name='p:domain_verify'/> The Red Accordion Diaries

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Alexander McCall Smith at the Louisville Library.

I have a lot of great superpowers -- like finding cool places to live, having great weather when I travel and meeting my heroes. No big deal, right? A lot of people think my life is charmed. Well, of course it is, but don't think I underappreciate it.

Last week I went to the Louisville Free Public Library to hear my absolute favorite writer: Alexander McCall Smith. He was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), but has lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, for many years. He's all kinds of amazing -- PhD, Professor of Medical Law, world-traveler, philosopher and probably the most charming person on Twitter (@McCallSmith). He's also written approximately four zillion books. Adult books. Kids books. Everything in between. Mysteries. Novels. Every sentence he writes is just so perfectly crafted and pleasant. 

I have read so much of his work that I feel we are friends. 

As an artist myself, I try not to be creepy about this ... I've had many people tell me they feel they know me because they know my art (or my blog), which, honestly, doesn't creep me out, but I can see how it could. 

If I had a fraction of the moxie I had before the Wee Boy was born (when I was hit with postpartum depression that I'm still crawling my way out of), I would have found a way to have a proper one-on-one with the author -- either a legitimate press request or an invitation for a musical saw lesson or at least a cup of tea. Several of my friends in the media were on radio shows or television shows with him, and each gave me plenty of warning time to drop what I was doing and go introduce myself. 

But again -- my moxie is missing. I felt too shy and bothersome. As if I've already used up all of my hero-meeting-karma on playing with Elvis Costello multiple times. I, of course, wish I'd gotten up the nerve, as McCall Smith was in Louisville for several days. 

Nonetheless, my time with him was limited to a brief enconter in the book-signing line, where I blathered quickly, "Hello! I'm Brigid, this is my son, who was born in Edinburgh, and your daughter Emily was our doctor. It's so nice to meet you." I did not tell him how his writing saved me in Edinburgh (quite literally one night, when I was lost in New Town and only found my way home because I saw Great King Street and remembered how Bertie, in 44 Scotland Street had once found his way from Great King Street to Dundas Street, and so I was able to find Dundas Street and ergo the way to my flat), how I felt his characters were my neighbors, and how I simply think he is a wonderful person for spending his life creating art that brings such joy to so many people. I was flustered in a way that I'm never flustered upon meeting celebrities, partly because I was trying to wrangle an overtired two-year-old and partly because I'm just not my ol' self anymore. But I got a nice photo, and he was so unbelievably kind to the Wee Boy. "Hello! My, what a clever boy you are," he said, which made Graham grin and giggle. 
The Wee Boy was, of course, wearing a kilt, complete with a sporran that stored two Hot Wheel Mini Coopers. (Alexander McCall Smith may also be the only person who has properly identified my long-haired, long-eyelashed boy as a boy.) 

Anyway, if you missed him at the library (which I'm not sure was possible, since most of Louisville was there), you missed the most charming talk I've ever heard. I was going to say he's the most engaging author I've ever seen, but I'm pretty sure he's simply the most engaging speaker I've ever heard. I had high expectations, and they were met within the first few minutes -- funny, smart, kind (when 8-year-old Peter asked a question about The No.  1 Ladies Detective Agency, the writer invited the young boy on stage for an autograph and a "general knowledge competition," complete with a prize ... AMcS fished around in his pocket and produced a twenty dollar bill for the boy), an infectuous laugh and the most perfect word choice. 

I wish we could be friends, but I will settle for his books on my shelf and a nice photograph. 

Oh, also, he's got a new book out, which is a modern re-telling of Emma, the Jane Austen classic. I'm 67% through it -- a fact I know because I didn't want to mess up my signed first-edition and thus also bought the book on Kindle -- and it has already make me smile, laugh, snort, tear up and generally escape the doldroms. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Updates: I'm in Kentucky. And I have an eReader again.

It occurs to me that several of you think I am in still in Scotland. I am not. I did just do a two-week tour over there, but I am back in Louisville, Kentucky, where I've been living for over two years now. Crazy, right? And it totally explains why I don't gig as often as I used to -- club owners think I'm gone.
Whitby Abbey. Whitby, England.

Now that you know, let the booking emails pour in, okay? I feel like singing again.

I have a zillion tour blogs to write -- Diana and I had so much fun touring together. She was a driving champ, and I was not as annoying as I could have been. We saw castles, toured historic buildings, walked miles and miles, bought a hundred presents for the Wee Boy and sang pretty well too.

I slept in a bed by myself for two weeks straight. Only the sun woke me up. Even my Fitbit will tell you that I got twice as much sleep as usual -- I averaged 6 hours of deep sleep those weeks!!

I also got to read for pleasure -- and that I owe to a ridiculous kind and generous blog reader, who shall remain anonymous. Thank you. Thank you so much. I took my new e-reader on the road, and it held novels, guide books, dictionaries, and my tour-reading-favorite: The Time Travelers Guide to Elizabethan England, which amused me through many a small town.

I love my Kindle. A bit too much. Thank you!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When the Village comes through for you.

Motherhood is isolating, but my village came through for me last night in a big way. David's out of town, so I was solo parenting a 2.5-year-old who was perfectly normal one minute, then 104 fever the next. And then it went up ... and down ... and up and down.

Details unnecessary -- all is well now. But I owe a lot to friends who kept their phones on all night in case I needed something. Thank you to:

Braun No-Touch Thermometer

  • My wonderful parents who asked no questions when I asked them to bring over one of their cars so I'd have transportation to the ER if necessary (not necessary). We could have taken a taxi or called a friend, but it was nice to have the option of a car. It's the one thing people always call me out on when I confirm that we don't own an automobile. "But what if your kid is sick?" Again, taxi or friend is an option ... but remember the Village-thing? Everyone is helping to raise the Wee Boy, and I very much appreciate it.
  • My wonderful friend/doctor who answered her texts during her night out (and who fit the wee boy into her overworked schedule this morning).
  • My amazing neighbor came over at 11pm -- again, no questions asked -- to sit with the Wee Boy, so I could run to the pharmacy. When I came home from my quick errand, they were playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. She is a Good Witch Next Door.

Also -- and this is pure advertising -- but can I say how much I love the Braun no-touch forehead thermometer? I received it as a Klout Perk (the only Klout perk i've ever actually claimed), and I was pretty determined not to advertise for it. But guess what ... I love it. It's easy to use, and as accurate as any other I've found. Bonus points because I've had it six months, and it hasn't broken yet. The Wee Boy has a problem with breaking expensive thermometers.

Carry on, now ... everything's well again.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Dream roles and some Jesus Christ Superstar action.

Little secret: I was a child actor. I did my first national commercial at age 5 -- for a swanky GE product called a microwave oven. The commercial hasn't resurfaced on YouTube, so you'll have to just trust me on this one. Anyway, I did a lot of commercial work and eventually morphed into theatre. Considering the trajectory of most actors, mine is kind of backwards. I actually stopped acting when I moved to New York City at age 18.

I loved acting, but I'm not sure I was all that good at it to be honest. I much prefer playing myself, singing my own songs, and creating my own show on my own stage ... hence, my band.

But there are days now when I get super envious of friends who are in theatre shows all the time. I haven't auditioned for anything since I was a teenager, but I daydream of playing roles.

I am using my alias "Bridget" Kaelin this weekend, so as
to keep the crowds at a minimum.
This weekend, I get to sing 1-2 of Mary Magdalene's songs in Ray Rizzo's bring-us-all-together version of Jesus Christ Superstar. I've been talking with various musicians for at least ten years, but musicians are hard to wrangle ... and I haven't had the time. So big kudos to Ray for organizing the lot of us, and THANK YOU for asking me to be involved!

For an a-religious person like me, it seems weird for Mary Mag to be a dream role -- but those songs! Those melodies and lilting drums ... oh, how I've wanted to sing these songs for years. I've done "I Don't Know How to Love Him" with my band as long as I've had a band (Cheyenne Mize will be singing that one this weekend), but it's just not the same thing.

There are a few tickets left if anyone wants them:

Tickets for April 3:
Tickets for April 4:

Just to throw it out into the Universe ... my other dream roles are:
Guinevere - Camelot (i know, most people hate this show, but i ADORE it!)
Maria - Sound of Music
I was Dorothy when I was 13, so check that one off the list.
Adelaide - Guys and Dolls

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wee boy updates ... chapter books!

I can't catch a break over here. It's nothing life-threatening or anything, and life is, overall, wonderful. But the most annoying little things keep coming at just the wrong times, and I just am never able to get even 20% of my To Do list done. Rather than complain, I thought I'd do that thing we all know we should be doing: focusing on the positive.


Exciting things happening:
matching fox hats and a KILT.

The Wee Boy has been hanging onto my every word at night when we read ... chapter books. It's the milestone I've been waiting for since that pregnancy test. We read to him every night, of course, because all the books say if you don't read to your child, he'll end up in prison (#grainofsaltplease). Up till now, of course, it's been short read-in-one-sitting books.

A few weeks ago, however, I started reading The Phantom Tollbooth out loud to him, and he
1) follows the storyline
2) understands most of the words and
3) is actually excited to find out what happens next.

 Considering bedtime and naptime have been the most stressful times of the day for me for the past 2.5 years, this is a huge improvement. "Mommy, can we read about Milo and the watchdog yet?" !!!! This is as close as he's ever gotten to asking to go to bed. It is a miracle because THERE ARE SO MANY AMAZING BOOKS TO START READING!!

What's your favorite? I remember when I was a nanny, we read Anne of Green Gables and some Oz books and Alice in Wonderland. I know they aren't all age-appropriate, but consider that David read Lonesome Dove in its entirety to the wee boy when he was 4-6 weeks old.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Insane week + fun video -- need your help to choose!!

Oh my goodness this has been an insane week. I don't even want to get into it, but know that I am SO ready for the weekend. It's supposed to be a beautiful sunny and 70 degrees in Louisville tomorrow, so let's all just embrace spring and Derby season and each other.

Also, check out this video, and tell me which you think is better for promo stuff, a cappella or with instruments:


Now, don't you think you need to hire this trio for your event? We've got a fun setlist of some old-time tunes plus some old-timey covers of more modern songs. I love having such talented friends.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Reflections on a tour and reunited with the Wee Boy.

I'm home now. It's been a bizarro week of riding the high of the tour, coupled with immediate solo parenting. David and I high-fived at the airport on Monday night; he left for a work trip just as I was arriving from Scotland. I've just gone to bed at 9p with the Wee Boy every night this week, not because of jet-lag but because I'm not sure what else to do with myself.

Brigid in Edinburgh, refreshed and anew.
Even my hair looks redder.
I've written about the challenges of balancing an artistic career with motherhood. I still don't understand how to do it. Just when I think I should just quit this silly, narcissistic career choice, I meet someone at a show who tells me how glad she was to have heard my songs -- how "restorative it was" and how much she needed to smile. And then I am reminded that art is absolutely necessary.

All but one of my tour dates in the United Kingdom were sold out, standing-room-only, filled-to-capacity. It was a reminder that the traveling troubadour is still both respected and important. Imagine a world where everyone pays the entry fee -- no one begs to be on the guest list or claims that $5 is too much. It exists! Just perhaps not where I live. Well, there are many people in Louisville who believe it, just perhaps not as many as elsewhere in my travels.

Touring is exhausting. But it doesn't even come close to motherhood. I got more sleep on the road than I've gotten in years. I got more alone time than I've gotten in years -- days when I walked 20k steps through cobblestones and castles! (Thanks, fitbit!) I read two books. Near the end, I actually felt like writing again. I almost remembered how to have a conversation with adults.

But, of course, nothing can top the amazing hugs and kisses and cuddles that I got from the Wee Boy when I returned! I wonder how I could possibly ever leave this kid for that long again. I've got to get a road nanny.

For those curious: it took him all of ten minutes to ask for nursies. You'd think he would have forgotten or my milk would have dried. Nope. Back to normal over here. Somehow I am a milk machine.

New music ... the single "Once I Had (Ballad of Nick Keir)" is available on various websites including:
or if you prefer a different audio format, you can buy it on my bandcamp site.

I'm working on a video for this song -- a very lofi video that's basically a love letter to Edinburgh's Old Town.

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