Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Full Story :: The day I turned 30 & had one of the most memorable shows ever.

Sometimes it takes me a little longer to figure out how to share about a happening that ended up being extra special and significant to me.

Last Friday night (the Sept 24th Show and my 30th birthday) is one of those.

We had some nervousness about the risks we were taking with this show leading up to it. I scheduled it because it was the only thing I wanted to do on my 30th birthday. We rarely hire a band to work with us on a production and that's one thing that surely makes me feel completely alive. Also since it was a significant birthday, mom was coming into town from half way across the country. This was the first time I'd seen her in person since the debut album release in April of 2008.

I wanted to make the most of my time with her, but I also wanted to share as much of my music life (introduce my music-making compatriots, communities we work within, songs she's never heard live) with her as possible and needed to do the work for it all to go well. I felt spread a little thin, was quite stressed leading up to that week and my immune system was totally weakened by all that.

That week, though, my mom sought to reassure me that I didn't need to worry about her and she was amazingly supportive and flexible. Jason and I reminded ourselves that anything worth doing also required taking big risks and all of our life is one big risk anyway. Why should this one night be any different?

It was good to to hear some buzz building about the show a few days prior and hear that even folks who hadn't been to one our our presentations in a long while would being showing up.

The guys came over that week and totally brought their A-game to rehearsal.

That morning I woke up feeling absolutely miserable but luckily, I had given myself some time that day to mentally and physically prepare for the big night.

The night itself rocked beyond my imagination. Long time friends and new fans packed the listening room at The Beat in Uptown of Minneapolis. Their presence carried a lot of love.

The Brighton, our good friend Ben Rosenbush, who also plays cello with me, warmed up the crowd with a lovely opening set.

Jason, my husband - who usually remains unseen and in the background running lights, sound, imagery projection or cameras - surprised and delighted us all by approaching the microphone to give a rather humorous yet sincere plug for The Brighton album and then he gave me the sweetest introduction I've ever received in my life!

Ben (cello), Alex (drums/percussion) and Zach (bass) did an amazing job and their energy totally inspired me. Also, one of the advantages of being an extrovert is that on days I'm feeling low energy, simply having people arrive begins to make me feel better. It felt awesome to play each song and I sang my heart out for the crowded room.

It really was a great might have heard that it was a coffeehouse and not realized that it was a performance space with lights and projection.

What did we project? Jason's photography and we also introduced the first original photo greeting card for sale. There will be sets of greeting cards made available soon, but we began with the photo Jason took in Phoenix that accompanies the song Welcome to the Masquerade.

Julia Dinsmore
; friend, storyteller, artist and social change maker shared her story and a couple poems.
She delivered a compelling presentation with refreshing honesty, humor and personal insight into poverty and homelessness. One of her poems is performed by Danny Glover in this video. We gave away her book along with a couple other things. She shared a bit about the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless following my songs Wayfaring Stranger, Jack Riddle and Invitation to the Unlikely. We're sending the Coalition a check for over 10% of the door/cover charge and merch sales that night. Julia has always been so encouraging to us and we are so glad she honored us with her presence.

That night I also performed one of the verses on Home with You Continues that will be recorded on the forthcoming album. It's the verse inspired by the community we met in a tent city in Seattle and the story we heard of a couple who met in a tent city and whose lives were transformed by the love they found in one another.

We recognized other September babies in the room, my own mom included, but Ben and Alex surprised me by leading everyone in singing Happy Birthday to me with a delightful, spontaneous duo on the cello, which Ben played more like an upright bass, and the drums. That sweet moment still makes me smile.

The night I turned 30 felt like a true celebration of life, love, genuine community, good cause and the art and soul of music all come together in one place. Everyone who came was so kind and responded with a standing ovation at the finale.

I'm grateful for my mom's presence, my sweet husband, my brothers who so wonderfully made music with me and for all of you who chose to spend the evening with us.

Thank you for being part of making it what I believe may be one of the most personally meaningful shows of my life so far.

Big love and gratitude.

Peace to you and yours always.

Defining Music?

I do very much enjoy this definition provided by an old dictionary I saw in the Library Recording Studio (where we are working on the forthcoming album).

But I began to wonder and got curious about others thoughts too:

Is music really definable?

If it is, is my experience with it really describable?

Is the value of "good" music really quantifiable?

What makes some music good and some not? Seems like part of the answer would be entirely objective and the other, entirely subjective. How much does artistry, creativity and expression, precision, mastering of an instrument... matter in this?

Feel free to chime in through the comments here or leave a note on my facebook wall.

Rhythm and melody...I love to imagine initial tones and beats in the air and I wonder about those who continued to explore those sonic vibes and create instruments.

Here's a song I really enjoy called Voice and Drum by artist Nati Rosethal.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beauty, Community, Mutuality, Receptivity....

This summer, we've had the delightful opportunity to partner with Public Arts St. Paul and local photographer Wing Young Huie through the University Avenue Project.

The relationship began when they chose to include Welcome to the Masquerade in the soundtrack that accompanies the photo projection show of Wing's collection of images portraying people from neighborhoods connected by University Avenue - six miles of it that runs through Minneapolis and Saint Paul

We were part of their first monthly cabaret and we participated again this past weekend. This month, between my two sets of songs; Jason, my mom (who was visiting from out of town) and I enjoyed the music of a couple of other local performers and even a group dance lesson.

This project is amazing in so many ways. Voices that are often ignored are being amplified. Stories from undervalued cultures and classes are being told in a fresh and meaningful way.

I've said before that my favorite moments are when I get to see someone be their true selves, allowing their unique light to shine and freely sharing their gifts and skills on behalf of others to enrich and build community. This project -- with Wing's photography, the partnerships created and the community involvement -- is an incredible example of this.

If you live near the Twin Cities or are visiting before the project ends in October, be sure to visit University Avenue. Even simply driving it, you'll see painted murals of Wing's photos on the sides of buildings and large prints hung in storefront windows. More ways to connect at their website above.

May we all be conduits of peace and hope, equality to mutuality, respect and collaboration. May our eyes be opened to the beauty in the various cultures right next store.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Toni :: A Story of Abundance and Connection

It was a hot and humid summer evening in Minneapolis on University Ave, so we were glad our gig was inside an air conditioned venue. I rarely do coffee shop gigs at this point, since they really don't help pay the bills but we were available to do this and thought it would be fun. The space was fairly bare in terms of audience. But Toni was there, selling her hand-crafted, beaded jewelry, which was intricately detailed and beautifully unique. I was really drawn in by the colors and immediately marveled especially at the turtle earrings that hung from her display.

Jason and I set up our equipment. A couple of our friends came along with the sporadic customer just passing through to pick up some coffee. I simply enjoyed the time to sing in a really beautiful space with great acoustics. As usual, I talked in a personable fashion with the handful of people there and Toni was quite open, expressive.

She was on a bit of a high because the local news had come through and interviewed her on what the traffic passing by the coffee shop was like due to rerouting from Highway 94 to the Avenue. She had clearly enjoyed the camera and between songs, she shared tidbits more of her story - how she had once traveled and played guitar but now plays the native flute. She’s self taught but inspired by her Native American father. She has lived on the streets at one point and man, she was digging the songs I sang.She seemed deeply moved by the music and shared: "If I had money, I'd buy a CD." I asked from behind my microphone if she'd like to trade. I had to keep playing, but Jason talked with her before she needed to go. She remembered I was admiring her turtle earrings and told Jason: "I want her to have the whole set". She handed him the earrings AND a necklace.

She hugged me before leaving and it was another moment of deep, genuine human connection, one of those profound moments that makes me marvel, one of those moments when two stranger simultaneously realize they are both a part of the same human family.

I did not know what she exchanged with Jason until after the show and I was blown away, so moved that she would give such a beautifully intricate, hand-crafted gift in exchange for the gift she received through the LIVE music and the CD.

In Native American culture, the turtle represents a long and beautiful life. I wish that for her and for all of us: a long and beautiful life that we can all be part of creating for one another as we are open, attentive and willing to let a stranger become a friend.

I love LIVE Radio!

LIVE radio, podcasts, TV interviews, media in general...I just love them! I've been interviewed on KUMD radio in Duluth, MN; KARE 11's Minnesota Showcase and a few others. Yesterday, I had the delight and honor of hanging with the Doug Pagitt Radio Show crew at the Minnesota State Fair, airing LIVE on AM 950. Here's one of the segments (the link will include more segments that can check out). We really had a blast! This segment features the song "We Have a Dream" which is written in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Good times!


People often ask: "What inspires you?" I was just thinking: Human connection, unexpected, rich encounters with others and the desire for deeper, truer connection among all people, even people of variance, which ultimately lead to friendships of mutual good and partnerships in peace...that inspires the heck out of me. =)