Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fixing things and gardening.

Wee Angus running through Dages Paint!
Have y'all ever flipped a house before? I am sort of doing that, except that it's a rental I've had for 14 years. And it's only ever cost me money because something major breaks and because pretty much every tenant -- no matter how nice a person -- has left the house damaged in some incredibly expensive way. (I swear, I've never been much of a Hobbesian, but being a landlord has given me reason to lean that way.) So really, I suppose, it's the opposite of flipping ...

Anyway, we are getting rid of this house, and we're fixing everything properly, unlike the people I bought the house from, who just sort of polished some things up and sold it to a sucker like me.

Fixing things up properly, it turns out, takes a lot of time and money and energy.

But I'm happy to see this lovely house shining again. I love old homes -- their history, their details, even their dirt. Schnitzelburg was a dairy farm back in the day, so the dirt there now is basically a massive compost bin (that doesn't smell). Gardening in Germantown made me feel like I had an exceptionally green thumb before a neighbor pointed out the amazingly lush history of the dirt.

Stressors abound lately, and throwing in selling a house just makes it laughable.

I know, however, that my life is pretty great. It's great to have a home to unload. It's great to be able to use that money to fix up my parents' home. It's great to be able to buy local for fixer-upper supplies (Dages paint got all my money, yesterday!) It's great to be married to David, who knows how to fix everything. (Also, he's really hot.)

Update on my mom here:
Ways to support indie musicians:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Blogging from the chemo lab.

Gooooood Monday morning, y'all! I'm writing from the Norton Cancer Institute where, for the first time in months, I'm able to accompany my mom to her doctor's appointment. I lost my nanny in August, and it's been a struggle to piecemeal childcare. My in-laws are visiting this week, however, so they're snuggling wee Angus, so I can snuggle my mommy.

Things I'm observing: it's been 3 months since she's been able to have treatment because her blood counts have been off, making it dangerous to have chemo. Good news/bad news, of course, because no treatment gives the tumors time to grow. Good news is her hair is growing back.

She'd been dying her hair red for about the last 10 years because she had this redhead daughter and had just always wanted red hair. Because of the dye jobs, none of us ever noticed if her hair was graying or not.

It's grown back, is about an inch or too long, and I'm here to tell you that at 66 years old, her hair is 98% brown. She has a super cut tiny white patch on her upper right forehead -- and that's it.

She's also been having some fun with her faux-hawk for the past month and dying it various bright colors that fade after a couple of days. Today she's sitting in a hospital chair, hooked up to a bag of fluids, scrolling through Facebook, with a burgundy stripe in her hair.

No word on whether there's treatment or not today -- I hope she can have it -- but in the mean time, I'm making good use of a rolling desk and hammering out emails and blogs this morning to catch up with work.

Super fun weekend of playing music with friends! Belknap Festival was brilliant. Photo below.

Ways to support indie musicians:

photo by Robert Pieroni

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mommy-tracked in the Music Biz. EYE ROLL.

A music business friend I hadn't seen in ages asked me what I've been up to lately. "Oh, just gigging, doing self-employed work, hustling, playing lots" -- all of which is true.

His response? "Oh, I didn't think you'd been playing much since you had kids."

It's making me CRAZY, y'all. I didn't realize it was possible to get Mommy-tracked in the independent musician business, but argh, it is, and it's irritating as can be. Longer essay on that to follow, but this is just my blog, you know.

Anyway, I don't always tell you, dear readers, about every single gig I play -- and that's mostly because I play a ton of private events and that just seems mean to tell you about. Like, hey, y'all, I'm playing this amazing house concert this weekend, and the homeowner is making 3 kinds of chili and an entire buffet of desserts and YOU CAN'T COME NANNY-NANNY-BOO-BOO!

Just for fun, here are some photos of one of these house concerts. Maybe they'll inspire you to host your own event because aren't party-leftovers the best? And bringing live music to your living room is something you'll talk about for years on end.


United Kingdom I've got dates available:

  • Monday, January 29 in Somerset or Dorset or South Wales or Bath/Bristol?
  • Saturday, February 3 ideally somewhere between Yorkshire and Edinburgh, but, hey, I'm not about backtracking. 
I'm all about work these days, y'all. Work work work work work work work.

Also, I'm selling my house in Schnitzelburg. Anyone want it? 1350 sq ft? 2/1? You know it's hott there right now.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sukkot celebrations and tricks.

Graham as a pumpkin in 2013. 
We spent last weekend building a shed, or as I like to think of it, preparing for Sukkot. Y'all, I think I'm going to start getting *really* into Sukkot. I grew up more Jewish than Catholic (interfaith parents), but I still didn't know what Sukkot was until I learned my kid's preschool canceled school for two days because of it. Further research revealed that Sukkot is probably the holiday behind Thanksgiving -- not necessarily a cultural appropriation, but more, like WHAT A GREAT IDEA FOR A HOLIDAY, LET'S ALL DO IT.

This year Sukkot happens to coincide with some houseguests who are not Jewish, but always very inquisitive about Jewish traditions. I'm tempted to play the most wonderful tricks on them and make sure they are get a chance to craft a proper "Sukkot hat" and attend the "Traditional Sukkot Seance" while making sure everyone at the table is wearing the "Orange Sukkot Scarf." But not everyone things my jokes are funny, and I don't want anyone to think I'm being mean, rather than playful.

Instead, I think I'll just, as stated above, get really into Sukkot, and we can all have Thanksgiving in October. Because, really, Thanksgiving is just the best holiday, so why not have two? Or, more accurately, I suppose we'll have Sukkot, and then we'll have Sukkot again the fourth Thursday in November.

BUY MY CD PLEASE. Or download it for free, whatever, but maybe buy a t-shirt?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Laundry and marriage and folding boards.

I mean, why does it matter how you
fold DIAPERS when they are just
gonna get POOPED on anyway?

How do you all sort out laundry with your partners? 

For years, we each just did our own laundry. But three years into David traveling all the time, and his laundry piling up because I didn't want him spending our family time doing laundry on the weekends, I decided to take over laundry completely.

I honestly don't mind. It's not like I love laundry, but I do work out of my home office, which happens to be right next to the laundry room. So when a student is late while I'm teaching, I'll switch a load, or while I'm creating invoices or answering emails, I'll switch another load. I generally do 6-8 loads of laundry on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and it's finished.

I thought it was working quite well.


I apparently do not fold his clothes properly.

This is not surprising, and it should in no way be construed as a "man has wife who does his laundry, but is critical of her folding techniques," even though I suppose that would be a factual headline. I am the one insisting on doing the laundry, however, because I am tired of the massive piles of dirty clothes on the floor and doing everyone's laundry helps keep me on a schedule.

A few weeks ago, he said he would rather me not fold it at all than to fold it incorrectly.

So I stopped folding his clothes. Sometimes I carry up a wad of clean clothes in a laundry basket. Sometimes I just lay everything flat in a big pile and put it in his office to deal with. I'm not sure I love this, however, because now there is just a big pile of clean clothes rather than a big pile of dirty clothes, so how is this solving a problem?

He asked me, "Would you like me to show you how to fold them?" I promptly replied that if he enjoyed being married to me, he would absolutely not teach me how to fold his underwear. But since it seems important to him, I would watch a YouTube video that shows me the way he likes them folded and adjust accordingly.

He has yet to send me such a video, so the wads of clean clothes continue. I suggested that he maybe create his own YouTube video, but then I thought that might make him a huge enemy to all women -- a video of a man teaching his wife how to fold his old fraternity dance t-shirts probably does not endear him to the world.

And, my friends, he is very endearing. He just cares a little more about right angles and matching socks than I do.

I asked a friend about this, but she was no help because she uses a FOLDING BOARD. Someone point me in a more civil direction?


Gratuitous photo of adorable children just because:
Brothers holding hands on the sidewalk.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Mental health checkup & irish fest photos.

My husband's snapchat, ha ha!
Hey friends! I think my antidepressants are working. How's that for straight-talk about mental health? I've been a bit of a mess since my live-in nanny went on vacation 2 months ago. I can't decide if it's because I haven't been able to work or because I haven't been able to go to yoga, but I need to find some sort of regular childcare so I can do both. Today, however, I have a babysitter, and I've escaped to a coffeeshop to answer a bunch of emails, build invoices, and book tours. Tonight I am playing a 3-hour gig with the best bluegrass band in the state, and that is something to look forward to. I still have 105 unheard voicemails, but it feels good to want to get out there again.

Also, there are $484 flights to Paris from Cincinnati, so don't be surprised if you see me checking in to the Eiffel Tower at some point. I need a break, and Angus needs a passport stamp.

Irish Fest was good fun, and here are some highlights:
My cargo bike loaded with my guitar, saw, accordion, merch.

Princess hair!
View from soundcheck. Steve Cooley and Mike Schroeder.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Louisville, Kentucky t-shirts for Those Who Drift Away.

MY SECOND RUN OF T-SHIRTS HAS ARRIVED! If you ordered one at my CD release show, I'll get it to you ASAP. Wayne & April, I haven't gotten any sans fleur-de-lis yet, but I'm working on it. The rest of you, I'll send you an email, or message me.

Shirts are $20 no matter your size, and I would LOVE to sell one to you. I mean, no one buys CDs anymore, so if you're just streaming my new album because you like everything digital, then how about buying a shirt? It's grey, so it works well with your minimal wardrobe. And my name is on the back, so mostly you can have a cool shirt with Kentucky on it. And don't we all need one of those???

Fall has consistently been my busiest gigging season, and this year is no different. I'm doing a zillion private events, from Rosh Hashanah celebrations to fancy soirees, but in between I've got a couple of public gigs.

This weekend: IRISH FEST!
Bellarmine University. I'm emceeing the event, so I'll be there both days all day. It's all ages, and you get a dollar off if you're a Zoo member.
I'm also playing two sets of Celtic-inspired songs with Steve Cooley on banjo and Mike Schroeder on mandolin. It'll be a fun event, and if you're vegetarian like me, you have an excuse to eat french fries all weekend.
Saturday 9/23 on the Main Stage at 2:40
Sunday 9/24 at the Cralle Theatre at 12:15


Monday, September 18, 2017

Nashville wrap-up and Monday Morning music.

Crazy morning bed-head princess hair.
Monday morning, y'all. Entirely because of the title, here's a video of Adam Holmes with me on accordion and backup vocals before he released his first album. We're doing a live thing on the BBC, recorded on the Hebredian Isle of Lewis, just before we played HebCelt Music Festival.

Monday is particularly difficult this week, as I'm just returned from a week in Nashville. The AmericanaFest is one of my favorite weeks of the year, a time when I get to catch up with industry friends from around the globe and see music. This year I didn't get to see as much music because I had my babies with me. Not ideal, but I brought a babysitter with me to manage times when I was at panels or lunches or interviews. She was wonderful and made the conference possible, but I still wish I could have gone solo to the event -- it's really hard for me to clock out of parenting and into music-ing. Re-entry is easier because I'm happy to see the boys, but leaving them without anxiety and list-managing? SO HARD.

Anyhoo, I'm off to edit a little interview that Michael Young did with Joan Osborne that I got some video off. Will share in a bit! She's a hometown hero, and wow, is she smart.
Photos from Nashville:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

AmericanaFest Day 1. Nashville, y'all!

Good morning from AmericanaFest! I'm in Nashville (MY HOUSE IS GUARDED BY THREE BIG STRONG HOUSESITTERS/HOUSEGUESTS, SO STAY AWAY STALKERS!), and I'm a nervous mess because I have to be social. The stage is just so much safer.

Here are some thoughts as I stare out at the Nashville skyline from a swanky hotel couch. My coffee table is made of a tree trunk spray painted gold because it's Westin-hip I guess.

In Nashville for the week for work — catching up with industry friends and trying to figure out how this business has changed since I squeezed out my babies. The music business is not kind to mothers, as I found out last night attempting to go to a free show in the penthouse at 8pm when I was told it was 21 and up, despite a sleeping baby on my back and a well-behaved almost-5-year-old at my side. Sigh. Good thing I was tired anyway. 

This morning I left the kids in my hotel room with a babysitter and a pile of puzzles and have camped out in the Westin Club Lounge to try to sort out my day and the hours i need childcare depending on which panels and shows I’m attending. I sat down with a cup of coffee, put my red boots on the window sill, and stared out at the ever-changing skyline of Nashville. 

The first building to catch my eye is the old train station at 10th & Broadway. It’s in the middle of Nashville, a busy area right next to an Art museum. Oddly, there is a matching building at 10th & Broadway in Louisville because, I believe it was the buildings that connected the L&N railroad line. 

The second building I’m staring down at is this wide red building directing below the hotel. It was my first stop in Nashville for my first real trip down here — back in 2006 for the semi-finals of a TV show on the USA Network called Nashville Star. It was in this building where I had my production interviews and band rehearsals for the show taping. This area of town sure has changed in 10 years, as have I. What a weird business I’m in. 
It’s funny, but all I really care about is traveling and performing for people. I hate recording. I love writing songs and sharing them with people. I love making people smile and making people think and forging connections that are real-world instead of Twitter-world and reminding people that we are all in it together, even though it seems like maybe we’re all on some weird reality show. 

Deep breaths and music, I guess. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Sid Griffin show on Sunday Sept 10.

Louisville! I am playing a public show on Sunday, September 10 at Monnik (in Germantown at the old Zeppelin aka the old Heitzman Bakery). I am just the opener an am playing a 45-minute set as a solo — but it’s likely that Dennis Ledford will be playing some guitar with me. No full band because I don’t want to upstage the main act in terms of band members … and the main act is Sid Griffin. 

I first met Sid maybe 15 years ago, when I was first starting out in the Louisville music scene, and he came to town an played the Rudyard Kipling every couple of years. It’s now turned into TEN years since he’s played here because he has lived in London for ages. 

You know I have a problem with attachment to the United Kingdom. I can’t really explain why, but somehow the country is in my DNA, and I just get that magic feeling every time I touchdown on the island. On my last few England/Scotland tours, I’ve seen Sid’s name but never managed to connect — his current band, The Coal Porters, played Edinburgh the week before I was there, or he had a London gig the same night I did. Something always prevented our catching up on anything besides The Twitter.

But he’s an Americana legend — full of stories, songs, brushes with celebrity, and more. 

I’m looking forward to to this show because 
  • I’m playing mostly solo, so I can try out new stuff.  
  • Monnik has re-done the upstairs venue, and I can’t wait to see what it’s like. Louisville could really use a nice 100-person room.
  • I get to hear Sid play, and that’s a guaranteed good concert. He’s also got Danny Kiely on bass and Allison Summers on violin, and I’ll be sitting in on accordion on some tunes as well.
  • IT’S AN EARLY SHOW! Doors at 6:30. I play 7:00-7:45.
  • Advance tickets are $12. They are $15 at the door. Or if you’re British, it’s $15 “on the door.” 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Video of CD Release party with DAN CANON! He's such a star.

One of my favorite people in the world made a surprise guest appearance at my CD release show last month. He's also RUNNING FOR CONGRESS! When I met him, he was a high school dropout, who happened to be incredible at any instrument with strings, well-traveled, and spoke several languages. In the past 17 years since we met, he went to university, then law school, then opened his own law practice specializing in Civil Rights, then took a landmark case to the SUPREME COURT and gained marriage equality for the United States of America. I have no doubt that our children will write papers about him. Law students probably already are.

Politics aside, he is a good person, who really, truly, wants what is best for humanity. And here he is playing guitar with l'il' ol' ME! Swoon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Nanny-daydreams, Career thoughts, and What I'm into now.

 Good morning from Heine Brothers! No babysitter/nanny/co-parent today, so I'm doing the best I can with what I've got. Anyone out there want to trade babysitting for piano lessons? Or guitar lessons? Or background music at your Christmas party? We had an quasi au pair for a while, but it didn't work out because our schedules never quite meshed. A professional au pair is a bit out of our reach, but someday ... someday.

I do have these visions of hitting the road with my babies and bringing along a nanny -- someone who is up for adventures at the drop of a credit card and who keeps a valid passport at all times. Maybe someone who wants to be an artist herself, but who could use the boost of free rent and flexible hours. I know, I know, I could ask at nearby universities, but I'm sort of hoping this situation comes about organically, much like it did for me when I was a live-in part-time nanny for a magical family in NYC. We were perfect for each other, and I was even able to maintain a full-time job at CBS News simultaneously.

In the mean time, I desperately need to find some sort of structure and routine to my wacky self-employed career, so I can properly balance it with parenting and coordinating babysitters. I'm very good at making lists, but I'm not so great at implementation these days.

Yesterday, however, I started a weekly video series in order to hold myself accountable to playing music for the public (all I do are private parties lately because THEY PAY WELL!):

Also, there is this -- have openings Friday October 6, Friday October 13, Sat. Oct 21 -- looking specifically for Shelbyville, Lexington, Berea, Bowling Green, so if you've ever wanted to host a concert in your home, please read this:

Currently reading: A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith
Currently watching: Reign, Season 3.
Current mood: melancholy, like this song (but also, of course feeling heartbroken over the state of the world and donating to the Red Cross and ACLU because I'm not sure what else I can do):

Friday, August 25, 2017

Weekend jaunt to NYC - here's what we ate.

My kids only sleep on airplanes. I'll take it.
My mom's chemo has been postponed several weeks in a row now because of low blood counts, so I decided to take her on a last-minute trip to NYC this past weekend. If you know me at all, you know that I love spontaneous travel -- even when it involves a sick mother and a needy toddler. I bought cheap flights out of Cincinnati, packed the three of us in one carry-on bag, and off we went.

Having lived in NYC on less-than-a-student budget for 5 years, I am pretty good about budget traveling in NYC. Mom was a trooper and didn't flinch at taking the bus and subway from the airport. We bought unlimited MetroCards and were at our hotel in less than an hour.

We stayed at the Sheraton TriBeCa (for free on points!), which was great. The Club Lounge offered a rooftop view of the Empire State Building, and we saved a lot of money by snacking there. They even had free wine in the evenings.

Leaving both the wheelchair and the stroller at home was a good idea, as there are too many curbs and stairs to navigate in NYC. Angus traveled in the Tula all weekend, and Mom brought a cane for stability.

The subway system is horrible for anyone with mobility issues, so we opted to take the bus more than the train. It was slower (and on Sundays ran less often), but it is a GREAT way to watch the city roll by. When you take the subway, you see rats and darkness. When you take the M3 down 5th Avenue from Central Park East, you see The Plaza, Tiffany's, Trump Tower, the New York Public Library, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, and the Washington Square Park Arch. It was like those Hop-On-Hop-Off tours, but quicker and without tourists.

We did take about 3 taxis for short distances when a bus wouldn't drop us close enough (Mom's a trooper, but she does have stage 4 cancer, and I didn't want to wear her out), but we definitely got our money's worth on those unlimited metrocards.

Drumroll, please, though, as we know the most important part of any vacation is the FOOD!!

Rooftop Club Lounge at the Sheraton TriBeCa.
Little Italy dinner.
Primavera in Little Italy. 
Something with seafood in Little Italy.
Sharing my primavera with Angus.
Lounging in the Club Lounge rooftop.
Stopped by for a photo op, but no beer for us.
Proper pickles and pastrami at 2nd Ave Deli.
Visiting an old friend, Lorcan Otway, at his pub,
The William Barnacle, 80 St. Mark's Place.
Angus at Tompkins Sq Park
Too tired for dinner on day 2, so Seamless it was!
A proper schmear! Waverly Diner.
Waverly Diner
Challah french toast.
Washington Square Park
Eclipse-viewing by The Plaza.
Playing on the William Tecumseh Sherman statue during the eclipse.
Eclipse in NYC. We made lots of friends because
we had extra glasses.
Subway to the airport!
Our splurge of the trip: Tea at the Plaza. #bucketlist

Fixing things and gardening.

Wee Angus running through Dages Paint! Have y'all ever flipped a house before? I am sort of doing that, except that it's a renta...