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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Went to the Pickle Barrel with Jodi and Allison last night. Allison decided to be a rebel and opted for a strawberry-banana smoothie instead of our usual coconut mambo. Some of the waitstaff recognize us on sight now...not surprising, since we've been eating there regularly on Thursdays for years now. It's become a ritual for us on Urban Tapestry "practice" nights (in quotes because we tend to do more just hanging out than actual practising these days :-))...Jodi picks me up at Finch subway station, we pick up Allison, dinner at the Pickle Barrel, then mall browsing or a movie after.

I know some would say we're in a rut, that we should opt for a different restaurant every time. Personally, I find certain rituals comforting. They help ground me, giving me something to hold onto when everything else in my life might be in flux. The ritual of getting together every week even if we don't have an upcoming gig has helped cement the friendship between Jodi, Allison and me over the years.

We tend to only do serious practising together when we have a concrete reason, such as a guest spot at a convention, or some recording (we'll be practising "Alien Jellyfish" a lot for Chris Conway's recording project, for example). In terms of improving our own musicianship and songwriting abilities, we tend to do that independently rather than as a group.

Urban Tapestry doesn't tend to do improvisational jam sessions, something I used to enjoy (it's what attracted me to filk in the first place), but I get my "jam" fixes at conventions. The satisfaction I get from my involvement with UT is more about friendship, and the ability to work on music with like-minded people. It's wonderful to be able to write out a three-part counterpoint on paper, take it to a UT practice, and come away with a rough recording of the vocals. Allison and Jodi always seem to pick up their parts like magic, and can suggest improvement tweaks.

We support each other through difficult personal times as well as musically. Yes, there are minor squabbles, but they never last very long. In the end, we all look out for each other. And we all know what a rare thing it is for a musical group to settle on a chemistry (musically and personally) that works in the longterm. I'd like to think this comes across in our music. :-)

Today's Blatherpic:

Urban Tapestry in concert in the UK at Didgeri-Douze last year. Photo by Godfrey Joseph.

Today's Poll Question:

When you come across an unfamiliar word in a book, do you usually look it up in a dictionary?

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