Gilded Serpent presents...
Doug completed this painting
before meeting De Ann
of Light Rain
by Lynette Harris
met Doug Adams at the Bear Valley Ski Resort. His
wife, De Ann (who
was The Dream Dancer) had injured her thumb skiing and was taken
to the First Aid room where I put a splint on her wound so that
she could play keyboard in their band that night.
came to watch me dance in The Avalanche nightclub. She
was very supportive and encouraging. Later, I went to The Altitude
where Doug and De Ann were playing with their county band.
I was excited to dance to his wonderfully inspired violin.
Doug, how did you get started playing Belly Dance music?
In 1973, I
had just graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with
a degree in music. Full of confidence, like so many before me,
I got into my VW van and headed west seeking my fame and fortune!
I'd done well in my hometown; one of my songs had
even made it to the top ten in El Paso when I was only 16 years
old. I thought it was going to be easy! Ah, well, we keep learning
these humbling lessons as we go. So in 1973 I showed up in San
Francisco. While sitting at the Embarcadero, I heard finger cymbals
and a drum playing in the distance. In retrospect, I'm sure it
was De Ann and her partner, Talizma, dancing, though I
didn't go down to watch them that day. Nonetheless I felt something
beckoning me in the sound of those zils. I must have been feeling
destiny in their ringing.
At that time
I was going around playing and auditioning in coffee houses as
a songwriter and singer. One night I went to The Holy City
Zoo, a San Francisco folk music club where De Ann had a weekly
show. I happened to go in on the night she was dancing.
really moved by her performance so, bravely (I thought) I
waited until her throngs of male admirers had thinned out
and introduced myself after the show. De Ann and Talizma were
dancing only to the beat of their finger cymbals and a doumbec
so I told her, "I could make music for you."
She was really
nice to me, and the next week I was in her troupe! I didn't know
anything about Arabic music. I didn't even think of what we were
doing as being Arabic. I would just listen to the drum and the
finger cymbals, and play what came to me from watching her dance.
This is a driftwood sculpture was done together by Doug
and De Ann on a beach in Marin County
We began performing
together on the street down at Fisherman's Wharf. Sometimes
we made what we thought was a lot of money, sometimes we wouldn't.
It was always hard work. The crowds that De Ann attracted were
so big that the other street artists would get mad at us for blocking
the foot traffic. So we worked it down to a science. We positioned
ourselves at the cable car
turnaround. As soon as we heard the bell of the cable car, we
would start playing. When it came around the corner, every face
on that car would be looking in our direction! The car would stop
and the whole load of people would disgorge and make a circle
around us! We had to keep the show really short. De Ann would
put the sword on her head, and I would sneak up behind her with
the basket. She'd spin with the sword on her head, and then I
would appear with the basket and pass it around for tips. Then
we would stop! The whole show would take about 45 seconds. Then
the other vendors loved us.
One day we
were taking a break, sitting on the lawn, and a limousine drove
up and stopped. The window rolled down and a withered little hand
beckoned De Ann to come over there. It was a little old lady who
had been watching us from the restaurant across the street. She
gave De Ann a one hundred dollar bill and told her to keep it
for herself. But De Ann, enlightened soul, shared it with Michael
O'Connor and me, her musicians.
The 1st Light Rain album
We did street-work
for at least a year. Then we moved to Marin. I started working
on a recording of my songs for an album called "Douglas Adams--Light
Rain" This was not an album for Middle Eastern dancers, but
a collection of songs that I wrote and sang. (There are one hundred
copies of that vinyl in existence.) Watching me work in the studio
gave De Ann the idea to record the music that I had written for
her. Soon after finishing "Douglas Adams-Light Rain"
we started working on "Dream Dancer", the first album
of the music I had composed for her dance.
days of struggling for economic survival as artists. We moved
7 times in 7 years. Creating the first three "Light Rain"
albums took place in the midst of all that chaos.
"Dream Dancer" was written, recorded and released before
anyone had ever heard of "New Age Music" and long before
anyone used the term "World Beat Music". While "Dream
Dancer" was being recorded, few who knew about it expected
it to succeed, but De Ann and I had a very good feeling about
the project. After it had been out for a couple months we started
getting orders from all over the US; more and more copies, a dozen
here and there, then our first order for 100 copies. We were elated.
De Ann had actually had a premonition that music from "Dream
Dancer" would someday be used for Ballet. It wasn't long
after her saying that that we got a letter from the Joffery Ballet
expressing interest in "Sword Dance". We met with Gerald
Arpino. He wanted to see how De Ann interpreted the music.
We went to a studio in San Francisco where De Ann danced for the
five of us; Russ Gauthier and his wife, Jim Howell,
and Gerald Arpino. You can clearly see the influence of
De Ann's style in Arpino's awesome choreography. As an observer
of De Ann's evolution as a choreographer, I also saw the influence
of that meeting on her troupe work. Some tips that Arpino gave
her on the use of diagonals and the full performing space soon
showed up in the Dream Dancer's performances.
RAIN" is the name of the ballet that the Joffrey does
with our music. They use "The Sword Dance", "Rabekin"
(by Russ Gauthier), and we re-recorded "Magi" for them.
"Magi" has become known as Arpino's signature work.
This year the San Francisco Ballet and the Aspen/Santa
Fe Ballet have added the "Sword Dance" section to
their repertoire. I think Arpino interpreted the music exquisitely.
I think "LIGHT RAIN" is the most sensuous, most exotic
ballet in history! It's not surprising to me that "The Sword
Dance" would catch the imagination of dancers.
all the tunes I've written, that one, more than any of the
others, was based on De Ann's live performance. Indeed, I
made it up while watching her dance with the sword.
drone at the beginning would sustain as she came out holding the
sword. At the precise instant that she placed the sword on her
head the rhythm would start. There's a descending violin line
that I would play as she slowly built up momentum in her spinning
(with the sword still balanced on her head). Then the huge crescendo
in the music would happen as she did a back bend until her shoulders
touched the floor with the sword, still spinning, balanced on
her head! The the rest of the music lets her get back up and finish.
It was really driven by my passion for her. I wrote that tune
when I first met her; I was 23 years old and all alone in the
"big city" of San Francisco. This beautiful, exotic
dancer took me into her world.
on fire for her! There in the Holy City Zoo, I'd be gazing
down on her writhing, glistening, torso and this music would
just come out of my fiddle and cover her. When we finally
recorded the music, people could feel that passion!
Doug's artwork for
the cover of "Dark Fire"
& VALENTINE TO EDEN
Dance Award for the
album "Dark Fire"
"Dream Dancer", came "Dream Suite." We met
the members of The Kronos Quartet during this time. (link)
Kronos played on that album. Then they commissioned me to write
some pieces for them.
"Valentine to Eden" was produced next. Mary Ellen
Donald was the percussionist on those tunes. Then
I took a long break. I stopped doing Belly Dance music at all
from 1980 to 1992. We formed a band, "Bravo",
that I would call "Americana" in style; old Rock and
Roll, Blues and Country, many songs that I'd written. We spent
years doing that. We traveled around the world with Bravo. De
Ann was not dancing much, but she was playing keyboard in the
early 1990s, "World Beat" music started becoming a fashionable
genre. Friends were saying, "Doug, you really should do another
Light Rain album!" As I started thinking about creating a
new Light Rain album, I knew I had to re-acquaint myself with
that feeling. I'd always been a bit of a hermit as far as the
"belly-dance" world was concerned. I'd only played for
De Ann and the Dream Dancers and rarely went to any belly dancing
events. De Ann, at 40, wasn't performing, only teaching, so I
went for my first time to play at The Rakkasah Festival.
It was in early '90s, and we had a booth there too. That was when
I first found out how
Rain music had touched so many lives. I never really had had much
contact with the people who were buying our music. It was really
gratifying to hear one woman say that her first performance had
been to "City of Dreams" and then, years later, her
daughter's first performance had been to the same piece. That
really inspired me to start the album "Dark Fire"! When
we did "Valentine" and "Dream Suite", I had
tried to expand the parameters to reach a larger audience than
the Belly Dance community,
after Rakkasah that year, I decided to write "Dark Fire"
purely for belly dancers! Every song and every note I wanted
to picture a dancer performing.
say that "Dark Fire" was patterned after side one of
"Dream Dancer", which had been created by watching De
Ann dance. The other albums have some great songs (my humble opinion)
but they don't have the total focus on dancing that "Dream
Dancer" and "Dark Fire" have. "Dark Fire"
received the "Best New Album of the Year" award in 1994
from Halame & Tilana, of "The Belly Dance Awards
2 now available
albums can be obtained here
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Kayla in Turkey, (A Daily Journal)
Turkish Bath House (Hamam 1) April 22, 2002
All my Turkish girl friends, had of course been to Hamams, but
only in their youth,
Child's Journey into Bellydance
I could feel Alexa wilting by my side.
29th Annual Belly Dancer of the Year Pageant
sponsored by Belly Dance! of Walnut Creek, CA
Saturday, May 26 Benicia High School, Benicia, CA by GS Staff
Wow, is she easy on the eyes! Not only that, she rocked the