August 23, 2005

Our vacation in the Northwest was amazing...hiking, swimming, kayaking, sailing, eating! I got to see family, college and high school friends, wrote a new song, and learned some covers I've been wanting to add to my repertoire for a while. A month seemed like a long time when we planned our trip, but it certainly flew by. We are ready to get back into the swing of live shows, with plenty of dates coming up this fall and winter. Our promotions rep, Tim, is doing a great job of filling every Saturday through December; we're well on our way to being booked every weekend.

Last Wednesday I went to a Little Feat concert with my guitarist, BA, at this lodge in Steeleville. It was an amazing venue, as only about two hundred people could crowd into this room to see Little Feat playing in front of a fireplace, three feet away from where we were all dancing. Anyhow, we arrived early in the afternoon so that BA could help with set-up for Little Feat's merchandise display. (They have a very dedicated 'street team' of fans that help them with various things when they're on tour. Any musical group should aspire to the level of contact and friendship that Little Feat has with their fans.) I sat and watched things for a while, and also had a chance to talk to a couple members of Little Feat who remembered me from when my band opened for them in Kansas City and Columbia. Then we were invited to grab our guitars and head out on the porch for an impromptu jam session with some musicians from California. We played and sang a lot of classic rock songs. After a couple hours sweltering in the amazingly oppressive heat and humidity, we headed inside for dinner. We luckily had "free passes" to attend the show and dinner, but the draw for other people was the very cool package deal that the lodge owners offer: dinner, two nights at the lodge, and the show for a great price. The owner brings many famous musical acts to this lodge every year. Dinner was fantastic, and with a full belly and a glass of wine in hand, we headed out to watch the most intimate show I've ever seen played by a famous band. Little did I know the shock of my life was to come!

While dancing and enjoying the show, I suddenly saw Shaun (LF's female vocalist) approaching me from the stage, walking into the audience and holding the microphone towards me. I sang a couple lines: "Take a load off, Annie. Take a load for free. Take a load off Annie, and put the load right on me!" It was fun, hilarious, and totally unexpected. At the end of the show, Shaun invited me up again to sing Dixie Chicken. Embarrasingly enough, I didn't know all the words, but when I was able to sing (be it lyrics or oooooohhs) the 3-part harmony of the "Chickettes" sounded pretty sweet! I can say it was one of the great honors of my life and I will always remember it. One of BA's friends bought me a Little FeatCD and ordered me to memorize all the words should I ever be called upon to sing with them again! The show was fantastic and I couldn't keep my eyes off the band, as each member left me with an impression of incredibly mastery and skill. They're the best....

This past weekend, Michael and I attended a very special celebration for Jon, the friend of ours who was burned in a fire. (I've written of him before). It was a birthday/graduation/life celebration, and when Jon's sister and dad spoke about him after dinner, there was not a dry eye in the room...and I was overcome with memories of that scary and difficult time. But as hard as it was for the people witnessing it, it was that difficulty multiplied by a million for Jon, who fought with courage and grace. There are no words strong enough to describe what he went through, and he truly is recovering amazingly. I am so happy for him....he's a great guy with a full life ahead of him.

After Jon's party, we drove to southern Illinois where much of Michael's family was gathered for a get-together. Centralia, Illinois is home to a great hot-air balloon fest. I've never seen so many hot-air balloons gathered in one place. At night, the pilots "lit-up" their balloons so we could watch them glow, and then in the morning they flew the balloons right over the park. Seeing so many colorful, beautiful balloons flying through the air at once was amazing. I have a newfound respect for them (and their pilots) after seeing what it takes to get them filled, hoisted, and airborne. I'd definitely like to ride in one someday.

I'm ready and excited for a fall filled with music...the band just got back together for a rehearsal last night after not playing for over a month, and as always, our 'home-comings' feel so good. We're working on new arrangements, several new songs, and planning for the unprecedented 'Holiday show' we're playing in December. All I can say is there WILL be costumes...look out!

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