November 25, 2012

Telephonic Poetry Silliness

So, AJ and I had a wee bit of time to kill before the show this past Friday night when we performed at Morso's Americana Music Series (hosted by Michael O'Neill) in Gig Harbor, Washington. When we weren't busy eating seafood salad and drinking fabulous wine, we decided to pass a piece of paper back and forth, trading off phrases and see what came of it. Well, it's truly awful, so why not share it with the world? :)

Before I post that, I do want to say a few things about our experience with Michael O'Neill. He interviewed us in his studio on "the Ranch" the Tuesday before the show, and we had a hilarious time chatting with him for an hour, and performing four live tracks. His syndicated radio show "Who's Bad Now?" is linked with No Depression, and we will also be hosting the link when the interview is ready, so that you all can listen in. Getting the opportunity to chat with him right before the show was also an amazing experience - he is very connected to all aspects of the music business, and the best part of his experience is that he has been on both sides of the coin - working in the major label world, and also achieving great success independently, so he has a wealth of knowledge for us, and we look forward to working with him in the future. As for the show - The Americana Music Series at Morso attracts the best artists and the greatest listeners. I cannot extol its virtues enough! We were treated so kindly, the sound and stage and environment were beautiful and alluring, the crowd was attentive to our every word and note. We will have lots of video and pictures posted soon. I wish we could play 365 dates like this every year! A special memory from the show was when Michael got up onstage, asked me to keep playing a refrain from "That Kind of Woman," and then proceeded to whip the crowd up into a social-media-posting frenzy. He talked about the importance of supporting artists by blogging or tweeting about them, posting their pictures and tagging it, liking their pages, etc. It really does make a difference for artists, and we appreciate it so very much. Again - thanks Michael, Morso, and the friends and fans at the show!

Now, for the bad part:

There once was a man who lived above the land
His home was a bouncy cloud of fun, a million miles from the sun
Upon the cloud, sang a woman aloud, a very beautiful song
Sometimes precipitation would halt their communication, but still he impatiently waited for her voice
Sometimes sun, sometimes rain, the result of fun and pain, the latter never kept them far apart
If you recognize the refrain, you may have heard the same, winging from the strains
of your own love's heart
She would go singing, and humming, and chumming around on the cloud that she too called home
Though she loved her fluffy home, and she never felt alone, she sometimes wondered
about the world below
And one day the cloud they both called home, hardened and thickened and turned into stone,
and from the sky they both fell, no longer alone
They fell to the knowledge of darkness and cold, to the slow steady march towards growing quite old,
but they also could always see, hear and touch,
without the billowing cloud interfering too much
The couple lived on for 'bout fifty more years, and though one day they did disappear,
they wished never to return to their life without fear,
for on earth they had found...

Wine and Whiskey and Beer!!!!

I had to throw on the surprise ending or it all would have just been too tragic. :)

November 17, 2012

Chuck Berry and Morso and Interviews, oh my!

I left off some eons ago, after promising to talk about the process of recording "Still"  at Sawhorse Studios with Hilary Scott and the New County Line. But, most of my creative writing energy these days goes into writing songs - I need to figure out this whole discipline thing, of sitting down and writing a blog once a week or so to keep you all updated. The release of "Still" has kept us fairly busy, and we have gotten some great radio response from it over the past year. I also entered into a heavy writing phase of my creative cycle, which always keeps me preoccupied, and somewhat neglectful of other things. I hope you will forgive me when you hear the new material!

 As the band settles into a groove that is really resonating with audiences, we have gotten some fantastic performance opportunities, the most recent being a chance to open for Chuck Berry in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill in Saint Louis. Chuck Berry is of course known as the "Grandfather of Rock and Roll," but he has also garnered a reputation for being somewhat elusive and difficult to approach. However, our experience opening for him last month was something I will never forget, and about which I cannot say enough positive things. First of all, seeing Mr.Berry perform live was something I am so thrilled to have had the opportunity to do - he is 86 years old, and the show we played with him was on his "birthday eve." He would change the lyrics to his songs, make up new rhymes, riff jokes in the middle of a song, and banter with his daughter, who sang and played harmonica with him and the band that night.

The venue was packed with his loyal fans, and the great thing about them was that they embraced us with open arms - we made new fans that night and the adrenaline high helped us play one of the best shows we ever have as a band. After the show, we were ushered right up to his dressing room door, and despite a long line of avid (and I must say, pushy) fans, Chuck Berry greeted us first. He grabbed my hand and asked if I had a good time. I told him it was wonderful and such an honor to open for him, and I said, "Happy Birthday!" He responded, "Happy New Year!" (I guess for him, it WAS the start of a new year!) He even allowed us a much-coveted photo opportunity, something I am told very few bands or individuals get the opportunity to capture.

Also of note recently: AJ Gennaro and I headed to Colorado for a "Just Us Two" tour in September, returning to Avogadro's Number (one of our favorite venues in Fort Collins) and the astoundingly intimate Bellevue Bean - where the owners are bigger music fans than even the patrons. We had a liquor sponsor (Spring 44 Vodka) and made some new fans we hope to see again soon.

Currently, I write this from a house tucked away in the rain-forest-y woods of western Washington, overlooking the Puget Sound. AJ and I are here for the holiday, and also for two amazing musical opportunities. Last year, when Hilary Scott and the New County Line toured in the northwest, we had been asked to appear on Michael O Neill's syndicated americana radio show, "Who's Bad Now?" but circumstances prevented that from happening. During our week here this time, we not only get to appear on Mr. O'Neill's radio show, but we will be part of his Morso Americana Music Series at Morso in Gig Harbor. This music series features one performance each month, usually artists of some serious renown, so we feel blessed to be part of it. Michael O'Neill has written, toured, and performed with just about everyone you can think of, and is a much-lauded singer-songwriter. He also hosts his Americana Series of shows for hand-picked artists that can tour the west coast, and now also in the UK. We are pleased to begin this beautiful friendship! We will keep you updated on the newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and all that jazz as to when the show (interview and live performance) will air.

Along similar lines, Indie Showcase will be interviewing me on Sunday, December 9th via Skype. The interview will last for two hours and fans can log in to the chat room and ask me questions, hear some of my music, and interact - I just might answer your most pressing questions!! Links to all the programs are available in my newsletter, and will be on my website and FB pages as well.

Well, if I start thinking about all the things I should have written about recently and failed to, this will become a novel. I had better sign off now before this puts you to sleep...but thank you, once again, for reading, for listening, for tuning in.

Love to you all!

March 11, 2012

As I go through the daily motions of life, trying to keep my head above water in all respects creative, personal, and career-wise, I find myself often forgetting to do those things I enjoy most, one of which is write about experiences in my daily life and musical adventures here in this blog. I look back over past posts and realize I wanted to blog more about recording "Still" (my latest release with Hilary Scott and The New County Line) and the tour we did in the northwest US, to name just a couple of things I've neglected. But the trade-off of all this introversion and retrospection and lack of direct voicing of my experiences is that I've been incubating so much new material which is going to explode soon! I recall once reading something Sarah McLachlan said when asked if she felt she ever had writer's block: she said she never thought of it as a block - she just found that sometimes she would go through periods where her well was dry and needed to be re-filled. Well - I think my well is overflowing! And I apologize for what seems my "blog block," I just was taking so many trips to other wells! :)

I recently asked people on my Facebook page to submit questions for me to answer. I want to thank Vicki and Alex for submitting the two questions I am going to respond to tonight:

Vicki: "What are your aspirations for 2012?" Well, Vicki, (and anyone else reading this right now) I think my biggest goal for this year is to follow avenues of exposure for my music that I have not explored as heavily before. For the past decade, my primary career focus has been on recording and live performance, touring, and record sales. While I do not intend to neglect these things, I also intend to heavily pursue more songwriting contests, TV and film licensing, and different levels of legal representation and radio promotion.

There is an exciting confluence of things going on right now in my personal and musical life. Recently we added a fourth member to The New County Line, and I am feeling a re-birth and explosion of creativity as old songs become new and new songs take shape out of the ether. With all of this novelty around me, I am extremely open to different possibilities and "newness" in other areas as well. I have also been teaching at a conservatory, and I am finding that in my drive to infect my students with the contagious love of music and passion to do things in ways that stretch boundaries, I have been pushing myself much more creatively. A few specific examples of this are that I am giving myself "songwriting challenges" where I will discipline myself to tell a certain story (rather than writing autobiographically, say) or to write within a certain musical genre, explore a new tuning, (I have added some strange ones many people say 'don't exist!' haha) or try changing meters within songs. I also am getting more exploratory with instrumentation. These are just some examples of what is going on right now. While still trying to get my songs "out there," I have concurrently turned inward to focus on the craft more. It is an exciting time for me.

Alex: "Your life has changed in oh so many ways in the past 10 have evolved through all of it as well as your music. Do you have a song or two that reflects how far you've come? Also, when are you going to be back in Columbia?" Thanks for asking, Alex. I would say that one of the things that has most affected my musical journey has been my personal journey, and I have reached new levels of personal happiness in the past few years, which I do think is seeping through the cracks (and bars, and notes, and lyrics) of my music. The song with which I won the Festival Degli Autori songwriting competition in Sanremo Italy, "And Just," is probably most indicative of where I have been versus where I am now. I also do not think I could have had the courage to enter a contest like that and do the traveling I've done, (Vietnam, France, Italy, Korea, Japan) without some of the trials and tribulations that have happened to me recently. Here are the lyrics to And Just:

AND JUST copyright 2010 Hilary Scott

And Just so you know each year I'm enchanted
By snow in winter and blooms in spring
But you're the newest, most unexpected
Thing that I may ever have seen

The city's pushing me around
It's making me feel like something used
Been wanting to leave for what feels like forever
But now I want to stay because of you

One sure way to get through the day
Breathe in, breathe out and breathe in
One sure way to get over, and get out -
Just fall in again

Better to be loved from afar, I've said
They never want you once they know who you are
But you see me laid out like a ruin in the dark
And you stay even when the sunrise starts

One sure way to get through the day
Breathe in, breathe out and breathe in
One sure way to get over and get out -
Just fall in again

Gonna say too much but don't you stop me
Until there's nothing more to say
You'll never know how close I hold you
But it's better that way, it's better that way, it's better that way...

One sure way to get through the day
Breathe in, breathe out and breathe in
One sure way to get over and get out
Just fall in again

One sure way to get through the day
Breathe in, breathe out and breathe in
Just accept that there's no more to say
And just fall in

I would say that anyone who comes to a show of Hilary Scott and The New County Line of late will still get a good does of my moody sad songs, but I do think people familiar with my catalogue will notice a significant increase in up-tempo and "up mood" songs. And since you asked about Columbia dates, here are a few:

Saturday, April 7th at The Bridge in Columbia, 8pm
Saturday, June 9th at Cooper's Landing 6-9pm
Saturday, September 15th, EcoArtsFest, details TBA

Hope to see all of you at shows in the near future - we will be out and about more with new songs and plenty of energy to spare. Hope we can share some of it with you!