Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year-in-Review

I've been blogging regularly for almost a year now. It all started when I decided to pick up where Muckrakers' Rob left off. He did 365(ish) days of blogging in 2008, and I admired his stick-with-it-ness. I needed a writing outlet and a routine, so when his year-of-blogging ended, I decided to write my own.

It's been much more difficult than I'd imagined, but I love that so many of you expect it from me. I even love your little evil messages when I've been absent for a day too long, and you knock on my proverbial door to remind me of my duty. It feels like a job, but a job that I like.

Have you seen that site 43things.com? The idea is that people post a list of 43 Things they want to accomplish in their lives. I'm a fan of setting goals and making lists, but I'm also a fan of getting away from the list-making and actually DOING things.

So rather than make New Year's Resolutions, I like to look back and think of all the awesome things I did in the previous year. It's much better to begin the year with a sense of accomplishment, rather than guilt. No matter how the economy's doing, how your own pocketbook is shrinking, or how crappy you're feeling, you should take a minute to think about the GOOD things that happened to you this year.

Here is my combination countdown/year-in-review:

10: Years since I graduated from college
9: Average time I woke up and got started with my day
8: Old friends with whom I reconnected
7: Years I've been successfully self-employed
6: Loaves of bread I baked this year
5: Text Messages I received from Elvis Costello
4: Songs I got to play live on NPR's A Prairie Home Companion
3: Fancy meals enjoyed in fancy restaurants
2: Trips out of the country (not including Texas)
1: Coyote killed.

Happy Roman Calendar New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A little about my dad.

On my mom's birthday, I wrote a blog post designed to make her cry. It was a cute story about how my grandfather was at a gig (he was a musician) while she was born, but he managed to get to the hospital during a set break and see his new daughter. Then he went back to the gig for the second set because, well, what else could he do?

Today is my dad's birthday, and I can't think of anything I could write that would make him cry.

I've never seen my dad cry. Not because he's a big macho insensitive man. He's actually kind of a softy who likes puppies and squishy pillows. He's good at not saying very much, and then suddenly saying the funniest thing in the world. He's also über-smart. You know how most children grow up thinking their daddy knows everything? And then one day they grow up and discover that actually their parents don't know much more than they do? Well, only since I've been a grown-up have I realized that my dad really does know everything. Seriously, I dare you to watch Jeopardy! with him and feel good about yourself after.

I've never seen my dad read a book that is less than 600 pages. And he reads 2-5 of them per week. When he was retired, ever-so-briefly, that number tripled. I can't go to the bookstore and buy him the brand new book about New York by that guy who wrote The Princes of Ireland because I'm sure he's already read it. Last month, I talked him into joining GoodReads, so I could keep track of what books he's ready, and within 30 minutes, he'd added 50 books -- all read in the past month or something.
He also loves cheese. More than anyone I've ever met. Everything he eats is some version of a cheese and bread. Like cheese and crackers, or a grilled cheese, or a pizza. You get the picture. He eats so much cheese and eschews fruits and vegetables, that I am convinced he has The Scurvy. Seriously. You can't even trick him into having a Vodka-Cranberry because that has too much Vitamin C. He's too smart for that.

He's also a liar. When I was six, he told me they'd painted the St. Louis Arch blue. Why would anyone tell their kid that? I believed him for 10 years, and repeated that in geography class in high school, to the laughter of teachers and students. Last week I saw the arch for the first time since I was six. It wasn't blue. I texted him that, and he wrote back, "The arch appears to be shiny and mirror-like in December due to the approaching solstice."

He's also a really good cook, and has kindly adapted all of his meaty recipes for my vegetarianism. Yesterday, he dropped off French Onion Soup for me, just because. He told me he made himself, but he lies a lot, so who knows.

That's enough about my dad. Happy birthday, Dude!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seriously, being a vegetarian is not unusual.

I've been a vegetarian since I was about 16. I am not going to delve into my reasons -- they are mostly environmental and economic, if you need a general idea -- because I am not looking for an argument. Let's just say it's along the lines of religion: I'll leave you alone if you leave me alone. I've encountered many more evangelist meat-eaters than vegans in my life, and I am not interested in converting.

But that's not the point of today's blog.

It's been 15 years since I've eaten meat (excepting a bite of octopus when I was in Japan and a bite of conch in the Caribbean and a few unwitting broth inhalations, I'm sure) and I have never had a problem finding something to eat. Most food in the world is NOT meat, so I find it comical when people ask me, "What do you eat, then?"

Having spent the last week in Lubbock, Texas, however, I have a new love for Louisville restaurants. Lubbock was essentially first time in my life where there was truly nothing vegetarian on the menu. And not just at one restaurant, but at most of them. If there was something, it was loaded with cheese and/or deep-fried, probably in animal oil.

The family was thoughtful and considerate about dining options, thinking surely a Tex-Mex place would have something veggie for me. But I ended up having to invent something on the menu, eating more cheese than I like, and surely eating tortillas made with lard (I chose not to ask) and asking for extra lettuce and guacamole, and basically being that pain-in-the-a** diner.

I felt horribly guilty that the family had to keep my "condition" in mind, even though they were great about the whole thing and kept telling me not to feel bad. I just really don't like to make a big deal about vegetarianism. It's never been a issue, so it was bizarre.

Here's the thing: I know it's not just Lubbock. Surely it's loads of other cities. They are just cities I've managed to avoid, seeing as I've only lived in Louisville, Chicago, and New York.

I'm realizing how incredibly lucky I've been in my homes. My years in New York were easy as could be. Every dining hall at NYU had a vegetarian station, not just one option, but a whole menu, and every New York restaurant understands that a variety of cultures means they need a variety of options. Louisville has more veggie options than I can begin to count.

So, Middle American entrepreneurs, heed this: put some good veggie-options on your menus. It's a good business move. There is a vegetarian in the group more often than you think, and if you've got good veggie-options on your menu, then the entire group will go to your restaurant. The carnivores don't care where we go, but the vegetarians do. We're happy with just a few options. We stop at Burger King on tour all the time, purely because it's the only fast food place with a veggie burger.

Specifically, could someone PLEASE open a veggie-friendly restaurant in Lubbock? It would make holidays much easier, plus, there is clearly an open market. And while you're at it, please open a Taco Cabana too.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Road trips, coyotes, and more inventions.

I spent Sunday in the car for 19 hours. We ran over one fewer coyote than we did on the way down there last week, so that was nice. The ride TO Texas was somewhat traumatic: it was exciting to see my first coyote dash across the highway, then horrifying to feel the bumps as he turned back and ran right in front of our truck. Ick. But Friend-with-a-Truck was an excellent driver and managed not to swerve the vehicle, a move that would have tumbled us off the highway.

A few thoughts from the road trip:

-Oklahoma has horrible roads. Can't Garth Brooks do something about that already?

-Historic Route 66 isn't nearly as auspicious as I'd hoped.

-Louisville is the only city in the country with a radio station like WFPK.

-The Taco Cabana in Amarillo is as closed as WallyWorld, no matter what the internet says. Don't go out of your way to get to Amarillo in search of Taco Cabana.

-Oklahoma City has a Taco Cabana, and has a glorious large billboard advertising just that. DO go out of your way to hit the salsa bar there.

-Audiobooks nowadays are much better-produced than audiobooks from the 1980s. Another blog to follow about that. We checked out Books-on-Tape, yes cassette tape, from the library before the road trip. And boy, did we listen to some gems.

-It takes 17 hours and 12 minutes to drive to Lubbock from Louisville, and that includes several pit stops and one coyote stop.

-It takes 19 hours and 30 minutes to drive to Louisville from Lubock, and that includes several pit stops, as well as sitting on I-64 in Corydon for 90 minutes at midnight when you are 42 miles from home, in line with about 500 other people because the cops have closed the exits and everyone else has slid off the interstate.

-No one except Friend-with-a-Truck knows how to drive in inclement weather. All the truck drivers on the highway yesterday were clearly drunk.

-iPhones are excellent ways to occupy your time and to try to find out why you're sitting in traffic, EXCEPT when the news websites and 511 have absolutely zero information as to why the 90-minute backup on I-64.

-CB Radios would be much preferable to iPhones in a traffic jam. Can someone please work on the CB App? Twitter's "nearby tweet" function is not a good substitute. But thanks for the sympathy tweets anyway, friends.

-If we have Twitter and CB Radio and iPhones, why the hell do we STILL not have flying cars?

Or in all seriousness, how is it possible that our cars cannot drive themselves? The airplane I flew in a few weeks ago was twice as old as my car, and IT can fly itself. I absolutely do not understand why it is 2010 and we don't have autopilot in our vehicles, and sensors that avoid all accidents, including black ice and floods and other cars.

And why don't all cars emit a coyote-repellent sonar blast? Poor little coyote. We hardly knew ye.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Has anyone seen my sweet tooth?

I always thought I had a sweet tooth, but this morning I discovered I must have lost it at some point. Apparently, the breakfast of choice today is mint-chip cookies and eggnog. That just doesn't sound good to me.

A bagel sounds good. So does toast. Or a breakfast taco. Or a biscuit. Even a pear or clementine. But I don't want pancakes or cinnamon rolls or cookies.

What's wrong with me?

P.S. Check out this picture of a few sticks of butter. I know that sounds crazy, but it's an über-good photo, along with a great Xmas cookie recipe, from The Oyster Evangelist.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Less jogging, more cookies.

I do not run. I prefer water. But I don't like water in the cold of winter, and I also insist on eating chocolate and drinking bourbon. So I walk a lot. Today, I went on a walk with a runner, who doesn't seem to think running is the most horrible thing in the world. He's not evangelical about it -- I hate it when people try to convince me that if I just gave running a try, and got good shoes, blah blah blah, and pushed through the pain, I would come to love it. That makes me feel like when I was in sixth grade and the Baptist preacher's kid told me I was going to hell unless I went to church with him, and once I did I would really feel good, he promised.

Anyway, in Lubbock, where I'm spending this Christmas, the tendency is to sit around, expend little energy, and consume many cookies. Thanksgiving here in Texas was not kind to my waistline, and since I'm clearly not going to cut back on the cookies, I decided I needed to go for a walk this morning.

Mr. Runner and I jogged for about 30 seconds before I remembered that I hate running, for multiple reasons. It hurts my body. My feet are wide and flat and designed for swimming, not for running. I have arthritic hips. Mostly though: it's boring.

I think, maybe, that if there were different WAYS to run, as there are different strokes for swimming, it might be more fun. If you get bored while you're swimming back and forth in the pool, you can change things up. When freestyle gets lame, you can flip on your back. Or maybe you can grab the kickboard and just kick. Or you can use flippers and hunt for treasure among the rocky bottom of the lake.

Running would be a lot more fun if there were different styles of running. You could skip, or run backwards, or side-stroke on land. Unfortunately, gravity is a huge limitation. And who am I kidding, I still wouldn't run even if I had those awesome bouncy shoes with the springs in them. Well, maybe for 30 seconds.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What do you do for Christmas?

I've been [over]thinking on this whole Christmas thing for the past few weeks or so, as you've probably picked up on. It got me to thinking what my family used to do on Christmas. Now that my cousins and I are grownup, we don't really do much. Although, I'm already missing my new Aunt Karen's Italian Cream Cake, which I've decided is a family tradition.

You all mostly think I'm Jewish, but my dad is Catholic. So we always had Christmas Eve celebrations too. I went to my cousins' house, played pool, ate macaroni and cheese, my uncles played with whatever new flight simulator game Uncle Tony had, and my cousin Nicole and I had our annual wrestling match with my Uncle Greg, who always let us win. Sometimes we made videos and choregraphed dances. One time, I wrote and performed a few holiday songs, and I only recall this because video of these songs has recently resurfaced. I hold my breath and await the Google Alert when these videos go live.
We left the Xmas Eve festivities around 11pm because the rest of the family would go to midnight mass. I golt annoyed because that meant Nicole got to stay up later than I did. My parents and I drove the long drive home, and usually I pretended to fall asleep in the car, complete with fake snoring, so my dad would have to carry me inside eventually. I was a stubborn child.

So Christmas Eve was usually pretty fun, but Christmas Day was sooooooooooooo boring. Granted, I get bored easily, but still ... after opening a few presents in the AM, I basically sat around ho-humming and lamenting the fact that nothing was open and all of my friends were busy. A few times in my childhood, we went to my dad's Aunt GeeGee's apartment, which smelled like stale smoke and old people. Christmas has never been my favorite day of the year.

Last year on Christmas, I think I went over to my parents' house and played on the computer. Then I painted one wall of my dining room and played some guitar at my friend Kelly's house.

This year, rather than test the limits of my boredom, I decided to go to Lubbock, Texas. I'll let you know how it goes.

What does your family do for Christmas?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Accessorizing is not my thing.

I am not a good accessorizer. Some people always have the perfect ring or anklet or purse, and that person is not me. I like jewelry, but usually, when I need to dress up, it's because of a show. And try wearing a nice bracelet/necklace/ring combo when you're playing the accordion. It doesn't mesh well.

A friend of mine, who doesn't yet have the perfect moniker, purged her closet and gave me the leftovers. I feel like I've won the lottery, and I think tonight I'm going to wear a "new" dress. It desperately needs a necklace, however, and I'm stuck.

This morning, I ventured to Celia's in the Mellwood Arts Center because she makes and stocks the most beautiful and completely affordable jewelry. I saw about fifty rings I wanted, and loads of other cool gift ideas too. Unfortunately both for me and for Celia, I remembered my spending moratorium and the fact that I need a new capo more than I need a new ring. Stupid budget.

So I think maybe it's time to just bedazzle the black accordion and wear it everywhere. Or maybe bedazzle that capo.

Anyway, if you're looking for last-minute gift ideas for a lady, there are tons of great options at Celia's. And if you get me one of those sparkly flower rings, that would be cool too.

Celia is having an open house at the store on Sunday, December 20, from 1-5pm with refreshments and music by none other than Steve Cooley. He's bringing the music, not the refreshments. Celia's 1860 Mellwood Ave Louisville KY 502 767 2222

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blogging woes. Songwriting v. Blogwriting.

This whole blog started as a writing exercise, a promise to myself that I would write daily. Writing prose is easier than writing lyrics, at least it is for me, and blogs are a special form of writing. They are visible to all, but generally recognized as a lesser form of the genre. At least it has been until recently, when bloggers lately are viewed similarly to columnists of yore.

It amazes me how many readers I have, and it amuses me how most of them nowadays know me more for blogging than for singing. It also makes me incredibly aware of what I write about, to the point that I second guess myself constantly.

Sometimes when I know I need to blog, but I'm having writers-block or just feeling uninspired, I will write about what's on my mind. Sometimes that stuff is personal, so I don't go into ALL the details ... partly because I know that people I don't know are reading .. and partly because people I DO know are reading.

For example, I've been worried about Monday's Christmas-Present Blog for the past two days. First, I'm worried that I upset my own parents by making it look like they deprived me at Christmas time (Mom said last night that I have "selective memory." I say she's the one with a family history of Alzheimer's, and I bought that Nintendo with my own money.) Second, it's bugging me that Friend-with-a-Truck's family will think I'm nuts, although that's clear enough if they read my blogs with any regularity.

It's easy to hide behind a song. Songs can be fiction, and a lot of mine aren't even about me. But the audience chooses their own interpretation and relate it to their own lives. I love that about music. Most people think "Future Mr. Used-to-Be" is about my life. I can tell you right now that it was inspired by a laaaaaaaame guy that my Best-Friend-from-First-Grade dated a few years ago. You may or not believe me, and that's okay.

When you're blogging, it's harder to hide. Now, obviously, I don't WANT to hide, or I wouldn't be writing a public blog. It's just that there are some parts of my life I don't want to advertise, and there are some friends of mine who don't need funny stories about them splashed across my public Facebook page. So they have monikers, like Friend-who-Cooks-Pancakes or Friend-with-a-Truck or Best-Friend-from-First-Grade. And I'm sorry if you wish I'd use their real names; I'm not going to, for their sake, not for mine. I talk too much as it is.

Anyway, the balance of all this blogging-real-life-stuff has just been on my mind. Maybe it's time to get introverted and start writing songs again. It's been a while.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Older blogs ... imported

Over the next few weeks, I'm importing hundreds of older blog into this site. I'm sorry if this makes your feeds go berserk or confuses you. Just check the dates so you don't suddenly think I'm in the finals for Nashville Star again:)

My band makes me laugh.

Here's a little secret: I rarely ever have band rehearsal. On some level, I envy those bands that get together twice a week, but mostly I like the element of improvisation that comes from little-to-no rehearsal. Blame it on my jazz background, but I prefer it that way. I love the communication that comes on stage ... when I play a 7th chord and my bass and guitar players know that means the next chord is up a 4th.

Also, I am just impatient and don't like to practice. It's like when you took piano lessons as a kid and you hated practicing, but you loved being able to play the songs. It's also why my band is made up of three killer professional musicians. Steve Cooley doesn't so much need a rehearsal, you know?

We got together last night for about an hour because I've got some new tunes that are kind of weird. I write a lot of unexpected chord changes, and it's not really nice to spring them on the band during a live show.

I was bummed because Scott (drums) couldn't make it at the last minute. I didn't miss his drums so much as I missed his jokes. He's the funniest person alive. Seriously.

Peter and Steve are good at making me laugh though, and they are also killer professional musicians. We could have absolutely played these new tunes without one minute of rehearsal, but it was really fun to get together. I love sitting around in a room, listening to Steve mess around with a new toy pedal and playing the perfect riffs when he's never even heard the song. And I love my total amazement when I realize that Peter, who is the new King of Pop, is playing a honky-tonk bass line like he's done it his whole life. I end up sitting there listening to them so much that I forget my own songs.

Anyway, it was nice to play music with the boys again. I should do that more. Sure do wish I could put them in my pocket and take them on the road. I'm not afraid of sounding like an a**: I've got a great band.

Come out on Thursday, Dec 17th, to the Monkey Wrench at 8:00. $5. MC Watkins opens with a few songs right at 8:00, then my band should be on by 8:20. Should be a good time, if you're interested in hearing the boys and me play: Brigid Kaelin, Peter Searcy, Steve Cooley, Scott Lankford.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wrestling with consumerism and feeling American.

This was a jam-packed weekend, but mostly I did Christmas shopping. Believe it or not, it's a pretty foreign concept to me. My family never really did anything big for Christmas or Chanukah. I'm an only child and didn't grow up really close to my few cousins. I was amazed when my friends would get 10-15 presents each, all big-ticket itmes like Nintendos or computers. I was happy with new underwear and a Hawley-Cooke gift certificate (and I still am, for those of you shopping for me. Except Hawley-Cooke is long gone, so if there's any way you can give me gift certificates for Library Fines, that would be awesome). Even in grownup life, my family is not big on the gift-exchange, and I haven't made a real Christmas list since I last wrote to Santa Claus.

But Friend-with-a-Truck's family is pretty big on the gift exchange, so I am learning how this works day-by-day. I am troubled by it, and I feel ridiculous that it's bugging me. You'd think it would be a simple concept, right? Not so for this over-analyzer. I'm confused by lots of things, but mainly it's the logistics. Are we supposed to buy presents directly from other people's lists? Doesn't that take the fun out of it? Or is the list truly a useful device, like a wedding gift registry, so they don't end up with 20 salad spinners or Wii Fits? What if you find the absolute perfect gift, but it's from a Thrift Store? Is that rude or weird?

Anyway, I spent the weekend wrestling with these questions and stressing out a bit over something that I know deep-down is really quite simple. Buy presents for people. Don't worry about it too much. It's the gesture that's important.

Oddly, I feel like I understand American Christmas much better now. I always wondered why people were stressed out during the holidays, or why they felt the need to buy-buy-buy, and this whole Jesus-Consumer Debate, which I never understood because, well, we were neither into Jesus nor Extreme-Gift-Giving, so it wasn't really an issue. I get it though, and I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing. It's a nice excuse to buy something reeeeeeeally nice for someone.

I'm staring at a corner of my house which is now piled up with packages (and lots of packaging, which makes my stomach turn a little as my mind drifts to landfills and all the wrapping paper that will be used and thrown away this year) and I'm feeling a few things. First, I am sick at the sight of all the packaging and gift wrap and I'm wondering how weird Friend-with-a-Truck's family will think I am if I try to recycle the wrapping paper or if I wrap all of their gifts in the Sunday comics like my dad always did for me. Secondly, I feel oddly American and looking forward to seeing a big Christmas morning. Thirdly, I'm kind of excited to give these folks their gifts, to play with some of these toys. Fourth, I clearly need to get more presents for my parents. I really think the Library should sell Overdue Fines Gift Certificates; that would be perfect for them.

Off to the shops!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Single person food.

You know what I'm talking about ... when you haven't been to the grocery in weeks, or maybe you just don't feel like cooking even though you bought all those ingredients. And somehow you are perfectly okay with eating noodles with butter. Or just a big bowl of frozen broccoli (microwaved, of course). Or peanut butter and apples with a toasted cheese sandwich -- not grilled, because that would involve getting out the butter and dirtying up a pan that you definitely don't feel like washing. It's a genre of food in its own right, and it's something you certainly don't talk about with your friends.

I was in Nashville a few weeks ago, staying at my attorney's place (I hope someday when I'm hugely wealthy and someone is interviewing my attorney for the story of my life, she tells the story of how the poor, struggling artist used to crash at her house after shows because hotel rooms weren't an option, even though, really, we just liked to hang out and drink bourbon and play Tori Amos songs on her piano.). Anyway, I was there, along with her husband and my Friend-with-a-Truck, and we were trying to figure out what to do about dinner. Nothing sounded particularly good, and we didn't feel like going out. Problematically, there wasn't quite the right variety of ingredients in her refrigerator. There were some great options, just not quite a whole meal.

Then someone suggested we just eat "Single-person food," and somehow, we all immediately relaxed.

We've all eaten single-person meals before, but there is much progress in being able to eat Single Person Meals in front of another human being... to admit that you're perfectly okay with noodles and butter (which is what I ate) ... or with toast and just-past-the-expiration-date gouda ... or better yet, with boxed macaroni-and-cheese.

It's nice to feel that relaxation of not having to put together a perfectly balanced meal just because you may have an audience. At the same time, maybe it's time to go to the grocery store?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Art, money, tortured thoughts, and tours.

I was explaining to some new friends over the weekend (yes, while I was in The Bahamas ... sorry I couldn't resist mentioning it just one more time) how touring is neither glamourous nor profitable. I love being on the road, and I think I'd travel non-stop if I could afford it. But that's just it: it's essentially a non-profit venture. Unless you're playing a big festival with expenses covered, you're generally not making any money. Then my new friend said, "Why do you do it if you don't make any money?"

This took me off-guard because it's really a valid question. Clearly, I'm not an artist for the money, but I felt like an a**hole to respond with, "Art is not about money." So I paused to think about it for a while. Why DO I do this? I was on the fast-track to a Network News Producer when I was barely 20 years old, and I left it behind ... to be a musician? That's crazy. Maybe my friends were right. Besides, booking tours takes so much time and energy, not to mention all the press calls and posters you then have to mail, then the actual time and money it takes to travel. But it's just not an option to not do it.

As an independent artist in an age where people expect music for free, being on the road is one of the only ways to keep your name out there or actually sell a product. But that's not why I play either. That's over-simplification. I really have this bizarro need and drive to sing for people. In public. I will never be one of those artists who focuses on the record, and writes in their basement all day, and never performs. I can't do that. Sometimes I wish I could. But recording is my least favorite part of the business. I absolutely love being able to connect with an audience.

It's clear to me that for my own sanity, I need to tour more. That makes me laugh because I sound like a weirdo hippie artist who just needs to create and perform. But it's a question of what makes me happy, and apparently, entertaining a crowd with music makes me happy. Seems so simple, right?

So with that in mind, I'm very much looking forward to next week's show in Louisville. I might even bake cookies for everyone to show just how much I appreciate y'all letting me entertain you. Chocolate chip or sugar cookies? Those are the only ones I do.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bahamas Gig.

Greetings from Freeport. I write you today from one last day of sunshine, as I sit five feet from the pool, and 40 feet from the ocean. The house where I stayed is equally as impressive as when I arrived, and I can't imagine ever taking this place for granted. I can even get behind having oceanside property AND a swimming pool, which was confusing to me until I saw a jellyfish yesterday just below the boat dock. Sometimes you just need creature-free chlorinated water.

The gig on Saturday night went really well. You never know how they will go when you're out on the road (or even when you're at home, for that matter ... will anyone be at next Thursday's -- Dec 17 -- Christmakuh show at The Monkey Wrench?). Most of the time, people haven't heard of you. It's especially when you're playing a pub. People aren't there for live music. They are there to talk to their friends and drink a lot.

But the room full of folks in Shenanigan's, -- which looks exactly as you might imagine an Irish pub to look, except for the palm trees just outside its doors -- were, for the most part, quiet and attentive. They laughed in all the right places, and they were involved in my stage banter. They even asked to hear original songs, which is a rare find in a bar setting.

It got me to thinking why I don't do this all the time. For the most part, the business plan has been to tour where you get the most radio support. Things like Islands' gigs and cruise ships just aren't my thing because I've been doing the original music trajectory, and most places like that want cover songs and singalongs. But I had a blast in Freeport, and it seems that I'm welcome back -- to sing MY music. Unexpected good news. Several folks asked when my next show in Freeport is so they could bring their friends.

I guess it's time to book a little islands tour. I'm thinking it might be more fun to be a rock star in The Bahamas than in Iceland.

Stay tuned.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bahamas Day One

I love my job. I've got a gig in The Bahamas this weekend. Hopefully it'll make a much better blog than my oh-so-exciting Cleveland tour blogs. The musician life is really not that glamorous, but it sure does feel awesome this weekend.

You know that scene in Annie when she first arrives at Daddy Warbucks's mansion? They show her around briefly and ask her what she wants to do first. She looks around thoughtfully and replies, "The windows. Then the floors. That way if I spill..." Then all the servants laugh heartily and sing a song that explains to her she doesn't have to do any work and her mind is absolutely blown.

Well, that's how I feel when I saw the house in the Bahamas where I'm staying this weekend. Except no one sang to me. That would have been pretty awesome though.

Yeah, I know, it's cold and crappy in Louisville and most other place in the US, so you might not care to read about the High of 81/ Low of 79 weather we're having here in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Sorry 'bout that. I'll be returning to reality on Monday, when I'll surely begin the yearly spiral into Seasonal Affective Disorder. I'll get my due.

For now, though, I don't play until Saturday night, so I'm enjoying palm trees and oceans and Bahama Mamas. All in the same time zone as Louisville.

I spent the whole plane ride chatting with my cohorts on this adventure and therefore got no sleep on the plane. Vacation mode kicked in in the Atlanta airport, as demonstrated by the spicy Bloody Mary. Tyra talked me into another cocktail on the second flight -- I love to fly, but lately I haven't been so good with the turbulence. Vodka helps.

Immediately after arriving at Tyra's house here, and ogling the beautifully decorated rooms and stunning views, we headed for Banana Hut or something. Unfortunately we couldn't find the boat key, so we had to take the car. No one's in a hurry here, so we sat at a picnic table on the beach for a long time (in American minutes) before the server brought us menus.

We ate lunch and rather than waiting around for our check, we walked out to the beach. And laid down. And put our toes in the water and our towels on the sand. I was a bit dehydrated after the Bahama Mama I'd had with lunch, so lying on the beach wasn't the best move for me.

But it was glorious. I've never seen water that turquoise, and Tyra tells me it's all muggy in comparison. Pity me, right?

(meant to post this yesterday, but we only just got the internet on, sorry!)

Cute Film at Village 8 tonight.

Going to the movies tonight?

I'm not sure what's going on in Louisville this week because, well, I'm playing a gig in The Bahamas (poor me, right?). But I do know that a cute documentary is playing at Village 8. It's called They Came to Play, and it came recommended by a film producer friend in New York, who sent me a screener copy to preview.

In my pre-musician days, I was a documentary producer for CBS and The History Channel, so I've got a softspot for non-fiction films. But admittedly, lots of docs are long, dreary, and uninteresting. They Came to Play, however, reminds me of fun documentaries like Wordplay and Spellbound, and it made me laugh out loud multiple times.

Based around the International Piano Competition sponsored by the Van Cliburn Foundation, They Came to Play tells the story of several different competitors from all over the world. The amateur pianists may be amateur performers, but they are hardly amateur players. Some are dorky doctors, some are creepy old ladies, some are charming pilots, some are adorable Germans, and they've all got fascinating stories. Laden with some of my favorite music -- from Bach to Gershwin -- the filmmakers were able to interweave gorgeous music with characters galore.

My screener copy crapped out just before I found out who won the competition, so I don't know how it ends. And I almost with I wasn't in the Bahamas -- almost, I said -- just so I could find out who won.

Anyway, it's playing tonight at Village 8, and it's entertaining and fun, especially if you've ever had to take piano lessons. It made me want to go practice, partly because I've played half the songs in the documentary, and partly because it's really inspiring.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Travels, Festivals, Films, Presents, Gigs.

I'm rackin' up the frequent flier points this week. Having just returned from Texas yesterday, I wake up at 5:00am tomorrow to catch a flight. I know what you're thinking: Poor, poor pitiful Brigid, always flitting and fleeing. 'Tis the life of an adventurer and musician, and don't pity me too much... tomorrow's early morning flight is to The Bahamas. I'm playing there this weekend, so if you've got any friends in Freeport, send them to Shenanigans.

Come to think of it, this'll make the third country I've played in a bar called "Shenanigans," having also played one in the US and one in Liverpool (Go Gerard!!!). Maybe I should do an entire world tour. Could someone please compile a list of all the world's Shenanigans? And maybe also get booking info and detail a sensible routing? Maybe THAT could be my Nouveau Thoreauvian memoir ... in which Brigid spends a year traveling and playing pubs called Shenanigans. What sort of sponsorships could I get out of that one? And by the way, please don't steal that idea ... I think I'm on to something...

Anyway, just a few thoughts before I leave town:

1) Quit hatin' on HullabaLOU. So it isn't aimed at your target demographic, so what? When something big comes to Louisville, I think we should support it and quit all the factions. So Richard Marx isn't the hippest guy ever. Who cares? Churchill Downs is über-cool for using its venues for more than just horse-racing. (That Stones concert in 2006 was one of the best concerts ever.) And now Louisville's got TWO big music festivals in the same month. We should be telling our friends all over that our town rocks.

2) I got a press copy of the film They Came to Play, (go watch the trailer!!) which is showing one-night-only this Friday, December 4 at Village 8. I'm not sure why a cool indie-flick like this is at Village 8, but apparently The Village, as we called it in middle school, is branching out. I haven't finished watching the film yet, but it's awesome so far. It's about the International Piano Competition for amateur pianists. If you've ever taken a music lesson in your life -- whether you were forced to or it was your choice -- you should check out this film. It's won all kinds of awards, and it's charming and entertaining. Can't wait to finish it... and write a full review. Perhaps from the Bahamas...

3) I like when I get press copies of things. You should send me things. I'll blog about them, and then a few thousand people will hear about your stuff. Especially send me things like chocolate and bourbon. Remember, I'm still working on my annual Holiday Gift Guide! PO Box 5803 Louisville, KY 40255-0803. 'K, thanks!

4) Mark your calendars now, please, for Thursday, December 17 at 8:00 pm. My band is playing an intimate show at The Monkey Wrench. It's our Christmakuh Party! Dreidels on the tables and ornaments on the bass player.

Off to look for my swimsuit ... I'm going to go meet me some Bahamians!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blogs I read ... what about you?

I spent the weekend in Lubbock, Texas, where I did very little besides re-heat pie and attempt to learn how to play Bridge. I didn't have my laptop with me, and it seemed inappropriate to sneak away to blog. But after a few "where are you, Brigid?" messages, I thought I owed you one.

Just in case this happens again, -- I happen to be singing in The Bahamas this weekend (rough life, ain't it?) -- here are some of the blogs that I read regularly. Look to them for some entertainment if I'm not providing it for you.


OysterEvangelist.com and
WhatIWeightToday.com

Both are charming blogs by Joy Manning, who is a Food Writer (Philadelphia Magazine) and author of the cookbook Almost Meatless. I haven't seen Joy in ten years (we were at NYU at the same time), but I was thrilled to find her on these glorious interwebs. Her blogs are always entertaining, and she's a great writer. The photos on her new site, The Oyster Evangelist, are stunning, and the recipes are awesome. Although, admittedly, I've only ever tried the vegetarian ones.

Right Sister Roscoe
One of my favorite people in the world is an ol' Lakeside pal, Chris. He's currently finishing up his third year of US law school, but is studying this last year in ... get this ... Montpellier, France. He writes about various things like law and being an American in France. I prefer the latter, but I read it all.

Lauren Titus at Velocity
This is a blog I wish would be updated more often. I love reading Lauren's rants and raves, even though she sounds dysfunctional most of the time. In real life, she's not so wacky. She's wicked-smart and a most excellent writer.

Erin Keane at Velocity
Another clever lady over at Velocity. She seems to know more about pop culture than anyone I know and always has a witty opinion to offer her readers. Erin makes me laugh, and she posts fun videos. Plus she's always going on or planning an adventure. I like reading about them.

What other blogs do you read? I'm curious ... and looking for more feeds in my Google Reader.

Some gratitudes and a sneak preview of 8-year-old me video.

Shocker, but now that I have a new album finished and shrink-wrapped, I am feeling better all-round. It's solstice week, which alway...