December 26, 2004

Christmas has just come and gone, and the New Year is rushing toward us. I am currently in Colorado, celebrating the holidays with friends and family at my sister Heather's house. Much has happened in the last couple of weeks. As I sit and type I am enjoying music on my new MP3 player, a gift from my sister who knows I have started to become avid about my running routine and want to hear whatever music I desire on my jaunts. Currently Peter Gabriel is telling me he hears that voice again, from the annals of one of his best albums, 'SO.'

On December 11th, my band and I played the Lee Ruth CD/celebration party in Boonville at Thespian Hall. So many local/regional musicians were there to play, help, celebrate, and commune. I met people I've heard of for the past four years but never seen in person, and I felt completely energized getting back onstage with the guys after a couple weeks away from performing. We re-arranged 'You Electrify Me' (our contribution to the Lee Ruth project) and had solos highlighting each member of the band as I introduced them. It was awesome. The venue was almost as beautiful as the kind people I met that night.

Shortly before Michael and I left for Colorado last Wednesday, I received a call from my Nashville producer telling me that some investors have decided they would like to fund the recording of several more songs. Although Belltown isn't sure of what the exact parameters of the project will end up being, it is incredibly exciting to have people willing to invest in me and my music, and trusting that the outcome will be worthwhile. The response to 'Out of the Wilderness' has been incredibly positive and encouraging. Although I continue to operate under a need to remain mum about specific details about the project...things continue to look up, and up, and up. I promise the full story will one day be told! Hopefully soon...

I have done/will do a couple of things I've never done before on this trip. I went to a spa and got a pedicure by Michael's request that I allow him to give me a gift of 'relaxation.' It was pretty awesome. I just don't usually do things like that. But my feet are softer than they've been in a long time. After scrubbing and massaging my feet, they pushed down my cuticles and put my feet in a hot paraffin dip, then painted my toenails and moisturized my skin. I know some women do this all the time, but it was a treat for me, and reminded me of those things, with ten toes, that get me around all the time and deserve a little better treatment! I usually ignore my feet.

I also plan to try my luck at downhill skiing before we head back to MO. I am a little nervous....let's pray nothing is broken by Tuesday night.

I am looking forward to Friday's First Night performance in Columbia, and the start of a fresh year of possibilities. As of now, I am scheduled to showcase in Nashville on Groundhog's Day...and whether Phil tells us we have six more weeks of winter or not, I am guaranteed to have a great night playing music in Nashville. I really have a good feeling about 2005. That's a nice number...and I feel there are 2005 things I want to do in the coming twelve months. May you all dream your 'crazy' dreams, and may many of them come true.

November 26, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving, one day late! We're up in Chicago, celebrating with Michael's family. I've basically followed strong turkey day tradition by spending not just the ACTUAL Thanksgiving holiday, but most of the day after as well, lounging on the sofa, making a trip to the kitchen every half hour or so for more food, and napping while watching re-runs of Seinfeld and the Simpsons.

We also watched 'The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' (is that right?) this morning. Interesting. I actually like Jim Carrey in dramatic roles, but there's something so comedic about his VOICE alone, that it's sometimes hard to remember you're not watching a comedy. He is funny without trying to be so.

Holiday tradition also called for a lengthy debate/discussion about politics, religion, gender issues and the environment today, but luckily most of it was punctuated with laughter and more gulps of beer, or wine, or cream soda, or coffee, or better yet a bite of cheesecake. Michael's mother is Italian and his father is Polish/German, so Thanksgiving dinner, while always including the pre-requisite turkey and stuffing, is actually more about lasagna, sausages, spaghetti, and other Italian or Polish dishes. I even learned the names of some of them while I was eating them, then promptly forgot what they were while digesting.

I spent three hours helping Michael's mom cook. I was pretty proud of myself, as it included some tasks I've never been responsible for before, and I might even have learned a family secret or two. The coolest was contemplating the irony of drying out several loaves of bread for the stuffing, only to re-hydrate them in water, bunch them up into little balls of dough, and add all the other ingredients to them, mushing it together with your bare hands like a kid with Playdough. Fun!!!! I can't believe I've never taken the opportunity to do some of this with my own mother, who's a great cook, and I vow to do this in the next year or two if we're with my family for Thanksgiving. I've got all of her great recipes in this huge family cookbook she puts out every few years (we're on the third edition) and yet there's something extra that goes into those recipes, beyond the list of ingredients and temperatures and cooking times. I'm sure everyone can attest to that 'un-nameable' something that guarantees that even if you follow your mother's recipe to a 'T', it never tastes as good as when she cooks it herself. SIGH!

I do miss my family, and phone calls aren't enough. We're looking forward to Christmas, which we will spend in Colorado, with my sister and other family members. I hope to downhill ski (watch out trees, small animals, and people in my way) and relax before the BIG PUSH which is going to occur in my music career with the ringing in of the New Year.

More to come...

November 10, 2004

Just a few days ago, I was asked by a student at MU to answer some questions for a story he was writing in one of his classes. The topic is how digital distribution of music affects artists, music stores, and music itself. Another point of concern is what might happen to albums as an art form. I don't know what will ultimately happen with his story or if it will be available for the general public to read, and since the topic fascinates me and is quite pertinent to what I do, I've decided to basically re-print my reponses to him here in this blog.

First of all, my performance and recording career began right as the push for digital distribution was gearing up, so I've been involved in it from the start. In speaking with musicians whose careers began years before mine and have been at it longer, I know the general perception is that digital access to music has changed and is greatly changing the musical landscape for artists, labels, record stores, and consumers alike, but it seems there is a positive and a negative side to these changes.

First, for the positive side of digital distribution: it affords artists more ways to get their music to the public, plain and simple. For some artists who do not have distribution deals in music stores, they can still have their music listened to, and purchased by, an international audience through various digital distribution websites, or their own website. It also provides an excellent way for people to "review" your music if they haven't heard it on the radio or attended a live show. I do have song clips on my website and on CD Baby (great online music store) because the more informed people feel about their decision to purchase, the more likely they are to do so. So, in this way, many artists probably sell more music to people who would not buy their album on the basis of seeing the cover alone. I'd liken this phenomenon to the way that record stores, in the last two decades, brought in "listening stations" where you could review a CD you were interested in buying to make sure you wanted it. In general, I think this increases CD sales. I also have individual songs available for sale and download on several websites like Apple iTunes and others. I still sell more complete albums than I do individual downloads, but part of that may be due to the tremendous amount of information consumers have to sift through in order to find a single artist or song. The added income from digital downloads isn't something I'd turn my nose up at, however. It gets my music to more people and doesn't seem to be hurting my CD sales at all. In my experience, people still seem very interested in purchasing CDs at an actual music store, or purchasing it at a show, and often their last option is to order it online if they can't find it elsewhere, so right now I feel digital availability of music is an ADDENDUM to the other ways that music is available, rather than something that is ringing the death knoll for those other options. However...everything changes as technology grows and as we grow accustomed to new ways of doing things, so certainly the various ways in which digital distribution will affect music, not just as an industry, but as an art form, will continue to be seen in the years to come.

Because of my label and some of the websites I'm carried on, I've had the opportunity to be on these digital pay download sites, and also to be distributed 'online' in stores like Tower Records. This is beneficial to me because I'm not on a major label yet, so I don't have hundreds of thousands of CDs manufactured to physically stock in Tower Records stores all over the United States. But if someone can go online at Tower and find my CD, I'm still 'available' in every state without having to expend millions of dollars to make enough CDs to physically stock in each of these stores. Is this necessary to be competitive in the music industry? To some extent, yes. As my demo gets shopped to labels, I'm able to show them what my appeal is to a wider audience than just my local one, because I have customers all over the world. I can point to how many hits my website gets, how many CDs I've sold online and where those CDs are going to, and how many times a certain song has been downloaded. They're not just looking for how many people you draw at a local show, they want to know if you can attract listeners from anywhere, and how well you're able to market youself. Online and digital distribution is just one vital part of that beast now. And if a major label is not the route someone wants to go, it's infinitely helpful for those who are independent and want to remain so, since it gives them more options for reaching an audience without spending millions on marketing.

I do see some negatives to the increase of digitally available music. First of all, my biggest concern is what I view as the "Tangible and Visible" side of music. I do feel it is important to be able to hold an 'album' in your hands, view the artwork and lyrics, and feel a physical connection to the music you are hearing. Already in our lifetimes, the actual 'record' has become almost obsolete. (On the flip side, however, vinyl is now seen as "collectible" and quite coveted.) But if you think about the "tangible and visible" quality of records as compared to CDs, the first noticeable change is that on CDs everything is smaller. Not quite as visually impactful. If you have a thousand records, you really know it because it takes up half a room in your house! :) So we have CDs, which sound better, and are smaller, and now 1,000 of them can fit into a couple of shelves in your house. This is more convenient for music lovers, but CDs just aren't as "interesting." Will CDs go the way of cassette tapes? That depends, I believe, on the technology of the system, not on digital availability of music. For example, tape players sounded better than record players and 8 tracks, so people stopped buying records and 8 tracks. CDs sound better than cassettes, so people stopped buying cassettes. I don't think people will stop buying CDs in favor of digital downloads, because the comparison is not as direct. There is nothing "tangible or visible" about a digital download. I think in order for CDs to become obsolete, a better sounding device will need to be invented. And then I still believe people will want something physical they can look at. This is due to the emotional significance many people place on music, in relation to the artists that create it. I think people want to see their favorite artists live because it creates a personal connection for them between the music and the person. If you don't have the option of seeing the artist live, the pictures and artwork on an album provide the next best thing, at least SOME connection to the person creating the music. In no other art form are the art and the artists so vitally tied into each other.

As for losing the visual art with the increase of digital distribution, I sincerely hope this never occurs. I don't feel it will for a long time, at least, because I can say that my albums sell on the basis of the cover art first if someone has not heard the music yet. A good graphics job, a nice photo, can impact someone's emotions and sensibility more immediately than anything else. I can't count the number of CDs I've purchased becuse of the cover art when I'd never heard the music. (But my favorite one is Screaming Trees 'Uncle Anesthesia.' Bought that when I was 13, and it opened up my eyes.) If music stores were ever to become obsolete, I'd imagine online record stores would STILL offer complete albums with cover art and photos, because it's human nature to want to "hold and see" things. CD Baby is one of the most successful online music stores, and they rely heavily on the visual impact of your album to get people interested in reading more about it and listening to sound bytes. If someone doesn't have a clue who you are, how will they ever find you on the internet? They won't find you by name because they don't know it yet. They won't find your music by song title, because they don't know it yet. But if they go to an online music store and type in their favorite genre of music, and see your album pop up with awesome cover art, they're going to look farther. Just seeing your name and a song title won't do it for them because it's not necessarily interesting in and of itself. People need a "weeding out" method. I would never want to spend hours and hours a day clicking on song titles of people's names and just "hoping" I'd land on something good. We need more information, and visuals can provide that extra incentive to get us to look farther.

I think the value of 'album as art form' will be self-preserving. All the very best musicians have historically been concerned not with "singles" but with the flow and connectedness of the album as a whole; ten or so songs that create a musical masterpiece, rather than isolated bodies of work meant to sell commercials on the radio. Count on your Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Nick Drake, Led Zeppelin, Joan Baez and Beatles of the world (just to name a few for whom the idea of 'album' is important) to save this art form. Modern musicians can hope to aspire to this level of artistry. In the same manner that painters must learn the rules of the past before they can break them, so must musicians. We can alter the way that music gets to the people, but I don't think we can ever eradicate entirely the traditions and modes that have made music, and albums, such a central part of our lives.

November 4, 2004

This past weekend I sang 4 services at Woodcrest church, and it was amazing. The second song I sang was by a young artist named Katy Hudson, called "When There's Nothing Left." It was bluesy and incredibly fun to sing besides having a wonderfully spiritually and emotional message. Otherwise, I've been making sure I'm totally healed from the "amazing strep experience"! Can't believe I went a couple of decades without catching that nasty bug and then got it as an adult.

Jane, my booking agent, is working on setting up our tour dates in other cities for November and December, and so it looks like we might not be playing much in Columbia for the next couple of months. (Hopefully we will be involved with First Night again for our Columbia listeners.) Besides showcasing in Nashville, the band will most likely be travelling to Chicago, St. Louis, KC, Bloomington, Champaign-Urbana, and some other cities as well, possibly. These gigs will be "CD release parties" for the Nashville EP wherever we play.

So, lately I've really gotten into decoupage. (Using a high-gloss glue to put image collages on wood, ceramics, etc, to create a decorative surface.) I've been working on Christmas gifts using this technique and I love it. Last year I think I knit about 20 scarves (OK - I exaggerate) but this year I'm going out on a limb, putting the knitting needles down, and trying my hand at itty bitty scissors, lots of thin tissue paper, wood and cardboard boxes, and MOD PODGE. I've made one really awesome (if I do say so myself) heart-shaped box (it's a song title too, eh? ARTIST anyone?) and I'm quite proud of it. I incorporated a butterfly and dragonfly theme, and put green and gold accents everywhere. I'm going to line the inside of the box with velvet, so it's like a little jewelry box. I feel like Martha Stewart without the prison jumpsuit. OK - bad joke. But I've always loved creating things with my hands, and I try to use that interest to make gifts. My family always knows they're going to get something hand-made, and they've graciously smiled every year when they get the latest installment. :)

I don't know why I felt the need to write about that, but it was on my mind, so there ya go.

It would be only fitting to describe my feelings about the recent election on this date, but I am going to defy expectation and remain mum. I do have plenty of thoughts on the subject, perhaps I will share them in a future blog.

October 24, 2004

It's amazing how the 'business' part of the music business really makes you contemplate the meaning of those words and the fact that they pretty much define 'oxymoron.' Perhaps the best oxymoronic two words since Led Zeppelin. MUSIC BUSINESS. The words scare me, let alone the actual things taking place that involve negotiations, legalese, new personalities, and the realization that life can change in an instant. Having said all that, this is a very exciting time. Perhaps my mental state is the actual oxymoron! :) There's not much I can publicly talk about right now, so unfortunately this message will not be specific to any certain event, person, or project, but it's definitely been forefront on my mind for the last several weeks so I felt the need to address it.

I'm looking very much forward to the Nashville showcase, which will either be the first or second Saturday of November. It's nice to take the step to showcases and theaters and festivals and competitions, because although we will still make our bread and butter at bars and clubs, the shorter more impactful gigs where someone is there specifically to hear you play rather than to have background entertainment are a really wonderful way to keep your energy and spirits up.

The CD release was just a little over a week ago. I've been down with strep for the past week and haven't had time to write about the party, and I'm not going to say much about it here in my blog. Too many thoughts and not enough time for them. I'm looking forward to releasing the CD in other cities as well, especially at the Nashville showcase! I think our CD release unfortunately missed the listeners who weren't able to make it out on a Friday night, and we even had a technical difficulty which impeded the excitement and impact of the keyboard I introduced for the first time that night. But it was still a party, and I want to thank everyone who came, it was nice to see a full house.

Just last Sunday I went to a solo singer-songwriter showcase called Writers in the Round in Champaign, Illinois, and it was a blast. I loved the other 3 performers, and the crowd was fabulous. Cowboy Monkey is also a beautiful club. I played both guitar and piano for the show and it was really entertaining and fun to experiment with switching between instruments. A new world has opened up to me. Or maybe it's more that I'm rediscovering the instrument that first made me want to be a part of this MUSIC WORLD. There....that's not an oxymoron.

October 12, 2004

September flew by like a bird and October is rushing past me like the scenery outside my car window. Not that I'm currently driving - that would be dangerous. :) This past Saturday night we played a short but enjoyable opening set for the Jonatha Brooke concert that was part of the Women in Tune Festival to donate money towards cancer research. I played a song on piano for the first time with my band, and I felt it was a success. I was telling Michael that the only instrument that has the power to bring back all my worst memories from recitals, adjudications, and competitions like that is the piano. I know the piano like the back of my hand, yet when I sit down to play it in front of an audience, it can sometimes look like a foreign body. Pianists, unless they are wealthy and famous, rarely get to play their own instrument, they must play different ones everywhere they go. Well, one day the Yamaha grand I want will be shipped to and fro right along with me on tour, eh? Yeah, I'm allowed to dream...

This Friday, only two days away, is the CD release party at MoJo's for the Nashville EP. I feel as though we've gotten some great gigs this month for publicity, and I was on the David Lyle show on KFRU AM 1400 a couple of weeks ago for a great interview. We got a couple of calls while I was on the air which was fun. I've also been interviewed for a profile piece that should be published in Vox magazine sometime in November. It's very in-depth and covers material that's not been covered before by any local paper. BXR has kindly played some of the Nashville cuts at the noon hour and on "What's New For Dinner?" and MoJo's has been publicizing the event for us as well.

The CD is rapidly becoming well-traveled. Billy Burns, a former drummer for Ray Charles, heard it and loved it and asked if he could give it to his best friend, Pearl Jam's manager, Kelly Curtis. Kelly liked it so much he played it for Hootie and the Blowfish's manager, and then asked if he could hand it some other top management people who would be more in my genre. So, as far as I heard at last count, it's gotten to management fro Norah Jones, James Taylor, the Dixie Chicks and Neil Young and may get into the hands of Earth, Wind and Fire and the people at the Jimi Hendrix Foundation. It's pretty cool to know it's floating around out in those circles.

Otherwise, I look at the rain and feel the chill and realize winter is coming. Usually fall is my favorite time of year but this year somehow I don't feel ready for it. I want summer to last a little longer. I want the days to stay bright until 9pm. Already my work day doesn't end until it's been dark for over two hours. (And then of course there's the part of my work day, gigging, which starts long AFTER the sun has gone down - but that's when the dark provides the perfect backdrop.) If it weren't for gigs, I'd love sunlight all the time. But when I'm onstage it's all about artifical light, baby!

I continue to be amazed at how awesome my band is, and how consistently supportive are all the people who surround me. BA plans on driving to Urbana, IL with me this weekend the day after our CD release, even though he's not going to play the gig with me, he's providing me company since Michael cannot attend. I've got several photographers who give me their photos for website, CD and personal usage. (I'd not have a single photo of any gig if it weren't for them) and the number of people who have jumped on board to help in little and big ways boggles my mind. Some of the band members might even carpool down to Nashville in November for my first big SHOWCASE!!!!! I'm nervous. I will probably go down a couple of days early to rehearse with the band that Matthew Wilder (my producer) hires, and then it's BAM onstage for a half hour set in front of 'people.' I'm going to miss the band I know and love that night but it's going to be an exciting opportunity and a couple of the band members that night may be the ones that played on my CD.

All in all, things are going well. I'm tired and have the worst neckache in the world from sleeping on 3 pillows last night (what was I thinking?) but I'm content. I love that word. My CONtent is conTENT.

September 20, 2004

Wow...September has been such a busy month that until one of my photographer friends, Kevin Dingman, reminded me at last night's gig that I hadn't written in my blog for nearly a month, I had no clue how fast the time had flown by!

....but let me start back at the beginning. Early in September I flew back home to Seattle to attend my best friend Sandy's wedding. It was an awesome, laid-back affair. The ceremony was outside, and Sandy rode up to her groom on a tractor! There was tons of awesome food, beautiful weather, dancing, karaoke, and a bonfire. Although the trip was a whirlwind, we had a fantastic time. The following weekend we attended another friend's wedding in Iowa, where I performed and where we had the opportunity to get completely silly. I even danced....

In-between family and friend events, we've had one of our busiest months ever, as a band. We've had the opportunity to play (or are going to play) Twilight Fest, Flatbranch, Cherry Hill outdoor concert series, the grand opening of the Virginia Avenue dorms at MU, the Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, D'Agostino's and we have many more cool events coming up in October. We're stoked about the upcoming CD release. (Friday, October 15th at MoJo's.) I've been pulling my hair out getting the details together for the enhanced portion of the Nashville CD, but it's going to come together beautifully. DiscMakers is rushing me some of the CDs overnight tonight so I have them in time for the MU gig tomorrow, and I will have the rest of the CDs in my hands by the end of this week, but let's keep that between you and me (and whoever else reads this, right?) because the OFFICIAL release date is not for three weeks!

I've blogged about the Nashville project perhaps ad nauseum, but I'm just so excited about it. It looks like it's going to sprout some other great opportunities for me as well, like a possible showcase spot in Nashville sometime in the next couple of months, and perhaps on a recurrent basis. My producer, Matthew Wilder (who I hope to work with again in the near future) is putting together a showcase with myself and some other up-and-coming acts at a great club, and with fabulous Nashville-area musicians. (I think the bassist who performed on my CD, Gary Lunn, might be performing with me). Although the rest of my awesome Columbia-area band won't have the opportunity to perform with me this time around, it looks like several, if not all of them, might pile into the big ol' "touring van" and come along with me for moral support. Anybody who reads this is welcome to come, actually, if you want to spend a weekend in Nashville and lend me the support of your body filling up space, your voice calling out and letting me know you're there. I will appreciate it greatly! Details of the when and where for this showcase will be posted on the website under "gigs" when available.

As for that "touring van" I just spoke of, we bought a big, used Mo-Ex van, which has room for 15, plus cargo. We've had to replace the battery and it has a couple other little quirks, but it's the first vehicle that can handle the entire band plus gear, especially if we get a little trailer. We're really proud of it!

I wish I could write more about all of the events we've experienced recently, and share my thoughts about things to come, but it seems when I actually get around to writing in this blog, I never have the time I had hoped for. I'm sure I've forgotten a million things. But hey...I guess this computer screen will be there when I wake up. So, goodnight.

August 22, 2004

Yesterday's band practice has me flying high...although not the full band was there, we had all but 2 members and started working on some of my new tunes with a new instrument. My KORG keyboard finally had to put its walking shoes on and I introduced 3 new songs to the band, plus we worked up 'Brave New World' with me on keys instead of guitar. Although it had seemed in months previous that there might have been some reservations about how things would work with me on piano (I play piano entirely differently than I play guitar - and I don't just mean in the obvious ways due to the difference in instrument. I play the piano more as a self-contained solo instrument, and am definitely a background rhythm player on guitar) but everyone jumped right in and seemed very excited about the new songs. Ideas were flying from every direction. BA recorded the session and it's amazing how 'nearly complete' those new songs sound after only a couple hours of practice. We are planning on having these new songs ready (plus several more) for the October 15th CD release of the Nashville EP, 'Out of the Wilderness.' We are experimenting with different genres and sounds, as this is a good time to allow ourselves total freedom since we're taking this new direction with the keyboard. The songs that I write for piano are distinctively different than those I write for guitar, so it's going to be a lot of fun to follow this path where it leads us.

Kevin, who has been taking photos for us for several months now, was also there but regretfully didn't have his camera. It would have been fun to have a visual memory of this night. I was once again reminded of how and why I keep doing music; it constantly surprises me. I am renewed and excited about things.

August 15, 2004

Music Folk in St. Louis, where I performed last night, is a very beautiful little music store specializing in wood instruments; guitars and violins abound, and they make it their goal to promote acoustic music and get songwriters together to network and share fans. I performed in-between a set by Tom Wood, and Patsy O'Brien. Patsy, a guy who has toured all over the states and in some other countries (like his ancestral Ireland) was exceptional in his live performance and songwriting. Tom had some great stories to tell and was a dynamic personality. I felt honored to be playing among these two gentlemen, and the night went well. It felt a little bare and a little strange to be stripped of all the usual "gear" that stands before me onstage; no microphone, no stand, no cords, no nothing. Just me and a stool and a guitar and my voice, belting it out to the very back row like I used to when it was just me in my little apartment and someone would come and ask to hear a new song. I don't know why I was nervous to get back to that, but it did, after all, feel pretty good. And it was my first ENTIRELY solo performance in about 5 years!

August 9, 2004

So last Saturday night was definitely one of the highlights of my performance career! My band had a chance to open for Little Feat at the Beaumont Club in Kansas City, and it was fantastic! First of all we had great gear and great sound, which always makes performing more fun; we were in great playing form, and we appreciated the excellent crowd response! There were some tapers there, and so our opening set is floating around out there, followed by Little Feat's 2-1/2 hour mind blowing set!

A couple of Little Feat's band members congratulated me on the set and said they thought my music was great, which was the height of a cool compliment from these musicians' musicians. Little Feat concert-goers are mostly musicians themselves, and they can be both critical and die-hard loyal. These were die-hard loyal and they embraced us like they'd come to see us just as much as to see Feat. We've gotten lots of free photos from photogaphers who were shooting pics during the show. I was telling my mom about the show yesterday and one of the things I said was that it's so awesome to me that we have these photographers who attend our shows and share their talents with us. If it weren't for them, I'd have no recorded memories of anything I am doing right now because I never have a camera in my own hand, I always just have a guitar, a microphone, or a CD in my hand. Thank you Kevin!!!! Thank you other photographers who've given us permission to use your work!

Thank you to the 1200+ crowd that was at the club Saturday, many of whom came up and talked to me after the show with words of support and encouragement. It was a great night for all of us.

Thanks to Little Feat for helping get the ball rolling to get us on the stage before them. These people, who've been on the road for about eight weeks without a break, pushed their sound check up 45 minutes for us so that WE'D get a chance to sound check and have the best show we could have. Thank you members of LF!!!!

Also thanks to my other acoustic guitarist Bill Adams who really sparked this whole thing. He has a radio show on KOPN 89.5 (Blue Plate Special) which showcases much of Little Feat's music and he's been a fan and follower of Little Feat for nearly as long as they've been around. If it weren't for him handing my discs to the members of LF and keeping us in their minds, there's no way this could have happened. Thanks BA!

I also had a chance to meet a representative from the KC-based Clear Channel promotions office, and he heard our entire set, which is great. I hope we have the chance to work with these people again in the near future.

In any case, we met some new listeners, we shared a stage with a fantastic band, we had a great time and we won't soon forget it.

July 26, 2004

Got the first set of art proofs for the Nashville release today, and I
am pretty darn excited about them. The graphic artists at DiscMakers are damned good at their jobs. (Free plug for them, eh?)

Anyhow...this weekend we had a fun gig down in West Plains, MO. There is this converted old yellow mansion there which they've turned into the "Yellow House" Community Arts Center, where there is live music, art and photography exhibits. The performance was a blast for an intimate, very involved audience. We hope to be back there again soon.

The best part of the night may have been at the beginning of sound check, when my bandmates presented me with a new vocal microphone. I had been upset when everyone showed up nearly an hour late to leave for the gig, and then I found out it was because they were all in cahoots to get me this wonderful microphone. I had been needing one for some time, and I am thrilled with how it sounds, and send a huge thank you to Michael, Matt and BA, who knew what to get me, and how to keep it secret from me! (And how to deal with my silly mood when they were all late because they were doing something nice for me!) :)

I want to send a HUGE thank you from the entire band out to Kevin, who has been taking photographs for us at several gigs, and has travelled extensive distances on his own time to take pics for us. He was at the Yellow House gig, and we really appreciated it.

Along those same lines, anyone who takes pics for us regularly (Kevin, Stacie, Brooke, Doug) and anyone who's taken pictures of us on occasion and given us copies for our own use or for placement on the website, (there are many of you, and some of you I don't even have names for) THANK YOU!!!! We cannot tell you how much the support means, and it's a source of PR for us which is invaluable.

Very cool news is that my band is going to get to open for Little Feat in Kansas City at the Beaumont Club on August 7th. Their promoters are part of Clear Channel, and it's very difficult to become involved with that company, because of its size and scope, so to be able to do this show and get our names out a bit more is really going to be fabulous exposure. But hey, we're also not forgetting for an instant how incredible it's going to be to share a stage with Little Feat, and we're going to make the most of every second of our opening slot.

There is good news and lots of excitement on the horizon...things are going very well. Keep checking the blog and website for updates.

July 15, 2004

Before I forget, let me take a minute to say my birthday last Saturday, the 10th of July, was awesome. We played at D'Agostino's and Debbie let us kick up our heels and create a ruckus in order to celebrate. She also gave me free tiramisu, a gift certificate, and she sang Happy Birthday to me. (How rare is it that someone sings to ME?) :) I loved it.

Very touching also was the fact that someone who I won't name in case she'd like to retain her privacy, left me a birthday surprise before I even arrived at the restaurant. She's attended some of my shows and was thoughtful enough to think of me on my birthday. A lot of my very good friends also attended the show, so it was like one big party. Two of my friends brought their new little baby Isaac, and gave me a framed photograph which I've been meaning to purchase for some time now. (I didn't really think that if I held out for long enough I wouldn't have to pay for it, but it worked out that way and was a lovely birthday surprise.) :)

Also, I met a fabulous guy (also to remain anonymous) who is fast becoming a good friend, and is full of ideas about PR, since he runs his own business in town. I can't wait to see what schemes we cook up.

But the coolest part of my birthday was just before midnight on the 9th, Michael and Griff went to KOPN on BA's radio show, and had him play a bunch of my music. Later, they were interviewed about some of the things happening with the band and wished me Happy Birthday over the radio waves. So awesome...

After the show, Michael and I drove to Chicago, and spent a great weekend with family. OK...I needed at least to write a LITTLE bit about my birthday, because it was a good one. We had a party in Chicago with the family too, since my sister-in-law and aunt both have birthdays right around the same time as me. We swam, ate, played with the little kids. Good times...
This summer has absolutely flown by. Here I am, looking at the date, July 15th...wondering where it went? We've had some big gigs this summer, we've taken some nice trips, and I've gotten some great news in the career department:

-My amazing booking agent, Jane Accurso, helped me get organized and apply for the Missouri Arts Council touring magazine, and out of ten new artists accepted this year for the honor, my band and Jane's bluegrass band were two. This book goes out all over the state, and will get our names out in Kansas City and St. Louis, besides looking great on a resumee! :) Not only does it assist my band in getting great gigs at festivals, private events, city events, etc, but it also allows me to give talks on various subjects such as Kindermusik, Suzuki, and other subjects I currently teach. The touring year will run from July 2005-July 2006.

-The Nashville EP is well on its way to completion, at long last! Just yesterday I sent off a photo CD, prints, graphics and liner notes to DiscMakers, who will also put together the audio and enhanced video portion of the CD. I'm very excited about how this disc is going to turn out. It's going to be directed toward radio and record labels, and by having the video portion with interview and live show footage, it better represents everything that I am attempting to do.

-I've met some fabulous new people in town who are actively helping me with PR and trying to find new avenues of reaching the community. One of the ideas which I am very excited about is to have a show to benefit a charity or cause. I have always wanted to raise money to aide in epilepsy research (caused my brother's death) heart disease, and cancer, as well as any and all women's issues. While I have been involved in several benefits in the past for a number of causes, I haven't ever had the opportunity to create an entire event where ticket sales and a portion of CD sales can go toward a worthy cause. I'm very excited about the possibility.

-There's too much news to write about all in one day. I guess I will need to get better about keeping up with the blog. (How many times have I said that?)

Otherwise, we are also preparing for THREE weddings coming up within the next couple of months. I am singing at one or two of them. The first one in line is my sister-in-law's wedding in August...should be a huge and lovely event, almost like a family reunion! (I think there could be nearly 500 people there.) My best friend Sandy is getting married in September, a laid-back, campfire and tent event, which will also be beautiful, and finally in September a very good friend of Michael's gets married.

So life happens and time flies by and here I am taking a moment to sit back and think about it all. This has been a really fabulous year if I look back at all of the great developments that have occurred in my life, both personally and in my career. I guess I can truly say I'm happy. How awesome....


July 5, 2004

Wow...the band and I just had an awesome gig last night. We celebrated the 4th of July by performing in the football stadium on Faurot Field here in Columbia. The crowd was fantastic, truly appreciative, the weather was gorgeous, breezy and not as hot as it usually is in July in Missouri, and musically we felt more together than ever.

In Michael's and my absence, the band practiced the Nashville version of one of my newer songs, 'Brave New World' and we chose to include that in our set, along with some 'old' standards. (It is strange to reflect on the fact that we have been performing many of my songs for 4 years now.) Even though we all got a little sunburned during sound check, spirits were high, the sound turned out to be awesome in such a challenging space as a football stadium, (Nelson Audio and everyone involved are fabulous)and we just generally felt on top of the world for 50 minutes.

Tom, a close mentor of mine, convinced me to make an "entrance" and be driven up in a golf cart, their version of a limo, they joked. I tell you, it felt weird, all these insecurities popped into my head: 'I don't want people to think I'm trying to be a diva...', but then I thought, a DIVA in a golf-cart? It was so amusing, and it was played off so well by everyone involved, that it turned out to be incredibly fun, and funNY. The only unfortunate aspect was not getting a chance to check my instruments and realizing right before my big violin solo that my shoulder rest wasn't on my electric violin, which hindered my ability to play the way I normally would. However, the entire show was one in which all of us soaked up every second. We were a little high on life, I'd say.

I've come to the realization that the band is my second family (maybe I've said this before) and all those guys are some of my closest friends. They keep me in line, (plenty of teasing and such) and have saved me numerous times when I've forgotten pieces of equipment or am otherwise occupied during a show. They see me at my worst and I hope sometimes at my best, and have fostered my growth as artist and person. They've put up with me, and they've put me up. They are brothers, fathers, friends, and in a way I'm married to them all (okay, really only one of them) but the relationships involved have to be so based on trust and reliability, that they are similar to marriages. We spend enough time together to get sick of each other, but we never do. Maybe every once in a while we argue, but it's always resolved because ultimately there is love and respect between band members that is its own unusual and unique brand.

I've been really lucky.

July 3, 2004

Well...due to computer glitches, the two blogs I tried to do at the end of my trip to the Northwest didn't publish, and here I am back in Missouri, writing this blog from a more reflective perspective, rather than being in the middle of the experience.

The first thing I want to write about, now that I have the opportunity, is that in the future, whenever possible, I will drive across country rather than flying to any destination in the US. It's not simply that you get the opportunity to see the landscape, (although we were certainly blown away by the changing vistas, sometimes alarming and fun storm systems we drove through, and the incredible, mood-lifting open spaces that still remain untainted) it's also about the fact that driving makes you much more aware of the connectedness of everything. When I FLY back home from St. Louis or Kansas City, I step off the plane into an immediate climate change, an immediate scenery change, an immediately different group of people and sets of attitudes. So...when you drive, these changes are gradual, and in that way, after three days of driving from Washington, through Idaho, Montanta, Wyoming, part of South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and finally Missouri, it was almost like I was STILL home, because the trip was so connected. So now I feel closer to home than ever before...strange as that may sound.

When I arrived home, there was a HUGE pile of mail and a long list of phone calls to attend to, but also the final Nashville mixes to listen to. Now that I have those in my little hands, I am VERY excited to see the final product from the filmmaker, Brian Quist, who did the live concert/interview footage for us. We did get an opportunity to see a little of what he had done with the editing and special effects, and we were thrilled by his artistic approach, and his understanding of what we wanted to get across to anyone viewing it or listening to it. We are hoping for a release date in September.

I also had the opportunity to take my CDs and press kit to one of Seattle's best radio stations, 103.7 the Mountain, which is housed in a gorgeous, tall building near Capitol Hill in Seattle. Some of the people in the audience recommended we get our music to them since they not only play a tremendous selection of music (you'd hear Tracy Chapman back-to-back with the Beatles back-to-back with Pearl Jam in any given hour, LOTS of variety) but they are also indy and local-musician friendly. If you are a radio listener in the Seattle area you can check our radio station link on the website to e-mail or fax or phone in requests to them. Or you can probably visit their website and request from anywhere in the nation. We always appreciate the help and support.

Speaking of help and support, my mother and stepdad Pete have helped us out SO MUCH with their love and support, and I'm unabashedly sending out a huge thank you to both of them. And Grandma too! :)

My high school reunion was a blast, depite the fact that only about 25% of the graduating class actually decided to come to the event. I reunited with some fabulous people I'd known as a little bitty girl, and got to know a couple people better than I'd ever known them previously. I've been told the 10-year is often about people trying to prove how far they've come and how well they've done, but there was surprisingly little of that competitive spirit happening. It was a good time.

We stayed at my cousin's house, which is an old restaurant, called the Seasons, purported to be haunted. After Saturday night's reunion events, several of my old classmates (many of whom had worked at the Seasons when it was a restaurant, including myself) met up there and in our slightly tipsy stupor scared ourselves spitless with tales of flickering lights, cold spots, and strange shadows. My cousin Brenna Helm-Manwaring, who is a great visual artist, gave us an original piece of art, which we are so thrilled about. Right now I can't afford to buy one from her, but she was kind enough to give us one.

We also spent two days with my dad and stepmother, which was great since we don't get to see them very often. They were very interested in the new Nashville tunes, and I even got to sit down and play a couple of piano duets with my dad, who is now learning piano. He's a brilliant and talented doctor, and he's never really had time to devote to learning an instrument, but now that he has more time, he's learning quickly! We cooked burgers on the grill, ate at a floating restaurant over the water for my upcoming birthday, and got to relax on the water, and sit in the sun for a while. The Sandpoint, Idaho area is beautiful, if starting to be a little over-populated with the people who move there with a resort mentality. However, it's still one of our favorite places, Pend O'Reille lake.

I also met up with a long-lost cousin, Julie Fox and her husband Dave and son Anthony, and although the visit was brief, this three-week trip was almost like a bunch of scattered family reunions for me. I felt happy and so HEALTHY. (My body remembers those allergens, and these MO ones are foreign to me.) The only problem was a blinding migraine on my second-to-last day there that prevented me from going down to the campfire on the beach.

There's much more to tell, but this is quite lengthy already. We are gearing up for our 4th of July gig in the stadium tomorrow (Faurot Field) and are so excited about the prospect of having at LEAST 15,000 people there. Could be many more. Definitely our biggest audience yet, but the weather is supposed to be 80 and cloudy. Considering that a Missouri July day is usually 100 and blindingly sunny, this should be a great day for it, and it shouldn't rain.

Good things are happening all the time....

One more thing. Today I met a new baby boy, Isaac, and he's a wonderful new addiction to this world. He's the son of two of my VERY good friends, I wish them so much happiness.

June 21, 2004

The gig yesterday at See Sound Lounge was absolutely incredible. The place was packed, which they were very happy about since it was a Sunday and Father's Day. The front of the venue has a huge window which was opened to let in the breeze and it managed to draw some passery-by in as well while we played. We didn't set up under their big movie screen, rather we were right next to the bar and the window facing the street. Brian Quist came in with his cameras and filmed the entire event.

We met some fantastic people there, including a guy named Spencer, who gave us some great ideas on other Seattle venues to play, and some radio stations to contact about our material. He also said we should consider playing in the beautiful state of Hawaii. If we can swing it, the whole band would have their airline tickets and hotel accomodations paid for, and we'd be the exclusive band for one venue for a several weeks' stint, earning whatever they were able to pay us. (But when you're in Hawaii for free, you've already been paid, really.)

We were also offered another gig to play for an opening of an art exhibit. It's involved with the Seattle Art Musuem and would be a high-profile, high-exposure show, but we would have to stay through the evening of July 1st, and we simply don't think we can make the drive back to Columbia, Missouri in two days, in time to rest and rehearse for our Fire in the Sky show. But the man who offered us the gig is on our list to keep in contact with!

Prior to the show I conversed with a woman named Dinah Brein who is a songwriter whose music has been placed on numerous television shows and movies, who's been in Nashville for a decade, been in LA for a while, and is now in Seattle. She shared some advice, and we chatted for a while about my goals and direction, and she took my bio and other materials to peruse. I will be keeping in contact with her to see if we can establish a beneficial working relationship. A publicist can really make the difference between a flop and a successful show when you go to a town in which you are virtually unknown. They set the stage before you get there, setting up in-studio performances with radio, interviews sometimes on TV, usually radio, etc. It generally works better in catching people's attention than does putting up flyers on telephone poles, although that's something else that a publicist can line up if you get some people working for you.

The last time Michael and I played in Seattle as a duo we were at the Intiman Theater in Seattle Center and that was 4 years ago. Several people in the audience who had been to THAT show noted the change, the growth, the improvement in that time. Many people came up to us and commented on our chemistry onstage, which has been there from the start and is the reason this whole thing began. It was a very cool way to get back to our roots. At that time, four years ago, Michael's favorite song of mine was 'Sometimes Sun, Sometimes Rain' but now it is a newer song called 'All Along.'

We had a sound-duo (two people running sound for us) and one of them was a friend of the family named Lisa, who was one of my brother's very best friends from college until his death. Her drummer, Dave was also there with her helping with sound. At one set break, there was a group of people who had asked about my brother's death and were given the story behind 'Find Heaven.' Although we'd opened the show with it, they requested we play it again, so we made it the finale. The people who had requested it were very appreciative (one of them had recently lost a brother) but the sound guy was also teary-eyed over it. He's never met my brother, but said he felt he knew him through the music, and through what Lisa had told him. We all felt like he was there somehow, especially since my brother's probably the person most responsible for my love of and commitment to playing music.

Finally, perhaps the most special part of the day was having my grandmother Glenda there, who hasn't seen me perform live in over 6 years. She's 80 years old but looks and acts 60, and managed to calmly accept the hot venue, the loud music and the slightly tipsy people. She loved it. Her word was 'awesome.' And I thank her for requesting 'People on a Train,' because it may well be the best tune we performed that night, and most likely will be chosen for the live DVD footage that will be accompanying the Nashville EP. Thank you, Grandma! And if any of you reading this haven't seen it in my liner notes for my CDs, my grandmother is the true voice of an angel, the first person I knew closely who can sing like nobody's business.

It was a great day...the only thing I didn't get to do was talk to my father personally. He was gone and I had to leave a message on his answering machine. I don't think he'll ever make it to one of my live performances unless it's in Sandpoint, ID. Oh well, I still thought about him all day. It was Father's DAy after all.

June 17, 2004

Wow! Being in the Northwest, in my home territory again, makes me remember what it was like to look FORWARD to summer rather than DREAD it. Although the intense heat and humidity of Missouri is something you get used to after a while, it can never compare to the memories of my childhood summers when you could play outside for hours and only break a light sweat, it took a bit longer for those deadly ultraviolet rays to burn you, and the nights cooled down to where you could sometimes even see your breath, but you still didn't feel like you needed a jacket. It's light here until 10:15pm, the sky a beautiful indigo above the evergreens. The mountains and the water still take my breath away and I'll never get sick of this view.

It's so good to see my family again. Although my sister isn't here and I miss her very much, I get to see my mother, father, step-parents, grandmothers, cousins, and old friends. (I think I might even see some aunts and uncles and extended cousins this trip, too.) We're pretty concentrated in Washington and Idaho.

Since Michael and I are playing this Sunday (Father's Day) at a new martini bar in the Belltown area of Seattle (the area of the city the record label I am on was named for) we decided to do some pre-promotion for the show and get some strangers interested in coming. We saw a poster for an open mic yesterday at a Starbucks here. We showed up a half an hour after it had started and realized it was the last one of the year they were putting on and that it was primarily for students of the nearby high school. We signed up anyway (slot number 8, which ended up being place number 4 since nobody else had really signed up on the sheet - people were just being called out by name by the MC since everyone knew everybody else) and decided to play Gravity since everyone was only allowed one song. We were greeted by warmth and interest immediately, and the MC said we should play another tune. We'd definitely travelled the farthest and were the oldest ones there so our butts needed a break! :) Seriously though, we sold CDs to several attendees and hopefully those will multiply to be heard by more and more ears. There is NO wasted gig. And besides, my cousin Betsy won a free cup of coffee for us by guessing how much the MC paid to buy his pants and tailor them. She guessed $23, and it was $20, so she was closest. We also saw this kid named Dan get up and thrash around on-stage like every great rock star down the ages. He had Elvis, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, and Trent Reznor down pat. He's one to watch for... :)

We did however, have to learn a little lesson about the venue we are playing at. We foolishly thought that since they served food, minors would be allowed and told several people at open mic who were interested to definitely attend. However, Washington liquor laws are much stricter than in other states, and now we don't know if these teenagers can attend, even with parents in tow. We were disappointed, but at least we got those CDs into their hands, even if we don't see them this Sunday in the crowd.

We've nailed down details with an independent filmmaker here named Brian Quist (he's fabulous - check him out online if you get a chance. He did a movie called 'A Day in the Hype of America which won the Rhode Island International Film Festival for best documentary - along with many other things) who's going to film the live show this Sunday and also film me being interviewed. This will be cut and spliced and put into DVD/CD format and hopefully tagged onto the end of the Nashville 5-song CD, so people will get their money's worth in a different way than the usual 11 or 12 song CD.

There may also be a publicist in the crowd who could get the band into the Bonneroo Festival here in Seattle - a GREAT one to play for exposure! All in all this is going to be a very productive trip.

Happy Father's Day to any dad that reads this...

June 11, 2004

Michael and I have decided to try to be ahead of the game today, and we spent all day and evening packing up the car in preparation for our trip across country to the northwest, even though we don't leave for another 24 hours. We plan on playing our D'Agostino's gig from 7-10pm, then breaking down and getting a couple of hours of driving in before we snuggle up in our comfy little car seats (yeah right) for a nap.

Our itinerary is to get to KC by 1 or 2 am Sunday, sleep for a few hours, then get up and drive all the way to Denver Colorado by Sunday evening. We then plan to head up north, passing through much of the southwest corner of Wyoming and to Idaho Falls on the next day. Our last day will be a long haul through southern Isaho, over into Oregon, then straight northwest to Seattle.

Great things are going to happen while we are in Seattle, including a gig at a new venue called See Sound Lounge. The gig might be filmed by an indy filmmaker there, who would then cut and splice pieces of an interview with me to be used as DVD footage on the Nashville CD.

Belltown was also recently contacted by a publicist who's going to come out to the show and meet with me. Some of the band members and I were talking the other day about the fact that I have a booking agent and everything else, but I really need a publicist! So perhaps this will work out. Apparently this woman has lived in LA and Nashville, and deals heavily with radio promotion, which is exactly what I'm looking for.

I will also be thrilled to see family and friends, some whom I haven't seen in years. We will also be attending my high school reunion, and it will be interesting to see what has happened with everyone in the intervening years. We also intend to enjoy the drive as much as possible, seeing some landmarks, some quirky roadside attractions like the biggest ball of twine, and whatever else floats our boat.

Then we will race home for what may prove to be one of our most exciting gigs: playing on Faurot Field for the pre-fireworks show on the Fourth of July. We can't wait to play where the Rolling Stones did... :)

May 22, 2004

So much has been going on lately that I haven't been good about writing blogger updates. But now that I have a minute, I'm going to write about all the great, exciting news that has come up of late. First of all, I am looking forward to a great string of gigs we have in the Columbia area through the summer. My incredible booking agent, Jane Accurso, has managed to book us in all the great festivals. The first is Art in the Park, June 5th, and we play at 1pm. The second, and one of the most exciting, is that we were invited to play for the 4th of July fireworks festival on Faurot Field in the Hearnes Stadium. The other band playing will be Del Alma, and our show will be followed by the symphony playing along with the fireworks show. Should be an awesome event! Also, on September 9th, during the second Twilight Festival month, we will be playing the mainstage on the courthouse aquare, another thing we've been really looking forward to.

The Nashville project continues to plod along. After a whirlwind rush of activity, I'm a little dismayed by how long these final steps are taking, quite honestly, simply because while I know everyone involved is doing their best job, and has my best interests in mind, I'm a 'let's get it done NOW!' kind of person, and I have no control over other people's timelines. So, I wait. But it's going to be something I am SO very proud of when it's finished, hopefully ready for radio play on commercial, college, and community radio, and ready to try to attract labels and investors. The band has heard the demo and we've decided to work up live versions of the Nashville sessions. Lately we are playing more festival and showcase type gigs, which don't last for 4 hours like the bar gigs we 'grew up' on, so we don't need to stretch everything out to 10 minutes. This way we will give the audience a little more 'bang for the buck' at a shorter show.

We've been discussing what steps to take once the Nashville demo is completed and besides the huge radio campaign, we will be creating a multi-pronged approach to inform press, having several CD release parties in different cities, researching distribution and on and on and on and on and on.

Michael and I are most looking forward to our trip out to Seattle this summer! We are going to have time for one performance amongst all the other things we have scheduled to do, at Seattle's See Sound lounge. It will be great to meet with all the Belltown execs, and see family and homestead all at the same time.

Have a great summer, and I will check in from time to time...

May 11, 2004

Well, this is the second time I've attempted to publish today's blog, so if it shows up twice, I do apologize. My first attempt doesn't seem to have made it to the website. This past weekend we had a great whirlwind trip to Chicago to play for my brother-in-law's surprise 30th birthday party. It was at a small southside bar called Paddy B's. We wish we could have taken the entire band, but since the bar was so small it was just Michael, myself, our other acoustic guitarist BA, and harmonica player Matt. We woke up early Saturday morning to drive to Chicago, and we got to the bar at 6pm, set up, and played until nearly 1am. We can't quite decide if it was more fun to play the music, or to ride up and back together, teasing each other the entire time, stuffing our faces with Krispy Kreme donuts and hoping to stay awake on only a few hours of sleep. We had a great brainstorming session on the way back...ideas for where we'd like to play next, what I should call the Nashville project, etc. These are the times I will remember.

April 27, 2004

Because I was asked several times, I thought I'd explain why the Hilary Scott Band didn't play the Columbia Earth Day festival this year. Our band was invited to participate by the Earth Day committee, and we had planned on performing, until several weeks before the event I was reminded of a prior commitment of mine, the date of which had been unknown to me when I accepted the Earth Day gig. So, I had to cancel Earth Day, unfortunately, and then what I WAS going to do was altered because of another occurence within my family, and I went out of town for a different reason. So, I didn't even get to attend Earth Day, but caught part of it on KOPN towards the evening. It sounds like it was a great event with good tunes, which is nothing less than what we always get from Earth Day. Wish we could have been part of it, but I just wanted to explain why we weren't.

April 18, 2004

Back in Nashville...but I'm now almost done with what will be my last trip for several weeks. I thought I was done back in late March, but it turned out I was needed to be part of the final editing and mixing process, and now that we've done it, I'm certainly glad I was here.

It's been amazing to see the development of these songs and I am thrilled with the *nearly* finished product. We're done with mixing, and I'm spending these last few minutes before Steve and I get in the car for the eight-hour drive home writing a blog about this great weekend.

The last time I left Nashville, I was homesick and just wanted to get back to Michael, home, friends, the band, etc. This time I am appreciating and savoring the experience, knowing I will miss it. I feel at home in this house (that's what spending nearly two months somewhere will do to you) I love Matt's family, and musically there has been SO much I've experienced and learned, so many incredible people I've met.

I spent all last evening (and into the wee hours of the morning) mixing 'People on a Train' with Matt and Steve, but the entertainment lawyer, also named Steve, was there with us, and it was incredibly fun. He had some fantastic ideas about promotion and several different career path ideas I've never even considered. I will expand on those when I've got more time. Suffice it to say I'm excited, and a little overwhelmed by what awaits me.

After being in the studio ALL DAY until 11pm, we decided to cut loose and go to several venues in town at which I might want to play in the near future. We went to 12th and Porter, The Mercy Room, and Exit/In. The problem was, we weren't floored by what was being offered music-wise (an oddity in Nashville) and the Exit/In wanted $15 per person for a DJ. I respect what DJs do, so don't get me wrong, but a live band of 5 or 6 people only draws $10 per person, and I don't think that's quite fair. We did, however, linger for several minutes in the other 2 rooms, and it was definitely an experience of 'counter-culture' in Nashville. Wonderfully, I left the Mercy Room to discover that my eardrums WEREN'T bleeding, they only felt like they were! :)

I'm about to go pick up my audio CD of the final mixes of the 5 songs. Some of my earliest predictions about the songs we chose have proven to be true; some have been turned on their head. For instance, I've always felt 'Calls From Springfield' was one of my most mainstream, catchy songs, and this version is no different. I am thrilled with it, it's perfect for radio, it's strong and punchy and doesn't lose any of its integrity. I hoped for and expected that outcome. 'People on a Train', however, I was cautious about re-doing, because my Columbia band and I really give it a great go when we perform it live. I was scared cutting several minutes off of it would do irreparable harm. It has turned out to be, arguably, the strongest song of the 5. However, when we play the tracks for people, most find 'Brave New World' to scream out to them, grab them, and not let go. It will probably be top pick for shopping to labels, searching for investors, etc. 'My Friend' was one I was hoping would be transformed, and it was, but I had no idea how much I would love the finished product. Finally, 'Sometimes Sun, Sometimes Rain' turned out not to have the straight-forward commercial sound we thought it would, although it is still strong, and fun.

I'm pleased with all the tracks, and ready to let people hear them!

March 28, 2004

Last night was so much fun! The band and I (with a fill-in bassist named Andrew Young and minus our kit drummer, Loyd Warden) had a great show at MoJo's. The place was well-filled, tables and booths full, people standing and sitting on extra chairs. We had some technical difficulties in the first set which threw our momentum just a bit, but the second two sets were great. I think I played one of the most fun violin solos I've ever done on 'That Kind of Woman.' It just went on and on and all these new ideas were flowing out of me. I haven't been in the pocket like that for a while.

I also notice that my body is out of "full playing mode." When we were busy touring to different cities and playing several times a week, my fingers and arms were well adjusted to the demands placed upon them, but now that I've spent the last two months in Nashville not having much time to play my instruments (or certainly not for several hours a day as I was) I'm actually a little bit SORE, like a runner who didn't train all winter and suddenly goes full-bore for a six mile run. It's so weird to realize how much energy you utilize in performance.

The best part of last night was seeing so many friendly faces. I can't express how great Columbia is. It's a tight-knit, but accepting community, and I would be lost without the awesome support base we have here. I met some new faces last night two, such as a couple from Jefferson City who heard a couple of my tunes on KOPN and so came to the show on that basis, and a man from Columbia who had been referred to our show by someone who heard us play earlier this month. There were many other people there who were obviously new to our show but I didn't have the chance to meet them. I want to just thank anyone and everyone who came! It was a great show to get us back in full swing! I also think last night was a great example of how word-of-mouth and local advertising can work so well. Many people had heard of us from other people, or from the local paper, commercial radio ads, etc. And to all those KOPN DJs doing late-night radio works! You're doing a great job! Thank you!

March 24, 2004

Some stories I'd like to write key-phrases for so I remember to write more about them later:

Hot Steve (Barry Rex)
Wouldn't see me for 3 weeks if...

These don't make sense right now, they might some day!

March 23, 2004

A small investment I made this week is paying off. I spent nineteen dollars on a Monchhichi (yes there are two '"h's" in the middle) shirt at a vintage clothing store in Oxford while walking around the square with my sister. For those of you who don't remember, or never knew the Monchhichis, they were toy monkeys, fuzzy little things with soft fur and hard plastic faces and they sucked their thumbs. One was a boy and one was a girl. My sister had some. Anyhow, I wore the shirt today, and so am sporting two monkey heads on my front. For the most part, nobody that I've run into has remembered the Monchhichis, but I even remember the theme song: "Monchhichi, Monchhichi, oh so soft and cuddly."

I had some time to myself today while Matt was working on another project, and decided to go to Starbucks and sit and read a book. A guy approached me and said, "hey, I like the Monchhichis." He then explained that he lived in France for a while and had a girlfriend there. He asked her if she knew of the Monchhichis and she said no, then they got on a bus, headed somewhere, and there was, of all things, a Monchhichi monkey hanging from the overhead handrail of the bus! Funny coincidence. The t-shirt and I are making friends wherever we go! :)

March 22, 2004

I LOVE recording vocal harmonies. Even though I'm a little under the weather I have found today's sessions invigorating because I get to do what I love which is harmonize. I've always found harmony to be one of the most vital and interesting parts of musical composition, it is a big part of what creates the "feeling" of music for me.

Most of today was experimental in nature although there were some harmonies I had "nailed down," so to speak. The added voices are creating some great layers and automatically kick the intensity of the songs up a notch or two.

I am staying in Nashville through tomorrow to work on some more harmonies and possible some editing/production, and then will head home on Wednesday! Yeah! I get to rest, maybe visit friends, get together with the band and get ready for our Saturday MoJo's show, which we are all excited for! I'm hoping to see a lot of people I haven't seen in months. It should be awesome...

March 21, 2004

Back in Nashville. Had a GREAT time with my sister in Oxford, Mississippi for the last two days, but the time was far too short. The weather has been as extreme as my mood, going from a hot nearly 90 yesterday while we wandered around Oxford to a breezy 49 here in Nashville today. It might freeze tonight. I've been sick again, and I think I'm just exhausted. I'm ready for several days of NOTHING on my plate so I can gather my thoughts back together and feel like I can get my body back on a schedule.

I am so ready for spring. I see it everywhere, especially here in the south. New things are happening everywhere, in my life and all around me.

But I miss home...

This BLOG is like a diary, but people have the key.

March 18, 2004

Heading back to Nashville tomorrow after a 10-day hiatus to finish backing vocals and work on some more production of the tracks. I'm so excited to hear the finished product and see where it takes me, but this time at home has been great. Of course, my body let down enough, as it always does after a long stretch of intense work, to let in my second virus in the last month, and now I've got bronchitis really making me feel wonderful.

However, right at the beginning of this week before the cold had truly attacked, the band and I got to play together (it's been a while) at a gig we are jokingly called the "Tiffany Tour." Yes, we played at the mall, but it was for the colleges in town. People came in to get info, and there was also a prize drawing. The grand prize was a trip to Cancun, and this girl the band has known for years (one of our very first Stephens College Fans) won the trip. She was so shocked and she said she'd only come there to hear us it turned out to be a great night for her. I couldn't think of a more deserving person. She's a sweetie.

It felt great to play with the guys after such a long break. The room was echo-y and boomy and problematic, and we were right next to the deep fat fryers, but hey! It was music, and we were together again, and it was cool. I was flying high on Day-Quil which is always a good thing :).

I will keep this blog updated on the final days of the Nashville project, which will be coming right up!

March 8, 2004

Out of all the nights I've spent in Nashville, two of them have been the most special so far; the night when I finished the rhythm tracks with the studio musicians, and tonight. I just had my "audition and meeting" with the entertainment lawyer, and he loved the tracks. Surprisingly, 'People on a Train' was one of his very favorites, as it has the Led Zeppelin, classic rock twinge to it. He thinks pitching songs like that to the labels, investors, radio, etc., songs with edge and meaning, will carve a unique nitch for me. To think the song I thought would be most problematic to re-arrange and edit, has turned out to be many people's favorites, even in this difficult industry. I've managed to meet people who are still interested in making and receiving good music, not just aiming for a narrow, formatted box!

Although I'm not wishing upon a star, putting all my eggs in one basket, or any of those other cliches that mean you've got your head in the clouds, I realize I've taken a huge step in getting the attention of an influential music lawyer. With him in my court I have a much better chance of getting my music out to a wider audience.

I'm elated, and a little tipsy, and I am going to bed!

March 7, 2004

Tonight is my last night of main vocals, but I'm feeling icky and weird after eating WAY too much at lunch with my sister. I ate the best burger I've had in a while, and some Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt. My stomach is revolting! BUT....I had the most fun day with my sister. When we woke up, it was gorgeous outside, so we took a half-hour walk and looked at all the beautiful trees, which are now in bloom.

After doing some editing early in the afternoon, we were given some time "off" and Heather and I took off to the Opryland Hotel! This place is a world in and of itself! There are trees, canals, gondolas, birds, ducks, fish, tropical flowers, waterfalls, little boutique shops, great restaurants, etc. Quite an experience. As a "post-Christmas" gift, my sister bought me this microphone pin, which has rhinestones for the mic holes. I'm going to pin it on my guitar strap. I love it. You've got to leave with one piece of Opryland, and that was mine.

Anyhow, tonight, after singing 'Calls From Springfield' (again) we might go see a movie. I saw 'Passion of the Christ' about a week ago, and it hasn't left my mind, but that's a topic for another day. We might go see 'Butterfly Effect' or 'Big Fish' or '50 First Dates.' Anything to get my mind out of the studio and ready for tomorrow when I have my big 'audition' with two certain very important industry pros. I'm a little scared. It's easier to perform for hundreds, thousands, than TWO. But I'm going to give it all I've got.

March 5, 2004

Well, vocals are coming along nicely. Last night we got the final vocals on 'My Friend,' which means I now have 'Brave New World' and 'My Friend' locked down. I am going to tackle 'Sometimes Sun, Sometimes Rain' tonight. During the day we've been editing guitar tracks, fleshing out solos, making decisions about what sounds and effects we'd like to use, and then during the evenings we do vocals. I can see everything coming together and am getting more excited every day.

On a personal note, my sister Heather is coming to visit me tomorrow and will stay for a couple of days. It has been a long time since I've seen her. We will have some time to spend together during the day while Matt works on some other projects, and then she will probably observe me in the studio for a while.

Let me take this opportunity to tell you about the great vocal booth I sing in. Matt has it decked out inside almost like a castle. The walls have this stone-like facade on them, the lights are in these very gothic-looking casings, and I've requested red and orange lights to keep the look "fiery." It manages to create a great mood without leading one to a completely "dark" energy. There are some rooms that either have too MUCH personality and are distracting, or have too LITTLE personality, and make you super-conscious of where you are; a sterile audio environment. Matt's booth stands perfectly between too much and too little. It sparks your imagination but you manage to stay focused.

My allergies have been terrible, so in order to be in good voice I take a non-drowsy antihistamine an hour before singing and gulp down water like nobody's business, gargle with salt-water, and then suck on Ricola. It seems to do the trick!

Off again I go...

March 3, 2004

Today was fabulous! (I wonder how many times I've used that word in recent weeks). Seriously, though, today we got Jerry Kimbrough, the session guitarist, back into the studio and he laid down smokin' guitar tracks on 4 of the 6 songs. I thought I was happy after the first session, now I'm wallowing in it! The impact of the original tracks was multiplied a thousand times, and I'm so excited to start laying down my vocals.

We spent from 10am to 5pm working the guitar tracks, (okay, and taking an hour respite for a great Mexican lunch) and then we got a call from a Nashville entertainment lawyer (I won't give names but let's just say he's done great things for many artists here) who asked us out for a drink. We had some great conversation about the future of labels, artist development, etc. He had some wonderful ideas and got me even more excited about the near future. I love being completely immersed in the music, and right now I eat/sleep/breathe it.

I feel that my joy is redundant. But right now I can't say anything else. I am in a state of happiness. I am learning an incredible amount and seeing things in a new light. I feel that one of the lines of my song, "Lay Your Burden Down" is appropriate here: 'we're all leaving something that we've been'...

It's not so much that I'm LEAVING what I've been, but I am in a state of "becoming," as we all are. We're different people every day. I wish I could take a snapshot of every moment.

March 2, 2004

I had the funniest dream last night. It was a very restless night, as I spent most of it tossing and turning and trying to get comfortable. It seems those nights are always when the best dreams are brewed. I have a high school reunion coming up, and the dream was a hilarious way for my brain to work out all of the questions I must have about the people I used to know.

In the dream, it was a blazing hot June day, and yet all the girls who I knew of, but never knew well because they wouldn't deign to speak to me :) were wearing leather pants and jackets, like some kind of uniform. I could see they were miserable, but hey they looked good!

People were playing some sort of weird "sport" tossing balloons around, but there didn't seem to be a goal, a purpose, a point system, anything, but they were sure competitive with it. It's hilarious to see someone trying to act barbaric with a balloon.

All the old groups sort of reformed, but I was this floating observor kind of weasling my way into every group and not caring. I was having fun listening to everyone's stories, and then one girl showed up with two new babies and started talking about how she avoided getting stains on her clothes during feeding time, and the dream turned very commercial-like, with her holding up bottles of detergent, different samples of baby food, etc. Crazy!

Then the most frustrating part of the dream was that I couldn't find any of the old friends I was really curious about. Random...there was more to it that I just don't remember, but those details were quite clear. Funny what the brain does to sort out information. Oh, and one more detail I remember is that people looked like themselves, but I kept saying their names wrong. I was aware in my own head that those weren't their names in real life, but in the dream their names had changed, and it was perfectly normal that someone named Mark suddenly became a Paul or Dan, for example.

Anyhow, I'm definitely not feeling that refreshed, but today is keyboard day! I am going to lay down some keyboard tracks on Calls From Springfield, My Friend, and People on a Train, and possibly Brave New World.

Wish me luck!

February 28, 2004

Well, we've run into a little delay in the project. Matt's internal drive crashed, but none of my tracks have been affected, thank goodness. We should be getting back on track in a few days. I'm getting anxious for the project to be done, not because I'm not enjoying every minute of it, but because being away from home and "making do" and eke-ing out an existence is not easy and certainly not always fun. And I miss people, darnit!

I am looking forward to the next gig I have with my full Columbia band, which is on Tuesday, March 16th. We won't really have had any time to rehearse and get back into the swing of playing together before the gig, so it will be raw emotion and getting back into the good old groove.

I'm really excited that one of my band members, Bill Adams (acoustic guitar and slide) had taken over some of our radio promotion work. He's been in community radio for years and has connections, plus the knowledge and savvy to get our music to the correct people. If you read this blog and would like to know more about some of the stations that have our music and are willing to listen to your requests and suggestions, check out the radio station link on the website. We actually have CDs at radio stations in several different states now. When the Nashville sessions are completed, we will be able to send those radio-ready songs to these stations, plus many more, since it's more likely to fit the commercial-AAA format. However, we really appreciate community and college radio, and they've been playing my music already, in its current format with longer songs, etc. The goal is just to get it out to as many people as possible!

On a totally unrelated note, I cooked this week! Really cooked! (Anyone who knows me knows this is a rare occurence and I did it four times this week!) I made up a bunch of stuff, instead of looking in a cookbook. I found a great way to prepare asparagus, and suddenly it's just about my favorite food, especially sauteed with garlic, onions, spices and balsamic vinagrette. I put it in soup, in spaghetti sauce, on salads, on the side, anywhere! It tastes so GREEN...that's the best way I can describe it. And since spring is coming I crave vegetables all the time. Everything will soon be green, the coolest time of year for me.

GREEN! My favorite color...

Well that's enough babbling for now.

February 19, 2004

Today provided me with another example of why I love the night. I woke up SUPER early this morning (okay, so for me EARLY is 7:00am - but still) and was raring to go, but I still had some stuffiness in my head from this cold I'm just getting over. I laid down final guitar tracks on 'My Friend,' then decided to go for a vocal take on 'Calls From Springfield.' Well, we got some acceptable, good takes, but things just didn't quite fall into place as I had wanted them to, and I think a big part of that was trying to lay down my most emotionally-effective vocals at 10am. It just wasn't happening. I am a night owl, and I am usually onstage at night, when all emotions seem heightened, and I needed to capture that in the studio.

I spent several hours this afternoon watching Matt work his magic on 'Brave New World,' (he's added some amazing guitar licks and also used a special effect that synthesizes the natural voice - sounds almost like strings, but very cool and subtle and is built directly from my ACTUAL voice) and I was so inspired I asked him if he'd mind going back into the studio after dinner to let me have a go at final vocals on 'Brave New World' and possibly 'Calls From Springfield.' Magic happened in the hours between 8 and 10pm. I can honestly say I may have delivered some of the best vocal takes I personally ever have. The emotions were there, right on the tip of my tongue, and I was able to recall why I had written these songs in the first place, as they came alive to me again. It was fantastic. It wasn't about absolute technical perfection, just raw emotion.

I feel this week has gone very well. We've run into a delay getting Jerry Kimbrough back into the studio to lay down some more guitar parts, but I feel very confident in how the songs are shaping up. Apparently, especially after tonight, so does Matt. He said I had 'made him a believer' tonight with my vocal performance, which meant a lot to me and was a relief, since my voice has been so sub-par lately with this cold. However, having just a hint of rawness from the illness adds a touch of pathos. Ask any member of my Columbia band who has worked with me on past projects and they will say I've got at least one song on every album recorded when I was, to some degree, ill. (It's a state of being for me - allergies, colds, etc.)

Anyhow, I will take this opportunity to say that even amidst all of the great musical creativity and excitement I am a part of down here, I miss home. I miss my band mates, whom I had gotten used to being with nearly all the time since we spent the last few months touring. I miss Michael. I miss my cats, Biko and Dewey. I miss my friends in Columbia. This project is necessary and it will be a vital part of the growth of my career, but leaving home, even for only a month or so, sucks. But I let that pang of sadness drive me on. It's great creative fodder...

February 18, 2004

Music Row has to be one of the most beautiful neighborhoods I've seen in any city. (It's a musicians' paradise.) From the mammoth ASCAP building to the tiniest houses hiding world-famous studios, it's a glorious place to see. I can only imagine what it will look like in the spring with the foliage and flowers. Immediately surrounding Music Row are several blocks of ritzy shopping and great dining. I can see why Nashville is so beloved by the industry, but it's also a town of great dichotomy. You go from the poor industrial sections immediately into the wealth of Music Row. Of course, this is true of many big cities, but Nashville has more the feel of a small town. Just as Music Row is a loop to drive in, once you're "in the loop" so to speak, you get to know people very quickly, and the circle isn't that big.

We also went to see a couple other studios in Berry Hill, which is a mile or so from Music Row. Just bunches and bunches of little homes that have been converted into studios for recording, mastering, mixing, what have you. 75% of the businesses in Nashville, it appears, are directed at the music industry in one form or another, be it directly music-related or an offshoot like photography, disc pressing, advertising, lawyers and agents, etc. It is almost overwhelming, but it's a living example of why networking is so important, and in Nashville the "network members" are all within a few miles of each other.

I'm tired. I'm going to drink some Throat Coat and take a nap. Today Matt took some serious time on "Brave New World," and it's shaping up to be a fascinating tune with subtle string sound, harder-edged guitar, and a very cool drum track where Steve Brewster took a kick drum, turned it on its side, and used it as an extra tom. It creates a huge, low, open sound that is very unique.

February 16, 2004

Isn't the night supposed to be darkest before the dawn? The only low point of my Nashville experience has been leaving my purse unattended in a restaurant for a few minutes and returning to have several hundred dollars (all I had to live on) missing. Well, 'missing' implies something can again be found, so let me use the correct word: STOLEN! It has made me feel depressed, and a little wary of humankind. Not that bad things haven't happened to me before, but almost never at such an inopportune time. It filled me with such angst I couldn't even write about it until now though it happened 4 days ago. However, I've taken the last few days to try to put it into perspective, and I've gone through the immediate despair, the subsequent anger, the kicking myself because 'I should have done this or that,' and now I'm almost to acceptance. (Isn't that the grieving process?)'s just money, and luckily I'm not hung up on that, but it was money that was going to buy my food. So now, let me relive some of those college days when I ate mostly cereal, Ramen, and PB&J. I'll survive. I sure hope whoever took the money needed it more than I.

Correction: Steve Brewster's drum work is on 'Breathe' and several other Faith Hill records, but I don't believe, after all, that it is on 'Cry.'

February 13, 2004

WOW! The session Wednesday was a dream...I don't know where to begin. The three session players were Jerry Kimbrough on guitar, Gary Lunn on bass, and Steve Brewster on drums. These guys are all over hundreds of grammy-winning best-selling records in many different genres, yet they were the most down-to-earth, modest guys I've met in a long time. The minute they sat down with their instruments in hand, I heard my songs transform into pieces of art beyond my wildest dreams. The best part of the experience was that they listened to my input and used it to create the new versions of the songs.

From the moment I started writing songs, I had ideas about what they might sound like with full instrumentation. My Columbia band and I have created a very cool, roots/folk/blues sound which I love. I also thought it would be great to experiment with a bit heavier, more edgy rock sound, and I feel that is what I have gotten from this particular group of guys. It's so great to see your songs develop down different paths with the different influences of certain players. Some people believe your records should sound exactly like your live performance, or vice versa, but I am from a slightly different school of thought. I believe records are records, and they are works of art that should stand alone. One option for live performance is to try to replicate the sound of the album exactly, but I always enjoy live shows where a favorite song is done differently, be it something as simple as playing a guitar song on piano instead, changing the tempo, or extending the song by five minutes, it's great to see musicians in creative action onstage. I think the Nashville sessions will bring my music to a radio-ready level, but my band and I will be free to bring our interpretation of the songs to the stage whenever we like and in whatever way we choose. I feel much more freedom in this approach, as the songs can truly be organic, changing and growing as it feels appropriate.

The day after the session (Thursday) I turned on the radio to hear Faith Hill's "Cry" which was on one of the multi-platinum selling records which Steve Brewster played on. I was so excited to listen to his drum work and realize he'd played on my songs as well. Another highlight of the session is the guys gave a lot of time and energy to give the songs a creative edge. They weren't simply reading off a chart and laying down the tracks, they were helping develop the direction of the take, and they really seemed to enjoy that. I'd sing the song live for them in the studio, they'd make sure the chart was accurate, then they'd ask questions, give suggestions. We also joked around a lot. I felt comfortable and accepted by these amazing talents.

It is difficult for me to pick a favorite song from the session, but I did go absolutely crazy with joy when 'People on a Train' came together. We had arranged the song a bit more for radio, and I was wary about that only because in our live performance it's been established as more of an 'anthem,' where we build and build to the song's cresendo of an ending. It takes eight minutes to complete the song live, and I wasn't sure what would happen when it was cut down to four. Well, the drums became an unimaginable, and unexplainable force in creating the song. I cannot do justice to the drum track in any words printed here, so I will simply say, wait until you hear it!

The day will forever be imprinted in my mind as a turning point in my development as an artist. I recognize that I had a unique experience in terms of Nashville studio sessions. These guys gave me their all, and I didn't ever feel I was being pushed into a pigeon-hole of a certain sound or genre, they never acted like they were 'on the clock' and they never treated me as beneath them. It was simply, in one word, fabulous.

February 10, 2004

Tomorrow is the big studio day. We will probably track from 10am well into the evening, as I said before, and I may not have time to blog tomorrow evening, but I will try my best, since tomorrow will be one of the most exciting days in the entire process. (The day when it is completed will be pretty darn exciting too.)

Today we nailed down the tempos on all of the songs and I fell victim to vivid flashbacks of the wretched metronome I always had to practice piano to when I was a kid. I know it's a vital part of the process, but it's difficult to get "lost in the song" when you're playing to a click track!

My nose is dripping and I should go take care of it. I am VERY hopeful that by the time I start recording vocals I will be in full voice again. Today we had a bit more down-time, but it's been great to actually have a chance to discuss the songs at leisure. The "think tank" time will stretch way beyond the tracking time, I have learned!

February 9, 2004

Today was an intensive day, but that's probably me being a wimp because I've been thinking through the fog of a head cold. We went through the arrangements on songs again and laid down some more rough cuts for the studio musicians to listen to. Most of the six songs were already in very good form, but on a couple of them (Blind Me and People on a Train) we moved around a verse or chorus here and there, held a chord longer, cut a line or two. So far, I feel only positive about the changes and letting go hasn't been as hard as I had anticipated it would be.

Tomorrow we will finish our brainstorming on the arrangements, and then the bassist who is also very good at making charts, will come and chart out all the songs for the entire band. Apparently he is Amy Grant's bassist, and has played on uncountable major records, as have the other two musicians. They've been responsible for many a Grammy win, it seems. The funniest thing is that oftentimes they spend days in the studio cutting tracks for people, and then they never hear the finished product. Matt says a lot of times they will be listening to the radio and realize a minute or two into the song that, "hey, I think that's me playing guitar in this song!" So, the fruits of their labor aren't always readily apparent, they don't always get instant gratification, but luckily they just love what they do and are wonderful at it (to my benefit I get to meet them.)

Anyhow, I'm still waiting to see how drained I will be after Wednesday, when we work from 10 in the morning until about 8 or 9 at night solid. A solid 10-11 hour day. I suppose that's not a stretch for a lot of people who work 12 hours or more a day! I need to just suck it up and enjoy! Because after all, we can call it work, but it's still really the only thing in the world we wish we were doing.