2013 Catching Up

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:image

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!

137 - Rubicon Artist Development Spring 2012 Showcase

There are a few things that are a little hard to believe when I sit down to write this post:

1. I’ve played my songs and solos on other people’s songs in a band.
2. I’ve been doing that for almost a year now
3. That year is almost up! 
4. I forgot to get pictures of our final Rubicon Showcase!

I did get some videos, which need a bit of editing and my iMovie is acting up. As in, I think I might have to buy the new version.  Boo. But I grabbed some screenshots at least for now.  We couldn’t all fit in the same frame, so here is me and Connie:

And here is Mariana:

We did a five song set together and kept it pretty simple this time around. I was on my acoustic the whole time, Connie on her mandolin and Mariana on her acoustic for all the songs except Anchor where she did the shaker instead.

Songs with The Doras:
Keep Telling Me (Heather)
Once (Mariana)
Let the Mystery Be (Iris DeMent cover by Connie)
Joyful Noise (Mariana)
Anchor (Heather)

After our set the guys group did a super-kick-ass-funky-got-me-dancing-in-the-corner set.  Then there was a bit of a break and most people cleared out and then I finished off the day with one last set on my own. I had two songs ready, and since it was my last Rubicon showcase, Dan said some nice things about me and even had me play one more song.

Solo: Wings, I Know, Shoreline of Alaska 

I’m sure gonna miss the band!  Luckily we are doing one more show together out at the Red Shed on April 24th!

133 - Fair Bean - Unofficial SXSW Showcase

Photo by Amy Zamarripa

Saturday was fun.  In the morning I took the bus downtown to check out the MPress Records party at the SoHo lounge, which really deserves a post to itself!  I got to stay for  the first few acts and then hopped on the bus to get to Fair Bean in time to see The Lovely Brigade’s set.

Things were running a little late but Amy said I could go ahead and do my full set, so I did 45 minutes.  It wasn’t my first long set, but they are still rare enough for me that the difference between 45 minutes and even 30 minutes is noticeable for me, mostly in my voice I think, but also in terms of having more songs memorized and comfortable.  Good to know.  Another muscle to build.  But in any case, I can now say I played a showcase during SXSW!  I don’t think I would have believed you a year ago if you told me I would. :-)

Gary Graves & Tom Harvey were after me, so I stayed to listen to them and then headed over to Austin Java for the showcases there hosted by Killer Artist Agency and KC Turner Presents.  Which also deserves a post!

I’ve done some mini-vlogs, but it’s been quite a while since doing a big check in like this, whoa… Anyhoo, this one is about continuing to do open mics after my Christmas break, doing some bigger shows, reading a great book called “Uncertainty” by Jonathan Fields, my 100-open-mic guitar string earrings, my upcoming unofficial SXSW showcase, looking back at how far I have come and starting to think about what happens after this Rubicon Year is over and getting ready to record my EP!

People & places I mention in the video:

Showcase Night at The Red Shed - Tues, Nov 1!

Emily Shirley, Heather Miller, Katie Lessley, Jana Pochop

As of this post, I have performed at 74 open mics or showcases since June 7th, 2011!  

I’ve learned and gained something from every single one.  I know I’ve grown stronger as a performer both from the feedback from people who have watched me and said so, and from my own measuring sticks, like the fact that I’m using a pick now, and that I’m singing much louder.

I’m pretty excited that my 75th performance since starting my Rubicon Year will be as part of a showcase with some other really awesome songwriters who I admired from afar for a while and more closely in the past few months.

By closely, I mean for example, here they all are together in our living room singing a Susan Gibson song, Evergreen:

That’s close!

Now, we are each doing our own set of songs, but I bet there may be a chance they’d do this one on Tuesday.  I guess you’ll have to come see to find out! :-)  See below for the info and links to their various websites and such.

There are just 3 more weeks of Songwriter Showcases hosted by Amy Zamarripa at The Red Shed before a winter break. Come out and enjoy the great courtyard atmosphere and fresh local music the next few Tuesday nights!

This November 1st, the line up features:
Emily Shirley
Heather Miller
Katie Lessley
Jana Pochop

Music starts at 7pm!
Red Shed Tavern
8504 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78745


Hope to see you at The Red Shed!

Wow, has it really been 12 weeks?  This was at the Rubicon Artist Development showcase, I did a couple of songs solo before performing with the band, this one is My Bright Star.  So fun, and so great to feel the confidence that comes from just DOING something so often that it gets easier!  There are still areas where I want to grow of course, but I am feeling so much stronger!

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