Saturday, January 31, 2009

under the wire

i'm blogging from kyle's phone so pardon my lack of proper punctuation. the muckrakers are currently onstage having a contest to the fans to see who can do the best impersonation of an rous dying. I that's rous as in "rodents of unusual size" from "the princess bride." so tonight's last minute under the wire blog is about a few of my favorite things: my favorite movie: the princess bride food: watermelon pat morita/jay leno movie: collision course book: the great gatsby kitchen utensil: the wooden spoon

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Parlour Piano and the Donner Party

Current mood: jolly

My faithful blog readers know that my survival skills are limited and that I would not survive a zombie war. The past few days have proven that I rely heavily on my MacGyver-like friends who have taught me things such as: wearing plastic bags around my shoes to keep them from getting wet. (I don't own snowboots.)

It was bizarre timing for a week of songwriting. Shannon Lawson and I have been trouncing through the streets in our double-bagged cowboy boots, scurrying from shelter to shelter, writing songs as we go. We've got the essentials: a guitar, a fiddle, a laptop, an accordion, and everything we need to make nachos.

Last night we ended up at Peter's house. Peter, as in Peter Searcy. He and his lovely wife were hosting a few other vagabonds, so we thought we'd impose a little. We arrived just in time to find Peter whipping up a Thai peanut vegetable stir-fry (mmmmmm).

Then we were transported back in time a hundred years when I found Peter's grand piano. I sat down, opened up a songbook from the 70's, and everyone stood around the piano and sang along. Imagine me on piano, and Peter Searcy and Shannon Lawson grabbing guitars singing "American Pie" and "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" in three-part harmony. And yes, we sang every single verse to "American Pie." It was unbelievably fun, and we must have sang and laughed and entertained each other for hours.

So it turns out that my survival skills aren't really all that bad. I can't start a fire, but I can entertain and keep people from turning into cannibals. (And the nachos were pretty great too.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life as a hobo.

Category: Music
I stopped by my house this afternoon to get my instruments out of the cold, and the thermostat read "41 degrees." The power is still out, and there's no sign of them fixing all the downed power lines any time soon.

Apparently, over 600,000 Kentuckians are without power. I am one of them.

My songwriting partner and I (who came up from Nashville to write with me this week), and I have been traveling around crashing on couches, writing a song when our fingers warmed up enough to make a G-chord.

That's all I've got today. It's really getting to Armageddon-land on my street though. My house is empty. The neighbors have taken their valuables and left their homes. As have I. Kind of scary, but I'm still enjoying the adventure. I'm lucky to have Twitter on my phone and friends who can update when they have power. What are the old people doing? Being very very cold and sitting in the dark, I guess.

Wrote a song yesterday, recorded it on a laptop, and emailed it to the radio station. They played it. Cool.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Louisville has no power.

Category: Life
Quick blog today, as I'm writing from the neighbor's house. I have no power, much like 200,000 other Kentuckians. All night long, I heard giant tree limbs cracking and falling and fire trucks crawling along the roads.

All because of snow!

My power is out. THere are lines down all across my backyard. I failed to get bread and eggs, and for the first time in years, I am craving bread and eggs. I think it's just what happens when you're snowed in. French toast!

The good thing is that the rest of this week was earmarked for writing time. So I'm holing up in my cold cold house (no heat either) with my guitars, pianos, accordions, mandolins, fiddles, and dulcimers, and writing.

But I was determined to blog-a-day.

Stay warm, folks!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Me, as a murder victim. Creeeeepy.

Current mood: creative
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

In May of 1996, I announced my decision to attend New York University. Most of my friends were excited about making their escapes from Kentucky, so they were happy to hear I was NYC-bound.

The next day in school, I was bombarded with, "You can't go to NYU! You're going to form a prostitution ring and be murdered!"

I thought that was pretty weird, but really not that weird. My relatives were worried about all kinds dangers I'd face in The City. It was just odd that so many different people were telling me the exact same plot: that to earn money at NYU, I'd be forced to become a Lady of the Night and would subsequently be murdered.

It turns out that everyone I knew had watched Law & Order* that night. And in a huge coincidence (maybe), the episode was about a college student at some fictional New York City university had indeed become a hooker and was murdered. The victim's name? "Bridget Kaylin."

No joke.

I never saw that episode, but every six months or so for the past twelve years, someone calls me and says, "Dude! I was watching reruns of Law & Order, and you'll never believe this, but the victim was Brigid Kaelin! They said 'Brigid Kaelin' repeatedly all through the show!"

Believe it or not, I've never sat through an entire episode of Law & Order. That could be because I have trouble sitting still for any length of time, or more likely, that I just don't really get into crime dramas.

Today, however, someone actually had the forethought to call me and tell me the episode was on TNT at that very moment. (Why has no one done this before?) I watched it, and it was really really really bizarre to hear them saying, "Admit it! You murdered Brigid Kaelin!" or "You were having an affair with Brigid Kaelin!"

Neither one of my names is particularly common. I think the screenwriters probably took that year's list of NYU's matriculates, and borrowed the one from Kentucky's name so-as to frighten her away. Obviously. Too bad she doesn't watch Law & Order. Maybe if she had been a Saved by the Bell character or something, I would have gone to Northwestern instead.

Thanks to my Uncle Billy for letting me know it was on. It was nice to finally see it.

* Link to Law & Order episode #6.20: "Girlfriends"

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Commitment and the Chinese New Year.

Current mood: determined
Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes

Ok. I mentioned that I'd wanted to borrow a New Year's Resolution from Rob of The Muckrakers (sounds like an ancient fanciful name, like Helen of Troy or Jesus of Nazareth): to write a blog a day.

Then I remembered that I don't do New Year's Resolutions. And then I read Rob's blog on Sunday, and he suggested that I take up the blog-a-day challenge.

I'm working on being less flighty and more sturdy, so this will be my big commitment for the year.

Of course, I missed January 1, and the Jewish New Year isn't until fall. But lucky me: today is Chinese New Year. What's more sturdy than an Ox?

I'm going to write some sort of blog every day in the Year of the Ox. Join me, if you will.

Here's the link to the A Prairie Home Companion (note that the oft-omitted article "A" is part of the title) program:, if you missed it.

This week's reminder: Louisville show on Saturday January 31. With none other than The Muckrakers. At Gerstle's. I'm starting at 9:00. You know I will.


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Monday, January 19, 2009

A Prairie Home Companion

Current mood: accomplished
Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes
I wanted to write this on Sunday morning, the day after the live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, so I could write with the same exuberance I wrote my Elvis Costello blog. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I knew it wouldn't be quite the same because I actually got a great night's sleep. Playing with Elvis Costello was so unexpected that I was buzzed for three days straight after he called me.

I have to type this so I can believe it: Saturday night, I played a sold-out show at the Palace Theatre. My favorite venue. Wow. That felt good.

Granted, the show was mostly sold-out before my appearance was announced, so I'm well aware I wasn't the star attraction.

But looking out into those lights, singing my original music, looking over my shoulder to see Guy's All-Star Shoe Band reading charts of songs I composed, and hearing almost three thousand people laughing at my lyrics (laughing where they are supposed to laugh), was an absolute dream come true. I looked over at Garrison Keillor during "Future Mr. Used-to-Be" and saw him dancing and watching me sing.

Several things about A Prairie Home Companion make me happy. The first is the mere fact that it exists. It overjoys me that over four million people tune into a weekly two-hour variety show on the radio. The show is so simple. Great writing, intelligent humor, Fred Newman's uncanny sound effects, Garrison Keillor's hilarious novelty songs, Susan and Tim's ability to imitate anyone, and the unbelievable skills of Guy's All-Star Shoe Band.

I've listened to that show for years, and I've always thought my music would be a good fit for the APHC audience. My songs are a little, um, quirky, I suppose, much in the same way that APHC sketches are. I couldn't have been happier when I got a call from them.

Tech rehearsal on Friday was glorious. I brought my own upright bass player, Louisville's own Danny Kiely, but was supposed to use Guy's All-Star Shoe Band for the rest of my accompaniment. They were all monster players and had perfectly arranged charts to my songs ready to play. The songs sounded amazing on the very first run-through, so really we just relaxed and had a good time playing on-stage at the Palace.

The Palace is my favorite place to see a big concert because it feels intimate. It's an intricately-designed baroque style theatre that looks like an Italian Villa on a starry starry night. From stage, the sculptures and planetarium are still visible, but you suddenly realize how huge the theatre is. There are almost three thousands seats and the balcony is far far away. I remember looking over at Shannon Lawson, who sang a duet with me, and just grinning wildly and saying, "We're playing the Palace!" Then I thought: wait, this guy has played arena tours as a solo artist; he's probably not impressed. But there's something magical about the Palace, and there's something magical about A Prairie Home Companion. He was smiling as big as I was.

Let me know move on to another favorite topic of mine: catering. Throughout the two-day rehearsal/performance, there was Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna, Vegan chili, cajun tofu sandwiches, vegan cookies and brownies, and all kinds of fruits and veggies. I was almost brought to tears thinking that my friends at the radio station must have remembered my strange veggie eating habits. But of course, it wasn't for me ... it was for a cast member who also eats no meat. He and I bonded over that for a while, and I pigged out, relishing the fact that I wasn't going to eat a tomato sandwich and a salad like I usually have to do in these situations.

After rehearsing with the Shoe Band, I sat around and jammed with them a bit on the musical saw. We played a bit of "The Swan" from Carnival of the Animals. Then we played "Over the Rainbow" and entranced the whole crew in the Palace. I had a bit of deja vu from when I soundchecked with Elvis Costello there and the crew did the same thing -- basically a collective "what the hell is she doing with that saw??!?!"

Though I had originally rehearsed four songs for the show, when Garrison heard me playing "Over the Rainbow" on the musical saw, the decision was made to cut an original and play that instead. It turned out to be a big hit of the show, so that goes to show you the wise man that Garrison Keillor is.

Speaking of Garrison, people keep asking me about him, and I don't quite know how to describe him. The best way, I think, is that he's like that strange but brilliant boy in class who always says just the right things, but whom everyone else thinks is a bit kooky. I like the strange but brilliant ones. I liked Garrison.

Patty Loveless and her band also played the show. They were great fun to hang out with backstage. We had to drag Shannon away from Patty's guitar/fiddle player, Garry. Those two toured together back during Shannon's arena-touring days, and they were reminiscing about days on the tour bus singing old-timey bluegrass songs. Patty was extremely gracious and sang her tunes brilliantly. What a voice.

Funny, it didn't occur to me that I was sharing a stage with Patty Loveless until after the show when people asked if I was nervous to follow her. Either I'm overly confident or my mind was just a blur. Or maybe I wasn't nervous because it's not a competition. Or because I was on-stage doing what I'm completely comfortable doing: playing music and singing for a crowd. If you'd asked me to stand on my hands or recite the quadratic equation, I would have been nervous. But ask me to sing my own songs for a crowd of three thousand and four million more radio listeners? Cake. I can do that.

- Playing a musical saw solo on "Powdermilk Biscuits"
- Standing in the green room with Patty Loveless, both of us with tepid tea and clueless as to how to open the microwave door. Thanks, Charles, for opening it for us. We were just testing you, really.
- Looking down from stage to see my friend Allison sitting in the absolute front row center. How did she get those tickets? Even my parents were Row K.
- Playing the gorgeous 9-foot Steinway concert grand piano.
- Telling Garrison on-air that "Future Mr. Used-to-Be" is "Not about you, I promise." I am such a flirt.
- Going out with some of the cast afterwards and watching my Louisville friends accost Fred Newman, Mr. Sound Effects with various sound challenges. My favorite of all was Dan who said: "Ok. A cat and a pickle jar going through a wood chipper." Fred stared at him, and I was slightly embarrassed. But then he started making bizarre sounds that sounded like, well, a cat and a pickle jar going through a wood chipper. He then commented that my friends are smart.
- Seeing my name on a private dressing room door. No gold star, but it still made me happy.

I actually think my favorite thing of all was that I think I represented Louisville well to the APHC crew and audience. We're a strange town, but we know how to have fun. And I'm a strange girl, but I know how to have fun. I think Garrison and the gang picked up on all of that.

What's next? I've got several projects up my sleeve, including a couple of new records and lots of touring.

In all seriousness, I would love to do a house concert tour. Or maybe a tour of small non-night-club venues. I like the Prairie Home crowd ... a listening room. Please message me if you're interested in hosting a house concert in your town, no matter where you live, big or small.

You can hear the broadcast on the Prairie Home Website, where my name is currently misspelled, but I'm hoping they fix it:

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Resolutions and Garrison Keillor

Current mood: giddy
Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes
One of my favorite blogs is on The Muckrakers' MySpace page. It's mostly Rob's doing, but occasionally Brian will sneak in a political or do-gooder post. It's always entertaining. Anyway, last year Rob's New Year's Resolution was to blog every day, a goal that pretty much only natural disaster or natural miracle (windstorms and childbirth) kept him from attaining. (Congrats, Rob!)

I thought about stealing that resolution for 2009, but then I remembered I don't make New Year's Resolutions.

It's not any sort of attitude problem that keeps me from from making them, although I assure you I do have an attitude problem. It's just a deadline thing for me.

With big lifetime goals, I work much better without pressure. With banal everyday things, I work much better with deadlines. I can write a song without a deadline. I cannot seem to get to the post office without ten Post-Its on various notebooks and steering wheels.

I can lose my cell phone without freaking out (New Year's Eve), but I scream at PhotoShop with all my lungs (this morning). I am ridiculous.

I do, however, seem to check off major lifetime goals.

And if I actually kept a list of such goals (it's in my head), I'd grab the biggest sharpie I could find to cross this one off: be a musical guest on A Prairie Home Companion.

Yep, lookout Garrison: Brigid's coming to hang with you this weekend.

Patty Loveless is also on the show. My good friend Shannon Lawson will be there as well, singing one song with me and wearing a big hat.

You can probably hear the live broadcast on your local NPR station, wherever that may be. You and ... four million other people will be listening! Tee hee hee, I'm giddy already.

I am stoked out of my mind. I've been fixing my website this morning, so if you notice that some of the links don't work or something, please let me know.

Okay, back to screaming at Photoshop...


P.S. If you're in Louisville and need a photographer, check out Ryan Armbrust just took some great shots of me. He's fantastic.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Beautiful music with beautiful people.

Category: Music

Thanks for all the happy holiday and new year's wishes. I have a growing list of things I want to blog about, but I've been so busy doing all those things that I haven't had time to write about it.

So here are some highlights of some good times.

New Year's Eve

I took the night off, in theory. Dropped by a friend's party. Then dropped by the Monkey Wrench to have a cocktail before zipping over to Headliner's to dance to Johnny Berry. Of course, I ended up singing with his band as well. This led to a someone sending up a drink -- isn't life great when the audience knows what you drink? -- which led to me being hungover on New Year's Day. Typical, of course, but I rarely actually drink on New Year's Eve. I also found a new dance partner who can lead well, which is nice because I think I was wearing Bo out at all those Johnny Berry shows. You're off the hook, Bo.

Anyway, it was annoying to have a headache on New Year's Day because for the past five years (well, i took last year off), I have helped put together the...

Townes Van Zandt Tribute

It started when some of the guys in the kick-ass southern rock band Dallas Alice got the idea to host an event on New Year's Day where local musicians play Townes Van Zandt covers. We did the first one in 2005 (I think), and this year I moved the event to the Monkey Wrench.

Such a beautiful event. I was in business-mode, so sorry if I didn't talk to you. But when you are in charge of making sure 30 singer-songwriters get their instruments tuned up and play their songs at the right time, you don't have time to socialize. I even carried a clipboard as I flitted and floated around the Wrench.

The spirit behind the evening was as gorgeous as the music. Thank you for coming, for sharing, and for listening to the tunes. And for the punctual producer in me, I was tickled that we started at 8:20 on the dot, and ended up only off by ten minutes on the schedule. Rock on, you musicians, for being both professional and unbelievable talented.

The Monkey Wrench

... has been host to several really cool events in the past several months. One of the best musical nights I've experienced happened there spontaneously on Saturday evening. I was having dinner at the Wrench with Charles, Dennie, and Shannon after a photo shoot. We were all about to part ways to our various separate plans for the the night when an old friend of Shannon's walked in the bar: Todd, from his old Louisville band (The Galoots) back in the 90's. They hadn't seen each other in years, and within minutes, we'd all decided to play an impromptu show together at the Monkey Wrench after dinner.

It's amazing what changing your Facebook status can do for an empty room. A few text messages and status changes later, and the room was packed full of people reminiscing about the days of The Galoots.

Honestly, I didn't really feel like I had much business playing with those two because I never even saw their band (hey, i was in high school then). But we sat around playing old bluegrass standards, switching instruments, laughing, singing. I even got to rock out a bit on the mandolin, and play some honky tonk piano. Good times. We may do it again sometime, this time with some advance notice.

Consider marking Friday, February 13 on your calendar now for a big surprise show.

Anyway ... loads more, but I thought I'd share some of the week's/year's more interesting and artistically satisfying moments.

It's only five days in, and it's already been full of satisfying music and beautiful people. Go team.

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