May 2009

Check this OUT:




If you've ever had the whisper of an inclination to create something. If you have any unacknowledged inkling of a passion for an idea. If you just feel like hanging out in the woods by a gorgeous lake for a few days. If you want to be surrounded by gorgeous creative fireflies and funky woodsy freaky people.




What are you waiting for? There are two sessions of the SQUAM ART WORKSHOPS this year. One starts next week. lot's of textiles and.... KNITTING!!! And there's another one this fall. I'm going to both -- I fell in love with the place last year, (and also the goddess, Elizabeth Macrellish, who started the whole shebang) So I'll be knitting this time, and breaking spontaneously in to song with my pals Jen Gray, and Christine Mason Miller. In September there will be a little songwriting going on, and probably some more knitting and more spontaneous singing.


see my JOURNAL from last fall for a little more info.


I'm just saying.


my mom's DUMP dollhouse and big wheel.


OK. Maybe you all have already heard, but just in case.... DOLLHOUSE, the controversial Joss Whedon show on FOX,  got picked up for next year. Fox has officially ordered another 13 episodes. This season was definitely a rollercoaster, but I'm IN. Just when you think Joss Couldn't push any envelope any further, he finds a way.


Strangely, when I was visiting my mom just  a week ago, she must have had some sort of telepathic inkling. She brought home a dollhouse from the DUMP. We couldn't talk her out of it. She just wouldn't leave it there in case my brother's kindergarten class could use it. And of course, the broken big wheel would have been lonely......I should have known it was a sign.


Mom's "shopping" habits are legend. One Christmas, I got a broken fondue set and a stained leopard pillow case that she found at a yard sale. She's also been known to re-gift those temporary flip flops they give you when you get your toe nails painted. What can I say, she grew up in the depression.


She is starting to forget things. This visit, she was convinced she had never seen me sing before, so she decided it was high time she got to one of my concerts. That was tough. She has been to many, many concerts, and she, (and my dad when he was alive) have always been extraordinarily supportive of my career. Even when I was a modern dancer!!


So life changes, life goes on. More and more it's the little things that matter. How we care for each other, the stories we tell. Laughing through it. My mom has been able to laugh through some of the most harrowing experiences. Hopefully I got that from her too.

Philly, St. Cloud, Sag harbor, HOME.

Eugene and Wes


I had the weekend off. Ish. Thursday night, although I had only three notes out of my usual many, I limped through John Wesley Harding and Eugene Mirman's CABINET of WONDERS at the World Cafe Live. Interesting, the Bourbon did help a bit, but not enough to get the high notes. I felt like William Shatner speak-singing my repertoire! It's a really fun evening, and great concept. Catch them on the road if you can.


Then my husband and I swished out to St. Cloud, Minnesota on Friday for his niece Leah's wedding. Lot's of fun. Leah had  forgotten the marriage license, so we were all sitting awkwardly for an hour, waiting for the ceremony to start. The poor pianist and violinist only knew two songs, and played them over and over and over again....


Then, when things finally got rolling, the best man turned the weirdest shade of green and keeled over, right as his brother was saying "I do." Both of them were mortified --the unconscious one for having upstaged his brother's big moment, and the groom because he had a hard time at first interpreting the horror on his bride's face. (His back was to the groomsmen.)

Leah and Bryan, he ships out to Iraq on June 8. Many many prayers.


Well, freshly back from Minnesota, (always nice to see my husband's enormous and ever storied famiily.) we traipsed out to Sag Harbor, NY to ring in the summer. Turns out we got to do a little afternoon impromptu television show on the porch of the American Hotel. Thanks to Alison Chace, "Chewie," and Kendra!! And of course, PLUM tv.

JB and Alison


Our fabulous techies, "Chewie" and Kendra. Chewie is a DOLLHOUSE afficionado!

It's always adventurous singing out on the street, Harley Davidsons's roaring by, bystanders whispering, "who the hell is she?" and of course, I had a ridiculous coughing fit when i launched in to the third verse of Linger. The universe was telling me to take a nap. But, ever the "I'm not sleepy" type, the show went on.

The parade yesterday was the Sag Harbor event of the weekend. I love watching the kids watching the hubbub.



And then, the faces of the people who have served, or are about to.... I wanted to know their stories....

Harry, the gatekeeper at the American Hotel, was pretty unimpressed.


But, I do love a parade. This one was short and sweet. All of about fifteen minutes, as there is only about a block of paradable real estate on main Street!





Home again, recovering from our "weekend off."


Davy Knowles and our little single "Taste of Danger" is heating up at radio. Be sure to let your stations know you want to hear it!!


More very soon

Exchange for the future

 My brother Todd is the headmaster of a K through 8 school in the tiny town of Castine, Maine. A few years ago, Todd started researching the long lost connection between Castine, Maine, and it's namesake, St. Castin, in the south west of France. Castine has a very rich and violent history. Back in the 17th century, the town changed hands more times than I can ever remember between the French Dutch, British and Portuguese. There are signs all over town about who took over what and when, and there's still a cannon down at Fort Madison.

blustery Saturday morning


and some ramparts up on Battle Avenue. Apparently the French won out at some point and the Baron of St. Castin actually fell in love with a native American and that may be why the name Castine stuck. There are still Penobscot Indians that are descended from the Baron de St. Castin and his local bride.


Turns out there is a school in St. Castin with an equally adventurous headmaster, a kindred spirit  to my brother. They started corresponding and little by little the kids in both schools also became pen pals. They would send typical things from each town back and forth. The Maine kids sent the school teddy bear, who now resides half the year in France. They sent blueberry jam, and lobster buoys, red sox t-shirts, and maps of the craggy coast. The Maine kids raised money with bake sales and chore drives and anything they could muster, and went to France last spring.  In the summer they had a slide show to present their trip to all that had helped it to happen. They showed pictures of the snails they had eaten, the familis who took them in, a trip to the St. Castin soccer stadium, pictures of their sister school.


The French kids got busy last fall and recorded an old French standard about loving America, and sold it all around St. Castin, learned typical dances from the Bearne region and put on performances to raise more dough, and, Voila!  23 french kids and 5 adults arrived in Castine, Maine last Friday night. Mon dieu!

I got to witness some of the fun. One woman from St. Castin who couldn't come, knitted lovely cowls for my sister in law (see journal archives: "Maine, the way life should be") and my two nieces.


Hilary (background, jb, Ariel)

Lesley, my sister in law (and one of her gorgeous quilts in background)


My brother Todd


One of the wonderful parents from St. Castin, Maryvonne.


Arnaud, with his Spider Man sweatshirt. He's staying with my brother.


There are little Xeroxed signs all through Castine: "BONJOUR and BIENVENU!" My brother made plans for a whirlwind 6 days. They kids will hike a little bit in Arcadia national park. They'll visit the Maritime academy and take a boat ride out around the tiny islands that dot this coast. Yesterday they went to Bar Harbor to the Indian museum.  Saturday it poured most of the day, so all the kids played dodgeball and capture the flag in the big gym of the Maine Maritime academy in town.

Ariel and her new boyfriends. The french boys were WAY in to hair gel and cologne, and fashion. The Mainers? Not so much!


 Saturday night there was a big lobster dinner down at Dennett's Wharf. The cultural liason from St. Castin was there, the french consul Francois Gaultier and his wife Francoise drove up from Boston, and Charles Shay, 85, from the Penobscot tribe, (direct descendant of the Baron of St. Castin, and also a decorated war hero) was there too.


There were speeches, thank yous, tears, and an incredible sense that these small but powerful connections will last a very long time. That these are the stories that change the world in tiny and lovely ways. 


"the back shore"


 As long as I've been visiting my family in Maine now, I've known the town's odd man out. I guess it goes back to the late eighties. My parents befriended him when they bought a house here down on the coast. It's beautiful, blustery; unforgiving and lonely in winter, lovely in summer. There's that constant sense of tension between the summer people and those who work for little and live here all year long. That's age old in places like this.

But the town odd man was a brilliant ship engineer. (There is a Maritime Academy here.) And he retired here long before my parents arrived.

You can often see him chopping wood for the winter in his front yard. He also saves everything. Other people's throwaways are his treasure. He knows crazy facts about the most obscure things. And when my nephews and nieces were little, he'd always have some hand made whistle, or puzzle that would obsess them for days.

He always recognizes me when I come to town, but there's never any small talk. Just a ruddy smile and a challenge, "Guess what business I'm in these days?"
Well I'm not sure any more Paul, what IS your business these days?"

Well, I've always said you look a little like Jesus, or at least an apostle.
"Not that kind, recycling!"
He rides around town on an old black bicycle with a huge double wide milk crate bungee corded to the handle bars, and he finds, rescues, picks out all that can be redeemed for Maine's 15 cent guarantee.

Today he helped pump air into my mom's tires. "OK, you're on your way now," he said, and disappeared into the Taratine convenience store to pick up their discarded beer flats.


Paul Manning

Oh Paris

I still can't believe how magical Paris is. Every time, she just grabs my heart and twists it into this exquisitely joyful mushy romantic infatuated lover.


I haven't even had the time to walk, admire, gape, but just snapping a couple of shots on the way to work...the Hotel de Ville

merry go round, Hotel de Ville


and there is beauty out every window. I know I'm a helpless romantic for this city. But the balconies, the history, the poetry of the language, the light, the food, the wine. I am forever in LOVE.


and then, in tiny pink pen, on the tile walls of the Franklin Roosevelt metro stop on the Champs Elysees, "Yes, we CAN."


Like being invited back into the french heart.


There is a Francis Cabrel song my friend Sandrine just introduced me to... "Les Hommes Pareils" that is so a propos... (please excuse the lack of accents)


Vous, vous etes et nous, nous sommes

Vous, vous etes et nous, nous sommes

Des hommes pareils

Plus ou moins nus sous le soleil

Memes coeurs entre les memes epaules

Qu'est-ce qu'on vous apprend a l'ecole

Si on y oublie l'essentiel?

On partage le meme royaume

Ou vous, vous etes et nous, nous sommes...


Moi, j'ai des iles, j'ai des lacs

Moi, j'ai trois poissons dans un sac

Moi, je porte un crucifix

Moi, je prie sur un tapis

Moi, je regne et je decide

Moi, j'ai quatre sous de liquide

Moi, je dors sur des bambous

Moi, je suis docteur-marabout

Et nous sommes

Des hommes pareils


Plus ou moins lon du soleil

Balncs, noirs, rouges, jaunes, creoles

Qu'est-ce qo'on vous apprend a l'ecole

S'il y manque l'essentiel?

Semblables jusqu'au moindre atomes

Vous, vous etes et nous, nous sommes...


Moi, je me teins, et je me farde

Moi, mes chiens montent la garde

Moi, J'ai piege ma maison

Moi, je vis sous des cartons

Moi, J'ai cent ans dans deux jours

Moi, J'ai jamais fait l'amour

Nous, enfants neveux at nieces

On dort tous dans la meme piece


Quelque soit le pirx qu'on se donne

On nage dans le meme aquarium

On partage le meme royaume

Ou vous,, vous etes et nous, nous sommes

Ou nous sommes desw hommes pareils

Plus ou moins nus sous le meme soleil

Tous tendus vers l'espoir de vivre


Qu'est-ce qo'on vous apprend a l'ecole

S'il y manque l'essentiel?

S'il y manque l'essentiel?

J'aime mieux ce monde polychrome

Ou vous, vous etes et nous, nous sommes...

Des hommes pareils


 more very soon. Nolwenn Leroy and I are cooking up some lovely treats. ;)



Beauty Parlor

Getting my hair cut and now colored since my natural red hair is now just dull red, is a love hate thing. There are those times when something really cool happens and I walk out with purple and red and orange streaks, and I feel like a million bucks. But most of the time it's trying to find something that will last and not look too goofy on the subway! It's an investment dontcha know here in New York City.


It's also wicked uncomfortable sitting there staring in the mirror for all that time. You pick yourself apart. The lighting is always HORRIBLE, and sometimes the company is strange and unfriendly.

Well, last time it was FUN. Yoda the dog showed up and distracted us all from ourselves. And Michael Brimhall, colorist extraordinaire, and I took pictures to lighten up the mood in the place.



Michael Brimhall, JB


Yoda, JB


It's kind of like waiting rooms for me. It's all I can do not to try to rally everyone during that hellish waiting time to get up and start singing and dancing. Why not have fun? Collaborate, laugh a little in an awkward situation. It seems perfectly natural to me that people should just break into frigging SONG.


Well anyway, I got to sing later... trying out a few tunes with some BOYS I adore!


We rehearsed at the lovely Euphoria Studios, where Dave the owner is also a fab photographer. The walls are lined with the musicians that have traipsed through his halls.


Charley Drayton, now playing with Paul Simon, always STYLIN'


Brad Mehldau. Nothing to say, genius.


Joe Sample, feels like home!


Me and the boys! Rich Mercurio, Richard Hammond, Ben Butler. I've missed that sound of four people in a room!!


Off to Paris tonight to work with the beautiful Nolwenn Leroy a little more. French ideas are brewing. Hopefully I will 'receive' some brilliant songs in the magic haunted hotel that prompted "je n'peux pas te plaire!"


A tres bientot

Maine, the way life should be

When I was ten, I got a scholarship to go to summer camp in Maine. It was on "Long Lake" near Harrison. My cabin was called "Cozy Cottage" and my counselors were the coolest women I'd ever met. They both played guitar, and taught me my first chords. (One of them ended up singing and playing fiddle and guitar with John Mellencamp and the HOOTERS!) The other had long shiny black hair, was a killer water skier and tennis player, painted, could embroider ANYTHING, and I basically followed her around like a little golden retriever puppy. I wanted to be just like her.

The other kids called me "Mason" because they said I looked like Mason Reese, the kid with the Joan of Arc hair and the terrible lisp that was on the canned smorgasbord commercials. She would comfort me and tell me that I was just ahead of my time. "Just lace up your high tops and go, you've got the goods."

I wrote home week after week, telling my brothers about this incredible woman with the long black hair. (My brothers are six and eight years older than I.)
"One of you has to marry her," I would say. "It's just that simple."

My mother became the camp's director during my third year there. She hired both my brothers to work at camp "Newfound."

My middle brother became the assistant to Jody, the head cook. My oldest brother led all the trips out into the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire. Well, there's a recipe for romance.
To make a now very long story short, my older brother DID marry her. He was still a junior in college. She had just graduated. They've been married now for 30 years. They still crack each other up, challenge each other, LOVE each other. I ADORE my nieces and nephew, and my sister in law is my oldest, dearest friend.

Funny  how she seemed so mysterious and grown-up and romantic, and yet, she always listened. I could confide in her and she took me seriously. Even after she and my brother fell in love, I never got shut out. I felt cool in their company. I still do, and she still cracks ME up wicked bad.

My brother just sent me this photo from the summer they got together.
It's just like the signs on the Maine Turnpike say: "Maine, the way life should be."

summer of 1976, Boothbay Harbor, ME

May seems crueller

Personal reminder. Pick yourself up off your ass and go... Jo


What is this discontent? This seasonal restlessness? Down time amidst the overwhelming "Up Time?" Seems hard to get the gears to re-engage. I am re-callibrating for the writing time. I am writing for Disney again, I am writing for the beautiful Nolwenn Leroy, writing with Joe Sample and Marc Mantell. Writing with Mike Errico. But I am impatient with the muse.  I am waiting for the flow to return. Something about writing "with" Woody Guthrie was so painless. It was an unstoppable pace. I couldn't wait to get started each day. Where's that freight train?


It's like the first trip to the town pool before the sun has had time to really warm its waters. I keep dipping my foot in from the side, but it's still too cold. I know I just have to jump. It'll feel so good, exhilarating, especially after a couple of laps. But the little hot tub over in the corner is so much easier. I know they haven't cleaned it out in a year, it's stinky with chlorine, not really hot hot. But I could just sit a little longer....


dressing room somewhere, husband, comfort.


The single is UP on I-tunes. Look for "Taste of Danger." Gift it, blast it, talk it up!! Triple A radio seems to be embracing it so far. Crank it with the top DOWN! Come on sunshine, enough is enough!!