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Italy Part 2 (Due)

Posted on: July 29th, 2011 by lisabell 4 Comments

Lots of gigs and fun being touristas!

Toscolarno Moderno at the Soltto Le Piante restaurant with special guest Titi Venturelli on sax. Very fun!

Bob and I stopped into Radio Vera for a live performance of the Boomba Boomba song and to promote our gig that evening. Lisa Simmons did a fantastic job of translating during the interview.

Next up was a fantastic gig at the Cafe Grande Italia in Sirmione, owned by the amazing the fantastic and oh so generous Mario Pagiaro. It was a very fun night at this restaurant on the lake in the histroric Sirmione with an appreciative crowd.

Then it was off to Florence for a very fun gig outside in a community park. Check out a live performance there of our co-written song “The Best of Me.” which is all about manifesting your dreams. It’s never too late, as witnessed by this amazing tour in Italy I’m on right now!! Click on the song title above to see the live video!

This was Lisa & I looking “Funky Fresh” for the gig!

Bob, Kelly, Steve and I then took a few days to sight see around to Florence, Cinque Terre and Venice.

Steve in Florence

Taking a very needed wine break on the Cinque Terre trail

Steve & Bob in Pisa

Eating squid ink pasta on the Grande Canal in Venice!

A quick detour for my marketing client Natural Merchants to shoot a promotional video at the winery La Cantina Pizzolato in Treviso.

A beautiful party given by Cesare Valbusa and Daria Toffali.

And back for a gig at the Plaza in Castiglione.

More things I’ve learned:

1) Italy is much more laid back than the U.S.
-We have been going at a much more relaxed and slower pace, enjoying each other and the music along the way!
-Food, especially pranzo (lunch) is very important. A two-hour lunch is the usual, and all businesses close to go home and enjoy family and community from 1-3 in the afternoon.

2) The tourist cities are super busy and hot in peak summer season. I would skip Venice in July. Some people from other countries (which will go unnamed, but are not Italy or US, and rhyme with Terminy and pants) have still not discovered the wonders of deodorant, yet insist on riding the Vaporetti (water taxis) while holding on the to rail above their heads. Other than the masses, Venice is beautiful.

3) Espresso serves several purposes and is drunk pretty much all day long:
-It’s necessary to get going in the morning after being up until 3 a.m. at the gig
-It counteracts the effect of the three bottles of wine at lunch and dinner, so that we can get back to work and gigging in the late afternoon
-It keeps the body plumbing flowing after eating mostly fromage and pasta for the past  2 1/2 weeks!

5) My favorite “Italish” phrase: “Awesomemo!”

6) The beauty of Italy flows through food, landscape, buildings, art, friendship and music. It’s all about amore here!

Last night was the final gig with the entire Hippie Tendencies crew, for now. Next up is a CD project that I am going to put together with Bob, that will incorporate all of the tunes we have written with Lisa Simmons, and will include all of the Hippie Tendencies musicians. We’ll record parts in the US and parts in Italy, then have it mixed and mastered in Italy. More to come on this exciting project!!

I have had a wonderful time here and have a few more precious days to share with my beautiful friends, who are more like family. I’ll write one more blog post on the way hojme to recap the last experiences and send links to some more live videos. Check out more pictures, including the boys driving Ferraris on my Facebook page. Ciao for now!

Italy Days 1-6

Posted on: July 17th, 2011 by lisabell 13 Comments

The adventure begins! We arrived on Tuesday this week in Verona. Lisa & Marco picked up up and we went to their Casa for an amazing lunch and of course lots of vino. No napping! We then went to Sylvia & Matteo’s restaurant QB in Brescia and received dish after dish of incredible “apperativo” dishes and of course, lots of vino!

Bob Story (my guitar player) and his wife Kelly were arriving much later and had quite the travel story, but I will let them tell that one as they want!

The next day we spent  making   gnocchi and enjoying the company of our hosts in their casa!

That evening we went to the beautiful town of Sirmione and enjoyed the sites and more food & drink!!

Wednesday we had an 8 hour rehearsal (!) at a studio near Pozzolengo in a beautiful house/studio in the country. That is the dream! To own a studio and agriturimo here in Italy where we can host touring musicians, allow them to record in the studio and have beautiful music 24/7!

We had a 50th Birthday party that evening for Marco, my husband Steve and Bob & Kelly’s host Laura, at a beautiful agritusimo in the country just 5 minutes from the studio. Lots of amazing food, drink, fun and music!

Friday Steve and I and Bob & Kelly went early to Parma to find some authentico parmesiano reggiano and to eat Parma proscuitto (along with authntico parmigiano and Lambrusco of course!) in Parma before heading to the private party we were performing at nearby.

The party was in the country near Parma in an amazing setting!


We had them dancing all night long! Then it was back home-at 4 a.m.!

After a few hours of sleep and of course more delicious food prepared by Marco, it was off to Gargnano to the amazing 5 star resort Lefay. A perfect evening under the stars, with a view of the lake, beautiful mountains and glorious surroundings. Lots of tourists from around the world enjoyed our music all night.

Things I’ve learned so far:

1) Musicians are revered here in Italy far more than in the states. We have been treated with respect, fed well, our music enjoyed and CDs purchased, and the pay scale is nearly double that in the states!
2) European tourists love American music-originals and covers-as English is the common language for everyone. They just eat up everything, dance to the music and welcome us with open arms!
3) I have eaten more in the past five days than I have in a month at home! I have to slow down or my performance clothes will never fit by the end!
4) I’m in love with Italy and certainly my Italian hosts and friends. The long-term dream is to spend a great deal more time here!

Today we went to a BBQ party in our honor and then a free night with no performances! Though of course we all made music together anyway! Even my husband Steve sang!

Three more gigs this week! More photos can be found on my Facebook page and more blog to come…

My “Feel Good” Music Adventure

Posted on: June 27th, 2011 by lisabell 12 Comments

This past weekend I had the privilege of participating in the First Annual Bates Place U Rock Retreat and Concert Series in Orlando, FL. I have been involved as a Bates Place marketing/booking client, helping me to bring my “feel good” music to venues across the country. “What exactly is feel good music?” you may ask. We all struggled with that definition over the weekend, as it’s not a musical genre per se, but simply “music that makes you feel good,” no matter what the style. It’s been called “Positive” or “Conscious” music, but mostly the songs simply contain messages that are meant to bring joy, awareness, and healing to the world.

We began our journey with a two-day retreat hosted by Dr. Kelly Brady, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Psychotherapist , goddess and overall extraordinary human being. Kelly took us on a journey within, to learn about the key things we can do to be creative, from that joyful place within our souls in order to bring our healing musical messages to the masses. We talked about cultivating and nurturing the seeds of that positive energy, while acknowledging but letting go of the negativity that so often gets in our way of becoming our best most creative selves.

The retreat was entertaining, exhausting, enthralling and enlightening (and a few more e words I’m not thinking of at the moment!). It also served to bring a group of musicians together, many for the first time, in a uniquely heartfelt manner that would produce two amazing collaborative concerts.

The first night’s concert was held at Christ’s Church Unity. Though we had heard snippets of music throughout the two-day retreat, this would be the first time that all thirteen musicians had really performed in front of each other. Many had quick rehearsals before sound check to add others into their acts for background vocals, percussion, trumpet or sax solos and keyboard magic. It was a true collaborative effort. The concert was magical and enlightening, and each artist was incredibly diverse with his or her musical style. Everyone was outstanding in their own musical way and brought the joy of the past few days to life in their music.

U Rock Artists and Staff

The 2nd night’s concert was in the John & Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Orlando, in one of their beautiful theaters. The songs changed, more collaborative efforts were formed and the audience ate up the entire 4-hour show!

The most touching part of the evening for me was a presentation by one of the two invited non-profits for the evening, Base Camp. The organization helps to comfort and nourish families of terminally ill children as their children undergo treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Orlando. A young girl named Marley, who had entertained us throughout the evening with her joyful shrieks of laughter and dancing, was there that evening with her family and best little girlfriend. At the age of 3 she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The doctors had little hope for her even after surgery and gave the young girl days to live. But the family refused to give up, and worked with their faith, along with the best that Western medicine had to offer, to try and save the life that had barely begun. Marley is now 7 years old and is in full remission. She touched all of our hearts and this “old soul” had many lessons to teach us about the power of faith and never giving up in life, no matter how dire the situation may seem.

The evening was a fundraiser for the Bates Place non-profit, which has been set up to help artists like me to spread joyful, uplifting messages to the world. Money was raised, with the help of the nation’s only singing auctioneer Mari Harris.

The last evening was spent conducting a very casual closing concert on the waterfront in Tampa. Held outside of an old Trolley Car warehouse and repair station (among other things!), it was a very special night of making music together and saying our long goodbyes.

Click here for a goofy video I took that night!

Lisa and Teri Wilder

I have to say that the whole experience far exceeded my expectations. We were well taken care of with fabulous food and food for thought, lodging and oodles of love. All of us connected on an amazing level, and musical collaborations born out of the process were outstanding, exuberant and many longer term than just the weekend performances. In fact, for those of you in the Boulder/Denver area, two of the amazing artists, Teri Wilder and Mari Harris, will be appearing live in my own backyard for a house concert extraordinaire on Saturday, September 10. Details to come!

Mark, Bates and Rique

Thank you Bates and the entire staff of Bates Place for letting us be a part of your dream to bring this amazing “music that makes you feel great” to the world. This is only the beginning.

A weekend with Franco and Stone

Posted on: February 23rd, 2011 by lisabell 3 Comments

I am part of the core staff of the Boulder International Film Festival, which just wrapped up on Sunday. As the Filmmaker Liaison Coordinator it’s my job to find and coordinate volunteers who will pick up and take care of all of the filmmakers who come to town for the festival. We have a great team of liaisons who take them back and forth to the airport and make sure all of their needs are met during the festival.

My other role, along with my husband Steve, is to help transport and take care of the celebrities who visit the festival. This year it was James Franco and Oliver Stone.

The best way I can describe James is “overwhelmed.” The young star (32) is getting a PhD in English Studies at Yale,  just finished a book, has a multi-media art exhibit opening in June in Venice, is on General Hospital, is nominated for Best Actor for his role as Boulder’s own Aron Ralston in “127 Hours” and is hosting the Academy Awards this coming Sunday! And I thought I was oversubscribed! His manager told me James has a true photographic memory. He can read through a script once and have his lines down cold for the next scene. That would explain in part his super human skills but still thats all got to wear a guy out!

So it was no real surprise to me that he seemed a bit tired during his interview on Saturday night. Aron Ralston’s introduction was fabulous and I enjoyed meeting him every bit as much as the star who played him in the movie. If you haven’t seen “127 Hours,” by all means go see it! Though the pinnacle of the movie is him cutting off his arm, it’s only 90 seconds of the whole two hours and is so well done that I only had to look away once! It’s a very spiritually powerful movie and an amazing story of courage and determination.

Oliver Stone was super lively during his interview and in person as well. He is so hyper intelligent that I really believe his brain is wired differently than most. Steve and I enjoyed his “testing” conversations with us and he was simply delightful to be around. Here is a photo of us at the end of the festival on Sunday before the rest of the crowd rolled into the bar.

Taking care of the celebrities is exciting but amazingly stressful at the same time. From making sure security is in place to seeing that they have every single need taken care of, it’s a lot of work. Overall it’s a great gig but we certainly didn’t get to see much of the festival from the front of the house.

Some of the other highlights of the weekend for me included opening night and watching “Troubadors” about the famous bar of the same name in LA that launched just about every musical career in the 70s; watching my son Brendan have a great time volunteering at the festival for the first time as part of the Youth Advisory Council; watching the movie “Freedom Riders” with our boys and meeting the amazing Representative John Lewis; watching my stepdaughter Kaity blossom as a reporter as she interviewed and photographed just about every filmmaker in town for the festival blog, (including an exclusive interview with Oliver Stone); and watching the crazy Karaoke show at Sushi Zanmai with Franco’s manager on Saturday night-if you’ve never gone you should! As I told his manager, “It’s so bad it’s hip!”

An eventful weekend to be sure! Come talk to me at a show and I’ll tell you more about my role at BIFF and how you can be involved in the festival next year!

What a lovely way it was to start the Holidays!

Posted on: December 5th, 2010 by lisabell Click to Comment

I had an amazing Holiday House Concert and party last night at the home of Richard and Mary in North Boulder. The setting was perfect and the house was full of lovely new fans, great long-time friends/fans and family. I could not have had a better start to this glorious Holiday Season!

This was my very first house concert and I certainly plan to do more in the coming year! I was joined by my fabulous friends and co-writers Bob Story and Mark Oblinger who also performed their original music and helped me to make some holiday classics really unique and fun to sing and hear.

As part of the evening, I provided sparkling wines from around the globe and homemade gluten-free carrot cake. Since I was asked for it by dozens of people there, the recipe, from my mom Carole and made gluten-free by me, follows below.

Thank you to Richard and Mary especially for hosting the concert and to everyone who made the evening so very special. Happy Holidays! Lisa

Carole & Lisa’s Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free baking mix (I use the mix from Boulder-based Outrageous Baking
2 cups sugar
1 cup crushed pineapple (1 small can)
2 cups grated carrots
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil (canola or similar)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift the dry ingredients together (very important!)
Beat the 4 eggs in a large mixer or bowl with the oil and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and blend. Then add the carrots and pineapple.
Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes. Let cool, then frost with:

1 8 oz block of cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
1/2-1 cup powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Let the cream cheese and butter sit at room temperature (while making the cake) to get soft. Blend the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together in a large mixer or bowl with hand mixer. Sift the powdered sugar (to remove lumps) and add according to your taste. I use about 1/2 cup per 8 oz cream cheese. Frost and top with pecans if you like. Enjoy!!!!

What a lucky person I am!!

Posted on: September 14th, 2010 by lisabell 2 Comments

We had our first rehearsal today with Hippie Tendencies from Italy, gearing up for our big show at the Soiled Dove this coming Saturday, September 18.

As I was sitting in rehearsal, I got all teary eyed realizing just how lucky I am and what great manifestation powers I have! It’s been nine years since I started my musical journey, and that first year I said that my goal was to be able to play in Europe. It’s now going to finally become a reality and with the most amazing group of musicians I could possibly imagine.

Check out more photos of Lisa Simmons, Marco Cremaschini, Massimo Saviola, Cesare Valbusa and Christian (too bad he’s married all you single gals) Codenotti, along with me and my fantastico guitar player Bob Story on my Facebook page.

The band sounds amazing and I am really enjoying hosting three of the band members at my house for 2 weeks. They are so grateful for a place to stay and food on the table! It makes me feel like my home is a very special place indeed.

Thank you universe for helping to answer my call to be a professional musician and take my music to lands far away. Thanks to Lisa Simmons and her fantastic band Hippie Tendencies for coming along when we needed each other the most.

The Italians are Coming!

Posted on: September 2nd, 2010 by lisabell 1 Comment

The Italians are coming! In just 2 weeks we have a very special concert at the Soiled Dove Underground in Denver, opening for Hippie Tendencies from Verona, Italy! This is a really big concert for me as it kicks off my manifested dream come true!

I have always wanted to perform in Europe and thanks to Facebook, that dream is going to become reality.

Last fall, I was right in the middle of working on my new CD project and noticed that a friend of mine from high school who I haven’t seen in over 25 years, Lisa Simmons, had friended me on Facebook. I noticed that Lisa’s profile picture was of her in a recording studio. We started a discussion and discovered that we were both singer/songwriters working on new projects. We cheered each other along throughout the CD birthing process, and started the ‘what if’ discussion about touring in Colorado and Italy along the way. Lisa wanted to come home to Colorado to perform for the first time in 20 years and I have always wanted to play in Italy. Before we knew it, the idea for a ‘band exchange program’ was born.

I am hosting Hippie Tendencies during their two-week Colorado tour in September, opening for them at the Soiled Dove and a few other smaller gigs throughout Colorado. We’ll reverse that in Italy when I go there next spring to headline shows.

Hippie Tendencies is a great funk/jazz/pop/rock band that is Indy at their core, with music that defies categorization. It’s a fantastic compliment to my new music and we are both looking forward to helping each other by singing backup and exchanging musicians both here and in Italy.

Don’t miss the big show at the Soiled Dove on Saturday, September 18. Tickets are $15 in advance and available at

New Review-Feminist Review

Posted on: August 26th, 2010 by lisabell Click to Comment

A fun new review today from Feminist Review.

“The varied material on the disc provides plenty of opportunities for Bell to show off her versatile voice, which conveys longing, acceptance, hopefulness, anticipation, and joy in turn. With superb guitar and percussion throughout, it’s clear she is interested in each song not just as a showcase for herself but as a means of communication between artist and listener. Mostly, you get the sense that Bell loves what she’s doing and wants to share the beauty and excitement of these songs with you. Dancing On The Moon is an enjoyable outing of both smooth and improvisational songs, with an upbeat feel, and the blend of styles makes it perfect for the musically adventurous.”

Read the rest of the review on the Reviews page.

New Review

Posted on: August 11th, 2010 by lisabell Click to Comment

Check out the new review from Indie Music Digest:

Boulder Colorado’s own Lisa Bell releases “Dancing on the Moon” in 2010 which features 12 new songs, 9 featuring electric guitarist Bob Story & acoustic guitarist Mark Oblinger (Firefall) who also just so happened to produce the album & even wrote the title track.

The CD kicks things off with the title track “Dancing on the Moon” a sultry intro piece that serves up steady beat, melodic jazz guitar, & smooth vocals from Bell. Track 2 “No Time” is an impressive groove that dishes out soothing melody, well placed percussive accents against more honey coated vocals from Bell making for an impressive ballad. Track 3 “Change is Free” shifts gears a bit with a steady low end groove that showcases a slamming rhythm section, impressive Hammond Organ chops, & well placed harmonies & vocal from Bell. I especially like her sassiness on this piece. The music itself has a soothing jazz-pop-rock vibe reminiscent of classic acts Nora Jones, Miami Sound Machine, Barbra Streisand, Eva Cassidy & maybe a dash of Natalie Cole. As this CD slowly unfolds its obvious the players in Bell’s band are quite accomplished. Kudos goes out to the impressive guitar work from both Bob Story & Mark Oblinger. The rhythm section (bass & drums) push the natural accents well. Last but not least Bell makes the whole thing work. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. As for her vocal abilities, Bell’s voice works well within the confines of Jazz-rock. Her voice goes down smooth & fills the space peacefully & unobtrusively. Along the way you will notice some of her vocal influences – Gloria Estefan, Barbra Streisand, & Ella Fitzgerald. By track 3 the CD hits sold stride delivering 5 solid tracks back to back including my personal favorites “After All” & “Stand up” All songs are extremely well crafted & consistent across the board. This CD from Bell delivers 12 solid tracks all providing thought provoking wisdom with messages that are uplifting & positive. The music of Lisa Bell has everything you would expect from a professional jazz-pop-rock production. From upbeat “Move on” & How Long” to soothing “Better Days” to tranquil “Misty Roses” to grooving “Stand up” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone. There’s even an impressive James Taylor cover” Fire & Rain” that mixes thing up well. From start to finish – It’s a rock solid CD. The CD ends with Track 12 “Carry On” providing rich conventional wisdom that simply cannot be faked no matter how hard you try.

It’s had to find any weaknesses with this CD. But if could say anything to Lisa Bell right now it would be take a few more vocal risks on some of your songs, & really push that emotional envelope in a way that is 100% un-choreographed. If you can do this you will no doubt capture lightning in a bottle & deliver some truly magical vocal performances. Turn to this instead of just another predictable vibrato, especially during the finale. Genuine emotion is a very powerful thing & at the end of the day can never be controlled – even in the confines of a recording studio. So turn up the heat & give us something we will never forget. This is truly what separates legends from other professionals. Some songs lack serious emotional delivery, & seem a bit conservative. It’s fair to say some songs are a bit dated & predictable sounding.

After spending 45+ minutes alone with Lisa Bell & company I simply abandoned any hopes of finding any serious weakness. Instead as the CD progressed I became more and more impressed. “Dancing on the Moon” is a top notch musical production from start to finish. There’s not really a weak song on this entire catalogue. The musicianship is first rate; the songs are short and sweet musical experiences. Each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Lastly – the playing, writing, and singing abilities of Lisa Bell& her band are impressive. My hats off guitarist Mark Oblinger (Firefall) who is no stranger to the music business – for his guitar virtuoso & producers touch. Everything about Lisa Bell screams talent & professionalism. I guess could go on and on all night about Lisa Bell you simply have got to get your hands on some of his music and see what I am talking about. You should start with “Dancing on the Moon.”

Cyrus Rhodes

Sound Healing Day 8: Toning the Divine Name and Group Merkaba

Posted on: July 24th, 2010 by lisabell 2 Comments

Today was the final instructional day of the Healing Intensive. This afternoon was about creating the Group Merkaba of Sound. The word “Merkaba” is ancient Hebrew and roughly translates to chariot. Jonathan’s definition is “an interdimensional field through which we can travel to higher planes of consciousness and through which beings of Light and Love can travel to us.”

The group toned the notes C & G-a perfect 5th-to create the Merkaba on the alter set up in the middle of the room. The goal was to create a physical Merkaba shape (such as below) in the center of the room, if only in our mind’s eye.

The group toned for several minutes, closing our eyes. Each of us was then lead around the center of the room to “feel” the shape formed around the alter. Jonathan demonstrates below.

We were then led back to our seat and sat in silent meditation. For me, the Merkaba appeared as a giant translucent rose colored crystal, with doors and windows in the many facets of the gem. I was led into a portal by a guide and was asked to look through the various windows of the facets. In each window I could see an image of all of the countries represented in our group. Out one facet were the snow capped peaks of Japan; out another I saw the crystal blue ocean and green jungles of Bali. This went on and on. Each country’s image was harmonious, peaceful, strikingly beautiful. No war, no strife, no natural or man-made disasters-just perfection.

I was then asked if I wanted to “fly above” to see the image from the outside. It was full of smaller crystals on top, each representing the class participants. We were all one within the shape, equal, all working toward the common goal of a peaceful world.

As we were called out of meditation, the individual crystals pulled in and the Merkaba shape formed in a similar purple hue as in the picture above. It was glowing and full of energy, then it slowly disappeared into the earth. Every class participant had a unique and completely different experience. A metaphor for how we all perceive the world in a totally different way. Yet we are all the same deep down, no matter what part of the world we come from, no matter what we “do” for a living.

I interpret my personal experience as a summation of my feelings about my week here. We are all interconnected and each of us has a higher calling of creating a peaceful, united world, evolved to a point where we truly know that we are all one. The thing that amazes me the most about all of the class participants here, especially those who have traveled from the far reaches of the world, is that they all believe that anything and everything is possible.

And it is. We just let our fears get in the way of being able to manifest our true life path and wildest dreams.

Earlier in the day we toned the Divine Name for manifestation. We were asked to think of our heart’s desires as if they had already happened. I envisioned myself in front of a stadium-sized crowd of people, performing my music which ultimately had a healing effect on the world. And so it is.

I will take away from this experience the knowledge that I CAN make a difference with sound and music in this world. It will start with helping individuals and gradually build to serve larger and larger groups of people. In the end, I will realize the dream of bringing love, peace and healing to the world with my music. I know this to be true because I am already doing it.

Please join me at my next concert at Nissi’s on Sunday, August 1 where I will share a very small portion of my experience here. We will end the concert with a short and simple group tone to help heal the Gulf from the oil spill. CD sales from the evening (and the entire month of July) will go to the National Wildlife Federation toward their efforts in helping to save and clean the animals effected by the oil spill.

Thank you to all who have read along this week as I have experienced this amazing journey. Yes, it may seem “out there” but the experience has truly been amazing and a very heart-centered internal journey of love and letting go in order for my personal transformtion to take place. Please feel free to ask me about any of the aspects if you want to learn more.