July 7, 2010

For my birthday this year I have a very important wish: I wish that everyone who means so much to me would know it! Also, a huge thank you to my mom for all her help and support through the years. And mom and dad - thanks for creating me!
Two people who attended the 4th of July show at Faurot Field have raised a concern with me over why I chose to perform John Lennon's song, Imagine, at the festivities. I would like to address my decision here, in my blog.

Anyone who knows me even a bit knows that this next statement is absolutely unnecessary, but I will nonetheless say it: "I absolutely did not choose that song to antagonize, offend, or be anti-patriotic!" Quite the opposite, in fact! In college, I not only studied music, but I graduated with my degree in English literature. Any art form, in my opinion, is open to multiple interpretations, be that visual art, poetry, literature, or song lyrics.

One of the things I most strongly feel about Lennon's Imagine, is that it calls us to do exactly what the title implies: IMAGINE the world of which he sings, not take literally the world of which he sings. When Lennon sings "imagine there's no countries" for example, I believe he imagines a world in which divisions between people and the need to fight and kill each other for land ownership would be unnecessary. I won't go into all of the lyrics, because needless to say, each and every line is rendered with the possibility for multiple meanings and I choose the euphemistic interpretations. I consider this a simple and beautiful song about peace, definitely NOT an anti-patriotic song. I have the utmost respect for our troops, I have supported them in more than just my words, for several years, by donating to several military-based causes.

Furthermore, I performed this song in Asia, in countries that America has a history of war with, but with whom we are currently allied. I got chills when Vietnamese, South Koreans, or Japanese audience members started singing along. It was a glimpse, through music, of a possible peace. Like so many others, I too have had family members who served in the military, even during war times. I know there is a need for our strong military men and women, and I respect and honor them for their service – how wonderful it would be if none of them had to march to war ever again.

I believe the finest point that can be gleaned from this song (and the reason I ultimately chose it for performance on July 4th) is that if we could all IMAGINE a world more at peace, we might come a few steps closer to that peaceful world, where war would be null and void, and therefore our friends, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, or parents would not need to fight, and possibly die in a war for ANY cause. I find that a wonderful thing to IMAGINE. Is it realistic? Am I being a Pollyanna? No - I feel that with this song, we get a respite from some of the brutal realities of this world, and imagine something different, even if only for three short minutes.

Thank you for reading this - if you were concerned enough to ask me for my reasons, I hope you will try to understand my point of view.

July 6, 2010

Oh, travel!!!! It seems I was fated to have alarmingly uncomfortable travel situations on my European adventure, but my ill-fated voyages resulted in very good luck once I arrived at my destinations, both with the un-forseen win/recording contract in Italy, and the performances/TV appearance in France.

My agent, Agnes Dautraix, of Miss Lucy and Company booking, met me at the train station on June 22nd, after my 14-hour mishap which included six train changes, two late trains, one train one which I almost didn't have a seat, and a full day with almost no food or water. But all complaining aside, seeing her face at the train station, along with her friend Sophie who soon also became my friend, was like a scene from a movie! We've been acquaintances on My Space for three years, and Agnes was one of those rare internet contacts who truly stayed in touch and we talked about significant things together; our personal lives, our musical dreams.

One of those dreams was for me to come perform in France one day, but it seemed unlikely. Because Agnes enjoyed my music, she asked if she could interview me. In the following months she interviewed more and more artists, eventually getting to the point where she was given backstage/press passes at shows of very famous touring and local acts. The culmination of her adventures was that she was asked to represent Kate Taylor (James Taylor's sister) and Murray Head (hugely popular and successful European musician and actor) and she asked if I would like to be on her roster as well. I jumped at the possibility, and with my trip to Italy coming up, we decided to try to book a few shows for the same trip. Somehow or other, we pulled it all together, and one of Agnes' great suggestions was that I perform shared shows with Norfolk, a local artist who writes and sings a folk/country style quite complimentary to my own.

So, on the 24th, Norfolk and I shared our first show at a club in Clermont-Ferrand called The Rat Pack. We had a good-sized, extremely appreciative crowd, and after only rehearsing for five minutes, we pulled together two songs that we performed as a duet. After that show, around midnight, we walked to a studio where we would film the "Sex Room Sessions," which is an internet/TV program quickly gaining popularity, and which has featured very well known musical acts. Despite the name, this is a quirky, inventive, hilarious short program intended to feature musicians in a raw live performance. Norfolk and I performed a duet, and I performed one song solo, crammed in a tiny closet-like space with twelve other individuals as a live audience, the cameraman and soundman, and a twin sized bed we stood on in order to record! It was quite an adventure, and I look forward to seeing the rough edit before the show is released.

On the 25th, we performed in Vichy at a wonderful micro-theater above a restaurant called La Bamboche. It was a great listening-room atmosphere, very intimate, and I sold a lot of CDs at the show, so it was clear people had just come to listen to the music. Afterwards we ate some of the best food ever at the venue's restaurant, then proceeded to decompress at Agnes' house, by staying up until 6am listening to music, chatting, and yes, sipping some great French alcohol! :) As I was struggling to recall some of the French I learned in the two years I studied it in high school, the girls decided to teach me this phrase: "je suis un peu pompette" : I am a little bit tipsy! I guess that night that was a perfect description of me! :)

I attended Agnes' daughter's ballet performance on the night of the 26th, and it was wonderful! We got to see all the classes perform at different levels of advancement, and then we saw some famous ballet dancers from Poland perform many different styles of dance. I was exhausted but incredibly happy with my experience, and also full of good cheese and Agnes' home-made lasagna!

Before heading back down to Rome on the train on June 27th, Agnes and I discussed future plans. When I return to Italy for recording in February of 2011, I will also head to France for a three week-to one month long tour of theaters and venues, most likely shared shows with Norfolk again, as that seems to be a good musical match. There were two promoters/agents for venues at the show we played at La Bamboche, and they are interested in helping us plan the tour. In conjunction with the album release in Italy and hopeful collaboration with publicists and agents there, the hope is to tour in Italy, France and possibly Spain as well.

My trip back down to Rome was uneventful and fairly easy. One train to Lyon, one bus to Torino, and one more train to Rome. Then I spent that Monday the 28th discussing plans with Euro Ferrari, as I have mentioned, and then flew back home with fairly little incidence. It feels great to be back home, and at the same time I'm excited to dive right in to plans and preparations for all that I need to do before next year's touring and recording.

I hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day - I performed with my band at the Fire in the Sky celebration in the football stadium on Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri and it was the most fun I've had in a long time. Happy Birthday, America. Oh, and my birthday is coming up in just four days, yikes!