Grandma Doris Smith Kelly.
I am a proud Sonic Soiree groupie. "A Sonic Soiree is a potluck of the edible and audible, occurring monthly in living rooms throughout Greater Boston. We are a community of radio producers, sound artists and collaborators who come together to talk, eat, listen and then talk some more." I love that description written by Emily Corwin, a Sonic Soiree pal and PRX employee. Essentially, a bunch of audio types (a la yours truly) gather together each month to eat interesting food and listen to interesting audio work. Some people bring their own work in, some bring stuff they stumbled upon.
One of the founding fathers (Ari Daniel Shapiro) asked if someone would make a website for our audio crew. I enthusiastically stepped up to the plate and created the following: www.SonicSoiree.com. I based it off my own website (which is very apparent if you're familiar with this ol' thing), with a few slight changes. Like the Who We Are page, for instance. I just recently put out the call for bios, so there are still many to be posted (our last Sonic Soiree was attended by nineteen locals). I'm very proud of how supportive this producers' circle is... in the relatively short time I've been involved (four months or so), I have witnessed all sorts of handy connections being made. This sort of thing seems key for us creatives.
I have had a project waiting not-so-patiently in my production queue for a few months now. I KNOW, I KNOW!!!! Nothing should ever be on the back burner that long. Scold me. Maybe it will help. I don't know why, but I have had zero motivation to work on it. But with the drop-dead-deadline approaching (next week!!), I must force myself to complete it. The plan is to polish it off on Saturday and put it in my Dropbox so it can be immediately downloaded. The project: a little over a dozen audio drops for a Compassionate Friends presentation. When my radical little niece died, my sister joined a Compassionate Friends support group. She is giving a presentation to her local chapter on the book Hello From Heaven. My sister selected various vignettes from each chapter and asked me to create audio companions to the stories. I'll post a bit of whatever I come up with.
And now for the bonus audio treat! My father is coming upon all this amazing audio from my grandmother Doris. Grandmother Doris died when my Dad was fourteen. I have always had a bit of an obsession with her and I speculate on how life would be different had she lived. One of the audio bits I received was a long distance phone call from my Smith great-grandparents (i.e. Doris's parents) to the childhood home of my father in 1965. The entire call is fabulous, but one of the most fascinating things is HOW FREAKING LONG it takes to connect the two parties: FIVE MINUTES. So many operators, so many clarifications of who the Smiths are calling, etc. Fabulous! So, if you ever wanted to know what making a call to a home only a few states away was like in the '60s... check it out below.
It was my first year to attend the Third Coast Conference and I'll never miss it again. Radio producers came from everywhere to convene in Chicago. Folks I have admired for years; all gathered in the same room. Very highly recommended for any and all with an interest in producing public radio and/or sound art. Come! You can even stay in my hotel room.
THE HIGHLIGHT, if I had to pick just one: An amazing one-on-one feedback session with Jad Abumrad of Radiolab. I'm still reeling from the opportunity. We listened to the first five(ish) minutes of my most recent long-form piece, Sealed. The positive feedback: "You use silence in a compelling way.... your voiceover performance sounds really good; a comfortable and natural delivery... I was invested in the story from the start and was disappointed we couldn't listen to the whole thing in one shot." The could-be-better feedback: "You need to seduce listeners into the central tension at the very start... it took me a couple minutes before I realized how compelling your story is. Especially with long-form work, you need to suck people in from the start." My favorite direct quote: "I want the scent in my nostrils that something peculiar is coming." I still need to figure out how to do this. Feel free to listen to my piece and donate assistance in that regard.
As for the rest of my time there, I learned so much about my craft and felt inspired every other moment. I was scribbling down quotes, thoughts, and ideas like a mad woman. So, long after the fact, here are a few quick nuggets from the various sessions I attended. Should something pique your further interest, the audio from all sessions is available from the Third Coast Audio Library.
Opening session: Presenting the 2010 Third Coast ShortDocs: Book Odds
In the Moment Radio with Scott Carrier
Tales of the Tools with Jeff Towne
AIR's Pitch Panel with Chris Turpin, Tony Phillips, Julie Subrin, and Laura Starecheski
Out of Thin Air: Sound Design for Radio with Steven Tilley
The Sound and the Blurry with Amy O'Leary
Final session: The Mysterious Production with ANDREW BIRD (!) and Jay Ryan
TWO BONUS TIDBITS FOR MAKING IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH:
Bonus 1: The only photographic proof I was there: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thirdcoastfestival/5143717730/
Bonus 2: Julie Shapiro, Third Coast Festival Artistic Director, ran into me in the hotel foyer. After introductions, she asked if I was the Colleen Kelly who submitted Sealed to the audio festival. (YES!) She said she really loved it; that divorce is a common topic and that I successfully covered it in a new and interesting way. Praise the Lord.