Fun firsts & foot fixtures

It's good to stop every now and then and reflect on the journey and the milestones we have marked.  Here are a few notables from recent months:

  • Supersize program - it's gratifying to have a big enough repertoire that we could pick and choose songs for our 45-min set at the First St Café and not get too crazy attempting new arrangements - even though we did sneak in a couple of newbies, just to keep things interesting.
  • Instruments galore! - While we left most of the musical heavy-lifting to our good friend-in-music, Loren Dummett, we did get bold with Tall Claire joining on guitar and Sue-ba-Rue demonstrating her multi-instrumental chops on piano AND foot tambourine!  -- $11 of percussive, jingling fun, available from a Guitar Center near you!
  • Dolly! - First time attempting a Dolly Parton song! And now we're all in love with her so it won't be our last.
  • Original songs! - We performed two brand new songs in the set - Dark & Lovely Trees, and Big Sky.  Both got their premiers at First St Café!
  • New EP! - Defying all the angry gods of technology, we managed to get our songs uploaded - complete with spiffy cover artwork by Rue-becca - with just hours to spare, so the new EP was ready for the gig.  It looks fantastic and we're very proud of the sound.
  • Standing O! - We had such a lovely bunch of friends turn out to support us at First St Café, we even got a Blackhawk Chorus-style ovation at the end!  You guys are just SO NICE to us! :)
  • Radio On! - We are thrilled to be in rotation on KQBM's Americana show, featuring local artists!

So what's next for Rue Claire? 

Well, we will see.  But we're loving the trajectory we're on and the opportunities ahead - the artists we've met and who have offered to help us, and we're grateful for and encouraged by all the support. 

We look forward to seeing what our next milestones update will bring.  Apart from more Dolly, of course. :)

Rue Claire sings the Americana Songbook

First St Café, Benicia, January 23 2016

First St Café, Benicia, January 23 2016

Last night, we performed our first ever real live gig! 

Of course, we've sung in public before, but never more than three or four songs at a time.  So when Kevin Radley, host of the Americana Songbook series at the First St Café, invited us to perform a 45-minute set, we were thrilled.

Ably assisted by our friend in music, Loren Dummett, we put together a program of twelve songs (plus a cheeky encore) comprising a mix of a cappella and non-aca songs, and featuring covers of songs by artists like the Wailin' Jennys, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Tom Petty and the Everly Brothers.  We also sneaked in a couple of original songs penned by our own Tall Claire.

It was a wonderful experience.  The venue was PACKED with RC friends and family and the program was very warmly received.  We even got a Standing O at the end!

We want to thank everyone who came out to share the evening with us - as well as the people who coached and encouraged us on the journey - especially Paul, Beth, Diane & Alex.  It's a memory we Sista Claires (and Brother Loren) will treasure.  We are excited and inspired to explore more live performances, new arrangements and more original music.  More soon! xxx

HSS Postcript

We got a really nice surprise in the mail this week – hard copy of the five HSS judges' comments.  Highlights include...

“Wow!! Mesmerizing from the get go.” 

“Pitch and blend is really tight (obviously).”

"Nice articulated blend - like the Honey Whiskey Trio."

“Yummy sound!  Nice variety of repertoire.  Beautiful phrasing and blend...”

We also got some nice feedback on our original arrangements for “Gone Gone Gone” and “Kiss”, along with  pointers around adding more dynamics and amping up our performance.

Really nice to get the feedback.  Thanks for a great experience, Harmony Sweepstakes!

See what we did?

So our run with the Harmony Sweepstakes is over and even though we didn't win, we are tremendously proud of all we accomplished in the 10 weeks since Tall Claire sent an email forwarding a notice from the HSS organizers, prefaced with two simple words: "Shall we..??"

These 2 words launched a flurry of activity that saw us... 

-- finish up 2 tracks to support our submission, and then 3 more to round out our first EP (with beautiful cover artwork created by our own Rue-Becca)

-- create 3 brand new original arrangements, 2 of which we got to sing last night

-- launch this website and our Facebook page!

-- enjoy some wonderful coaching sessions and practice performances with dear friends, and a memorable weekend working on music in the mountains, thanks to the generosity of one lovely friend

-- perform at a beautiful theater in SF in front of an informed and appreciative crowd and alongside some truly class acts

We executed our program the best probably we've ever done it, and we had a lot of really nice comments from people we met after the show.  In fact, the organizer said that we had been close contenders for Audience Favorite -- that usually they empty out the voting boxes and it's clear who's won but this year they had to count.

So it just remains for us to THANK EVERYONE for your votes last night, and for the amazing support and encouragement we have received on this wild ride.  It's whetted our appetite to do more... 

Watch this space!  Xoxox



Wish us luck!

So we’re two nights away from our big debut at the Harmony Sweepstakes and the excitement is building!

The radio silence on the blog is in inverse proportion to the feverish levels of activity that have been going on in the background.  We’ve run our program a couple of times now and made tweaks as a result of each experience.  We’ve had invaluable coaching sessions from trusted colleagues.  And somehow, our 5-song EP – of which we are immensely proud – is printed and ready for prime time!  (And truly, it sounds great!)

It feels like everything is coming together.  Win, lose or draw on Saturday, we know we have put heart, body and soul into this opportunity and our 3-song program. 

Now it’s all about going out there – and having FUN!

Claire bears

So we're just back from a weekend staying at the mountain home of a dear friend up in the Sierra foothills, finalizing our program for the Harmony Sweepstakes - now less than three weeks away! 

It was great to get away, just the three Claires and the music - a chance to spend some quality time together, and once we got over the shock of no wifi and no cell signal (yikes!), we got a lot done.

One new song is out, replaced by an old favorite, and we FINALLY nailed down all the notes in all the parts in our two original arrangements, which we're really excited to debut for HSS next month.  We have agreed on some body percussion and even a little bit of choreography.  So now all we have to do is learn it!!

Will you be there to support us March 14th?  There are still a few tickets left.  We'd be honored to have your support...

Countdown to the 'stakes

A couple of days ago, a cappella legend Deke Sharon posted a video for singers entering the a cappella competition season.  His key message?  “KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS and PLAY TO THEM.”  Specifically, he advised groups to “feature your best songs, your best vocalist and your best arranger…”

We have thought long and hard about our program for HSS, which includes:  4 brand new songs we’ve *never* performed before;  our first time featuring Tall Claire on lead;  and while we’ve always re-jiggered arrangements, this is the first time we have ever arranged any songs from scratch.  Oh and body percussion.  We haven’t done that before either, and 3 out of 4 of our songs will need something…

— Did we mention we have six weeks to pull this off?!

We discussed reverting to some of our more tried and tested numbers, and we’re going to keep a couple in our back pocket in case we need them.  But at this point at least, we are excited to challenge ourselves to learn and grow and push ourselves to a higher level. 

And we love our program!  It's certainly a risk, but we have faith in ourselves and each other and we are committing to do our very best. 

Will our bet pay off?  Stay tuned...

It's Official!

Guess what?  You will soon see us performing at the Harmony Sweepstakes Bay Area!

The Harmony Sweepstakes is an annual showcase and competition for a cappella groups.  We found out today that we've been chosen to sing!  Hooray!! …. and …. OMG, better keep practicing!!

Would you like to be there?  It's at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater in San Francisco on March 14, 2015 (8pm).  Tickets are going quickly, so order yours today!  We would LOVE to have your support and encouragement, plus we think it will be a highly entertaining evening!   

For tickets:



This week saw good progress, with the Claires (the Rues?) finalizing not one but TWO brand new Rue Claire a cappella arrangements of songs we hope to debut at the Harmony Sweepstakes regionals in SF in March.

And on top of that, the new arrangements even LOOK like music!  Sue found some kick-ass music notation software at and we're loving it.  We'll miss Sue's colorful Alphabet Soup (scroll down for an example), but this takes care of some of the note value questions we'd have from time to time. 

And it's a thing of beauty to see our original arrangements laid out in sheet music. 

Rue Claire is growing up...

Harmony Sweepstakes

We submitted our application to the Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella competition!   This is something we wanted to do last spring but, alas, all three Claires were not living in the same city at the same time…
We expect the competition in our area to be intense, so there’s no guarantee we’ll get through. Hoping to get the nod, we're working on some new songs and new arrangements to showcase our style.  Stay tuned (ha, no pun intended) on our progress!

Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Competition

San Francisco - March 14, 2015


Happy New Year, let the excitement begin!

Happy New Year from Rue Claire!  We are pleased and proud to be starting 2015 with the launch of our own band website.  We hope you enjoy learning a bit more about us, looking at the pictures in our gallery, and being among the first to sample a few new tracks on our upcoming EP.

We even have our own music video, thanks to the wonderful talents of Beth Theisen. It was so much fun to film it! Some of the footage was taken during a recording session at Absolute Studios. We worked hard that day, but had plenty of laughs. Many thanks to our producers Paul McKnight (also our host) and Alex Madeira. And our backing band, arranged and produced by Loren Dummett!  Working behind the scenes but he's, shall we say, "instrumental."

The rest of the video was filmed one summer afternoon/ evening in the Mount Diablo foothills.

If you like our video, please give it a thumbs up and feel free to share!

And -- wander over to our Facebook page sometime:

See you there!