Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tweets from the Past Week

I've been tweeting more than blogging lately. A 140-character limit provides an excuse not to elaborate or edit. Some would say that's unfortunate, and mostly, I agree with them. But when I haven't had the time to return phone calls and emails (I swear I still love you all), I definitely haven't had time to compose a thoughtful blog.

And so, blog-readers, today I'm merely reproducing my Tweets from the past week. If you would prefer to read them in real-time, my alias on Twitter is simply @BrigidKaelin, so follow me there if you like. If you have no interest in Twitter as a new time-wasting activity, then I hope, at least, the following deep thoughts and observations will entertain you. Consider them each a potential blog that I condensed into 140 characters or less.

Tweets from the past week:

*Just entered KY via Ashland, which looks a lot like Mordor.

*I think it's time for a grownup car, where things like, say, heat or 4th great, actually work.

*Mañana is easier to type than tinierow.

*Why can't they put those heated stripes on ALL of the car windows?

*Always. RT @dancanon This gig would be so much better with a chocolate fountain.

*Playing keyboards and an iPad with Peter Searcy tonight at Gerstles. And iPa is lighter than a Hammond B3.

*Hey Bands, please start on time. I'm tired and aging and missing my pajamas.

*My iPhone has a better B3 sound than my fancy keyboard. So I am playing my iPhone tonight. I have wee fingers.

*Just bc your car has antlers & a nose doesn't mean you're excused from driving etiquette.

*The worst thing about "shuffle" is when "Heartbreaker" is not immediately followed by "Livin' Lovin' Maid."

*What kind of sick joke is this? Someone left "Eagles Live" in my turntable!

*Been trying to shop local all morning, but apparently local gift shop owners like to sleep in.

* The Starbucks line took twice as much time as the TSA line. Happy travels!

*Delta says you can't sit in an emergency row is you are likely to get distrac--- ooooh Sky Mall!!

*The entire Memphis airport smells like bacon.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On losing things.

Where have I been? I've been doing my best not to fall down any stairs or lose my favorite purple hat that I bought in Paris. I've lost it (and found it) about fifteen times in the past week.

When I was a little girl, I lost my mittens all the time. I think my mom came to accept it after a while. Now it's me who just accepts it as a part of life. I'm extremely organized when it comes to my taxes and business receipts, but my personal stuff is a mess. But I know that the gnomes in my house and my car will hide a mitten or a hat or my keys or my phone at least once a day. It's more fun when you treat it like hide and seek rather than a panic attack. (I must try to remember that more often.)

Anyway ... how's everyone else doing? Anyone find that perfect gift? I haven't. I'm making something for FWT, and it's clear that I'm neither Martha Stewart nor Tom Silva. But, on the bright side, I've only cried once during the crafting, so that's gotta be a good sign. Also, I've only fallen down once this week, while climbing over a makeshift fence at Jen's house in the dark. And, best of all, I've still got my purple hat. For now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why I Do Not Like the Liberty Bell


I'm a sucker for an historical marker, so obviously I liked Philadelphia. The sidewalks are dotted with interesting facts and things of yore. Even seeing the Liberty Bell in its glass house from the sidewalk outside was pretty exciting. We were all even more excited because it was free (hence the literal Latin "liberte," I suppose) to go in and see it. My excitement did not last very long, however, and I was over the Liberty Bell in about two minutes.

Now I admit that I always got annoyed in high school whenever Mrs. Nuff-in-her-navy-sweater-vest would ask me for a hall pass when I was clearly going to the library to return my arm-full of books. I also still get annoyed when the TSA forces me to take my accordion out of its case as they poke and prod at it. But I know that airport security is a little different than high school, and I never throw a fit while being felt up by TSA officials (though I don't like it when they make me play my accordion without at least tipping). I understand security and danger and whatever, even if it's bothersome.

But at the Liberty Bell, it just made no sense. There wasn't a metal detector at all, but there were more security guards than at an airport checkpoint. They made us lift up our coats, so they could "see [our] waistlines," which was dumb because I had on leggings and a sweater that covered my waistline. I had to spin around twice. They checked everyone's purse, but I didn't have one. My coat pockets, however, had all kinds of stuff in them. Nothing dangerous -- unless you count a few stale road snacks -- but I could have had anything in there. Don't try to tell me it's about safety and actual security when you don't have a metal detector or actually check my pockets.

It was very irritating to be put through that nonsense and be stared at by menacing guards while walking through the museum section of the atrium. Even so, I only pouted pouted slightly (at first) about the irony of the Liberty Bell making me feel like I was in a prison. Then some silly guard came over and told @DanCanon kindly (and I admit he was very polite), "Sir, please remove your gum and throw it in that bin over there." Seriously?

That's when I decided that I don't like the Liberty Bell. I didn't even want to go look at that stupid cracked broken symbol.

My compadres-in-tourism were not nearly as offended as I was, and I understand wanting security around this protected symbol. But the security they had there was just plain stupid. I could have had a can of spray paint in my coat pocket or any number of other things (yes, I know I'm surely on some government list now), so what is the point of paying twenty guards to harass gum-chewing tourists?

By the time we got to the actual bell, I was no longer impressed. FWT wanted our picture in front of it, but I refused to smile. The Ballerina took our photo and laughed at me for pouting, and my facade of anger cracked slightly. The whole scene was just plain funny.

Still, I am going to have to look for a new symbol for American Freedom because that bell just doesn't make me feel like a Lee Greenwood song. It makes me feel rebellious, which I suppose could be an American trait. (It could also just be a redhead trait.) Maybe something more modern, like my car. Although my car is cracked too, so maybe that's not a good example.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rules of the Road™, Part One

This weekend tour wasn't as long as my Euro-adventures are, but it was jam-packed with fun. I had a bit of difficulty balancing work with vacation. On the road, I've gotten really good at remembering that I'm at work, and I can't afford to visit every museum and every castle. The profit margin is so slim (if at all) that, as my friend and fellow musician Adam Brodsky noted, "Killing an afternoon at a movie can consume your entire profit." Touring just doesn't pay well, folks.

At the same time, we were traveling with FWT and a friend heretofore known as The Ballerina, and who wants to force everyone else to eat stale baguettes when you're in a cool ski village or a major city filled with terrific restaurants? I tried to give in to vacation-mentality before we even left Louisville, which I admit was difficult for me, but I did have a really fun weekend road trip. I'm glad we had the company, and it's sometimes fun (though I know not very business-like) to think of these tours as a really cheap vacation rather than a really expensive business trip.

We still slept on air mattresses and ate fast food while driving a total of 27 hours of the weekend, so it wasn't exactly glamorous. But we consumed delicious microbrewery stout, ate three different types of Philadelphia Veggie Cheesesteaks, had challah french toast, breakfast burritos, and drank wassail in an 18th century Tavern. It was perfectly delightful, and I'm glad we indulged.

You know I'm not exactly the type to skip a meal. Sure, sometimes it's just stale baguettes and a wheel of brie, but I always eat. Also -- and this is maybe my most important Rule of the Road™ -- it's important on the road to eat at regular intervals. You DO NOT want to accidentally stumble upon that moment when everyone in the car is suddenly ravenous. It's not pleasant. I think that only happened once this trip, and it wasn't nearly as disastrous as it could have been. I thank the Ballerina for keeping us giggling during that adventure, and I thank @DanCanon for placing the phone call the carry-out. (I get anxiety attacks from doing things like ordering pizza on the phone.)

Anyway, I've got a few stories to share from the weekend, but this blog is long enough for today. This week on Rules of the Road™: "Never Take Advice Anyone Whose Beard is Over 4 Inches," "Always Meet Up With Old Friends," "West Virginia Can Be Awesome," and "Why I Hate the Liberty Bell Now."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm not graceful. Also, I'm playing WV and PA.

I fell down the stairs this morning. Not like a Scarlett O'Hara somersault tumble, but a slip-on-your-robe and pretend you're on a bumpy sliding board. It was not graceful. And yes, that's the second time I've fallen down stairs this year. I should also note that they were two separate staircases, so likely I am the problem, not the architecture. I wasn't texting, drinking, or really doing anything at all. I'm just clumsy.

I'm okay though. Nothing broken, but some gorgeous bruises developing. I had about 20 minutes of vertigo-induced nausea, and the room spun while my ears rang for several minutes. But I didn't bump my head or anything, and I have plenty of padding on my booty to protect me. I'm wondering if my elbow infection from a couple of years ago will return because I bumped that same elbow at least once-per-stop, and right on my funny bone. I've also got some good-looking carpet burns on the wrist that tried to stop my fall.

You should all be very proud.

In other news, I'm hitting the road tomorrow, bruises and all. Do you have friends or family in West Virginia? Please tell them to come to my show tomorrow. I don't think I know a single person there, and I've got that holy-crap-is-anyone-going-to-be-at-my-show awful feeling (could still be the Vertigo).
Friday, Dec 10: The Purple Fiddle in Thomas, West Virginia. 8:00. $7
Saturday, Dec 11: Xtreme Folk Series House Concert in Jenkintown, PA (outside Philadelphia) 8:00. $10. Email xfsrsvp@xfsmusic.org for directions.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A theory on S.A.D.

Most everyone gets sad because of S.A.D. in the winter, me included. I was thinking yesterday about how I tend to get overly happy in the summertime, perhaps to overcompensate for my winter depression. Scientists say that it's the lack-of-light that makes us feel sad, so I guess the long days make me skip down the street with an ice cream cone.

Ergo, what if, magically, the days were shorter in the summer, but July and August were still super-hot? And what if the sun didn't go down until 10:00 during the winter, but it was still 12 degrees outside? Would we all just be average, well-tempered, people? No dramatic mood swings or twelve-hour naps? Seems like a decent compromise. This whole freezing-cold AND dark-at-five-o-clock thing is just plain mean.

Deep thoughts, folks. Deep thoughts. I think it's nap-time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mid-winter reading has come early this season.

Winter. Blegh. Some of you claim to like this cold weather, but I think it's just because you have cute winter boots and coats and other accessories that you can't wear in July. My favorite winter accessory is a good novel. Around mid-January, I always get a hankering to re-read Wuthering Heights. If you're going to be freezing cold while sitting in your own living room, then you might as well imagine that you're out on the moors with Heathcliff and Catherine. At least that's got some tint of romanticism, however depressing it may be.

Mid-January has apparently come early this year, as I've already dealt with both frozen pipes AND the lack of a cute winter coat. This weather made me go to my GoodReads page and realize that I haven't read nearly the amount of books that I'd meant to this year. I was on a roll, up until my first European tour. That halted me for a month, as I just didn't have time to read. Then I'm not sure what happened. As far as I can tell, August was just a few weeks ago.

I've read 27 books this year, most of which were novels. My goal was 75. To put that in perspective, George W. Bush read 95 books in 2006 -- while he was the President. Granted, I've never seen a list published, so who knows just what kind of books he was reading. But still, if he had time, you'd think I could find time.

Maybe it's a good thing that mid-winter depression has set in early this season. I've got a lot of catching up to do.

What's your favorite winter-reading list?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Playing music with friends tonight!

Music! Tonight I am going to play music! I have decided to stop filing receipts and make today all about songs. It's either art or it's business, left brain or right brain, and today I'm siding with good rather than evil.

Tonight at the Vernon Club should be a really fun evening. I just found out that my ol' pal Shannon Lawson will be playing with Trent Tomlinson (the headliner), and I'm thinkin' that since he'll be around anyway, maybe we can talk him into singing a song or two during my set. I'm also stoked to be playing with another ol' pal, @DanCanon. Between these guys and my regular band members, I sure do get to play with a lot of fantastic musicians (and fantastic people, at that).

Details for tonight: doors at 8:00. It's $13, I believe, which I know is kind of steep, but it's rare to see a CMT artist in an intimate venue nowadays. Trent Tomlinson is on the road in a fancy tour bus, and gas is expensive, hee hee. (I think if my fame ever reaches tour bus proportions, I'll get a vegetable-oil-powered coach. Of course, that will require re-fueling at restaurants that do really great french fries, so I'll have to do my part of eating fries.)

Repeat: doors at 8. it's 18+. JD Shelburne at 9:00. I play at 10:00. Trent plays at 11:00. The Vernon Club. 1575 Story Avenue.

I'm going to do something drastic now, and change the strings on my guitar. Maybe even on the mandolin ... CRAZY!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Princess Movies as a Genre

Last week was relatively crappy, but I learned something about myself. When the time comes to escape reality, there is nothing better than a princess movie. I know it's a bad stereotype and something we shouldn't force upon young girls and all that, but I still like them. I like them whether they are animated, real-life, musicals, action, or star Julie Andrews (or not). So because my mom and I were sad about losing a good friend last week, we went to go see the new Disney princess movie, Tangled.

It made me smile and laugh a lot. The music wasn't as good as the last Disney princess movie, but that's because it stars Mandy, not Randy. I kind of think Randy Newman should always be in charge of writing the score to everything, but that's just me. I don't really remember any of the songs now that it's been a few days since I saw movie, but I still really enjoyed those 90 minutes or so.

Also, the prince in Tangled happens to be an exact avatar of FWT. @DanCanon was the first to bring this to my attention, but it's pretty much a fact. It's kind of creepy, actually, and it made me slightly jealous of Rapunzel at times. I got over it eventually, though, because Rapunzel is quite likeable.

Anyway, now for a few thoughts on princess movies:

My favorite princess movie of all time is The Princess Bride, of course, and I would venture that it's also your favorite princess movie. Even you Sportscenter-Lovin' folks out there have to love that swordfight between Mandy Patinkin and Cary Elwes, all set to Mark Knopfler music. Then there's Roman Holiday and Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite musicals. I also really liked The Princess Diaries but that's mostly because Fraulein Maria co-stars.

Basically, I really like princess movies as a genre, in general. They are silly, cute, and completely unrealistic. I won't be entirely happy, however, until I see a princess with curly hair*. THAT, my friends, would be true fantasy.

*Don't try to convince me that Princess Tiana has curly hair -- she has a few waves, but clearly, her hair has been carefully styled. Maybe that's why I like The Wizard of Oz so much, even though it's not a princess movie. Judy's got plenty of curls throughout...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The First Crazy Night!

I thought I was so clever earlier this month, using Hanukkah candles on FWT's birthday cake when I couldn't find birthday candles. (I also thought it was funny how the other Jew at the soiree totally noticed what they were, but that's another story.) Anyway, now it turns out that I have to pick and choose which nights to light candles, which is probably a good thing anyway seeing as I tend to forget after a few nights anyway. I blame that on my dad being Catholic.

It snuck up on me this year, as it always seems to do.

Anyway, here's the DREIDEL VIDEO to cheer you up if you haven't seen it:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nashville, Tour Buses, Show Friday, Dreidels.

Remember when I used to go to Nashville all the time? Back when I had a thousand roommates and no FWT, I used to escape down I-65 every Wednesday, play some sessions, buy too many cowboy boots (sorry, but those 3-for-1 sales on Lower Broadway are just irresistible), stay out too late, see more music than I could absorb, and eat lots of fried foods.

I remember one night after a Muzik Mafia show, my friend Shannon and I were gallivanting up and down Lower Broadway where all the big tour buses were parked. Being a fancy-schmancy recording artist, he was sure he'd find someone he knew inside. Nashville's a lot like Louisville, in that see-someone-you-know-everywhere-you-go kind of way, so, of course, the first bus he knocked on belonged to a friend.

It was a fun night -- except for that moment when one of the other buttheads on the bus treated me like a girl tagalong instead of a musician -- of sitting in the back of the bus around a table, passing the guitar, and drinking bourbon, having girls knock on the bus door asking to come in (we said, "no"), laughing, making fun of the meanie-butt who insulted me by mocking the stupid-but-#1-hit he'd co-written (he, of course, then pouted all the way to the bank), and waking my Nashville roommate up when I came home far later than expected.

Anyway, I reminisce about this funny night because a few weeks ago, a Nashville booking agent asked if I would open for his artist, Trent Tomlinson. I am not the most up-to-date on CMT-style country music, although I don't dislike it at all. Just like anything, there's good music and there's bad music. But I do remember that I really liked the songs that Trent Tomlinson sang as we passed the guitar around on the back of his tour bus a few years ago at 3 am on Lower Broadway.

So, yes, I'm opening for Trent Tomlinson this coming Friday, December 3, at the Vernon Club in Louisville (ages 18+). It's the only show I'm playing during the Eight Crazy Nights of Chanukah, so you can count on hearing some "Mazel Tonk!" and some Dreidel Yodeling. My friend and your friend Dan Canon will be joining me on electric guitar that night, and I think it'll be a really fun evening. I'm even doing a limited re-issue of the "Mazel Tonk!" EP that night, so if you're in need of a Chanukah gift for that special someone, I'll see you on night three.

Friday Dec 3
ages 18+
Vernon Club

1575 Story Ave
Louisville, KY 40206
doors at 8:00
JD Shelburne at 9, Brigid Kaelin at 10, Trent Tomlinson at 11
$10 in advance or $13 day of show
www.ticketmaster.com

Monday, November 29, 2010

Strings and Ceiling* Wax and other fancy stuff.

I remember being about eight years old, I was sitting on my parents' front stoop with a crappy old Kay acoustic guitar that my dad won off of someone in a bet. I was going through an old book of sheet music I'd found in the piano bench, and I'd just had a eureka-moment: those funny grid-like drawings above the vocal line were actually guitar chords. I hadn't had any lessons yet, but, always the over-achiever, I was determined to play "Puff the Magic Dragon," with proper finger-picking and all. Most of the chords were simple enough, but the one I just couldn't get to in time -- or rather the chord that sounded like poo when I tried to play it -- was "G."

Then my mom's best-friend-since-childhood, Michelle, wandered up the steps to our house, probably on her way to the swimming pool around the corner. She was always on her way to the pool. She had played the guitar for years, and she knew how to play "Puff" perfectly. When she saw me trying that "G" chord, she showed me a "Sneaky G" or a "Cheater's G," which was infinitely easier and produced just about the same sound. She told me to just use my thumb on the low string and forget about the fancy fingering. (Who knows if this is actually how it happened... it's how I remember it, so that's how it shall remain.)

The next year when I finally started proper guitar lessons, of course, my teacher told me never to play G that way. I obliged, for the most part, and now I know all kinds of ways to play a G-chord. But sometimes, just for fun, I'll play a Sneaky-G, and I'll giggle to myself and think about Michelle and what an amazing gift that chord was -- the immediate ability to play every folk song in the world.

I don't want to write a morose blog today because that's not in the spirit of Michelle. It is always better to sing than to cry. Seeing as it is just about impossible to listen to "Puff the Magic Dragon" without crying, even in normal times, I don't think I'll try that song. I know it's Cyber-Monday, and I'm supposed to be buying strings and ceiling wax and other fancy stuff, but I think today, instead, I'll just play music and write songs. Michelle would have liked that game plan, I think.

**
And yet another funny thing about songs from my childhood ... a FB friend offered the correction to "Sealing wax" ... of course, when you're three years old and you learn the words to your favorite song, you go your entire life thinking it's a fanciful magic creation called "ceiling wax." Who knew?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nor am I a hostess.

FWT's parents are coming to Louisville for Thanksgiving. This has posed an interesting question: do we really need turkey? I don't eat meat, and FWT is currently not eating meat (It's not my fault; he read a book.) We missed the deadline to buy a Heritage Turkey, which was really the only kind we felt remotely comfortable buying for our families. I don't think it was laziness that made us miss the deadline, however. I think it was that we really just wondered how important the actual turkey is. (Let's not even discuss Tofurkey: icky.)

I like Thanksgiving, but honestly, I have never liked turkey. In middle school, my parents made these good-looking sandwiches out of the Thanksgiving leftovers the week after the holiday, and I sold mine to Kyle for a dollar, opting to buy two ice cream sandwiches instead. Mom's sandwich was good, but that's because of the mayonnaise overload. And, though it's a hard decision, ultimately I prefer ice cream to mayonnaise.

Another question about impending company: just how much do we clean? We are not dirty people, but we are not the most tidy either. Also, our dining room table is not a table at all; it is a grand piano, surrounded by barstools. (I acquired another piano at one point, so clearly the dining room table had to go.) I'm pretty sure we don't own a single tablecloth, much less matching napkin rings. Last year was the first time I learned that a "charger" was not just something for my cell phone, so clearly I don't own any of those.

My clear status as domestic un-goddess makes me wonder what we were thinking when we volunteered to host Thanksgiving. Fortunately, because of FWT's birthday last week, we now have eight different kinds of bourbon and two scotches. Combine that with all the other standard side dishes -- all of which are vegetarian by default -- and I guess all hope isn't lost.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I am not Sporty Spice.

Imagine that you have absolutely no musical skills. Or maybe you know how to play C and G7 on the guitar (and Aminor if you really think about it). Then you came to one of my shows just to hang out, but Steve Cooley or Dan Canon didn't show up, so I asked you if you could fill in on the guitar. I was kind and said, "Don't worry, I won't throw you a bunch of solos, so just hang there and look pretty." You'd probably be a bit freaked out and have a high-anxiety evening, wondering if they could dilute some Xanax in your bourbon.

That's what it's like for me when people ask me to play sports.

Yesterday, FWT got a few friends together for a mini-Field Day in the park. Had there been three-legged or potato sack races, I may have been game for participating, but I figured I'd just take a notebook, a fancy pen, a book for when i wasn't feeling creative, and a blanket to enjoy this last nice day of the season.

But no. A game of touch football was imminent, and I was peer pressured into participating. Really, it wasn't because of peers, but because some of our friends' children were playing too. And if the 3-year-old has no problem playing a friendly little game, then what's my damage, right?

I am not sporty. Well, that's not entirely true. I'm sporty in the water. I can play any sort of water game, and I can hold my breath longer than you can. In the water, you don't sprain your ankle. You don't have to run. People don't have to see you run (which is quite comical, so I hear). And somersaults don't hurt your back or neck.

I begged to be left out of every play. While guarding Carrie, my main tactic was to wiggle my fingers and scream, "Tickle, tickle, tickle!" Clearly, chasing her was out of the question. Once I was given the ball and told to run to the end zone, and while attempting to go around some scary boys with sharkskin gloves (I swear, they felt like that when they "touched" me), I apparently "ran" out of bounds and ruined the play.

Put me on stage with a million people watching and tell me to solo on a song I've never heard, and I'll play you something purty with no nerves or sweat. But please, please, please, whatever you do: don't give me the ball.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wish Lists, Chanukah, Led Zep winner...

For those of you who haven't yet begun your holiday shopping, you'd better get on it soon. Chanukah starts December 1. It seems like when I was a kid it always overlapped Christmas, but for the past few years, it seems to be getting earlier and earlier (much like the recycling truck comes earlier and earlier each Thursday). It's not really too much trouble, as my family doesn't really exchange Chanukah presents, but it means that I never have time to finish my Full-Length Mazel Tonk! album.

Maybe next year I'll have it ready. I've got songs. It's just that it's a bit more complicated than that. The writing of the song is only the beginning, and I really dislike the details that go into making a recording, much less a GOOD recording. But anyway, I digress...

... FWT and I have been updating our Amazon Wish Lists, just as we've been discussing not doing any sort of gift-exchange this year. It's hard to balance that game, though. Amazon Wish Lists are kind of like that mental game you play the minute you buy a Powerball ticket, where you're just convinced that a $1600 Massage Chair is a totally reasonable thing to buy. Except that with the Wish List, at least you didn't waste a dollar.

Thanks to all who commented and messaged me wanting to win the tickets to the Led Zeppelin Cover Band Event at the KCA this Friday. I used Random.org to draw a name, and the winner is ... Valerie Meyers. Let me know if you still want the tickets, and they'll be at will call in your name.

More contests in the coming weeks, I think. I like playing the role of Hannukah Harry.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sideman duties and Led Zep at KCA giveaway

Yesterday I shared a video of me playing Justin Bieber on the musical saw, but I assure you that's not all the musical fun I had last weekend. The best part was playing the ol' sideman role again, something I haven't done with regularity since Tim Krekel died.

I used to sit in with Tim several times a months, and that was my favorite way to practice. A live crowd and the pressure of getting it right the first time works much better for me than practicing in a basement. Playing with Eric Brace and Peter Cooper was every bit as fun as playing with Tim, and I chalk that up to them being good people, good songwriters, and good players. It was great to get in front of a new crowd on Saturday night in Columbus, but even more fun was just sitting back and playing accordion on Peter and Eric's songs. I suspect we'll do that again sometime.

Also, I want to thank you all for reading and supporting me. I want to start doing more for you until I can get back in the recording studio. So in the mean time, how about some free tickets to a really cool event on Friday night in Louisville? The Kentucky Center for the Arts is putting on a great show this Friday, November 19, called "Get the Led Out," basically an amazing Led Zeppelin cover band. I've heard the band is phenomenal, and plays the Led Zeppelin songs just like you'd want to hear them. I bought the Led Zeppelin box set when I was in middle school by taping a penny to the BMG ad in the back of the USA Today, so I wish I could make it to this show. (I can't go because it's FWT's birthday, and we made other plans ages ago.) But I like that the KCA has been putting on neato stuff like this, and this is a show I'd love to see.

So who wants to go? Either let me know in a comment below, or shoot me an email or Facebook message, and I'll pick a winner at random on Thursday morning.

Repeat: a pair of tickets for Fridays November 19 at the Kentucky Center for the show "Get the Led Out" -- a Led Zeppelin Tribute show. Should be a fun evening! I like giving away cool stuff.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

J-Bieber on the musical saw.

On Saturday morning, I played for a room full of several hundred Girl Scouts, not my usual demographic, but super-fun. It's a bit different than playing for a room full of loud-talkers at a bar. These girls were not only attentive, but enthusiastic. Especially when I opted for an encore on the musical saw -- of a Justin Bieber song.

It was a funny idea I'd come up with while trying to figure out what to play to a group of 6-16 year-old girls, and some teenage friends suggested I sing "Baby." I'm not really one to sing pop songs, unless I can do something to make it my own. But I must admit, I could get used to playing in front of packed-houses of screaming fans. Totally worth the $1.29 on iTunes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How I found the good side of Nashville

Peter Cooper doesn't know this, but he saved me from the wrong side of Nashville. It was late 2006, and believe it or not, I'd never been to Nashville before. Well, once I'd driven down to see Elvis Costello & Steve Nieve at the Ryman, but I spent a total of 2.5 hours in the city. My first real trip was for the semi-finals of Nashville Star 2007. I'm not entirely proud of this.

Honestly, I didn't even know what the show was, but my friend Jen dragged me to auditions in Indianapolis, even having reserved a hotel room because she was convinced I'd make the callbacks the next day. She was right, and that kept me laughing.

Then a few months later, I was called to the finals for the show, which I admit was exciting, especially because I was allowed to 1) play an instrument (or 4) and 2) sing original music.

So I did. My first night out in Nashville, and we were all on Lower Broadway, deep among tourists and tour buses and cowboy hats and rhinestones, and it was really strange. Pretty much every other semi-finalist, 50 of us from around the country, was a life-size Cowboy Ken & Cowgirl Barbie. I knew I wouldn't make the cut -- even the producer asked me if I knew what I was getting myself into -- but it was great fun to sing my songs with the House Band in front of a big crowd.

And after the show that night, the publicist for Nashville Star said, "Hey, the writer from The Tennessean wants to interview you." I'm pretty sure it was the accordion, and the fact that my original song didn't suck, that caught his attention, but I remember distinctly that interview with Peter Cooper, where we ended up talking about our favorite songwriters in the alley between Tootsie's and The Ryman.

Peter had asked me who my favorite songwriter was, and I'd answered, "John Prine." I doubt most of the other finalists (except maybe Marcy from Indy, she was cool) had heard of John Prine, and I don't think Peter had been expecting that answer from someone competing on an American Idol-type reality show. So we talked about songwriting, and Louisville, and various other stuff. (The article turned out great, if I do say so myself, and when I woke up the next morning, I was playing the accordion on the front page of the newspaper -- above the fold.)

Anyway, we talked about good music and writers for a long time, then I asked him a burning question. "Where is the real music? What's going on tonight? My parents and I need to get out of here. This listening to dude-in-cowboy-hat-sing-Boot-Scootin'-Boogie all night, isn't our thing..."

He told me about a show at Douglas Corner, and my whole family and I disappeared into a cab. We saw Donnie Fritts give a killer show, and the audience alone was filled with folks whose work I loved. It was a much more pleasant scene than Lower Broadway, and it made the whole audition process worth it.

Clearly, I didn't make the show. One producer told me, "We just don't know how to market the accordion," which made me think their marketing team isn't very creative. But really, not making that show was a huge blessing. I found the right side of Nashville, and I made some great friends in the process.

By the way, I tell this entire funny story about Peter Cooper because he is playing a show tonight at The Monkey Wrench. That's right, he's not only a music writer, but he's also a songwriter. To translate: he writes about music, AND he writes music. And he's playing tonight with another awesome dude, Eric Brace, a terrific singer-songwriter AND a former columnist for the Washington Post. These are some smart dudes, and I could go on and on about them. Read their bios and be impressed by quotes from folks like Kris Kristofferson saying how awesome they are, and know that just a few weeks ago, they played The Ryman.

Louisville, you can see them tonight for only $5 in an intimate setting -- The Monkey Wrench -- at 8:00. They're playing, I'm playing, and then we're all playing together. Doesn't that sound dandy?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hemingway, publicists, croissants, and Actors Theatre.

I didn't bring a book with me last week on my vacation. I always bring books on the road, but I'd finally learned my lesson: I never get any reading done while on tour. There's just too much else going on, what with driving, soundchecking, sightseeing, and visiting with friends. So finally, I decided to leave my novels at home. That was a dumb idea because I had oodles of free time once the shows were over, and all those booksellers on the Seine sell novels in French -- definitely not relaxing.

Anyway, I often wished that I'd had some Hemingway with me. I never really read any Hemingway. Every time I tried, I would find myself five pages in having no idea what I'd read. The simple language caused me to zone out, read words, and not digest any of them. It wasn't fun.

But supposedly the cafe where I ate breakfast every morning was a favorite of Ernest and Stein and F. Scott and Pablo and the gang (but don't they all claim to be...), and that got me thinking. I almost bought The Sun Also Rises on audiobook, so I could wander around the Latin Quarter and read (multi-tasking). That seemed wrong, however, so I just sat at the cafe and enjoyed my croissant, wondering if that crew of 20th Century masters knew just how significant we would think them while they were munching on their own croissants in that same (give me this one) cafe. And how crazy is it that they all knew each other? Were they all truly geniuses, or did that all just share the same brilliant publicist/marketing strategy?

I've often thought about my own amazing, passionate, and talented friends, and I am consistently amazed by how much creativity and work ethic lies among them. Monday's newspaper brought all kinds of worlds together when my wonderful friend Erin Keane wrote a fantastic feature article about a great friend from high school, Jessica Wortham.* Then I was thinking that maybe if Erin, and Jessica, and I could just all get away for a week and eat croissants and drink absinthe in Paris while discussing art and the future, perhaps we'd eventually be considered 21st Century Greats.

I know it's not the same as Hemingway and Stein, but it does amaze me how I'm actually a FAN of my friends and their art. And how we all really do know each other, and hang out over bourbon, and sometimes get together and write, and talk about the world. Maybe it's not so different after all ... maybe we just need that ol' publicist.

* http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20101108/SCENE05/311080056/Louisville-native-Jessica-Wortham-is-home-for-Christmas- Great article about my high-school-friend, written by my post-high-school friend, about how said high-school-friend is starring in A Christmas Story at Actors' Theatre this season.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cooking in the Metric System.

Those of you who've known me for a long time know that I've always been a big proponent of the Metric System. It always made sense to me. I even thought that we should consider switching to Metric Time because this whole Sexagesimal thing is hard to compute when you're trying to figure out just how long the new Harry Potter movie is. Sexagesimal, by the way, means Base 60, and I came across the word this morning while Googling "Base 60." I hope it's on the GRE.

In elementary school, they taught us that by the time we were adults, everyone would be using the Metric System, just as they told us that we wouldn't be able to get jobs if we weren't fluent in Spanish. (Nowadays it looks like the Metric system is equally as useful, as I know plenty of folks who speak at least both Spanish and English who can't find jobs.) Of course, they also told us that Daniel Boone was the most important figure in American history (only to Kentuckians), and that all the Founding Fathers were Christian, and that we needed to master Logo Turtle if we wanted to be architects. I think the Metric System is a bit more relevant than Logo Turtle.

FWT and I were just discussing dinner, and we decided we're going to make one of those soups we had in Scotland this May. Being a forward-thinker, FWT got the recipe from our hostess months ago, but we'd forgotten until this morning that it's all in Metric. Our Pyrex, thankfully, has metric measuring on it, something neither one of us noticed until I just checked a few minutes ago. And truly, it makes more sense to just say 90 ML olive oil, rather than 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP olive oil. Unfortunately, it seems that rather than being deemed a scientist or bakemaster when I say something like that, I am instead deemed un-American.

Admittedly, the one thing I was a bit sad about missing in France last week wasn't the Mona Lisa; it was the Prototype Metre Bar. Anyone out there cook in Metric?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Soup Season. I'm in.


I'm trying to get into soup. I've never been opposed to soup. It's just that I get bored eating the same thing for days in a row, which is what happens when two people make a one-pot meal. Putting my anti-leftovers attitude aside in favor of more recession-friendly meals, I now intend to embrace the soup.

This all started in Edinburgh last May while staying with a lovely family who had the sucker task of hosting the Folk Club's musicians. Not only did they provide a picturesque table (see photo) full of breads and cheeses and pretty plates and bowls (not exactly a staple on a middle-class-musician's road menu), but the food was delicious, as was the company. They made two kinds of soup that evening, a mushroom and a lentil, and both were just delicious. FWT escaped with the recipes, and this week begins our Soup Expedition, likely with the Finnigans' Mushroom Soup.

Maybe it's my not-so-secret adoration of Edinburgh that makes me want to start collecting vegetarian soup recipes, or maybe it's just a desire to always have food in the house (I still haven't been to the grocery since I got back from Paris last week), but I'm in. Soup seems like the secret to a well-balanced and easy-to-make meal.

What's your favorite vegetarian soup recipe? Or can your favorite meaty-soup be modified? Subbing veggie-broth is easy enough ... lend me your soups!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fun video, upcoming shows you should see.

For those of you who couldn't make it to the Leith Folk Club in Edinburgh last week (that's Scotland, not Indiana), here's a fun video of our encore. It's a musical saw performance, of course, but I decided to throw in one of my favorite Scottish traditional tunes. Nick Keir graciously played the guitar accompaniment, and despite it being a video recorded on an iPhone, I think it sums up the fun energy of the evening.



I'm back to plotting more tours and fun.

For those of you interested:

11/12 LOUISVILLE, Kentucky
: Friday, November 12 at the Monkey Wrench. This is with East Nashville superstars Peter Cooper and Eric Brace. You've heard them on all the good Americana radio shows, or perhaps you saw them play at the RYMAN last month. How's that for good music at a small local club?

11/13 COLUMBUS, Ohio: Saturday, November 13 Spruce Street Studios on Grant, opening for Peter Cooper & Eric Brace. 8pm, doors at 7:30. $10 advance/$12 day of show.

12/10 THOMAS, West Virginia: Friday, December 10 at the Purple Fiddle.

12/11
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania
. Saturday, Dec 11. House Concert sponsored by the Xtreme Folk Scene http://www.xfsmusic.org/ Visit the website for show details. House concerts aren't at your typical bar venue, but they are a really fun and intimate way to see a show. I hope I see some Philly friends out there:)

Where else should I come play? I've been telling some of you for years that I'd make it your way ... time to start planning appropriate road trips. Massachusetts, I owe you one. Anyone else need a little accordion in your life?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paris, cemeteries, Morrison v. Chopin.




I didn't make it to the Louvre. I love art museums, but the Louvre just seems completely overwhelming. I did go to Pere Lachaise cemetery on All Saints' Day -- a most holy national holiday -- and visited graves and mausoleums all dressed up in a sea of fresh chrysanthemums and tourists. It was beautiful, but I actually really like visiting cemeteries, especially in places where the tombs are so old and dramatic.

We did the obligatory visit to Jim Morrison's grave, which I found more amusing than moving. It wasn't hard to find -- just follow the group of high 19-year-old backpackers through those cobblestone pathways and vôila! Don't follow the old women with brightly hennaed hair, or you'll end up watching them cry at the tomb of Edith Piaf.

I liked The Doors when I was 11, and I spent plenty of time transcribing and playing Ray Manzerek's keyboard parts. To this day I can play the keyboard solos in "Light my Fire" and "Riders on the Storm" from muscle memory. But honestly, I never thought much of J-Mo's lyrics (and much less of his poetry), and his grave wasn't exactly a pilgrimage for me.

More important to me was a tomb a few graves over, where, much to my surprise and gratitude, there was a much larger crowd. Frederic Chopin -- or F-Cho, as you might know him -- is probably my favorite composer, despite never having written a gem like "Peace Frog." His nocturnes make me swoon to this day.

Oddly enough, I discovered Chopin right around the same time as I discovered The Doors -- during middle school. J-Mo I first listened to because that Oliver Stone movie came out while I was in the 7th grade. F-Cho I first heard because of a terrible V.C. Andrews novel I read that same year. The heartthrob character Troy (the Heaven series) played Chopin nocturnes in his little cottage beyond the hedge maze, and I remember buying a book of Chopin nocturnes just so I could soundtrack my pleasure reading. Thankfully, I think the better of the two musicians stuck with me, and I was very happy to see many more mourners and hundreds of candles lit at Chopin's grave than at the security-laden grave of Morrison.

Sorry I didn't write more from Scotland or Paris. I was kind of busy gallovanting in cathedrals and graveyards and eating stinky unpasteurized camembert. Mmmmmmmm.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Greetings from Scotland!

Good morning from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, er, I mean from Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ve never been to the WWHP, but Tyra has. She’s right that Edinburgh looks like a movie set, especially when you’re wandering around in the wee hours of the morning in search of a slice of pizza (found one). The cobblestone streets and narrow staircases that twist through the Old Town account for the ghost story history, and I was glad to have a friend with me. I don’t believe in ghosts, except when I am in Scotland.

I’ve been here at least five times, and that night time view of the castle jutting out of the volcano top, majestically illuminated with fancy 21st century lighting STILL blows me away. Even last night coming home from the gig in our taxi, I told Tyra, “Look over there.” I knew the castle would impress her, but I didn’t expect it to affect me like that. But every time, I am amazed.

Anyway, the gig was wonderful. It was better than I expected, especially for having flown in that morning from the States. Folks traveled from as far as Wolverhampton (a six-hour drive) to see me play, which was an amazing surprise. The crowd was great, and they sat attentively for much longer than I can sit still, hanging on to every lyric and making me remember why I love playing in the UK.

Nick Keir was an absolute wonder to see live, and I can’t wait to get him to American somehow. His songwriting is perfect, and his voice gives me chills. Hearing him live is even better than his CDs – something I generally don’t like to say, but i really was blown away by his songs.

Lissa-Kathe was the support act (I love how they say “support act” over here. It’s so much more charming than “opener.”), and she was a wonderful surprise. I love hearing other piano players because it is such a challenge to bring classical piano training to a folk-pop world. She played beautifully, even bringing an antique Hohner Accorion to the evening, where I attempted to back her up on a traditional tune on a wee accordion duet.

It was a fun evening, and completely made up for the fact that we didn’t get bumped to Business Class yesterday. Yes, Tyra and I admit that we are both completely spoiled brats when it comes to flying coach on Trans-Atlantic flights. We did, however, get Business Class treatment and free cocktails (not just beer and wine) thanks to a few tricks I had up my sleeve. The flight attendants even snuck the little Business Class goodie bags up to us and greeted us with mimosas, much to the annoyance of the people sitting across the aisle from us. I’m used to hostels and tour vans, but I like a mimosa pre-flight and an eyepatch and earplugs during. I know, I know, I am a princess. I’m okay with that.

Anyway, our dance card is quickly filling up, as Tyra made a thousand friends at last night’s gig. We’ve got a lunch date and an afternoon sight-seeing date and dinner reservations at The Witchery. This place may be haunted, but it sure is fun.

Friday, October 22, 2010

John Prine, First concerts, and Tic Tacs

The first concert I remember attending was when I was about six or seven. It was Arlo Guthrie and John Prine at Memorial Auditorium, and I got a full package of orange Tic Tacs for the occasion. I loved orange Tic Tacs. I loved their little medicine-like packaging, and how they tasted, and mostly ... how they smelled.

I remember listening to Arlo Guthrie, hoping more than anything that he would go ahead and sing "This Land is Your Land," and smelling those little orange tablets. As I took a deep whiff of orangy-sweetness, I noticed the candy was not on my finger anymore. It was somewhere up my nose.

Most of that night was pretty stressful because I knew I had been foolish. I couldn't possibly tell my parents that I had inhaled a Tic Tac, but I knew I didn't want to live my entire life with orange candy up my nose. Eventually, I sneezed, and relief abounded. But that's what I think of when I think of my first concert.

So, who's going to John Prine tonight at the Palace? He's my Grateful Dead. I've seen him more times than I've seen Johnny Berry. Well, that may not be true, but it's probably pretty close. It's my mom's fault, as she played him for me in the womb. For years, I thought "Illegal Smile" was "Illy Ol' Smile," like some sort of deedly-dee Irish song about smiling. I remember laughing at the "Happy Enchilada" girl on that live album for years before I figured out the "Illegal Smile" thing sometime in high school.

For years, most of my friends had never heard of him. Now he's somehow made this foray into the hipster scene, which is totally okay with me. It means I hear him on the radio when I'm in places outside of Kentucky. It means when I sing one of his songs in remote Isles of Scotland, someone in the audience smiles extra.

I got to meet him when he was here in November 2008, thanks to my friend Al, as well as my friend Tim Krekel. They both knew I'd wanted to meet him, and Tim was a friend of John's. Even today, Tim's Facebook profile picture remains a photo that we took that night of Tim, Debbie, John Prine, me, and John's bass player Dave. It was a fun night, and of course I told JP I wanted to play accordion with him someday. He smiled and said he'd heard I played with Elvis, and that it would be fun to play a few next time he's in town. He even named of a few tunes that would work well with the accordion. (My blog from that week recounts the story.) Well, I don't think it's going to happen tonight because JP seems a bit more shy than Elvis, but I'm still really excited about going to the concert.

So thanks, Tim, and thanks, Al, and maybe I'll see some of you folks with good taste in music out at the Palace tonight. I'll bring the Tic Tacs.

Good Show alert!
Friday, October 29, The Rudyard Kipling. 7:30.
If you can't afford the big-ticket shows like the Palace or you prefer intimate venues rather than the YUM! Arena, then mark your calendar this minute for next Friday, when John Prine's guitar player, Jason Wilber, will be playing at the Rud. I hate that that's the first thing everyone says about him because he's a tremendous singer-songwriter on his own, without the John Prine name-dropping. But I admite that's what first piqued my interest in his music, and if you like John Prine, you'll like Jason Wilber. Anyway, the price to see Jason solo is $8 in advance (www.jasonwilber.net/tickets) or $10 at the door. If you go, tell him I sent you. That way maybe he won't think of me as just the crazy-girl-who-emailed-him-asking-to-play-accordion-with-John-Prine. He'll think of me instead as a powerful marketing tool, hee hee. I had every intention of dropping by the Rud that night to play some tunes with Jason and opening act Joel Timothy (whose songwriting i LOVE!), but instead, I'll be in Paris that night. Woe is me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recording, Packing, Making lists!

Usually it's February that comes and goes before I blink. But somehow we've made it to October 19 before I realized that it's October. I keep thinking it's August, partly probably because of the crazy-warm weather (which I love love love), but mostly because I've been stupid-busy for the past month.

Right now I'm trying to finish up some recording before I leave for a quick Scotland tour. It's not a new record, but I thought I'd record a lo-fi EP with some newer tunes or some live show favorites that I doubtful will ever actually put on a full-length CD. I'm also thinking of doing the opposite of what most artists seem to be doing, which is not releasing this digitally at all ... and only making it available at live shows. I don't know. So much to think about! But the nice thing is having something new in my hands when I fly 4000 miles to a gig.

It's also been fun doing all the recordings myself, and I've never been so thankful for 1) my MacBook Pro and 2) being able to play a bunch of instruments. I like being able to record a piano or accordion solo on a whim at midnight. I like not having to depend on a guitar player for a scratch track. What I don't like is the freedom to re-record and re-record and re-record. Fortunately, I'm extremely impatient, so if it involves more than two takes, I just scrap the song.

So I leave for Scotland on Monday morning, and I've got all kinds of excitement to fit in before then: mix and master EP, burn CDs, put together in fancy sleeves, go see John Prine on Friday, volunteer at FWT's big conference this weekend, go to the wedding of some super-good friends, walk with my mom at the American Cancer Society walk on Sunday (http://tinyurl.com/pkaelin to donate! She's just $80 shy of her goal it looks like...), learn some other people's songs to sit in with them for the Edinburgh show, pack, and calculate how many Baked Potatoes from the Baked Potato Shoppe I can fit into 3.5 days in Edinburgh.

Sorry to use my blog as a To Do ListMaker.... I plan on sharing lots of adventures with you from the road. I'll be back in November ... November!! Can you believe it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

WoodSongs Video

Remember when I played WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour a few weeks ago? And the other amazing guest was Raul Malo?

Well, two things:
1) Raul Malo has a new record out, and you should check it out.
2) The video of the WoodSongs broadcast is up and available to see for free: http://128.163.130.14/woodsongs-592.wmv. I start playing about halfway through, I'm told. I admit that I haven't actually watched it yet. Seeing myself on video is kind of like listening to yourself on the answering machine. I can handle hearing my voice singing, but talking or on video ... do not like. Let me know how it is...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Am I turning into a grown-up?

This morning I woke up and did two uncharacteristic things. First, while getting dressed, I decided I wanted matching socks. You may not know this about me, but I never wear matching socks. They are almost always the same thickness (unless my sprankle is swollen, in which case I wear thin on the right foot and thick on the left), but they are rarely the same color or pattern. I don't purposely try to be contrary. I just don't understand why, if I'm wearing boots, it matters. But this morning, I took 10 minutes and matched up socks in my drawer, making a separate pile for the loners, and even contemplating throwing them away.

The second thing I did was to turn on the television while I was eating breakfast. It probably doesn't seem that odd to you, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've turned on the TV this year. I just don't ever think to do it, mostly because I usually have too much else I'd rather do. This morning, however, I didn't really have anywhere else to sit while eating, other than in the TV room. It's mostly because I got a new couch, and it's so nice that I don't want to eat around it, lest I ruin the one grown-up thing in my house (besides the KitchenAid Mixer, of course).

So, in the words of the Rainbow Hiker, "What does it mean?" What's with me? I watched about 5 minutes of "Regis and Kelly," although I'm pretty sure that dude this morning was NOT Regis. I even laughed out loud, before it occurred to me that I was watching TV.

I think maybe the sock thing was pure procrastination. I have so much to do that I needed to postpone them by doing something ridiculously (and unnecessary, if you ask me) domestic.

At the same time, I think maybe I'm changing a little bit. Suddenly I like having a couch that matches the rug. I like having a bright red stand mixer on the counter. I like not having a thousand roommates. It seems irresponsible to me to spend my savings account on pressing a new record. It seems like ... maybe I'm turning into a grown-up. DISLIKE!!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Scotland, Paris, and adventures.

Soooooo .... let's just say that your original 2010 Fall United Kingdom tour plans didn't quite work out. And for various personal and business reasons -- weddings, plane tickets, transportation -- you had to cancel a wonderful festival gig in England. (I still feel awful about doing that, and it's my first time ever canceling a gig... and such a wonderful one at that.) But you keep the one gig in Edinburgh because flights are much cheaper on a Monday, and your fairy godmother of a friend decides she wants to join you on this tour anyway.

Well, obviously, you go to Edinburgh, play an awesome show, hang out for a few days, drink fine Scotch, play music with the locals, climb an extinct volcano, take a ghost tour, and then fly to Paris. Obviously, right?

The next question is, then, what do two hott ladies do in Paris for a week? Give me your tips, your secrets, your hotspots, your advice, and your wisdom, my friends. I've got 3.5 days in Edinburgh and 4.5 days in Paris.

And, you friends in Scotland, please come to the Leith Folk Club on Tuesday, October 26, doors at 7:30. Nick Keir will be playing a set, as will Lissa-Käthe (an UMLAUT!! check it out!!), and, of course, I will be playing a set as well. Should be a full-on show ... complete with accordion, piano, guitar, musical saw, and yodeling.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lessons from DIY and manual labor.

I've learned a LOT about DIY stuff in the past month. For example, I now know what "DIY" stands for, although I have yet to learn how to pronounce it. (I like "DIE.") I think it seems mostly about owning a bunch of tools, and knowing what other tools exist out there in the world.

I wish that music was like that. I wish that every time I had a new session or gig, I could reasonably say, "Hmmmmm... yes.... well, I'm going to need a 42-key pink accordion with a MIDI out for this gig. Better go out and buy one." That seems to be how DIY works. When you need to "route" something (which does not involve using the GPS feature on your iPhone, by the way), you run to the store and buy a router. Apparently, buying a bunch of tools is still cheaper than paying someone else to do it for you. Then you can route all kinds of things. My piano might need some routing.

My new favorite tool is the caulk gun. You might say that I am the Queen of Caulk (but please don't say it out loud). FWT was doubtful when he gave me the menial task of caulking a baseboard last week, but by the time he turned his head, I'd not only caulked the entire bathroom, but was contemplating every tiny crack in the house. It seems a lot like cake decorating to me, but FWT says I shouldn't be piping roses in the doorways. I say, "Boooooooooring."

Anyway, ever since we got home (our emergency project was elsewhere), all I see is places that need caulking. Most of the baseboards could use a fresh bead (check out my lingo!), obviously, but also a few windows and doors. The caulk gun, however, has been hidden from me, and I suppose I should be focusing on all the work I got behind on during this DIY project, anyway.

Other things I learned:

They have Iron-On WOOD!! Seriously. Strips of real wood rolled up like tape that you just stick on the side of shelving and iron it on, then stain or paint or whatever. And it looks all smooth and stuff. I'm not sure if it's easier than sanding or not, but it sure looks nice.

I don't like manual labor. At all. My fingers are how I make a living, and things like blood blisters and crunchy, numbing pain from hours of painting are just not cool.

Audiobooks are the only thing that keeps my attention long enough to get an entire room painted.

A week of hard labor means a week of grabbing meals on-the-go. I'm dining in the rest of the week. (Except for Chuy's.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chuy's in Louisville ... now I don't have to move to Texas.

I've got a habit of planning my trips around how many meals I can fit into a day. A single day in New York involves getting up early enough for a bagel and cream cheese, so I still have room throughout the day for a slice from Two Boots, a doughnut from Doughnut Plant, a falafel from Mamoun's ... and those are just the snacks. Another favorite food destination is Austin, Texas, where my stops always include Kerbey Lane Cafe (for queso and pancakes), Polvos (Mexican martini and tamales), Magnolia (for anything breakfast), and ... Chuy's. Chuy's for general, delicious Tex-Mex food. And especially for jalapeño ranch dressing dip and chips.

And now, I don't need to move to Austin, nor try to drive the 16 hours home before the jalapeño ranch to-go that I froze the night before the road trip defrosts. Louisville has arrived. We have a Chuy's of our own. And I got to go to the special VIP preview soft opening last night. Sometimes it's good to be me.

Mmmmmmm.... I can still taste the jalapeño ranch dip. You have to know to ask for it when you first sit down at Chuy's. In fact, I think that's how the servers can spot the Texans. And I suspect when the Louisville Chuy's opens today at 11:00 for lunch, I suspect there will be a lot of folks asking for a bowl of jalapeño ranch dressing with their deliciously thin and crispy (and free) tortilla chips. All the Six Flaggers I know have been drooling since the news was first announced.

The food was delicious, and there were Texas-size portions. I had the guacamole soft tacos, which were loaded with guac and came with fresh pico de gallo, rice, and vegetarian refried beans that were better than I remembered. I have to give Chuy's kudos for making their refried beans without lard, as that's my main complaint about most of the other Mexican restaurants in this town. FWT had the vegetarian combo, which included an amazing chili relleno and a veggie enchilada. Between chips and dip, and bites of FWT's meal, I could only finish one of my tacos -- and that was soldiering on through stomach distress towards stomach explosion. Of course, being the glutton I was, I had just enough margarita to forget my box of leftovers.

I know we're supposed to eat local and all, but Chuy's has this cool feeling of seeming local. Maybe it's that bizarro Austin-Louisville link. So before you start complaining about Chuy's being a chain, -- which it surely has now become -- consider this. If Lynn's Paradise Cafe suddenly decided to open a restaurant in Austin (and why haven't they, by the way?), wouldn't you be calling all your Austin friends with a penchant for ugly lamps and omelets? I mean, we stole "Keep Austin Weird," so the least we could do is support something of theirs. Besides, I saw a lot of folks working there last night who seemed really happy just to be employed.

My other favorite Mexican restaurant in Louisville seems to always refuse to seat me because they are "closing in half an hour," and even though I love their margaritas, I often find it frustrating to go there. I'll still go for their black beans and nachos, but Chuy's may be my new gotta-have-a-margarita stop. The place is 11,000 square feet inside, plus at 5000sq ft patio to hang out, eat, wait, drink, and be merry.

I'm going back tonight because my parents and I made plans to eat there on opening day, long before I got the special invite. They don't take reservations, but the waiting/bar area is huge and contains a trunk-full of chips -- literally. There's half a car poking out of the wall with its trunk wide open and full of nacho fixin's). Since I'm expecting there will be a crowd of Tex-pats and loads of folks who remember that jalapeño ranch dip from their vacations, I plan on camping out by the nacho car and gorging myself until I'm too full to eat, then once a table opens up, ordering a meal anyway. Let's hope that tonight, I don't forget my box full of leftovers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Floors, Music, Rumours, Love Jones, Scotland.

Remember me? Hi. I'm sorry. Yes, I got your where-have-you-been messages. I'm still here, I promise. I'm also determined to get back on the daily blogging regimen, so as to give you all something to read during your work days.

As for where I've been, well, I've been caught up with boring grownup crap for the past two weeks. I also had a lot of shows in between all that madness, but unfortunately, they were just pauses in my busy days, and not the reason for my stress. I like being stressed out about having too many shows. That's a fabulous problem. But this was emergency home repairs and far too many trips to Lowes and Home Depot and Oscar's and Keith's and Horton's. (Now THERE are some places that need those little key-ring scanner frequent-shopper cards.)

Anyway, it's back to music and fun and excitement and blogging now.

The Love Jones show at NuLuFest was fantabulous. Those boys make me laugh more than anything, and I think I wish I had Love Jones rehearsal every week. It's funnier than The Big Bang Theory (which actually, I don't think is all that funny ... i think it's rather predictable humor, but apparently, all my friends think it's hilarious, so that's my frame of reference...). Those LJ boys are just silly, and then they go and play 11ths and sharp 13ths and that just makes me have a collective crush on all of them.

And the RUMOURS gig that I was so hesitant to play ... well, that turned out amazing. Like magical. I actually listened to that record AFTER the show was over, all week long, while I was caulking and sanding and painting baseboards. Kimmet blew my mind as Stevie Nicks, and I was able to somehow turn into a sensitive singer during the C-Mac parts and sing "Oh Daddy" without laughing. As for Danny and Todd and Ray and Tim, well, they were just perfect. I think we'll do that show again, and this time, I'd better see you in the crowd. Money-back guarantee from me, I think. It is a gooooood time.

What else is up this week? One of my favorite restaurants in the world is opening in Louisville tomorrow. There is the GonzoFest at the Monkey Wrench on Saturday, where I'm playing a 10-minute set just after Mrs. Hunter S. Thompson speaks. Next week, John Prine is at the Palace, a place where magic things happen. And two days later, I fly to Edinburgh.

The blog is back, friends, and I'm ready to write about adventures and more adventures.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Busy busy busy ... and donations.

I'm sorry. I've been ridiculously overwhelmed with both musical duties and boring grown-up crap. Thus, I've been too busy to blog, but not too busy to donate to my mom's American Cancer Socity Breast Cancer Walk Team. Her mastectomy was ten years ago, and she's not the only survivor in our family. If you've got it in you, please help her reach her $1000 Walkathon goal.

Please donate here: http://tinyurl.com/pkaelin

Thanks!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stealing a Rollover. 199999...200000!!!

I borrowed my dad's Volvo for a few days because my car was low on gas. That's lame, I know. Honestly, I always hesitate to fill the gas tank because I'm convinced my car is going to die at any moment. Wouldn't that be just a shame to -- on top of the car keeling over -- to have just filled up the gas tank? So anyway, I've got the Volvo, which has been also useful because now I do things like, say, drive over 35 miles per hour, and fasten my seatbelt on the first try, open the trunk without the alarm system going off, and, most importantly, transport things like say, my keyboard, which doesn't fit in my tiny little Volkswagen. I love borrowing the Volvo. (I love all things Swedish, actually, except meatballs.)

The tricky part is now negotiating my miles-driven so that I don't steal Dad's rollover. It's at 199968 or something right now, and the only thing worse than missing your own rollover -- you know, when you pay attention for the last 5 miles, then think about something else by the time it rolls over -- is when you loan out your car and someone else gets to watch those numbers flip over. FWT and I stole Friend Who Drives a Smart Car's 10k rollover once, and we felt terrible about it.

I understand that most of you out there -- you folks who have fancy cars that contain computers -- don't get the enjoyment of watching those old-fashioned alarm clock style digits actually roll back into the dashboard and seeing the zeros sneak their way up. For you, the numbers just change in a flash. But this ol' 1992 Volvo is going to have a wonderful rollover, half-filled with nines and half with zeros.

I must budget my driving so that he can enjoy this simple pleasure on his own.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rehearsals, thirds, and elevenths.

Last night's rehearsal was a good time. I didn't want to go, mostly because I was utterly unprepared. Like I admitted yesterday, I am really not all that familiar with Fleetwood Mac songs, so I would have preferred to stay home and listen to the record and chart the songs rather than rehearse the entire album with five folks who seem to know all the songs inside and out.

For you who have no idea what I'm talking about, this Saturday at 6:30 and again at midnight, as part of the MotherLodge Festival at the Rudyard Kipling, Ray Rizzo has coordinated six Louisville musicians to get together and perform the entire "Rumours" album. I learned last night that this record is older than I am, which I guess really isn't all that strange.

Anyway, five of the Louisville musicians are just brilliant at playing and singing this record. I plan on being brilliant by Saturday's performance, too, but for now I'm feeling just slightly above average. Danny Flanigan, Ray Rizzo, Todd Johnson, Tim Halcomb, and Kimmet Cantwell, totally rocked the rehearsal, making me think we're going to pull this thing off just fine. Plus, it's a new group of folks, and I love performing with other people.

Your Stevie Nicks for the evening will be Kimmet (of Kimmet and Doug), who totally nailed every lead vocal and harmony and who, I'm quite convinced, will blow your minds at Saturday's shows. I'm also impressed by how she knows what to do with her hands without holding an instrument.

I kept thinking to myself that if I didn't have to actually know all the piano and organ parts, this thing wouldn't be stressing me out so much. I could just learn the words and sing. But after watching Kimmet in rehearsal, who is so totally confident just standing up there singing, there is no way I could do that for an entire show. Singing without an instrument is like playing a brand new song in a living room to just one person -- utterly awkward. I don't know what to do with my hands or where to look. Learning the piano parts will at least give me something to do besides stand there uncomfortably.

Tonight ... back to learning Love Jones tunes. From songs with no thirds, to songs with sharp elevens ... my brain is spinning. It is good.

The week:
Friday, Oct 1 on WFPK's Live Lunch: LOVE JONES. noon-1:00. Streaming live at www.wfpk.org (Listen for me on keyboards)
Friday, Oct 1 on East Market Street: Brigid playing solo to passers-by at the First Friday Trolley Hop. Admittedly, street performing is not exactly my favorite kind of gig. Is anyone coming? I'll be across from the Green Building from about 7:00-8:30.
Saturday, Oct 2: 6:30 "Rumours" at the Rudyard Kipling
9:00-11:00 LOVE JONES at NuLuFestival by the Green Building (FREE)
midnight "Rumours" at the Rudyard Kipling

Monday, September 27, 2010

Work-Life Balance vs. Fleetwood Mac-Love Jones Balance.

I'm pretty good at being self-employed, I think. At least, I've managed to not foreclose on my house over the past eight years, which is a huge accomplishment in this economy. The one thing I'm trying to maintain these days is a good work-life balance. It's not a term I was ever familiar with, especially considering my work has been my life. If I wasn't teaching piano or learning someone else's songs or writing my own songs, then I was out at night hearing live music or talking about the music business with friends. I like having some off-time in the evenings, however, for things like cooking and cleaning and reading and hanging out with FWT.

Over the past year, I (like many of you, I've noticed) haven't been going out very much. Every time I go out to a show, I'm reminded of how much I love being there, hearing live music, and seeing friends, so I know that I won't ever give that up. But I've been trying really hard over the past few months to stop doing work after 7:00. It hasn't been a terrible problem, except that now I'm dreadfully behind in things and I keep saying "yes" when perhaps I should be declining.

But who can say no to a gig in this economy, right?

I was up early this morning, trying to learn all the keyboard parts and Christine McVie vocals to the entire Rumours album. I know, I know, my job is bizarre, right? It's not a complex part, but I want to get it right. (It also seems a bit more fun than replying to a thousand emails, running to the bank, printing posters, mailing them to Scotland, etc. I should prioritize better.)

Honestly, I didn't grow up with that record. I grew up not really knowing who Fleetwood Mac was, and assuming that John Prine was as famous as Johnny Cash. My musical knowledge is skewed a bit, to say the least. But it's a nice task, being forced to sit down and not just listen to a famous album, but dissect and reconstruct it. Still, however, it's pushing this whole no-working-past-7:00 thing. Especially, when I have rehearsals for various shows every single evening this week.

And along with Rumours, I've got about twenty-five Love Jones songs to learn by Live Lunch on Friday. I know most of them, but I still have a lot of listening and memorizing to do. Honestly, I'm enjoying learning the Love Jones stuff a bit more than the Fleetwood Mac. The Jon Brion keyboard parts are more challenging than the Christy McVie, but I prefer playing jazzy ninths and thirteenths to droning the fifth on B3 and playing with drawbars. I know her parts are important and subtly difficult, but they don't make me laugh like the Love Jones boys do.

Anyway, all that to say that I won't be maintaining much of a work-life balance this week. But I'm aiming to treat the blog as work and keep it going nonetheless. I'm back on the caffeine temporarily, so it just might be possible.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why we do this crazy stuff...

Thanks for all the awesome messages of support. For today's blog, I'm going to link you up to a friend and fellow indie-artist. Her name is Wendy Colonna, and she wrote a blog yesterday that pretty much sums it up.

http://wendycolonna.com/why-i-do-this-crazy-music-stuff-for-a-living

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thanks for the award, friends.

I didn't get a "Senior Superlative" in my high school yearbook. I remember being really surprised and mildly insulted when the yearbook staff passed out ballots for run-offs in the superlative categories that were close, and I was apparently in the run-off election for "Biggest Flirt." (Laugh away, folks, laugh away.) I also remember voting for the other person, and being really glad that she won in the re-count.

I know it ultimately doesn't matter, so I try not to put much thought into what others think of me. But that's easier said than done. And you know what? It feels really nice to have been voted Best Singer-Songwriter in Louisville by the LEO Readers' Choice Awards (again) yesterday. I know that I shouldn't put much thought into things like external validation, but honestly, it feels really nice to see that I'm not out there singing and writing and touring for no reason.

This business is hard. I know I am mostly a happy, cheerful person, but it's really really tough to be an independent musician in a time where it's just about impossible to make a living at it.

You may have noticed I don't have a new record. Well, I only just today paid off the last one. (Round of applause, folks!!!) That took three years, folks, and a lot of shows and tours, each with their own expenses. And every day I ask myself what the point of making a new CD would be. I'd be better off -- financially anyway -- just burying a wad of cash in the backyard. But I know it's not about the money, or I wouldn't be in this business.

More than anything, I'm reminded by this award that someone -- more than a few -- folks out there are listening. As strange as it is for me to think that someone might be listening to my music right now in their car, on their walk, on a plane, I think I need to remember that more often. Things like getting this award make me remember that I'm not in this alone, that I may sing and play and write because I can't imagine doing anything else, and that maybe, just maybe, I am pretty good at what I do.

So thank you to all who voted for me, but more importantly, thank you to all of you who listen. Thank you to those who support musicians, who buy their records, who come to their concerts, who spread the love and music and who tell their friends about singers, players, writers, artists, etc. And sincere congratulations to all the other winners, as well as to all who didn't win, but who make the world a much better place by making and sharing their art. Even if you don't get your name on a plaque, you should know that what you do matters.

In special thanks, both of my full-length albums are available digitally this week for only $4.99 on http://brigidkaelin.bandcamp.com. Cheers, everyone.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My dreams fulfilled. Thank you, KitchenAid.


For those of you who browse my Amazon.com WishList daily (but who surprisingly have yet to buy that Oxford English Dictionary for me, tsk tsk!), you may have noticed a missing item. Remember my blog from April? "My longing for a kitchen appliance", in which I 'fessed up to having a burning desire for material possession?

Well, I got just about the most ridiculous gift over the weekend from my parents, who I'm guessing were touched by my I-never-had-a-grandmother-to-spoil-me-blog. Out of the blue, and for no apparent reason, they decided that I deserved an Empire Red KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer.

And folks, it is fantastic.

I grew up believing all the morals of every story I read, ever movie I saw, every fairy tale I heard. Thus, I believe, however foolishly, that money can't buy you love, that princes show up on white horses (or trucks), and that family is the most important thing.

So it's slightly mortifying that I am so completely infatuated with this Mixer.

Yesterday, after attempting my first bread not-kneaded-by-hand (a tricky task, I might add!), I caught myself not just wiping down the majestic beast of an appliance, but getting out a soft cloth and making sure it returned to its original glistening state with the most gentle caresses. I felt like that guy with the mid-life crisis who waxes his brand new red sports car daily, and, even worse, I think now maybe I actually understand that yearning.

What happened to the morals of the story? Don't I remember that Scrooge missed out on life because he spent all day counting and stacking his money? I feel horrible that my kitchen suddenly feels complete. And yet it was an oddly fulfilling feeling ... like I can bake anything I want, use as many specialty tools as I need, and toss it all in the dishwasher while waiting for the dough to rise.

And oh, how quickly those cookies came together ...

By the way, with all these love letters to KitchenAid in my widely-read blog, don't you think KitchenAid should send me the Pasta Maker attachment as a public "thank you?" Clearly, the materialism has gone to my head ...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Housekeepers, interns, and coffee.

More of you have housekeepers than are admitting. Fess up. Bookshelves that are dust-free and a clutter-free living room is not normal. I used to think that "the cleaning lady" (or I suppose "cleaning man") was only for the insanely wealthy, but now I think it's more of a necessity. And I think I necess one.

I've also noticed that those of you who don't have one are going on cleaning fits around your house, probably preparing for a winter of hibernation. I am doing the same thing, but I am really bad at this. I can get the floors clean and the shelves dusted, but it takes me forever. I'm starting to think a housekeeper would be cheaper than my time is.

Maybe I should let some poor college student live in my guest room in exchange for dusting and cleaning and light yardwork. FWT seems to think that is indentured servitude, but I think it's very clever.

Perhaps I just noticed my messy house because I work from home. And sometimes it's easier to sweep the floor than to get caught up on emails. I think I'll go up to Heine Brothers to get some work done now. They are always sweeping the floors up there.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stay in bed and read? Or work? Hmmmm...

I kind of feel like playing sick today. I'm feeling fine, other than an ankle that isn't quite as well as I thought it was when I started walking around on it. But that wasn't really the issue. Really, it was just nice to cuddle up in blankets and read a book. I'm to that point in a book where I just need to finish it. It's not the gripping page-turner that I was promised when I started, but I need to know whodunnit.

I'm the sort of person who likes to read a book in one sitting. It's funny because I can't think of anything else that I actually like to complete. Even when washing dishes, I like to leave one or two in the sink. Or I'll sweep the floor but not throw away the dust pile. Or as the case in the recent built-in-bookshelf-building adventure, I'll put the books back on it before the final doors are hung or not wait for the paint to entirely dry. But with books, I need to finish them as soon as possible.

And so it annoys me that I must go to Kinko's (really, is anyone ever going to actually call it "FedEx Office" in vernacular?), the bank, the post office, and make a zillion phone calls before my 12:30 appointments. I would prefer to call in sick (my boss is really cool) and finish this book.

Ooooh ... in the self-promotion department, there's an interview with me up at Loueyville.blogspot.com, specifically: http://loueyville.blogspot.com/2010/09/awesome-louisvillager-brigid-kaelin.html This was one of my favorite interviews. I was a bit long-winded, but they were great questions. I like it when the media folks do their homework and don't ask the same old questions. Loueyville clearly researches before she reaches out. There's also a nice archive of other "Awesome Louisvillagers," as well as lots of other great blog posts there. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Video of live show.

How about some music? I have oodles of video, both of crazy on-the-road antics and live performances. I don't have oodles of time to edit them. But today I managed to upload a nice edit-free live clip of me and Peter Searcy playing at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival earlier this year.

Enjoy! Oh, and my YouTube channel is www.youtube.com/brigidkaelin in case you want to subscribe.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How do you organize your books?

Forget your music collection. That's been a topic in bars and movies for years now. I want to know how you arrange your books. My new floor-to-ceiling bookshelf is just about finished, and I've put about 300 books up there. It's kind of embarrassing that that doesn't even come close to holding my collection, but it just gives me a reason to build more.

In the mean time, how do you arrange yours? Alphabetical? Dewey Decimal System? Library of Congress? Fiction/Non-Fiction? All the Vintage Paperback Classics on one shelf? All the red books on another?

I've got a system going that makes perfect sense to me, although FWT thinks I'm kooky. I probably am, but I can find both my French/English dictionary and my World According to Garp in an instant.

What's your system?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sprankles and wankles and pancakes.

I've got a sprankle. It's not as bad as several years ago, when I fell and it turned purple and black and looked like half of a moldy grapefruit attached to my foot. That time it was swollen for about six months and has never quite returned to its normal size. Doctor friends have told me I probably broke it, but I never went to the doctor because of my Crappy American Health Insurance™. If it had been my wrist -- something I actually need in my job -- I might have gone into debt for it. But I can do with a wankle that occasionally gives out. This one just happened to give out on the stairs yesterday, and I took a tumble, and the wankle became a sprankle.

Whine whine whine.

In related news, so much for getting back on the treadmill. I think I'll cook pancakes this morning. Because I'm so injured.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Zombies, DIY projects, and Art.

As I've said before, I would be useless in the zombie wars. I would play the role of the obnoxious female lead (in 1970s films, before women started being able to take care of themselves in movies) who sits there and screams, trying to operate the gun, or the hammer, or the stake (wait, that's for vampires, sorry...), and I would only be saved because I'm supposed to end up with the hero.

I was reminded of my uselessness over the past week while FWT and I were constructing built-in bookshelves in our house. It's something I've wanted to do since I bought the place five years ago. My old roommate Vicki and I even convinced ourselves one day that we were totally capable of building them, and I even went so far as to check out a bunch of woodworking books from the library. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately, for the stability and equity of my home), we never got around to making those dreams come true.

So for the next few years, I thought it was just my lack of tools that prevented me from building them myself. Tools are expensive, and it's not like I was going to be using them ever again. Plus, I wouldn't know where to begin.

FWT, thankfully, did most of the work and fixed my errors without acknowledging them as mistakes, and smiled even when I accidentally painted him (more about that later). And my bookshelves are bee-yoo-tiful. Still, I learned some things over the past week:

1) It's a good thing I never decided to major in architecture, like I once wanted to do.
2) that placing the stud-finder over a good-looking man and going "BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP" is not as funny as I thought it would be. And apparently, it's an old joke.
3) that something called a "router" makes those cool designs on doors, not a skilled artisan with a chisel
4) that my arthritic fingers are totally useless when it comes to doing ANY manual labor and that they cramp up into a tight ball after sanding two pieces of wood, then ache for days.
5) that trying to paint for hours after sanding two pieces of wood is a terrible idea
6) Buy the expensive blue painter's tape, or you'll cry when you rip it off.
7) Don't assume that your partner-in-DIY-projects closed the paint tin properly before you start to shake the paint up. Yes, FWT was covered in white interior latex semi-gloss ...
8) You're supposed to close the paint cans with a hammer when you're finished. (Sorry, FWT.)

Most of all, I learned that I not only lack the skills to build things, but I especially lack the patience. It's all tiny, tiny details -- things I'm happy to ignore, like letting the paint dry completely, or sanding, or measuring.

I prefer cooking, where details aren't so important, and where the structural integrity of the biggest investment of your life won't be compromised when you don't measure things out precisely. In other words, I prefer things where attempting a bit of daring creativity doesn't cause me to break into tears. I guess I'm a little selfish. Oh well.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back in Nashville.

I'm in Nashville for a couple of days, which is always like vacation, even when it's work. Also, I'm driving The Truck. Friend with a Truck has been demoted to Friend with a Volkswagen, and I'm hoping he remembers he is not as big and powerful as usual. People don't yield to Volkswagens.

It always amazes me when I borrow The Truck and people immediately starting paying attention to my turn signals. It must be a lot what Andre the Giant felt like when he walked down the sidewalk. Everyone just gets out of your way and lets you merge whenever you want. It's a lot more difficult to park than my little VW, however, so I spent a while looking for a parking spot.

Right now, I'm lingering in the Sheraton Hotel lobby watching about a hundred conference-goers schmooze and schmooze over wine and whisky. Usually, I love going to these things by myself and flitting and fleeting and making new friends. The schmoozing part I could do without, but I do like hanging out with music business people. Mostly, I like them because they all love their jobs, and they don't treat my career as a musician like it's "cute."

Today, however, I'm feeling introverted. Isn't that weird? I went through my ritual of driving directly to the Noshville for breakfast and eating solo at the counter. Now I'm holed up in a busy area of the hotel, hanging out with my pink laptop, hoping that by the time I go back to where I parked The Truck, the people on either side will have moved. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hanging out with some friends I rarely get to see and seeing some good music tonight.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The unoffical last day of summer.

It's bad enough that I've had a headache every day for a week now that's to fall allergies, but I think the worst part about autumn is the official closing of the swimming pools. Traditionally, it's a Labor Day event, a time to actively enjoy the last flip off the high dive, the last snorkel for lost treasures like hair barrettes and pennies, the last time you tump* your unsuspecting dad over on his raft, and the last day to just sit poolside in a floppy hat with a trashy vampire novel. Labor Day this year was no exception.

Except that I chose comfort over nostalgia this year, and barely even got my toes wet. It was cold, folks.

Lakeside is my pool of choice. (I understand it's a lucky birthright in my case. Let's not discuss pool memberships today.) Monday evening, I dropped by after teaching an afternoon of piano lessons -- the self-employed don't get holidays -- to enjoy one last evening by the pool. My mom's book club (they read smarter novels than vampire lit) had a picnic there, so I scavenged some vegan potato salad and watermelon before heading to the diving boards with FWT.

FWT reverts to boyhood when he is at the pool, ignoring the freezing cold water, and practicing his gainer-walkaround-squirrels off the high board, no matter how ugly or painful they turn out. It's funny to watch. Apparently, he's not the only one that loses twenty years on the last day of summer.

There was a revolt at the pool. The old folks' swim team (old as in ages 18-94) converged in the deep end for a massive game of Sharks and Minnows, and everyone else at the pool swam out to the floating island, climbing up and refusing to exit the pool when the lifeguards blew the final closing whistle of the season. It was organized anarchy -- an oxymoron, I know -- but they seem to play this game with the staff every year. It's not a place where one breaks the rules, so this refusal to get out of the pool was accompanied by wild laughter and a slight fear of getting in trouble. Even the chants of, "Heck no, we won't go," -- "heck" because it's a family establishment after all -- seemed to be chanted with the greatest respect.

It was a funny sight, but I don't like to break the rules. I watched the scene for a few minutes, but as soon as the staff got on the PA system and said, "Seriously, folks, you have to get out of the water. It's dark. Our lifeguards can't see you. Let's keep this place fun," I went home.

And really, I'm okay with summer coming to an end. I don't like the winter, but this summer has been terribly distracting. With summer music festivals, vacations, friends having babies, my garden going crazy, the diving boards calling, it's hard to get much work done in the summertime. I like the focus of the new year (L'Shana Tova, everyone), and I've got some exciting things to look forward to this fall. Now if only I could find the right allergy medicine and this headache would go away.

*"tump" is a Southern word. Please use logic and context to infer its meaning.

UK Tour dates... almost ready to announce...

I'm currently trying to fill in dates on this United Kingdom tour that I've booked for February. Some of the dates have been really ...