Photo © 2013 Werner Elmker
The theme for the April Art Walk in Fairfield was “Sing in Spring”. Cafe Paradiso was hosting a Singer-Songwriter lineup, and I was not originally scheduled to play, but a few hours before the show they had an empty slot to fill and asked if I could step in. I love that I am so comfortable with enough songs now that a last minute, 30 minute set is no problem for me to say yes! I also love that my awesome co-worker was willing to fill in for me for 30 minutes while I played my set, thanks R!!!
I’d just gotten Rose back from the guitar doctors and was excited to bring her out again. She sounds good as ever, and just feels right in my hands. Thank goodness that turned out well! I even started working on a new song, so that’s a very good sign too.
I’ve had this goal to do at least one “bigger” show per month since coming back to Iowa, like 20-30 minutes. I think it has pretty much worked out that way so far, and I just got to check it off the list for April! :-)
Since I had to jump back behind the bar to serve drinks right after my set, I didn’t get to full listen to the other songwriters, but what I could hear of Jenn Trimpe, Keith DeBoer (Who was also the host and organizer! Thanks Keith!), Tom Todar, Shane Orne and Rebecca Haven, was all great. And the crowd loved them too, because it was always packed. It was a really successful night. Between that and the House of Bricks show the other week, it made me wish there was a regular songwriter night at Cafe Paradiso. Open mics are awesome, but it’s also really great to get to hear longer sets from people and really dig in!
To top off the amazing night, it was warm enough to be out in just a hoodie! Sing in Spring indeed! Hooray!!
Last night was super fun! I was part of a songwriter night at House of Bricks in Des Moines. Each writer got about 25 minutes to play, the other 3 guys I was sharing the stage with were super great & the audience was awesome & really listened! Thank you! Plus I made some new connections and even sold a few CDs & a whale & got tips!
I’ll have to get some links up in this post when I’m at a real computer as opposed to my phone, but it was so fun I just had to share something right now!
OK, back home at my laptop and able to add a few links to the other guys:
Here’s actually a video of Dirk Newman’s performance!
Luke Dickens has a YouTube channel.
Alan Morphew has a website.
Check ‘em out! Good stuff!
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!
(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! :-)
I got to sing right on that corner. Amazing acoustics!
Last night my dad asked me if I would be willing to sing Jonah’s Whale as part of his sermon about “Service”. Thanks to some flexible friends I was able to delay the conference call I had with them today by an hour so I could go to the morning mass at St. Gabriel’s.
During the sermon, my dad talked about the paradox of providing selfless service along with taking care of yourself first. About not waiting or trying to be perfect, but just going out and serving anyway. About learning by doing. All the exact sorts of things I learned during my year in Austin! Before I sang I joked a little - why had I gone to Austin for a year when my dad had just summed up all my lessons in five minutes? He had also given that answer - I had to learn by doing it, so that I’d know it not just in my head but in my whole body and soul.
Though I’d of course sung many, many times in church growing up (I pretty much still remembered the melodies of the whole service, that was a good way to warm up!) I’d never sung solo or with my guitar before, in front of the congregation. Even though I actually wrote Jonah’s Whale before going to Austin, I certainly wouldn’t have been ready to sing it for them until now. I’m quite sure this audience got whole other layers of meaning to the song that the folks in the bars don’t even think about, and it’s a bit of a marvel to me the layers *I* still uncover in what seemed such a simple little song when I first wrote it.
Once again, I am being shown to trust the song. When I write, either the critical voices come out and choke off the creative flow at the start, or I just innocently follow the inspiration. Then when I do complete the song, the critical voices often pounce on it and tear it apart, or dismiss it as too boring or too simple. Or I tell myself there aren’t enough chords or fingerpicking. But when I trust the song and perform it to the best of my abilities, there is always at least a person or two who really responds, and more often than not, it’s more than just a couple people!
That brings me back to the theme of service. When I stop making the performance about me, and focus on serving the songs, that is when the songs can best serve others. That’s what the recording process for my EP seemed to be about - “How can we best serve these songs today?” As each song naturally and organically filled out sonically, for the first time I was able to hear them in a way that made me realize that perhaps these songs could actually be gifts for other people. I always knew that was possible with music in general, as I have received that gift again and again. But to finally feel that my little creations are worthy of giving, was a true blessing of self-acceptance.
Knowing what the songs are capable of when they are all dressed up gives me more confidence when delivering them unadorned. It doesn’t let me off the hook in terms of moving forward and improving, but removes those self-imposed mental roadblocks to taking action. And taking action is where the improvement happens. Just keep swimming!
Photo by Amy Zamarripa
I’ve been wanting a pair of cowboy boots for at least four years, if not more. I set a few goals for myself where boots were going to be the reward but never quite made it and got increasingly sad as again and again, they seemed to slip farther away from me. I didn’t even try to console myself with trying to think they were some sort of cliche folk uniform, I just wanted them. I wore a few other boots with my skirts instead, but I knew they were just substitutes.
With my time in Texas drawing to a close I became ever more convinced that I just couldn’t leave the state without boots, and besides, hadn’t I earned them with all my playing and hard work? That’s when I decided they were going to be my present to myself when I got to 150 open mics. I also decided that rather than wait till after 150, I would wear them AT #150, so I went on my mission on Friday.
I’d already done a bit of window shopping and trying on, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for, brown with blue stitching, not too high a heel, and a rounded toe. When I found them I knew. I tried on a few more for good measure, but I knew.
It’s hard to take a picture of your boots while you are wearing them!
I love that they are a dark espresso on the bottom with black heels so I think they’ll go with both blacks and browns pretty well.
That day I also decided that although I had a big band show that night, I really wanted my 150 to be an actual open mic, wanted it to be at Fair Bean with Amy Z, and with Fair Bean from 5-7pm and the show at 9pm, it could be a good warm up and I’d make it to the gig in plenty of time!
It was a bittersweet time, realizing it would probably be my last at Fair Bean for the foreseeable future. Got my last favorite white iced mocha and citrus bar. Played four songs. I felt like a super badass in the boots. One duo called Possibly Maybe asked if anyone had a tambourine and I said, “Today I actually do!” because I had it with me for the gig. Fun to hear them add it to their set. It was good to hang out with Amy one more time too. And then it was time to catch the bus to Backroads…
Songs - Keep Telling Me, Anchor, I Know, Jonah’s Whale
It had been so long since I’d been to Flipnotics I could hardly believe it, but I was happy to get there for #149. Lisa didn’t have her guitar with her, I told her she could borrow mine. When she got started, she grabbed my guitar out of the case by the window where I’d left it and she hung it up on the hook on the wall after playing.
A few players in, and Lige asked if he could borrow “her” guitar for his second song. She said it was Spencer’s, apparently she had asked to borrow his guitar and he told her it was in the gig bag by the window, and between the two gig bags by the window she happened to grab mine! I piped up saying that the guitar was mine actually and Lige could play it if he promised not to break a string. He’s such an awesomely intense player that I’ve seen him break strings probably half the time I’ve seen him play! Even though I had an extra set with me, I didn’t want to have to change any on the spot, and I also wanted to play all of my final 50 open mics on that set. Anyway, Lige decided to do two mandolin tunes instead, and my guitar was all ready to go when it was my turn, and we all had a good laugh about the confusion.
Flips can be a mixed bag of awesome and odd, and my favorite bizarre set of the night was one by an impromptu group that we dubbed Jandy & The Phone after a guy and gal (who will remain semi-nameless, though “Jandy” is a blending of their two names) who to the best I can figure out, signed up together after meeting on the porch, stumbled through a few verses where he was not playing the same chords as the songs she was singing, nor did she attempt to modify the melodies to fit the chords he was playing, and they were interrupted by her phone ringing in her purse out in the audience. Both folks had plenty of potential, and with an actual rehearsal I bet they would have done alright, but as it was, she finally said, “Let’s just leave,” and they did. In true supportive Flips fashion, we cheered them on through each attempt and shouted after them to come back next week and try again.
Songs: I Know, Shoreline of Alaska
I really, really, really wanted to play this gig. It was my last big solo show scheduled in Austin and I had a few friends who were planning to come. I also was looking forward to dinner there, the food is good and I was pretty sure I’d get enough tips to cover it. But it was also raining off and on the past few days. It’s hard to hate on the rain when Texas needs it so badly, and MT & Nancy warned us that it was likely to be cancelled, since Bouldin Creek Food Park is an outdoor venue!
After a Thursday night of heavy downpours, Friday finally came and the sun was shining. I kept my fingers crossed though because rain was in the forecast for 5pm. I packed up my gear and headed down at 5:30. My friends came and ordered food. It was starting to get a bit cloudy but still no rain. MT started setting up the gear and the minute he clicked the mic into the clip, raindrops started to fall!
We all looked at each other and MT asked me if I’d like to play acoustic and I said sure, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to reschedule, so he set up a big picnic umbrella over me and I started my set.
Umbrella! Photo by Nancy Hellton
As I played, MT managed to get the sound system up under cover of plastic and umbrellas and the like, and by the mid point I was able to plug in.
Microphone! Photo by Nancy Hellton
I got to the end of my set with no idea how long I had been playing, and they all told me to do more. I held off till the very end before I played Rain Song, but I finally got to the point where it was stumble through a song I didn’t really remember or play it, so I did with apologies, but since it was raining already, I guess there wasn’t much to be done. I did indeed get enough tips to cover dinner, my friends got to see me play (including one of the little boys I babysat for, who wouldn’t get to come to any of my late-night gigs)
Then Justif did a set between the raindrops and a rainbow showed up in the sky behind them towards the end. They are the awesome hosts of the open mics at Baker Street and House Wine, but don’t often play at their open mics, so it was nice to hear a full set from them.
Closing out the show was Jen Hitt, a gal I’d met at Rocky Mountain Song School last year but only heard a couple of songs from since then. So it was also nice to hear a full set from her.
Super huge thanks to MT and Nancy for going on with the show despite the sketchy weather and to my friends who came out for it too! It was an awesome evening in the end!
A few days ahead, my friend Robert Mattson, from Boston put out the call on Facebook that he was coming to Austin on Thursday and wanted to hang out with Song School friends. I told him I was planning to go to an open mic and would love to have him join me.
We headed up to Kickbutt Coffee and got there in time to catch a show by traveling musician Dustin Prinz, who was, and is awesome. Robert bought us both a Dustin CD.
I did a few of tunes and then handed my guitar off to Robert, who kicked butt!
Then we headed downtown to catch a few songs by the band of another Song Schooler, Jessie Torrisi & The Please, Please Me. It was a bit of a torrential downpour and Robert had to get up early for his work presentation the next morning, so we didn’t stay for the full set, but what we heard was awesome.
It was great to catch up with Robert, share some new songs, compare stories of recording and all the fun and decisions that go along with that, and share news about other fellow Song Schoolers and such. Plus I know Robert was grateful to have a bit of musical fun added to a regular business trip!
Songs: Keep Telling Me, I Know, Shoreline of Alaska
Thom Worldpoet and Michele Solberg at Thrice
I hadn’t been to Thrice in quiet a while, I hadn’t been since Michele Solberg started hosting it, and that plus the thought of going to an early night, close by (one bus, maybe 10 minutes), with some good tables to sit and and sew whales all made my Wednesday night decision pretty easy. (If you don’t know Michele, go read her bio on her website and be impressed!!)
The performers lean pretty heavily toward poetry, and the style is round-robin. There are two wands, one for the current performer, and one to designate who goes next. Each person does one poem or song, passes the wand on, and then it cycles back around again at random but so that everyone pretty much gets to do 2-3 pieces by the end of the night. Michele is good at making sure everyone gets a turn, encouraging the shy ones, gently suggesting the bold ones share the wands a bit more. She also is willing to jump up and play background music for any of the poets who wish, and several take her up on it. She even jumped up with me and did some harmonies with me on Anchor, a song she’d never even heard yet, so fun!
Thrice is also right next to (as in, connected to) Thai Fresh, so it’s totally easy to get some yummy Thai food and settle in for food and music. Plus they have some great vegan ice cream made with coconut milk in really fun flavors.
Songs: I Know, Shoreline, Anchor (with Michele!)
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