Maybe it all started in seventh grade. I just realized, on stage, in Sellersville last week. When I was twelve, (which was, as many of you know, the worst year of my life .) my mom got a motorcycle. Ok, for some that would be cool. But that same month she decided to take a course in clowning at the adult education center in town. She came home in white face, red nose, Harpo Marx wig, bowler hat, and a new name: "Stoney the Clown." My brothers and I were mortified. She changed her personal stationery to have this cute heading "damn everything but the circus." She even had her best friend Nancy make her a big polka dotted clown suit. She would look for parades in the newspaper and show up at the tail end, imitating the other people marching, blowing bubbles at little kids, honking her Harpo Marx horn.
Stoney, "Rex," my dad.
It finally hit me, this may have been the beginning of my uncomfortable fascination with the circus. Here were the seeds. "Blood from a stone;" my trilogy of songs about the carny circus girl I danced long ago. My obsession with the trapeze. All coming back to me now. Am I really my mother?
In other news! Colorado rocked. It has been way too long, and I promise now not to be a stranger any more. I had a lovely visit with my old pals at KBCO.
jb and Marcus
I sang some songs for their Studio C sessions. Talked I-phone apps with Marcus and Andy. Most of our ideas cannot be mentioned here. ;)
The Soiled Dove was a great place to play. Thank you Chris and Chris!!
Not a bad seat in the house, perfect disco ball, and what a stellar crowd. Thank you so much for turning out in STYLE. Thanks for the help with the merch Jeff!!
Jeff Uhrlaub, jb
Durango, love it. I knew everything would be fabulous when I showed up at the Hertz counter and they gave me a pimped out black Cadillac with Illinois plates. Now that's stylin.' We slid on over to KSUT, in Ignacio:
a tri-ethnic community! (forgot to ask which three.)
to do a little set for Stasia and Beth and Kenny. What a beautiful little station. Passionate, free, and thankfully big supporters of JB.
Stasia and JB
Ft. Lewis College's stage? GORGEOUS.
There was a wind tunnel on the stage due to a relentless dust storm season (thank you for the jacket, whoever you were!) but what a beautiful hall. I didn't mind the concert grand Steinway at all. And the altitude made it a bit wacky and dizzy and extra fun on the high notes. Thanks to Charles, Denise, Beth, John and Josh and LeeAnn for hanging afterwards.
LeeAnn and JB
It was our last night on the road for a while, so we toasted Durango, and coasted back to our B&B.
This place even has its own parlor for the Tuba
and a crushed horn wall of fame!
Two lovely breakfast burritos later, home to LGA and 90 degree humidity. Oh New York.
More news about the new "Taste of Danger" soon I think it turned out SLAMMING, and will pump a little new life in to THE WORKS. It ain't over yet for this little baby.
Couple of things I'm grateful for today. I'm in love with the dog who lives next door. His name is SARGE. He snuffles like a pig, and really has no interest in me, just the crumbs I've left in the kitchen from the third round of toast when I'm procrastinating. But sometimes I just have to go borrow him from his people. He can always break a tense moment. bring me back from the edge of being overwhelmed. He ALWAYS cracks me up, and life just isn't so serious any more.
Me and my beloved SARGE
The other thing is the HOT new single we're putting out. (On I-tunes April 28th -- gift ALL your friends!!)
You've heard "Taste of Danger," but you haven't heard "TASTE OF DANGER" with the awesome Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam fame.... (He's only opening for Jeff Beck now on tour. ) Just sayin'. The whole track got booted up to eleven when Davy walked into the studio. It was an incredible day. Go check him out if you have a chance.
photo courtesy of Blix St. Records.
Can't wait to FINALLY get back to "The Soiled Dove" in Denver. I think only 'pimp and ho' night in San Diego (twelve survived to tell the tale) can compete with the rich history of this place!! See you there.
Hamilton, NJ, Grounds for Sculpture. Idyllic, peaceful, gorgeous.
This really was a week to beat all. From State College, the Rubin Museum, Hamilton, Sellersville...it was a rich, rewarding bunch of gigs. And a rich week of ideas and ponderings.
Sometimes there is this crossover current, where the world at large seems to convene on themes that are my consuming passions. This was one of those weeks.
It was the week of Susan Boyle, the unlikely world wide singing sensation. A strange backhanded triumph, (ooh, even the homely girl can sing) but nonetheless a triumph. It just reinforces an idea that we all must champion. That there IS room for ALL of us to succeed. There is PLENTY to go around. Especially in a world where women can be the most dismissive and cruel to other WOMEN. (note the rolling of the eyes of the WOMEN in the audience of the tv show)
Then there was an interview with John Goodman in the Times. One more example of someone who's had a relatively lovely success, who has doubted himself every step of the way. Again, it's so reassuring to find that EVERYBODY has these insecurities. The most successful people. The ones I admire the MOST, are troubled with self-doubt, and sometimes debilitating fear. The "I suck" knob seems to spare no one. Why isn't there a manual that reminds you of this in highschool?
Then, another article about a film series championing director's late-life work. Sometimes frustrating, weird films, that were perhaps dismissed at the time, but that the world has circled back to and started to understand. We do get somewhere with age. And there's something to be said for living a long time and having that much more to SAY for it.
Then, the incredible Jen Gray, inspiring, beautiful photographer, blogger, kindred, has started an INCLUSIVE pom pom program outside of Chicago. Apparently the whole cheerleading culture there is cutthroat and brutal. Well she and a bunch of like-minded creative chiquitas have put together a fun, alternative, rocking program. Everyone gets a part. Everyone gets to play, dance, sing, whatever. 'Bout time!!!
Some highlights from the week:
caution, folksinger crossing, distracted by new song idea.
crossies don't count. Hamilton, NJ Grounds for Sculpture
girl in the peacock garden in Hamilton.
Alpha Peacock. what a poseur!!
Woman in pieces, Hamilton, NJ
Freaky passageway to:
Big bird, tiny world.
hmmm, just thinking.
Rena, our lovely hostess in headlights with her pal, Butch.
Minerva, patron saint of Sellersville.
blurry rick, jb, dan, and abby from Sellersville, i swear we were sober.
This inclusive idea of plenty is really my biggest cause these days. Another friend sent me a link to a clip of Elizabeth Gilbert talking about the expectations and treacherous nature of creativity and "genius" and her theory about how to re-frame our ways of seeing it. It's all part of the same drill. I am loving the collective conversation. Bring on the feast.
Lauren Kinhan, JB, Woody. Photo: Sandrine Lee
The Rubin Museum, with Tim McHenry at the helm, puts on this series called Naked Soul. These are concerts in a tiny little hall, 150 seats max. The idea is to find ways to relate what you do with the art in the museum, and build the set list around that.
There is no amplification, no bells, whistles. It's the artist and her tools (guitar and piano for me) whatever images you choose to project, and a rapt, pin-drop quiet audience. Because of the setting, and I think because of the unorthodox way it SOUNDS, there is this intimacy that is enthralling, exposing, thrilling. People listen in a whole new way.
This is the second time I've performed for the series and it was another top ten experience for me. I remember the first time I did the show, I was close to tears a few times during the concert. I started seeing/hearing my songs in a totally different way. Re-contextualizing them in relation to the buddhist art was mind-blowing. I felt connected to a personal kind of faith I hadn't felt in ages. Love and an intoxicating electricity of emotion and soul.
This time was very different but equally exciting. Tim introduced me to a Tibetan monk (Drukpa Kunley) "the divine madaman" who had spent a lot of time in Bhutan. He was an enlightened master, and an exponent of "crazy wisdom." He was basically a troubadour, raconteur. Loved the women, loved the drink, carried a little banjo like instrument along with him, his stories, and of course his "divine thunderbolt of wisdom." His thunderbolt penetrated the mysteries of life, as it did the many willing virgins who were his groupies. It kinda sounds like he was a big part of populating Bhutan with his tantric Buddhism. Anyway, there are penises decorating many of the temples in his honor, and this guy is considered a saint. Now there's a religion I like. There are great stories about fornication and copious drinking interspersed with his teachings on how to square your karma, escape the cycle of birth, death and rebirth (samsara) and attain nirvana. According to one source, the god-fearing but high-living Drukpa Kunley sums up his philosophy in this way:
"The best chung wine lies at the bottom of the pail/ And happiness lies below the navel."
Well, the beauty of the evening was that Woody Guthrie had so many things in common with rev. Kunley!! Some of the things I found in the Guthrie archives when I was working on my record were downright erotic/pornographic, much like the bawdiest stories I found in my Bhutanese history book! And Woody didn't shy away from the drink, or preaching about his beliefs either. One of my favorite quotes is the one I included in "All Ya Gotta Do is Touch Me:"
"I full aim to get my soul known again, as the maniac, the saint, the sinner, the drinker, the thinker, the queer. I am the works, the whole works, and it's not til you have called me all of these names, that I feel satisfied. SATISFIED!"
And another little gem I lifted and shared last night:
"And I will stay here in you and through you and all here about you till your eyes have closed the the sights of both of us and see only yonder prettier lights which light up the plains and hills in the lands of creation. And let me be man enough to stay here in you till your whole spirit is satisfied and your soul comes down to rest again here where I'm holding you."
Well, I don't know about you but I certainly found some crazy wisdom in what these two had to say.
With names like Woody and Kunley, they had to be good.
Thanks so much to Tim McHenry and the Rubin, and all who came to share last evening with me. I am so honored to keep learning along the way.
This week. what a crazed whirlwind. I though i'd re-cap with photos!
painting at the gorgeous Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville, VA. Ellis Paul came down, so fab to see him after too many years. And, oh my, what a GREAT knitting store, right down the street from the gig!
all the yarn organized by COLOR. So lovely here at the Needle Lady.
and kisses for all...
Rob Roman the third came to three gigs this week, so he gets the grand road trip prize (chocolate, red wine, and a shaky photo op!)
onto...Blacksburg, VA. What a lovely theatre the Lyric is. Super supportive crowd, incredible volunteer army. Thanks Elizabeth for a wonderful night.
james and helen in Blacksburg.
the Knitting PUG "Purl" at the fabulous MOSAIC yarn shop in Blacksburg, VA.
On to Asheville, North Carolina.
many thanks to deejay Tommy at "The River" for the support.
What an incredible crowd, great place to play, all round Town of LOVE. David Wilcox came down and hung out. Sweet music all around at the Grey Eagle.
crazy family from everywhere, who came bringing chocolate YUMMIES.
and another knitting FIND! With TWO dogs at the helm.
in front of the yarn store, "Purl's Yarn Emporium," in Asheville, NC
Then, onto Norfolk. After travel dramas (5am wake-up, broken plane, eight hour drive) we made it to Norfolk. Kelly Murphy and a tireless army of volunteers, musicians, and basically wonderful visionaries put on a wicked show. And threw a great party afterwards. We were getting down to the oldies at Enrico's greek restaurant. mmmmmm.
me and Kelly Murphy. Bravo!
The concert was to benefit the Tidewater Arts Outreach Program. They bring music to people who can't get to it by themselves. And as we all know, music is a powerful, healing, thing. What an honor to be part of this project.
Taking the weekend off. Love to all. Thanks for the amazing support this week. Happy Easter, passover, agnostiday, atheistparty, kwanzafunk, just celebrate!!!
Just thought I'd share a few highlights of this whirlwind tour-lette so far. Tarrytown was a delight. One family rescued the beautiful Theatre there (circa 1885) from becoming a parking lot. And now it is home for music and other eclectic performances. Apparently Kenny Loggins had just been there the night before and the audience danced the night away. We loved the hospitality, and the crowd was delicious. Claudia Marshall from WFUV came by and totally pimped out the intro!
me and Claudia
It was incredibly great to be back on stage with Glen and Jonathan. They are just dreamy.
We drove out to Cedar Knolls, New Jersey early, and did a fabulous radio show called "all mixed up live."
Me and Joe Strelec, associate producer
A little studio audience hung out with us as we talked about baseball, (I learned about two seam and four seam pitches.. who knew??) and music and pretty much everything in between.
Jim Monaghan, (on air host, baseball pro) and JB
It was a lovely afternoon. Thanks to all at the Original Music School for their help!
Chatham, New Jersey was a hoot. Scott, our fearless promoter cooked us home-made Moroccan chicken with couscous and crazy cookies for dessert.
It was a Presbyterian church so I did feel a little funny singing "All Ya Gotta Do is Touch Me," but no lightning bolts were thrown, and the musical director from the church was rocking along with the rest of us!
Our backstage was the pastor's little quiet room. His book was open to... you guessed it. the Prodigal Son
Thank you so much to the whole team. These are such passionate music lovers, and it's a treat to be brought in just like family.
master of merch
Annapolis, now there's a happening audience. Raring to go from the second Glen took the stage, we had a wicked pissah night. I will miss those boys terribly, and hope we can do some more shows together very soon. I'm just hoping there won't be any embarrassing you tube footage of my dancing like a crazy woman during Jonathan's Bobby Brown rap number. Must have been a full moon or something!
Glen, JB, Jonathan
healthy late night eating
Come on Charlottesville! So far we stopped at 106.1 "the Corner" on the way into town and did a little radio shebang with the ever gracious Brad Savage. I got to do a little guest deejay bit while I was there. LOVE IT!
Brad and JB
Travelling around these smaller towns really gives me a better picture of how many of us are just piecing things together as we go, for the love of it. The people in Chatham? They're not getting paid, they volunteer and help put on those remarkable shows. Same with the radio folk in Cedar Knolls. There's a wide open feeling to the music biz. No one really knows where it's going, or where the money will come from if things keep shifting the way they have been. We're all a little scared. But, thank goodness, music is still the glue. We can't live without it. We're still 'consuming' it as much as ever, maybe more. It's just a shifting dynamic. But god bless the fans who still want to be there, because every show is an adventure. And you can't pirate THAT!
Anyway, I'm always grateful and absolutely reassured when I meet these true believers along the way. Doing it for the LOVE. Thank you all!!!
I played at my highschool yesterday. What a GAS.
Of course it's always a shock to be there, to smell that same front hall smell, to see some of the teachers that were there when I was a student.
And to actually perform in the "gym"/cafeteria (there really wasn't much of a sports program, but printmaking, dance, chorus, drama? Absolutely!) This year they had a real mic stand which helped, last time we duct taped a broomstick with some kind of lamp structure!
Anyway, I'm really attached to this place. It's tiny, right on the corner of Comm ave. and Dartmouth St. in Boston's Back Bay. There is something quirky and nerdy and brilliant about the vibe here. Most importantly I remember feeling this great sense that no matter what I did or said, I would be taken seriously. My opinions mattered, my work counted. Our teachers respected us, and expected the world of us. They wanted us to think!! For ourselves!! This was a huge gift, that is still giving.
That said, it is always wild to be back there, because the second I step through those doors, I am fourteen. And yet I'm there speaking and singing as a grown up.
ten cent wings for Leo
It may have been one of my wackier gigs. I veered wildly between Woody Guthrie's sexier side, to a Broadway musical I'm working on about a nun a pimp and a troubled priest ("It's a love story, really") and the theme from DOLLHOUSE, "Oh my god it's soooo cool!"
I learned later that there were some prospective students in the audience that day; eighth graders trying to decide whether Commonwealth is for them. Well I either totally blew it, or Commonwealth will have some more funky off kilter kids at school next year!
Thanks to Stratton Coffman for the pix. Bill Wharton for not kicking me out of the assembly for my foul mouth, Janetta Stringfellow for her front hall dance, Mary Kate Bluestein for the introduction, Larry Geffen for his sweet, beautiful smile, Rick Semerjian for his technical genius, and Charles Merrill for creating this wonderful place. Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the kids. They were just friggin' AWESOME.
The very best part? Four or five of them coming up to me afterwards and assuring me that I am, indeed, finally, COOL!!
Off to Tarrytown tonight. And the lovely Glen Phillips will be there too. It's been way too long. So come on down. We will rock in the rain.