Basquiat obviously was), in particular the striking evidence of his love for Nefertari, his first wife. The tomb he built for her in the Valley of the Queens is stunning – a real labour of love. She’s depicted larger than life on some temples too. He called her “the one for whom the sun shines”. Some praise indeed!

    Writing the song has taken a bit longer than usual, as I struggled to find a direct link with the painting and the artist. After the Art Rocks workshop day I participated in a few weeks back, I saw a way to pull it all together and I think it works. Here’s hoping the museum judges think so too.

    Now onto the final stages of arranging the song, making the video and getting my entry in in time for the closing date, 22 October 2018.

    Check it out:
    Now you can take a virtual tour inside Nefertari’s tomb (2018)

  • contest - songwriting

    Working on a song for Art Rocks 2018

    Art Rocks is a bi-annual competition linking fine art and music.

    Irene took part in 2012, and has decided to try again. Last Saturday she attended one of the workshops, to gain inspiration and meet some of the other songwriters. She was the oldest of the bunch by far. The youngest was 15, not much older than when she first learned to play the guitar and started writing songs all those years ago.

    Irene has selected this painting by Basquiat as her inspiration:
    'Koningen van Egipte 2' by Basquiat

    The song is evolving slowly, but she’s making headway. The challenge is to write a song that can stand on its own, but that is clearly inspired by and a response to the artwork. Good luck to all the others taking part.

    The organisers hope for 250+ entries this year. Wouldn’t it be great if Irene made the museum round and then got selected for the finals in Paradiso? One can dream, can’t one?

    In case you’re interested, here’s the link to Irene’s 2012 entry, “Mirror mirror”.

  • website

    Website gets an overhaul

    We had no choice. The old wordpress theme wasn’t PHP 7.1 compatible, so it had to go.

    It wasn’t easy finding something suitable. Margriet and I auditioned a whole series of wordpress themes this afternoon and settled on this one, called “Great!”. I hope you like it.

    For nostalgia’s sake, here is a screenprint of the old site:
    Can you spot the differences?

  • creativity - songwriting

    In songwriter-mode

    Irene writes,
    In a recent blog post, Gary Ewer mentions Bob Dylan’s analogy for describing a good song: ‘It should be able to “walk by itself.” A good song has life. It has an identity, and it exists long after someone sings it.’ (source: www.secretsofsongwriting.com)
    I’m hoping to write a few of those.
    I’ve been in songwriter-mode for most of 2017, taking part in a year-long course with Lalalab in Amsterdam and attending some songwriting camps. Not that I’ve been prolific, but I do have something to show for it.
    Some recent song tiles:
    Be a little braver
    Do you remember?
    Secret garden
    On the other side of darkness
    It kills me

  • busking

    Busking in L.A.


    When we went to Los Angeles in November, we decided to take our busking kit with us, hoping to make a little money and to share our music with the locals.

    This is us performing on Venice Boulevard, not too far from our Airbnb eco-cottage. We didn’t make much money, but we did make some memories.

    Later in the week we put our kit to good use at the Taxi Road Rally too, as part of our act and our branding at the open mics.


  • concert - travels

    A “gem of a memory” mini-concert

    I went to Lausanne for a meeting this weekend (lucky me) and took along my ukulele as I often do on trips, hoping for an opportunity to play and sing. It wasn’t to be. But towards the end of my journey back home, in the train to Rotterdam, I gave an impromptu mini-concert, singing the chorus of one of our Two Doors Down songs: “This is for you, this gem of a memory … this is for you to keep” (written on the ukulele, and easy enough to play from memory).

    In fact, I got to play the chorus twice. My audience: a lapsed guitar player and two train conductors. I was sitting in a vestibule (I think that’s what you call it) near the door (and the toilet), surrounded by my luggage, and the guy next to me was drawn to my instrument in its mandolin case. So I took it out and we shared a “gem of a memory” right there, together with first one and then a second train conductor doing their rounds, with the sounds of the train and rushing wind as a backdrop to my little song.

    I hope I have inspired my travel companion to pick up his guitar again, and/or get himself a ukulele. The few chords he played on my instrument sounded really sweet. And I hope the train conductors also have good memories of our brief encounter.