After three weeks with my wonderful family, I’m back in Chicago for awhile to restore mind, body, soul and employment status. I’ve been overjoyed to be back with my two big musical projects: modern lady-powerhouse (yeah, I said it) string quartet Chicago Q Ensemble and my folk band, Elk.

That’s right. Today I am outing myself as a longtime aspiring singer-songwriter, rocker, etc.

(Nick and me when we first started playing together almost three years ago.)

On Friday night, Nick and I performed a half-hour set of original songs at a house party/art show in Wicker Park. It was an absolute blast. After the show, I was charged up like a gigantic neon sign. The sign would read Performing my own music: I could get used to this!

All through college, I was turning out poems & songs like hot cakes. But eventually, my specialization in classical violin pushed some of those efforts out the window. I’m so glad folk and pop music is back in my life in earnest. I’m learning so much.

I’ve rediscovered my MAD RESPECT for the musical skills that you gain in a band. Nick’s indie band Gunbunny, back in Seattle, was a pretty serious outfit. If I’ve written a melody, Nick can harmonize it faster than my Keyboard Skills III professor. He has a sixth sense for how many progressions we’ve played and where we’re at in the progression. I occasionally get dazed and confused without a “hard copy” in front of me. (Obviously, we don’t use any written music at any point in the process.) “Is this the on beat? Or the off beat? THERE’S NO RIGHT ANSWER!”

The criteria by which we judge the “goodness” of, for example, a guy/girl violin/guitar folk/pop duo is SO DIFFERENT from the criteria by which we judge, say, a contemporary string quartet. While my classical training serves me somewhat well in the band, I also have to throw away some of my perfectionist training. I need to let our efforts stand as deeply personal, deeply subjective, and heartfelt.

In this spirit, here is a (somewhat rough) video from our live set this weekend. If you’re not into stage banter, you can skip to 1:20 for the song.