Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It’s not luck; it’s chutzpah.

Current mood: accomplished
Someone told me last week that i was "very lucky." Oddly, my first instinct was defensive rather than agreement. I've mellowed a bit since then, and I'll agree that from conception, i've been lucky. I was born into a great family with very little drama. My mom kicked cancer's ass, and both of my parents are still alive to see me doing what I love for a living.

But luck just gets you started.

Things don't just "fall into [my] lap." If i just sat around my house with my dog and wrote songs, I wouldn't be doing any of the things I love.

I've always been a pro-active person. In high school, I did homework all of the time, read constantly, and freaked out at the possibility of getting an A- on something. It wasn't because of any parental pressure. If anything, my perfectionism probably drove them crazy. And yes, I know my attitude was a bit extreme, but i knew i wanted to go far far away to a great college. And if i didn't get the grades, i wasn't getting a scholarship. So i worked my ass off. Now my NYU degree in political philosophy is hanging on the wall next to my guitars, and i've moved on to a career in music, but...

I'm tired of hearing people complain that they can't do things, or that they are unlucky. If nothing is happening, go make something happen. if you don't like the way your life is, then change it.

That's what's so inspiring about my friends. People wonder why all my best friends are artists and writers. It's not just a like-minded career; it's a whole attitude. I surround myself with people who inspire me. I do not like constant complainers or naysayers. I have no time for people who put me down or condescend.

The past two years, especially, I have decided to go after the things I want. Oddly, it's not really "things." Instead, i guess, it's opportunities, moments, and experiences. It's amazing where being confident in your skills can get you. It's not luck; it's chutzpah.

My favorite things over the past year or so are not things at all...
It never hurts to ask. You hear that advice all the time, but I suggest following it. Here are things that happened this year because I decided to brave it and ask.
- Playing piano with the Nashville Star House band, even after i didn't make the final show.
- Playing accordion with Dan Bern at Headliner's (who, by the way, wrote the songs for Walk Hard .. highly recommended)
- Play musical saw with Cowboy Jack Clement and Fluke Holland in Nashville
- Play accordion with the MuzikMafia folks in Nashville (so John Rich probably thought i was nuts, but who cares?)
- I didn't get to play with John Prine or Elvis Costello, but I did ask. And you know what? It didn't hurt to ask.

And the most recent exciting adventure...

The Peter Searcy band was on tour with 7 Mary 3 this past week. I am embarassed to admit that though i had heard of the band, I had not heard any of their songs. And when I told people this prior to the tour, they all responded with a raspy, a capella version of "I have become ... cumbersome." How did i miss this song, you may ask? The 1 song of 1995? Refer to earlier in the blog where I mentioned how all i did in high school was homework. I missed the mid-90's because of scholarship dreams, ha.

Anyway, i first met up with Peter and 7Mary 3 in Dayton, where I missed their set. We had to leave right away to get the rest of the band back to Louisville.
But in Lexington on Friday, i heard their whole set, and was really really impressed. It was a straight-up rock show, and the guys in the band were some of the most gracious, smart, genuinely good people I've ever met. Remember why artists love artists? Inspiration. It's all about inspiration.

I asked if I could play accordion with them on some of the softer stuff, and the following night in Cincinnati, they let me. I wasn't sure how their crowd would take the accordion, but according to the message boards, it was a hit. I also played piano on two songs, and boys, if you're reading this, I'm ready to tour with you. I also can't wait to hear the new record. All my favorite songs of the evening were new, softer, alt-country tunes, with thoughtful lyrics and beautiful melodies.

What else is there, really? Except maybe accordion and chutzpah.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Things I'm doing

Things i’m doing
Current mood: jolly
- Learning to play Chopin's Minute Waltz in under Two Minutes. This way, if i'm ever playing a radio program where I run out of songs with exactly Two Minutes left, I'll have the perfect piece to play. And it's in the public domain because it was written B.C. (before copyright). The metronome is my best friend.

- Almost finishing my record. I have a duet i'm putting on there, and i've been trying to find the perfect surprise guest for the CD. My goal is to have whomever i choose recorded by January 5. It's the only thing left to record. Duets are really difficult to write. I'm pickier than usual about my lyrics because someone else has to sing part of them. I wonder if Elvis Costello is available.

- Promising my dog that I'm going to take him on a walk everyday. It doesn't seem to matter to him if i walk him around the block or around the neighborhood. He's happy either way.

- Looking for a 6-pin to 6-pin firewire cable that has vanished from my house. This is the only thing I don't like about having roommates. Not that they have done anything with this said cable ... but sometimes things are put in places that i would never look. This makes me wonder if it's even worth beginning a search. But i really need the cable, and i really don't want to go buy another one.

- Trying to choose a photo and graphic designer for my record cover. I'm out of money, and i hate asking professionals to do it pro bono. Maybe i'll do it myself.

- Painting again. I used to paint all the time.

- Stretching in the morning. I want to be bendy.

- Thinking about maybe getting my hair cut. I mean, not short -- i would freak out. But i've never had a professional cut my hair. I've always just trimmed it myself. Am i missing out on something fabulous? Maybe i'll make a video blog of "My First Haircut." I wish Stacy at Joseph's did hair. She did the most beautiful makeup last week at my photo shoot. Maybe i'll have her recommend someone, and we'll bring along the video crew.

- Learning that Henry Miller is not good treadmill reading. I should go back to Harry Potter.

peter searcy tour this weekend
Tonight: Dayton, Ohio
Tomorrow: Louisville @ noon for WFPK's Live Lunch
Tomorrow night: Lexington
Saturday night: Cincinnati

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

i just love headliner's

i just love headliner’s
Current mood: chipper
Headliner's Music Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of my absolute favorite places to play. Some people like it because when you're onstage, you get a lovely view of your own band in giant mirror across the room. I like to position myself in front of a pole, so i can't see myself, but i can still see Peter's orange pants. They are always the highlight of any good rock show.

I just like it because it feels like a great rock show. Big enough to have higher-than-average energy, but small enough to see the crowd.

Code Red and Marion Square kicked off the evening, which was a really nice opening to the evening. McCall's got this beautiful voice and had on a sassy shirt to boot.

My band took stage right after Marion Square. Most of the crowd at that point seemed to be there for them, and honestly, they were quite rude as I took stage. This amused me immensely, and at that point i couldn't wait to play. A few boys thought it would be clever to "dance country" to the bluegrass song i opened with ("Whisky in the Faucet"). They just looked stupid. The best part was that pretty much everyone who was there -- most of whom had never heard me before -- stayed for my whole set. I sold loads of CD's, and the band got compliments galore. There is nothing i like better than playing to a challenge -- a crowd who doesn't know my music or my act. it's much more satisfying when these folks have a good time at the show than when my mom tells me i'm good.

My favorite part of the evening was when "Blue Dreidel No. 9" morphed into "The Immigrant Song." Peter and I had planned this, but i was not expecting the amazing Steve Cooley to jump in playing Jimmy Page note-for-note. I yodeled a verse of that, and went back into the Dreidel tune, and cleared the path for Peter Searcy to rock.

Peter Searcy's rock show was full of sweat, Eric's killer guitar licks, orange pants, twirling drumsticks, and boots on the piano. He is a true performer, and it is soooooo much fun being in his band.

I played accordion on one tune for The Muckrakers -- a tune which should be available for download on their webpage. They're melodies are so smooth and guitars so pretty. And they are history nerds, like me. Love that.

Digby was destroying the place with their sweet pop rock when i had to leave early to take a drunk friend home.

But i wasn't ready for home yet, so i high-tailed it to Third Street Dive to dance dance dance to Johnny Berry and the Outliers. Steve Cooley was two-timing that night.. playing with JB after me. i jumped onstage to sing "Jackson" with Johnny, and also another old yodeling tune, "Cowboy's Sweetheart." My favorite moment of the night was when I yodeled a chorus, then turned the stage over to Steve Cooley for a guitar solo -- and instead, he yodeled. Who knew?!

The yodel brings out happiness in all who hear it. I suggest you give it a try.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Music video!

Music video!
Current mood: energetic
So many cool things... i made the bestseller list at the amazing earx-tacy record store. 5 baby!
Getting airplay ALL over the country. Today i heard from a station in Wyoming that's spinning my Chanukah songs. I'll be yodeling on live TV tomorrow morning, for you Louisville-area viewers (FOX). I'm finishing my real record up on Thursday & Friday.
And today i posted a video for the "Blue Dreidel No. 9". Check it out and repost as desired!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What’s the Buzz, tell me what’s-a-happening? (or "Life on the Road")

I was out with Peter Searcy's band again this past weekend, and we hung out with a friend in Columbia, South Carolina. Between sets, she asked us what we did on the road. I used to wonder the same thing, so I thought i'd debunk the myths a bit.

First off, our tour bus only gets limited cable. The bunks are a decent size, but there are so many groupies that it's hard to get comfortable. Also, I'm a vegetarian, and we only have one refrigerator. This means that my hummus has to share a shelf with Steven's beef jerky. And our driver likes to take blue highways from time to time, which makes me carsick.

Wait, no, that was just some dream I had.

We don't have a tour bus; we've got a rockin' conversion van. It does have a DVD player, and it turns out I like old zombie movies. Two trips ago, we watched a bunch of zombie movies, and the first season of "The Office," which was sort of like a modern zombie series. Even when I worked in an office, it was a CBS News, so things were a bit more exciting than intra-mural basketball. I mean, we had a bake-off, for God's sake. (By the way, when I quit my job at CBS News, i had just been crowned the CBS News Bakemaster. I think this means I am undefeated. Really, it's just because i insisted on using bourbon in every delicious dessert I made. You have to have a theme to make the people love you.)

Back to the bus... this time, Peter and I did a lot of podcast listening. Mostly because the three of us have very different taste in music, and i was the only one packing an iPod. My iPod is full of showtunes, good ol' country, Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin, songwriters, and political podcasts. We listened to a few episodes of "60 Minutes" and several "This American Life" programs. Isn't this exactly how you imagined indie-rock God Peter Searcy and mazel-tonkin' Brigid Kaelin, spending their time on 24-East?

In the green room, we avoided the disgustingly-smoke-filled Atlanta room, by browsing inappropriate websites. Only kidding. Mostly, i checked my email and wrote the previous blog. We looked up the lyrics to "Dreamweaver." I checked my pockets for new state quarters.

On our way home, Peter and I spent about half-an-hour with a learn-Italian now podcast, where we learned how to ask where you're going. "Ciao, Peter. Dove vai?"

But the best part of all was on the final two-hour stretch home. It's exactly how you'd picture we rockers. We went back to music, and cranked up the volume. We didn't even fade the volume to the front of the van only so as to be kind to the backseat drummer. No, he had to be subjected to our show.

"My mind is clearer now/at last, all too well/i can see, where we all/ soon will be."

Yes, that's right, folks. We pumped up the volume, and did some role-playing. Peter got to play Judas (which apparently, he played on-stage many years back), and I took on the roles of Jesus and Mary. But i knew more of Judas's part than Jesus's (what does that say about me?), so i mostly just mumbled over the Jesus lines. I was quite good at Mary Magadalene and the crowd... "what's the buzz, tell me what's-a-happening?". And Peter and I both wailed out King Herod's song.

Peter, sorry if I've outed you. I don't think Jesus Christ Superstar counts as showtunes though. That bass line? that's pure rock. If you knew all the words to Guys and Dolls, it might be embarassing. Actually, I know all the words to Guys and Dolls. But, I'm a doll, so i think i can get away with it.

If you're reading this, go buy my chanukah tunes. Or put them on your page:) And plan to come to the release party December 7 at Gerstle's. The Muckrakers start the show off. They are fun.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Oh, Atlanta!

Oh, Atlanta!
Writing this from the green room at some random club in Atlanta, where Peter and I played tonight.

I'm back on the road. The show tonight was average. Well, we rocked, with the help of Greg Lee, an uber-fun bass player who live in Atlanta. It was just a strange crowd of hipsters. There were a few really great folks in the audience though, and they were much appreciated.

The best part of the day was the crack-o-ritas that we had. There is a mexican restaurant on Ponce de Leon that, i swear, laces their margaritas with some pharmaceuticals. Every time we come here, it only takes one, and we are all just loopy. But we know the secret now, so we know to order just one.

The second best part of the day was enforcing my belief that Peter Searcy can yodel. I mean, i've heard is epiglottis flip! Somewhere on 24East, i subjected the van to a podcast i discovered called "Yodelcast." We listened to some serious Bavarian yodeling, and I tried to guide Peter through some epiglottis gymnastics.

I think the problem is that you really need to be alone to yodel. It's very personal, and it needs to be loud. Peter was really close to just letting go and yodeling his indie-rock heart out, but i think he was holding back a bit. Likely, he was timid because he was trying to be a nice guy bandleader and not bother the sleeping drummer. I was not so kind, and i yodeled quite a bit on the road.

Sorry, Steven. Well, not really. I think you should probably learn how to yodel too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chanukah and Muck

Chanukah and Muck
Current mood: mischievous
A few nights ago, I casually asked my mom when Chanukah starts this year. As a child, I always remember it overlapping with Christmas. And before you ask, yes, I was that kid who got both Chanukah AND Christmas, thanks to my parents' brilliant inter-religious marriage. I should add a disclaimer though, that no, i never got the standard 8-presents-in-8-nights. Usually I got a book or sweater on the first night, then a record or a sweater for Christmas. I wasn't spoiled, and i wasn't deprived. (My mom reads this blog, so i feel i always have to clarify.)

Anyway, the point is, I thought I had plenty of time to record and release a quick little single in time for Chanukah, when my mom responded, "It's December 4."

December 4th???!?! That's, like, next week practically. Whose idea was that? There's not even a slight overlap. Not even time to wait for the after-Christmas sales, and still have time-appropriate Chanukah gifts for your grandparents.

Apparently, Chanukah begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, which shifts depending on year, the sun, the moon, and various algorithms. You c an try to make sense out of why they add an extra month about once every two or three years, by reading the wiki here. Good luck with that.

This doesn't mean that I'm rushing out to do any shopping. I tend to buy gifts throughout the year for people and bequeath them immediately. So i don't really feel the need to buy a lot of stuff at Christmas (or Chanukah -- see how confused the mixed marriage made me?).

No, my mad rush isn't to the mall; it's to Peter Searcy's studio to quickly record my Chanukah single.

I'm typing this from Heine Brothers, where "O Holy Night" is playing. While i concur that the song is beautiful, i get a little tired of all the Jesus talk.

So stay tuned for two new Chanukah country tunes. Tell your friends who feel a little left out this time a year to look for a special limited-edition release.

December 4 .. at sundown, of course.


And as a sidenote ... i played some accordion and piano on a couple of tunes for The Muckrakers
on Tuesday evening. They are releasing a series of tunes, available on their website. Check them out, if you haven't already. They have, like 40thousand friends, so you're probably already onto them. But if you're not ... I recommend! I'm playing a show with them at Gerstle's on December 7. Which is the 4th night of Chanukah, for those of you paying attention.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Michael and the Magic Shirt -- Part Two; "The Gunfighter"

Current mood: chipper
My pal Erin wrote a great blog back in August about Lucky Shirts (scroll down to Aug 6, 2007, if you're clicking on this link). Hers is a fantastic brown t-shirt that says "Just Add Bourbon." My lucky shirt of late seems to be a 28-year-old thin-like-it's-vintage (oh, wait it, is vintage), faded blue t-shrt from the old Bluegrass Festival on the Belvedere. My mom bought one every year of its existence, and I liberated them from her when I was in high school. Good things seem to happen when I wear the dark blue one from 1979.

And when Michael tried on that black Scully western shirt, he had no idea he had just found his lucky shirt. The shirt that turns an introvert into the outgoing life of the party.

The storekeeper told him it had a name: The Gunfighter. It was an old pattern, from the real days of the wild west.

Michael the Gunfighter wore his shirt to dinner, where a smug Charles snickered condascendingly and said to me, "I knew you were going to convince him to buy a shirt."

I told Charles, "That shirt found him."

After dinner, the shirt worked its magic throughout Nashville's hotspots. It heard Dale Watson at the Mercy Lounge, an incredibly loud gospel singer at the Cannery, Grayson Capps at 3rd & Lindsley, and Tommy Womack at the Basement. The shirt hit four clubs in three hours, but it was ready to go home yet.

Now, a standard red polo shirt might have convinced Michael and his partner-in-crime (AKA me, the designated driver) to call it a night at that point. But the shirt asked: what now? The shirt was the life of the party, and it wanted to go back to the Cannery for Chicken-n-Waffles, the big after-party of the Americana Music Conference.

Music was heard, chicken and waffles were consumed (just waffles by me, the vegetarian), and at some point the shirt magically even got me up on stage, playing accordion with various Nashville cats and a gospel singer.

It was a fun evening.

And the shirt made another appearance at Sunday night's MERF benefit show, featuring Sam Bush, Tim Krekel, John Cowan, Greg Martin, etc .... you just might be able to hear the shirt and its vibes every Sunday night from 6-8pm on my favorite Americana show: WFPK's Roots 'n' Boots.

What's your favorite shirt?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

from the studio

from the studio
Current mood: thankful
Monday morning, when i arrived at the recording studio, I had every intention of driving back to Louisville that same evening. Then I went out for mexican food with Duane, Justin, and Robby, and two margaritas later, I changed my mind.

Except for one very strange evening back in Louisville (Thursday), I've been in Lexington all week.

It's been both leisurely and productive. Most of all, I have really enjoyed exploring my songs with these guys. There's always a moment for me when I'm suddenly nervous that my songs totally suck and the studio musicians are just there for the money. And I know they are there for the money, but it's beautiful to watch them get excited about an idea and make the song come to life. My last record was full of brilliant musicians, but this time it feels like I've got an actual band who cares and appreciates the nuances of the song. I wish I could pack them in the volvo and take them back home with me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Poem by my Good Friend

a poem by my good friend
Current mood: creative
I spent most of the week in Shangri-La, an aptly-named recording studio in Lexington. Though i had many gracious offers by outstanding Louisville & Nashville musicians to play on/record my next record, I made an executive decision to record with folks who have never heard me play before. I was apprehensive, but i'm thrilled. There will still be a few surprise guest-artist appearances, but for the most part, it's a solid group of Lexington-based players.

I have crushes on them all.

Which reminded me of a charming poem by my good friend Erin Keane (whose new book of poems, The Gravity Soundtrack is available from WordFarm Press or through Amazon.com ).

She wrote this last summer, and i haven't heard her read it often. I found it yesterday in my old inbox, and remembered that yes, some things in life can't be solved by a new tattoo.

cheers, Erin -- and edit as necessary.


because I wanted to see if
there really are things in life
that can't be fixed with a new
tattoo. I stopped dating artists

because the gallery already had
a receptionist, the band already
had a tour manager and anyone
who claims to be excited about
playing Laertes all summer in
Moline deserves to be denounced
as a liar. I quit dating artists

because now when my man
says, in public: darlin' you know
I need you, I am reasonably sure
he means me and not some chick
named Melissa who dumped
him in tenth grade for that guy
who now drums for the Strokes.

I stopped dating artists because
there is nothing hotter than health
insurance (except maybe dental)
and my 95-degree days off will
never again involve a staple gun,
his show's poster and three
hundred and twenty-six utility
poles. I quit dating artists so that

if there should be a downward
spiral, like a small problem with
cocaine or the law, it will not be
chronicled in gory detail by
a seventeen-year-old's stapled
'zine called Andy Warhol Ate
My Nuts. I'm done with artists

because when The Blahdiblah
Review ran my poem "Gammy's
Hands Are Gnarled and Wise,"
that was no reason to sleep with
either of my roommates, Kevin.

I'm done with artists because I
get a little confused about "naked
time" between "best friends,"
and how a girl in the bed
is worth only half a tin whistle
lesson, and why I had to know
Cliff Burton's name but that guy
on our couch for six weeks only
answered to "Moog." I'm through

dating artists because I ran out
of ways to say "you're like a
young Ernest Hemingway"
which is basically the same
thing as a young James Dean
or Kurt Cobain or Toulouse
Lautrec except I know, baby,
you're not a dwarf. I stopped

dating artists because method
acting is not an excuse to stop
washing your hair, because
that porno you want to shoot is not
performance art, because my
Uncle Jim-Dog's funeral, no
matter how country, is really
not a suitable subject for a
devastatingly satirical list that
you hope will be your ticket
into McSweeney's. I am done

dating artists because I have
better things to do than watch
them practice, like naming
minor characters in my novel
after them then killing them
off with something noble like
syphilis, or writing songs about
their best friend's hot new
car which I will then play at
their hometown's open mic,

or drunk-dialing them at 3 a.m.
to say darlin' you know I need you
and then never showing up but
claiming innocence after the fact
because after all, I'm an artist, baby,
you of all people should understand.

now: go buy Erin's book!!!
Currently reading:
The Gravity Soundtrack
By Erin Keane
Release date: 29 October, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Michael and the Magic Shirt

Michael and the Magic Shirt"
Current mood: chipper
The image of a young man stepping onto Nashville's Lower Broadway sidewalks, guitar in hand, dreams in heart, and not much in the head, is something out of Hollywood, or a good PR firm. But really, there's a lot of sparkle that comes out of just being surrounded by good people doing good things. You don't have to be an aspiring musician. You can be a music fan. You can be a writing fan, a movie fan, a traveler, whatever. Or you can be the host of a weekly radio show.
Whatever you may be, there is something about being there that makes you want one thing, and one thing only: a great country shirt.

The setting: the Country Music Hall of Fame
The scene: two book-writers, two song-writers, discussing, reading, sharing

After being inspired by Silas House, Scott Miller, Chris Knight, and William Gay, our little gang of excitable Kentuckians hit the gift shop. I bought the one Silas House novel i didn't already have (Coal Tattoo) and hit the autograph line. As i sheepishly explained that i didn't already own it because i'd checked it out from the library (is that like illegal downloading is to a musician? ), Mr. House graciously signed my book and asked me when my next record was going to be released. "I've worn out your other one," he said, which made me blush and also made me wonder if I could put that quote on one of those cool stickers you see on the front of a CD package. (By the way, I have a very brief list of people i'd love to write with someday, and Silas House is on that list).

Aside from the novels and CDs and music memorabilia available in the CMHofFame gift shop, there are some most excellent shirts. But not the greatest selection. And one thing was obvious from the glowing sparkle in my pal Michael's eyes: he needed a shirt.

I decided we should head over to Katy K's on 12th Avenue South, where a wider selection of vintage and tailor-made shirts awaited us. At this point, half of our group retreated to the hotel, but Michael and I were on a mission. It might be better to say that I was on a mission to see this man's wardrobe dreams fulfilled. That's what i do, folks. I see that people follow their dreams.

The shirt was found, but at a price. A price much higher than desired.

While Michael fretted and fawned over the variety of brilliant shirts, I found a fabulous green and white polka dot Kitty Wells-type dress.

"This shirt's too much. My wife will kill me," Michael said.

"Well, then, just try it on. It might not fit, then you won't have to worry anymore," I replied. Oh, I am so bad.

"Okay, but you try on the dress."

I did, which fit okay, but i didn't really like that this particular size dress fit as well as it did. Besides that, the dress was $175 and sales tax is more in Tennessee, and that is just absurd. But i did few twirls and successfully got "Honky Tonk Angels" stuck in my head for a good six hours.

And as for Michael? Unfortunately, the shirt fit brilliantly.

"It's a bit much ... a bit louder than I ever wear," he said. But he said it with such a huge grin that it was like a whole other person was creeping out from under his demure exterior.

I should note that the shirt was not loud, by any other standards. It was black, tailored perfectly, with bronze-toned brown threading across the shoulders and chest.

"And it's too much money," he said again, his grin growing with every glance in the mirror.

I agreed, and then pointed out, "But it's got black AND brown in it, so you could wear it with anything. So really, it's like buying two shirts. Or three."

He told me I'm a bad influence, and I told him, "Fine then, don't get the shirt. It's too expensive."

We left the store, pausing to discuss the expensive, but fabulous shirt, with the shopkeeper. We could always come back tomorrow before he head back for Louisville.

"Oh, you're from Louisville," the shopkeeper asked. "I know people in Louisville."

We played that game for about ten minutes, before finally retreating to the car.

Sitting in the car, we once again discussed the shirt's pros and cons, when a car pulled up next to us. A tall, handsome man with a skip in his step, got out and walked towards the store entrance.

"Hey, that's Peter Cooper! I bet he's getting a shirt," I exclaimed. Peter heard this, and walked over to the car window to say hello.

After a brief introduction, I explained to Peter, "We're deciding whether or not to back in and get the shirt."

"Get the shirt," Peter said decidedly.

"Are you getting the shirt," I asked.

"I already bought the shirt. I'm picking up the shirt now. I had rhinestones added to it. Actually, I got two shirts."

And with that, we watched Peter go in the store.

Michael's grin had changed to one of defiance and excitement, and we jumped out of the car, back into the store.

"I'm getting the shirt!" he said, as Peter, the shopkeeper, and I cheered.

* * * * *

perhaps, to be continued (someday)

Monday, October 22, 2007

why i love people who love music

Current mood: indescribable
A friend invited me to a party in Nashville on Saturday night. It was an unexpected invitation -- an Oktoberfest Party in East Nashville -- at the home of some folks i didn't know. But, being an accordion player, I was adding to the party theme.

I would love to go into extreme detail, but i'm not sure i could do it justice. Here are the basics.

Just know that there was a sound system set up on the front porch ... Peter Cooper played first, followed by Four-time Grammy nominee Lynnmarie, the Polka Queen, followed by Brigid Kaelin (ME!!!!!!), followed by ... Cowboy Jack Clement whose drummer for the night was WS "Fluke" Holland, aka the only drummer Johnny Cash ever played with. Cowboy Jack is a legendary producer/songwriter (he discovered Jerry Lee Lewis, was a producer/engineer for Sun Records, i could go on.. read the Wiki entry)
And i played musical saw with Cowboy Jack. And he liked it:)
I also ate enough cheese to last me years. Then a bunch of us sat around the back porch and sang songs and played music for a few hours.
I forgot why i loved Nashville so much.
It's all about the music.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Accordions and smoking

Accordions breathe easier since smoking ban

I was talking to the Troubadours of Divine Bliss on Friday night about how annoying it is to play accordion in a smoky bar -- not only because smoke collects inside the bellows of the sensitive instrument, but because every time you squeeze it,it just blows smoke back in your face.

Excerpt from the above linked article, based on studies in Ireland, the first nation to go entirely smoke-free in all work places, including pubs (in early 2004).

"It's a remarkable analogy in that you've got an instrument that's basically performing much the same way as the lung and responding much the same way as the lung," added Kirby Donnelly, head of environmental and occupational health at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.

A study ... found a significant reduction in air pollution in pubs and an improvement in respiratory symptoms in Irish bar workers after the ban.

Musicians... frequently gather at pubs to play traditional music together. In addition to the accordion, these pub sessions feature concertina, melodeon and Uilleann (Irish) bagpipes, all of which are bellows-driven.

Anecdotal evidence had suggested that accordions subjected to heavy smoke collected particles inside, much like a person's lungs would.

Garvey and his colleagues conducted a telephone survey of all workers (a total of seven) involved in the cleaning, repair, maintenance and renovation of accordions in the Republic of Ireland....
Those interviewed noted that, when opened, accordions that had been played in smoke-filled rooms emitted a strong cigarette odor. Deposits of soot-like dirt were also found inside the instruments. One worker interviewed said that, in some cases, enough dirt could be deposited in the instrument to affect the pitch.

All interviewees said that both the cigarette smell from accordions and the dirt residue inside had improved since the smoking ban.

If you have no concern for my lungs, at least pity my accordions!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Smoking, slavery, and Why i didn’t come to your show last night

Current mood: annoyed
Category: News and Politics
This might just be my most controversial blog to date. I'm not a confrontational person, but I do have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I have an opinion. You're entitled to your opinion, as long as it doesn't bother anyone else. Obviously, that's a basis for a lot of our freedoms in this country. And smoking in my face at a non-smoking bar is extremely invasive, FYI.

To those bars in Louisville who are actively ignoring the city-wide smoking ban: just who do you think you are impressing? Are you proud to be making my throat hurt and my eyes water after playing what was supposed to be a non-smoking show? Are you happy that I stepped inside your bar for 30 seconds last night, and my hair STILL smells like an ashtray? Are you glad to know that my throat doctor told me to quit smoking, when I've never smoked a cigarette in my life? And that my throat looks like that of a smoker's because i used to sing in bars for a living? Do you honestly think that allowing smoking in your club despite the ban is something you will be PROUD of in 25 years? I think it's embarassing, especially having toured the country playing music over the last year, and noticing that the rest of the country figured out that secondhand smoke is hazardous YEARS ago, apparently.

Just like the rest of the country figured out that slavery was bad, and it took Kentucky until 1976, yes nineteen-seventy-six, not 1876, to ratify the 13th Amendment. And then there's the fact that slavery was legal in Kentucky after the Emancipation Proclamation. Way to go, guys. Did everyone back in 1865 just take up a collection pot for when they got busted with slaves? Still probably cheaper than paying minimum wage, i guess. (And to be fair, we should now laugh at Mississippi, who was officially the last state to ratify the amendment that abolished slavery -- they took until 1995.)

Has Kentucky ALWAYS had this i'm-not-gonna-play-along complex? Don't get me wrong, here, i love living in Louisville. Were my canvas not already covered in freckles, i, too, would have a fleur-de-lis tattoo. I have tobacco growing and flowering over 6-feet-tall in my front yard. (Hey, i'm into gardening, and the pink flowers are gorgeous). I'm typing this with my bare feet in the air, bluegrass on the radio, and a bourbon in my hand.

BUT... Why are we always so late to admit certain things? Not so long ago, all across America, people could smoke in grocery stores and hospitals. Hospitals. And elevators. I think I speak for the 80%ish of Americans who don't smoke when i say: Ewwwww.

So, d.w. box, I'm sorry I missed your show last night. I stepped in for about 30 seconds, and had to leave. Same for Johnny Berry. I wanted nothing more than to dance all night to my favorite honky-tonker. But I'm not spending money in establishments that flaunt their defiance of the smoking ban. And I'm sorry that YOU and your band had to breathe it when you were at work, putting on the fabulous shows that you do.

Have a little respect, folks.

And to the in-your-face-smokers, please don't give me that crap about your civil liberties. I'm not alone in wanting to listen to the fabulous music this town has to offer and still be able to breathe. I also saw several other people walk out of bars for the same reason.

I know i'm one of the few musicians with a loud enough mouth to support the smoking ban. But i know a TON of you music-lovers out there who have gone out for the first time in years because you can finally enjoy a smoke-free environment. Smokers, do what you need to do -- but please don't yell at me when I ask you to smoke outside.

And club-owners and musicians, i know a LOT more people who would come to your shows if they were promised a smoke-free evening. It's nice to be able to take a shower before you go out for the night, instead of right before you go to bed.

I also want to publicly thank a few of my favorite local bars that are smoke-free, fresh, and fun: Gerstle's Place (LOVE monday night bluegrass with Steve Cooley, Larry Raley, Stephen Couch)
Monkey Wrench (stopped in last night for the Wax Collective featuring Woodrow on the Radio, Matt Anthony, and Kim Sorise)
Nachbar (always a good time, and NEVER a cigarette inside)
thanks for helping me breathe easier. support the bars that support your health.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Everything I learned in life, I learned from The Great Gatsby. (Or why I love Louisville)

Current mood: amused
Category: Travel and Places
As I was driving down I-71 this weekend, I read one of my favorite books. Two qualifications: 1) i wasn't really reading per se, rather listening to Tim Robbins read aloud via my iPod. and 2) the book, The Great Gatsby might actually be my favorite book, and not just "one of my favorites."

You may have been forced to read it in school and hate it, or never have been forced, but still hate it. And that's fine. I won't judge you. But know that I happen to love the book, and i re-read it every other year or so. This is the first year i've had a dreamy actor read it aloud to me.

In chapter one, our narrator, Nick Carraway, visits his distant cousin, Daisy Buchanan at her home across the Bay. Daisy and Tom have another houseguest, Jordan Baker. When she hears that Nick lives in West Egg, the following conversation ensues:

"You live in West Egg," she remarked contemptuously. "I know somebody there."

"I don't know a single——"

"You must know Gatsby."

"Gatsby?" demanded Daisy. "What Gatsby?"

(Warning: mild spoiler alert -- though it certainly won't ruin the book for you)

We learn later in the story that Nick lives right next door to Gatsby. And that this Gatsby is an old suitor of Daisy's. Small world, i always used to think, and most people suspend their disbelief that this strange connection could actually happen.

But here's my theory as to HOW and WHY it happens. Because in the story, Daisy and Jordan are from LOUISVILLE, and Daisy met Gatsby in LOUISVILLE. And to folks from Louisville, it's not weird at all that your best friend's second cousin lives next door to the poor boy your friend used to date and that just so happens to be the nouveau-riche man you met at a party just last month. Because those kind of connections don't just happen in Louisville; they are expected.

When I lived in New York, I was always explaining that Kentucky is a big state and, "no i probably don't know the guy you know from Kentucky." But somehow it always turned out that i DID know him, or my mom went to high school with him, or my friend dated him, or something. This always just proved to the northeastern folks that, yes, Louisville is the smallest, most charming little backwards town.

I have read The Great Gatsby at least a dozen times, and the fact that Nick, Jordan, and Daisy all knew Gatsby from different avenues never bothered me. I never assumed it was a writer's trick or tactic; i just figured, "Isn't it funny how Louisvillians always know each other?"

That being said, it's good to be back here for a while. I've missed my dog and my deck. Tonight I cooked a butternut squash dish that I thought was delicious, but which my dad hated. See if I ever invite you over for dinner again, Dad. Mom ate it quietly, but used the salt quite a bit.

I'm playing Western Kentucky University on Tuesday afternoon, at noon. I think maybe i'll have a night out in Nashville on Monday. It's been a while. Then this weekend: the St. James Art Fair. I'm playing a quick set at the Blue Sky Kentucky booth. Well, they think i'm playing, but i'm thinking of painting instead. It is an art fair, after all. Gotta love St. James.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Current mood: calm
Category: Travel and Places
I'm sitting in the tour van in downtown Birmingham. We left Louisville last night around 8:00, arrived in Atlanta at 3:00am, woke up at 6:20am to play/sing on Atlanta's top-rated morning show: Good Day Atlanta. Check out the performance here.
There's a great interview with Peter and we rock out on "I Believe."

We took a nap, and met up with a friend for some chips-n-salsa. Apparently, Peter shares my obsession with these two divine foods.

Peter and i watched part of the original "Dawn of the Dead," while Steven drove us to Birmingham. Then i napped until Peter mentioned we were passing by Talladega. We talked about our own personal Baby Jesus and drove like Ricky Bobby.

Now seems to the point where we have arrived at the club, and have gone our separate ways briefly, without mentioning the fact that we each seem to want to be alone for a few minutes. Nice when you don't have to explain that.

Back to Atlanta tonight for a big show there tomorrow.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Current mood: busy
Category: Music
Peter Searcy, Steven O'Reilly, and I spent the last week in a sweet high-top conversion van, spoiled by air conditioning AND a DVD player.

I'm still a little tired, so this blog will likely not be the most exciting or clever. Apologies in advance.

vignettes & interesting things learned from the road:

-The trip began in a sketchy Econolodge between Dayton and Columbus. We didn't get to the hotel until 2 am and were immediately approached by Drunk Guy, who saw we had a van full of equipment. I thought about volunteering to sleep in the van to protect it, but then Drunk Guy and his Hooligans would have found two guitars AND a redhead. We decided that was not much of a deterrent, so Deputy Drummer O'Reilly slept in the van.

- Apparently if you are in a band, and can donate a CD, you can get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for free. Unfortunately, for the first time in my life, i was caught without a CD. And the museum was only open for 30 more minutes anyway, which i spent in the gift shop, buying postcards to send to Peter & Steven's wives.

- The drive from Cleveland to Albany, along Lake Erie and through upstate new York, is absolutely beautiful.

- Still true: If i could live anywhere in Manhattan, I would choose Brooklyn Heights.

- I thought i had found happiness with Louisville bagels, but i am once again back to former New Yorker snobbery. No more bagels unless i'm in Brooklyn.

- The Shenendoah Valley is breaktaking.

- I really wanted to stop off at the Woodrow Wilson library, but we didn't have time. Instead, i pulled out the laptop loaded with the World Book Encyclopedia, and Peter and I learned all about Woodrow. We then went back to G-Dub the First (George Washington, duh!) and got all the way up to John Quincy Adams. It seems that all of these Founding Fathers married wealthy widows, which allowed them free time to sit around and philosophize about a new country. Thus, without the money of their women, America would be a very different place.

Thursday we leave for Atlanta -- look for Peter on Good Day Atlanta on Friday morning. Friday night we play Birmingham. Saturday we're back in Atlanta.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

John Prine

John Prine
So John Prine did not respond to my offer of free accordion accompaniment at his Louisville show tonight, but John, if you're reading, I forgive you. Because tonight's show was absolutely fantastic.

Of course, this could be because I was sitting in the third row of the orchestra pit, with not a chair, nor hair standing between me and John Prine. Rows A & B were two separate aisles, but row C, where i was, was a long row, and i was right in the middle. I could see every wrinkle on the face and scar on the neck.

But the best part was when, after singing, "She's My Everything," John Prine stepped out into shadows in front of the spotlight ... rocked out a bit at the electric guitar ... looked straight at me (i was smiling as wide as i ever have, out of pure joy of being exactly where i was), acknowledged me with a nod and a smile, to which i replied with a nod and a smile and i think i blew him a kiss, and he cocked his head back and nodded again ... and the woman two seats over looked at me and said "brigid, that was you!! he was looking at you!!" .. and i said, "i know!!"

It was a wonderful concert. I think most of you were there.

Jason Wilber's guitar solo on "Far From Me" had me in tears. Check out Jason's songs, if you get a chance. He's a great writer on his own.

The Highlands Fest was fun. I just love playing live shows. to bed, to bed

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Yee haw and away we go

Yee haw and away we go
Current mood: chipper
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers
For those of you following along: I got my driver's license renewed.

This turned out to be an exciting event because the woman at the DMV recognized me ... "Are you Brigid the singer?!" I think she knew I must be famous because of the ballcap and sunglasses I was wearing -- a dead giveaway. Hee hee. This didn't really cause much of a stir there because, well, i'm not really famous. But she did let me cut a bit in line, and sent me straight to the photographer. A few other people were trying to figure out who i was, which, really, is no one, so that was funny. I think, perhaps, the key is to make people think they should know who you are. Sort of like those snotty indie-rock kids from college: "You've never heard of insert-stupid-band-name-including-gerund-and-plural-noun?!?!? Wow." Then, all of a sudden, you've heard of this terrible band.

Well, the impetus for this blog is that I am hitting the road with Peter Searcy next week to tour his new record Spark. We played a kick-ass show at Rock the Water Tower this weekend. I also played a fun solo show, in which i decided to play accordion and piano at the same time. I sold a bunch of CD's, thanks for the fine folks at Label X for walking around with the merchandise during my set.

Anyway, Peter and I are heading northeast, with stops in Dayton, Cleveland area, Albany, NYC, NJ, and Virginia. We're traveling as a 3-piece. I'm hoping to avoid the fast-food trap of the road. So if any folks in our destination cities have restaurant suggestions, come out to the show, then take me out to eat! (I'll have two bodyguards, so beware.) Also be on the lookout for video blogs, like the one featured here. I told Peter we're stopping at every mechanical bull or equivalent roadside attraction.

My favorite thing to to in Louisville lately has been to sing with some of my favorite musicians on Monday nights up here at Gerstle's. It's Steve Cooley, Larey Raley, and lately Stephen Couch, of the Betweeners ... i join in on vocals and musical saw on occasion. And last week, i took a big step and revealed to the world a never-before-seen-secret: I can yodel.

Upcoming shows:

HighlandsFest on Saturday, Sept. 8 in Louisville. My band plays for FREE at noon, immediately followed by Tim Krekel, followed by Peter Searcy. Then i hang out for an hour or so. THEN I go see John Prine at the Palace. Anyone out there need tickets? I have a friend who mentioned might have 2 extras for sale.

9/10-9/16 ... on the road

10/17 Going to see Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan in Louisville. If you're reading this, Elvis, can i sing with you? I'm not as tall as Emmylou, but I won't charge you.

Late October ... recording new CD.

December ... working out a UK tour, possibly to spread to the continent. If you've a fan, band, or venue in Europe, hit me up ... let's work out a show.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Current mood: happy
Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes
I just read a funny article in the New York Times about life goals. Apparently, there are people out there who make lists -- actually lists -- of things they want to do before they die.

I've read about the power of visualization and list-making. I always make lists, but they usually involve more banal things. It's the ordinary that i have trouble remembering.

I have no problem remembering that I'd like to get to Europe before Christmas. But the fact that my driver's license expired last week, and I can't seem to get down to 7th & Main for a renewal is a real challenge. THAT is the kind of thing i need to put on a list.

I was looking around 43Things.com, a website where members join and post their life goals, and can see who else shares their dreams, communicate with them, and see a daily reminder of what they are NOT accomplishing. Rather than make a goal of things i want to do, i decided that I've already done a lot of the things on other people's lists. And since half the fun of making a list, is getting to check things OFF the list, i'm doing some retro-fitting here.

Things on other people's lists, that I have already done, and should therefore feel empowered, or satisfied, or maybe just sing "nanny-nanny-boo-boo/get-your-act-together-and-do-this-too".

Learn to play the accordion. (check!)
Climb Mount Fuji. (check!)
Pull a prank involving a lawn gnome. (check!)
Own a unicycle. (check!)
Weigh 110 pounds. (check! Okay, so this was probably only for a week, when i was 11, but whatever.) (check!)
Interview Susan Lucci. (check!)
Produce a television show. (check!)
Be on a television show. (check!)
Record an album. (check!)
Fly first class. (check!)
Meet a celebrity. (check, check, and check! The TV producer thing helped with that.)
Live in New York City. (check!)
Learn Spanish. (check!)
Start a French club. (cheque!)
Own a dog. Teach it cool tricks. (check!)
See the Northern Lights in Iceland. (check!)
Grow tobacco. (check!)
Try out for Jeopardy. (check!)
Tell my friends and parents I love them. (check!) Consider yourself told.

So my suggestion -- and who knows why you should be taking advice from me -- is to make a list of things you've already accomplished, before you set off to make a list of things yet-to-come. It's a lot more satisfying to see what you've already done with your life than to wish you'd done more.

But now that i've seen i've been busy lately ... here's what i want to do soon. I'm not setting deadlines though, because, well, i graduated from college and i'm no longer a journalist. So no more deadlines. Just anticipation...

Europe soon.
New CD.
Record label(s).
More good friends, scattered around the globe.
Finish my basement.
Lunch. I'm hungry.

New driver's license .... isn't there a grace period?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Recent shows and various updates

Current mood: happy
Category: Life
I have been informed by many folks that it is time for a new post here. you are correct!

Favorite recent shows:
July 25: Waterfront Park, Louisville. I played piano for Peter Searcy at WFPK's Waterfront Wednesday concert series. It was one of the biggest crowds ever ... over 3000 folks turned out. I can't remember hearing so many "happy birthdays." WFPK dj Duke Meyer announced that morning that it was my 61st birthday (ha ha), so everyone there was greeting me. My favorite moments was being pounced upon by a group of teenagers who performed a stirring rendition of the classic tune "Happy Birthday To You" while I was deep in conversation with WFPK's program director. Thanks for making me look famous, guys. Really, though, the show was great. Peter Searcy's band feels like a real band ... we rocked, and it showed. Follow that up with a great show by The Avett Brothers, and you know it was a great evening.

July 7: Earx-tacy Record Store Louisville, KY. I played a Brigid Kaelin Band show, and decided to bring out all the stops. Gotta love soundman extraordinaire, Jason Noble, for dealing with a 4-piece band with 9 instruments. It was a live in-store performance, and thanks for the prominent availability of my CD's, I sold enough copies that day to make the bestseller list at earx-tacy. Take that, Ryan Adams! The fabulous employees of earx-tacy (hello, boys and girl) also decided to slap one of those awesome green stickers on the jewel case that says: "Staff Pick." Whoever did that ... thanks:) It's my first time being a staff pick. That means a lot more than, say, a sticker that says, "My mom thinks I'm really talented. Buy me!" or "Once i got a review in the local alt-weekly. Buy me!" I also busted out the fiddle for the first time publicly ... and did a self-pleasuring rendition of the Devil Went Down to Georgia. The Accordion was Johnny, and the fiddle was the Devil. Give me time, and some more time with my scales... i have fallen in love with playing my fiddle.

Monday Nights at Gerstle's with Steve Cooley and friends:
We keep saying we're retiring the tune, but Larey Raley and I have gotten into a habit of singing the classic George & Tammy (I play the role of Tammy) duet "Golden Ring."
If you want bluegrass, there's no better in Louisville than this Monday night tradition. Steve is the master. Larry's voice is killer -- Larry, imagine what you could do if you quit smoking. And lately, Johnny Berry has been sitting in on guitar. I sometimes saw one up with the boys too -- literally, the saw (not a euphimism for bad fiddling). And sometimes i just stand there and pretend to be Emmylou, or Kitty, or Loretta, depending on the tune. I love singing those ol' school classics.

Other stuff
I did a few sessions in Nashville over the past month, for various folks, but I've been on the road elsewhere.

I spent a glorious week in Boulder, Colorado at the Radio & Records Triple A Summit. The best part was starting an impromptu campfire singalong wtih various program directors. Radio music directors are human jukeboxes. No lyric was forgotten, no chord unturned. We stayed up singing until 4am, at the foot of the mountains.

I'm going to start a new record, finally. I've been narrowing down songs, and trying to figure out what to do with it. I've got the travelling bug now. I'm beginning to realize that it doesn't matter where you're based these days. Travel is cheap, and i'm itchin' to go. Stay tuned for various life updates. If i cut my hair, or sign a major record deal, i'll let you know.

Guinness, my beautiful Great Dane mix, weighed in at 144.7 pounds this week. He is sleeping now, as he has done for the last year.

I've also recently started reading non-fiction again. Just found a book on my shelf that i'd never cracked, and became completely obsessed with learning about the history of smell. I just finished all about touch ... and am onto my new favorite: taste.

Anyone want to rent my house so i can hit the road?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Louisville and then some

Louisville and then some.
Current mood: contemplative
Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes
Last week, I spent some time on the road with Peter Searcy's band. Yes, I'm "the girl" in the band, but thankfully, I don't play the tambourine. I play the piano and sing occasionally. It's great fun, and it's great to be treated like a musician, not like a girl. Although, i must say ... a hot tour van with 4 boys who have been eating fast food is not always pleasant. I took Dramamine and slept through most of it though. And i also hogged the backseat for my naptime (thanks for not calling me out, guys). But my punishment was a cigarette burn in my armpit, caused by a cigarette flicked aimlessly out the front window, that came around the back window and landed right by my sleeping arm. I love my tour souvenir though. It's scabbing over nicely, and I feel like a real rocker. That, coupled with a dip in the ocean in Isle of Palms, South Carolina ... i could get used to touring.

But then the boys dropped me off at my car in Nashville, where I caught myself actually say: "It's so good to be home, and not on the road anymore." And i was reminded by my new friend Karen, -- whom i met a few weeks ago on a random trip to Nashville -- that Nashville is not actually my home.

Someone asked me yesterday if i was moving to Nashville, and i heard myself say, "Yes." But i have no solid plans or departure date, and i still want to teach my little accordion lessons in Louisville. And i have dates booked in Louisville as far as September. But perhaps my new favorite thing about Louisville is that it is only 2 hours from Nashville.

I don't want to be a star. I don't want to go to Nashville with a guitar in my hand and stars in my eyes. I want to go to play music. I want to play in a bigger playground. I want to be somewhere where music is life.

A lot of my friends don't understand "that whole music thing." To many, i'm just their "Crazy Friend Brigid" who plays a few instruments. And they wonder when I'm going to outgrow it, get over this phase, and move on with my life. I swear to you, someone I met in Louisville a few weeks ago asked me what I did ... i answered, "I'm a musician." And his response was,"Oh, cute." Cute, i ask???! But i have no patience to try to explain it anymore. That's what I love about Nashville. No one looks at you funny or wonders how you're supporting yourself. I've supported myself fine as a musician for 5 years, and to those friends who still think it's a phase I'm going through, i have many things to say .... but then, those who think like that are not reading my blog. So why bother?

And to make decisions even more difficult.. just last week, i got the nicest message from a fan in Louisville who was worried about losing me to Nashville. I had no idea anyone even cared. Sometimes we sensitive artists need a little reassurance, I suppose. It certainly made my day.

On to the "fun shows i have played" section...

The Kush Griffith benefit show was awesome. Check out the lovely photos of me playing piano with Maceo Parker. I hear it sounded good too. Kush was awesome. The crowd was dancing. They even grooved to my songs ... i think the funk is contagious. Maybe that's why they call it funk.

My new Nashville friend, Karen, shared a pass to the CMA concert at LP Field last week, where i got a lovely sampling of country artists. She was kind enough to point out who's who and such ... but really the company was more fun than the concert. I can't get into stadium shows. I wonder if i'd enjoy playing one... my favorite part of performing is connecting with the crowd ... and that seems impossible in a stadium. But who knows ...

Saw an old college friend in Atlanta last week. That was fun. (Hi garrett!)

Anyone want to rent a 3-bedroom house in the highlands? mind if i crash in the basement 2 nights a week?

Oh, I hate decisions.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Upcoming shows of interest and fun things i have done

urrent mood:ready to rock
May 26 @ Headliner's .. Peter Searcy's CD Release party. Peter built me an unbelievable keyboard stand. Actually, his friend Alex built it. It's basically a custom-built shell of a piano, and my keyboard sits right on the ledge where the keys go. It looks dead-up like an upright piano. I thought it was a fun idea, and i always hated the giant logo on the back of my keyboard -- i'm not getting paid by the company, so why should i advertise? Plus, those X-shaped keyboard stands just look sort of cheesy. But i am blown away at how different it feels when i'm sitting behind this pseudo-piano. I actually feel like i'm at a real piano, and my whole attitude is different. Really weird.
Anyway, you may have seen it this morning on FOX news. Betcha thought it was a piano, yes? Check it out tomorrow night at Headliner's (May 26).

Okay, so i love performing music, but i'm not the biggest fan of rehearsing music. BUt i was at a rehearsal a few days ago with Kush Griffith, and i did not want to leave. The man knows exactly what he wants out of every instrument, and knows exactly how to extract it from the musicians. I am so wishy-washy when it comes to arranging, probably because i'm young and indecisive and know there are thousands of possibilities. But Kush -- who was the musical director and main trumpet player for James Brown AND Parliament back in the day -- hears the whole groove in his head and tells you what he wants. And it's incredible to hear it build from nothing to absolutely funk. Not to mention that Kush is both blind and in a wheelchair. Groove groove groove.
You HAVE to come out to the Kush Griffith Benefit show. It's Saturday June 2 at Bobby J's in Louisville. 8:00. $10
Maceo Parker (read the Wiki entry, if you don't know who that is) is taking time off the road (i hear he's out with Prince these days) to stop by and play. Kush said 4 out of the 5 horn players for James Brown will be there. And other even bigger funk names are rumored to be dropping by to jam.
What have I to do with this show? I'm the keyboard player. The FUNKY keyboard player, i should say. And with my new keyboard/piano shell, i will definitely be bringing the funk. I may actually end up doing a few of my own tunes there too. But now i want to write some old-school funk stuff. Silly me and my pop-rock-americana stuff.

Other notes..
I didn't make it to Nashville as planned last week (sorry) because I was hanging out with all the new friends (hello there, new friends!) I made at the Non-commvention in Louisville. But i'm planning on heading there on Sunday for a couple of days. I still miss you Nashville, but you're hanging in there without me. You're just not having as much fun as you could be if you had me there to play with.

Play, play, play. It's more fun that way.

Ha, i also went to the Ryan Adams concert at the Brown as part of WFPK's listener appreciation series. You probably heard that he only played for 30 minutes, wore a hoodie and sunglasses the whole time, and insisted the lighting be incredibly dim. I could barely see him, but he did sound beautiful at least. I have never seen him live before, and honestly, i don't own any of his records past Whiskeytown stuff. But i digress... of course, he got moody and left the stage early. Everyone was annoyed, a lot of people really angry. I was mostly annoyed because I had hoped he would throw a bigger fit. Maybe yell at the bass player, or knock his microphone to the floor. Give me some antics if you're not going to give me a show. Otherwise we can just buy the record...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

music, music, music

Music music music
Current mood: artistic
Satiating my insane urge to play music, I have played with someone or some band pretty much every night since March. The late nights at clubs and the sugar in the Crown Royal are working on my sanity and my belt buckle, but I refuse to be defeated. I'm having too much fun.

Some favorite recent musical adventures:

Playing musical saw with Steve Cooley, Larry Raley et al, on Monday nights
Singing old-school country duets with Mr. Raley
Fronting an all-star rock band that included Peter Searcy as my bass player and danny flanigan as my guitarist. And having a crowd there to appreciate it ... thank you all for coming!
Running into friends old and new and playing at Air Devils until 5 am for no one but ourselves.
Impromptu mandolin and fiddle sessions (although i am terrible at each) with JLP on the deck.
Playing accordion with Love Jones at their annual pre-Derby show.
Rehearsing with Peter Searcy's band for his rockin' CD release. (yes, i'm actually enjoying rehearsals. Very unlike me, i know.)
Being randomly called up onstage to play keyboards with Tim Krekel's band at the Willow Park concert. John Mann, your keyboard rules.
Dancing to Johnny Berry music until 4 am on Derby night.

There are many more, but those are some recent highlights. And i'm hoping to have one of these lists every month, so bring on the funk. (And I suspect i'll have some good ol' funk added to next month's list after the June 2 show. Maceo Parker is playing with us... and other bigger names are rumored to be dropping by...)

Now... Nashville ... i miss you. It's been two months. But i'm coming to see you on Saturday.
My good friend John Mann will be playing at the Bluebird Cafe on Saturday, and I am taking that as a good excuse to get out of town. My Tennessee garden needs tending. If you're in Nashville on Saturday, drop me a line.

And if you're in Louisville, Friday night is the Gram Parsons Tribute Show at the Pour Haus. I'm singing TBA Gram Parsons tunes... and general Emmylou Harris parts. And Sunday afternoon, my fabulous chorus has their Spring Choral Concert at Mercy Academy on Broadway. I'm just accompanying, but these girls have worked hard all semester to sing sing sing. Come out and have tea with us. 3:00. Free.

I'm also absolutely ready to make my next record. Any requests? I really just want to record two of my favorite new songs ... "Sunday Afternoon" and "You Make Me Wanna Go to Church." I played the church one last night, and someone called it "Brigid-to-the-max." Rock.

And completely unrelated -- go see the baby elephant at the Louisville zoo. I went on Sunday and watched it frolic for about 40 minutes. Ridiculously cute.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hollywood, etc

Hollywood, etc.
Current mood: productive
Category: Travel and Places
First thing: If you haven't heard Peter Searcy's new record, "Spark," (and i assume you haven't because it hasn't been released yet) -- mark your calendars for May 22. It'll be released on Label X/Toucan Cove and it freakin' rocks. In that good, soulful, lyrical, but still pop-friendly and rockin' sort of way.

Which brings me to why i was in Los Angeles last week.

I play piano for Peter. I have made this odd niche for myself playing accordion in tons of bands. Don't get me wrong -- i LOVE that i play accordion with so many people. But i'm actually really really good at the piano, and i rarely ever get to play it anymore. But Peter Searcy's new record is really lush and has lots of piano parts ... so i've had a blast playing in his band lately. And last week, he and I went to LA to do some recording and play a few industry-meeting-type things.

I went to LA once, when i was six. My mom was trying out for "Wheel of Fortune" (this was back when you actually got to go on a shopping spree with your winnings ... i always wanted her to get the Dalmation statue) ... and my dad, mom and i drove across the country to get her to her auditions. (Doesn't this sound like an indie-movie waiting to happen?)

I remember very little about this trip. I remember i slept through St. Louis, which upset me because I had wanted to see the Arch. My dad then told me they had painted it blue -- a lie that i believed until i was 14 and embarassed in Geography class when i informed the class that the St. Louis Arch had been painted blue in the mid-1980's. During my waking hours I did two things: 1) i memorized every state and its capital -- the license plate game became an automatic pop quiz. And 2) I forced my parents to listen to "Thriller" over and over and over and over again. Literally, the entire way across America. I don't have a clear memory of forcing Michael Jackson upon my parents, but my mom has hated the record ever since. My dad still likes it. But i think he was on my side on that particular road trip.

But speaking of "Thriller" and Los Angeles.... last Monday, Peter Searcy and I recorded some live acoustic tracks in Westlake Audio in Hollywood: where "Thriller" was recorded!!! How freakin' cool is that? And besides Michael Jackson, a few of the names they have hosted include... the Bee Gees, Earth Wind and Fire (who sat next to me on the plane out there, by the way. they were stopping in LA on the way to Malaysia. Can't believe only one of them was in first class! Just goes to show you, you should always talk to the person next to you on the plane. You never know who they play guitar for.), The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Wilie Nelson, AND Kelly Clarkson. Killer, eh? But the beautiful thing was that the gorgeous Yamaha grand had been tuned hours before i arrived. It was beautiful. Look for new photos....

But enough name-dropping.

As a former New Yorker, I was trained to hate LA. But i'm here to openly admit that i do NOT hate LA.. Granted, Peter did all the driving (thank you, Peter). But really, everyone was super-nice. The views were amazing, despite the smog. And most importantly, every meai was delicious. Every order of French Toast was made from Challah bread ... every Black Forest Coffee treat from the Coffee Bean was just the right mix of crunchy/drinky... and it turns out i like finely shredded salad, especially if it's in Beverly Hills.

Other exciting things:

The dorkiest thing i did was make Peter drive by the house where Jimmy Stewart lived.

We played a show at the Hotel Cafe, where they have a piano. I love that. Peter kicked ass. Then I sat in with John Neilson, who played after Peter at the show... check out his Myspace. He's got lots of great tunes.

I went to a barbecue with Peter in the Hollywood Hills. The first person I met turned out to have been in the same NYU acting studio as my college roommate, Lyzz. Weird. And then i hung out with some friends from Nashville Star who live in LA. We karaoked some country songs, which didn't go over so well on the Left Coast.

I learned that I'm a good person to take along with you to random business/networking meetings because, well, I'll talk to anyone. Which means whoever took me doesn't need to babysit me. So if you have a wine-n-dine function ahead, where there's an open bar and a delicious vegetarian menu, consider me as a date. I promise not to tell any pirate jokes. I also am obsessed with keeping my receipts. That's what happens when your mom is an auditor.

Anyway, Los Angeles was a blast. I'd go back in a second. The weather was amazing. The people were great. And the food ... no one freaks out when you ask if something's vegan. Mark your calendars for Peter Searcy's CD Release show, which i think will be May 26 at Headliner's. Check his myspace for more details

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Current mood: mischievous
It's that time of year ... and for Nashville, it comes a few weeks earlier than Louisville. Even more reason to enjoy my time there: USNA-USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6B, baby!

I planted a garden this morning. Well, for now just marigolds and pansies, but i began to prepare the bed for the delicious herbs and veggies that will feed me throughout the summer. You know it's commitment when you plant it in the earth.

Where is this elusive garden? I have no idea ... i haven't learned my neighborhood names late, but i know how to get there. I know it is 171.3 miles from my Louisville driveway. It's near I-40. The soil is rich, there's a hoe and rake in the crawl space, and a majestic black Great Dane lives across the alley. The ice cream man drives by playing Turkey in the Straw a bit too loudly (which, by the way, i can play quite well on my fiddle now). If i ever figure out where the garden is, i invite you to come sample some heirloom tomatoes, come July. I'm going to have a mediterranean-themed garden, i do believe. Come over and make a sauce sometime.

in the mean time, i'm going to have to figure out a nice way to shape my front-yard-veggie-garden in Louisville. I live next door to Mr. Lawn Extraordinaire, so i can't be a total eyesore, even if it does mean free eggplant for the neighborhood.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bile the Cabbage down (or however it goes)

Yesterday, I took my first fiddle lesson. Then i came home and cranked up the New Country radio station and fiddled along for an hour. So far, i'm really good at the fiddle intro to some Carrie Underwood song. And i can play Boil the Cabbage -- without the double-stop though, so don't be impressed yet.
Wow, is my dog annoyed with me.

Friday, March 2, 2007

adventures, musical and otherwise

adventures, musical and otherwise
Current mood: creative
Category: Life
It feels like I've been blogging a lot lately about the same things. But they matter, and for someone like me -- a writer, i think is the most sensible way to categorize it -- i just have to write it down to figure it out.

i was talking to danny flanigan last week about songwriting, and how most people write about themselves and things that happen to them. I think I write when I need to figure something out -- usually trying to understand someone else's motives. Although when the song's finished, it oftne ends up being about me, or could be, or i don't knwo...

Another weird thing about blogging is that anyone can read it. Maybe that's the performer in me. I could just as easily write this in a journal and tuck it under my mattress.... but something's stopping me. Maybe editing me. It's hard to be completely honest when you know your mother lurks around myspace and reads your blog. (hi mom.) But then maybe that's just an excuse.

So Nashville updates. I went down there twice this week.

The first was an adventurous and spontaneous trip led by one Ben Andrews. We were both talking about the finer points of I-65 on Tuesday and just decided to go. He needed to pick up a Leslie cabinet or something for someone else anyway, so the trip suddenly had a point. That was a strange encounter, around 1am, in a mall parking lot, and I was in the front seat with a migraine trying to ignore the nice man explaing the Leslie. Migraine subsided by the rest stop in Glasgow, and i ended up driving back by 6am, quite awake.

But this is out of order ... first we stopped in a club down there, where the Nashville Star finalists were performing. But we were late and missed them... then i ran into all sort of people i knew ... some of the producers from N-Star, as well as some people i'd met a few weeks before at a MuzikMafia show. (This is what i have discovered: Nashville is just as small of a town as Louisville. Can't go anywhere without running in to someone you know.)
Ben and i stayed for the first part of the Mafia show, which was great fun, except for the fact that I absolutely could not stand being in the audience when there were musicians playing off each other on stage. It is driving me mad in the head that no one in Nashville really knows that I play. I didn't want to sing or be the star -- it had nothing to do with being on stage -- it had everything to do with playing with top-notch musicians. Where the Artistry reers its beautiful head. That's what I need.

So then i got a migraine... ick.

Anyway, Thursday i went back. The N-Star people i ran into at Fuel left me a ticket to the show on Thursday night. Live at the Bellsouth Acuff Theatre (i always thought his name was "Roy," but that apparently was just short for "bellsouth"). I forgot how funny TV can be. The show was actually very entertaining though, but not nearly as much as the after-party at Gibson's.
Where yet again ... the kick-ass musicians that make up the Nashville Star House Band actually got to let loose and just rock out. And of course, i had that wistful look in my eye of "dammit, if this were Louisville i would have been invited on stage by now to play keys." And then ... that's when Lee, the N-Star keyboard player (who is a killer player), saw me, and saw that look in my eye, and invited me on stage. One song, three chords, but that was all I needed.

As I told the band members back at the Semi-finals: I don't want to be a contestant on the show; I want to be in the house band. Or the touring band. Or any band of kick-ass musicians.

Like tonight, where I am playing Headliner's in Peter Searcy's band. Peter has this rockin' 7-piece band put together for tonight. I'm leaving my charts at home and bringing the rock.

Anyone up for an adventure or a tour or just rockin' out: call me.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


Current mood: energetic
Category: Life
Urges urges urges. I am have no idea what my "current mood" is, but i suppose i'll have to choose something before i post this blog.

Excited, anxious, but all in a really good way. I have this maddening urge to play music. Not just to perform -- i do that all the time -- but to PLAY. To sit down with another musician, and sing instant harmonies, play a perfect chord, make the accordion sing, try out a new instrument.

Those of you who know me know that despite being a Leo, and thus not at all minding the spotlight, I am happiest being a sideman. When i get to just sit in with a great musician/writer, like Tim Krekel or John Mann or Peter Searcy, or whatever random musicians happen to be passing through Louisville on a tour and i decide they need an accordion, or someone i really connect with musically and spiritually .... oooh, i can't hide the thrill on my face.

And i've been writing. I can't stop the writing. Does it go together? I haven't finished things, but i've started about 30 songs in the past week. (Actually, this is a familiar pattern in my life, but my life seems to have worked out just fine. My school psychologist friend tells me i'm ADHD, undiagnosed, but to quote her, "it's not a disorder unless it's disruptive." So bring it on, i say. To mildly quote one of my own songs: i want it all. And you thought that song was about being a tart.)

All the writing means that i haven't started recording my next record yet. I was all ready to begin -- had the songs, the studio, the producer, most of the band -- and then i started writing again. And i'm not sure what kind of record to make. I suddenly feel like my current songs are not the best they could be, and i'm going back to the arsenal of 50-75 songs, wondering if any of them are any good. Or not that they aren't good -- but that I can do better. God, i'm such an over-achiever. I thought this was supposed to stop after high school. Hee hee.

I don't mean to sound like i'm worrying or fretting. It's quite the opposite. I'm excited and thrilled and stoked and ready and feel like jumping up and down. And it's not the coffee talking (i'm down to one cup a day, and weening. next week: green tea only!). I also have a new accordion on its way to Louisville. Yee haw!

One more confession, which i made in a previous blog, but which was not really substantiated: I love Nashville. I've been down I-65 twice in the past two weeks, really for nothing in particular, just enjoying the fact that every club has live music at any given hour. Can you imagine walking into Air Devils Inn on a Saturday morning and hearing live music? Also, everyone is incredibly friendly there. Or at least they are once you strike up a conversation first. And, again, if you know me, you know that I am the ultimate: "hi what's your name, do you want to be friends?" kind of girl. I loved going on adventures alone, walking around downtown, exploring, ducking into clubs, making friends at the bars.... i lived in New York for five years, and i never got that thrill. Something about Nashville.

Now i feel like i'm just rambling. Still no intern. I'll also need a new roommate come mid-June, so if anyone mildly normal who doesn't mind Great Danes is looking for a place, let me know. And it would help if you liked unicorns. (but not baby unicorns.)


p.s. like my new pics? the amazing eddie dant, who has yet to join myspace. he needed a model to test out some new lighting thing. i can't wait to see what he does when i actually hire him to take pix.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

So you're reading this, eh?

So you're reading this, eh?
Current mood: cheerful
It just occurred to me that a lot of you out there are reading my blog, and I suddenly feel guilty that i haven't written in a while.

I'm curious who is out there reading... is it Nashville Star fans wondering if i am dishing out dirt on the contestants i know from the show? (i don't know much, other than Meg and Tim were great at regionals. and i think Angela is kicking butt on the show. and i think Zach Hacker should just go ahead and become "Zacker." But enough about Nashville Star....)

Instead, i think i'll just babble about things that are on my mind.

I played a show at Uncle Pleasant's on Saturday night with two fabulous songsters ... Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. It was one of those great Louisville nights with an appreciative audience, listening to the words, and focusing on the stage. Gotta love that. I had this blue dress on that i'm not quite sure about. I got mixed reviews, but it was fun playing dress-up anyway.

I'm going down to Nashville tomorrow because i need to start doing that. Anyone doing anything fun in the vicinity? I"ll be back down there again on Friday i think.

This Actors Theatre show that i'm Musical Directing has me spending every ounce of free time in rehearsals. They are actually really fun; this always surprises me. I forget that actors love to rehearse, and musicians love to "wing it." Actors probably know better. The show opens on March 23, and i highly recommend it.

I have also been given the task of making a wish list of musicians with whom i would like to share a bill. Any thoughts? My instincts are: Tom Waits, John Prine, etc... should i be aiming lower? any suggestions?

What i really need is a live-in intern. Surely there is some Music Business or Arts Admin major out there who needs a place to stay in return for doing things like ... booking shows, updating press kits, going to the post office (i have 4 packages just sitting by the door that i can't seem to find the time to mail), maybe occasionally picking up my dry cleaning or running the dog around the block, but mostly just going to shows with me and maybe selling merchandise? Perhaps the occasional trip to Nashville? I've got a nice room with your name on it if this is for you.

What else would i like? I would like to go out dancing with someone who actually knows how to dance. Not someone who just twirls me around in the awkward 7th-grade-perfect-attendance-dance kind of way. Lead me, baby!

what else? To dispel the rumor mill once and for all: NO, i am NOT married. Louisville is such a small town. these rumors spread quickly.

My dog Guinness is getting fat. But this is my fault for leaving nachos within his reach. And for failing to take him on a sufficient walk each day (intern, where art thou?).

I had Spanish club tonight. It is obvious i have forgotten mucho vocabulario.

Enough. Surely you don't care about this stuff?