Monday, December 19, 2011

New Video of Lisa B's Cover of Matisyahu's "Miracle"

I had a lot of fun with my maiden homemade video. Almost makes up for failing grade-school art.
Download the tune from CDBaby or iTunes:

" 'Miracle' uses the multi-track guitar work of Andre Bush. Lisa B... matches the tricky cadence well, digging out new meaning from the Matisyahu tune while maintaining the original's sensibility." - Jordan Richardson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and

Also on the Hanukkah / Chanukah tip: The album includes a lovely vocal/orchestral version of "Hine Ma Tov," with a new translation by me.

"Well-toasted chestnuts... Her lower register serves her best on 'Hine Ma Tov," with a shimmering, layered orchestration." - Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Times

They're both from my new album ("Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice))," . Lots of songs by Jews (some of which are Christmas songs)! 

"The sure-bet holiday music that should be playing in hipper households over the next few months. Tasty throughout." - Chris Spector, Midwest Record 


Friday, December 16, 2011

My Versions of Matisyahu Song "Miracle" and "Hine Ma Tov" for Chanukah / Hanukkah Now on iTunes - Plus: Great New Review

I was surprised to discover that in late November 2011 (this year), Matisyahu released five new versions of his great Chanukah / Hanukkah song "Miracle," and the Maccabees also offered their take on the tune. 

My version of "Miracle" first appeared as part of my CD released in late October 2011, "Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice)" -- and it just went up as a single on iTunes a few days ago! 

It's also available as a single on the great indie music site, CDBaby:

cover art for mp3 release of "Miracle" by Matisyahu sung by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)My new holiday album got a thoughtful, extensive review from Jordan Richardson yesterday on Blogcritics that was immediately picked up by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

About "Miracle"  and the other Jewish song on the record, "Hine Ma Tov"  Richardson writes: 
"Christmas Time is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice)" is a vibrant, diverse holiday record that sees Lisa B working through a number of Christmas standards, originals, and Jewish tunes with an energy that is enchanting... Along with the usual fare, the San Francisco Bay-based performer engages with the Hebrew hymn "Hine Ma Tov" and Matisyahu's "Miracle."... [Her] risk-taking continues with... "Hine Ma Tov"... [an] orchestral number accented by bells... the arrangement is... subtle and Lisa's vocals stand out... "Miracle" uses the multi-track guitar work of Andre Bush. Lisa B varies her tone a number of times and matches the tricky cadence well, digging out new meaning from the Matisyahu tune while maintaining the original's sensibility."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Notes on the Songs: "Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice)"

singer-poet Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) photographed for her holiday CD of 2011Notes by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) on her new CD “Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice)”

1.   The composition Christmas Time Is Here” evokes nuances of Christmas that aren’t found in any other song – a keen awareness of the holiday’s beauty as well as the unresolved melancholy underneath it. When co-producer Jim Gardiner (whose background includes writing for the Seattle Symphony) told me he wanted to make an orchestral track, I was thrilled, and I was even more thrilled when I heard his mixture of Henry Mancini and Steve Reich, sleighbells and dissonance. With my singing, I aimed to convey the sense of experiencing Christmas privately even amid the surrounding jolliness, and a vivid encounter with “the spirit” at the tune’s end that both redeems and amplifies its haunting atmosphere.

2.   The Hebrew hymn “Hine Ma Tov” continues the orchestral approach. It uses both of the traditional treatments of the song, stately and folk-danceable. Since the song is often heard at Shabbat feasts and sometimes on Chanukah, I couldn’t resist it – especially as it gave me the chance to write a new translation of the lyrics.

3.   “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!” is the tune that sparked my desire to do this record – swinging, flirty, continuing the theme of the fire in the fireplace and underlining the passion and connection that the fire signifies. This track introduces the marvelous live trio of Adam Shulman, piano, John Wiitala, bass, and Alan Hall, drums.

4.   “My Favorite Things” has loomed large in my life since I encountered both the John Coltrane and Julie Andrews classic versions at about the same time, and I’ve been singing it for years. The musicality and fervor of the band, including Alan’s hard-driving drumming and Adam’s passionate solo, helped inspire me to innovate some new lyrics after it, which continue the motif of finding and honoring one’s own truth.

5.   “Miracle” is a duet with the sparkling, multi-track guitar work Andre Bush, in my first time working with him, though we’ve known each other for many years. It’s the second Chanukah song on the record (though it’s worth noting that all the tracks on the record except 6 and 7 have at least one Jewish writer). The American Hasidic reggae artist Matisyahu released “Miracle” in December 2010, contributing a much-needed additional Chanukah song to the holiday repertoire. Both lovely and rousing, it speaks in the voice of someone who is overtaken by his/her private spiritual communication with God but still filled with zeal to encourage all who are listening to keep searching, and to believe that “him who searches will find.” With its many references to candles, fire, shining, sunrise, and light, Miracle again reminds us of why we conjure up brightness during the dark time of the year.

6.  “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” brings back the trio, with a gospel-shuffle arrangement by Adam Shulman that adds some downhome joy to the spectrum of celebration on this record.

7.   I’ve always loved Donny Hathaway’s performance of This Christmas,” which he co-wrote, and it was a perfect fit for the record as a playfully romantic song for the holiday in which happiness extends to family and community too. You may not notice that helping to propel the tune are tasty shifts from 4/4 to 3/4. Background vocalist Anna Lissa Patterson, with Jim Gardiner’s expert mixing, creates a lush bed to play in.

8.   “Holiday in Oakland,” the record’s first original, celebrates the Northern California city – or the Town, as locals call it – where I’ve lived for 20 years. A rap at the center lauds some of the musical greats who originated here. The holiday I keep saying we should take isn’t limited to Christmas! The old-school track by Jim Gardiner calls up Bump City, and the inspired background vocals by Anna Lissa Patterson, an Oakland native, truly represent. This song was made entirely in Oakland.

9.   Also an original, The Flame” lights the fire again, but reminds us that sequestering ourselves with loved ones during the holiday can’t seal us away from the world’s tumult and destruction. Being aware of others’ suffering – and our own – is painful, but the pain dissipates when we “find the golden flame in ourselves” and take some action to help our communities. Starting out spoken in time to a lush track, the song ends with a cappella singing that returns to the song’s initial reference to a timeless flame that curls in the dark of winter and the Name within it, hidden but bright. And it recasts the hearth as one that we make together, to create peace on earth.

10. I wrote Winter Solstice” as a poem, as opposed to a rap or a spoken-word piece, and it’s spoken in free verse, out of time. Still, the lovely track adds enormously to its flavor. What you hear is a one-take vocal with musical accompaniment by Jim that emerged rapidly – a testament to the communication finely honed between us over almost two decades of collaboration.

11. We couldn’t resist offering an instrumental version of Christmas Time Is Here” to close the record. Allow yourself to come full circle, and amid the orchestra’s strings and brass and timpani to experience your own Christmas – the spirit that is you, and the other spirit that is near.

copyright 2011 Lisa Bernstein
Purchase songs or CDs -- and please write customer reviews!:

iTunes: or

(please buy new; used ones are promos or bootlegs others are reselling)

CDBaby--a great site for indie music:

Thanks and enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Singer's Life: Where to Start (And How to Keep Going)?

JazzSchool logo from Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) blog

re you a singer? Do you want to become one?
Check out the workshop I'm giving at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, Calif.!

Sunday, October 30, 2011,
Noon - 3:00 p.m.
2087 Addison St., Berkeley CA 94704 (510) 845-5373
$50 advance, $65 at the door

The Singer's Life: Where Do You Start (And How Do You Keep Going)?

A workshop for singers who want to get started with manifesting their dreams
  and keep manifesting them. This is not a performance class, but a class that will help you perform more regularly, by first identifying your goals and then putting together a plan to achieve them. Students have the opportunity to tell the story of where they are as singers and where they'd like to be, using writing exercises to help define personal goals. Instructor Lisa B outlines the various aspects of a singer's life, from education to songwriting to performance and promotion. She then brainstorms with each student and provides advice about specific steps on the path  for the next year and beyond.

We'll be working (and playing) within three main areas:
I. Your initial dream of being a singer, your purposes as a singer now, and aligning your singer activities so you feel your own power and well-being.
II. The various pieces of a singer's life.
III. Setting and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

I can't wait!

Lisa B on:



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Holiday in Oakland": The New Single!

cover art for mp3 single of "Holiday in Oakland" by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

The first single from my winter holiday CD just went up on CDBaby at and "Holiday in Oakland"! A positive tune about my Town for any holiday, especially celebrating the music originating here.

The old-school-with-a-new-twist track is by Jim (James) Gardiner (composer, educator, producer, engineer, and friend), who runs Gardiner Music Mentoring and Pajama Recording Studios near Jack London Square in Oakland.

Oakland native Anna Lissa Patterson sang the background vocals, creating both downhome excitement and a luscious ambience (her contribution also put the sheen on "This Christmas," on the CD).

Go download it! Click on the links below to go to CDBaby or go to iTunes, which gives a nice long sample including the rap. (But on my iTunes page are some songs by the UK-based model-actress-singer Lisa B, who isn't me and is a lot more famous.)

Here are the lyrics:

Holiday in Oakland
lyrics © 2011 Lisa Bernstein
music © 2011 Lisa Bernstein and Jim (James) Gardiner
published by Lisa B Swingin’ Music, BMI, and Jawiz Music, ASCAP

Let’s take a holiday in Oakland
Let’s take a walk around the lake
With the lovers and the runners
The kids of every color holding hands
In Oaktown

Let’s take a holiday in Oakland
Let’s take a break and eat some grits and greens
Potstickers and beef chow mein
Crabs we caught today in the bay
In Oaktown

In the winters we don’t freeze
In the summers it’s a breeze
Under redwoods in the park
Soul and salsa after dark
Drive down Christmas Lane
See the galaxies explained
At Chabot, watch the moon turn to gold

Let’s take a holiday in Oakland
Let’s hear the music that we made:
Tower of Power, Y&T
Goapele and Michael Franti
Tony Toni, Del the Funky Homo Sapien
Digital Underground in Raider Nation
The Pointer Sisters and Pete Escovedo
Redwood Records, Oaktown Jazz, livin’ their credos
Kitka, Keak da Sneak, En Vogue, and Hammer
The Hawkins Singers and Pharoah Sanders

In the winters we don’t freeze
In the summers it’s a breeze
Under redwoods in the park
Soul and salsa after dark
Drive down Christmas Lane
See the galaxies explained
At Chabot, watch the moon turn to gold

Take a holiday, oh yeah
Throw all your worries away
You can slide under the bay to San Francisco
But you better come on home
Go deep in the east
And just settle in the west
Amble down Grand and strut your best on Broadway

Dip your finger in the water in Jack London Square
Run to the hills and inhale the air
Come to my house and just sway in the hammock with me
I’m in Oaktown
That’s where I’m gonna stay
That’s where I work and it’s where I play
In Oaktown
(Let’s take a holiday in Oakland!
The "Holiday in Oakland" single:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gardiner Music Mentoring: A Great Program, Expanding Now

Jim Gardiner of Gardiner Music Mentoring
I'm excited to tell you about Gardiner Music Mentoring, a program for youth 14 and up as well as adults. GMM provides one-to-one and small group mentoring and lessons on all aspects of musical development  all within the world-class Pajama Studios near Jack London Square in Oakland.

Know a young person involved in music who would flourish in an alternative learning setting?

Seeking to expand your skills in audio engineering, music composition, or performance?

Gardiner Music Mentoring will tailor a program to meet your starting point, goals, learning style and schedule. You can study:

•  Music composition, theory, and orchestration

•  Recording, mixing, and mastering
•  Instrumental and vocal technique and performance
•  Creating your own CD and producing CDs by other artists
•  The evolving music business and your career planning and launch

Gardiner Music Mentoring features personal instruction from Jim (James) Gardiner as well as an amazing array of mentors who are working musicians. Jim has an unmatched range of skills: composition (he was composer in residence for the Seattle Symphony), audio engineering (Grammy nominations and 42 gold- or platinum-certified records), and producing. His program's mentors include some of the best the Bay Area has to offer, with more being added each month.

Jim has a magic touch with kids, providing a framework of both creativity and discipline, and a special ability to communicate. And he does pretty well with grownups too  as I can attest.

Check out Gardiner Music Mentoring's curriculum, testimonials, and more:

Week-long summer camp sessions start in August, and weekly lessons as well as more immersive programs are ongoing.

A great place for you or a young person you know to take the next step in musical development  whether it's learning about recording and mixing with the latest technology, in a real-live studio environment; getting started on your first symphony; or being guided and assisted at every step in creating your next CD.

Feel free to contact me (see my website link below, Contact page) to find out more, or contact Jim at (323) 481-1590.


Lisa B on:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Free S.F. Show 8/6/11, Women Rock 5th Anniversary

poster for Women Rock, San Francisco, fifth anniversary show from Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) blog
I'm performing 8/6/11 at 9:40 p.m in San Francisco at a FREE show to celebrate Women Rock's 5th anniversary. See details below on performers, who hail from many genres. Kids' acts start the day. Potluck and grill will be set up. Drinks for sale.

The Box Factory, 865 Florida St. at 21st St.

San Francisco, CA

Saturday August 6, 2:00 p.m. - Sunday at 2:00 a.m.
WomenROCK, a women's music collective, is celebrating five years of vitality with a magical free day of music, dance, visual and performance art. The event will be part of MAPP (Mission Arts & Performance Project). Cosponsored by Donations can be made to Homobiles, a Safe Queer Car Service open to all (founded by a musician).

Here's the awesome line up for the day (starting with three kid-friendly acts in a row, so bring ...the family!):

2:00-2:20 Revolutionary Girls
This SF tween sensation plays venues like Earth Day and Harmony Festival because there is a message to their music. Listen up!

2:25-2:50 Making Dinner (for kids!)
An all-female San Francisco favorite that has been labeled indie, folk, and pop. Making Dinner takes over the stage the way the smell of cookies baking takes over a kitchen.

2:55-3:20 Essence (for kids!)
In her decade long span as a recording artist, essence has earned a devoted following, sold thousands of CDs, had songs placed prominently in film and television, won international songwriting contests and performed in some the nation's most prestigious venues opening for artists like Tom Petty, Jason Mraz, Shawn Colvin, and Sarah McLachlan.

3:25-3:50 Candace Roberts & The Forever Bridesmaids
In a cotton-candy world of shimmering girl-group harmonies and clever cabaret . our heroine makes her way through a minefield of tubas, handbags and plentiful pork products.

3:55-4:15 Aoede
Compelling pop for your heart by a singer-songwriter with an enchantingly quirky soprano voice. Recipient of a "Top Album of the Decade" honor, and "Top Artist of the Year" for 2008, by, she is one-in-a-million, but it's not only for the reasons one would expect.

4:20-4:40 ANANTA
ANANTA rocks her audience with the electric fiddle, cello, beats and hula-hoop in her solo show and her repertoire includes soul, jazz, hip-hop, rock, celtic, middle eastern, indian classical and alternative trance styles.

4:45-5:10 Pamela Parker
San Francisco's freshest soul sister, Pamela Parker serves up a blend of juicy, bluesy, soulful, funky music and sets out to deeply touch her audience with songs about life, love, and creating positive changes in the world.

5:15-5:40 Vanessa VerLee
For over a decade Vanessa has been a staple singer-songwriter in the San Francisco scene. Her voice stops crowds and her melodies leaves them humming. She'll be joined by her partner in music and life, Jeremy Rourke, a celebrated animator and songwriter himself.

5:45-6:05 The Sugar Highs
Playing together for four years now, these two snappily dressed jazz songstresses, Andrea Shippy and Kate Baker, do unique and original tunes as well as classics from the great American songbook. The sound will leave you on a (Sugar) High!

6:05 Introduction of evening emcee, Siobhan "OneMama-ShaBoom" Neilland
Siobhan Neilland, founder of the non-profit OneMama, represents the heart of the OneMama organization. OneMama helps improvised woman have babies safely in rural communities in Africa. Passionate about making a difference in the world, Siobhan created OneMama to show those in need that they are loved and matter in this world.

6:10-6:35 The Heated
The moniker of singer/songwriter Cristina Espinosa, The Heated provides endearing lo-fi, yet accomplished, indie folk/Americana. One bar breaks thrown into the center of songs, off-kilter rhythms and unexpected melodies dot the musical landscape.

6:45-7:10 Bitter Mystics
Smooth and sultry vocals backed by masterful violin and
acoustic guitars energizing original songs spanning genres from bluegrass to folk to pop to swing.

7:15-7:40 Audrey Howard & The Misters
"(These) San Francisco underground scene favorites perform tight-knit rock driven by Audrey's mind-blowing, real-life guitar hero riffage" - Fabulosa Fest //

7:45-8:10 ZIVA
Born and raised in a small kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley in Israel, ZIVA's music is a blend of rock, pop, jazz and R&B, delivered with powerful expressive vocals, rich harmonies and exotic rhythms.

8:15-8:30 Emily Butterfly
Happily self-employed at Emily Butterfly Productions, she serves as creatress of many genres including: Cartoon Voice Over, Puppet Fabricator, Puppeteer, Illustrator, Story, Song and Script Writer. She performs for children and adults in schools, hospitals, prisons, speakeasies, festivals and clubs and have reached over 50,000 elementary school children in the Bay Area, Ca with a show promoting walking and biking to school.

8:40-9:05 Castles In Spain
Castles in Spain's unique sonic agenda melds tribal rhythms, cinematic and atmospheric vibes and even Middle Eastern and Spanish influences into a sensuously soulful and melodically ethereal style.

9:10-9:25 Drag w/ Jesse Sangria & Persia

9:30-9:35 Luscious Ladies Burlesque Dance Troupe

9:40-10:05 Lisa B. (Lisa Bernstein)
This singer-poet merges jazz, soul, pop, world, and electronic music with vivid, poetic spoken word. She has released 4 CDs with national radio charting and press, has had two poetry books published, and performed at 80+ venues from the Elbo Room to Stanford University.

10:10-10:35 Dana Carmel
Dana's haunting melodies and sometimes unconventional chord progressions have a way of entering your head and staying there for days. She manages to express what you may not find the right words for and in the end you are so happy to sing along to.

10:40-11:05 Whitney Nichole
Whitney Nichole blends storytelling lyrics and strong melodies for a captivating and compelling soulful indie-pop style.

11:10-11:30 Maria Konner
Guitarist & keyboardist with the band Sex Industry, Maria will be playing a few acoustic guitar songs. Maria has performed in many spots throughout town either playing with the band, or doing tunes on the piano or guitar.

11:35-11:45 Rasa Vitalia
Arguably San Francisco's leading highly creative and very unique Dance Artists, Rasa Vitalia performs around the world, celebrating the essence of life with her truly creative dance called "Rasa Dance." Rasa Dance is Global Dance: A unique experience of universal movement through dance & music- The rhythm of life.

11:50-12:15 bernadette

12:20-12:45 Gabby La La

12:50-1:15 London Street

1:20-1:45 Drag with Shaky Gibson, Divinity Fudge & Samatha Klever Samuelroy (and his alterego Samatha Klever) composes his own music, sings, raps and collaborates with such drag queens as Miss Rahni, Kallisto and Lady Bear, along with others.

1:45-2:00 Dance Party


Lisa B on:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Poems in Caliban Online #2

Caliban literary magazine print editions from lisabmusic blog
The wonderful poetry magazine Caliban has been resurrected online, and I'm thrilled to have poems from my just-revised manuscript "Post-War Persephone" in its second issue. Check out

Since I wanted to let folks know of Caliban's foundation, I asked editor Larry Smith to tell me about some previous contributors. He sent me the partial list below, saying, "The original Caliban published from 1986-1996. In many ways, it was a successor to kayak, and many of the regulars from kayak became regulars in Caliban. Raymond Carver was one of our early big promoters. There are many more noteworthy contributors. (We were the first publishers of Sherman Alexie, for example.)" Smith not only was inspired by the pioneering kayak -- he also got a lot of direct help in launching his mag from its publisher, George Hitchcock, who was one of my poetry mentors at UC Santa Cruz.

The new issue is an exciting one, with Rosemarie Waldrop and Colette Inez among others, wonderful visual art, and the unique "Contributors' Advice."

Writers and readers, check it out and send your work. PDFs can be purchased for under a buck. Smith welcomes poetry, fiction, art, and even music and short videos from "those who consider themselves avant-garde or progressive (and even those who don't, but who are serious)."

Here are some of the writers Caliban previously published.

Will Alexander, William Burroughs, Robert Bly, Amiri Baraka, Charles Bernstein, Lisa Bernstein (Lisa B), Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Raymond Carver, Wanda Coleman, Clark Coolidge, Louise Erdrich, Russell Edson, Forrest Gander, Michael Harper, Jim Harrison, Lyn Hejinian, Colette Inez, Robert Kelly, Maxine Hong Kingston, Yusef Komunyakaa, Philip Levine, Michael McClure, Tom McGrath, W.S. Merwin, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, Antonio Porta, Jerome Rothenberg, Charles Simic, Gary Soto, William Stafford, Louis Simpson, Arthur Sze, Gerald Vizenor, James Tate, Diane Wakoski.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tod Dickow's solo on "Center of the Rhyme"

Sax player Tod Dickow I was really pleased to discover that sax-player Tod Dickow recently put up on his site his beautiful swirling solo from my 2003 tune "Center of the Rhyme." Check it out! (click on tab 2, Samples from CD Recordings; it's at the top of the list).