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I like to walk. It is essential to my mental well-being.

I happen to live in a beautiful part of the country – at the foot of the Berkshires in MA – but I’ve always walked no matter where I’ve lived.  I think its essential for my mental health (and physical). Walking keeps the body engaged and lets the mind rest. There are all kinds of walking mindfulness techniques, but I just look at the trees and the sky and keep my mind quiet. I listen to my feet on the pavement and the bird-calls. If I turn all of my attention to the outside world, I find my inner world gets calm. Sometimes I walk when I’m working on a song. It’s a great way to just let the lyrics write themselves. Give your mind a problem - then go for a long walk. Get quiet first and let the answers come. 

I’ve been reading a great book called, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. It’s fascinating. It’s basically chapter after chapter about all the great artists throughout history and the routines they set up for themselves in order to get their best work. One of the things I noticed again and again was the predilection for taking long walks! Creatives have used walking for centuries to work on problems and/or just give the brain a break. If it worked for Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo and Stephen King, maybe it’ll help me. 

Follow the Panic....

My ex-husband’s best friend died a couple of years ago. He lived out on the west coast, so I didn’t know him all that well even through 16 years of being with my ex, but I knew him enough to know his humor, talent (he was a great photographer) and kindness. He was a good friend, father and husband. He was my age. Struck by cancer in his early thirties, they treated it aggressively and it went into remission for 15 years. Then it came back with a vengeance. So young. So tragic.

When someone dies – whether unexpectedly or not – we tend to think about our own mortality. It’s a natural thing. We know that there is an expiration date on our days and we can’t do a damn thing about it. The great mystery is when that date is and the great challenge is – What am I doing to do with my life before that date?

 

Then we panic.

 

I believe that sometimes the Universe (or God, The Holy Spirit, etc.) gives us wake up calls. Sometimes it comes in the form of another’s death. When my mother died at 70, I was gripped by a sense of urgency to do more, write more, eat that ice cream, tell someone I loved them, spend time with my dad, make another album, eventually move to New England, etc. etc.

I’ve felt this panic before. I was 22 years old and living in Knoxville, TN. I had wanted to be a singer since the crib (literally) and I had never made one real step toward that goal. So, on my 22nd birthday I panicked and felt so old…LOL, but it was the kick in the pants I needed to finally seek out a musical outlet for the first time in my life. I auditioned for a band. I had only ever sung in my car - alone. I had no idea if I even could sing a note in a live musical setting. On top of that, I was really shy. The band asked me to come to a party they were throwing and they would be playing all night and people could just jump up and sing a song in between beers. I can’t remember what I sang – I think it was an Edie Brickell song – and I was so nervous and shy, I actually sang with my back to the audience! When I finished, a woman approached me and said, “Damn girl, I thought they had put the record on!” I thought I might cry – and she’s still my friend to this day!

When people ask me how I got into singing and songwriting, I tell them that I “willed” it to happen. I knew it was my calling from the start, but I was too afraid of failing to act on it. I waited a long time to pursue it fully, made a lot of stops and starts, had failures and victories, and have worked extremely hard, but I kept going. Now, it’s what I do for a living. I’m not famous or rich, but my life is a constant adventure. I will not go to my deathbed wondering if I could have been an artist.

I didn’t know my ex-husband’s friend well enough to know if he ever thought about his life and panicked, but he was a very energetic, driven person who followed his dreams and passions. Here’s the “passion project” he was most known for: Behind Photographs. He had a curiosity about the large Polaroid format and then had the idea to shoot pictures of his photography heroes holding their iconic photos. One little idea took him around the world and became an incredible book. 

So, let the panic take you somewhere new. It’s an urgent sign that there’s something deeper that your soul wants – and then follow your curiosities. You won’t regret it. I promise.

Someone asked me about writer's block....

Here's what I wrote back:

For me, the key to writing is multi part:
1. Be open to the inspiration and aware. This is going to sound kooky...though that may actually help my reputation...ask OUT LOUD for a song idea...to God or Allah or whomever Universal Muse you want.
2. Go for walks alone. Be present. Let your mind wander. Go about your day. Turn off noise (radio, phone). Listen.
3. Write down anything that feels inspired - a phrase - something from last night's dream - a line in a movie or TV show. Start a list of ideas on a notebook or memo on your phone.
4. Set up solo writing appointments with yourself. Now, open up your list of ideas and MAKE YOURSELF WRITE SOMETHING. Go through the list and pick one that resonates. Creative cycles go in 90 minute stints optimally, so write write write for 90 minutes and see if there's a song in that idea. No interruptions. No phone. No coffee dates. You'll know if you're onto something and if so, you won't want to stop anyway.
5. Drink lots of coffee. Read the book "How Artists Work". Artists throughout time have arranged their lives to fit their creative cycles. Find yours. Two common threads: coffee and long walks.
Now, get to work.

Mind Blown

One of the best things that has ever happened to me in my whole damn life is coming across the writings of Eckhart Tolle. He had an epiphany about the "nature of the mind and consciousness" and he has written books trying to explain what he discovered. In a moment of abject despair (contemplating suicide), he experienced a collapse of the "ego" - the mind. As this was happening, he realized that he was observing it. You can only observe something if you are at least somewhat separated from it. He kept repeating to himself, "I can't stand myself".....but then asked...."Who is I?" and "Who is Myself"? Are there two entities here? And if so, which one is real? He posits that the "I" is the silent presence behind the thinking mind (Myself). Your "self" is a mental construct that you've created through your life experiences - the ego.

So, I recently had a discussion with my little sister about this stuff regarding feeling "unhappy" and here's how I tried to explain it to her.....

It is Eckhart Tolle's main message that the only "sane" place to live is in the present. Otherwise, you're lost in the labyrinth of your "mind" - which is a construct - not a real place. If you're worried, you're too much in the future. If you're sad, you're too much in the past.

It takes just as much work to be miserable as it does to be peaceful. I think the word "happy" gets overused. We should really be seeking inner peace. Happiness is a momentary emotion. Peace is a deeper and more subtle feeling. I prefer the word "satisfied" to happiness too.

As Dr. Phil (whom I'm loathe to quote, but he's dead on here) says - "If you're miserable, there's a payoff to staying that way. What's the payoff?"

Is the payoff that you conclude that you're the smartest guy in the room seeing through it all - superiority complex? Is the payoff that you cause the people around you to walk on eggshells - therefore controlling the situation? Is the payoff that you get to continue to think of yourself as a "martyr" or "victim"? Shit is always just happening to you.

Tolle realized that the only way out of his own existential misery was to change his mind. In other words - not take his own "mind" seriously. The mind is a terrible thing. haha. The heart beats on its own. The lungs breathe on their own. You don't have to tell them to do it. The mind "thinks" on its own. It is a flaw in the design when we then completely identify with what the mind is thinking. So, we get wrapped up in the broken record of our "thoughts" when they are NOT REAL. It's just the mind chewing on itself and doing its thing. So, ignore your mind's neuroses and get back in your body in the present. All of sudden you realize - I feel okay - satisfied - peaceful....maybe even... happy.

So, when shit happens, do you say - okay, fuck. Well, let's fix it and get on with it...? OR - oh no, what did I do to deserve this? How does this make me look to others?  - and off you go down the rabbit hole of your thoughts that catastrophize (and identify yourself through!) the event instead of just dealing with it.

Okay, Mosrie, fine. But how does this relate to songwriting and singing?????

I experiment with being fully present in my body while I write songs. Makes a huge difference. It's like I try to "feel" where the song is going rather than writing from my head. I use more visceral language (which I like) rather that intellectual concepts. I let ideas just come to me. It's led to several of my better songs.

And being on stage - there's nothing better than being in your body rather than worrying about what the audience is thinking of me. It makes for a more satisfying and authentic performance! AND you're more likely to connect with the audience when you're fully present.

Contrary to some nutjobs, Eckhart Tolle is NOT a religious thing. It's simply about being present in your body and realizing that your consciousness is NOT your thinking mind, but the presence behind the thinking mind that is observing it all. Sit and try to feel that in yourself. It will change your life.

 

 

 

And the convo kept going a bit...

So, lil sis wrote back that she had just returned from a big trip and was having a lot of trouble getting inspired to get back into her work of tile making and pottery - feeling uninspired and disconnected. She referenced my album "Home" as being about "the little things" - which was true. I like the quote from Annie Dillard, "How you spend your days is how you spend your life". That quote has inspired and haunted me as I sometimes watch my days go by with little to show in the way of good work or even remembering what I ate! Too much mindless errand-running, facebooking, TV news, chores, etc. Its so easy to get overwhelmed these days that I find myself needing to space out a bit just to relax. Perhaps there are better ways than Pintrest and Instagram, but I haven't found it yet. :) (kidding).

Anyway, here's what I wrote back to her...again, just sharing some thoughts. I'm just another slob on the bus - with no real answers - just questions and musings...if you have anything to add, feel free to write me. I have turned off the comments because the spamming robots are relentless on here if I don't. 

Hey,

Yeah - I think Home was about appreciating the smaller finer points of 
being a Southerner and finally embracing that as identity - which I had
always resisted. Lay it Down was a bigger brush but more personal in a
way. What I'm writing these days is all over the map and I'm finding it
harder to write without self-consciousness about "what I have done
before". That's not a good thing. I realized on my drive back from VT the
other day that I have to let myself get completely absorbed in a story or
an emotion so much so that I am not aware of "HERE I AM
WRITING A SONG" - what will people think of it? What will Cliff think of
it? Is it up to my usual quality controls? blah blah blah.... I am reading (slowly) a book called "How Artists Work" on my Kindle and
its fascinating to me the schedules and rituals that some of the greats of
our time set up to encourage that kind of focus. Just as I said the other
day - it's the little movements that create the big tide turning - meaning
when I'm writing a song, I cannot think about "who might
like/cut/record/be impressed by this"? or else I'm already dead
creatively. Similarly, you can't worry about "who's going to buy this/hire
me/put this in a gallery?" or else you lose the thread of your own
connection to the Great Art Source of the Universe :) You have to get an
inkling of inspiration and just follow it even it's nowhere. Ironically
though, when you do that, it's usually your best work. Un-self-conscious. So, firstly, I would encourage you to give yourself a break - sleep a lot -
get over your jet lag by just running errands and having a glass of wine
at night. I would highly encourage taking a long walk everyday and maybe
don't listen to music - just walk. I bet you'll get ideas from keeping
your body busy and letting your mind roam. Find out what inspires you
again while you have this time to yourself and don't put any pressure on
yourself in the meantime. Go to the kooky seminar about energy. Go to the
library and peruse the coffee table art books. Go to a poetry reading. Go
to a museum in the city! TRUST that you are exactly where you need to be
to let the next thing you need come into your life. Sorry, but I actually
believe that shit. Find ways to enjoy your day and stay off facebook and
CNN. The politics right now are just awful. Court the muse and look for
ways to be happy. She will come. The song contest in VT was fun and gratifying. Ten contestants chosen to come
play. I got worried before the contest and just had to keep telling myself
that I was simply going to do the best job I could and let it go. It worked.
I think I gave a good performance that was heartfelt and present. It was a good day.
One day out of thousands, but I was in the moment. It won't lead to fame and
fortune but it is another brick in the wall. I made some new fans. That's
pretty much all I can ask for. I stayed at a beautiful inn down the road that treated
me really well and fed me a gourmet meal. I met some nice people that I drank beer
with and will probably never see again, but no worries. Little things.....feeling satisfied
in the moment and eager for more is where I like to stay. love you, Ouiz

So I was having this convo with my lil sis who is turning 40....

She was worried that she is turning 40 and hasn't "accomplished" much. I think in this world of FOMO (fear of missing out) encouraged on Facebook plus just the plain old fear of death, it's easy to go down this road of "what have I done of note?". Coincidentally, I had been dealing with some existential problems myself this week, but I had a realization....so, I'm just going to share what I wrote to her verbatim. Please forgive my swearing (although studies show swearing is a sign of intelligence :))....I don't usually share like this, but here goes...if it helps you with your own existential questions, then I'm glad. 

 

I've been having this conversation with myself this week too....funny how
that happens. Cliff is gone to camp in NH, so I thought I would get all
this work done and instead I've been battling the blues all week!

I finally had a breakthrough yesterday (after sequestering myself so as
not to spread my bad mood) and today I realized that our whole lives are
just made up of little stuff - not the big stuff. It's this song, that
tile, a blogpost, a video, a beautifully prepared meal (or not), paint on
the wall, the clothes we choose - it's all creative. It's all about "HOW
DO I WANT TO SPEND MY TIME?". Time being the only thing that's finite
here. Money - phhhhtttt - I've had it, I don't have it, I'll never have it
- whatever. 
When I look back, I want to see that I was creative - that I "put-out" more than I consumed. I can't control the market. I can't be sure to influence one damn person, but I can create and I can savor my life. I can sit on a Sunday morning, sipping coffee and reading the NYT. I can get together with my family, laugh, drink and eat a great meal. I can write a song and sing it wherever I can. I may not make a dime, but I will continue to try to be good at this. Not because I'm going to change the world, but because I actually really enjoy the crossword-like puzzle process of writing a song! If I don't invest in the small moments, the big ones can never happen anyway. Duh! Why does it take me so long to figure this shit out? Meanwhile, I can unburden myself of extraneous BS - including stuff, narcissistic friends, politics, bitching about politics, wringing my hands over the latest horrible thing that has happened in the world, etc. etc...Instead - I could spend more time trying to be helpful by volunteering or bringing attention to worthy causes. I know by this point, you're sorry you got this started (LOL), but mainly, I think trying to make big leaps in order to feel satisfied in life is a waste. That means if I never win a Grammy, I have failed somehow. That seems nuts. I'll never be too old to be a creative - to be an artist in some way. Frida Kahlo painted in her hospital bed as she was dying. I think I can get up today and work on a song. Maybe I'll just post this on my blog. love you, Ouiz

Telluride...when tired and road worn.

So I went out to dinner tonight by myself...determined to leave my cell phone alone. It was a hipster place  -probably a bad choice, but I wanted to try something new.  Because I had no reservation, they asked me to sit at the bar, which was fine by me. I had two seats to choose from…one next to two couples talking and one next to one couple more my age. I chose the latter. I soon discovered this was a mistake. To my left, there was an older couple around 70 talking to a younger couple around 40. They asked them about art and classical music...the younger couple admitted they knew nothing of either. I scoured my brain for bits of information about Mozart and Beethoven and Bach – all of whom my mother loved – and the brief “music appreciation” course I took in college as a liberal arts requirement. I came up short. I noticed the box of Fruit Loops next to the Talisker Whiskey behind the bar and I couldn’t help feeling sad - like something has been lost. The Robert Downey Jr. lookalike bartender chatted with the couple on my right about being a model and how he joined the AIDS walk as a way to meet women but now its changed his life. The couple to my right giggled and challenged each other with trivia questions about celebrities and movies. I knew the answers but of course kept my mouth shut. I was quiet and still – as usual. Listening. I heard Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” for the second time today come on the stereo. The older couple to my left was eager for stimulating conversation but the couple they were sitting with simply didn’t know any of their references...generational divide perhaps? They soon said goodnight. I did too. The Elk Lettuce wrap and raw oysters were fantastic as was the Kobe steak skewer. The Belgian style beer was potent. I wandered back to the hotel determined to educate myself. 

Ch-ch-changes...turn and face the strange...

Hey guys - - sorry it's been so long since an update! Lots of changes around here. In fact, "around here" has changed too. In late May I packed up a 16' truck with all my sh*t and drove 1100 miles to Williamsburg, MA where I'm starting the newest leg of my journey. New England has a long rich tradition of folk music and I felt I needed a change of scenery. Having lived in Tennessee all my life, it was a bit scary to move so far, but it's exhilarating too. I loved living in Nashville, but it was time for a new adventure. So many people are moving to Nashville at the moment! But it feels right and I have my first show since moving tomorrow afternoon in Flushing, NY. :) I love this little village too. The post office, library and pub are within walking distance (no more nutty Nolensville traffic!) and the best lobster roll I've ever had is $8.00 down the street a bit. What's not to like?? Yes, I know - the winter! I am already shopping for a giant puffy coat and boots. As God as my witness, I will be prepared!

Another change is I'm going to be teaching (yes, teaching!) next month in Yorktown, VA at Songwriting Escape - a wonderful songwriting retreat by the sea hosted by uber-bluegrass diva Donna Ulisse and her mega-talented hubby Rick Stanley. Check out the link and the future workshops. Good times WILL be had. Whatever your level of writing and whatever your ambition is, we can help. I will be teaching vocal performance and also talking about writing historical or story songs. We'll write, play and discuss one on one! Other instructors are: Cliff Eberhardt (teaching melody and arrangement), Jon Martin (mandolin), Greg Davis (banjo), Donna Ulisse (songwriting/lyrics), Rick Stanley (songwriting/guitar). 

The new CD, Lay It Down, continues to sell well at shows and I recently got a big boost by being interviewed along with Cliff Eberhardt on Mary Sue Twohy's folk show on XM/Sirius "The Bridge"! I got several emails from people who heard the show - very gratifying. 

More shows are being booked almost weekly. Happy to be staying busy and just plain happy. :D

So, how's your summer going???

Lay It Down is out in the world....It's been quite a journey.

I'm relieved, a little scared and a lot excited. The past five years have been challenging and rewarding in ways that I never could have imagined. When I posted to Facebook yesterday that the new album was online for sale, the outpouring of support and kudos made me cry. I am so grateful. This is all I've ever wanted to do with my life - to sing and write. I have no idea if this album will reach a wider audience and I have no control. I'm just enjoying every opportunity to play and sing for you. 

I got a nice little review today on No Depression (thanks Arthur!). #lifeisgoodindeed

Whew! NY trip was FANTASTIC.

Last weekend was one for the books.

I played the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival - one of the oldest running folk fests in the country. I also got to lead the audience in a song while on stage with the legendary Tom Paxton (and lots of others!) during the Pete Seeger tribute (!). Wow. I felt all the beautiful history of the folk world and felt like I was a part of an amazing community. Very emotional for me. Then on Sunday, I played Fly Fest near Cooperstown, NY with The Strangebyrds and Steve Chizmadia - both great acts - and we had a blast! Thanks Sue and Bruce! 

I can't wait to see what adventures are in the offing next! 

 

 

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Wow - 50% of the goal with 17 days left!

Thanks to the incredible generosity of my fans and friends, the new CD campaign for Lay It Down is at 50% of goal ($5000+)! I'm just so happily stunned by this. So, now, we're in the last 2 1/2 weeks of the campaign and I'm really hoping to hit that $10K goal. This has been such an interesting, humbling and exciting process. I know being a traveling performing songwriter, I may seem like a brave person, but I'm really not. I play it safe sometimes and I'm not a frequent risk-taker. This campaign has shown me that I can push through that and just go for it...just put myself out there and try even though I paced around my apartment for an hour before I could push the "launch" button. You guys are really coming through and helping me in more ways than just with the campaign and I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

xo, Louise

I'm floored.

 Wow - you guys are amazing. In less than 48 hours since I launched the campaign to raise funds for the new CD "Lay it Down", we've raised almost 30% of the goal! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am really excited about this new album. It's very acoustic, very emotional and personal. I'm proud of it and looking forward to putting it in the mail to all y'all! 

Anne Lamott and assigning meaning to coincidence...

So....I'm flipping around on the TV and come across an interview with Anne Lamott on PBS. I don't know much about her except that she's a famous writer and has dreadlocks. She mentions something about her "conversion", so I google that and it was a fascinating story - she converted to Christianity a week after she had an abortion and saw Jesus sitting in her room one night.

Ok, that's cool.

After the interview ends, I click over to a window on my laptop on the Oprah.com site and randomly select an article to read because I'm procrastinating about doing my work. I start reading this great spiritual piece on "becoming yourself" which reminded me of a conversation I had earlier with a friend about Step 4 in the AA process and taking stock of your life. So, I get to the end of the article which really struck me and I look up at the top to see who the contributing writer is......and....you know it's coming....it's Anne Lamott.

And that wasn't even the first coincidence I had been made aware of today. I was talking with a different friend earlier this afternoon and I was laughing about having committed the "cardinal sin" of relationship - trying to change someone - he stopped me abruptly and said, "When you said "cardinal sin", a bright red cardinal landed on the branch in front of me."

Ok, that's cool. 

So, I'm curious....do coincidental events happen because life or God is trying to deliver a message or ask us to see something - bring our attention to something ? or do we assign meaning to these things as a way of moving ourselves forward toward something we want or some situation we want that we haven't admitted to ourselves? Do we look for signs as the big permission slip from God or the Universe?

Well hell, I don't know. I do know that I've been on my own spiritual quest of late and I will be checking into reading Anne Lamott...just in case.

Setting Sail to the North Country

In a few days, I'll head up to NJ - the land where my sister lives, where the bagels are epic (I promise not to use that word much longer) and the roads are crap. I will cross the Bagel/Biscuit Line on Friday (AKA Mason Dixon Line) and peddle my wares and my art to anyone willing to listen. I love performing. I didn't always though. I used to be so terrified to get up on stage, my knees literally knocked together. There were a few things that changed all that - thank God. One was working with the uber-talented performance coach Beth Anne Musiker here in Nashville. She helped me to think of my songs as just stories to be told to the audience. Stop worrying about how I sounded to them and just focus on the message. Somehow, that clicked for me. Second was playing at Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 2009 and participating in the New Folk competition. I was terrified beyond measure, but I was SO accepted and welcomed into the folk community (I had never even been to TX before) that I relaxed my usual anxious clenched heart and let go. It changed me. Thirdly, it was life itself and the rolling progression of age that has helped me settle down into my itchy skin and relax. Now, I just feel grateful to be singing at all and eager to make new connections. Who knew I actually liked people? I was so shy as a kid. 

Maybe audiences think of performers as narcissistic ego-driven fame whores. Maybe not. Some performers are. No doubt. You certainly have to have some amount of confidence to get up there and think what you have to say is worth hearing. I'd like to think I have something to say. I'd love to think that other people want to hear it. I think audiences can see through bullshit. I think performing without authenticity feels awful - like wearing a hideous dress that someone else picked out for you. I think the key is to not "try" so much, but just be there. Let the songs and the performance be what it is - whatever the best you have in you - whatever the song requires. So, be gentle with me out there and I promise that I will always be present in the performance and try to reach you through the song. 

When I wrote my song "Singing My Heart Out" (which will be on the new CD!), the line in the chorus regarding singing - "Like breathing in time with God" - just came out of nowhere and landed hard on the page. I kept looking at it and thinking...that's a weird phrase. I should take that out. Yeah, but it just showed up. Maybe I should trust that. I trust music. I trust that it is truly a common language. It is heard best with the heart - not the mind. Now its one of my favorite lines, but I didn't write it.

See you in New England~

There will be songs.

Here....I'm saying it out loud....well, on my website....I'm in the process of recording new songs for a new CD. It's been 3 years since "Home" came out and I started down this strange and fantastic path.  A lot of crazy stuff has happened in my life, many shows have been played and I've met some incredible people along the way. So, there are new songs to sing and new songs to put down on "tape". I hope you like them.  

They will be songs of love, heartbreak, hope, grief and longing. The working title right now is, "In the Land of the Living"...which is the name of the song I wrote while my mother was ill last year and I was moving out of my 15 year marriage. I plan to record them as simply and straightforwardly as possible with as little production as necessary to give these songs a frame to rest and shine in. 

My life has become simpler, starker...less is truly more for me these days...I'm shedding possessions and beliefs and my songwriting is becoming more minimalistic too. Just the bones please. Just the barest emotion is all I want right now. 

I've been told to make the record "Americana" or "commercial" sounding, but I'm going to (prolly stupidly) ignore all that and just make a record of acoustic songs. Songs that made me cry as I was writing them. Songs that mean a lot to me at this time of my life. I hope they speak to you too. It's all about connection, right? Connection with spirit/God and with each other through compassionate understanding. Music gives us permission and a conduit to feel deeply. Hallelujah.

Happily, I've found a kindred spirit to work with...Cliff Eberhardt is helping me arrange and record these songs and he is nothing short of brilliant. He has a long history in the music world...immersing himself in the craft of songwriting since he was 7 years old, creating his own style of acoustic guitar playing that leaves people saying "wow!" while he weaves his emotionally powerful lyrics around your heart. He's most well-known from the New York Village folk scene of the late 1980's when he played alongside Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin and toured with the late great Richie Havens. He's a teacher, philosopher and fellow seeker and I feel exceedingly lucky to be working with him. 

Baker Hotel

Hey - to all y'all interested in the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, TX of which I wrote a song....here's a great little blog entry and some photos:

 

http://sarahcrutchfield.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/through-my-lens-the-baker-hotel-mineral-wells-tx/

FARM

FARM - stands for Folk Alliance Regional Midwest - held in Bolingbrook, IL this past weekend, it was 3 days of hob-nobbing, pickin' and singing with 200 other folk artists from around the country. The earliest I made it to bed every night was 2am. I know I saw 3 am on the last night of the conference. Exhausting, but so fun! Got to hang out and listen to my talented pals and songwriters: RJ Cowdery, The Twangtown Paramours, Jamie Michaels, Bill & Kate Isles, Jan Seides, Sally Spring, Adler & Hearne, Sarah McQuaid, Jayne Toohey, Sigrid Christiansen, Kira Small, the YaYa's, Ben Hassenger, Joe Jencks, Andy Cohen, John Batdorf, Derek Daniel and that's just a smattering. 

One of the highlights was a songwriting workshop with the legendary folk songwriter, Michael Smith. He's got me fired up to write some new songs!

I love my Folk Alliance friends. They are my tribe and extended family! <Group hug>

Beverly Buick Goes to Jacksonville!

What a great weekend Anna D. and I had in Jacksonville, FL! It was my first time there and the journey began by driving to Chattanooga to pick up Anna (my talented "side player") at the airport where she parked her car. We loaded her things into Beverly Buick and she went to park. I attempted to start the car and ....nothing. Silence is not good when starting a car. Dead. Kaput. Nada. I assumed it was the alternator since the battery was quite new (replaced while in Houston last Fall). I called AAA and waited in front of the airport terminal...on 9/11 weekend...waiting for security to come read me the riot act for sitting there. No one ever said a word though, which was kind of weird. After only 20 minutes or less, a very nice tow truck operator by the name of Charles (I know because it was sewn onto his grease covered shirt) came along and asked to take a look under the hood (of my car! Get your mind out of the gutter...oh wait, that's my mind...) Anyway, he jiggled the battery cable and voila! it started right up. "Just a loose cable lady! No need to take it anywhere. Just get yourself a cheap socket wrench at Autozone and tighten that up." Hallelujah! Done and off to Florida! Old Beverly Buick lives to see another day! 151,000 miles and still trucking....

We arrived in Jax late on Friday night and I had a panic attack driving over the bridge across the inlet to Jax Beach. What was up with that??? My hands were sweating and I thought my heart was going to bust out of my chest. I was beginning to worry that I'd pass out and have a wreck when finally we made it over. I don't like tall bridges apparently. Still, that was odd and came out of nowhere. Great! You never know when some silent neurotic tendency will come screaming up to the surface at the worst time! 

We were hosted quite graciously by Ken and CeeCee Connors in their home - a really kind and intelligent couple who have worked in radio, activism, education, computer programming and are bluegrass pickers themselves. It was a wonderful place to land! 

First show was at the Riverside Arts Market under the I-95 bridge. This may not sound like a good place to play - under an interstate bridge, but it was actually quite beautiful. The weather was perfect and the acoustics with all that soaring concrete above really worked in our favor! A fun show and I met so many really nice folks who bought CDs and signed the mailing list. We would love to go back and play there again! Only one problem......THERE WAS NO COFFEE FOR SALE! WTH? I couldn't find a cup of coffee to save my life when I got there, but I powered through anyway. Met a nice old guy named Jim who fought in the Vietnam war and is quite obsessed with Janis Ian (who lives in Nashville). Many thanks to Gary Becka for the booking and Roy for the great sound!

That evening we played at the European Street Cafe on Beach Blvd. It's a cozy little place with a dessert counter that will slay you. They had more pastries, cheesecake and cookies for sale in one place...wow. Happily, I didn't eat any of it, but I did eat their Kibbe Pita sandwich - which is a middle eastern meatloaf sandwich. It had yummy tabbouleh on it too. No beer before performing, but I did have 3 cups of coffee. Oh yeah. Many thanks to Ray Lewis for the booking!

The opening group was a local duo - Dan McClintock and Eric (sorry, can't remember his last name) - very cool music. They had a Plain White T's meets Simon & Garfunkle thing happening and they were quite charming and funny. Go see 'em if you can!

After the show, we unwound with beers and snacks back at the Connors' house till about 1am kvetching about the economy, the music biz and everything else. :) Good times. Good times.

8am Sunday, 9/11 - my birthday - we packed up Beverly and headed back to Tennessee....she made the 10 hour drive without even a hick-up...just a couple of hicks.

Oh yeah...blogging...

I know...I know...I'm an artist so I'm supposed to blog, right?! I'm supposed to tell you all whatever I'm thinking on a particular day and be all pithy, funny and such. Well, I've been falling down on the job! So, I'm attempting to commit myself to more regular blogging....

The most interesting thing happening at the moment is that I'm being considered to sing the national anthem for the Nashville Predators - our NHL team. My dear friend, Gene, who is a rabid Preds fan emailed me and harangued me about submitting an audition tape to them. So I did. They were only taking the first 50 entries and I figure that in a town full of singers, I had no chance...not that I'm not a singer...I just mean that there are SO many incredible singers here in Nashville. Well, I don't know what the hell happened...the stars lined up right or something...because I got a call yesterday from the Preds saying that I am in the top 3! BUT now I have to ask all my fans to vote for me so I can sing. SO, I went onto Facebook first and sent out the call to my friends and fans and OMG, they shared the link; they voted over and over and they're all so excited for me! I was floored! I knew my friends on FB were awesome, but I didn't know how awesome. I have been so touched by the outpouring of support for this! Anyhoo, if you want to vote, go to: http://www.nhl.com/ptth/TeamPollPopPage.htm?pid=18532&skinId=1

UPDATE: DON'T VOTE: OK folks! For all of you who are trying right now to vote for me to sing the National Anthem for the Predators, the voting is over now. Sorry - I missed that information in all the excitement and mayhem of calling out the troops. I will let you know the decision of the refs as soon as I know! Many thanks to all who voted !!!!

Meh, not exactly pithy or funny, but it's the truth.

Nashville Flood 2010 - I Love This World

Hey guys, Wow - what a week it's been. A week ago, my beloved city of Nashville was half under water from 18 inches of rain in two days and reeling from the death and destruction - and the threat of both water treatment plants shutting down. 32 people have died and some are still missing. I saw whole neighborhoods completely inundated by the rushing flood waters. There was no warning. Some older folks were found drowned in their living rooms or in their cars. Families were literally ripped apart by the currents. The Grand Ole Opry stage was engulfed by the Cumberland River. Thousands of musical instruments - some irreplaceable vintage pieces - lost forever. One of my favorite places to play - dark and divey Norm's River Roadhouse - had about 15 feet of water in it. All the music equipment was ruined and our friend Norm is salvaging whatever he can and starting over. We had relatively no damage at our house. We were some of the lucky ones. In a world SEEMINGLY full of cynicism - amazingly - good people jumped up immediately and began to help out wherever they could - strangers in boats and jet skis going house to house to find survivors and even rescue trapped family pets. Trucks full of food and hot coffee going through neighborhoods handing out a little comfort wherever it was needed. And it was needed. $1.7 million raised in a few short hours on local TV for flood victims. Literally tons of donated clothing, food and household goods going out to people in need. It's been nothing short of thrilling to me to see this city spring into action in the spirit of community love! Yep, I am SO proud to say "I'm from Nashville". People can say what they want to about this city....country music is commercial crap, y'all are a bunch of rednecks... blah blah blah.... true sometimes? Maybe. But I'm here to say this city ROCKS ! I'd like to think that all communities handle crisis this way. Maybe it's not just "Nashville". But here and now after the week we've had - I've never seen so many "heroes" all at once and I am deeply encouraged. "When the bad times come down, good people stand up. Good God, I love this world!" "After all I still believe in the human race. Good God, I love this world!" peace. L.

New Website Design

Hey y'all, Decided to change up the website design again. Change is good, yes? My main interest is writing songs and playing gigs, but I have to also be an entrepreneur too and actually *gasp* market myself! Yikes. It's all good though and it's all an adventure, so let's get on with it. This new design has a blog which I hope to add to as the mood strikes me and I have something to say. Comments from the peanut section are highly encouraged unless you kids get unruly and then I'm going turn this bus around and you just wait till your father gets home.... xo, L.

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