• While we're still a little baffled by this sudden uptick in local stand-up comics, there's something interesting and a little beautiful about it. Maybe it's the purity of the form: One person writes jokes, stands on stage, and delivers them. No handwringing over genre, no frilly stage show — just someone and their personality. Used to be if you wanted to showcase your personality in this town you'd have to get into theater or music (or the bar), so it's a good thing that there's another method emerging. Not the first performer to cross over from a sister discipline is KURT BAKER, the power-pop songwriter, who joins CONNOR MCGRATH in a night of laughs January 10 at Geno's promoting their forthcoming CTN show, That's Just It! With Connor and Kurt.
• The young pianist and singer HATTIE SIMON of Old Orchard Beach was named an Honorable Mention winner by the National YoungArts Foundation, the only musician in Maine to earn the group's notice. In addition to an undetermined cash prize, the high-school vocalist could be eligible to appear on HBO's YoungArts Masterclass series, and will participate in a YoungArts regional program in New York in May. Formerly the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, the award is a very nice thing for the small-town jazz singer, and we expect to hear more from her in the future. While she's been gigging frequently around Maine, Simon's EP, La Vie en Jazz, is available on iTunes and via hattiesimon.com.
• Speaking of jazz vocalists, the poet and performer LADY ZEN is starting a set of singing lessons every bit as dynamic as her live shows. With a syllabus that includes advanced breathing, Tai Chi, maxillofacial exercises, and acting techniques, Zen's "Fundamentals of Vocal Performance" could be one of the most holistic and thoughtful one-on-one instructions available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org; more details available on her FB page.
: New England Music News
, Lady Zen, Lady Zen