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.