May 27, 2005

Today I have a lot on my mind. For starters, what does a girl have to do to find a quality women's magazine? Go buy one targeted at men....

Drawn by an interview topic on the cover of a certain men's monthly, I purchased my first magazine marketed almost exclusively toward males yesterday and inside was revealed the well kept secret: there is actual READING MATERIAL in there, not just a few prettily-printed-paragraphss meant to appease us women! Plea to journalists, advertising companies, celebrities, photographers, magazine and marketing moguls, anyone involved in the publication of a magazine: sometimes we DO get tired of the ads, the hype, the see-through faux intellectualism. Give us real articles, decent music and film reviews, thoughtful commentary, sarcastic humor. I know magazines like this exist for both sexes, but the number of what I call "glamour-tax" magazines we see on shelves FOR women is somewhat insulting. But hey....if there's a market, right?

Which brings me to my next topic, something I've been thinking about for a long time, but which was brought into clearer focus thanks to a couple of articles from the above-mentioned men's magazine. One article was a tongue-in-cheek, autobiographical look at the nature of fame written by Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas. He "bemoans" the fact that he's one of pop's most mocked musicians. I'm guilty! Years ago, I bought the single of "Push" and spent the next couple of years redeeming myself by, yes, hating 'everything Matchbox Twenty stood for.' I don't think I really asked myself "what DO they stand for? Do they care to stand for anything?" Thomas' self-insight ends with the conclusion that even people HE admires don't have to admire him or like his music, and that when he began writing and performing, he never envisioned being the butt of people's anti-commercialism jokes. Heck, at one point, even Rob Thomas thought he was an ARTIST! Perhaps he still does, and he admits to having his OWN Rob Thomas, a musician he thinks is a slave to the money-machine: the lead-singer of Creed. With apparent irony, he says, "now THAT guy sucks!"

The way I see it....the ability to hate another artist in ANY medium is a luxury. Sometimes what we hate in others we'd see in ourselves if we paused to take a closer look. Rob Thomas, who I have felt writes shallowly, arrogantly commercial love songs, was doing something I've wondered if I could do: reach millions with his music. If people are buying it, if he's being voted BEST SONGWRITER, then by what yardstick are we measuring artistic integrity and honesty? Does he curl his moustache with an evil gleam in his eye while typing formulaic "song plots" into his magic song-a-matic machine and while waiting to 'see what pops out' belch effusively after a grand two-hundred dollar meal? I truly think he believes at least SOME of what he writes about. We might not be able to compare him to Dylan, but let's grant him some credit for knowing he isn't in that league to begin with.

And what about the artists we grant "cool" status to? As another article in above-mentioned men's magazine notes, COOL band Coldplay was once a well-kept secret you could enjoy keeping from your music-loving friends just to one-up them. Now, your teenage daughter and your grandmother might both listen to this band. So, do we turn our backs on them now? Is obscurity the only measure of artistic integrity? The tides of fortune change...

It is exciting that we are given access to much more indepedent and unknown music than ever before through the internet. Should I wish for "success" on a large scale and risk losing all validity with my long-time fans? What will they say about me if I do? Even if I'm writing the same songs, will they sound the same when pumped through Clear-Channel owned radio stations across the country on a four-hour rotation? Should I shun the possibility of this "success" and hope I remain valid and honest and unknown? Ultimately, the answer must be to come to terms with WHY you do what you do, and be satisfied with yourself. Surely I perform for the people in the audience. But I also must retain a "true north" when it comes to my artistic purpose. Commercialism on the right, obscurity on the left, and the truth somewhere in-between. I will write what I believe....

May 8, 2005

I am writing this entry on Mother's Day from Chicago where we are celebrating with Michael's family. We did the traditional Italian over-eating, but luckily I had a good workout today to try and compensate. My post-feast digestion might be aided by a little typing. (At least my fingers will be moving, while the rest of me sits and soaks up the calories!) :)

I realize that I haven't written anything about my trip to Nashville and the current project, the showcase I did there on the 26th of April, or the great Little Feat opener we played on the 29th. Nashville was a whirlwind, but a great one. With only one hour of rehearsal, I performed with three excellent studio musicians, two of whom played on "Out of the Wilderness," at the club 3rd and Lindsley. The crowd was so gracious and wonderful. I have never performed in Nashville before, so to be so welcomed by people who had come to support other artists was phenomenal. Matthew Wilder and I are in the midst of contract negotiation for a 5-song publishing deal which is being funded by an "angel investor" who was also at the showcase and was happy to finally see me perform live. He and his wife were kind and generous and I was thrilled to finally meet them. Hopefully the negotiations will go smoothly, and, as planned, we should be co-writing our songs in early June, with a tracking date to follow soon thereafter. The goal is to move ever-closer to the elusive radio-hit, while not sacrificing quality, heart, honesty. It's strange and terrifying to commodify art, which is why I never go into anything with that intent, or try to block the awareness of it that looms around me. But I don't want to go down some negative path right now, because overall I feel very good about the direction things are going and I truly believe I have good people around me.

I am ESPECIALLY thrilled with the band....The Hilary Scott Band, with whom I have peformed for nearly 5 years. At our recent opener for Little Feat (the second we have had the pleasure to do) we were tight, we were together, we clicked. We've had many shows recently where I think it can't possibly get better, and then it does. Standing on a stage with 6 men who are friends and brothers to me, who have my back, who tease me enough to keep me tethered to the ground but who build me up when things get toughest, and who I truly can trust is an AMAZING feeling unlike any other. I might be walking a tight-rope up there, but they are the ones holding my hands on either side, or standing below with the net. They see me through to the other side. They're not playing with me for the big bucks (obviously not - or we would have all split long ago) or the fame (though our fans make us feel like rock stars) but because they love music, they find something of value in mine, and because we all, at the heart of things, get along like a family. I realize I've made some of the best friends of my life in my bandmates.

As for the show itself (sorry - I got sentimentally sidetracked) the crowd was phenomenal. I believe I might have remarked on this last August after we opened for Little Feat in Kansas City at the Beaumont Club, but Little Feat fans are loud, friendly, and open music appreciators who make you feel completely at home. Several people travelled a great distance to see US play, which was a hell of a compliment considering Little Feat's legendary status. As always, when we did get to chat for a minute with a couple members of LF, they were kind and real, and I am so grateful to them for the opportunity to open for them a second time. We hope there is a third! And with our acoustic guitarist, Bill Adams continuing his radio show on KOPN 89.5 FM, we are sure to stay in touch with Little Feat; his featured band of choice.

Well....I just finished a bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream and I think I am ready for sweat pants and a good book. Michael and I took the day off tomorrow so we could maybe sleep in a little and drive home at a leisurely pace. Here's to my mother, grandmothers, stepmother, mother and step-mothers in law, grandmothers-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, friends who are mothers, and all women out there: Happy Mothers Day. In Italy, there is "Festa Della Donna." The Festival of the Woman. They celebrate us all, regardless of our maternal status...but let's face it, we all have a soft spot in our heart for mothers, the noblest of creatures, in my opinion.

May 5, 2005

So much has happened in the last few weeks. Part of the reason I haven't blogged is due to utter lack of time, the other part is due to not being certain I can adequately describe some of the things that have happened in my life recently.

One of my friends and fellow musicians, Jon Rubin, was critically burned on over 65% of his body a little over a month ago. Although Jon and I had only hung out a few times, we shared opinions on, and a passion for, music that immediately made me feel a bond to this incredible person. Jon reminds me a bit of my brother as well, who passed away several years ago. Jon and his family attended the Officer Down Benefit in late February and I also ran into him several times around town, in almost cosmic coincidence and was always thrilled to see him. He's the sort of person that brightens your day, is incredibly funny and intelligent, always has something valuable to add. It came as a terrifying shock to learn that he had been in a fire...but it came as no surprise that he had heroically jumped out of a second-story window, through the flames, and rushed to inform firefighters of where the other people in the house were. His concern was so focused on the others, and Jon's family tells me the firefighters get tears in their eyes just recounting the story.

He has been in the hospital for nearly 5 weeks now, and has gone through multiple surgeries. He is making fast and amazing progress, even though to those who care about him it seems painfully slow. He is no longer on dialysis, and they've replaced the respirator with a tracheotomy. Last week everyone was reminded of the roller-coaster ride of this type of recovery, as Jon had some very scary minutes when a mucus plug blocked his tracheotomy and his heart rate fell unexpectedly. The term "flatline" is spoken with fear and superstition now. I am so glad to see Jon sitting up and "responding" wih hand movements and his beautifully aware eyes, but all of us await the day when he gets the tracheotomy out and we can once again hear his voice. His family is amazing, and they have embraced all of the friends that come to the hospital to check on Jon, including Michael and myself. I wish I could do more for them, his dear sister Danielle and amazing brother Jason, his sweet parents and closest friends. I admire their strength, and see where Jon gets it!

I have felt like the clumsily bumbling idiot who wants so desperately to tell Jon how we've been praying for him and thinking of him constantly, and when I actually come face to face with him, the words either seem wrong, or fail to come at all. So, I do the only thing I know, which is play songs at shows that are dedicated to him, tell his amazing story to anyone who will listen, and hope that when he's done with physical therapy and we once again get together for the jam session to end ALL jam sessions, he will not chide me too much for being overly sentimental or corny. I can't help it....Jon is the sort of person who inspires much emotion and whose story inspires us all to live each day more fully, fight a bit harder for what we believe in, relegate the unimportant everyday bothers to the level they deserve, which is to be swept from our mind as quickly as possible, to make choices based on the truest desires of our heart, and to believe in miracles. The strength of the human spirit is amazing, and Jon is a testament to that....

This is not the appropriate blog in which to discuss anything but Jon, so more will come soon.