May 2010


There is such random beauty in this dirty city. Once in a while, there is a day that will surprise with its kindness and joy. It's been a couple strange weeks of travelling/home/doctor's offices, x-rays/MRIs/surprise surgery/foreign object removal. But I have been so carefully cared for, and I am very grateful for the talented doctors in this town.


And yesterday really did have a vibe. People held doors, helped others cross streets. Was it the Dalai Lama who was in town Sunday? The growing feeling that the shit is hitting the fan and we'd better start looking out for each other? Even the cranky guy at the bank who usually just growls at me, apologized and struck up a conversation about his favorite thing...Boston drum and bugle corps.


Maybe tomorrow it will be the opposite - a day of people running red lights and mowing down small children. Honking for no good reason. Car alarms, bus brakes, sirens, sweltering subways with rats scurrying about, trash everywhere....but somehow, yesterday? Some kind of summer detente.



And then this, on Madison Avenue. some beautiful sidewalk art. Another random act of kindness.


I guess it's grateful Wednesday.

Spring GULCH

We drove through a monsoon on the way to New Holland, PA. But by the time my set started, we had a gorgeous sunny day.


The Spring Gulch Folk Festival has been going on for over 20 years. Tucked away in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch country, it's a gorgeous little escape. We drove by bonneted teenage girls on bicycles. Head-to-toe-black-clad older ladies piloted a horse and buggy with a big flare orange triangle on the back to try and protect it from the speeding city folk. Gorgeous rolling hills gave way to farms so lovingly tended and tidy. I kept wondering what it might be like to just get the hell out of Harlem and find a little farm on a hill... but then I always get a little freaked out in the middle of nowhere, it's a little too quiet - no sirens, car alarms, bus brakes, no gangs. Food for thought. But....for now, the festival.


me and Amanda Shires. She played fiddle and sang with Rod Picott. GORGEOUS


Chicky was our fearless and half naked stage manager!


I had a lovely day, just slowing down for an afternoon, hanging out with my old friends Andy, Babs, and Michael Braunfeld. Thanks all, for having me, and thanks to a lovely audience, taking the time to listen and relax the old-fashioned way. No bees in bonnets yesterday!


I had a great time Thursday at EDDIE's ATTIC in Decatur. Eddie is a love beyond belief.


I got treated like a total princess. Shalom rocked up the sound because Paul had to get to Oakland to mix the Crusaders.


Kevin So pumped up the jams for the opening set.


And I slowly recovered from the harrowing incident at the airport. It's true. For the first time EVER, I spaced out and grabbed someone else's suitcase and took off with it. We were almost to the gig when I got a pretty angry call from Bob, the poor guy who was left with my identical bag. (except for the dirty laundry and merch!)

"I think you have my bag. I'm here at baggage claim with my eighty year old mother, and you'd better figure out a way to get it back to me."


My heart broke into a million pieces. What a doofis. How could I be so stupid, I am a constant and conscientious traveller, a diligent checker of things, always anticipating the slip up, the possible snafu. What  the hell happened to me? Was it all those love bugs? The lingering effects of that damned "foreign body" in my toe? Too much chocolate? And what if something terrible happens to Bob's mom?


Anyway, little by little, the situation de-fused, the bags were swapped thanks to the brave, and generous Rhiannon forging through rush hour, (exploding car, hours of hot traffic)


And Bob's mom seemed to have weathered the mishap. I still felt awful.


But by the sixth or seventh phone call, we were almost cordial. He asked me why I had an LA phone number and a New York address, as he too did business on both coasts. I said I was in the music business. He, as it turns out, is in the film business....so I'm sure there's a screenplay in this, I will write the soundtrack, Sandra Bullock will be me, and Betty White will be the mom. Still can't think of the leading man....


Perfect capper to the story - yesterday's flight home from Atlanta and the only appropriate Cosmic payback. (comic too) My guitar was not at baggage claim with my suitcase. I waited and waited....and waited. Almost missed my appointment to get my stitches out of my foot.


My guitar is finally back home, safe and sound, but I had to laugh, right? And the update on my toe? Still "Foreign body" - it seems that's the best they can do. But I'm told that means they've ruled out gout and cancer. Whooopeeee.


Slap, bap, frap. Bug juice everywhere. They fly around like those aircraft mid-air refuelers, stuck together and you just can't get them off. Finally, when we were almost to Stuart, Paul and I gave up and went to a car wash. 


He and Hank started with the hand scrubbers...


Paul prepped the windshield


Believe it or not, it was my first car wash. We got the deluxe.


We stocked up on healthy snacks, and made it to Stuart without further incident.


Love this place. Rapt awesome crowd, and we got to hang out with Glen Phillips again. "Sweetest Angel" had us all in tears. There's nothing like singing with Glen.


Even Kona, after she did some paperwork, loved the show...


This morning, in fine form as ever, Paul and I sought out strong coffee. Luckily we have a GPS now. We call her "Jacqueline," and she tells us in French where the nearest Starbucks is. "Restez a droite" she coos, and there, blessedly, one mile from our motel, my quadruple, whole milk, DRY cappucino.


Paul wore his fuzzy slippers, even though it's probably 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity. Like he always says, "I'm just trying to fit in."




And remember, in the words of Michael Franti, "All the Freaky People Make the Beauty of the World." Get your slippers on and come on down.


(The perfect set! I thought it was "Are you there God? It's me Margaret." and that sent me on a crazy meandering tear....and I swear, I'm off the pain meds.)


After the show last night, we got to hang out a little bit with the wonderful JOAN, of the Tampa Performing Arts Center. She's been volunteering there for a very long time. Even through a regime change, she was the only one who really knew how to run concessions and figure out the ridiculously convoluted state and newly appalling 'concessions' tax. So she's their rock. She also has no problem circling down the autograph line and barking at people to make sure they've bought enough merch to warrant a signature. GOD BLESS.



Well, She's got two sons. One who set the record for the army, (protecting the Alaska Pipeline) of endurance out in the cold. Kid from Tampa! (she told us he was the one she was sure would end up in jail! Now he's got a psychology degree and is counseling homeless teens.)



The other son is about to retire from the post office. She was so lovely, telling her story. Grateful for every moment with her husband of 36 years. He passed about 7 years ago, but she was still brimming with palpable adoration of her man. She said, "everyone who knew us knew we had something really special."



She said she was born and grew up in New York City. Went to highschool on 68th and 1st. Tampa seemed an unlikely place to end up, but "once I got my toes in the sand, I never looked back."


She even had really funky earrings. Oh JOAN. They broke the mold.

On to Stuart.... did you BUY your download of "Here We Go" at I-tunes yet? Just saying... don't be a party pooper.





A few years ago, when I was doing promo in London for "Back in the Circus" I met my biggest British fan - a heavy metal deejay named Andy King. Yup. I would go on his show with my little acoustic guitar, and he would beg me for "Red Dress" and "Steady Pull." Then, after I left, I have to assume it was back to Metallica and what have you.


Sure as rain, he was there again this last time at Bush Hall, grooving along, copping his faves with his I-phone.


Well, recently he introduced me by cyber mail to his son Olie/KINGZ."He's got a bit of a buzz happening, and he just might be on to something," Andy said. "Who knows!"


Olie started sending me my own songs with his raps squeezed in between my dense vocals. He complained that there wasn't much space for him until the outro of "Steady Pull," and even then he didn't like competing with Michael Franti!! So finally I said, "Hey Olie, let's do something from scratch. Send me some beats and I'll write you a song, and leave you lots of space for your thing." And here it is. It was uber fun to do. Olie is a hoot, endless ideas, wicked energy. 22 and nothing will stop him.


So, here we go. It's on I-tunes TODAY! MAY 17. JB and KINGZ!! Innit!!


p.s. and for goodness sake... if you like it, GIFT it, or urge your pals to BUY it. It's only 99 cents after all. Look under KINGZ & Jonatha Brooke or vice versa. come on now. peace.




Well, I left Cancun, and Cancun left me with some extra special memories. That last gorgeous morning on the beach, frolicking in the waves with my husband, soaking up a few more rays and, unleashing those last 1000 freckles? PRICELESS.


THIS? not so much, and EXPENSIVE: (who is still fighting health care reform??)


Just as I clambered over the little mound of wave/wash that separates the gorgeous undulating shallows from the way out, I stepped hard on something sharp. OW. I thought I had just bruised my big toeÅ limped out, nothing alarming, nothing bleeding, so I went on my merry way. Hey, I was a dancer, I'm used to my feet killing me.


So, even through the hellish flight home, ok, a little limpy, a little bruised feeling. But I didn't think much of it and of course went right to yoga on Monday afternoon. By Monday night? Agony. Very peculiar pinpoint pain.


Daytime, medium nagging pain, needed a little sweat so I limped through yoga again. Tuesday night? AGONY, swelling, purple big toe. I figured I broke it, or dislodged some old dancer bone spur and it was wreaking havoc in thereÅ. Met with a surgeon who said, well let's get you on some antibiotics and some pain meds….and see where this goes.


One X-ray and an MRI later: A "Foreign BODY" was discovered. "Foreign body?" -  like from Kazakstan? Tasmania? And how did it get in to my big toe?


Well yesterday, my internist Dr. Kruger said RUN (ok, hobble) don't walk to the surgeon, It's getting worse and you shouldn't wait. Get that thing the hell out of there. This is serious.


Well Dr. Ting went right in on it. Later he told us he'd never seen anything like it. "It was gross!" His assistants Antoine and Garvey couldn't have been sweeter, making sure I was warm and definitely not feeling ANY pain.



(I was 30 before I discovered pain relief. A MIRACLE!)


I asked if I could get pirate stitches in purple. WAs it the meds? Dr. Ting, renowned for his perfect work, didn't know what I meant. I'm sure surgeons are not really trained for that kind of boutique stitching, as most people don't WANT a scar.


sidebar: Those of you who came to the Ark gig in Ann Arbor might remember my infatuation with modern medicine and scars and doctors. I figure, if I'm going to go on a medical excursion, I want PROOF.


Gimpy GREEN!


It all started... when I was little and living in London, I would pretend all the time that I'd gotten my arm stuck in the elevator, or that I'd broken my leg.


I'd limp around, or wrap up my arm in something gauzy and white until someone asked me what had happened. I'd go into a whole long story about how painful it was, how bad it looked. Lots of blood and stitchesÃ.

Always fashion forward!

Well, I have now FINALLY earned REAL crutches, a bunch of stitches, and I'll have to let you know about the scar when they unwrap.... my Left foot.

Lurking Danger

The flight home from Cancun, although I'm not complaining, (yes I am) was an ordeal that almost wiped out every bit of good will we had acquired in Mexico. First there was the baby that did not stop screaming for most of the 4, then 5, then 6 hour flight. Then there was that pesky problem at JFK that has been really screwing up almost every flight I've taken lately - they have only one runway open. So even on the very best of organized, no bad weather, everyone behaving days..... it's chaos.


Well the Volcano was screwing up all the European flights, and we, pesky Cancuners were definitely not priority. So we circled around Philly a while, flew a little further north and circled around Long Island a while, and then, around 11:30 when we were running low on fuel, we were sent back to Philly to land and refuel. (We were supposed to LAND at JFK at 9:30 and be home in our cozy beds by 11. HA.


We sat "refueling" in Philly until 12:45 when the baby started screaming again. They couldn't let us off of the plane because of all the immigration considerations, so there we were; 200 or so people and the BABY. We were finally allowed to regather and try again and landed at JFK at about 1:45. Of course by this point most of the baggage handlers were home and cozy in THEIR beds.... so I imagined there was one lonely guy carrying all our suitcases to carousel 5. Quarter to three? we finally had our bag.The baby was still carrying on at Baggage Claim. The dad at this point was pretending he didn't know the mom or the baby, and the poor mom was beside herself.


One good thing? No traffic on the way home. we were in our cozy bed by 4! But we were cranky, tired and unrefreshed all day yesterday. At least I got 10,000 new freckles for the effort!

I know I know I know, but I'm here on business

I mean, come on now. How the hell do they get the water that color?


I sang last night for a convention of our new/old beloved distribution company. So reassuring to see old friends still fighting the fight for independent music. Thank you all. OMG I have never sweat that much on stage - it was wicked rock and roll.


And now, I'm a bum on a frisco bound, I mean ocean bound deck chair. I actually have a couple days of delirious NOTHING. I have a stack of books and I'm already guffawing out loud at Sarah Silverman's new one.


Also in the pile? my pal Meghan Daum's new book; "Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in That House." LOVE her too.


I even met a new guy on the lido deck. Pedro's a blast, and he's so cool, he never argues.


Also love the art in the lobby:


Hola Gato!!


And, yes, I'm wearing gobs of sunblock. Promise.

Life's Rollercoaster

All is well in New York City. Everything looks a little brighter, tastes a little better. Little annoying troubles? Kinda not on the radar! 


Again, thank you all for your prayers and wishes. I was tortured about having to cancel the show in Kent, but it was the right decision. I was also really happy to be able to make it back to Chicago on Saturday.


I had an incredible time in Evanston. I hadn't had much sleep, so everything was a little looser, close to the surface! Sometimes that makes for a really fun show. Ingrid came by and sang "So Much Mine" and "In the Gloaming" with me at the end. It was definitely transporting and so much fun to hold those dissonances again. I am trying to figure out how to upload some footage of that.



the SPACE is really cool. Studio in the back, funky hip restaurant in the front, exquisite listening room in the middle. What could be better. The light fixtures look like huge jelly fish


The studio has its own couch for the ukelele


And beautiful art.


They've even got Elvis hanging out in the dressing room


It's in a beautiful neighborhood. Pretty trees, (not even one bit smelly either!)

And they make such wonderful hats.


Now back to writing mode.... and treasuring the loves in our lives.