Oh hey, have I really only posted once since Christmas?? I had a couple things I started writing about but didn’t finish and post. Oh dear. I think for now it’s best to just summarize to catch up!
January was a little rough to be honest. It’s always a transition to come back from travels and coming from tropical weather into winter was not the most fun, I ended up getting a little sick for a bit there.
I did manage to get myself to the Des Moines open mics again in January, on that magical 2nd Thursday that means I can get to two in one night! I always love Ritual Cafe, and it was fascinating, at the Open Circus the performers consisted mostly of comedians that time around, so I felt a little out of place but definitely hadn’t laughed that much in a long time!
The day after that I took myself on a little shopping trip in Des Moines before heading home and got myself an iPhone. There are pluses and minuses, but it really is nice to not carry around both an iPod touch AND a phone, and the camera is so much better! I’ve been having a lot of fun on Instagram these days! Checking out my page will also give you a visual idea of some of my recent adventures: http://instagram.com/humsongs
Feb 1 - Opening Act at Limelight Lounge
I got to be the opening act for the Limelight Lounge show during the February Fairfield First Fridays Art Walk. As you can see from the poster, Michael was in the top 200 of American Idol, he’s a country singer. I kicked things off with three songs, Michael played, and then the organizer Mandy said I could play a few more during the break, so I did three more, Michael did a second set and then Dustin closed out the night with a rockin set. (Dustin has a Kickstarter going for his debut album right now, check it out: http://kck.st/134a524)
This was also the night that my guitar fell flat forward on the ground from the stand on the side of the stage after I played. She seemed fine at the time. But however…
Feb 6th - I Discovered my Guitar Broke
…when I pulled her out of the gig bag to practice for my Featured Artist Set at Rebecca Haven’s Red Rock Open Mic. This is what I saw:
Totally heartbreaking. I felt sick. Besides being my college graduation present and being awesome ever since, Rose and I totally bonded in Austin - all those open mics, recording my album, keeping me company? Luckily I have insurance, so I’m that process right now, and my Dad loaned me his guitar for my open mic performance and also for…
Feb 10th - The Sondheim Center Volunteer Appreciation Celebration
The Sondheim Center is our local theater. It has had it’s share of controversy around how it’s run, but that seems to be smoothed out now and either way, it’s always been an awesome space. I so wish I’d had a stage like that to perform on when I was still in school!
Part of why it runs well now is with the help of all the volunteers! This was the 2nd Annual Appreciation Celebration and I was invited to be the musical entertainment. I sang Jonah’s Whale, making sure to mention how that song has come to mean so much to me about being of service. Then they gave out some awards and I came back and sang Shoreline of Alaska, All or Nothing and even got a nice handful of folks to join in with me on Rain Song. Then we all went out into the lobby and had some nice refreshments and chatted. It was a lovely day, and so fun to sing in a big theater! That’s Cevin at the soundboard making me sound good:
Photo © 2013 Werner Elmker
The other couple of fun musical things that have happened in February:
1) I’ve had a few band practices! A couple times with Sarah (bass), and once with both Sarah and Greg (drums). We had a lot of fun working out how we wanted to play some newer songs and are expanding the repertoire so we could have a full set to play out sometime! We also talked about writing songs together and goals and stuff. Exciting!
2) I finally got a bass ukulele! I’ve wanted one for ages. I don’t really know how to play it, but I fell in love with one in a music store a couple of years ago and never stopped thinking about it, so this year I pooled some Christmas and Birthday money and just went for it!
Here’s an example of someone who knows how to play one:
I know, I know, “Why did you buy a tiny bass Heather, when you already have a big electric bass, you don’t know how to play either one and you are starting to work with a bass player?”
Well, first of all, love isn’t always logical, and it is just so darn fun to plunk around with the big rubber strings! But I do have it in my head that there may be some times where I’d do a show with other folks and it would be nice to sit in with them, take turns backing each other up in different ways, and having a nice little portable bass is a good thing in that scenario. Maybe Sarah will want to play it sometimes. In any case, I’m happy and excited to have it!
3) I had a Skype session with Dan! It was pretty awesome to be virtually right back at Rubicon in the “hot seat”, working things out so more music can come to the forefront! We’re gonna check in once a month and I’m pretty happy and excited about that.
So, that sums up my musical highlights for the past two months. I signed up for an online songwriting class with Pat Pattison that starts tomorrow and I’ve got a showcase in Des Moines at the end of March. I think we’re getting closer to the end of winter which will hopefully help lift those grey day blahs! Hooray!
(I wrote this a couple Saturdays ago and forgot to post, so here it is!)
This morning I got up and I went to yoga.
“Big whoop”, you may be thinking. “I get up every morning and go to yoga/cross fit/gym.” You’re awesome. Seriously. Keep it up!
I haven’t gotten up to exercise in the morning for over two years. I managed to make it to a few gentle yoga classes at the end of last year before I went to Colombia for three weeks and then came home to a serious case of the January blahs.
It was just a statement, just a kind checking in, and I was in a good enough space not to twist it as guilt trip in my own mind. I mentioned my blah month and she said that over the years of watching people’s relationship to their practice, January is a hard month for a lot of folks. We talked about how we expend so much energy over the holidays, and then it’s a long cold month with the anticipation of a couple more ahead! She let me know they had added a second gentle yoga class on Saturday mornings at 8am, and that it was a Warm class, so it might be a winter treat to practice in the heated studio, and reminded me I still had a few punches left on my pass.
A day or two later I got an email from the studio talking about their 30 day challenge starting in February, where you commit to practicing every day for 30 days, with all sorts of incentives like discounted massages or workout/kombucha packages. Appealing as it sounded to part of me, I also knew I’d never be able to keep up, as even the gentle classes I’d taken before Christmas were a challenge. That’s when I realized that my personal 30 day challenge would just be to get to those gentle classes.
I didn’t set an alarm when I went to bed on Friday night, but I woke up at 7:30 naturally on Saturday morning. As I stood at the bathroom mirror debating whether to put on my contacts or crawl back into bed, my husband appeared in the doorway and asked what I was doing. I told him I was thinking of going to a yoga class & he said, “Go, go, go.” So that sealed it.
The studio was maybe a little bit too warm once we got going, but it WAS a treat compared to the below zero temps of yesterday. I was a sweaty, shaky mess, wobbling and breaking poses early. But I stayed for the whole class and felt awesome afterward. And yeah, a lot of the class I also spent telling my ego to shut it when it started mouthing off about how I used to be able to do such and such. My only goal was to actually make it through the class. Which I did. So I won!
UPDATE: since writing this post I made it to one more Saturday morning class and all the Sunday evening classes since. Still winning!
Holiday Greetings from lovely, warm and breezy Barranquilla, Colombia! I’m down here spending time with my in-laws and learning their family and cultural customs. So much fun!
Last night we had a very late dinner (it’s meant to be at midnight but we cheated and ate at 10:30) and exchanged gifts. I gave several of my CD’s as presents and included translations in Spanish. The rhyme and poetry is mostly lost, but it will at least help them understand the intention of the songs. I have a lot of admiration for folks who actually are able to translate a song into another language in a way that preserves the meaning of the song as well as fitting with the original melody, wow.
Speaking of that, it’s been funny to go into the grocery stores here and hear their Christmas carols on the loudspeakers. Some of them are unfamiliar, but I distinctly heard the melody of “Jingle Bells” though I couldn’t quite catch the words. I am pretty sure there was something about bells, but I don’t know if there was any talk of dashing through the snow, because there definitely isn’t any to be found around here!
Still have a week left before going back to what will likely be culture or at least weather-shock, as it was 17F in Iowa today and 84F here. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to hang out on the beach between now and New Year’s Eve!
So grateful to each and every person who made this year amazing. Lots of changes and challenges, but the hard work has been worth it. Looking forward to what the next year brings. Sincerely wishing so much love, joy and peace for you and the world in 2013!
I got word from DJ Andy Bargerstock that he is going to be playing a track from my Anchor EP on his show Fringe Toast tonight on KRUU!
Fringe Toast is a mighty cool weekly show that features:
Non-mainstream music from late 1960s to present with a tendency toward blends of acoustic and electronic elements. Very hip, bluesy, down-tempo chill-out, and obscure “should-have-been-classic” tracks.
Andy and I definitely have an area of overlap in musical interest and have tipped each other off to many new favorite artists, so it’s a big honor that he would include me with all those cool folks he has on his playlists each week. Just check out his blogs to see what I mean: http://kruufm.com/blog/andy-bargerstock
Well, that was just so fun!!
This show was a long time coming, and it was not just any show, it was to officially celebrate the release of Anchor! I of course had all sorts of ideas of things I wanted to do to make it special, and not enough time to do all of them. One of those things was I had thought to make some cake or cupcakes. When it got to the point of soundcheck and it hadn’t happened, I realized I could still have cake if I bought it! So I went to the grocery store and was tickled to find a turquoise colored cake!! It was pre-decorated with the words Happy Birthday on it, but I figured it was the birthday of my CD! Amazing how perfectly the color matched the stickers!
I think some other folks took pictures while I was performing, so I will post those when I get them! In the meantime, I have to shout out to my amazing band even though I don’t have a picture of us all together yet. We only had two rehearsals with all of us but they are all such pros that it came together beautifully and I was pretty much floating! I had to remember to actually keep singing and not just listen to the awesome going on around me, hehehe. It was the first time I’d played with a band since Austin, and really the first time to hear the songs live in a similar fashion to the recording.
Sarah Brooks on bass. Sarah is also an acupuncturist and hey, I think she’s wearing an anchor necklace in her bio picture here! It was meant to be!
Dennis James on electric guitar and Lauryn Shapter on piano and fiddle. Lauryn & Dennis perform as the Americana duo Truckstop Souvenir.
Really, all these folks are so talented and generous and they so respected and honored the songs, it was a joy to work with them, please do check them out!!
Here are a couple more photos from the night:
Happy with Meret at Cafe Paradiso!
My friends in Colorado sent my favorite pink gerbera daisies!
Thank you, thank you to all the folks who came out to share in the celebration! You made the evening so very special and it meant so much to look out and see your faces there smiling, singing along and listening intently. Wow. Full heart. Let’s do this more often! :-)
If you haven’t heard Anchor yet, it’s available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Spotify, Reverbnation and my personal favorite - Bandcamp! If you order a physical copy from Bandcamp I can sign it for you and you get a free sticker! I can even giftwrap it for you if you want to give a copy to a friend for the holidays! Whoo hoo!
Earlier this week Station Manager James Moore had me in to talk about Anchor and its very beginnings with KRUU and Lyrical Venus! We played a few songs, talked about song inspiration, the artwork and the upcoming CD release with the band - November 30th, 8pm, Cafe Paradiso!
Fun to have the tables turned and be the one interviewed! You can listen in or download the whole interview here: http://kruufm.com/node/14647
Oh, it is finally happening! The official CD release party concert! HOORAY!
I’ve had a few folks be a little confused, asking me, “Didn’t you already release your CD?” The start of the longer answer is that there have been waves of different kinds of releases.
I got the discs in August and have been sending them out and hand-delivering them to the folks who pre-ordered through Kickstarter (allowing me to actually create those discs!! THANK YOU again and again!).
Then on November 13th I released it online, so folks who missed out on the pre-order could now get their own copy, or download or stream the songs.
Coming up this Friday, November 30th is the first time I will play these songs on stage with a band since recording the CD! Even during recording I never had all the instruments in the same room at the same time, so this is a big exciting deal for me!
This is kind of like breaking the champagne bottle on the boat and sending it out to sea for the first time. I have lots of little plans and ideas that I shall leave a surprise for now (especially in case I don’t have time to do all of them!). The most important thing is there will be a band (Lauryn Shapter, Dennis James, Greg Holland and Sarah Brooks!), there will be CDs, stickers and a select number of whales, guitar string earrings, cards and such, and it will be a party! Hooray!
Friday 11/30/12 8pm
Tickets $8 Advance/$10 Door
P.S. I still very much plan to have an Austin release party with a band too, sometime in early 2013!
P.P.S. If you haven’t gotten your Kickstarter reward yet, I have not forgotten you, it very likely is already signed and on my desk, just waiting on a few loose ends left there, or in my bag, ready to hand over when I see you. If you are worried, drop me a line! I am super happy to send you a download code if your reward is not quite ready to ship!
Happy Online Release Day to my first EP!
You can now find, listen to and purchase Anchor on a whole bunch of sites, so if you’ve got a preference, it’s up to you!
My favorite is Bandcamp
Followed by CD Baby
Then of course there is iTunes
And Google Play
You can even listen on Spotify!
I’m not sure where else it is yet as I haven’t had time to check, but if you find Anchor somewhere else, I’d love to hear about it!
There is one funny thing you will run into - there is another Heather Miller out there! She has released at least two CDs already but hasn’t seemed very active since 2000, but often her older releases will show up first when you search for just my name on these sites. She has a lovely voice and I’m sure is a lovely person, but don’t be fooled, Anchor is indeed my very first release!
If you are liking the album and are inspired to write a few lines of review on these sites, it could really give me a boost in search results and such, I’d be eternally grateful!
CONFETTI! BALLOONS! STREAMERS! SPARKLERS! HOORAY!! THANK YOU!! I LOVE YOU!!
It was when Dan said the songs were ready to send to Red that I knew we had made significant progress in a project that had seemed mysterious and huge.
Then when the songs actually came back with added acoustic piano and Hammond organ tracks, the album suddenly blossomed into something more than I could have ever imagined. I was even a little upset that up until that point I’d had no idea how far the songs could go. I was awed that someone I had never met could hear such beautiful things in these simple little songs that I had written in my room. They were now SO much bigger than just me. I could see how they could be gifts for other people! For example, Keep Telling Me:
When I finally got to meet Red, he, Dan and I had a wonderful and relaxed conversation about music and the rewards of being a musician. He was humble, laid back, and genuine. It was a pretty great visit.
Besides just the beautiful notes and melodies, Red’s tracks gave me a huge gift of confidence and belief in my songs, a gift I didn’t even know I needed. Red needs some help now and I would love to give back to him.
The story briefly is that this September, while working on converting his Austin garage into a music studio, Red was bitten by a mosquito that gave him a severe case of viral meningitis. He has no insurance, has been unable to work for 6 weeks and it took a lot of hospital time to finally diagnose and then rest from the illness and he still needs more rest. You can read more about it and donate to the cause directly here: http://help-red.com/
I have already made a small donation on my own but I’d love to give more! So I’ve decided that I will give 25% of any pre-orders I get for Anchor in the next two weeks to Red as well. My pre-order page is set to “name your price” (with a minimum of $5 for the digital download and $8 for the CD), so whatever amount you choose, 25% of it will go to Red! You’ll also get to download two tracks right away, whether you choose digital or CD.
Here is the page where you can pre-order Anchor (online release is November 13th!): http://heathermiller.bandcamp.com/album/anchor-ep
And once again, here is the page where you can help Red directly: http://help-red.com/
Thank you in advance for your support of this amazing musician, whether you donate to him directly, pre-order Anchor, or just spread the word!
(Info about second round of pre-orders for anyone who missed the Kickstarter at the bottom of this post!)
I have a special group of friends I met in college. Though our lives have taken us all over the map both literally and figuratively since then, we still have managed to get a majority of us together once a year since we met!
This year we gathered in Ashland, OR to celebrate the birth of M’s new baby. Baby A was a bit overdue, so it was a super precious opportunity to get to meet her just about two weeks out in the world.
The girls also arranged an afternoon for me to give them a little house concert and celebrate the birth of my plastic CD baby! It was fun to share the songs I recorded with folks who saw my VERY beginnings, so stumbling and earnest. Not that I don’t stumble any more, but they could see the hard work I’ve put in since those early days.
They found me a guitar to borrow, and I did indeed pack my boots!
One beautiful thing we’ve done over the years to honor different special occasions is create group quilts - centered around a theme or color scheme, everyone decorates a few squares and sends them back to Kat to assemble. We had been putting one together for baby A and never did I imagine that at the same time those baby quilt emails were flying, they had a second set of emails going for me!
After the concert they unveiled a stunning ocean themed quilt! Mermaids playing guitar, whales, anchors, sailing ships and sea animals, oh my!!! All backed with a cozy, fuzzy blue fleece for cold Iowa nights.
Seeing the quilt for the first time (sideways!)
Kat pointing out who decorated which squares.
After the concert and the quilt unveiling, we put the album on the stereo system and made dinner together as we listened to it. It was altogether a very beautiful, special, love-filled afternoon and evening!
I’m getting pretty close to done with getting out the Kickstarter rewards, though there are still a few left to go (thanks for your patience if you are still waiting, 176 people is a lot to get back to, wow, you’re amazing!!), and I have the very beginningest of plans in the works for my Iowa CD release party next month.
ALSO, BIG NEWS! I have set up my Bandcamp to take pre-orders! If you missed pre-ordering through Kickstarter, you can now pre-order either a digital download or reserve a physical copy of the CD. My online release date is November 13th, but you’ll get to download two of the tracks as soon as you place your order, whether you want the digital or physical version! If you’re not ready to order, you can listen to those two tracks over on Bandcamp now as well! Tell your friends!
Bandcamp is also where you can check out the lyrics and see more artwork by Alicia Carradus, if you open up each track on it’s own page. EXCITING! :-)
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