the start of something meaningful.

Hi, welcome. I've decided to revivify my old blog.
A few reasons, one of which being the sad reality that Facebook, where I would engage most frequently, has become desolate, divisive, and littered.
Secondly, I what to be able to document things and share with family, friends, and fans.
Thirdly, since I am now a student again, I'm acquiring a strong desire to hone in on my writing skills, since that is what I'll be doing ad nauseum for at least the next 5 years of my life, if not more.

I don't want to have to recount all the bullet points spanning the time of a month or two or three, as became the trend for me the last few years. I want to start the daily practice of writing, publicly, about anything, but most likely just the happenings in a day. I have a feeling it'll start out as some idle dribble but will hopefully gain some momentum and life as I get into the rhythm of it.

So, let's not waste any time then, right?

Well, today is Sunday which means I had my church gig. It was also the end of Daylight Savings Time and I did not go unscathed....yep, my phone alarm went off at 7:45am and when I rubbed my eyes to look at my old clock (that I've had since the 90s) to see 8:45am, you could bet your bottom dollar that I leapt out of bed hollering to Nick, "I NEED TO LEAVE NOW!! OH MY GOD I NEED TO LEAVE NOW!!"

This was intensified because today of all days was the day they were going to take my picture for the church website and boy-howdy did I need the time to "put on my face". This was further compounded in that my phone has been mysteriously not charging, dying, and then recharging, though not fully, in the middle of the night, all the while it being plugged in. Methinks it's an iOS update glitch. So Nick made the smart assessment of saying, "huh, that's weird because my phone says 7:45am...ohhh its the end of daylight savings".
ah.
And then of course I fell back asleep for too long and was 5 minutes late to our warmup after all. I blame Bess and her warm little body curled up next to me. (Speaking of Bess, she's currently made a bed on in my lap.)

After church, and thankfully a successful photo for the website, I headed home to eat some lunch - a homemade soup inspired by saag paneer, though I used gobs of full fat coconut milk and tofu instead of cheese. It's been a go-to as I've been trying to eat (vegan) keto as much as I can bare. It's easy though when I get stressed, I just want to grab the comfort food like pasta. It's (the vegan keto diet) helped me lose about 13 lbs in just a couple of months so it definitely has encouraging incentives.
After the soup, I was off to West Hollywood to teach my little 6 year old piano student and her father. They're a sweet and fun family with a beautiful home, so the drive to WeHo and back is at least for an enjoyable job.

Back to pasta: for dinner I tried these shirataki spaghetti noodles that are made from soy beans, have >1g carbs, low calories, and are vegan. Too good to be true, right? Well, my excitement was quickly diminished as the first bite revealed that the texture was much like mushrooms, of which I am oh so not a fan. At least my sauce was good.

Nick's been gone all day - he had a gig at the famous Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach and then a duo video session with a singer in Redondo Beach. I asked for him to grab some quarters so that we can wash our linens, but on his way home he was lured in by the Armenian pool hall in our neighborhood. He so loves pool, maybe even more than he loves music. He said he'd still bring me quarters, so there's that.

So now, I'm sitting here in seat pants, an old OMEA Choir sweatshirt from 2003, and fuzzy socks, trying to stay awake and hopefully be motivated enough to go over my music history reading for tomorrow's class. I don't NEED to but it does help me in the long run to stay caught up.

Tomorrow's another long one: Music History, school choir, a meeting with a professor, and then PMC rehearsal in the evening. It feels like a funny little period right now as I'm just so anxious to get back to Tulsa to visit the family for Thanksgiving. My Papa has not been well and it's been over a year since I last visited. But there are rehearsals to be had, services to be sung, exams to be taken, papers to write, and students to teach.

Here's to a good week - may you all stay productive, pleased, and focused.

Until later,

af

We Will Do The Worrying

BIG NEWS! I'm so excited to finally share!!
So, about this time last year, I recorded 2 vocal parts on 10 tracks for Leah Paul's new, soon-to-be-released album, "We Will Do The Worrying", which features the Koan Quartet, Chris Speed, Nick Mancini, and myself.
Leah is a wonderful composer and flutist who, somewhere down in way back land, heard me sing and thought to ask me to do the huge honor of tackling these gorgeous and dreamy songs.
Here is a preview track of "This One's Coming True".

This is also a big announcement that the album will be released on November 20th with a ceremoniously big show at the Bootleg Theater, featuring those named above and many other amazing musicians.
The music is ten pieces for string quartet, flutes, vocals, vibraphone and clarinet. Pre-orders will be available soon! Mark your calendars and until then, please enjoy this track!

my prime?

Hi there. It's been a while, as always. Things have been more or less the same which means, changing all the time, but there are the constants like cats and music. It seems that much of my time lately has been spent sleeping, teaching a handful of students, and rehearsing for this PMC Bach concert (June 11th & 12th).

I've also been doing a lot of research on numerous topics like, politics (because duh), consonants (as opposed to my usual vowels research), and veganism. Yep, I've (we've) made the leap to vegan. June will mark my one year of having gone vegetarian (pescatarian) and it was a breeze. I never liked meat much. I can remember my family doing steak nights for dinner and I'd just focus on my loaded baked potato and broccoli. I was very young when I first saw a pig being slaughtered and it affected me deeply. I swore of pork for most of my childhood, only occasionally having bacon. I'd order chicken, turkey, or burgers, the occasional carne asada tacos, and plenty of fish....but I was frequently disappointed. I couldn't understand why cuts of meat would be so fatty or difficult to chew. I'd get halfway through a bite and the texture sensation would start to take a turn on me. I couldn't linger long with a bite of meat. I'd have to chew it fast and not think about it. But when I'd think about it for even a second, I'd lose my appetite and almost gag. 

I don't know what it was that convinced me to make the change last summer. I just hadn't been ordering or buying meat much and I thought to myself, "you know what to do". And that was that. I'm sure that the explosion of videos on the internet abetted that move. There was just no looking away from the truths. We chose to do pescatarian (fish) because we didn't want to stress about getting enough protein or shock our routines too much. And that right there is the sentence that gets me.....we didn't want to "shock our routines". It was a refusal to look at something clearly, push it aside, and be lazy. Fish don't feel pain, right?! The fishing industry is pretty above board, yeah? No animals are harmed for dairy or eggs, come on! 
That's what I was recently forced to witness. One video. One very very persuasive video about dairy that left me absolutely sobbing with disgust. I immediately made the decision. It was no longer a question in my mind that I would push aside. 

We didn't plan a transition, which doesn't make it easy at all, but once I looked at it plainly, I couldn't look away. Of course, as I said, it's been hours upon hours of research about this lifestyle change (not a diet, at all) and what we do and don't buy. I'm still figuring it all out. We're doing well so far, and I'm actually, maybe kind of masochistically enjoying tailoring my choices and finding the alternative options. Making conscious decisions on anything in life is so therapeutic. I'm inspired. It seriously looks like the world is going to shit lately but, then I look around and see so many people making more conscious decisions and I see so many people in the past who paved the way and held fast to their convictions. 

I am now remembering a side of me that I quelled for quite a while, and for good reason. I was a VERY opinionated, whiney, and sensitive child. As I got into my teens, a dear friend said to me, "Afton, no one wants to be around you. Just stop." That hit me hard and I started to calm down, eventually to a point where I forgot. There were ghosts of some convictions that hung around, like my feelings about religion in politics, the education system in the US, the industrial military complex, and gay rights. 

I needed time to figure out how to communicate my convictions in a mature way. I think we all go through this. Your 20s are about figuring all this out, who you are in this world, and your identity. In the last year, I've literally felt this sense of calm wash over me. But literally just months leading up to this wave, I had intense anxiety and uneasiness. I've been having incredible deja vu and flashbacks to memories I don't usually recall. I'm remembering things I've never remembered before. I also stopped taking my depression medication in April and it's had a profound effect. I guess this is what people talk about when they reach their 30s. I was worried that I wasn't going to have this experience because this time last year, I was in a pretty crummy state. It's an awakening, for sure. Actually, it feels more like an arrival. 

So, yeah, that's where I'm at. I'm not settled but I'm definitely in a cool place and I'm excited to explore more of it. 

As far as singing and music go, I've never been more in the groove. I'm not writing but I've realized that that is something that I have to actually stoke, so now I'm calm with that knowledge and I know I can do it when I decide to. I just haven't been too inclined lately, but that may change. Right now, I'm thoroughly enjoying singing with PMC, teaching my few but mighty students, and doing the odd gig here and there. I do plan on recording a bunch of tunes (covers and such) these next two weeks. It'll just be a collection of oldies that I've performed a lot. I'm going to release them on soundcloud as a rarities project because, why not? 

So there you go. News! Like I said, the PMC concert is on June 11th and 12th at Altadena Community Church. Get your tickets here: TICKETS

Well, here's me signing off - have a great weekend!

af

E SPOT, PMC, 2K16

Hello friends....

I'm your Vitameatavegamin girl. Are you tired, run down, listless? Are you unpopular? Do you poop out at parties? Well, the answer to all your problems is in this little newsletter....... HA!
But really, I do have news to share about how you can make healthy music decisions this week.

THIS Friday, 1/29, I will be singing at The E Spot Lounge in Studio City to celebrate being in Los Angeles for 10 years. Both Nick and I moved here in 2006 (didn't actually cross paths until 2011) and we thought we should do a show in honor of that. 
Joining me for the opening set is none other than Will Brahm on guitar. It's a great collaboration as Will and I both share a love and draw inspiration from a variety of music. 
After our opening set, Will and his band, Homenaje (Ben Shepherd on bass and James Yoshizawa on drums), will be the collaborative enclave joining vibraphonist, Nick Mancini, for his curated night of original tunes and sarcastic social commentary. 
E Spot Lounge is the now upstairs room at Vitello's which is located on Tujunga Ave. in Studio City. It's a supper club which is all ages. Tickets are $15 with a 2 drink minimum if you don't dine, and parking is either street parking or valet for $3. Show starts at 8p and goes till 10:30p.
Address is:

Vitello's
4349 Tujunga Ave. 
Studio City, CA 91604


You can buy tickets the day of the show at the door but it's strongly suggested that you buy tickets online in advance so that you can guarantee your seat. You can do that at www.ESpotLounge.com 

Will and I got together yesterday to go over our set and we're really excited with what we've put together. As always, if you know me, the music will be varied and thoughtful. There'll be tunes from the the Great American Songbook, left-of-center pop tunes, maybe even a hymn, and some folky gems.
We also attempted to make a little teaser video but when you have cats, well, Murphy's Law is never more true, and despite our best efforts, we still thought it was worth posting (it's over on the right margin)....

We hope you can be there and help us celebrate our 10 year anniversary of living in LA! 

In other news, I'm happy to share that the choir I've been singing with, Pasadena Master Chorale, has just launched our first IndieGogo campaign to record a commissioned piece by our composer in residence, Reena Esmail, called "Earth Speaks" this coming March. If you have a minute please take a look at the video we made and consider donating to our campaign (LINK TO CAMPAIGN HERE.) 
We also will be performing the piece alongside Aaron Copland's "In The Beginning" and our very own artistic director, Jeffery Bernstein's "Circumnavigating the World", at our concert DESTINATION EARTH in Pasadena on March 12th and 13th. I will share more details about that as the date draws closer. 

.....So, why don't you join the thousands of happy peppy people and spoon your way to health with a dose of quality music this week? 

;) Hope to see YOU there -

af 
 
Ziggy played guitar...

Ziggy played guitar...

click the pic for a teaser video feat. feline friends...

click the pic for a teaser video feat. feline friends...

Donate to our campaign here!Β EARTH SPEAKS

Donate to our campaign here! EARTH SPEAKS

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2 Year Anniversary of 'Human Becoming' EP Release!


Today is the 2 year anniversary of the release of my EP of original songs, "Human Becoming" which I released under the moniker, Sangster!!

HUMAN BECOMING on Bandcamp

In celebration, I am offering to you an ANNIVERSARY SALE PRICE OF $4 for the 5 song EP download on Bandcamp.

The album is available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon MP3, and streaming on Spotify, but Bandcamp is my preference as it's the most supportive platform for independent artists. Of course, you can listen to the EP for free but, you can support me by buying the download AND/OR donating more, if you're so inclined.

Also! The actual CD is for sale on Bandcamp (the only place it's available), too, for $10 (does not include shipping). It's a 16 page booklet filled with beautiful original artwork by Bridget Klappert, layout design by Alana Purcell, and photos by Keith Woolf.

And as a bonus, with the purchase order of the CD, you will receive a 2-year anniversary bonus set of two custom SANGSTER guitar picks. Includes a red signature pick and a blue EP pick.

This EP is packed with some of the finest musicians LA has to offer: Artyom Manukyan on bass & cello, Gavin Salmon on drums, Nick Mancini on vibes, marimba, & percussion, Ross Garren on harmonicas, piano, and wurlitzer, Grethel Bonilla on electric guitar, Genevieve Bahama on backing vocals, and Francesco Canas on violin. The EP was engineered and mixed by Ethan Carlson, and mastered by Reuben Cohen at Lurssen Mastering.

The sale offer will last till Thursday of next week (Oct 22).

I hope you enjoy and as always, thank you for all of your support!

- Afton/Sangster

tro lo lo lo lo

Well, I'm officially a big-time professional Christmas caroler and a new member of The Nova Vocal Ensemble! Nailed both auditions and am feeling pretty chuffed. 
In fact, I am so proud of myself that I made a pitstop on the way home from the last audition and bought myself a new pair of funky pumps for $15 at PayLess :D (BIG SPENDING!) 
In all seriousness, I'm just SO happy to be singing A LOT.

x,
af

P.S. Dowton Abbey + Fear The Walking Dead + Dr. Who tonight. Saturn in Sagittarius, man. Let's get this done. Ya feel me?!

The Springs

Dear ones,
tonight I will be the designated vocal focal point 🎀with Nick Mancini 4tet 🎼 at The Springs β›² in DTLA πŸŒƒ from 8-11p πŸ•—-πŸ•š. (TIME CHANGE!!)
Vegan restaurant🌱
organic wine 🍷
sake 🍢
Free show πŸŽ‰
All ages πŸ‘΅πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦πŸ‘΄
A plethora of parking πŸš—
James Yoshizawa on drums πŸŒ€
Matt Rohde on keys/piano 🎹
Chris Hon on bass 🎸

Hope to see YOU there!

hefcinisprings

Ali See & Skyler Hurt

Great names, huh?! Those two names belong to the two ladies who are responsible for my latest photos. Skyler, a native Texan - now Angeleno, was the photographer and those beautiful cardigan/shawls I'm wearing are designed by Ali See, a native Wisconsinite - now also Angeleno. 
You can check out their work at:
Skyler Hurt Photography
&
Ali See Designs 

(these are also on my photos page under "MEDIA")

In other news, I've been making zuh muzeeks and you can plan on seeing me in the fall, I promise.

Until then.....

af

a gig!

For those of you who've been jonesing to hear my original tunes performed live, well, this is the chance to see a rare performance of the long-since abandoned songs!

8:30 - 9:10 p // Diana Kazakova w/ Nick Mancini
9:30 - 10:40 p // The Moment feat. Cathy Segal-Garcia
11:00p - 12:10a // The Afton Hefley Group
12:30 - 1:00a // The Nick Mancini Group

At the southwest corner of Vine and Fountain, in Hollywood. 
$10 cover. 
No minimum. Great cocktails. 
Great casual food...burgers, tacos, etc.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
8:30 pm - 9:10 pm:
*Diana Kazakova + vibraphonist Nick Mancini* 
Diana lives in New York, and has performed across Canada and the US. A seasoned interpreter of a diverse canon of music, she is known for her strong voice and sensitive ear. Diana recently was guest vocalist with the Indigo Girls as part of the Grammy Women Who Rock Festival. Having worked on diverse projects from The Bjorkestra to the cast of The Lion King in concert, she also has done extensive chanting for electric acoustic composer Paul Dolden and his Wall of Sound. Her truest loves are folk music, poetry and blueberries! 
www.dianakazakova.com
"Kazakova's singing is hauntingly beautiful and affecting" - The Boston Globe
-----------------
9:30 pm - 10:40 pm :
*"The Moment" feat. Cathy Segal-Garcia*
Cathy Segal-Garcia - vocals
Gary Fukushima - piano
Jeff Richman - guitar
Brad Dutz - percussion
Formed in the spirit of "Now!"... this unique, and bass-less band reflects a spontaneity and search for adventure, freely, but within forms! Seasoned players all, playing a modern style of jazz, they come together here, experiencing the joy of comradery and trust, delving into the unknown! Especially for a vocalist to hold this position with musicians of this quality, is a statement in itself.
Gary Fukushima holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from CalArts and is now on the faculty at California State University, Northridge, and employed by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He currently writes for the publication of the L.A. Weekly. He is a co-founder of The L.A. Jazz Collective.  http://garyfukushima.net/
Brad Dutz...composer, author, teacher, performer, has recorded on 138 projects (and counting!) Performing credits too numerous to mention, Brad is considered one of the top percussionists in the world. 
www.braddutz.com
Jeff Richman is a pro with a 35 year career in performance, producing, composing, arranging and recording. In addition to his 16 solo releases, he's produced 6 tribute CD's to Carlos Santana, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Steely Dan, Miles Davis, Jeff Beck and John Coltrane. He's appeared on countless tv/film scores, and teaches at M.I. Hollywood. (Cathy thinks of him as the Westcoast Scofield of guitar!)  www.jeffrichman.net
Cathy Segal-Garcia, thought of as "a musician's singer", is a respected vocalist, teacher, and starter/connector for the community. For many years she's been active in her career, which includes aw well, composing and producing, all over the world. She's presently working on her 10th CD, which will become several volumes of duos between herself and an array of fantastic pianists!  www.cathysegalgarcia.com
"...real musical integrity. Songs that are stripped bare of the more commercialized pretentiousness of the music industry for tunes that have a unique story and artist to make sure the story is told. N.P.R jazz. The vibe of artistic integrity coupled with honest emotion for a captivating experience." - Critical Jazz 

-------------------------------
11:00 pm - 12:10 am:
*The Afton Hefley Band, featuring Nick Mancini*
Afton Hefley - vocals
Nick Mancini - vibes
Gary Fukushima - keys
Ben Shepherd - bass
James Yoshizawa - drums
In 2006, Afton Hefley moved from Tulsa, OK to begin a winding journey through nearly every facet of the music world in Los Angeles. One of the most notable of those jobs was touring the world with Tears For Fears, off and on from 2007 - 2011 as more and less, a production manager. The "more" part of that job title was when she was asked by the band to join them on stage to sing backing vocals on a couple of songs. Afton recalls that it was that experience in which she discovered where her heart truly was.
After nearly 10 years in LA, Afton now appears primarily as a vocalist. Deeply engaged in original creative music as well as jazz, pop, folk, and classical, her characteristic touch and unique approach is in demand throughout LA. She can be heard in the most notable venues, and always with the most dynamic musicians the city has to offer.
In 2013, under the pen-name, Sangster, Afton released a 5 song EP of original music titled "Human Becoming", featuring a host of LA's top tier musicians from the creative music scene. We now find her putting down the guitar and pen and turning her attention to The Great American Songbook and classic pop tunes, familiar to her past.  http://www.thesangster.com/
LA jazz guitar guru, Larry Koonse, sums it up perfectly: "I finally got a chance to listen to Afton's EP. I was totally floored. Her music (and vocal quality) gets me right in the gut and heart. What a gorgeous sound she has along with an beautiful way of shaping the experience (phrasing). Her songs which have a recurring theme of looking at people with great intentions and potential who are left behind by the forward motion of life is so powerful to me. I think about this all the time. In my estimation she would be the "it person" in the singer/songwriter world if the powers that be knew about her. My god .... what a gift!"

------------------------
12:30 am - 1:00 am : 
*The NICK MANCINI Group*
With Gary Fukushima - piano
Ben Shepherd - bass
Brad Dutz - percussion
Nick graduated from Manhattan School of Music. After 10 years of honing his art as a performing and recording musician in NYC, he relocated to L.A. He has performed and recorded with such diverse luminaries as Arturo Sandoval, Charles Fambrough, Harvey Mason, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Peter Erskine, Poncho Sanchez, Kenny Werner, New York Voices and Jennifer Holliday to name a few; and at notable venues such as The World Famous Apollo Theater, Birdland NYC, the Aspen Music Festival, Fasching Jazz Club (Stockholm), Ford Amphitheater, Angel City JazzFestival, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Catalina Jazz Club, The Blue Whale, Vibrato, Zipper Hall, Vitello's and virtually every jazz venue in Los Angeles.
In 2011, Mancini was celebrated as the Honoree at the 18th annual Jazz Vibes Summit in L.A.and joined the faculty at California State University at Northridge (CSUN) and Long Beach, Bob Cole Conservatory (CSULB), and served on faculty of the Thelonious Monk Institute.
He is on the cutting edge of the creative music scene in LA. In addition to a busy performing and recording career, Mancini also curates a semi-annual performance series called "elastic hour," which features many of LA's most prominent performing ensembles and garnered honorable reviews by the LA Weekly. In the realm of production, he has arranged and overseen the production of multiple Jazz vocal records and boasts seven independently released records under his own name.  http://www.nickmancini.net/
"...an exploratory young vibraphonist with two toes dipped in tradition who splashes gentle swing, understatedly bent shoogabooga and exotic undersea layerings of filtered light. Original and good."
- Greg Burk, LA Weekly

you make me feel alive

What did I tell you? I told you I'd be back! Though I believe only one person actually saw my last post, but that's all just because of lack of promotion and "sharing" - ahhh the inter-webs....
Anywho, now that summer is peeking it's head around the corner, so is my well-being. It was a rough winter what with dealing with the depression monster and feeling the on-coming storm that is my 30s. 
Oh you know how that goes...what am I doing with my life? Where am I going? Babies? Music? Either/Or? Both? Forever a cat lady? Part-time job? New album? Lord, I'm getting fat. Exercise? How much aspercreme is too much? 
Yeah...
Happy to say that I have answers to none of those...well, except the cat lady one. 
So in the meantime, I collected myself, as one does, and just started saying yes to things. Like in improv - never say no - it stops the flow. 
Shows are being booked, I'm auditioning for things, I am 98% sure I'll be getting a part-time job this summer (what kind, remains a mystery), and I've recorded a new track. Granted, it's a cover but MAN OH MAN!! I'm really excited about this one. 
I can't share many details quite yet because - SURPRISES. 
So that's really gotten my wheels in motion. My voice has changed a bit since I recorded my record and that's interesting. Singing is quite the adventure. So personal and so wavering. 

I leave on Friday for Tulsa (my hometown) to visit the family and I landed a nice little gig there too. I'm excited to be staying with my sister, Briana, and her family (bro-in-law, Brent, and niece, Rio) in their new house. My niece is almost 3 y/o and from what I can tell from our FaceTime sessions, she's a hoot. There are also some other shows going on the week I'm there....my bro-in-law is the drummer in a band (American Shadows) and has a show on the 15th AND THEN! my former employers/touring family, Tears for Fears, are playing in Tulsa for the first time at the "Old Lady On Brady" on the 16th. Needless to say, the whole family is coming along :) 
My gig is on Wednesday the 17th at Main Street Tavern in Broken Arrow (suburb of Tulsa) from 6-9p. It's a duo with local great, Scott McQuade on keys. We'll be doing some jazz, classic pop, and some Okie favorites. Sure to be fun. 

Oh! and I've made these posters recently. I'm kind of like, really digging making posters for people. Which also I should mention, the day I get back from Tulsa, I head straight from the airport to Blue Whale (in DTLA) to sing with Nick's monster group. 3 trombones, 3 percussionists, 1 horn, bass, keys, vibes, 2 vocals (I'm one), I think some guitar, plus the chamber trio....it's going to be BIG. 

Here are the posters:

There are two more shows that are booked so far for this summer but, I'm still getting those details. I can tell you the dates though! July 1st and August 1st (both in LA). Oh and my big 3-0 is on June 22nd. 

So, be on the lookout for the new track - It will be released by next week - will be on soundcloud, maybe band camp and definitely all my social sites. 
I can't wait for you to hear it!!!

I'm off to do some guided meditation/hypnotherapy in preparation of being on an airplane on Friday. Call me crazy, but being over 30,000 feet in the air in a giant steel machine just doesn't feel natural to me. 

Ohm.....

af