the tent community on Hiawatha

I drive along a road called Hiawatha many days a week, leaving Rob's neighborhood to go to the recording studio, to go to visit my mother, to go to a student's house for a lesson.

The great Native American Hiawatha, a hero to so many, must be watching what is happening along the roadside of this namesake highway.

Tents have sprung up between the exit ramp and the frontage road on a stretch of grass. At first it was maybe two or three tents and I wondered how long those people would get away with that before they were forced to leave by city authorities. To my surprise, within weeks the tents doubled, tripled. The rows of tents became two tents deep, tents on top of tents it seems. Someone erected a teepee.

My mind was being blown every time I drove that stretch of road, every thought going through my head, every imaginable sight passing before my eyes. Some things were obvious: people had drug problems there, people had no sanitation access and were defecating along the curbsides of the road, and there were children involved.

One evening last week, when the night's forecasted temperature was going to dip below freezing, I watched as my car idled at the stoplight on Hiawatha, a woman and two half grown children maybe eight or ten years of age, struggling to assemble a tent on the next grassy patch over the intersection which was becoming an extension of the overcrowded first community. 

The woman and the two little kids setting up their tent in the chill night air as the sun was going down, with an entire mass of troubled humanity only steps away, were the mother and two kids safer with them or without them? I could never guess.

But into my silent observations, came the voices of Minneapolis to add some clarity. I heard someone on public radio talking about "Tent City", something unprecedented in Minneapolis' history, and realized that the phenomenon I have been witnessing now has a name. The speaker said that the city has now contributed portable toilets and pledges to maintain them as part of a humanitarian crisis effort. The city has also installed some massive portable lights on poles running on a generator. I've seen these additions driving by and I wondered where they came from.

I don't know who the speaker was on the radio, but this person was bringing up all the things I was wondering about. The population of the tent dwellers is over half Native American, and their situations had become more dire due to many new National issues including the epidemic abuse of opioid drugs and the decreasing funding of many kinds for people in poverty. There are children of all ages living there and those of school age have no way to attend school.

How strange and sad but maybe a beautiful sign of hope that these Native people are setting up a village along their hero Hiawatha's original trail.

I read an article in my beloved New York Times this past Sunday about how a similar community is struggling in misery in Philadelphia.

One tent dweller was quoted in Philly as saying, "People think we're having fun down here. Are you crazy? We're living under a bridge."

So this is all strange and hard to process. Hard to know how to think about it.

Yesterday a guy I really like, a touring musician like myself, here in Minneapolis, he was making announcements on Facebook saying he wants to take a group of musicians down to "Tent City" and just be there, just somehow show support or something. 

He said "bring guitars" and that's something I know how to do.

We're going today at 4pm.

Lest anyone reading this decide to label me as foolishly optimistic or idealistic or romantic, let me add this bit of personal history.

My big brother, my only sibling, Bradley John Dundon, has been a wandering homeless person for more than ten years now as far as I know.

He graduated from Carleton College. He had a psychotic break sometime after college. After a while he was having to take a lot of prescribed drugs to stay lucid but the drugs made him almost incapacitated. He told me that he was going to leave the home for the mentally ill and that he didn't want me to try to find him.

Once he was sighted on a corner in Denver, begging.

He was sighted by the police and then our own mother went there to try to save him.

When she approached him, he recognized her, he dropped his things, and ran.

I can't do anything for my brother, but these people are my brother to me.

This is why I like to play the street shows in Minneapolis. I get to be with the street people and hear them talk and try to understand them. 

Today I am going to try to understand some more.

I have read now that bringing food and clothing and blankets is good and bad.

It's the same as the thoughts about whether or not to give money to the people on the street corners.

I won't be giving food or money today.

I will just be there.

Maybe foolish, maybe unwelcome, maybe a selfish desire to intercede and cure my conscience to feel good about myself.

My brother once said to me, "You aren't going to be able to put your mentally ill brother into an institution so you can feel good about yourself and get on with your nifty little life. I'm not going to let you do that to me."

No answers here. Just telling my stories.

4pm today at Tent City along Hiawatha if you want to join us. Let's call it a humanity rally.

My Ambitious Mind

I promised someone I'd make this the title of this morning's blog post: My Ambitious Mind.

A risky thing to do, making a promise like that, since I usually go with whatever inspiration strikes when I'm drinking my mug of coffee.

But this title stuck with me, so here we go.

I have always had an ambitious mind.

When I was in Kindergarten, I really strongly remember having big ideas about singing.

If there was any kind of singing going to be happening, I was on it.

There was a music teacher who rolled in a cart of musical instruments, mostly percussion stuff and a little wooden autoharp.

She was blind. I'm not kidding, she was totally blind.

I was a little bit afraid of her because of that, but I knew what a special person she was too.

Kids got assigned to be her helper and help roll her cart around and walk with her so she made it to each of her classes.

I didn't mind doing that but it wasn't my favorite thing to do because her being blind was scary to me.

She was very thin and tall and feminine and she dressed well, in pretty dresses with matching coats.

She did not seem wealthy or poor, she seemed like a fairy who lived without means, without effort, existing like a succulent plant that takes it's nourishment from the air.

Very strange indeed, especially to me at the age of six.

I didn't love her but I liked her a lot.

I always sat right in front when she worked with us so I could really get in on the music making.

I took it seriously.

If the other kids were talking or goofing around I told them to stop.

Because she was blind she sort of needed help keeping the unruly kids in line and I was all too happy to be that guy for her.

I did not ever care whether the other kids liked me or thought I was cool or popular or anything.

I liked the teachers and I cared what the teachers thought of my talents and abilities.

I cared what the teachers thought of my work.

I especially cared in the areas of music and reading.

My mom worked at the public library and she often brought me along for her entire shift..I think maybe that was like four hours...and all there was to do was read books or play with the hand puppets. I did both of these things.

I learned how to read as a result long before Kindergarten happened, so when I finally went to school I was raring to go, happy to be chosen to read out loud. Stuff about Spot mostly: "see Spot run", "run Spot run". Not very challenging.

Ambitious mind.

I had a naturally ambitious mind.

I wasn't trying to be better than the other kids, I just wanted these certain opportunities.

I did not at all want to be the lead in the play. I didn't want to be in the play or the skit or the dance performance at all.

I just wanted the best singing part. If there was a chance to sing, especially to sing alone, I went for it.

We learned "This Land Is Your Land" then. I remember singing it with the other kids.

I remember the blind lady teaching some of us the upper harmony part.

I sing that song in my shows now.

And I always sing the part she taught me, even when I sing it solo.

My Ambitious Mind is always thinking up stuff for me to do and it's always a big challenge.

When I have the funding, I am able to do everything I think of.

Every good song gets a cool music video.

This is one of my confounding issues right now.

Every good song recording deserves, needs, a music video.

My Ambitious Mind is thinking about ways to get around the funding blockade between me and my Youtube presence.

My song "Hey Lulu" we all know needs a music video.

That's probably the main one right now.

Well, Ambitious Mind, get after it.

My first day of Kindergarten 1967.

March 2019

This week I have some time so I'm making this week my March 2019 planning week.

I want a lot of cool stuff to happen in March 2019.

I want to have a new album launch in Minneapolis for my cover tunes album that WILL come out then come hell or high water as they say.

This week I'm going to work on setting up that special concert date in Minneapolis.

I'm also going to work hard at setting up the album launch tour for Europe in March.

This tour will be the duo I believe, and then full band in September, but you never know, we could be a trio for March even!

The shows I can set up this week will make all the difference.

So, today I will make a one sheet press kit to give to club owners and publications who don't have time or interest..yet...to sift through all the nifty stuff on my wedsite and social media.

That's what I'm working on today, the one page press kit.

When it's finished it'll be at the top of my press page here on my website and I will be able to send it as an email to all potential promoters and booking agents.

Wish me luck!

this blog is working!

I've had this website for a long time, like maybe eight years.

With the website hosting I receive a Google analytics report once a month.

I mentioned this recently in a post but I want to say more about this because it's exciting to me, and maybe to you as well since it's you who are making this happen with me.

I used to update my website when I had a tour or a new album to announce.

I kept the calendar updated.

The social media links update themselves, but I wasn't active every day on social media, so the streams for Twitter and Instagram were almost non-existent.

This all began to change when my son graduated from high school and wen to college and I finally had the freedom to push harder for the career and life I had always envisioned.

One thing I did was I got involved with Songs And Whispers out of Bremen, Germany. I committed to being in Europe for six weeks which was never possible when I had children at home.

That promotional company works in sort of a pay to play format, so it's a bit off putting for artists because it's hard to make the money work out on one of their circuits. But it's impossible to make the money work out when you set up your own tour as a completely unknown artist too. Songs And Whispers gives you a leg up because their concert series have a loyal following of their own so you play to a sort of built in audience. And those who come know to listen so you get a respectful audience as well. And if you're really good they will buy your merchandise and fill your hat that you pass during the break.

I was given a great gift when I did those first Songs And Whispers shows. Somehow in those performances I saw a glimmer of what I had envisioned for myself since my first solo as a very young girl. I remember standing in the balcony of the packed big church in Chicago on Christmas Eve in my white robe and holding my battery powered candle, no guitar, no original material yet, just me singing Away In A Manger with another girl, a friend of mine in the choir, we got to sing that song a cappella in harmony. I remember the feeling and I knew it was why I joined the choir. I knew the presence of the Holy Spirit in that big crowded church, everyone hushed to hear the Holy Spirit riding on our voices. I don't know how else to describe it to you, but the Songs And Whispers concerts brought me that feeling again. I knew again that singing for people was what gave me this feeling.

Well, I did two of these Songs And Whispers tours, two years in a row, in 2017 and 2018. By the end of the one in March 2018 I felt that I had made some real connections, better than ever before, with many fans in Europe. Some of these fans had been following my independent touring for many years already, some of these fans had just discovered my music. 

The big thing that happened was that when I got home in April I felt a strong desire to stay connected to the people who I cared about and who cared about me as a musician, as an artist. I felt a strong desire to send everyone emails and texts and facebook messages telling them how the plane trip home went, how my dog was, how it felt to be back in Minneapolis, how the new recordings were going to be revived after their tragic disappearance. So much to say, so many to tell.

One more thing was that I used to write "morning pages" as prescribed in The Artist's Way. I love that book and I try to take all of her advice. I have said before that I filled many many paper journals with hand written entries over many mornings for many years.

I decided it was time to take this discipline I already had and already enjoyed, and blend it with my desire to update my fans.

Also, as I have been saying, I feel like what I am attempting is unique and interesting. Determined to become an international superstar, I write from a rather intense perspective right now and I think that adds excitement to this project.

"Powerfrau Courtney Yasmineh turns life long obsession with the music of Bob Dylan into a successful music career of her own"

That's the headline we're going with guys.

So, the blog is working...that's my point....the blog is working.

My Google analytics reports have gone from telling me that ten people visited my website this month to telling me that one thousand people visited my website this month.

I think the blog is helping people who are curious about me and my intentions to understand exactly what this is all about.

I think you can read these entries and get a clear picture of the woman, the artist, the projects, the momentum, the determination, the intention, the destiny, behind what I am and what I do.

 

Sunday

Last Sunday I took my mother to church.

Today I'm not doing nothing for nobody.

I'm officially calling today my day of rest.

Rock on soul sisters and blood brothers.

I love you.

so far so good!

I played my first Riverview Series concert last night and I loved it!

The sound there works out great. It's not too loud, people aren't talking too much.

People care and they are generous buying my recordings and books.

A nice glass of wine, a nice bunch of people, a pretty place with pretty lights inside and out.

A garden store right across the street to look out at and a lovely old movie theater showing films just on the opposite corner.

Next door is a full restaurant, the Riverview Wine Bar, with a fireplace and a great menu.

I couldn't be happier with this arrangement.

Five blocks from home for me.

I felt that I could play solo and not be a disappointment, and I played straight through for two and a half hours without a break.

I still had many more good songs I didn't play!

I have plenty of material for a long evening like that.

I can switch between acoustic and electric guitars and make enough of a variety of sounds to include all of my back catalog of original material and songs I love from other artists that I've collected over my forty years of playing guitar and singing.

Also, I swear to God, my voice is the best of my life. I think it's just because I am using it a lot and I am insisting on a very wide range in my vocalizing so my voice is really being exercised. I remember watching an interview with Linda Ronstadt who always had such an excellent voice, and she said that during her best singing years when she was on Broadway with the Pirates Of Penzance she sang six to eight hours a day. If you're using good technique you can sing a long show and not hurt your voice.

I love to sing for people. I really do. I think I love to sing for people more than anything.

Tonight I will have Rob G accompanying me for a three hour show in Faribault, MN at the 10,000 Drops Distillery.

I am ready to go and looking forward to it!

Here's me last night at The Riverview....

 

my concert series starts tonight!

Yes, my concert series starts tonight!

In the hood.

Right by Rob's house.

I can just roll on over and just roll on back home no matter what the weather.

It's about five blocks away from home for me.

But much more than that, it's across from the great old Riverview Movie Theater, and it's next to the Riverview Wine Bar.

All of these places are fun and full of life, so there is a nice stream of people the whole evening coming by and at least popping in to listen a bit.

And since I have the series dates posted all over the cafe, hopefully people will come back for future dates as well.

The Cafe itself serves beer and wine and coffee drinks and snacks and it's big and comfortable with sofas and chairs. It's good. And people care about music and sit and listen carefully to the words which I think is crucial.

Tonight I may be solo, Rob may not be able to finish his recording session work in time to play the show with me.

But that's fine because I'm really working on honing my solo skills so that the songs come across just as well either way.

As the series progresses it's my intention to have guests sit in...guys who have been in my four piece band in the past and who hopefully will be touring with me later in 2019. I think that will be so great too.

I am so happy to not be on tour right now, I must say.

I love touring.

I am looking forward to lots more touring.

But this Fall is turning out to be the perfect time to stay put and work on all my Big Plans and Big Goals.

And playing these local shows is just what I needed.

Plus, I am always happy to say that I have just as big a fanbase in Minneapolis as I do in any city in Europe and so I better make sure that's true!

Also, Thank You for reading this blog post today.

I have been getting analytics reports about this website of mine and since I started writing this daily blog my website has gone from having about ten visitors a month to having a thousand a month!

Thank you!

I cut my hair at 5am

I gave myself a haircut of a couple of inches at 5am today.

I used to think that if I did stuff like that I was crazy, and it may sound crazy to you, but it's not. It's empowering.

It's just hair growing on your head.

We're all humans with hair growing somewhere...or not...and our personal grooming can be simple and effective.

Or it can be really complicated and expensive.

When I was a doctor's wife I was lonely and bored and I never felt good about myself.

I see now how I was wasting my beauty, wasting my joy, wasting my precious moments on this Earth, with my sadness.

I had three beautiful little children and they were my great happiness, they gave me the childhood I never had with playmates and toys, art projects and puzzles, card games, and reading and reading and reading aloud.

But when they started going to school during the day I knew it was time to start grappling with Me.

And grapple I did.

I wrote on a laptop at the neighborhood coffeeshop sometimes all day long.

I would dress up like I was going someplace cool, which I was because I was going there to be a writer.

I would sit and laugh and cry and ponder my past, ponder my inner life.

But I also obsessed over my body and my face and my hair.

Nothing was ever quite right. I never felt the way I wanted to feel, which was effortless and uninhibited.

I started going to a hair salon in my neighborhood that was very expensive.

I bought all the expensive hair products they recommended.

I got all the color treatments, I got my haircut every six weeks.

I thought it was all a boost of confidence, but it wasn't.

Something underneath it was dishonest and made me feel worse.

On some level I knew that the hair stylist saw women like me, stay at home moms, all day long.

She would even tell me that they all came in talking about Botox, and tennis lessons, and sleeping with the tennis coach.

Geez.

I didn't want any of that but I had bought into the idea that she knew best.

In reality she was very good at giving out the momentary dose of flattery and praise and she was very good at making the sale.

Never again!

So I'm psyched about my rock and roll lifestyle now which includes the extremely rock and roll ten dollar box of bleach from Walgreens, fuck yeah.

And I chopped off a couple inches of my hair this morning because it has more swing and more edge and makes me look like less of a princess and more like a badass. Fuck yeah.

Come to my show at The Warming House tonight to see my hair.

I'm part of a songwriter in the round show tonight.

We each are playing two songs by artists from Texas, not sure why, but we are.

I have chosen the balls out pairing of Beyonce's Daddy Lessons and Nanci Griffith's Hard Life.

Then I'm going to do Tangle Web because we get to do one of our own.

Should be cool.

Especially with my new hair.

follow the fear

When I was living alone in NYC working on my Red Letter Day album, and after that, working to promote myself in a brand new way in the world, I read something that said "follow the fear".

I was afraid, that's for sure. So I remembered that phrase and I carried it with me.

I turned that phrase over like a stone in my pocket, trying to fully grasp it's meaning.

I didn't dismiss the three words strung together, I embraced them.

Overcoming your fear probably isn't possible if you are continuing to do new things, if you are continuing to grow.

I have watched musicians set up for shows at the same place that they play every week and they look bored or worse. They sometimes look resentful or defeated.

I am going to play every Wednesday from now until the end of February at The Underground Music Cafe in St. Paul and I want to become more and more excited by the weekly opportunity because I want it to become more and more popular for people to want to come there from 5-6:30pm and listen to some music through the cold months in Minnesota. 

I want to follow my fear now in every way.

I am afraid to write the email inquiries to people in the literary world about my second novel, but I must and I shall.

I was afraid yesterday to go into the Riverview Cafe where I'll be playing a concert one night a month. I had posters in my hand that I had printed up. I wanted to ask if I could hang the posters to promote the first concert that is this Friday.

I was afraid that the person working at the counter would be discouraging to me. I didn't want to feel bad about my upcoming concert series. I was afraid I'd feel foolish putting up my posters. I had feelings I didn't want to have, thoughts I didn't want to have.

I sat in my car out in front of the Riverview Cafe and I fought with my fear.

Finally I shut off the car and I walked into the cafe, posters in hand.

The young man behind the counter, who I don't think I've ever seen before, immediately said, "Hi! Are you playing here? That's so awesome! Are those your posters? Oh my God that's so cool."

He got out a tape dispenser and we went around together and hung up six posters in different parts of the cafe.

While we were hanging them a woman came up to me and said, "Are you playing here?"

I showed her the dates on the poster and she said, "Wow, look at all those Saturday nights! Good for you! I'll spread the word."

I left the Riverview feeling no fear at all. I felt joyful and grateful. I felt glad that I had followed through on an inspired hunch to contact them and ask to play a series of shows in my own neighborhood only a few blocks from where I live.

Follow the fear. Hunt it down and make it work for you. Use the fear as a sign post that you are going in the right direction with your pursuits. 

Fear is a powerful tool. If you feel afraid walking down a dark alley alone, you should get out immediately.

If you feel like a coyote is following you down the path, you should turn around and tell him to go eat a squirrel instead of your little dog.

If you are afraid to contact the very person you want to have help you, you should fight the fear, use the fear as a catalyst for change, force yourself to make the contact. I'm talking to myself here. But I may very well be talking to you too.

If you want to play at the same little place every Wednesday for the whole winter to see what you can learn, then you should beg for a weekly gig until you get one.

I am going to play the first of my Wednesday night weekly gigs tonight at The Underground Music Cafe and I am afraid because I don't have a built in audience. I want to grow a natural following and my best idea to do this is just start playing and keep saying that I'll be there every week at the same place at the same time and believe that people will want to come back and bring a friend. I have set the intention by setting up the weekly gig. Now I have to make the performance worth peoples' time.

I am following the healthy fear and using it as an indicator of where I need to go next.

why I write this

I know why I write this blog post every day...except yesterday...hahaha, well nobody's perfect....but I write this blog for a few good reasons.

The main reason is I want to connect with people.

I read something recently where an entrepreneurial woman was quoted as giving the advice "your face is your fortune".

She was meaning that every person who wants to connect with the world has their own unique image that will connect them faster than any product they are trying to sell.

I guess this kind of advice comes on strong in the Age of Selfies which almost makes me gag to even write the phrase, but in our current culture, people do seem to put their face on just about anything and everything.

So, I am not here to make sweeping social commentary, and I'm not judging. I don't even care enough to judge.

I'm just saying that this blog for me is a way to put a true face on the music I am making.

It's the very best to go out into the world and play in person for people. That's putting a face on my music for sure.

And I love being on tour and am looking forward to bigger and better touring in the coming year.

But when I'm in Minneapolis, writing new works in music or prose, and plotting my next release and next tour, I want to be able to stay in touch.

I used to write every morning in a journal and I filled journal after journal.

After my March 2018 tour I realized that there were so many people who I wanted to stay in touch with, and it was too hard to keep writing emails to everyone all the time, often recounting the same updates to everyone.

With this blog I could begin to put my early morning writing practice to a new use, giving me a way to write for an audience, update my fans, connect with new people who might just be curious, give myself a personal outlet that is not confined by the rules of Twitter or diminished by the din of Facebook.

I endeavor to write in ways that push my own boundaries of what I think is appropriate for a public blog post.

I push myself to write thoroughly and to write well.

I also want to provide a chronicle for how a woman who already raised three children could take her artistry and her determination and shape a viable sustainable career as a full time songwriter, recording artist, touring musician, under her own name, playing her own songs. Could she do it in our world, in our current culture? 

I believe I am doing what I want, for myself, but at the same time I am providing something valuable for others who have big dreams and wonder how to make them a reality.

In the morning pages I offer you here, in between the lines, there is some thread of how you do it and how you get it done.

I want to make you proud of me. I want to be proud of you too. I want us all to be happy together doing whatever we do best, whatever we love most.

Here's a fun picture from the music video shoot this past Saturday with Ruby the Doberman and her master Magic Marc Percansky.

My commissioned song "The Sun Shines On Ruby" and it's accompanying animated lyrics video and documentary style music video will all be released in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned!

determination

I have determination.

I got it from God I think.

It's been there all along.

I was born determined.

I was determined to take the huge Alumacraft canoe out by myself as a young girl and to do that I had to carry the thing down a flight of about twenty irregular stone steps that were dangerous to traverse with no canoe. There was one step that had shifted so drastically that it was only wide enough for you to turn your foot sideways to land on ti, then cross your other foot over and down to land properly on the next wide step. With a very long and heavy aluminum canoe on your hip and both hands clutching it for dear life, you could easily fall, you could easily let the canoe drop and potentially damage the wooden dock jutting out onto the water below. You could break a limb or crack your head open at the cement base of the long stone staircase.

But I was determined so I did it. I did it all the time.

Plus, my mom didn't allow me to leave the canoe tied to the dock because it might get damaged or damage the dock if there was a sudden storm. She didn't allow me to pull it up on top of the dock and lean it against the wooden posts either because it made the dock too narrow for her sunbathing routine.

So every time I brought it down the harrowing steps, I had to bring it up. Bringing it up was sheer strength, not as hard to navigate the tricky steps, you could just hit the narrow step with the toe of your boot and skip right over it no problem. 

But the canoe was heavy as hell so the trip up was no picnic either.

Obviously, the time I spent in the canoe in between the taking it down and bringing it back up made it all worthwhile.

If it was early Spring, I would bundle up and also bring my little quilt that usually lay at the foot of my bed in the cabin. I would bring the quilt plus my notebook and a pen and my guitar. I usually brought an apple in case I got hungry.

I would paddle out into the early morning mist, that was my favorite time of day to go out, before any other people came out on the lake. Once the fisherman got their motors revved the silence of Nature was already broken, so I had to beat the fishermen to the water.

I would paddle down along the shoreline leaving my grandfather's property behind me tracing the shoreline of the peninsula to it's base on the mainland where there was an old resort that sprawled with many small rustic cabins, a natural sand beach, and a big lodge that was the scene of many of my best memories of socializing during those years.

Once I was out past the lodge and the resort, there was open water for a stretch. Open water on Lake Vermilion meant you were vulnerable to changing wind patterns that could swing the bow of your canoe around if you weren't strong and careful in your paddling. Traversing open water also meant that an early morning fisherman in a big high speed bass boat coming out of the morning fog and maybe half asleep or hung over..probably both..might not even see you. I was low down to the water, dressed in muted colors. I wouldn't be easy to spot. More than once I found myself with my paddle up over my head waving it frantically as a big fast boat swung around the back of the island ahead and appeared instantly only feet from my canoe, heading straight towards me unseeing until they caught sight of my paddle in the air and suddenly swerved.

But the island ahead made the dangerous passage worth the effort. 

Strawberry Island only had one cabin on it and I don't think I ever saw anyone there, not even once in all my days on that lake. But the cabin was beautiful, rustic, self contained, self sufficient, a symbol of what I thought life should be. Silent and reserved. Still and contemplative. In harmony with the surroundings almost to the point of being original to the world like the glacier formed lake itself.

I would paddle all the way around to the back side of this island where there was a shallow sandbar covered with only a few inches of water. If it was early in the year the water was icy cold and very clear, I could cup it in my hand and drink that water, do you understand this? I could scoop up the water in my hand and drink it and it's crisp cold clarity was without doubt without fear. I trusted Nature and I was with Nature. I would stop paddling, take up my guitar, sing songs, float, watch the herons, watch the ducks. I would think. 

If it was summer, I would be in a t shirt and a bikini and I would scramble up and out of the canoe placing my bare feet out onto the sand in just an inch or two of water, not on the island itself but out a ways from the island on this sandbar that was not evident from a distance but that was the most lovely thing for a person in a canoe. I could stand up in the shallow water and tow my canoe behind me by the rope tied to it's bow. I had ridden horses with my mother as a child and the canoe then became like a horse I was walking in a paddock and to my imagination the canoe became like a pet, like an animal companion. I loved my canoe then; it wasn't heavy or cumbersome, it floated, it followed me, it obeyed willingly. Me and my canoe, out walking the sandbar on Lake Vermilion. No human in sight in any direction for miles. I'm so glad I have this memory.

In the Fall, or at the end of the summer before my mother and I would return to Chicago, I would again be bundled, my quilt wrapped around my legs, maybe bare legs still in cut off denim shorts in anticipation of the afternoon reaching eighty degrees. The chill in the mornings would be signaling frost, not steamy fog like in the dog days of August, but crisp rising steam from the lake water being now warmer than the new Canadian air coming down to greet us from the North heralding the onset of a new winter.

I could see a change in the colors of the leaves each and every morning, Autumn setting in fast as September arrived. By the end of that month every leaf would be down. It happened fast in the Great North. Winter was serious and unrelenting. 

My determination to live life at this level of freedom and beauty prevails. 

I know that my determination to succeed in the world has it's underpinnings in this desire to free myself of the burdens of the world.

If you really want to know what drives my determination it is the desire to have some feet of shoreline of my very own where the canoe rests comfortably on a grassy edge that turns gradually to soft sand, that slips gently right into crisp clean fresh water. No stone staircase, no burden, just me and my canoe, into my eighties into my old age. A place where I can teach grandchildren how to traverse open water alone in a big canoe without letting the wind get the best of you and swing your bow around in the opposite direction of where you were wanting to go.

 

video shoot

This morning at ten a.m. I meet the Doberman Pinscher named Ruby who has consumed much of my time and imagination the past two or three weeks.

We're going to make a music video starring myself and herself.

Hopefully she will like me and hopefully it'll go well.

I think I'm going to wear my leopard print coat and my black beret.

And red lipstick.

habits and time management

 

I have moved inside for writing now and that means the real Minnesota writing season has begun. 

There are some great writers who wrote important works in Minnesota and I can see why.

When the weather gets glooming the writers get writing.

The Autumn weather with frequent light rain and chilly temperatures gives you every excuse to stay home and brood.

Which leads me to the next part of today's thoughts....if you're going to stay home and brood you can fall prey to all sorts of bad ideas you will regret later.

When I teach writing workshops to adults I refer to the big bowl of popcorn and the big glass of wine option.

I personally picked up the big bowl of popcorn big glass of wine habit in New York City, where I was painfully aware that I was running out of money and that I was not forwarding my career fast enough to curtail my looming financial demise. I was so worried and I felt so helpless. I ate popcorn, which is like crunching endlessly on something that is not really doing anything deeply satisfying for your body or mind. And the wine...well the wine sort of tasted like sawdust to me...just something I was doing like brushing my teeth with toothpaste...just a predictable taste on the tongue...like eating too much of anything...like walking the exact same path every single day to the point that you don't see your surroundings any more. (Note here in case you're wondering, I would drink one glass and sometimes pour a second glass, often the second glass was still more than half full sitting out on the table in the morning when I got out of bed so in my case this is not a story of addiction. I was no more addicted to the wine than I was the popcorn.)

Please know I am not addressing bigger issues in this blog post. I'm talking about everyday pitfalls to creative satisfaction.

Numb feelings from bland habits.

Numb feelings that keep you unhappy or bored or stuck.

Wastes of your time because they don't satisfy.

I'm going to be here in Minneapolis all Fall and Winter until we go on tour in March again.

I have A LOT to accomplish between now and then.

I want to do everything I've been talking about doing.

I do not want to sit around in Rob's house by myself eating too much food, drinking wine, spinning my creative wheels.

What's the cure?

I think it helps if you can believe that the real satisfaction comes from facing the things you know you should do..."should" only because it was a great creative idea and you are avoiding it only out of fear of it not turning out well.

Face the cool idea you had and execute it.

Face the cool idea you have and execute it to the best of your ability and if you don't like the result, make a new one.

Repeat.

That's it. That's what I intend to do this Autumn season at Rob's house.

And I'm going to light candles a lot because fire is primal joy.

 

more about the Ruby Sessions

 

I have been working in a very serendipitous fashion with this great guy Magic Marc Percansky.

It started with our mutual high regard for the music of Bob Dylan and it has included Marc's interest in my own music, which I consider a very big compliment.

Marc's interest and enthusiasm for my songwriting and my writings has lead to him asking for some commissioned work around the very fun subject of his Doberman Pinscher named Ruby.

He asked me to make one of my handmade small books about Ruby for him and I did.

One of the pages says "the sun shines on Ruby", and we both agreed that sounds like a song lyric.

So I wrote a song to go with it and now the song sounds like the theme of an animated series to me.

I'm going to try to make a few comic strips of the adventures of Ruby.

Can I do it?

Do I have time?

Will they be good?

I have no idea, I've never tried to do graphic novel or comic strip or anything like that but I did make a lot of drawings in my handmade books and they turned out cool, so you never know.

The point of this post today is...do whatever the heck comes to your mind.

If it comes to mind, it has probably come from the Great Unknown and you should just obey and do it and see what happens.

This weekend I'm working with my son Jordan on the commissioned animated lyrics video for the song.

I'm also working with Steve Cohen, Mpls photographer and videographer, filming Ruby the dog and I performing the new song for a music video in documentary style that will also capture the recording process with Rob Genadek, Jon James, and hopefully keyboardist Jeff Victor.

Obey the creative impulses and life blossoms before you.

Here's me and Magic Marc himself, a magic guy all around, and he brings out the magic in others which is also a magic trick.

Wednesdays 5-6:30pm October through February

I got myself a once a week solo acoustic show!

It's in St. Paul, near Como Park, near the fairgrounds.

I'm putting it up on this website calendar today.

It'll be every Wednesday night from 5-6:30pm.

I can bring up special guests!

I can play electric or acoustic!

I can play brand new songs!

I can make up songs while I'm up there playing!

I can dress up or dress down.

I can play it happy or play it sad.

Freedom, freedom, freedom!

The place is called The Underground Music Cafe. (There's a sister cafe in Minneapolis, don't get them confused.)

This is the only place in the Twin Cities that I have ever asked to do a weekly show for an entire Fall-Winter season like this. 

Luckily they said yes.

I played there a week ago. I've played there quite often over the past two years since I came back from New York City.

It was my young friend and colleague from the Ukraine, Dasha Ovsiannikova, who first invited me to play on a bill with her there. I don't know how she found it, but I remember she was trying to get herself a gig at the age of fourteen to promote the solo acoustic album of ten original songs that I produced for her with Rob G as engineer, a wonderful album. She is wonderful and I love her.

I asked for gigs after that periodically, between tours, when I would be in Minneapolis, but with no heart in Minneapolis, only my body here, my heart pining for New York, my mind literally tormented with the desire to be on tour promoting my name, my albums, my book. 

For some reason, maybe for every obvious reason, this little cafe always felt like home to me. 

At first I was embarrassed to play there. I thought that I was supposed to play the cool places and be part of the cool scene since I had done so much and accomplished so much. 

I set up shows at the cool places. The cool places are cool, don't get me wrong. The cool places send up new cool people all the time. Part of why they're cool is because the owners and the booking people and the patrons and the musicians all want to stay au courant.

Staying au courant is an interesting game in and of itself.

Monsieur Dylan stays au courant by winning the Nobel fucking Peace Prize. He stays au courant by playing seven nights in a row at The Beacon Theater this October (I want so much to be there...I want so much to be the opener). He stays au courant by putting out excellent new music consistently and prolifically. That's the playbook I intend to emulate.

So, this little cafe.

I want to have my little corner, like I do with this blog, for my weekly solo show. To read this blog, you have to come find me. I am not shouting this out to the hilltops. I post the link on social media and I try to add a tantalizing if not titillating photo, but you have to take the bait and click on the link. I like operating this way. 

I've always said that I don't invite friends and family to my shows because I don't have family and friends. Haha. That was never true, but it felt true to me for a long while. I never wanted to populate the venue with people doing me a favor. 

One of the reasons I enjoy being on tour so much whether it's the US or Europe is that I can see with my own eyes what effect my music has on people. They don't know me personally. They can decide for themselves. If I can make these strangers laugh and cry, and I can laugh and cry with them, I have truly accomplished something great.

So, this little cafe.

This cafe has everything I want. It has easy access by side roads during afternoon traffic. The time slot of 5-6:30pm means you can come to my show as your last stop of the day before you go home for the night.

It has an attached parking lot, and in the Twin Cities, most people drive around in their own cars and so every single person needs to be able to park their car, it's bad but it's real. So, there's a big free of charge parking lot. That alone is huge to me.

The cafe is not a bar but it has a cute little bar with stools that you can sit at. They serve a good inexpensive beer and wine selection and they give me a free glass of wine when I play.

They have a big, really cool, pizza oven and they are constantly turning out these awesome handmade pizzas. That is one of the best parts. And the guys who make the pizzas are very cool music supporters or musicians themselves and they're nice to me and clap at the end of my songs and stuff like that.

There's an actual stage and an actual sound system. I usually have to do the sound myself but I'm good at it there now and I can play loudly enough that it is in no way background music for diners. In no way is this the case. On a side note, what I've noticed, is that if my voice is loud and clear enough, people take it as a concert. If my voice is down in the mix with the guitar or muffled in any way and hard to hear the words, I turn into background music. I make sure that doesn't happen.

I have had a fan or two show up and be disgusted that people weren't listening well enough. I think I've gotten more of a handle on that now. It's up to me to command the room in a way that is one hundred percent entertaining and positive, not guilting people into shutting up. The place is called The Underground Music Cafe. It's a live music venue, first and foremost. Isn't that great? So on some level everybody knows it's about the performance taking place, not about the pizza, even though the pizza is awesome.

I am going to play every Wednesday and I hope that very young people, very old people, and everybody in between will look forward to coming to hear me.

It is nice to be able to say that it's every Wednesday for the Fall and Winter. It has such continuity. I love it.

Yesterday I picked up the phone and actually called over there to seal this deal with them. I won't be paid, I will play for tips and donations and cd and book sales. So I have to play really really well if people are going to part with their hard earned dollars by choice.

I called because they hadn't responded to my email request for a weekly spot.

When I called, the woman who is in charge of booking was there and able to talk to me. She didn't hesitate. She apologized for not getting back to me yet. She asked what day and what time slot I wanted. She asked how often and for how long I wanted to commit to this. I said once a week all the way up until March first when I leave on tour again.

And then she said, "Yes. Sure. That'll be great Courtney."

I'm just going to say to you that you don't get responses like that from the cool people at the cool venues. They always have reservations and disclaimers. They always have a thought in their minds like, "why should I give her this?" They're always concerned that the newest coolest thing is going to come along or pass them by. They don't like to commit to too much. Or at least, not with me they don't.

So. this little cafe.

I am so grateful and so happy and so excited. 

Beginning October 10th and every WEDNESDAY 5-6:30PM. See you there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so much to do

I'm really having a great experience working on this commissioned song for the dog named Ruby.

Last night was particularly joyful because we got to reunite with one of my favorite musicians, Jon James.

I never thought I would feel so grateful to be living and working on music in Minneapolis.

Rob Genadek's studio, Uptown Sound Recording on Hennepin and 26th, is such a glamorous place to make music. And the location is central. We know such excellent musicians here. And people are not inundated with work, or bogged down by impractical commute times. Also, the geography of Minneapolis in proximity to Nashville, or Chicago, L.A. or N.Y.C., Minneapolis musically feels like a melting pot of popular music sensibilities. 

We don't have the twang of true Nashville. We do not have the true edge of NYC or London punk rock. We are Midwestern and you can hear that in our Americana approach to our recordings.

But I am hearing the beauty in this. We have some perspective and some flexibility that I am finding to be valuable.

I hope we can retrieve our cover tune recordings and finish that project. The two guys we want to have finish those recordings with us are the same two guys from the "Apparition:the pirate edit" music video I have here on my videos page of this website. 

I talked to JJ last night about touring again as a full band and he said he's definitely interested.

I still need to talk to Kale, and I will soon.

Wouldn't it be awesome to finish making the cover tunes album and then bring the exact full band that played on those recordings out on tour and release that right before the tour? An all Minneapolis bad ass band.

We can do great two hour concerts with a full band like that because Kale plays bass but he also plays virtuosic violin and we can do anything from my folkiest folk to my edgiest punk rock. And everybody's a great singer so we can do our four part harmonies.

Oh Lord, make it happen.

In the meantime, before this dream can come true, these recordings need to be salvaged, or not, finished, and manufactured.

I need to book enough shows for March 2019 for Rob and I as the duo to lay the best possible groundwork for the return in September 2019. 

I need to book lucrative big shows for September 2019 so that we can bring the band and succeed financially.

I want to take the full band for two weeks to Europe, then for ten days to the East Coast of the US and for ten days to the West Coast of the US.

Come on Universe. Let's do this.

Like I said, I have a lot to do.

Not to mention finishing the writing piece for the grant application. Yikes.

Here's me last night beaming with joy over all the rosy prospects with Rob, and JJ, and Marc, and the gang.

Don't judge your life

 

Saturday night up on the stage in my sequin mini dress and my Guyatone electric guitar, Sunday at the kitchen table in an apron making an apple pie. Yep. That's how I roll.

Yesterday I made beef stew and apple pie for my dear friend who is also the godmother of all three of my children. It was her birthday this past week and we finally were able to get together at Rob's house. Rob and Aidan my little dog were in attendance as well.

It's good to do these simple quiet things and restore yourself with good food and camaraderie.

Lately I've had people say to me that I'm so driven.

In the Sunday New York Times, in the article about Bradley Cooper's recent four year stint of writing, producing and starring in the remake of "A Star Is Born" (with Lady Gaga in tow) someone says that they don't like working with people who aren't able to put their work first and foremost in their lives. Wow. I agree with that. It doesn't say "put their work first and foremost in their lives at all times". That would be dysfunctional, needless to say. But to be able to put your work first and foremost is necessary for your projects to succeed I think.

I want to be solvent and have my career as an artist be sustainable. I'm not a person who "just has to always be on the go" as one person said to me recently. No, to the contrary, I do not want to be always on the go at all. I want to make a fire and curl up by it with a good man and a good dog. That's the bottom line. But to thrive and not just survive I must be self motivated. So, I am working hard, and loving every minute of it, especially the big nights like this past Saturday night, and the small days like yesterday when I got to make a homemade apple pie for my friends.

sang my heart out in a trashy bar last night

"Goddamn, it feels good to just play the fucking gee-tar and sing the shit out of those songs and bring down the house!" I said as I got ready for bed last night.

I was invited by a drummer in Minneapolis named Tom Cook who sets up shows for his favorite bands to play. Last night there were four bands on the bill and he played drums in more than one of them. As far as I could see I was the only female on the bill, and the only solo performer. In the current political climate of America, that in itself is something to say. 

I played and I spoke in a way that I cannot when there are men sharing the stage with me. When I play as a duo with Rob there is Rob's very formidable male presence on the stage with me. When I play with a full band it's all men and me and I always feel like the baby of the family, which is actually very freeing and delightful in a different way.

But when I'm on stage alone I don't have to defer to anyone else's feelings. I can get as far out of the box as I feel comfortable doing and there's no one up there squirming. I can say what I want. Do what I want. Sing how I want. Oh, the glorious freedom.

House concerts are lovely. Listening rooms for singer songwriters are lovely. A concert at a center for the arts is lovely.

But getting to be large and in charge is my favorite.

Last night as I was getting off the stage the drummer who invited me to play came over to me beaming. He said, "That was fantastic! Your solo thing is great! You can do what you just did anywhere. You can do it here, but you could do this at The Orpheum Theater too. You will. I know you will."

Let's hope so Tom. Thanks again for a great night and a real shot of encouragement.

One more story about last night......

I got off stage and went up to the bar. The female bartender came rushing out from behind the bar and grabbed my hand and took me to the back corner where there was no one standing. She told me that she didn't realize who I was when I first came in that night. She said she had been the bartender there about five or six years ago when I did a series of band performances there practicing up for one of my full band tours. She told me she had three of my albums and that she knew all the words and played them all the time. She started singing "Ballad To My Other Self" just right there, no prompting from me, came in with the exact right opening line and everything. She said she listened to my music and she always cried because she felt like I had been through a lot of stuff and she didn't know what but it made her always worry for me. She said that the last time she saw me play there at the bar she thought there were people around me getting involved with my career who just maybe weren't good people and she was worried and then she didn't see me again and she said she always wondered. I told her I knew what she was talking about..it was promoters who were stepping up to help but were kind of shady...and I told her that those days were thankfully over of having to work with people I didn't trust or respect. But the biggest thing was she said, "I didn't even recognize you, you've changed so much." She was very candid and said I looked younger and so confident and happy that it couldn't be the same person. She said, "You were so introverted then, and you seemed so fragile and wounded and my heart just ached for you every time you got up to sing. I loved it, but it just was always so painful." She said that she didn't realize it was me until "you opened your mouth and sang. Then I said, oh my God it's Courtney." She said, "I'd know that voice anywhere, it's so distinctive." She said "you're so confident and happy now I just know you're going to be okay now. I know you're going to finally do this. You're ready."

I gave her a free copy of my newest cd and we hugged and I thanked her for telling me all this. 

Many people bought cds so I got some money and shared the recordings which of course means a great deal to me.

I accepted an invitation to play for free at a shitty old run down bar and I was repaid in pure gold.

working hard and having fun

I'm working hard and having fun and that feels great.

I love being busy, but busy doing what feels like the very best use of my time in all moments.

"What's the very best use of my time right now?" is a good question to ask.

If the answer is "sit right here and have a drink with my colleagues" then that's truth.

If the answer is "lie down and listen to a meditation recording for an hour and say affirmations of awesomeness for myself" then that's what it is.

Yesterday I made time for everything, even a two mile run in the morning, even a nice late dinner at home with Rob. 

Yesterday I worked in the recording studio for about seven hours recording this new commissioned song.

We got an excellent lead vocal track; Rob and I both think it's the best vocal track so far of my career.

Rob says that not one note is being fixed for pitch or timing or anything. Pretty great!

We also spent a lot of time creating some really vibrant backing vocals and harmony parts.

Rob Genadek is great at making up and singing backing harmonies. He was awesome yesterday. 

Here's a photo of yesterday's session.

We had my little dog Aidan with us all day at the studio too and he really enjoyed it.

And again we had the fun privilege of working with Marc Percansky who is at the helm of the "Ruby" project.

And for the fashion girls, the dress is from LoveShackFancy.

 

Out on the trail

My dog Aidan and I walk on the Mississippi River Trail almost every morning throughout the year in Minneapolis. 

Two mornings ago we were out there around 9am.

Aidan is a little shitzu poodle mix, not very big, about ten pounds.

He started looking over his shoulder as we were walking, which he doesn't usually do unless someone is coming up behind us on the trail.

I looked back each time but there was no one there.

I just kept telling him, "come on, there's nobody behind us."

But he kept looking back.

Then one of the times I looked expecting to see the empty trail stretching out behind us through the deep woods, but instead, there in the middle of the paved path, with woods and the road to one side and a retaining wall and guard rail to the other, with the immense river below, there on the path stood a very large dog, or wolf or something. He was standing still looking right at us, maybe only twenty feet back from us. 

My brain was trying to process what I was seeing. I started talking to him, "Are you a dog? Are you a wolf? You don't have a collar. You have such a beautiful tail."

He stood unmoving, not blinking. 

I slowly bent down and picked up my tiny morsel of a dog.

I said, "I know you must be really hungry to be up here on the path like this but you have to go back down by the river. You can't be up here. You're going to get yourself into trouble."

He wouldn't move.

I said, "Look, I know you're probably really hungry and I wish I had something for you but you can't eat my dog. You have to turn back."

Then I took a step towards him and said, "Go! Go down by the river and eat a raccoon or a squirrel. Go!"

He turned reluctantly and started trotting back the other direction. He would have to trot along the guard rail a ways before he could turn off the trail and go down to the river through the deep woods. That was where he would be better off if he didn't want to get shot by some person.

I watched him trotting away and I put Aidan down and we started walking again. I felt like the woods were alive with eyes now, like in scary animated woodland scenes.

Then Aidan started looking over his shoulder again and when I turned, here was Mister Coyote coming up again behind us. By now I had processed the situation and the animal in my head and was fairly sure that what we were looking at was a coyote.

I told him to take off. He turned again and headed back again along the guard rail.

We kept walking. Aidan and I both turned and here he was, right up behind us!

"Oh my God!" I said. "You have to stop this! You cannot have my dog! Go! Go down to the river and eat something else for breakfast! Go!"

He finally took me seriously and I watched him run the whole guard rail, turn down into the deep woods, and disappear.

We haven't seen him since, but Aidan is much more wary when we're out walking now.

That guy could be anywhere.

 

Big Thoughts Brewing

I have Big Thoughts Brewing and it feels good.

I recognize the excitement of having all your pistons firing and your mind full of possibilities.

I've been this way before in my life.

It isn't manic-depressive as much as it's getting your energy frequency up.

Every body and every mind have to ebb and flow, but when the flow gets flowing the tough get going. That's not the real expression. I know.

I am feeling a chain of possibilities instead of a broken chain of loose ends, which, in light of recent circumstances, is pretty near miraculous if you ask me.

I am feeling an idea brewing of writing a batch of songs in the style of "The Sun Shines On Ruby".

I remember a fan of mine saying to me, "Please, make your next album be happy songs, upbeat songs, love songs. This is what the world needs and you can do it."

At the time I was annoyed. I was like, "I'm not the Paul McCartney guy here, I'm more the John Lennon side of life."

Well, even John wrote all that great stuff for Yoko. "It's been too long since we took the time...." fabulous.

So maybe "Ruby" is the beginning of a new album of positive uplifting songs.

Maybe I get to put a band together again.

I'm booking 2019 Europe right now and some of the bigger cooler venues are finally inviting me to play but they are saying they wish I would bring my full band.

Jon James, if you're reading this, I'm coming for you.

JJ is playing on "Ruby" this coming Monday so I am going to ask him what interest he has in making my duo into a band again.

The other musician I love to play with is Kale Reed.

Kale might be willing to join in for a tour here and there as well. We'll see.

This is a lot to think about and I'm not making any declarations, I'm just putting these thoughts to you and to the Universe.

If you want to see the full band with JJ and Kale in it, watch this:

 

The Sun Shines On Ruby

My daughter Nina likes an expression she read that says something about shaking the fruit tree thinking you're going to get pears and instead you get oranges...or pears I suppose like in Heike's garden.

Shake the fruit tree. 

Shaking the fruit tree of your life probably entails praying and visualizing, but it also entails sending out emails and networking. It probably entails coming up with new ideas on your bike ride and then going home and executing the ideas.

It probably entails saying yes when others ask to collaborate.

It probably entails saying yes when a great guy you've known for years first asks you to write a little handmade book about his dog Ruby and then asks you to write a song based on the little book.

Yes is the only answer.

As you know I've been shaking my fruit tree of life like mad in every which way I can think of hoping to get any fruit at all.

The Ruby Sessions started last night.

I felt like the ripe pear tree in Heike's garden.

I felt ready and capable, bountiful and blessed.

I love the song I wrote and it worked well and stood up to all the tests of being put through Rob Genadek's paces of his rigorous preproduction scrutiny.

I know how to write a good song. I know how to play a good backing part on the guitar. I know how to sing in tune and humbly but joyfully express the Divine in a small song about a guy and his dog.

I feel that the Ruby Sessions have come along just at the exact moment I needed them.

They've put some money in my pocket (commissioned work) and they've put some hope in my heart.

I feel joyful and I've got a spring in my step.

I was not praying, "Please God have somebody pay me to write a song for their dog" but when the ripe pears have appeared, we've made ourselves a tart.

 

 

The RUBY Sessions start today!

Today is a fun day for me!

The commissioned song project I mentioned in a past blog post has turned into this wonderful recording project this week!

All I can say is when you say yes to the possibilities and you throw your heart into everything that comes your way, wonderful things can happen!

I'll be working with producer and drummer Rob Genadek at his super cool Uptown Sound MPLS recording studio on Hennepin and 26th every day the rest of this week and into next week as well.

We're having Jon James one of my favorite guitarist/bassist/vocalist/songwriter musicians in to work on the song with us.

And I get to work with Steve Cohen one of my favorite Mpls photographer/videographer guys.

My son Jordan Yasmineh is making a lyrics video for the song once we have the recording together.

And lastly, we'll be putting together an actual music video for the song as well.

Fun, fun, and more fun.

The song is called, "The Sun Shines On Ruby" and the idea came from one of the little handmade books I made recently, commissioned as well, for Ruby the Doberman Pinscher's upcoming twelfth birthday. From the little book I made we got the idea for the song.

My thanks to Ruby's human Marc Percansky and Magic Marc Productions for making all this happen!

 

Yesterday I did succeed

Yesterday, judging from my morning writing, was set to be a bad day, but it wasn't!

It's not that you can't acknowledge times of disappointment and it's not that you can't enjoy a good wallowing in your sorrow.

But I think it is the length of time you devote to this activity that can make all the difference.

By ten in the morning yesterday I had turned the corner on despair and was headed in a positive direction again.

Thanks goes to my oldest daughter Nina who called me and reminded me of all the good things that are happening, and also has repeatedly said that she hopes I can work with a real literary agent with this second Sidney book and get my work to a bigger publisher and a bigger audience. So, thanks to Nina for helping. 

And thanks to Rob. Rob is usually the one who tells me I have to get the tour booked, or get the songs written. He is very good at being a task master...which has been a huge help in the past ten years of me getting a career up and running. But being the taskmaster doesn't help when the clear tasks have become murky or overwhelming and when the artist is in total despair. 

Rob gave me $18 which is what he had in his pocket and said, "You have to take a break and just go be a person. Take this money and go for a bike ride and have lunch. Go buy gardening stuff. Anything that sounds fun."

That was what I needed to hear. Permission from Rob...it's not about Rob...but from the Universe or from God or from myself to just let go.

So I walked my dog on the Mississippi trail. I road my bike to the store. I bought the big recycled paper bags I've been wanting to get and I filled five of them with weeds in Rob's big backyard. I gardened and I played ball with Aidan...he kept putting his ball in the soil as I was turning it over which was annoying but he thought it was fun and funny.

Then I made myself a shandy...isn't that what they call it...half beer and half lemonade in a nice little glass and I sat in the backyard as the sun was setting, still in my dirty gardening clothes with my hair in pigtails, and I thought that everything was just grand.

Today I will keep writing for the McKnight Fellowship Grant application, I will walk my dog, I will run the steps at the Minnehaha Falls, I'll get my teeth cleaned at the dentist for free as part of my new health insurance, and tonight I'll go meet a French friend and fan and have a drink with him at my favorite Barbette French restaurant. A great day in the making.

trying to stay above it but not succeeding

I'm trying to stay above it again. Goddamn discouragement is nipping at my heels and overtaking me again. I feel bad that my recordings I was making got lost. I feel bad that I don't have the money to pay for their retrieval or to remake them from scratch.

I feel bad that my second book about Sidney is just sitting now because the publisher says she won't publish it. It's not that she didn't think it was good, although she didn't say one way or the other, but she said it was because the first book was only a "respectable" seller and not more of a "blockbuster".

I will say that it could have sold better if she had done more publicity and had supported my efforts more, but she says she did the best she could, and she did, I know that, she just couldn't do more because she's a very small operation. I should be glad to be out of my contract with her, although I'm not because she still is keeping book one and will continue to be the publisher of that one book of mine.

I wish I had a booking agent, a record company deal, a publicist, a manager, a big book deal with a reputable New York publisher. I wish I had succeeded by now. Instead, here I am. Where ever you go there you are. Well, that's me.

I m learning kindness is the key to everything because kindness keeps you from having a guilty conscience. I have a guilty conscience because of my business ventures not working out and the way I managed or more accurately mismanaged what I was trying to do these past ten years. Being kind to others helps alleviate some of the pain of my guilt.

I am insolvent financially, way in the hole. The tax people are wrapping up their audit and they're saying I will owe thousands in back taxes because I was calling my hobby a career and writing off expenses to make albums and go on tour and go back and forth to New York to work on my music there but I wasn't showing enough income from music to make it legitimate. I kept hoping my career was going to take off. Add it on to all the money I already owe and it's a mountain of debt, over fifty thousand dollars. I make about twenty thousand a year right now from my music and writing. 

How can I possibly keep trying to be artistic and fun and having a good image in the world when I am feeling crushed by this?

Today is Sunday. I'm going to do a lot of praying.

patrons for individual projects

I want a handful of great people to sign up as patrons for a few projects I want to do in Mpls this Fall and Winter.

The patron gets to be involved in the planning sessions and the execution of the project. 

The patron puts up some $$ as a one time donation to help fund the project, that's why they're called the patron.

Here are the projects, in case you'd like to be the patron of any of these.

--I want to collaborate on a set of performance clothes with a Minneapolis based fashion designer who is getting very good press.I have the woman in mind that I'd like to work with and I think it would be very one-woman-show to have stage clothing that is more theatrical and do some readings and solo acoustic performances that highlight the coat and dress. That's probably what it would be: a coat of many colors and a fabulous mini dress with a long train in the back.

 

--I want to collaborate with a student from the MCAD film department to make a new music video for my latest album "High Priestess And The Renegade".  The patron and the film student could pick the song and work on the concept with me and ideally the video would be part animation, part footage of me. My new album doesn't have a youtube presence beyond the first Tower Card lyrics video because I haven't had funding to move forward on music videos yet.

--I want to figure out how to print my small handmade books that I have been making one by one on small Moleskine unlined journals. There is one fan and supporter already interested in helping brainstorm about how to make this project a reality in terms of logistics. This project will need a patron. If you've already been an appreciator of the small handmade books I've been doing maybe this is your project.

--I want to try to retrieve my lost cover tune recordings from the ether and put out that album. We need $500 to send the files to LA where there is an expert who says there's a 70% chance he can retrieve the lost recordings. If he can't he doesn't charge the full amount. Once we find out whether they're retrievable, we can move forward with a plan of how to make that dream project a reality.

--I want to write the 20-25 page sample of writing and turn it in to complete the McKnight Foundation Grant I am applying for......oh.....that's right.....no one can help me with this one.....I just have to get writing.....which is what I'm going to work on later today....I solemnly swear.

So, let me know if you think any of this would be fun for you. If you can't be a patron, you can always be a supporter and just cheer on these projects and more and I promise you, your emotional support is worth a great deal to me and keeps me going. Truth. 

insatiable

I really want a lot of stuff.

I want to be places.

I want to connect with people.

I want awesome fashion every day.

I want to be on stage at the Newport Folk Festival and have people be happy about that.

I want to open for Bob Dylan.

I want.

I don't think it's evil, I think it's alive.

I feel excited about so many things.

I want to write more books and I want people to be into them.

I want.

And I don't think that's bad.

I want to make an acoustic album that makes everybody glad.

I want sensual life all the time.

I want to have my hands in the dirt and to see plants happy with love.

I want.

Today is my mother's birthday and I am going out to have brunch with her.

My mother is one of my fashion icons of the 1970's.

I want what she had then.

I want.

Chevy Chase

I just read a new article about the actor and comedian Chevy Chase. 

The facts that struck me are that he has been a scathingly mean guy a lot of the time throughout his career by many accounts.

He started drinking too much but has completely stopped drinking and is looking good at 70.

His wife of many years and their three daughters all still love him and are with him.

His dad left his mom, didn't support him much, and the mother was extremely abusive to him. Extremely.

Chevy can't get the kind of work he wants right now.

A lot of people say they don't want to work with him.

Guys his age like Steve Martin and Bill Murray are out doing awesome stuff.

Chevy has issues.

He starts to criticize other comedians, ruthlessly, every time the interviewer talks to him. He compulsively gets down on others.

He says bitter depressing things about how people have gotten down on him.

It's a theme.

He thinks he's saying these truthful elephant in the room things about the other comedians or actors.

He thinks he has a right to lick his wounds and dwell on the bad things people say about him.

His wife is quoted as saying that she sees him as an abused child who has grown up with some feeling of being unloved and some bitterness over being unloved that just will never go away.

I'm like Chevy Chase sometimes and I used to be more like Chevy Chase, and being like that holds you back.

Being like that thwarts your potential in the world.

I'm trying to eradicate all of that from my life.

Last night I went out with Rob to see the performance of a local artist that Rob G is working with in his studio.

I distinctly remember that when I got back from New York I had a chip on my shoulder about going to see the local artists in Minneapolis perform their music.

I had all sorts of dark thoughts about how I had failed to lift myself to a higher level of acclaim and had come back to Minneapolis unhappy, unsuccessful, unwilling to see the beauty in everything or anything.

I would sit and critique the artists I went to see.

I would tell myself I had to somehow show that I was higher up the ladder of success from them, but how?

I didn't have real success to point to. I didn't have the endorsement of the world.

If I went with Rob to a show I would sit with a hardened heart and tell Rob how the person's singing wasn't very good or how their lyrics seemed lame to me. Rob hated when I did that. I thought I was just telling the real truth.

Sometimes I would stay home because I had these big ideas of how important I should look and I didn't want to "make an appearance" and not look my best, and I didn't feel good about myself so I would stay home at Rob's house and feel worse. I would say I didn't have any friends. I would say I couldn't trust anyone. 

Sometimes I would go out to shows and people would ask me what I was doing or how my music was going or how my "career" was going and I would be resentful and mad and maybe even rude and mean.

I couldn't get it right.

But last night I went to a local artist's show and I felt love. I loved myself, I loved them. I loved being out with Rob. I loved the bright mod sweater dress I was wearing and the thigh high suede boots. I loved the pizza we had. Someone asked me if I might like to play at this small pizza joint venue and I said "hell yeah!"

Who am I but another human among humans. In a world full of suffering, who am I to judge? Who is anyone to judge the efforts and the work of others. Be glad to be alive. Be glad that anyone is glad you are there. Be glad. 

Thanks Chevy Chase for the inspiration to rise above today. I wish you happiness and peace in all you do. I love you.

the high road

Every adult who has any autonomy makes choices every day on this planet.

The choices usually come down to taking the high road and taking the low road.

If the commandment you have set for yourself is to take the high road always and in every situation, then making choices is much easier.

I am personally finding that expression "take the high road" to be very easy to define from situation to situation.

So far I haven't met with a situation where I am saying to myself, "hmmmm, which choice is the high road choice here?"

I mean, maybe I take a minute to think about what the options actually are, and then to ask myself which is the high road choice, but I haven't yet had to ponder between the choices. It's always fairly obvious when put into those terms...so far.

I didn't used to be so deliberate about my actions. I stumbled along in the grey areas between good and evil. I thought it would all work out. It doesn't. Being slightly manipulative to suit your desires does not come out well in the end. 

So now I am being conscientious about looking for the high road, staying on the high road, remembering that the high road is the goal and really the only way to go.

If you'd like examples, I have plenty. Ask and it shall be given in the comments here.

Thanks. Love to all. Gratitude. High road.

do everything you can

In the category of "do everything you can" I want to say that today I'm planning to begin the process of applying for a writer's grant.

There's a McKnight Fellowship that comes due November first. You have to have a book already published in the same genre. I do.

That's a miracle in and of itself. I have all the qualifications to apply for this grant!

So the way I see it, I simply must apply, because I can and I want to and I should.

You have to submit a "sample" of 20-25 pages of your own writing. It has to be something new that hasn't been published.

I want to knock this out of the park!

I don't think it should be about Sidney at all.

Since book two of Sidney is completed and I need a publisher for that series to continue, I feel like that should not be the focus of this.....it just is a less creative way to go because I know the trajectory of that story because it's based on me.

This would be totally new.

I witnessed one of my student/clients in recent weeks make huge steps forward with his writing when he suddenly lurched off track and started writing about a female character he had never planned to write about. I told him that this new vein of writing put him in the enviable position as a writer of having a truly made up story he was immersed in. I want that freedom!

So today I begin to write the 20-25 pages. Also, it can be fiction or memoir. Hmmmmmmm...........

compensation for doing what you love feels great

Artists struggle.

They really do.

The time it takes to develop their ten thousand hours of mastery turns into years of hardship.

Then once they get good, there is a time period of being good but not yet having the acclaim necessary to command higher compensation.

The struggle is real.

If an artist can take jobs that aren't too exhausting and that pay enough for at least basic survival, and keep putting in their ten thousand hours towards becoming a master at their desired artistic craft, then they can get to the phase where they're good at what they do and people start to talk about their work.

If they can keep on surviving on very little when they know they're good now at what they do but they still don't have enough acclaim, if they can be patient and diligent and keep putting out good, maybe even better and better, work, they may be able to get to the beautiful place where they are valued in society, they are respected, their work is fairly compensated.

I have had glimmers lately of what this phase of my own career would feel like, when acclaim caught up with my efforts and I was recognized and compensated.

This feels great and it would feel great to have this be consistently my new experience.

I keep working. I keep making the effort and trying to do better and better work.

Happy in Minneapolis

Yesterday I was so happy in Minneapolis. It was really hot outside, it felt like nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But I had so many nice experiences strung together that I didn't care.

First of all (and if you don't like fashion just skip this paragraph), I was wearing a white lace sleeveless mini dress so I felt pretty cool, and I felt like I looked pretty cool too. So that helped. And I've been carrying around this little banana yellow leather backpack with black and white ticking fabric lining, made by Frye boot company, and that little backpack is a true delight. I have a bunch of little decorative pins on it in mixed metals and turquoise, the pins are from Free People. That little backpack kind of makes my day every time I use it. (If you want to see what it looks like, there's a photo of it from yesterday on my Instagram page which has a link on this blog page off to the right.)

Secondly, I wasn't performing and I wasn't on tour but I got to spend the evening in the company of the great Rob Genadek. He's really fun to be with and usually he's working and out with clients when we're in Minneapolis so I don't see him very much...even though I live at his house.

The first part of the day yesterday I worked on a song that I've been commissioned to write by a fan and supporter of my music. The song really came together yesterday morning. For days I've been going between trying to write it with a guitar and trying to sing it to myself out on walks with my dog or out riding my bicycle. I made many small recordings of just my voice on my phone's small recording app. But suddenly yesterday morning before I got dressed or anything, just drinking a cup of coffee and sitting crosslegged on my bed with a pile of plain white loose leaf paper and a couple of colored markers and a guitar lying beside me but not in use, I got the song, really by divine inspiration. The song that had been vague and not structured, not much of a thing at all, suddenly became a song. It was like staring at the pieces of an intricate jigsaw puzzle where you can't make out what the final picture will be, you only see some blue and some green, and then as you work on the puzzle, you see that it's a painting of an oceanside with blue water and green hills beyond. The song became three verses and a chorus and then a wonderful bridge that is my favorite part. To feel that I could write a satisfying song again, just then, on any given Saturday morning, was very affirming to me.

Then I walked my dog Aidan on the Mississippi trail.

Then I went out to a party with Rob G. The party was at the home of a good friend of Rob's who I also have known and and have been very fond of for years. The group of people were of a wide variety of ages and I felt such a strong feeling of connection to all of the people I spoke with. A veterinarian from Sheffield in Yorkshire. A world famous photographer from Northern Minnesota. A man who was given up by his farmer father at age thirteen and sent to an orphanage called "Boystown" in North Dakota because there were eight children and the mother had died, which wasn't a good enough excuse, but the man said that he had met his wife just after being "released" at age eighteen and that meeting her saved his life and they'd been together for fifty some years now and had children and were happy together. What a good story. And there were many more. Also, the back yard of the house was much more the way the Europeans, and to me especially my German friend Heike, have a "garden" and not just an ordinary old back yard. This homeowner friend of ours had all sorts of lovely plants doing all sorts of lovely things...he even had espaliered apple trees against his garage walls which were covered in ripe apples! It was a wonderful experience for me to be in Minneapolis and to feel as alive and grateful for companionship and the creativity of others as I so often feel when I'm out on tour. 

The next thing we did was we drove over to Sakana which is a sushi bar we both like in Rob's neighborhood. It was late enough that the sun was down and we sat on their patio under little strings of colored lights and had a great time. Our waiter turned out to be a guy we knew before, from some years ago, when my children and I used to go out for sushi near where we lived. He had often been our waiter there, so last night we had so much fun catching up with him about all the things he had done and we had done since we last saw him.

Lastly, Rob and I came back to his house and lit the candles out on the front porch. We sat with my little dog on Rob's lap, having iced lemonade, talking quietly about all the people we'd seen. A delightful neighbor who was raised in Amsterdam and had just returned from a trip with his wife and children to Ibiza and Paris, came up on the porch and talked with us around ten pm. We hadn't seen him since we had arrived back from our recent tour in Europe so we compared notes about our travels.

For me, this day, yesterday, that I describe to you, is my idea of heaven on earth. And for days like this I give thanks. Is it so much that this day was extraordinary, or is it mostly just that I am able to see clearly now the beauty of life?

talking about moms with school age children

I was just reading a blog about "Mom's Building Their Confidence" and I had such a strong flashback to a time in my life that makes me so uncomfortable I can barely handle it.

In the blog about building confidence (on the website of a women's clothing company) these mothers with school age children were all talking about how their children are embarrassed by them and how their husbands aren't as romantic as they used to be.

Oh my God, it's so hard to be a mother with school age children!

Some people talk about how they'd "never go back" to their middle school years because they felt so awkward as a pre-teen or young teenager, but I personally would take middle school any day over returning to being the mother of middle school children!

It might partly be an American thing, or even a Midwestern thing. The moms in the culture I was a mother in get hit from every side: the kids are trying to be so important or cool, the dads get stressed out about earning money, the moms get caught between trying to be cool and young or trying to be serious and mature. In their careers or as homemakers or both, the mother wants to feel great about herself but her body has changed from the pregnancies and her ideas about herself are shifting. Yuck! It was really hard to get the feeling right for yourself, I remember that!

A woman who becomes a mother has to keep reinventing herself and that takes thought and energy. 

I broke up with my children's father during that difficult time and I really hurt a lot of people by deciding to leave. I only left the marriage, I didn't leave my role as a mother and I didn't leave the community. But staying in the community after leaving my husband was very difficult because the other married couples with children had strong disapproval for what I had done. 

I wish I could have stayed and made my marriage great, but I felt like eight years of going to counselors was enough, man, and I was over it.

Now when I read about mothers with school age children I thank God that my kids were so forgiving and kind and encouraging to me. They all handled their mother's decision and their parents divorce with courage. They rebelled, they acted out, they got mad, but they were great through it all. And their mother was suddenly making records and playing rock shows. One of them came home one day saying that a kid at school said, "Why does your mom dress like a stripper?" Ha! Well there ya go!

I did not transition gracefully into the happier woman I am now. I transitioned with a scowl on my face and a chip on my shoulder. I transitioned loudly, raucously, inappropriately, with anger and with rage. I was not the silent monarch stretching it's wings as it emerges from the cocoon. I was a mean troll with a sledgehammer smashing down the cinderblock bunker I had built around myself to protect myself from all the assholes in my life. I wanted out and I did a lot of destroying to get out.

Wow. I didn't know I was going to say all this this morning at seven a.m. on a Saturday, but there it is.

I hope every mom out there gets what she wants out of her life, cuz life is short but it's also real real long if you are miserable.

Here We Go, Here We Go!

My song "Crash And Burn" starts with the line "Here we go, here we go!" and that's exactly what I am saying to myself now.

I feel like a whole new adventure is beginning.

I feel as if I have been climbing my mountain toward my best destiny, toward my manifesting of my talents and my potential.

When I got back to Minneapolis in late August after my recent Europe tour, I felt like I came off of a long winding climbing path, rocky and challenging, but full of promise and beauty. 

When I got to Rob's house and reunited with my little dog and my closet full of fun clothes, and Rob's nice little kitchen and his big backyard, and his front porch(!!!) I felt like I had found a grassy plateau on the mountainside from which I could stand and twirl and sing, "the hills are alive with the sound of music..." to my heart's content.

I knew that the grassy plateau is not my destination from a career standpoint, not the highest I can climb. But I needed the rest and I love my surroundings.

I was waiting to find out what my current publisher would want to do about my second "Sidney" book. I was also waiting to see how I would feel about going out on tour again.

Well, as you know from recent posts, it's time to find a literary agent for my books, it's time to find a big powerful publisher who has the horsepower to help me get my work out to the world, and it's time to start planning for travels in 2019.

I want to be at a high enough level of revenue from my shows that Paradigm Talent Agency in New York will start helping me book my tours. There I said it. It has been said. That's what I want. 

So, here we go, here we go!

I am in Minneapolis for this entire fall and winter until next March, so I have time.

I am planning on wearing all my Prairie Goddess outfits and going to everybody's fun events in town.

I am planning on riding my bicycle, running the steps at the Minnehaha Falls every morning, walking my dog on the Mississippi River trail.

I am going to pull out some weeds in Rob's yard that sprang up in late summer and replace them with Spring bulbs!

I'm going to work with all the fabulous new and aspiring artists, young and not so young, who are hiring me to help them succeed.

I am going to make glorious food for myself and for Rob and for friends and family.

And, I'm going to find a literary agent, maybe even at Paradigm, and I'm going to find a way to get a really good publishing deal for all my cool books.

I'm going to book a bunch of exciting shows all over the US and Europe with the help of many friends, including some booking agents who I want to work with.

I'm going to write "Sidney" book three in November.

I'm going to write thirty new handmade small books.

I'm going to write songs, commissioned by fans, and just for myself too.

And then next year, when I'm ready, I'm going to go back out into the world and have a blast!

Regroup

Yesterday the publisher who published the first "Sidney" book said that she is unable to fund the publication of the second book in my four book series.

That's okay.

She will keep the first Sidney book and keep it in print she says. 

That's sort of okay too.

I really want a bigger stronger publisher to pick up the series and really run with it now. I sold close to fifty books just on my own in the month of August between my shows in Europe and the book signing I did up on Lake Vermilion over Labor Day. I've been told that's a lot of books...especially when the book's been out for over a year and especially when I have had no advertising or publicity or booking support whatsoever during this period from the publisher. I sold books on my own and it worked!

So the big question on the morning after a piece of new information like this is, what next?

I want a big strong company to work with me and put out the rest of my Sidney series. I want someone to help me publish my little handmade books...for now I am making a whole bunch of them to sell at shows over the next few months on my own. And one idea for the little handmade books is to make them into a real big book with chapters that are each of the little book length, but I don't know yet about that.

I want to go to New York City and find a real literary agent and get this party started!

How? 

I am going to be mindful and watchful and thoughtful and ready but I am not going to push or jump too soon or slap something together or force something to work. 

I have learned that Time is the Revelator, and only time will tell.

a really fun trip to the dentist!

 

I went to a new dentist yesterday.

My old dentist that I went to for twenty-five years doesn't take my new insurance, but my new insurance is really really great, so I had to find a new dentist that would take it.

I read reviews on line about dentists in the Twin Cities and I checked to be sure that the best ones took my insurance.

So finally, yesterday, I went to my first check up at my new dentist.

I was so scared, yes scared, because I don't like doctors and dentists very much in general.

I was so scared, in fact, that when they took my blood pressure at the beginning of the appointment it was really high and I always have low to normal blood pressure. I had just been to my ob gyn appointment in late June and it was pretty low.

So, assuming I am not suddenly developing high blood pressure, the dentist said it was the "white coat effect", otherwise known as being afraid of the dentist.

But it turns out I had nothing to be afraid of, and over all, I was so impressed with the dentist and the hygienist and even the office itself.

I think my old dentist, by comparison, isn't as good at all. But I would never have found out!

So, I'm lucky I had to switch and I didn't need to be so afraid but now I won't be because these people are awesome.

They gave me a bag of nice dental stuff....and I know that dentists always do that....but my old dentist didn't give this nice of stuff or this much stuff.

I used to not care about the dentist free stuff because I had three kids who were seemingly constantly going to the dentist and constantly bringing home handfuls of floss and toothbrushes.

But what I got from the dentist yesterday is more like a party bag from a really good birthday party to me.

I was really excited to get a bunch of free stuff.

I know I've been saying this a lot but having less spending money really makes you more appreciative. It just does. It's not like I'm advocating poverty for all, I'm not, but it does feel good to be able to get excited about the little things and not just be numb to things like the free stuff from the dentist.

Also, the dentist said my bones and my teeth in the x-rays look much younger than my age, woohoo!

He said the x-rays made me look twenty years younger than I am. He said I was lucky to have such nice teeth.

I'll take it! I never had braces and I just do the best I can, and that's such positive feedback.

He and the hygienist said that I looked young and was in good shape over all. Haha, yes, I'm getting that feedback a lot lately.

I think when you do what you believe is right and you take the high road as much as possible, your conscience gets lighter and your mind doesn't drag you down and you feel young and probably then your whole body feels younger...even your teeth.

Once when we were on tour with my full band, we became stranded in Holyhead because the squall had set in and the ferryboat wouldn't take us across to Dublin where we were playing the next night.

We set out from the train station on foot in the pouring rain looking for accommodations for the night for the four of us. Being a band of musicians, we turned into the very first pub we saw and threw down our pile of black cases of musical instruments and gear.

My guys stayed back and I stepped forward into the old dark pub where every bar stool was taken and the proprietor was talking loudly to his mates as he filled pint after pint and slid them down the old wooden bar.

I stepped up as confidently as I could and gave the bartender a big smile. I decided to try my British accent on him and said, "Hello there my good sir. Can I trouble you for four pints for me bandmates and myself?"

Right then everyone all down the line at the bar stopped talking. They all turned and stared at me.

The bartender smiled a crooked smile back at me.

No one spoke.

I was still smiling a big smile, afraid to move my face.

Then he said, "You're not from around here, are you?"

There were chuckles all down the bar.

I answered, "No I'm not. I'm American."

More choked laughs and snickers.

I continued, "How did you know? What was it, my clothes? Or my accent? Isn't my accent any good?"

The bartender looked down the bar at all his cronies, "No it wasn't your accent, it was your TEETH.

No one's got teeth like that around here."

And at this statement every man in the bar threw his head back and started laughing loud raucous laughter, and as they did so I could see a room full of dull and maybe rotting teeth from one end of the bar to the other.

A true story.

I am very grateful for my nice teeth today.

 

 

 

 

Spotify Playlist today for Hey Lulu!

They're playing my song! A Spotify playlist today has included my song Hey Lulu! I love this song so much and love to play it live so much because people's faces light up every time. I want the world to hear Hey Lulu and love it like we do.

On this recent Europe tour, one of our rowdiest crowds asked for Hey Lulu to be played a second time at the end of the show. First they were shouting for an encore. Then they started shouting for "Hey Lulu! Hey Lulu again!"

Haha. That was awesome. So Rob and I started in on Hey Lulu again and this time everybody in the place got up and they formed sort of a dance line in front of the stage...several rows of dance line even....and everybody just danced and sang along to Hey Lulu!

Rob and I improvised something like a dance long play club mix and just kept Lulu going on repeat. It was crazy. I loved it. I was smiling so much I couldn't have been happier. It was super great.

So here's Hey Lulu today on a playlist from The Netherlands! 

poverty looks good on you

It's Fashion Week in NYC and I'm missing it.

I've never actually been part of it, but I have always liked witnessing it.

The celebrities are part of it, but some of them don't look like fashion to me, they look like celebrity style.

It's probably true that rich people have more time and money to hire personal trainers, personal stylists, personal chefs, personal hair and make up artists, personal dermatologists. If you have all those people helping you, you can probably look pretty darn good.

But I also think it's the scrappy street kid/art student out in Bushwick that will always win the cool contest with nobody helping them at all. Yes some of those cool kids have rich parents bankrolling their hip poverty stance, but that's not who I'm talking about here.

I'm talking about how Patti Smith looked when she was doing her "Just Kids" era lifestyle. She says people thought she was doing drugs but she just didn't have enough money for food sometimes and she was working hard to live in Manhattan and all of that just made her really thin.

Patti Smith cut her own hair because she couldn't afford to go a salon, and then everybody wanted to cut their hair like hers when her album came out and there was that boss photo of her with her raunchy haircut on the cover.

I have been using the ten dollar box of hair bleach from the drug store for the last year or so, and I'm really liking my hair. Also I've been periodically chopping at the bottom of it with a manicure scissors in Rob's bathroom with the idea that I'd like it to be all one length and it's really getting there. I like my hair a lot right now and I've spent about thirty dollars on it in the past year. No lie. Well, okay, I buy shampoo and conditioner and a coconut oil product to keep it smooth and pretty too.

Clothing can start to look overdone when you have a lot of money to spend and you love fashion. If you have plenty of money then you have to have personal restraint and the ability to edit yourself and your fashion ideas or you can look like a "fashion victim" which is a real thing. When I'm in NYC I see people who I think would look more beautiful with less stuff on their bodies.

For myself, it seems like if I am feeling healthy and happy and beautiful in my birthday suit, then everything I wear looks fabulous and I can't go wrong. Having a lean fashion budget doesn't trip me up because I love everything I have in my little closet at Rob's house. If I didn't love it it would be long gone because there isn't room for stuff that's not useful.

So here it is Fashion Week in NYC and I'm in the Longfellow Neighborhood of Minneapolis and nobody cares about Fashion Week here but me (that's just a guess). I'm going to go play dress up in my little closet and come up with something fun and Prairie Goddess to wear. Then I'm going to ride my bicycle with the wicker side saddle baskets up to the bank on the other side of the great Mississippi River and deposit the $100 in cash I collected last week. Then I'm going to ride to the post office and mail out a "Red Letter Day" t shirt to a fan who ordered one over the weekend. Then I'm going to come back and sit on Rob's back patio and work on a song that I've been commissioned to write for a fan as well. Then I'm going to a writing consult for a client of mine who is writing his version of the great American novel. He lives near my mother so after that I'm going to go say hi to my mom.

I had a period of time here in the past few years where I eschewed wealth in all it's forms and really got down on people who had abundant lifestyles. I am over that. I want an abundant lifestyle myself. Now I am morphing my radical backlash against wealth into a vision of success that includes a lot of generosity and kindness and humility. I want abundance that is beautiful and inclusive and that spills over constantly to helping and lifting others and mother nature and the world. That's my new vision of wealth for myself.

So, maybe in two years I can go to Fashion Week and sit in the front, or maybe the second, row of some of the shows in NYC. Or maybe, even in Paris.

 

Sundays are my favorite

Sunday mornings I worship at the alter of the world, the New York Times Sunday edition. 

I've sung in church choirs most of my life, and I may do something like that some day again when I don't travel as much as I do now.

But at this moment in my life, when I'm at home at Rob's little house in Minneapolis with my little dog and my little closet full of my clothes instead of a suitcase, nothing is more delightful than a Sunday morning of reading the paper.

Yes it has to be the New York Times, even though it's much more expensive than the local paper.

In these past two years there have been Sunday mornings where the six dollars for the paper was the last six dollars I had until Monday's lessons.

There have been Sunday mornings where the piggy bank had to be shaken and I had to walk up to the store with quarters in a pouch for the paper.

To me, being in Minneapolis, the New York Times on a Sunday is my window to the world and the alter at which I pray for enlightenment, enrichment, and even comradery.

For many years now, probably since I was in my early twenties, I have looked to the Sunday New York Times to show me my peers, my mentors, my heroes.

If there's an article about you in the Sunday New York Times you are either doing things terrifically right or terribly wrong.

I read the terribly wrongs just to stay grounded in reality, but I revel in the terrifically rights.

I watch, I study, I ponder, I emulate.

I am waiting for the day when I open that paper and there's an article about me doing things terrifically right, for the whole world to see.

I live my life on the world stage in my mind, in my intentions.

The New York Times helps me to live my life on the world stage because I read it every week and am reminded and educated that the world is not small, it is not bland, it is not easy. The world is not simple and smooth. The chances for disaster are there every moment, in your own backyard as much as in far flung travel. Shit can go wrong. 

But there are constant opportunities for betterment, for colossal kindness and deep understanding.

And there are the high highs of triumph in your field of endeavor.

I want to join my peers, my club, my cronies, on the positive pages of the New York Times one Sunday before I die.

That's a wish stated. Universe? God? Are you listening?

one on one conversations yesterday

I was invited out for lunch yesterday by another songwriter who is from Minneapolis. He was delightful company and he gave credit where credit is due which is something songwriters sometimes aren't good at. He was encouraging to me and he was inspiring in his own honesty, humor, and enthusiasm. I got to order the salmon scramble at The Longfellow Grill which is one of my very favorite things to eat anywhere any time. All in all a great lunch.

In the evening I had wine and cheese...too much wine and too much cheese...on Rob's wonderful front porch, with a trusted friend I hadn't seen since before the August tour.

This friend is the person who had a key to Rob's house while we were gone for most of the month. She checked on the house and made sure the mailbox didn't overflow. She made sure my car was okay and that the inside of the house wasn't taken over by wasps or squirrels or squatters...unlikely but you never know. 

When we took the two planes, a train, and finally a bus, and then walked the last few blocks to Rob's house after twenty-four hours of traveling and weeks of being on the road in Europe, we walked in to find the kitchen fully stocked with one wonderful treat after another. The refrigerator was full with fresh juices and milk, cheese and eggs, meats and vegetables. 

This friend is able to think of what others would like and act on that out of love. She is able to think of what it would be like to walk into the house for the first time in many weeks and find the kitchen magically and wondrously stocked with goodies.

What a great person she is.

So last night she and I sat together on the front porch for six hours and through two bottles of white wine and we talked of many things, her work and mine, our children, our men, our hopes and dreams.

It was lovely.

I consider yesterday to have been a great day. Two meetings with two inspiring people. I wish I hadn't drank so much wine and eaten so much cheese, but sometimes you just gotta let yourself have it.

scammers

I am very aware lately of people who are scammers.

I will immediately add myself into this discussion.

Yesterday I had the MN State Tax men over for tea...okay, I didn't offer them tea....I actually didn't even offer them water....truth.

I was feeling like a scammer because they were pointing out that a public funding campaign for making a new album is a cute fun little donation thing if your music is a cute fun hobby, but once you have declared to the world that you are turning yourself into an international superstar, then that money is taxable income. Damn. They got me there.

But then I asked them about another donation in question, and this one was made privately, by someone who just wanted to help, and who wrote a letter on my behalf stating that the money was truly a one time gift with no strings attached. But they were saying that because this person wants me to succeed as an artist that they had a vested interest in my "business" and are then considered a contributor to my taxable income.  Shut. Up. 

So these guys are representing the State and they are sitting on Rob's front porch...yes I had them sit on the porch....and they are trying to get me in trouble on a technicality. 

All I can say is scamming goes both ways and I hate it. People can move the line on just about anything to suit their interests.

I really want to get as straight as possible in my life as it pertains to telling the truth.

My daughter Nina just did tarot readings for everyone in our family when we were all hanging out at Rob's house last weekend.

My reading cautioned me to take the high road.

Take the high road.

There is always a low road beaconing. You know it.

Watching other people take the low road can be really sickening.

Watching yourself take the low road is sickening too.

I had a conversation this week with a guy who wants to play shows with me. He wasn't taking no for an answer.

The guy's musical performances are really poor quality in my humble opinion.

I wanted to get mad and tell the guy I think he and his cronies are a bunch of hacks.

Ha.

That would not have gone over well, especially because if a person plays shows and persists in playing shows, the person thinks their performances have merit and so they straight up will not believe you if you tell them they suck and that they should go home and practice more before they ask to open for you again. They just get mad and say you're mean.

So I took the high road and said that I didn't think their music was a good fit for me to be the opener for my shows and I didn't elaborate even when pressed.

The truth. Tell the truth. But don't say anything if you don't have anything nice to say.

Who am I to tell another artist they aren't good at what they do?

So many people have told me I'm not good enough. So many people have told me I'm too old. I just keep trying to improve on what I have to offer and keep trying to downplay things I can't change.

There's no point in scamming somebody and saying "yeah, I'd love to have you open sometime but right now all my shows are spoken for and there are no open slots."

That would be a lie.

And what a tangled web we weave when first we try to deceive. There's a saying that goes like that.

So, I'm not scamming anybody and I am going to resist the urge to get out of things gracefully with white lies.

"I'm sorry, I'm not available that evening." "I'm sorry, I'm not comfortable meeting you alone for a drink." "I'm sorry but I think you're a total creep and I don't need another stalker." "I'm sorry but I'm leaving the country for a long time so we can't set a later date." "I'm sorry but even though you're saying you want to meet for drinks to discuss how you can help me with my music career I feel that if I agree to meet you you're probably just going to hit on me and I hate when people do that, so no." "I'm sorry but you don't get to ask me whether I'm in a relationship because whether I am or not doesn't affect you because you would still not be a candidate."

There are a lot of mean things people can say.

I have an arsenal of mean things on the tip of my tongue.

But just because I don't want to be a scammer does not give me license to run rough shod over people who are just trying to be nice to me.

The truth is your best defense, but kindness is your shield and your sword.

Kindness is the only thing that wins the day.

Kindness means not saying anything hurtful.

Nothing hurtful ever needs to be said.

Never.

So no lies and no hurtful statements.

How hard is that, right?

 

 

 

Going out more

For Fall 2018 I have an idea about going out more in Minneapolis.

There are some pretty cool things going on at the museums especially that I would probably be into.

I usually stay home a lot because in between my own shows I become a hermit.

I am so talked out from seeing all the fans and friends I love at shows and on tour that when I'm at Rob's house in Minneapolis I usually kind of hide out.

But this Fall is different.

There's a feeling of promise, of rejuvenation, in the air I feel.

I have cleared my path of some situations that were making me uncomfortable.

I have made my intentions clear to those around me and to the Lord above.

Right now, I'm giving myself and the Universe time to plot and plan and make 2019 my best year yet.

I will have the energy to go out and have plain old fun I think!

I want to wear a boss outfit in my new prairie goddess vibe, bring a tiny beaded bag or my mother's gorgeous gold chain mail lame bag from 1970, and go to all the cool stuff other people have set up for our amusement this Fall.

Get your game on Minneapolis. I'm coming to your show!

be fabulous

I believe that everything good will come to you if you just believe.

If you believe that you are a child of God or at least that you are no worse than the lilies of the field, then why shouldn't everything you need come to you and why shouldn't you allow yourself to be fabulous.

I saw a facebook post from a professional vocalist I know and love in Minneapolis yesterday.

She was writing a long post about what people should do to have a good life.

One of her things was something like.....know the difference between needs and wants. You do not need those $150 new shoes.

Haha. I think that's probably true.

But since I'm into fashion right now, what's the matter with wanting the $150 new shoes?

A paradox of humanity, and this is only one of many, is that we can figure out how to make all kinds of cool stuff to adorn ourselves.

We are constantly making all kinds of nifty new stuff to wear to catch each others' eyes.

And most of us are appreciators of all the nifty stuff our fellow humans are making.

Some of us think you're a sucker if you fall prey to wanting all the crap you're being sold.

But it's our fellow humans making this stuff and some of it is gorgeous and useful and really really neat.

I can't say that we're meant to live austere lives when we know how to embroider and weave and design and sew such groovy stuff.

The Native Americans as well as most other indigenous peoples adorned themselves with beautiful suedes and feathers, furs and beads.

I love to look at Native American clothing displays and see the tiny hand done stitches.

Incredible. Everything they made was one hundred percent biodegradable, part of their Earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

If you had the time you could sew yourself all kinds of gorgeous stuff to put on and ride around the countryside on your horse looking like a bad ass super boss.

Steven Tyler takes this approach I think.

My children and I saw him come into a restaurant just off The Park in Manhattan once.

He walked in to get himself and some friends a table.

He was speaking with the maitre d'.

Mister Tyler had feathers tied into his long hair that evening. He had a silk scarf flung loosely about his neck. He had rings on his fingers, and for all we knew, bells on his toes.

A lesser man wearing the same things might have looked ridiculous...or insane.

But in the case of Mister Tyler, he looked wonderful.

One of my daughters remarked that he looked like the most interesting and important person in the whole room right then, and I agreed.

If you adorn yourself out of joy and a keen sense of self, you can't go wrong.

No you probably don't need those $150 shoes, but you do need shoes, and if you can afford them, why not give yourself the shoes you really want?

Why not?

The picture below is lifted from The Sartorialist, Scott Schuman's wonderful contribution to our society.

This was Willy van Rooy and her little son Alejandro in 1970.

Willy is effortless and beautiful in clothes that are fashion and not fashion, clean but not perfectly pressed, well designed and well executed but certainly not fancy. She looks eccentric maybe but not crazy.

My oldest daughter sent me this photo a few days ago to say that she knew what I was getting at when I was describing my new ideas for how to dress this Fall hanging out in Minneapolis being the Prairie Goddess, staying home at Rob's house writing books and songs and poems and stories, drawing pictures, gardening, going to other peoples' performances and events...and plotting my next moves on the world stage.

 

fashion statement: Prairie Goddess

I want to say that I am into some shifting fashion statements right now and I love when that happens.

I am "repurposing" some longer hemlines for Fall by pairing Seventies style higher heel hippie boots and wide legged velvet pants with tied up band t shirts and my mod hip length corduroy jacket.

I am also wearing chunky heeled lace up boots with long dresses for a slightly Victorian era, slightly menswear inspired, prairie goddess vibe.

Prairie Goddess pretty much sums up my Fall 2018 fashion goals.

It's not about shopping, it's about using a closet full of gorgeous stuff in new fun ways that make me feel happy and fabulous in my present habitat. 

See you out and about on the trails and the paths and the highways and byways of this Midwestern Paradise this Fall as I enjoy some much needed no-travel time with my dog and my man and my mom and my kids and my friends, and you.

Tall tales on Lake Vermilion yesterday

I didn't write a post yesterday because I got up at 6am and drove up to Lake Vermilion on the far North Cook end of the lake.

They were having an antique boat show.

I have been delighted to know a great architect named Dale Mulfinger for these past fifteen years or so.

He writes excellent coffee table style art books about beautiful cabins in this Northern region. His books are highly regarded internationally and he is himself a treasure to the region if not the world.

When Dale Mulfinger read my book about the girl called Sidney he was reading it in his own cabin on Lake Vermilion and he knew that Lake Vermilion was where I had run away to in 1978.

He wrote to me last Spring saying that he had just finished the book and thought it was really great.

I was so happy to hear from him and to know that he had read my book!

During the past Winter and Spring Dale had spent a lot of time consulting with a family who were rebuilding an old cabin on Lake Vermilion. 

The family has since been finishing up this project and are proud of ther beautiful new place.

They recently invited Dale over to thank him for his efforts and to revel together in the fruits of their labors on the project.

Dale came over to visit them and as they were all sitting on the brand new screened in porch Dale thought to tell one of their teenage daughters about a book he had read recently about a girl who lived through the winter in a cabin on this very same lake.

But the father and owner of the new property had already heard something about the daughter of the woman he had purchased this old cabin from that he had now torn down, but had lovingly used much of the original woodwork and many things from the old cabin to make the new have a sense of history. Suddenly the owners of the new place and Dale realized that the Sidney book was about this very property where they were sitting. And moreover, Dale suddenly realized that he had been reading his friend Courtney's account of living in this place during the very time period that he was helping with it's renovation.

I got an email from Dale and I was so shocked and thrilled by the wonderful coincidence.

Dale had already invited me to come up over Labor Day weekend and do a book signing, the two of us, with his books about cabins and my book about my cabin adventure, at the antique boat show.

Now I was going to tie in an invitation to go meet the owners of my old cabin property, and to have the fun of seeing Dale's beautiful design work interwoven with the original charm of my Swedish grandfather's old homestead.

Well, so yesterday I drove up there at 6am and arrived in plenty of time for the 11am start time of the boat show.

Everything went great. The boats were all beautiful old Crisscrafts and Thompsons and I love those old wooden boats so it was great to see them.

There was an older couple singing cover tunes the whole afternoon on the outdoor stage.

Dale and I had a nice spot for our table right by the water.

I brought twenty books and I sold them all!

I sold as many cds too!

It was a great experience.

Then I went to see my grandfather's old property made into a new modern home, but with a very genuine effort to maintain as much of the original feel as possible.

The owners wanted to hear stories of my family and stories of my life up there.

I told them what I could muster, but there is so much to say and it's too hard to say it all in one sitting.

Plus there were some myths and rumors that I had to try to dispel as well. I have been working hard to become an international superstar and a living legend and in some ways, at least as far as that old cabin story goes, I may have achieved something close to notoriety. But people talk, and people remember things different ways.

Other people had already been up there, sort of beaten me to it, telling these new owners stories about me and my people.

Some of what has been said seems like tall tales and fabrications to me.

So, the punchline of this long story is, just between you and me: damn, I am so glad I have made those albums and am writing those books! I am leaving my own portrait of a family, of a life, of a legendary tale of mythic proportion.

I am so happy to be able to say to anyone that I have my version of what I lived through and what I know and I am sticking to my version. 

The rest of the world is welcome to tell their own tales, write their own stories, sing their own songs.

Knock yourselves out boys and girls but you can't touch this.

Power of positive thinking prevails

Yesterday I was aware all day that I have so much to be grateful for right now.

My oldest daughter Nina is here in Minneapolis for a few days for her birthday.

My beautiful Ava is in Denver and has two rescue dogs who couldn't be left for the weekend so we aren't going to see her but I am planning to go to Denver to play some solo shows and visit her this fall.

Jordan my boy is flying in today just for a few days as well.

So two out of three ain't bad.

Yesterday afternoon, Nina and I drove out to the western suburbs to pick up my Mom. We brought her back to Rob's house. I got to fire up my barbeque grill and make a great dinner.

There were fresh roses in little vases in Rob's living room and my mother paid for a glorious birthday cake from our old favorite bakery.

I bought Nina a kimono for her birthday and she unwrapped it and put it on and it was divine on her.

Why am I telling you all this?

Partly to say that I am starting to live the way I know how to live, to make things special for the people I love, to make things nice.

I have always known how to do these things, but when I am afraid and when money becomes "my rival" I can't be my best self.

Now Money is my Partner and I am working respectfully with Money to be able to give, to do, to make, to offer.

And I am grateful that this time around, Money is what I have generated by doing what I love the way I think it should be done, and in collaboration with many helpful hard working colleagues of all kinds all around the globe.

Thanks friends. Have a beautiful weekend of Love and Abundance.

Porchfest in Minneapolis last night was a blast!

Wow, I had such a fun night last night in the Minneapolis neighborhood known as East Harriet playing an event they call Porchfest.

I was lucky to be playing two performances at two different houses so I got a good feel for the whole thing.

This was a rescheduled event from July when big storms came through and the event had to be cancelled.

The new date was not as well publicized and there was talk at the beginning that the separate little events scattered around the neighborhood may not get much of an audience pulled together.

My first show was at 6pm sharp and I think people were still getting home from work or eating dinner, so although there were people, and nice fun people at that, my feeling was hat the evening was just getting going and I was just sort of priming the pump.

I played both performances with just the Black Martin, as he is officially being called these days, and with no microphone or any electricity at all. Blissful quiet as people sat on lawn chairs and I played my songs, no amplification needed.

I sold one of my "Sidney" books to a person who was not from the neighborhood but had come especially to see me, and that guy bought my new album too. Thanks guy! I hope you love what you bought.

A few others bought cds as well and I left feeling happy, set to play the next house.

The second house had their event set up in their back patio area which gave a bit more of a concert feel.

I was their third of three songwriters performing, all were acoustic guitar and without a microphone.

I got to hear the girl before me perform the second half of her set and she was captivating and clever with her lyrics and her delivery.

I liked her a lot.

She brought her own fan club too, which was cool.

There were maybe thirty people at this second house.

So I got to play last, and as I started in playing my first song, I felt immediately that this was a chance to do a real concert. People were silent and calm, nobody seemed like they had anywhere they would rather be. That's a great feeling when everybody is right there with you. So I decided to give them the full Courtney Yasmineh concert that I usually reserve for the bigger shows when I have the touring duo with Rob G on stage. I usually tell my stories and really present the songs with more integrity in the duo concerts. But this is the great thing about last night: I played the solo patio set as if it were the duo show and it worked. I have always thought I need Rob there to make my performance good enough to really connect at a very strong frequency with an audience, and these people were all total strangers, no one had barely even heard of me before last night. But my solo concert delivery worked. A breakthrough!

I sold four books and many cds. I autographed everybody's stuff they bought. The owners invited me into their house afterwards and I told them about my house concerts and said that maybe they would consider doing a house concert with me this winter.

So, a successful and really uplifting night, playing as part of a small neighborhood event, which held no guarantees of greatness, but ended up being GREAT!

is there enough wealth in the world for everyone?

I have been reading books about manifesting positivity and health, wealth, success.

Why not, right?

Since I'm a person trying to achieve big goals right now, why not find out what other people are saying about how to succeed.

One thing people talk about is "removing mental blocks you have about wealth and success".

I didn't think I had any, but I see now that I do...or hopefully....I did.

I was thinking about people I know who have a lot of money and I was thinking that they were sitting on their pile of wealth while they knew damn well that other people were starving. They should have used every last cent they had to help others. They should have shared everything they had with the people who surely helped get them where they were along the way. They shouldn't keep any of it. 

Okay...maybe.

I know a guy who bought a patent for $5000 from an inventor, started a company that mass produced and sold that cool product to the public, and went on to sell his company for $30 million. He didn't go back and tell the inventor he would split the $30 million with him. He didn't split it with the workers in his factory either. I know these things to be true because I asked him.

I want to get over this story because for some time now this story has defined my ideas of wealth and people who have wealth.

Help me reframe this Lord!

Is wealth infinite in this world the way the positivity gurus say it is?

Can any homeless person put their mind to it and manifest a mountain of wealth?

Maybe a person down on their luck can change, in the sense that, if they can rethink who they are to themselves, and stay on a healthy positive track of thinking, they might be able to change their circumstances. We do read stories often of someone staying at a shelter for the homeless and finding a way to start anew and make a good life for themselves. We know that's possible or at least not impossible.

Do we know that wealth is infinite and anyone can manifest their own fortune? Do we know that if someone can manifest their own fortune that they are not stealing what they acquire from other people?

Tracy Chapman has a song that says, "...oh they tell me, I still have time to save my soul they tell me. Renounce all, renounce all those material things you gained by exploiting other human beings...."

Those lyrics are burned like a branding iron seared them onto the inner lining of my psyche.

That way of thinking is true if you are a slave owner or you are an employer who keeps your employees down in any way.

But companies like Patagonia and Chobani yogurt aren't doing that.

Last Sunday I read the success story of the owner and founder of Chobani yogurt company.

That guy and his father were shepherds before they came to America.

I don't remember all the details, but the guy has a great company, a lot of happy employees, and billions of dollars of his own.

Does that guy feel bad about being successful? No. Does he feel guilty? No. Does he feel obligated to do what he can for others? Yes, and he does. But does he have to give away all of his own belongings and wealth, like Buddha did, to be a good guy? Does he actually have to be unsuccessful and struggling and poor to be a good guy? Does he have to be unsuccessful and struggling and misunderstood to be cool? Ha.

I knew some guys who were doctors and they were becoming very wealthy off saving other people's lives, but the people who had to pay for their services were struggling and sometimes going without treatments because the doctors were charging such high amounts and getting wealthier and wealthier. This scenario is still happening in parts of the American health care system. This seems bad to me.

Justice and equality are good words that I want to uphold in my daily life. 

If I could help someone else manifest prosperity in their own life, would their prosperity be taking anything away from anyone else?

Let's just say that the person I help is an artist of some kind and they become successful with their art.

If they don't hurt anybody to the best of their knowledge along the way, do they get to be successful and have abundance in their lives and not feel guilty and not go to Hell when they die?

Do they have to give it all away, or can they have a beautiful sacred life of God's abundance and live out their days in comfort and joy?

There was a pear tree full of perfect ripe pears in Heike's garden where I stayed in Germany last month. Perfect with no pesticides, no contaminants. Heike had given the tree lots of encouragement and love for many years and now the pear tree was giving it's all. We could go to the tree and take enough pears to make a tart, or take one pear to eat on the spot. The tree offered it's bounty to us. When the pears were all harvested and the tree was bare, the tree would certainly not mourn. The beautiful brave little tree would have the faith and wisdom to know that another Spring would come, another summer would come, another season of ripe pears would come. The tree manifested it's own wealth and bounty from the Sun and the Earth.

The pear tree lives a perfect life. All good. No guilty conscience. The pear tree creates and then shares unconditionally and with no holding back. The pear tree is given all it needs by Heike and by God and the pear tree bears fruit. The pear tree is not ashamed to be covered in the delicious delectable perfect pears, decked out head to toe in it's own splendor. And the pear is not afraid when it gives everything it's got for a few short weeks, gives everything it worked to create over it's lifetime, over the past year. The pear tree knows there will be more, and it will revel in it's own productivity in this time, in the peak of it's life. The pear tree will grow old, the pear tree will die. Why not be fabulous while it can be? How dare the pear tree not be fabulous when it is a child of God and it's life is a gorgeous gift to the world? 

Amen.

 

believe it's all coming to you

I believe it's all coming to me.

That's a power of positive thinking kind of thing to say.

Some people hate that kind of thing.

I love it.

I used to think that way without knowing what I was thinking.

I used to picture what my new Fall wardrobe for school was going to be like. I would cut out pictures from Seventeen magazine and even from my mother's Vogue magazine, and from Elle magazine later on when I started buying more fashion magazines. I cut out pictures and I schemed about ways to get the clothes I already had to look like the outfits I loved. I usually decided there were one or two new things I would need to get the new look going. If I could I would buy the one or two things and just add them in with my older stuff. This is still what I'm doing with my clothes.

I really really love clothes and fashion. I don't care what you think of this statement. If this statement makes you squirm then you may want to examine what your ideas are about vanity or superficiality. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bob Dylan, all the cool cats had their sartorial vibe going on. Part of popular music is fashion. I LOVE that. For me it's less about trying to look sexy and much more about trying to communicate awesomeness. Awesomeness is the goal. Awesome like Hiawatha, Pocahontas, Billy The Kid, Annie Oakley. These people dressed for success.

Also, I envision the sunroom with the snap on gas fireplace and the matte chamois yellow tile floor that I want to add on to Rob's house. I have my writing desk out in Rob's garage and I swear to God I am going to add on the sunroom and put my big wonderful desk in the front window which will go almost to the floor so my little dog can watch people go by on the street while I'm writing. And there will be a very sturdy new pine daybed with a trundle that pulls out for anyone who wants to stay overnight if the guest room is already spoken for. There will be a main floor small bathroom. There will be a screened in porch off the back. The huge old tree will finally get it's thousand dollar pruning that it desperately needs. My gardening efforts will be paying off and the back yard will be beautiful. 

I will go on tour more and more and be better and better.

I will write more books and record more albums.

Everyone I know and love will benefit from these projects in many different ways.

I believe it's all coming to me.

Believe achieve.

Street performance today on Nicollet Mall at noon!

I can't go back

I want to tell you a bunch of stories from the road, but I can't go back.

I've never been much for living in the past.

I am not particularly sentimental.

I do not save old concert ticket stubs.

I like to plan out my day and be psyched about executing my plan.

I get really disappointed if I don't fulfill the day's wishlist.

Everything on the wishlist is about preparing for a better future.

My head is always in the clouds of the what will be.

If I'm exercising, it's because it feels great psychologically and physically, but it's also because I am always hoping for a new improved better than ever me.

I have photos from this recent Europe tour.

I want to share them with you and tell you stories about things that happened.

But it's hard for me to shift into thinking about the past, even the recent past, because I get uncomfortable about it.

A guy on Facebook sent me a message yesterday. He's a fan in Minneapolis. He wrote to me saying that he thinks it's really cool that I'm still out there performing. He thinks it's awesome that I'm still doing these Europe tours. He thinks it's great that I'm still putting out new recordings. And he ended this with "and I really think you're still one of the best bands in Minneapolis".

Thanks buddy.

I am grateful for his support and for his kindness in taking the time to write to me these encouraging words.

But since this is my blog and I can say whatever the fuck I want, I will say that this guy did me the favor of reminding me that other people cannot see what I see in my brain about where my life is going.

They can't and they don't and it's not their fault.

This guy seems to see my career in music as something that peaked five years ago and he thinks it's great that I am able to maintain some level that he thinks I reached.

To an onlooker, the level I'm at is what I have achieved and there's no way to see whether I am standing at the top of my little mountain of life or whether I am only half way up my little private mountain. I might be standing halfway on the trail of my mountain and this could suggest that I have been to the top, and I am coming back down. Maybe the look on the mountain climber's face is the only clue. If the mountain climber is smiling, who cares whether they'r on their way up or down or just hanging out on a sunny plateau. They're happy. If the mountain climber is miserable, we can assume that they're taking the wrong path or they've depleted their resources or they've injured themselves on the climb.

We are all mountain climbers, needless to say.

I think of Nancy Pelosi at moments like this. She raised her five children and started her political career and was Speaker Of The House and becoming a grandmother. When her kids were little if she had told people she saw herself becoming Speaker Of The House, they may not have believed she would be able to do it. I like to consider myself the Nancy Pelosi of rock and roll.

For the record then, just between you and me, I am about two thirds of the way up and I am climbing with a big fat grin on my face for the world to see.

I will end with a photo of our Cafe Bizon show in Brussels. I will add that the professional photographer who has come to several of my shows at this venue told me that the photos were "easier to take" this time because I was looking better than ever.

Hell yeah.

 

be more like my dog

I am trying to be more like my dog these first few days after returning to Minneapolis.

I have a bad feeling hanging over me that is the torturous dead weight of jet lag coupled with the keen brain freeze of ambitious passion.

It's like my mind is screaming, "Hit the ground running! This is your time! Capitalize on what you've accomplished! Go go go! Do do do!"

It's also like my body is pleading, in slow motion, "Please, no more, I cannot move another inch. I hurt too much to even sleep. I am so over everything. I want to stay in bed forever."

The combination is excruciating existential malaise.

Or just plain yuck.

Whenever the feelings become too much these last few days I think about turning to the bottle but I know it would just make things worse, or "take to my bed but my dreams are a curse".

(The above is a passage from a song of mine called Survival Time.)

What is working is to play with my dog Aidan.

His attitude and philosophy are the best medicine.

He cares a lot about a few great things.

He likes to play with his toys, wrestle on the living room rug, go for long walks along the Mississippi.

He likes to eat good food.

He likes to be with his favorite people.

Okay, I like those things too.

I have decided that at least for the next few days until this transitional storm blows over, I am doing whatever he does.

Short of going to the bathroom outside,

I am leading the life of a dog.

 

 

 

 

Little handmade books

I am making more of my little handmade books.

People are liking them.

It takes me about three hours to make one.

The little Moleskine books cost about $3.00 per book.

I charged 10 euros for each one on my most recent Europe tour and they all sold out in the first three or four shows.

Now I am charging $20 for each one and $25 for custom versions.

One very wonderful enthusiast has ordered a special edition version to honor his beautiful twelve year old dog.

I am happy to make these custom versions too.

But I am still pondering how to go global with these.

Maybe the answer is to chose ten different titles and make those ten into printed published sets that can be purchased individually or as a full packaged set.

We shall see.

In the meantime I love them, I look forward to sitting down to make one.

Time stands still when I have a beautiful environment and contemplative silence and a good fine point marker and a pristine little Moleskine book of thirty blank pages in my hand.

Create and you shall know God.

so much to tell you

I have so much to tell you.

I've been away from this blog for almost an entire month and I genuinely missed it.

I am a person who writes to process things.

I am a person who tells stories to entertain and to illuminate that which I see to be Holy.

I see the hand of God played out before my eyes a thousand times a day and I want to share that with you.

It will either entertain you or inspire you.

If it disgusts you and makes you decide that I'm crazy, well then good luck with that perspective.

One of my past husbands was like that and look where it got him.

I hope you know I purposely throw in lines like the one above to entertain you, to add a little spice to my writing so you will be surprised.

It's all for you.

I am an entertainer.

I love to surprise and delight and challenge my fellow humans as best I can.

I am proud to finally, at fifty-seven years of age, own my desire to please.

A people pleaser I have always been.

A true entertainer I have become.

What I am finding is that I don't feel as trapped to be a people pleaser off stage now that I am leaving 120% on the stage as an entertainer. When it comes time to get paid at the end of the night I am all business and I am there to be sure I am rewarded as I deserve. The people pleasing has been accomplished so I can just be straight with people off stage now.

Wow.

So many lessons learned in these last three weeks on tour.

Fifteen shows in eighteen days.

We slept where ever anyone would put us up in order to make the money work out so Rob could get paid enough to pay his mortgage and all his bills when we got back, and I had enough to cover at least the basics upon my return.

People helped us along the way. People helped us a lot. 

I will try to tell you stories as I get back into this daily practice of writing privately to the public.

I am able to say as much as I want to here.

This is my little tiny corner of the internet and I am free here.

This is much more fun for me than writing in a journal now because when I'm not on tour I miss the entertaining, the connecting, the storytelling, the humor.

I'm so grateful for this message in a bottle format I have here and I do so hope you will enjoy this daily blog with me again.

Write a comment if you feel inclined. Say whatever you want. "This is our house, these are our rules.." as Miley likes to say.

disappointment haunted all my dreams

"disappointment haunted all my dreams" is a line from a song I loved as a child..."I'm A Believer" was a Monkees song before it was a Smashmouth Shrek song and I love it both ways.

But that line "disappointment haunted all my dreams" came to me this morning and I decided to update my friends and fans with this post.

I had decided not to post anything here during this upcoming Europe tour because I thought it would just be too hard to keep up with it.

We leave tomorrow morning, and now I'm thinking I don't want to live without this daily connection to the people who care about me.

It's weird to think of this blog that way because it's on my own website, in like my tiny tiny corner of the world wide web, and most people don't give me feedback...as you can see from the absence of comments for the most part....but I do actually get a lot of feedback about this blog in everyday life. People say to my face quite often that they love my blog.

During a recent live radio interview the DJ told me on the air that he loves my blog and that he thinks the writing form is very poetic and creative.

All of this might be enough reason to not take a break, but then something unforeseen happened two nights ago and I realized that this blog is "who" I turn to now. I seek solace by writing in this blog.

So, here we go.

Disappointment struck late afternoon Monday.

Rob was finishing the mixes for my new cover tunes album.

We were all set to begin hand burning them.

We were both thinking that these recordings, with the help of our friend and colleague Jon James, had turned out to be really special.

Rob's computer system crashed Monday afternoon.

The rest of the night until the next morning he worked trying everything to retrieve the files.

Believe it or not, of the several projects he had been finishing up before the tour, mine was the only one he couldn't save.

My recordings are gone.

I waited all day yesterday thinking he would miraculously find a solution.

I called him yesterday afternoon and he said the hard drive is being sent to an expert in LA who can sometimes retrieve files from a damaged hard drive. This will take about a month. And if they are able to retrieve the files they charge $500. If they can't, they charge nothing.

Rob is a very serious professional music producer.

He has never lost anybody's recordings completely like this in thirty years.

I've made eight albums and countless demos with Rob and nothing has ever been lost.

I rode my bicycle to Uptown Minneapolis yesterday.

I took the long way, two hours of riding each direction.

I was planning to be burning and packaging my beautiful new recordings for fans in Europe.

I rode to my favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities.

I broke my vows of frugality and I got myself a glass of cava and the Salade Nicoise. And the pomme frites.

I sat at an outdoor table alone in stunned silence.

I called Rob at his studio once more and said, "Are you absolutely sure that nothing can be done?"

He said he was very very sorry.

I said I knew it wasn't his fault.

I asked him about the other projects he had been working on.

He said all of them had been saved elsewhere or had been sent out in various states of mixing to the clients.

I had never asked for Rob to send me mixes because it was such a tight schedule we were on and it was all turning out so beautifully I didn't have any reason to do second listens by myself.

Those recordings were great.

Bloody hell.

Can I sing them again? Yes.

Can we start over fairly easily? Yes.

Can we possibly get the files back from the expert's efforts in LA? Possibly.

So, it's all fine, really.

Do I have my new little books, plus a whole box of my novels, plus cds of six of my eight albums, plus my red vinyl records all to sell on this tour? Yes.

Everything is fine.

But also, there's a strange silence around this sudden death of a project.

It's as if a sudden vacuum has been created where there was movement and noise and excitement.

Now there is just silence.

I sat at my favorite outdoor table at my favorite french style cafe yesterday and I contemplated the silence.

I thought of how my mother always says that God's timing is perfect.

I thought about the one time I ever considered having an abortion....how, that morning when I decided to go to the abortion clinic for a consultation appointment I had made, how the road was closed that morning, and how I couldn't find my driver's license, and how suddenly the engine light started flashing on my dashboard, how the traffic lights were out and just kept flashing red when I got near the clinic. I never went in that day. I obeyed the signs. I always obey the signs. I miscarried that very early and unwanted pregnancy soon after and I got down on my knees and thanked God. I believe I was given a reprieve because I obeyed.

You can think I'm crazy if you want, but this is how I've lived my life.

So, these recordings.

What will happen?

They will be retrieved while we're on tour and we will have them again by end of August....or.......we will start over on this project in September.

But what will I have gained? I will have a new appreciation of the project either way because it was taken away from me.

I will have a heightened sense of how precious these efforts are..to me.

I will have another chance to decide how to share these recordings with the world.

Maybe bringing them out on tour the way I was going to wasn't the best way to present them anyway.

Maybe they deserve something more.

We shall see.

I will obey.

I must.

I have no choice but to be gracious and resilient in the face of God's will...or the random acts of Fate...whichever you prefer to call it.

I am not in control.

gearing up for summer europe tour!

From tonight through the rest of this week we are gearing up for our summer Europe tour.

Rob is mixing the new cover tunes album tonight.

Tomorrow we start burning cds and putting together the packaging ourselves....well, this part will be mostly me because Rob will be working with other clients this week finishing other artist's projects before he leaves town for three weeks.

I may not write these daily blogs again until I'm back from the tour.

I feel like the daily blog is to keep me feeling connected to people when I'm home in Minneapolis working in solitude much of the time on new writing.

So, this is it!

I feel that this has been a real breakthrough period for me and I'm looking forward to playing liberated, joyful, glorious shows every night.

If the house concert in Minneapolis last night was any indication, the fifteen shows in eighteen days in Germany and beyond should be a total blast!

I wish you all a beautiful last month of summer and I'll catch up with you on social media until I return to Minneapolis!

Love,

Courtney

preparing for this tour

Let's see, what do we have left to do before we leave on this second tour in Europe of 2018?

We've been in Rob's recording studio every evening working on my new cover tunes album.

We love it.

Rob has to mix the songs, which requires some late night hours because we are doing this project speculatively so his paying clients get the prime time hours. The mixing process for a great producer like Rob means going over everything with a fine tooth comb to be sure the result is just what we were hoping for.

We will be burning the cds ourselves on Rob's machine at the studio, or on an attachment for my laptop at the house.

We hope to make about one hundred and fifty to sell on tour.

We have a printer that will print our cd design onto plain white cds so I don't know which process happens first but it's a two part thing to make the cds themselves.

I have to get the cd cover and back cover printed on plain paper and then cut them and stuff them into clear velum sleeves we purchased for this project.

I am writing as many handmade little books as I can as well.

I hope to have a collection of maybe thirty of these for the merch table.

We've rented a bigger car because we have a superfan tour manager riding along on the tour this time.

Petra lives in Bremen and she'll be accompanying us, introducing the concert each night in German!

Also, she will be passing the hat for us, and managing the merch table.

We love that she's willing to do all this and be part of this very DIY tour.

We won't have a home base on this tour, which is better because we will just stay where we play and won't drive as much to get back to a home base we are paying for somewhere else.

But it also means we are living out of our car and counting on the venues primarily to provide us with a place to sleep each night after the show.

This tour is about trust.

I am trusting Rob, Petra, the venue owners, the fans.

One of our wonderful German friends has offered us a room in her flat to come back to if we need it throughout the tour.

This is our landing net.

This tour is about trust.

It's like throwing my body out into my crowd and believing they will hold me up and help me achieve this dream.

It feels right.

 

 

Feeling good is the key that unlocks all doors

Feeling good is the key that unlocks all doors.

I would not have believed this, and I never did believe this, until now.

I suppose you could interpret this as meaning feeling "good" as in feeling that you are virtuous.

You could also interpret it as meaning feeling "good" as in being on a personal high.

If the "high" is artificially induced, that will almost certainly come back to hurt you later, so it probably never means that.

I know what I mean by it.

I mean that I am finding out that if you really feel good..physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually...then you can do whatever you want with your life.

It's like the crabby gatekeepers of all things all smile at you and swing the gates wide open for you to pass.

Why?

Those crabby people who think they're the savvy critics in charge of who gets what in this world....those people.....are helpless in the face of joy and certainty.

It's not enough to say, "yeah well fuck you, I'm going to do this anyway and you can't stop me."

That doesn't really work.

What really works with the gatekeepers is to smile lovingly right into their doubting fearful eyes and reassure them that you are exactly the person they've been waiting for all along and that opening the gate for you is a treat, a joy, a pleasure.

"...I was caught up in a different time, my heroes have all been picked apart by people more savvy than me who say they know what it's all about. I want to break loose from this life and all the pain that comes with it, makes me a puppet, makes me a pauper, another gold miner for their love. Faces come, faces go, nothing matters but the songs we wrote, God give us the courage to get back out there and live a little more...."

These lyrics are from my own song called Ballad To My Other Self.

I didn't know what I was saying, but I knew this sounded right.

Now I know this is right.

It's not about the other people.

They are not holding you back.

If you are joyful and have certainty, they will join in the fun or at least step out of your way.

Feel good and make all your own dreams come true because not only is no one stopping you, everyone is just waiting for you to make it happen!

Love to all. It's chilly in Minneapolis this morning. 

my series of little handmade books

Last night a trusted friend and supporter came over and she saw my little series of books that I've been making for my tour.

She's the only person besides Rob who's taken a good look at them.

Rob has been saying that it's wrong that if someone buys one I have no way of ever reproducing that one because they are all totally unique. The friend last night had the same feeling.

She is going to help me figure out a way to maybe have them printed.

It would be so cool to have a collection of them.

Then they could be sold individually but also maybe in sets of five different ones with a ribbon around them.

They're pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.

Hopefully we can come up with a solution before the tour...which begins next week!

Otherwise, I will be selling all the originals, which is pretty awesome too.

I mean, as long as I'm alive and able to write, I can make more.

But each one has little drawings, poems, stories, quotes, and I don't even remember what's in most of them already!

I hope we find a way to print them!

 

cover tunes album!

I have been wanting to record these songs for twenty years.

That says it all I suppose.

But to elaborate, I'm talking about a new album that I am making right now at Rob Genadek's Brewhut Recording Studio in Minneapolis.

One thing to say is that Rob has two studios in Mpls, and this is the smaller of the two that is less expensive because it's usually Rob's mixing suite that is just one room so there aren't the bigger costs of studio time for me to record there.

Since this album is being made speculatively as a collaboration between Rob and myself, Rob isn't charging me and we're both playing the instruments and singing, so there's no up front cost at all.

But last night we had a bassist/guitarist come in to help make the songs sound great.

Jon James has worked with many people and done songwriter projects of his own. He and I have worked together on my music for fifteen years.

When JJ arrived last night we talked about the songs I had chosen.

The three of us agreed that the songs have become a cohesive package already in my mind because I have been performing them for so many years. Played together as an album of Courtney Yasmineh music, they are lifted out of their own lexicon and remade into a narrative that is uniquely my own. It's bizarre to hear how this thing is shaping up into something of it's own.

None of the three of us wrote these songs, but we know them well, we've played them together on stages from Duluth to London to New Orleans to Amsterdam.

JJ played acoustic and electric guitars over what Rob and I already had played on drums and guitar for each song.

Rob and I loved what JJ added.

The recordings are coming alive as something I am calling "vintage Courtney Yasmineh", and we talked last night about the Northern Sound we think of when I say that. It's not Nashville, it's not Los Angeles, it's not New York, it's not Muscle Shoals.

I want to think of this sound the way we who revere Bob Dylan and his work think of the story of his Blood On The Tracks recordings. He had recorded the whole album in New York City, but he wasn't happy with the results, so a band was brought together in Minneapolis and the entire record was redone here. You can really hear the difference between the two sets of recordings.

There's some expression I like which says that geography is everything.

There are people in the music industry who talk about an artist's work having a sense of place.

Let's see if we can succeed in bringing these songs by great songwriters from other regions together into the framework of my own individual perspective as a woman whose life has been broadly informed by the world but who narrowly sees it all through the eyes of the girl in the cabin on the Canadian boarder in deepest winter, alone in a cabin at seventeen, in 1978.

That's what I want this to sound like.

I love this project.

I'm grateful to be working on this.

We plan to have DIY burned CDs for sale by August 1st!

This will be a very limited run. You can pre-order and it will be mailed to you on August 1st.

You can email me directly at cy@courtneyyasmineh.com or come to a show and buy one in the month of August!

Summer Europe Tour!

We are gearing up to hit the road next week, and the road is surprisingly leading back to Europe for a second string of fabulous summertime shows.

Only once before in the past ten years have we done two tours in Europe in one year.

In the past ten years we have been to Europe for my music eleven times and this will be my twelfth.

Amazing!

I had never been to Europe before all of this started with my music recordings.

In the beginning, with my first album, I got a lot of indie radio interest from Ireland, The UK, The Netherlands, Sweden.

I told Rob Genadek who was just beginning to work with me on a second album that I was getting radio play in Europe.

He said, "You need to get over there and play shows right away!"

I thought that was a crazy idea because I had never envisioned myself going to Europe for any reason and I was already in my mid forties.

But when the second album came out and was featured on Luftansa Airline's summer in-flight playlist, I started to think Rob was right.

By the time my third album "Beautiful Lonely" came out, we were ready when several of those songs got attention internationally.

We took my four piece band and we headed to Europe and the UK, with me, who had never been to any of these places, booking the shows myself.

In the eight or nine tours we did as a three and four piece rock band, there were some pretty dicey situations and some expensive mistakes, but all in all we had a lot of fun, we learned a lot, and I began to carve out a career for myself by sheer determination.

As you know, we also spent all the money from my divorce trying to lift this thing up off the ground.

But now we are flying and it seems like it was all worthwhile.

And here we are, returning twice in one year!

See you out and about in August in Europe!

I can't wait!

 

someone already pre-ordered the handmade book and the "cover songs" EP!

There's nothing better than the encouragement of others to spur you on!

Artists spend energy trying to block out competition and criticism.

But when positive feedback comes your way, you can soak it up like a growing tree loves a drenching rain.

Yesterday I received an email from a long time great music supporter and thankfully a fan of mine.

He wanted to pre-order the new "cover songs" EP and the new handmade book!

I am so grateful because these two new items will be available beginning August 1st and I have been wondering what kind of interest there will be.

So far so good!

I am thrilled to have someone asking for them already.

Only Rob has seen the little books I'm making, but he thinks they're pretty good.

He is saying I should make photos of all the pages of each one so that they could be replicated later.

Right now, each one is completely original with completely unique content, and because they're hand written too, they are impossible to recreate, so maybe I'll have to do what Rob is saying.

If they are well liked, I will sell them all and then I won't be able to recreate them for sure!

I think it's delightful that they're so small and so whimsical.

Each one is going to be sealed (after I take the photos I guess) with a small sticker so that you can't flip through them when you pick one out. You just have to go by the cover.

They each have a different title and the date that they were written on the cover. Inside, they have poems I write on the spot. They have little stories from my life. They have small drawings. They have quotes from my songs and the songs of my favorite writers.

If I take photos of them all, then we could choose the best ones or the best parts of each one, and they could be published as a collection. If there were maybe six different ones to choose from, that would be fun! For this tour my goal is to make twenty of them, but to maybe copy those twenty so there are doubles at least of every one and a total of forty to sell.

And the EP of cover songs is coming along great too!

This first edition will be probably eight songs. We're burning the CDs ourselves and making a simple cover design for this Europe tour.

If we all love these recordings, as I'm hoping we will, then when we get back to Minneapolis in late August we have time to add a few more songs to make maybe ten or twelve.

If I want to release the cover songs EP as a full album in October and distribute it to the world, then I will have to come up with the fees you have to pay to record other writer's songs.

The cost for this is around $100 per song, maybe a little less.

So, for now, it is going to be hand burned CDs available only at my shows or if you write to me personally and request one as my heroic fan did yesterday.

I don't want guys like John Prine and Bob Dylan having to go without their royalty check from me (said jokingly but with all due respect) so hopefully this EP will be well received so I can raise the money to pay the fees!

All in all, I could not be happier about the prospects for these two projects!

Here's a picture of one of the books I made last night....

vocal cords

Here's my vocal cords report.

I sang my first solo at the age of eight at the St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois during their Christmas Eve service. I sang from the balcony holding a battery lit candle and wearing a white choir robe. It's a big church, and it was standing room only.

I was not afraid. I couldn't wait to sing!

My mother was shocked and slightly horrified that she had a daughter who was, in her words, a show off. Ha!

My father wasn't horrified, he just didn't like organized religion and couldn't believe he was sitting in a pew. In protest, he kept his big Cuban cigar in his mouth throughout the service and when the ushers approached him he repeated, between gritted teeth, as I had seen him do so many times in so many places, "It's not lit."

Okay, so I didn't get a lot of encouragement from home about becoming a singer, but their encouragement never really mattered, I see this now. 

I cannot say that singing is my life any more than my hero Mister Dylan would say that about his long and illustrious career.

I would say that connecting with people and God over the singing of songs may be my life's work.

Now, adding the silence of the written word is also a great joy for me.

Thank God I like writing the silent word on the silent page, because it is saving my vocal cords.

Less talking, less singing, more communing with others. This is the balance my vocal cords need.

I lost my voice almost completely after forcing those last two shows of the recent Northwoods tour.

I could not cancel those shows although my voice had shut down almost completely due to a sudden onset of an upper respiratory infection. I barreled through and pushed my vocal cords, forced my vocal cords, to perform.

Well, that is not the way to have a singing career at any age.

I take a steroid inhaler daily for asthma. Asthma makes you hoarse sort of anyway. Get bronchitis, get short of breath, keep singing, lose your voice.

We are recording the final vocals this week for my wonderful old time cover tunes album.

So far Rob says we don't have any final takes because my voice is like eighty percent.

That last twenty percent is the stuff of greatness when it comes to recorded vocals.

The question is whether to shoot the wad on the antibiotics, which I had to use in March of this year on tour as well.

So, this would be a second round in the same year, and that's to be avoided.

Also, it means that if I get sick on this upcoming Europe tour of three weeks, I don't have the fall back option of antibiotics.

The other option in the asthmatic singer's bag of tricks is Prednisone. This stuff makes you feel great and terrible all at the same time. But it can really help get things shaped up fast.

I'm going to go with the small dose of Prednisone now and save the antibiotic for a real disaster like a high fever...which let's just pray never happens at all, to any of us. 

So, that's the vocal cord report.

Lots of vitamin C, lots of herbal tea and honey, lemon juice, gargling with warm salt water (delicious, no).

Singing scales in four octaves at the piano, carefully, gingerly even.

Praying.

Gratitude.

Gotta knock this out of the park, and soon.

making stuff for my fans in Europe

I'm getting really excited about my Europe tour in August!

One thing I am super excited about is what I'm making to sell at my merch table.

I can't wait for my fans to see!

I am not feigning this enthusiasm either.

I feel the way you feel when you have bought someone what you feel is the absolute perfect gift and you can't wait for them to open it.

I already really love my pretty things I sell at my shows.

I love the way my "Sidney" novel has the guitar with flowers on the front, and how the "High Priestess and The Renegade" album has the picture of me with the flowers in my hair, and how the "Red Letter Day" red vinyl is so much fun with the other "Red Letter Day" cd offerings. So, there's already a lot to love.

My latest additions for this tour will be a new cd of eight cover songs. These are all songs I play at my concerts on tour. We are hand burning and packaging this first run of one or two hundred. If we all love this it will go out to the world as a full album this fall!

Second thing I am thrilled about is a set of small hand written books I'm making. Each book is small, like 4 inches by 5 inches, and each is written and designed by me. They have drawings and poems and little funny quotes, plus hand written lyrics from my songs and personal wishes and ideas for the reader. You can buy one for yourself and I will write your name with mine on the cover, or you can buy them as gifts and I can put the person's name on it for you. They are really sweet and I am loving making them. I plan to have at least twenty to bring for the Europe tour, but it would be better if I can make forty! We'll see what I can do!

So much to be excited about, so much to do.

I am in the recording studio today singing the last three cover songs and then we do overdubs and mixing this coming week!

no where to hide

I have no where to hide now.

Music is the saving grace as it always was.

When I was a young girl my mother was unkind and unjust and I was often so furious at the injustices she doled out.

When I was up North during the summers I was there alone with my mother much of the time and she made me into her Cinderella, doing chores much of the day. Poor me. Well, yeah, for me it was poor me. Write your own story if you don't like mine.

There were no other kids like me up there. There were local rural kids who were rough and tumble and there were vacationing squeamish city kids who only came for a week or two at a time. I was often left to my own devices and because I was lonely, bored, and often angry I found my guitar that my grandmother had given me probably just by happenstance to be my best tool. I learned songs that other songwriters had written about being frustrated or lonely. Then I tried to write my own songs about being frustrated or lonely. Many of my songs too were about appreciating Nature or my idea of God.

My mother held all the money and she ruled over the kitchen so I could never have as much of anything as I would have liked.

If I tried to pour a second glass of lemonade she would say I was wasting it and should just have a glass of water. If I tried to eat a second one of the delicious cookies she often baked she would say I was going to get fat. 

I couldn't drown my sorrows on food or drink because she wouldn't let me.

My kids used to say a funny thing to me if they wanted to eat a big bowl of ice cream or a handful of Oreo cookies, they'd say to me , "Mom, just let me, I'm eating my feelings." Haha. So sophisticated in their awarenesses compared to how I was. I didn't have anything thought through, I just tried to survive.

When I learned that drinking wine and beer and margaritas felt fun and wild...at the age of forty-two....I found a new way to avoid sorrow, avoid frustration, avoid responsibility.

I really am not down on alcohol at all. I love the delight of a cold glass of Prosecco on an Italian terrazza as much as the next girl.

I'm just saying that, since I was little I couldn't really be a binge eater or a binge drinker, and I had few ways to escape as a child.

And what I'm trying to say now is that I am realizing that a guitar and a notebook are again my very best escape.

And I'm also saying that indulgences of food and drink have always appealed to me because my mother so closely monitored my behavior that I was left with a feeling, going into adulthood, that I could never have enough.

This feeling haunted me, troubled me, brought trouble to my life.

I think I'm finally healing that tortured feeling of never enough.

"You can look at the menu but you just can't eat..." that's an old Howard Jones song about cheating on your lover, but it applies to this general feeling and it's aptly titled "No One Is To Blame" although in my case I'm blaming my mom which isn't very nice but it's true. 

affluence is not hoarding

I have been thinking about my attitude towards wealth.

I think I got a bad taste of wealth a couple of times in my life and so I started thinking that wealth was bad and that wealthy people were bad.

I have known some men and women who made a lot of money.

Some of them became isolationists, elitists, hoarders.

When I drive by a country club I think of this immediately, this "keeping out the riff raff" mentality.

When I see a gated community I think of lives spent buying a lot of stuff.

I have been on both sides of those fences.

I am grappling with my bad feelings towards affluence now because I am also desiring affluence.

The Latin origin of the word affluence is a word that means "flow".

I think there are beautiful wise people who have experienced the flow of wealth coming towards themselves and have been able to continue that flow by directing the blessings of wealth to others as well.

I want to make money from my art projects and I want to be a person who continues the flow, whatever comes to me flows through me and on to bless others.

That's the way I'm gonna do it when I have a lot of money.

alcohol

Big surprise here, did not see this one coming: the medications I take, specifically a steroid inhaler for my asthma and an estrogen replacement for my...everything.... have both been deemed to be possibly linked to breast cancer when there is also a presence of alcohol in the body.

Buzz kill.

People who have toured with me know that, especially on tour, I like to have a glass of white wine with a salad for lunch, and a glass again with a light dinner before the show. Then there's usually a third glass with friends and fans after the show.

This routine does not put me under the table by any means. It has been generally regarded as a positive among the people who work with me, I would say.

I had, as a fan recently described, "a fear-based childhood". One of the fears was travel of any kind in any type of moving anything. I used to have to take Dramamine all the time to fly or ride in a car for long periods. 

I didn't start drinking any alcohol on any kind of regular basis until I started this career at 42 years of age.

I never drank anything at home as a young mother. I was afraid of alcohol and drugs. I was afraid of people who used anything at all. 

I didn't like to be around anyone who's mood was being altered. 

Rock and Roll and Rob Genadek changed all that for me!

Rob would say, "what you need is a liquid lunch!" and we'd go get margaritas at the place next to his studio.

I was always a basket case about the recordings, the rehearsals, the shows. I was always miserable with frustration that it wouldn't be good enough, that I was failing, that it was all for nought.

Anyway, I have never had an addictive personality per say and I have no trouble stopping bad habits if I make the decision to stop.

So when a fan at one of our Up North shows told me that women my age were being advised by the Mayo Clinic new studies to drink less or ideally not drink at all to avoid several kinds of cancer, I stopped right then.

I stopped, and I thought, "well I'll just not drink anything until I find out more about this."

I did some research and I discovered that women my age and cancer risk from drinking alcohol is a thing, but a woman my age who takes steroids for asthma and takes Estrogen replacement for..everything..and drinks alcohol is an ever bigger thing.

So, I'm not drinking alcohol.

When not on tour I drink less often but maybe still average one glass of wine per day.

I had no trouble stopping at all.

I don't know if I will have more anxiety traveling without the IV of white wine, but we're gonna find out starting August 3rd!

The good part of all this is that I am surprised that not drinking at all so far is making me feel younger and lighter.

I didn't realize that drinking wine had gone from the bad girl novelty of my last ten years to being the obligatory sort of old lady-ish glass of white wine of my next ten years. 

Yuck!

I think what had been fun and sassy was turning into stuck in a rut.

So, woohoo, no alcohol!

I made a pitcher of raspberry lemonade with fresh mint and cilantro yesterday. The raspberries were from the garden I'm working on at Rob's house. I used sparkling water to make it fun. It was fun. Over the course of the afternoon I drank the whole thing. And the more of it I drank the more fabulous I felt. I can't say that about my favorite rosé. Nope I can't.

Sunday NYT in the big backyard of the man I love

 

Here is the best quote for me in my beloved Sunday morning New York Times, it's an excerpt from Deborah Levy's new book called The Cost Of Living and it says, "a woman has to find a new way of living and breaks from the societal story that has erased her name."

In this passage Levy is referencing female writers Adrienne Rich, Marguerite Duras, Elena Ferrante.

I think of this passage as being a way of talking about my own motivations, aspirations, determinations.

I would say that I witnessed how the society I live in wanted me to go away at the age of forty-two when I made my first recordings.

People said, to my face, repeatedly, that I was too old and that what I was doing was bad, or wrong, or impossible, or ridiculous, or hopeless.

I sit here in Rob's big backyard, so grateful, so full of love, gratitude, determination, reading my Sunday New York Times in the shelter of this great man who I love so dearly.

My name will not be erased by those who think a woman should take all of her intelligence and wisdom and bury it with her body when she dies.

No.

Only fools would want the woman who has weathered the storms of men, children, parents, bosses, failures and losses, to not speak.

Only fools would say that the only good voices and the only good words come from the lips of young girls, young women.

If you think this you are a fool.

The woman who has experience and knowledge, spirit and divinity, must speak, must sing, for the salvation of us all.

Every voice must be lifted.

The children in the detention camps are being made to clean the toilets. They are being told they cannot hug or console each other. They are being separated from their siblings and made to stand in long lines alone for their food. 

What the fuck are we doing, people?

Will we continue to inflict suffering everywhere we cast our greedy eyes?

Who are we?

And do you honestly think we only need the voices of the young to sing for our souls?

We need every voice, every voice among us, to sing for mercy, to sing for deliverance from evil.

I will not be erased.

Let every voice be heard.

The beauty of my circumstances is not lost on me.

 

A new way of thinking

When I went to Los Angeles recently with my oldest daughter many serendipitous things happened. One of them was the relationship we forged with a man of Asian decent, a little older than myself, who has a beautiful garden house with small surrounding guest houses all clustered on a small property in Eagle Rock, which is my favorite neighborhood in L.A.

The man has his very lovely elderly parents living with him, who do not speak much English. I am guessing maybe they are Korean but I didn't ask. The lovely parents took walks morning and night, around the neighborhood, holding hands. During the day they were sitting under the gorgeous foliage and canvas umbrellas of their son's gardens at the front of the house.

In the back were the guest houses, three of them, and a communal patio, again shaded by fabulous palms, small fruit trees, a lemon tree covered in yellow lemons we could pick and slice for our sparkling water. Canvas umbrellas were standing in waist high terra cotta pots and angled in every fortuitous direction to keep out any undesired sun at the large round table with chairs scattered around it. More chairs and small tables, and even electric lamps with decorative shades, lined the periphery. This is where Nina and I sat every morning and again in the early evening, drawing and painting with watercolors in sketchbooks we had each brought from home. 

On the first day we painted, we left to go for lunch, and when we returned to our work, still laid out on the communal patio table under the clustered umbrellas, we found now the addition of a small collection of books about drawing and painting. One was a tutorial on how to draw a still life, another was a beautiful picture book of botanical water color paintings.

Our host had seen what we were doing and had silently added his own input to our work.

This is the relationship we forged.

One afternoon I received an email from our host saying that he had "scored" some excellent "Manila mangos" at the farmer's market. He said he'd be serving them the next morning. Sure enough, the next morning we came out of our little house and there on a side table was hot fresh herb tea in a small black kettle sitting over a flame for us, and a cake plate covered with a glass bell displaying fat slices of mango, cut on their skins into small squares, so that you lifted the glass bell, chose a slice, put it on a small china plate he had laid out, and ate the small squares of perfect delight with a silver cocktail fork, also provided.

All of this description is for me, and hopefully for you as well, to relive what life can be, to remember what Heaven on Earth we possess for the price of a mango and some creativity, and some generosity. This man did not need to provide these things for us. Nina and I were each paying exactly $35 per night, $70 for the whole little guest house we shared, with it's own stocked kitchen and full bath included. We did not pay for hot tea with fresh herb sprigs jutting from the pot lid, or fresh mangos on a china cake plate on the patio.

Isn't this remarkable? I hope my words are conveying it for you. Also, the plane ticket from Minneapolis to Los Angeles was no more than $220 and my daughter paid half for mine to help me join her in Paradise. This is a most affordable vacation. And, when we arrived there were bottles of sparking water in our refrigerator and a chilled bottle of Rosé wine for us.

So, in this environment of wonder and delight, on the last day, the host asked us if we had read the book called The Secret. We both said we had not. He said that he was well aware that some people thought of this book as silly or ridiculous, as the worst kind of magical thinking self help nonsense. We agreed that there were a lot of books that could possibly be described that way. But I listened carefully to this man as he described the merits of this book. This was a man who had stacks of books tucked everywhere around his covered areas of his garden. He had the poetry of Robert Frost sitting under the darling electric lamp with the patterned fabric shade.

So, he told me that I could take his copy of The Secret with me and read it. He had it sitting suddenly on top of a large stack of guide books about Los Angeles that he keeps for guests in his entryway. I held his copy in my hands and looked carefully at the cover. I told him that I would buy the book for my ipad which is easier for me anyway. I promised him I would read it.

Now I am finishing this book called The Secret. 

I agree with it, with every word of it.

I am grateful to have gone to the city of angels and to have met this man and to have received his gifts.

the dichotomy of the artist

A strange dichotomy: the suffering of the artist, and the vivid dream of success.

One is the power of deep feeling in darkest times, the other is the conjuring of visions of supreme validation and luxurious reward.

I think the artist must harbor both simultaneously.

Joni Mitchell gave up her child for adoption when she was alone and destitute in her early twenties.

She wrote songs about her many deep painful thoughts and feelings.

At the same time she became ambitious and went to Los Angeles from her native Canada to succeed, and succeed she did.

Her success rode in on regret and longing and loneliness. 

After thirty years she and her daughter were reunited and the daughter went to visit her birth mother for the first time in LA.

Joni lives in a nine million dollar mansion now purchased with the pain of her beautiful songs and her plaintive singing.

This very day my oldest daughter Nina releases a brand new song she wrote and sang and played all the instruments on.

Rob did the mastering for her and it sounds big and beautiful.

The song has some deep sadness which is part of what makes it great.

Listening to my daughter's song for the first time this morning made me think of the young Joni Mitchell and how she suffered.

It makes me think of the Don McClean "Vincent" song too.

"..now I think I know

what you tried to say to me

how you suffered for your sanity

how you tried to set them free

they did not listen they did not know how

perhaps they'll listen now...."

We walk the line between our pain and our beautiful dreams.

We struggle and we strive, and life takes us.

Porch Fest today in Mpls

I'm playing two sets as part of something called Porch Fest here in Minneapolis.

3852 Aldrich Avenue South on the front porch from 6-7pm is my first performance, solo acoustic.

4109 Dupont Avenue South in the back yard from 8-9pm is my second performance solo acoustic.

These performances are open to the public so please feel free to come to one or both.

I will have my new album and all my other nifty stuff, and I'm playing for tips at both locations.

I feel so much gratitude for the invitations I've been getting here in Minneapolis.

I play my music better when I feel loved.

Have a beautiful bountiful day and so will I.

See you tonight at East Harriet Porch Fest!

Fell off the wagon

I fell off the blogging wagon for the past week.

I decided it was just too hard to bring my laptop on the camper van northwoods tour.

I didn't even bring it along.

I was right too.

It would have been way too hard.

You know how the sardines look in the little tin cans?

That was Rob, me, and my dog in the 1970 camper van.

That may sound like complaining but it really isn't.

I loved it!

We really had fun.

Being back in my old territory, up in the deep woods, seeing the shining waters of Vermilion and Superior, I was happy the whole time.

I also got a really bad cold that settled into my throat.

Now I am complaining.

My singing voice was just about completely gone half way through the week.

I never cancel shows.

I literally have only cancelled one show in the past ten years. Rob attests to this.

There was a lot of Throat Coat, Emergen-C, Cold-Eez, and every other terrible tasting concoction anyone could come up with.

Honey, lemon, whiskey.

Some kind of stuff you spray into the back of your throat that makes you gag.

An hour before one of the shows, Rob literally took matters in his own hands.

He looked up acupressure remedies for hoarseness on his phone.

Then with his phone for reference in one hand, he stood over me where I was resting on the bed in our host's lovely guest room, and proceeded to bruise several parts of my neck, my wrists, my hands.

So weird.

He would ask, "Does this hurt?"

And if I squealed out a very hoarse, "Yeesss!"

He would say, "Okay great."

He'd push on that place as hard as he could then with his thumb.

Well, it seemed to work!

We played great shows and got invited back, begged to come back even!

So, I am setting up more shows up north for the beginning of September.

In the meantime we have three weeks until our August Europe tour!

No rest for the wicked, to comfort be no slave, destiny is calling, fortune favors the brave!

 

4th of July Tour Kick Off!

Rob and I leave today for our Northwoods Tour.

I am grateful and thrilled to be heading North to my favorite places in Minnesota.

I spent all of my summers on Lake Vermilion as a child and it's a miracle to be heading back.

I am proud of myself for thinking up this idea for a tour, for organizing it, for making it happen.

I am grateful to all the cool northland people who are collaborating with me on this.

Now we just have to execute the plan!

Positive thoughts manifest positive outcomes, all the time, every time.

I see this trip as an absolute glory.

If you're in Northern Minnesota this week, come to a show!

remorse or faith today in minneapolis

I can choose remorse over saying yes to my daughter and going to Los Angeles, being inspired, feeling freedom, feeling love, for four glorious days, because I shouldn't have spent the money.

But money is not going to bully me. 

I am going to look up from the bank statements and see that the life I want is here.

I am going to look up from my head down worrying and head down praying, look up and say Hallelujah to the beauty all around me!

Tomorrow we leave in the camper van for the Northwoods Tour!

I've got enough for gas and a few sandwiches, and I renewed my AAA roadside assistance membership!

The shows are the 5th, the 7th, the 9th.

The shows will hopefully cover expenses, pay Rob to be gone a week from his studio work, and help me keep going.

(If you know anyone on Lake Vermilion, Silver Bay/Beaver Bay, or in Grand Marais, tell them about my shows!)

No more praying out of petrified fear, "Please God help me".

I am going to pray for the guidance to see how I can best use my life in the world.

I see the light all around me.

I am not waiting, hoping, praying for the light.

The light is here.

The prayer is how best to use my life in the light.

Money continues to fall into place as needed.

Money cannot be the ruler.

Ambition cannot be the ruler.

The ruler is love and the love is only present when I am grateful and see that the light is here.

Leaving LA

Leaving Los Angeles. Recommitted to my path. Full of conviction. One hundred percent certainty. Still on the verge of financial trouble, but hey, I’m getting shit done. The phone bill got paid again this month. I am so grateful for the path that opens continuously before me. I understand it. I follow it. I obey. The music, the Nature, the vibe, the freedom, the good things of LA will follow me as I move into the next phase. Praise for the great creator, cuz the city of angels is original and unique and fresh in so many ways to my eyes.

 

5:45am outside in the back yard

I woke up thinking about bicycle rides along the creek, walks to the Minnehaha Falls, gardening in the back yard.

All of these beautiful summertime activities.

I have the morning free today.

(In the afternoon I meet with the MN State tax man again. In the evening a great fan and music promoter from The Netherlands is in town and we're having drinks with Rob which will be super fun.)

I got up at 5:30am..not sure why so early except that I was excited about the morning's possibilities...and I made myself a really good coffee with cream and dark chocolate.

Then I went out to the back yard which I love to do now to see how my gardening project is looking.

I was standing in my kimono (I love floral patterned kimonos) and I was drinking my mug of delicious mocha coffee, when a big black crow flew up onto the telephone wire.

He maybe saw me. I for sure saw him. But he didn't leave. He was just quietly balancing on the wire.

Then he let out a very loud "caw caw" and two of his buddies showed up out of nowhere, both of them landing on an adjoining wire and saying "caw caw" too.

Then they were all just up there balancing and I was standing on the wooden deck.

I knew they knew I was there.

There were other birds chirping and singing all around us in every direction but the four of us were the only living creatures in view.

What were they thinking?

How well do they know each other?

What did they say to each other?

Why were they there?

Maybe they all know more than we think they do.

They almost certainly do.

Also, a grey squirrel came along the fence with a small green apple from the neighbor's tree. 

The squirrel dropped his apple and ran in the other direction when he saw me standing on the deck at 5:45 in the morning.

He ran to the back corner, along the top of the fence and then turned and watched me.

I smiled at him.

Then he came warily back, climbed down to pick up his apple, climbed back up onto the fence, then climbed down again into my yard and ran across the grass in front of me to the big tree.

He lives in the big tree.

The tree is so big, and mostly hollow I think, that it's a squirrel mansion.

Very few squirrels have ever had more expansive accommodations.

The next thing I'm going to do is go walk to the bottom of the Falls and back up again, a couple of times, for exercise.

 

The porch at night

Wasn't there a song called "Gardening At Night"?

This is the time of year when all is right with Creation and you just feel a pull to be outside all day and night.

Air conditioning is important in our society but it also lessens our chances of communing with Nature when we get too conditioned by our air conditioning.

Before you know it you're in a mindset that winter is too cold and summer is too hot and you just stay inside and watch Netflix or play video games or watch cooking shows or surf Facebook. None of that shit is living. Those are all secondary experiences.

Walking through the grass in bare feet is a firsthand experience of divine sensation and primal joy. Do it.

Lighting candles and sitting outside at night is firsthand living, feeling the beauty of Summer, when all creatures are given a survival reprieve, when food is abundant, the air is pleasant, the nights are gentle. Do it.

I want to be sure I revel in the seasons. If I'm going to live in Minnesota, which apparently is the Lord's plan for me right now anyway, then I am going to ride my bicycle, walk barefoot through the stony creek with the clear cool water rushing past my ankles, wade out into the lake from the sandy shore.

I am going to garden in Rob's yard, even at night, even in the rain, coaxing the flowers, tending the soil, ordering the stones.

Beauty of Summer abounding. I love it all.

 

 

Obey The Universe

If everyone obeyed the Universe we'd all be fine.

I don't know, but I'm guessing that's true.

Anyone who is suffering this day around the globe is undoubtedly being affected by someone else's Evil.

Eradicating Evil is very difficult.

Some people go too far and feel they must deny themselves everything in order not to be tempted.

Monks have donned the hair shirt, fasted for days, slept on a bed of nails, in an effort to punish themselves for myriad sins and attempt to get closer to God. I wonder if people still do stuff like that. I bet somebody somewhere is sleeping on a bed of nails right now.

When I think about stuff like this, it seems like a very big exotic world still.

If you trust yourself the way the chipmunk trusts himself, what do you get?

Chaos and ruin?

Disaster?

Maybe.

If you obey the Universe what do you get?

Lessons and miracles.

Lessons and miracles and signs, all day long.

That's what I really think.

It happens to me.

When I love myself and I love those around me, when I don't give in to Fear, then the miracles start happening.

I have consulted with a talent agent at Paradigm NYC.

I like this guy a lot.

I don't know him very well but I admire his client roster and I admire his personal code of principles.

He's a great person.

When he advised that I contact over thirty folk festivals this summer I obeyed the Universe and did it, as well and as quickly as I possiibly could.

When what l I got in return were some very nice responses urging me to obey the Universe and  "try again next year" I felt that I couldn't go back to the great guy at Paradigm.

I thought that I had failed and could no longer hope to have his interest or respect.

I told one of my adult songwriter students this story. She is working with me for career development inspiration mostly so I tell her these kinds of stories and we discuss possible plans of attack.

She said that I should feel good about following up with the guy from Paradigm because I wrote to and filled out applications for every single one of the festivals he recommended and that's an accomplishment in itself.

She reminded me that some artists have such a hard time putting themselves out there that they would never have followed through on the whole list.

I agreed that for some reason it can be excruciating to fill out all those submission forms, knowing that they are receiving hundreds or thousands and that there are so many artists you are competing against for these limited opportunities.

But my student said, "You should write to him and tell him that you sent every single one. He should know that."

Once she said that to me I heard it as a prompt from the Universe.

I felt I had to send off an email saying that I had applied and followed up with every single festival and that several had written back encouraging me to apply again next year. (luckily the application process is free!)

So I sent the email.

The same day I got a response.

In my email I mentioned that my next idea after Europe in August would be the East Coast in October.

The great guy at Paradigm wrote back the same day offering to help with East Coast contacts as he had for the West Coast last Fall and also did for the summer festivals.

Somehow Rob and I will do an East Coast tour in October and somehow it will be great.

I believe with full certainty of this.

I am obeying the Universe and the Universe is never wrong.

 

house concerts rule

I played a house concert out in the country yesterday, out on a Vermont style farmstead in Minnesota.

The hosts were excellent people.

The woman of the house designed the invitations and keepsake bookmarks she passed out throughout the evening, all with a Solstice theme, and all with an emphasis on female energy. There was talk during the evening of a shift in our society toward the power of the feminine. 

The man of the house opened the show with a rousing collection of his own songs played and sung in a frank and no frills way that I loved.

Rob came along and played the show with me which always makes my music more dynamic than I can make it on my own.

There was a great colorful turn out of many guests, people of all ages and yet all ageless together, all joyful revelers of the evening and the music, the food and wine.

The sunset was still and serene as we played, and later the fireflies came out.

I was so reminded of a life I once had on the Connecticut River in a little farmhouse built in the 1700's in Vermont.

I had two baby girls there and at night we could watch the fireflies from the little girls' bedroom.

Strange how life keeps moving just the way the Connecticut River outside my house did then, and just the way the Mighty Mississippi rolls past me now on my morning walks.

My God, how mystical the life of the world.

Love and Gratitude.

A great day in the making

I have a great day planned, so great that I woke up at five am to get this party started!

As you know, I've been thinking a lot about gardening.

As you know, funds for gardening are limited.

Also, it's not my house.

However, yesterday afternoon when I was riding my bicycle back from the grocery store, a nice man called out to me "you want some free plants?"

He was working in his side garden and was dividing all kinds of glorious perrennials.

I have these lined wicker baskets on the back of my bicycle that hold a lot of stuff, so my groceries were in there and the two brown paper bags were folded up.

The nice gardener and I stuffed my brown bags with Flox, Solomon Seal, and Asiatic Lilies.

I hooked the handled bags onto my bike handles and rode the last block home with my groceries and my plants!

I put the plants in the shade in the back yard and used the hose to douse the plants really well so they'd survive the move.

This morning I'm going to head out to the backyard and plant them!

There is a border garden intended for this sort of thing in Rob's backyard but it became overgrown mostly with the rhubarb-like plants that produce big clumps of thistles in late summer.

My dog doesn't do well with thistles. I think the birds and butterflies like them, but I can't get along with them in Rob's small backyard.

So I have been clearing them out and now there's space for these new flowers.

After I do all the fun planting, then I'm going to ride my bike to get a Square...the thing you need to take credit card payments for merchandise.

Tonight's show is a private house concert...yes you can probably still come, you just have to message me...and I promised the host I would have credit card payments available for CDs and vinyl.

I think I have maybe four or five copies of my first book so people can still buy signed copies of that tonight too.

After I buy that and get it set up I'm going to take a shower, and then a nap, and then head to Schafer, MN for tonight's show.

A great day in the making, love to all.

animal stories back home

Rob and I arrived back in Minneapolis around 4am today. My son left on his long drive to LA for his first post-college internship around 6am.

I slept after that for a few hours.

When I came downstairs with the idea of riding my bicycle to the grocery store, I was greeted in the kitchen by a particularly small chipmunk sitting on the edge of my dog's food dish! He had a piece of dog food between his little front paws and he was crunching away.

He saw me, dropped the dog food and ran under the stove.

I opened the door to the backyard and put the dog food dish out on the back porch.

Sure enough, when I pushed the stove a few inches away from the wall, the little guy high tailed it..literally...out the back door.

I don't know when or how he got in, but as much as I love chipmunks, I'm glad he's back to living outside.

Also, my dog Aidan isn't very good at protecting us from animals in the house.

A few months ago, maybe last Fall, I had the same back door open so that Aidan and I could go in and out freely and we were enjoying the nice morning when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw something dart past me on the main floor.

I decided it was my imagination since Aidan was dozing in his bed in the living room and he didn't make any noise.

When I went upstairs to use the bathroom though, I was truly shocked to see a big black cat staring right at me when I turned on the bathroom light.

The cat rushed past me and ran down the stairs.

Luckily I still had the back door held open. 

The cat ran out.

But through all of this, my dog Aidan was dozing on the love seat!

Oh brother!

 

 

a new recording this summer

Rob and I are sitting in a little neighborhood bakery and coffee shop in Flossmoor, a neighborhood Southside Chicago.

It's been raining and the rain is not letting up. It's nice. I love Chicago.

I am conducting a songwriter workshop tonight just down the block at the Flossmoor Chicago Public Library 7-8pm.

Rob will probably sit at the brewery next door waiting for me.

After I finish the workshop we plan to drive back to Minneapolis.

Our arrival (hopefully) around 3am will (hopefully) dovetail with my youngest child's departure by car for LA for his first big post-college paid internship.

Luckily my son was home during this time to babysit my little dog so we didn't have to bring him along.

[I still don't know where my dog will be for our three week Europe tour in August. Ideally some single person would like to have a whole house to themselves and a little dog for companionship for three weeks in August so my little dog, who is ten years old now, can stay in his own home which I think is his best for him. Ideally the person would consider having a house to themselves in Minneapolis for three weeks as pay enough in return for walking the dog twice a day.]

But the big news is that while Rob and I are sitting here in Chicago we are hatching a plan to make a new recording in time for our Europe tour in August!

I've been wanting to make some acoustic recordings of the cover songs I like best..the classics for me, like the Rod Stewart song I've been singing since I first learned guitar at eight years old, like the Bob Dylan songs I've sung for years, like the Nanci Griffith songs, John Prine, and the Leonard Cohen Hallelujah.

We've got studio dates set for mid July!

If all goes well we'll have a seven or eight song CD to bring on tour!

I've never included other people's songs on my albums so this recording is something I've been wanting to add to my discography.

Okay, that's the news.

Love to you, if you're reading this, and gratitude for your continued interest.

go with the flow

This blog post is titled "go with the flow" but it could also be called "wow I'm going a lot of places in a short period of time and I feel like wishing I didn't have to do all these things but that would just be ungrateful fear and laziness".

Go with the flow.

I actually applied for thirty summer festivals around the USA for this summer and only got "we really liked your music and you were definitely in the top finalists for spots but we didn't take you but we strongly encourage you to apply again next year."

I will apply to all of them again next year and I bet I will get some.

But in the meantime this summer has filled up with all sorts of cool stuff I didn't envision at all.

I wanted action!

I wanted more performances in more places!

Today Rob and I drive to Chicago and play a show tonight at the Blue Island Beer Company, Southside of Chicago.

I am very excited to be developing a fanbase in my hometown after so many years of being away.

After I ran away from home at seventeen I never went back to live in Chicago ever again.

But now my first novel came out from a publisher in Chicago and suddenly it's all making sense to go back there.

I'm very grateful for the way these summer shows and events are unfolding, so grateful.

Tomorrow I will give a songwriter's workshop at the Chicago Public Library in Flossmore, Southside Chicago.

I can't wait!

The libraries are being very supportive of my new book.

Songwriter workshop in a public library! What a blast!

Okay, so no dumb old fear. Fear just slows you down.

See you at a show!

I went to the Northwoods for two days and it was glorious

I just got back from the Great North Country.

I went up for three days with Rob to a visit a friend who lives alone on a small island on a lake in the summertime.

I wish, of course, that I could have stayed longer.

I got in a canoe and headed out one morning by myself, which is what I did as a child and as a teenager for many long hours on Lake Vermilion.

You can bring an old guitar and a notebook and you can write songs floating in the shadows along the shoreline in a small bay with a virgin shoreline, never marred by human occupation, just the round lake stones, the green moss, the ferns, the tall grasses, the birches reaching up fresh and white.

You can step out into the cold clear water along the shore, holding your canoe by it's rope like it's your pet horse, and you can walk in the fine off white sand, feeling it luxuriate beneath your toes, feeling the water rejuvenate your ankles. You can see all the tiny fresh water shells, the smooth rocks, the tiny crayfish.

This is who I was again for a brief moment this early summer. 

Tonight, a show at 6pm at the Aster Cafe.

Later this week a songwriter workshop at the Chicago Public Library in Flossmore, plus a show with Rob at the Blue Island Brewery in Chicago.

This coming Saturday, a special house concert in Minneapolis.

In the meantime, this morning my car has to make it to the dealership because the engine is missing and the engine light is flashing furiously.

We're lucky to have made it home from the Great North at all!

 

first feedback on my second novel

Last night I invited a friend over to Rob's house for dinner.

She is the first person who has read my second book.

It isn't even a book yet, it's a manuscript hoping to become a book.

No one has seen it but this one friend of mine.

This friend has helped me in immeasurable ways.

From early on in this full time artist journey, she's arrived with armloads of fun cheerful groceries with beautiful crackers and cheeses from Trader Joe's and chocolate covered almonds and other neat fun stuff that has kept my spirits up. She has slipped me cash when I didn't ask for it, didn't know anyone knew, didn't know how to respond.

She knew what I needed before I did.

How?

And why?

There's no telling how one person can be this way, so kind and generous and concerned.

This friend is also very wise and has given me really valuable feedback on my recordings and songwriting for many years.

She also has been very helpful about the books because she has some background in publishing.

How does a person like me get so lucky to have a friend like this?

She has known me for twenty-two years and she hasn't given up on me yet.

So, I invited her for dinner and made a marinated pork tenderloin on the grill.

I made grilled corn and cut it off the cobs and made it into creamed corn with bacon and cream. If you want to know how to make this, it's pretty much what I just said, and it's awesome.

We also had broccoli, and grilled bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

We had raspberries and whipped cream for dessert.

We drank a bottle and a half of white wine.

We sat on Rob's back patio and looked at my gardening efforts which are looking promising.

In the midst of all this, she gave me her observations about my new manuscript.

She thinks it's really good.

She liked it.

She thinks it follows up the last book the way it's supposed to but she thinks it can stand alone as well.

We talked until midnight, throwing in every other imaginable topic.

I am grateful for nights like this one.

I am grateful for friends like her.

Friend, if you're reading this, I love you.

a lot to learn

I have had a lot to learn.

My mean Mom used to always say, and sometimes still says to me, "Boy, you've sure got a lot to learn."

My mom isn't as mean as she used to be, but that could be in part because I don't have as much to learn as I used to...haha!

Probably true.

I had a lot to learn about feeling ashamed about my Dad and what he did and what happened to him.

Before he lost everything and disappeared, my Dad went around acting like he was a big shot, "a showboat" as my mother used to say about him.

She used to tell him he had a lot to learn too. He did.

Also my Mom said often to me that I was just like my father, which meant that I was an arrogant self centered good time charlie showboat of a person.

I did a lot of bad things in my teens and twenties and thirties and forties. Not drugs and crime type things, just poor conduct, poor treatment of others kinds of things.

I was a good mother, thank God. I mustered everything I knew about being a good person and focused it all on my children.

I still made a lot of mistakes, but my kids and I are all very close, so again, thank God for that.

Before I could learn any lesson I first have had to identify what the fear is.

So, the fear of being a bad person who would in the end cause my own ruin and demise has been a real part of my life.

Also the fear, or presumption, that people wouldn't like me because of my shameful family history has hung around me like a shroud.

I have been angry at people, feeling misunderstood or not understood.

I have felt isolated.

I have felt embarrassed about my conduct, unable to control my actions, acting in ways I regret, out of resentment, anger, bitterness.

In some moments I have said too little, unsure of how to act.

In some moments I have said way too much, determined to show people who I am, what power I've got under the hood.

All this leads to shame and a guilty conscience and a lousy feeling you just can't shake.

Sometimes I think these are some of the ways people get depressed.

Trapped in your own way of thinking and relating that ain't working for nobody least of all yourself.

I am rising above this shit now.

I am rising above it but keeping my feelings and my expectations and my desires straight, like straight out from my heart, not up too high, not down too low, just straight out from my heart to the hearts of others.

My Dad died before I ever got back to him.

I will say to him today if he's listening, "Dad, I loved you. I love you still. You were a bad ass boss of a guy. I learned a lot from you, good and bad. I'm sorry we all turned on you. I'm sorry we never got back together. I'm gonna make it up to you the rest of my life. I'm gonna play your favorite music and I'm gonna do what you never were able to do. I'm gonna be a happy successful person. And I'm gonna always wear cool shoes like you did Dad."

   

Miracles happen when fear is replaced by love

Miracles happen every time when fear is replaced by love.

To make this less unbelievable I will also clarify that there are only two things for the human mind, fear and love.

What do you think of that?

I've read it from guru types for years, and guru types have been saying it since the dawn of man.

Certainly, Buddha and Jesus talked this way.

Yesterday I worked with a client who consults with me weekly to keep his creative writing project on track.

We both think it's working. He's writing his first novel; it's getting written and it's excellent.

Yesterday I thanked him for being one of the generous and kind souls who bailed me out in Chicago.

I thanked him and I added that if he would like, he could take a discount off of my next few sessions, in case he felt he would rather be reimbursed.

I told him that several people had given money, some of them kept giving after it was clear that I had the bare minimum of $60 for gas back to Mpls, and maybe $10 for a sandwich.

He said that my asking and his responding had set off a chain reaction and the three things he had been selling on ebay that weren't selling but were each priced at $60, the amount he had given me, suddenly all sold over the weekend after he gave me the $60 donation.

So he said that the giving of $60 had created a payback by the Universe and he was rewarded with a sale of $180.

Do you hate reading stories like this?

Are you fuming at how lame it is for me and my client to make these connections and decide to attribute these events to the working of miracles?

Well, get that chip off your God given shoulder and join the party of life! Jump in the beautiful spring fed lake of love.

It's awesome living with a joyful feeling of faith that makes everything possible and nothing shameful.

One thing too is to be able to recognize when you are thinking in terms of fear and to quickly turn your thoughts into thoughts of love.

Ten years ago I hated a lot of people, a lot of things, a lot of situations.

I don't any more.

I think all my touring and my endeavoring to succeed these last few years, and living with the humbling truth that I used up all the money I had, and all the credit I had, and still didn't turn around my career and make it profitable, these are humbling facts.

You can fake it until you make it, but if you run out of gas on the freeway to success you will be pushing that car and you can't fake that.

When things get tough like that you have to start working in the currency of miracles.

You have to start exchanging fear for love if you hope to survive.

If you don't want to end up with the red scarf or the bathrobe tie belt around your neck, you have to learn a way to turn your straw into gold.

Not money, feelings.

Fear into Love.

Will you be able to stave off depression and suicidal thoughts?

Maybe not.

Maybe you need medication for that.

Maybe even then, it will be bigger than you are.

I knew a lovely man who was a minister.

He had a very loving wife and teenage son.

He had a congregation of people who loved him, including me.

He became so overwhelmingly suicidal that he checked himself into the Mayo Clinic lock in psych ward in Rochester, MN.

One morning, accompanied at all times by a guardian because they knew he was suicidal, he was being guided from his room to the cafeteria for his breakfast.

He turned suddenly.

And in front of the attendant, and others, he threw himself through the plate glass window in the hall and plunged to his death four floors below.

This man loved his family, he loved his God.

But literally nothing was going to stop him from ending his life.

I have no idea why.

On this note, all I'm saying is give peace a chance.

Let Love Rule.

You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one.

I hope some day you'll join us.

And the world will live as one.

 

 

creative again!

It feels good to be creative again! Yesterday I did some gardening finally in Rob's backyard.

I've been talking about gardening since I was in Germany and my beautiful fans there inspired me with one of their lovely gardens.

I got back saying that even though the house I live in isn't mine, it is my only home, and the home owner has said, "Garden away!"

But the work of the second "A Girl Called Sidney" book hung over me and kept me from doing anything else.

I was booking tours for my summer because that had to be done, I was continuing to make appearances for book events and music shows, and I was finishing the manuscript.

Those activities are all necessities.

But gardening is soulful pure joy.

So finally yesterday, the Chicago trip successfully completed, the manuscript turned in, I put on my bikini top and a pair of cut off jean shorts, a straw hat, a pair of flowered gardening gloves, and my knee high green Hunter rubber boots.

I got out of the garage my beloved Vermont style garden cart, my spade, my trowel, my small rake.

I found so many beautiful little plants coming up, some blossoming already.

The clump of raspberry bushes I planted last year has many blossoms, and many delightful yellow and black small fuzzy bees were there! Bees! thank God they aren't all dead, at least not yet!

Rob's back yard is the wilderness to Rob's front porch which is civilization comparably.

You all saw the porch fix up earlier this Spring.

That project felt like a necessity to me because I wanted to sit out there and write.

And I do!

But Rob's backyard is a city lot size, and fenced in with a tall wooden fence all around. The center is all grass but there are a wild variety of plants growing around the perimeter.

I am allowed to discern for myself what should stay and what should go.

Sadly, quite a few undesirables lost their lives yesterday, ending up in my brush pile in the far corner.

However, there were quite a few new volunteers, especially the Black Eyed Susans, who reseeded themselves along the stone path at the back by the garage and I let all of them stay right where they put themselves because they're so cute and cheerful.

I found a little Maple tree trying to grow from behind the fire pit.

The little Maple was very strong and brave to assert himself in such a difficult spot so I transplanted him, thinking he will have the fortitude to survive the move. He has a place of honor now in the middle of the grassy yard and will hopefully be there for a hundred years or more.

I hope he makes it.

It was a wonderful day. I felt like my old self again. Or like my favorite self.

 

ways of writing

I see from writing this daily blog that there are different ways of writing.

The post I wrote as an S.O.S. two days ago was written in haste while traveling.

The post I wrote yesterday was written back in Mpls after eight hours of driving.

Last night's post could be edited.

I could rework it to be clearer, to communicate more literally what I was thinking about on my eight hour drive.

But I like these posts that are more like a sketch that only alludes to the actual punch line but maybe never actually says it.

I think poetry can be that way.

Maybe people like to just have things gestured to, a wave of the hand in the direction of what the speaker would like you to see.

A photograph where something is happening but we cannot say for sure....maybe people find these things to be tantalizing.

My youngest child, my son, has been on a train from Budapest to Belgrade these past twenty-four hours.

He is living the strange magic of travel right now.

Travel can be insulated by money so that the traveler is shuttled from one oasis of wealth to another, from one beautiful brunch to another beautiful dinner.

But travel can be raw and exposing and can make you see, really see what it's all about.

Nothing can be explained fully, no person's inner life can be laid plain.

Nothing can be fleshed out to full satisfaction.

The best food, the best sex, the best love, the best music, the best gardens, the best conversations, it all slips through our fingers like sand.

What do we really have?

What can be captured?

The hummingbird comes to the hanging baskets on the front porch every day now and I can barely get a glimpse of his beauty before he is gone.

 

 

Tonight

Tonight I'm back in Minneapolis at Rob's house contemplating the mysteries of this world.

Suicides this past week have me thinking about how we support each other in life.

People make all kinds of mistakes and errors in judgement, and we are holding people to high moral standards lately with the #MeToo movement and more.

But do we know how to help people deal with their failings and failures, their aberrant behaviors, their bad thoughts, bad words, bad deeds?

Do we want people to have an overnight epiphany and change like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol?

Are we able to give people the time and forgiveness it takes to change for the better?

I'm not saying that everyone has a guilty conscience.

But maybe everyone does.

I have grappled today with the way I panicked yesterday in Chicago.

There are many reasons why money has been such a challenge for me in recent years.

I have been honest about all of those reasons.

Some are about trying to make an artistic career full time late in life.

Some have to do with the way I left a conventional secure situation to more authentically pursue who I thought I could be.

I sent out an S.O.S. yesterday because being in Chicago with so little money scared me.

I felt that if anything, one little thing went wrong, that I'd be in real trouble.

I made a guess and asked my fans.

They responded with so much support, psychological and financial.

I am so grateful.

Do I deserve their help?

I don't know, but they knew and they gave it, and that means everything to me.

.

 

S.O.S.

Help! If you’re reading this and you are in a position to make a donation to the arts, please consider helping me, a full time artist, out today with gas and food money to get back from Chicago tomorrow. I am praying that people will buy my music today at my show at the Homewood Street Fest. if you want to help out you can send me money through facebook messenger cash, through paypal to my cy@courtneyyasmineh.com email address or through my gofundme.com Courtney Yasmineh New Album fund which has gone into overtime.

any help is greatly appreciated, love to you all

Chicago today and tomorrow!

I have an author event and a solo street fest performance today and tomorrow in Chicago!

I am leaving now to drive down and I plan to get into the city early and just walk around my hometown a bit.

This is a very great opportunity for me to reach another audience with my book/books and with my music.

I don't look forward to the author events because I don't love the feeling of being an author in that tribe of people.

But I love writing books and I love my books.

I write from a place of a songwriter writing about the life and perspective of a songwriter.

I don't know if I will write books later that have nothing to do with music and are just social commentary.

I might do that.

But right now anyway I'd MUCH rather play you a song on my guitar than read a passage from my book out loud to you.

Honestly, I hate doing that.

But this attitude may be obstructive and I will continue to try to be open minded about it.

I read today from my first published novel at 6:30pm in Chicago and I have the six hour drive to get my attitude straightened out.

I am very very grateful to be invited to do this.

I will remember that I'm very grateful to share my work with a potential new audience and I will enjoy reading out loud from my book.

I will.

I promise I will.

too much time on my hands

Wow, now that I have finished the manuscript for my second novel, which took me less than a year to complete, I have a lot of new time on my hands!

I didn't realize how much of a drain it adds to your daily life when every waking moment there is a big project hanging over your head that you should be working on.

Damn does it feel good to have that off my to do list! 

I walked around yesterday feeling untethered.

But it's not so much untethered.

It's more like I have been dragging the anchor of my little tugboat and suddenly I pulled up the anchor and can go so much faster with so much less effort!

Woohoo!

I think too that sitting around writing a book also takes all that time away from doing things like booking gigs and playing gigs which actually bring in money.

Also, all of my jogging, walking, bicycle riding brain time has been devoted to the finishing of the novel as well, which means I wasn't generating new ideas in the realm of planning tours or writing songs.

Also, I want to make some new music videos for my new album!

This has to happen asap.

Money is always a factor in making music videos and I think I may return to my gofundme.com page and think about setting up a new fundraiser to make three music videos for the new album. The music videos I have done for my songs have really been my very best way of promoting my music besides being there in person putting on a show.

Music videos!!!!!

In the meantime, here is the porch this morning in a rain storm. I was out at 6am. I don't need to get up this early now that the book is done.

But of course it's a four book series so I might as well keep the habit going because I will have to start book three some day soon.

Don't think about it!!! Too soon!

I'll probably start it in the Fall.

Once the music videos are done!

 

Book Two is turned in!

I finished writing my second book yesterday.

It's the second novel in a four book series about a girl named Sidney who's a songwriter.

The stories are based on my own life and on my struggle to become a full time artist.

It's four books because it has taken me fifty-seven years to become a full time artist who can support herself, even if it is by the skin of my teeth.

I am driving to Chicago for two appearances this week.

I leave on Thursday morning and drive straight to an author event at a bookstore in Chicago in the evening.

I only have about two hundred dollars to my name right now and my credit card is maxed out so I am just praying nothing goes wrong.

The second event on Friday is a solo music performance at an outdoor street fair that I am very excited about and they are paying me a nice amount to play but they aren't sending me a check until later in the month.

I hope people will buy my recordings. I can't sell my books there because the publisher has a book table at these Chicago events and she gets all the revenue from any of my books she sells until my initial advance is paid off.

It's a tough world, people.

Everybody is always trying to make a buck off of everyone else.

Until you are playing that game yourself you don't recognize the signs of it in everyone else.

I remember a drummer I used to work with yelling at a guy who came up to us begging on the street.

He yelled, "Forget it brother, you're just gonna go buy some crack with it. Yeah, well, I gotta buy my own crack!"

Haha!

The struggle is real.

The hustle is mandatory.

heavy load

People in my family have made a lot of mistakes.

I'm being confronted with the trail of mistakes as I finish my second novel about Sidney, who, as you probably know by now, is based on me.

Thank God for a guy at the 318 Cafe the other night who came up to tell me that he had read my first book in the Sidney series and loved it.

Rob was standing near me when the guy came up and so Rob was a witness to what this man said.

He said that he read my book fairly quickly, thinking to himself that it was pretty good writing.

He said that he reads a lot of literary fiction so he feels he has a good sense of comparison.

He said that when he finished my book he suddenly thought that I was a really good writer, like, a real writer, like much better than he had expected.

He said he thought about that for a while, not really being sure.

So, recently he decided to read my book again, to see how he felt about it now.

He was very excited to tell me, and Rob, that he thinks I'm a really good writer. He thinks it's a really good book.

He says the second reading clinched it because it seemed even better the second time through.

I told him that I look forward to him reading book two.

Book two is finished now and I'm sending it in today to the publisher.

The publisher can accept it or reject it of course.

That's how these things go.

What I have taken away from the writing of the second book is that the people in my family made a lot of mistakes.

Sidney makes mistakes.

I have made many many mistakes.

I try not to have any regrets though.

I married a man I ended up feeling I had to leave, but along the way I gave birth to three beautiful people and have had the great gift of being their mom.

How can you regret a romantic alliance that brings three great people into the world and into your life?

I don't think I can separate my mistakes from my blessings, my mistakes from my dreams, my mistakes from my successes.

The successes have been few, yes, I see that.

The successes have been few in my family too.

But I am going to keep trying.

last night

Last night I went out to Excelsior, MN to a small cafe with live music where I have played shows for almost twenty years now. I wasn't on the bill, it was a fellow Mpls musician's show. The songwriter and the backing musicians on the bill for the evening were all really great.

I think that trying to be an international superstar takes it's toll on my friendships, the relationships I have with other musicians, and my own psyche.

Having grand expectations and lofty aspirations sets me apart and makes me feel apart.

I feel like I have to be excellent, nothing short of excellent, the very best me I can possibly be, the very best me that is humanly possible every time I do anything or go anywhere.

That's a lot of pressure.

Clearly, no one else cares but me.

But not so!

Other people who have helped me, or those who have endorsed me, those who have put time and energy and money into supporting my music all care too.

Nobody wants to go around telling everybody how great this one music artist is only to have that artist make them look bad by Sucking Royally when they finally get up on stage.

I got invited up to play a song.

I could have declined, knowing that I didn't have time to warm up my voice, knowing that I was stepping in with someone else's guitar and sound set up.

I thought it would be lame to say no because everything wasn't perfect.

I thought I should just get up there, no pressure, and be a good sport and have fun.

But it ain't that simple when you've been going around with a megaphone on social media for years now proclaiming your right to the throne of international superstardom.

So, of course, I only played okay. You knew that's where this was going, right?

I played okay enough that when I ended my song the crowd asked me to do a second song, which was not part of the plan.

The artist who's show it was joked that I was stealing the show but let me play one more.

So, I mean, I wasn't terrible.

But Rob Genadek happened to be sitting at the bar when all this went down, and his critique afterwards was not positive.

Rob just says, "Well, you and I know you can do better, and you should do better. You must do your best at all times. This was a six out of ten for you and that isn't what you want."

He's right.

As my kids used to say "It sucks to suck."

I will endeavor to do better....again..and more..and further..putting the past behind me but remembering the mistakes so I don't make them again.

What did Rob and I agree I could have done better?

First, my voice was thin and pinched on the high notes because I didn't have a chance to warm up.. I could have skipped going to the high parts if I knew I wasn't warmed up rather than subject the audience to less than great delivery.

Second, my guitar playing was too loud and aggressive for the way the other artist had his guitar set up in the sound system. I should have either taken a moment to get the guitar turned down in the system or, better yet, I should have played more sensitively based on how the guitar sounded in the room to be sure my voice and guitar playing were in the correct balance. Instead I sort of did that, but I also sort of let it rip on parts of the song and it got kind of sloppy and too loud sounding.

Third, my guitar parts that I play on electric guitar are one thing, the parts I play when I have accompaniment are another thing, and the parts I should be playing to make the songs work when I play solo acoustic are a third thing....or at least they should be if I'm going to sound like a bad ass professional in any situation. What I did last night was sort of an amalgamation of all three that was not well honed, well thought out, or well executed. I was just sort of staying afloat rather than being in command on the guitar.

Okay, there it is.

I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me.

Thanks to fans who came to my last two shows

I had some fans at my last two shows this week.

Someone at one of the venues asked me if the people I was sitting with after my performance were friends of mine and I said, "No, they're fans."

The young bartender was surprised and said, "You mean you don't know them personally?"

And I said, "No they're real fans. They are here for my music, we don't have a personal relationship, it's about the music."

I liked that conversation because it reminded me not to take the fans for granted, and I won't.

Fans, unlike friends for the most part, actually want to go over the play by play recount of the performance you just gave.

Other musicians don't want to do that, for the most part, and neither do your friends and family..unless they happen to also be actual fans.

I've had fans on tour invite me to their homes for a nice dinner on a night off and they have said, "We wouldn't be inviting you if your music wasn't good."

Ha! There it is! Well, I love that!

Earning the privilege of calling someone a fan of my music is something I aspire to with everyone who comes in earshot. 

So, in the past two shows I had fans attending who were forthcoming with the play by play analysis afterwards.

Things they said that I particularly liked (and I don't remember anyone saying anything I didn't like which is awesome):

-they said that my banter on stage about the State of MN auditing my taxes is funny and an attention getter (thanks State of MN, for that)

-they said the all electric rock set at Mortimer's was very tight and professional(which I was happy about)

-they said the long show at the Underground with switching of guitars, and the requisite fussing with the sound because there's no sound guy, seemed casual and personal but kind of meandering (agreed, and also, I get something out of having to do the sound and learning to make the longer show work...but I'm learning in front of an audience so thank goodness it's a pretty forgiving audience there)

-they said that my talking about most of the songs before I play them has become a trademark of my performances and they like the talking

-they said that the talking is charming and brings people in but the songs are surprisingly truthful and have an edge that you maybe don't see coming from the nice cheerful talking....is that good?....they thought that was cool...like there was a 'fuck you all' element to the songs themselves that is not foreshadowed in the introductions...I used to have a guy in my band who would say "I don't know why, but at the end of every CY performance I have a burning desire to get up on the mic and yell 'yeah! fuck you all!'".....haha! Awesome! Rebel yell!

The fans also said they like this blog, and they can't believe how honest it is and that I'm very brave to do the blog the way I'm doing it.

Well, it's not that brave. I'm not talking about my love life or my favorite sex positions.

I think it's somehow therapeutic to me to share these daily posts after thirty or more years of writing every morning in journals that no one ever read...well at least I hope no one read them. A lot of those journals are still around, in boxes in Rob's basement mostly.

If I die and people become curious about my life, those are the daily writings to get your hands on. 

This blog is all one theme, something like, "How to become an international superstar in twenty years or hopefully fewer and how to go from riches to rags and hopefully, eventually, to riches again by pursuing what you love most"

Maybe the best of these blog posts can be compiled into a new book once my four book series about Sidney is completed...or sooner even!

Cheers mates!

Here's to the fans!

if you work hard and don't worry what will happen?

I am working hard every day right now.

I suppose saying you're working hard might be like telling other people that you're a nice person; the person you're saying that to will think to themselves that they will decide for themselves whether you're nice or not.

Hard working is not an expression I would ever have used for myself, but other people have been using that expression about me, so I'm considering it.

Hard work, for me, has always been things like carrying twenty bags of mulch up a hill to add to my garden in the Springtime.

I used to live in a house with a big garden up on a hill in the back. When I think of "hard work" I think of bringing up the mulch.

With the mulch, whether I used my awesome little Vermont style wheel barrow (that I have in Rob's yard now) or whether I carried a bag or two at a time on my shoulders, it was just as hard because the hill was steep.

The garden itself was not what I would call "hard work" because I loved being out there so much, I loved the plants, the turtles, the woodchuck mother and her babies who came to eat sugar snap peas off the vines. I loved that my children grew up in all of that, at least for a while.....

So, hard work.

Making songs is not hard work, but making them good is hard work.

"Staying up for days in the Chelsea Hotel writing Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands for you."~Monsieur Dylan

Until you've stayed up for days writing a fucking monumental tribute to the one you love you maybe haven't truly experienced "hard work".

I haven't stayed up for days doing anything ever.

The harder I work though the better my life gets.

Yesterday I busked in downtown Minneapolis, and yes it was raining.

I did not cancel.

I really really really needed the money because tomorrow is June first and a couple of bills are due.

I am sorry to report that I am living close enough to the brink of ruin that money from busking had to be deposited today, but that's the truth.

On the other hand, while I was worrying earlier this month that there wouldn't be enough money by June first to cover my bills, low and behold the busking opportunity came through and now there is enough!

I didn't need to worry, but I did need to keep working hard.

The worrying didn't help at all.

The bottom line for me is that spending all of my time writing books, writing songs, editing my manuscripts for publication, recording songs for others to hear, doing tons and tons of self promotion that is necessary to get the word out, setting up shows from here to Timbuktu and everywhere in between, traveling to all the shows everywhere and playing the performances.......these activities are a privilege and a joy because I'm so grateful I am able to go forth as an artist.

These activities don't feel like hard work most of the time.

They feel like the dream come true.

Busking today Nicollet Mall 11:30-1pm

I'm busking this morning 11:30-1pm on Nicollet Mall.

Come support the efforts of a full time artist!

editing the manuscript for my second novel

Okay, back at it.

I'm going to work hard today and tonight on the editing of my second novel in the "A Girl Called Sidney" series.

I'm also seeing two of my favorite clients slash students today.

92 and sunny in Minneapolis.

my morning at the beach

I went to the beach at Lake Nokomis on my bicycle this morning at 9am.

They say it's going to reach 98 degrees in Minneapolis today.

The beach was glorious.

I wore my bikini and I swam.

I brought my Sunday New York Times from yesterday which I had not finished yet.

I laid on a beach blanket and I read my paper.

I had a jug of ice water with me.

I read an article about how young scientists in their twenties, worldwide, are working together to rid the oceans and the world of plastic waste.

I'm telling you, there's a beautiful life out there if you are willing to live it.

Glory to God in the highest.

I ride my bicycle

Yesterday I made my favorite bicycle trip in Minneapolis.

I start at Rob's house which is near the Minnehaha Falls.

I go past the falls and see the statue of Hiawatha with Pocahontas wading in the waters of the creek.

I ride the trail that goes along the creek past Lake Nokomis and then out to Lake Harriett.

It's about five miles each way to go all the way around Lake Harriett and then take the bike path back again to the falls and to Rob's house.

I'm not a spandex rider. I'm a cute bike with wicker baskets and wearing a sundress kind of rider.

I absolutely love to ride my bike.

I first started riding my bike around when I lived in Park Ridge which is a northern suburb of Chicago.

In like 1970 I started riding my bicycle all over my neighborhood, exploring.

I didn't ride fast then and I don't now. I rode slowly to look at the tree branches meeting in the middle above the streets.

I rode slowly to stop and pick up turtles or frogs and move them to safety.

Yesterday I stopped to congratulate many proud duck parents out with their ducklings waddling across the paths.

When I'm out on my bike I'm silent, I'm not using any fuel but my own, I'm not making any pollution, I'm not hurting anything or anyone.

And I'm Free!

The other thing to say about the ride yesterday is that I had my favorite destination from last year in mind when I set out.

Last year I stopped quite often at the Lake Harriett bandshell pavilion and bought myself some kind of treat.

Yesterday I was thrilled to see that they were open for the season and I bought myself a seared walleye sandwich and a glass of cava.

Cava and a walleye sandwich proved to be the best lunch in the world.

The sandwich is perfectly prepared: the walleye itself was beautiful, the dill tartar sauce they make themselves was divine, big slices of ripe tomato, crisp shredded lettuce.

You gotta go.

But I swear, getting in and out by car would wreck the whole thing.

In my humble opinion, driving around in cars sucks.

Don't get me wrong, I love my car, it's all paid for, it's a Jeep, and I love it.

But it's so delightful to literally breeze past all the cars lined up at the stoplights and just keep on riding!

Bicycles are freedom.

Well, okay, I don't know that a Chinese factory worker in the middle of a bicycle traffic jam on the way to work could agree with me.

But I can only work with what I've got.

Also, I have a memory of an old man up on Lake Vermilion, a guy who lived full time out on Birch Point when I was a young girl.

He must have been in his eighties when, one morning in mid summer, I happened to be out walking my family dog past his place.

I was maybe ten years old.

He was out in the middle of his driveway tinkering in front of his garage with an old bicycle.

The garage door was wide open and I could see that this guy had a lifetime of boat motors and everything else in that garage.

As my dog and I were walking past his property he saw me and waved.

Then he got up on that bicycle and started pedaling.

He was wobbly at first and I thought he might fall.

I stood and watched him.

He got going pretty smoothly and took the bike out onto the road.

He headed down in the direction we were going so I kept walking with the dog, watching the man on his bicycle.

He went for a while and then made a fairly smooth u turn and headed back, coming towards us.

When he got up close I could see his face, beaming with the biggest toothy old smile you can possibly imagine.

Just as he was passing me, this man I had never spoken to and didn't know at all shouted out, 

"I feel like I'm eighteen again!"

That's the spirit!

That's what a bicycle ride can do!

Roll on summer!

Back from Duluth

I'm back in Minneapolis from Duluth.

What did I learn?

I learned that if you keep chipping away at it it can get better.

In the past I have sometimes felt less than embraced by the Duluth music people...the ones who run the radio stations and the record store, the ones who run the venues and the concert halls.

Two days ago in Duluth Rob and I played in studio on KUMDFM radio at noon.

We then headed over to the wonderful Electric Fetus record store for an in store performance.

Later at night we played a set after the "Highway 61 Band" from Duluth at 10pm.

It was a big day musically speaking.

I felt like I came closer to having some meaningful relationships with the music people in Duluth, and with the live music revelers as well.

I always try to have this type of a model for any town. Arrive, play everywhere to promote the show during the day, then play the show at night.

I saw again that I have a lot of energy when I'm having a day like this because I'm so excited for the performances and for the chance to win people over.

I really enjoy trying to win people over.

I think that's one reason why I like to spend a lot of time alone, because winning people over does take a lot of energy.

Also, writing this daily blog is a way to be connected to others through my own lense, and through my own art, which is the way I enjoy connecting with the world the most.

Someone, maybe the Buddhists, say that there are three ways to pursue enlightenment.

One is to be of service to others.

Another is to worship and contemplate your God.

Another is to pursue a means of self-expression.

I am falling firmly into the self-expression approach, but in doing so I feel that I am able to be of service to others. I can be an inspiration, a voice, a mentor.

But also, in my own effort to summon the Holy Spirit for my own sake in my writings and performances, I am also worshipping at the altar of the Lord.

So, practice makes perfect and I continue to pursue the illusive excellence.

 

 

Editing a manuscript of literary fiction is not for cowards

 

Right now, and throughout this summer, I am traveling around the upper Midwest for shows from Duluth to Chicago and points in between.

When I'm not traveling I am continuing to work with other artists, helping them with their projects as a consultant.

When I'm not doing either of those things I'm working to edit my manuscript for my second novel.

 That's what this post is about, whittling down a too long fiction manuscript.

 What I'm finding is that just about any piece of writing can benefit from being shorter.

Haha! Sad but true.

I do not follow this line of reasoning with my blog posts however because these posts are intended to be my morning pages and are done stream of consciousness with only a one minute spell check and grammar type of edit process. The blog is for me, and hopefully for readers, to identify with the flow of an artist's life over time. This blog is meant to be taken as a gesture of comradery and trust between myself and those who are interested enough to partake.

None of the above applies to a work of literary fiction. 

The way I see it in literary fiction, you have to earn the reader's trust, and you earn it by not sending them off on wild goose chases.

I learned after the publishing of the first "Sidney" novel that a reader can interpret almost anything as a goose chase if that's the way they read.

I consider this to be a plot driven mentality, and for me personally, it has less of a place in literary fiction.

For me the good novel of artistic value is not like a mystery novel or an historical novel.

Literary fiction for me is a genre that embraces character analysis and philosophical themes that land somewhere beyond the plot of the story.

Morality can be played out through plot by a character getting what he deserves, and that is played out in the plot.

But there are subtle issues of the heart and the mind that do not play out so obviously.

The points that I am trying to make about "Sidney" in book two sort of hover above the storyline itself, like how her values are changing, and how she sees the lessons of the things that happen to her.

So, I am reading and rereading chapter after chapter, trying to hone the subtle themes so they are clear but not ruinously obvious for the reader. I don't want to wreck the vibe by stating it all so clearly that there is no art left at all.

As I strip away parts that I added to the manuscript originally, I notice that the things I'm taking out are like colors that make the whole painting muddy.

I took out a chance encounter with a girl from school that Sidney had because I realized that the reader was with me in that chapter and that I ran the risk of losing the reader off on a tangent of wondering if this new girl was going to become more important and have a bigger role in what was going to happen. No, she wasn't going to, she was just going to pop in and pop out. Well, that's the kind of thing I probably can't afford to risk with my readers right now at this point in my storytelling. I probably shouldn't make them meet a new character and start thinking about her, only to have her disappear and never be mentioned again.

For me, I would have enjoyed the luxury of having this other girl appear for a moment just to show the reader how Sidney is reacting to people she runs into from her old life. That is interesting because it could show how Sidney is changing.

It may be interesting, but it isn't worth the risk of bogging down the story and losing the reader, and making a boring second book, and getting bad reviews from people who read it, or worse yet, having it not get published at all because it isn't captivating enough.

Maybe someday I will be like Theodore Dreiser and publish long works like "Sister Carrie", but I seriously doubt it.

I may complain about editing but I probably want these cleaner smaller books.

I love to hold the first "Sidney" book in my hand when I talk about it from the stage. I am always gratified by the feeling of the slim yet substantial paperback book that has the beautiful cover of the guitar made of flowers, and I love knowing that a whole world of a young girl and her most difficult winter is completely intact inside these neat pages. 

I hope that this second book feels that same way for Sidney's college years.

Writing novels is hard work but it's very stimulating and it works your brain and your heart in new ways all the time.

Here's book one. You can buy it on amazon.com or order it from your local bookstore.

Many public libraries have copies now as well.

Or you can buy a signed copy from me at my next show.

Hopefully book two will be out soon.

Mister Dylan's birthday week

 

Tomorrow I head North with Rob to do several performances in Duluth.

Duluth is having a "Dylan Fest" to celebrate Mister Dylan's birthday.

I don't know whether they are extending a formal invitation or not, but either way, I don't think the great man will be joining us.

I wonder how he feels now.

He wakes up and swings his feet over the side of the bed like everyone else, I suppose.

But upon his first footstep of the day he is already Bob Dylan.

I hear that he's making whiskey these days. That's fun.

He's a fun guy I think.

I would like to meet him but only if he could somehow sit through my live performance and then he would have to say to someone, "You know, I like her. I want to meet her."

That's how it would have to go down.

I know his music, and I would want him to know mine. Then, if he liked my music, and he wanted to meet me, we could meet.

This may still someday happen.

Or it may never.

Either way, I'll be playing two or three of his songs and about ten of my own this Wednesday night at The Rex in Duluth, 10pm, in honor of him and his brilliant music.

This is his birthday week. I bet he's having fun where ever he is.

Happy Birthday Bob!

Earning Respect


I think it's true that you have to earn people's respect.

You can't demand it. You can't guilt them into respecting you. You can't convince them that you deserve their respect.

You earn it by your actions, by the quality of your words and your actions.

Yesterday I played a show in Minneapolis at a big neighborhood arts festival.

First of all, they earned my respect yesterday because the scene they created was vital and fresh.

Rob and I walked around before and after our performance and everywhere as far as the eye could see there was live music and bright displays of original art.

The people looked happy and they looked healthy.

There were lots of people on bicycles. Lots of people with tattoos, some of them beautiful and original.

There were lots of hair colors and hair cuts that were creative too.

It was not as diverse a crowd racially as I prefer, but hopefully Mpls is heading more in that direction.

So, for the most part, NE Minneapolis had my respect last night, for sure.

What is wonderful and new for me in this city is that I had their respect last night as well.

Ah, to feel appreciated.

I felt appreciated last night for my musical performance. Rob felt it too.

It was a singer/songwriter/roots/americana primarily older white crowd at the venue where I was invited to play.

There were five bands on the bill I think.

Often those other musicians give me feedback after my performances that is insult thinly veiled as compliment.

I always dread talking to any of them after I play.

But this time it was different.

I could hear the appreciation in their voices.

I could hear their respect for what we had done.

I know a songwriter in this city who has made twice as many albums of original songs as I have made.

He writes often on social media that he doesn't get enough appreciation in his hometown for his music.

It's a constant lament of his.

But all of his lamenting only makes his people respect him less.

My dad was like Rodney Dangerfield, the old comedian who used to complain that he couldn't get any respect.

My dad would yell at me, "I'm your father and you need to show me some respect!"

I was nine years old when I responded for the first time what became my standard answer, "A person has to earn another person's respect."

I would say that and then run before I got hit.

I thought it was a brilliant statement then, and I still think so now.

A songwriter cannot yell at the audience to shut up and listen to him sing.

A father cannot yell at his child to demand respect and get it.

I could not get the respect of my peers in Minneapolis until I gave a performance that they could feel for themselves to be worthy.

Last night was a musical breakthrough for me.

Rob and I felt appreciated for the performance we gave.

The performance was worthy of appreciation.

The respect we felt from the audience was real and honest and the feedback we got afterwards was real and honest, and positive.

Hallelujah.

I love New York City

 

I LOVE NYC.

I can get perspective on my self in New York.

I have a ritual of buying the Sunday New York Times and reading as much of it front to back as time allows on a given Sunday.

If I'm in Europe I usually can't get a hold of an American version of the Sunday NYTs, and that's a total bummer, because the issue they put out in Europe is an international version that is very thin and doesn't include any of the coolest stuff.

But when I'm in America, I find it, I buy it, and I sit down and read it.

All these years of Sundays with the New York Times has taught me many things, but one of those things is that I love thinking of myself as a player on the world stage.

I love thinking of myself as a citizen of the world.

I love thinking about all the people who made mention on any given Sunday as my peers in the world of doers.

I look at the pictures, I read the articles, I think about the people.

Refugee, athlete, politician, banker, business owner, writer, artist.

I am their comrade in the Great Struggle.

On a rare occasion when I find myself in the midst of it all in Manhattan, the teeming madness of all levels of education, privilege, hardship, brilliance and insanity, all swirling around me, and I myself a contributor, an agent of my own personal brand of message and movement, in these moments I am lifted by the Spirit and I catch a glimpse of that which is profound in our collective motion.

I get on that god forsaken subway train, screeching with overuse and declining age, screaming out it's need of improvement, and I ride with every other Human taking the risk, once again, taking the leap of Faith, to be part of the New York experience.

It is gritty and it is intense.

You see a young girl sitting across from you on the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan, or from SoHo to the Upper West Side, with gorgeously tended luxurious long blonde hair, flawless skin, the "J'adore Dior" wide strap cross body bag in white with gold lettering emblazoned across her slim chest; a teenage girl carrying a purse that costs twenty-five hundred dollars. You are disgusted? You are overjoyed to revel in the spectacle of her rare fresh beauty?

You see a filthy young man, grimy with the black soot of the streets, of the subway, with a big tabby cat in a dog harness, chained to a filthy bed pillow, a cardboard sign saying something about needing to buy cat food. You wonder whether people are calling social services for the young man, maybe as young as seventeen. You wonder whether anyone has called an animal rescue. You wonder if the NYPD take the animals away and bring them to a shelter.

The New York experience is alive and well if you want to partake.

It has not died, it has not moved elsewhere.

In New York, I heard so many young people speak of "changing the world for the better", "making the world a better place", that I believed them, I believed in them, I believed it was possible.

In New York you see the worst of who we are and the best of what we could still become, if we have time.

New York City is the capital of the world and I am and always will be one of it's grateful honorary citizens.

This photo is Sheep's Meadow, Central Park, New York City, May 18, 2018.

Momming it up

 

I am momming it up big time in NYC this week.

I am staying with one of my daughters, in her room with her in Williamsburg.

My son is graduating and there are festivities for two whole days.

I am basking in the glory of seeing all of my three children graduated from college now.

Wow.

I know that I have played my cards very close to my chest these past ten years, and that many of the people who have supported my music and my artistic career haven't been aware that I was also raising three children at the same time that I was making albums and touring.

It's fun for me to be enjoying the fruits of all of these long years of concerted effort on the home front and out in the world.

This graduation week is the end of an era but the beginning of a whole new life for myself and for my family.

Love to all.

hang on for the ride

My summer season is about to kick off!

Tomorrow, NYC.

Two separate trips to Chicago for performances in June.

LA at the end of June.

A North Country Tour in a 1970 camper van to play concerts from Lake Vermilion to Grand Marais in early July.

Germany for outdoor concerts, streetfests, beachfests, beer garden fests, the first three weeks of August.

I am interested to see how this all shakes out, personally, musically, and financially.

Full speed ahead.

 

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is today. I like it. I'm happy about it.

My mother is coming over to this sweet little house and I'm making a quiche.

Nina is here and she made some muffins with fresh raspberries and sour cream.

Rob is making mimosas.

My mother will be her usual self I'm sure. Smile face.

You've seen the front porch, but now I have the back little patio set up with umbrellas and outdoor furniture from my past life.

It looks fun out there too.

This is a fun place to live, that's for sure.

I'm grateful to be here and grateful to have a mom and a daughter on hand to celebrate the day with me. And a Rob too.

This week I go back to NYC for my son's graduation and Justin Trudeau is giving the commencement speech which is going to be awesome.

I'll sleep on an air mattress in my daughter's room in Brooklyn for three nights.

It is totally worth whatever discomfort must be endured.

I will make a pilgrimage up to Central Park.

When I went to New York four years ago, I thought I might never come back to Minneapolis.

In truth, I hoped I would never have to come back.

I love putting the past behind me.

And my time in New York was the greatest freedom I have ever known.

Two of my children were there, and Ava came out very often to visit, so everyone was always around.

But I went there to work at being a full time independent artist.

That part of it I found to be impossible.

I did a lot.

I made many inroads into the music industry that are some of my most valuable relationships now.

I toured the East Coast extensively and I made a kick ass rock record called "Red Letter Day".

I also had long hours to walk with my little dog in Central Park.

I walked The Ramble almost every morning.

Often we sat with a coffee and a croissant at the little cafe in the park and watched the other dogs and their owners.

We walked to the statue of Balto and I would read out loud to my dog the plaque with the story of how Balto saved the children of Nome, Alaska when the vaccine had to be brought through by dogsled.

Central Park was my moment of freedom in this life of mine.

I may never again feel as free as I did then, single, unencumbered, for the first time in almost thirty years living alone.

But strangely, and I didn't predict this at all, I felt frightened and lonely too.

New York didn't throw open all of it's doors and roll out the red carpet for me.

I felt isolated in my pursuit of a viable music career.

That feeling persisted and worsened as my money ran low, and then ran out.

I stayed, living off a line of credit, hoping my ship would come in.

In the eleventh hour I had no choice but to go back to Minneapolis, where I could figure out a way to live and keep going with my promising but not fulfilled dream.

So, I came back.

I knew I could live with my mother, but I also knew that might be too hard on both of us.

Rob said I could live at his house.

I said, "Okay, but just until I can figure out what to do next."

Well, here we are at Mother's Day two years later and I'm so grateful to still be here.

I have a clear mind and I am light hearted.

I have cast out much of the darkness that has plagued me most of my life.

All three of my children are unencumbered by the dark discouragements I have felt so often.

I see their light.

They are the great gifts of my struggles.

Thank God I was able to be firm with them, I was able to be kind to them, I was able to encourage them.

Thank God I didn't ruin them with the bad habits I knew so well but forced myself to gradually unlearn.

I successfully protected them from my darkest self.

When I couldn't protect them from it, I tried as hard as I could to make up for it.

And to their credit, through their parents' divorce and their mother's financial upheaval, they were true to themselves, true to their own courses.

They are individuals forged of their own steel.

I honor them this day.

They are the greatest gifts I have ever known.

a book event and a rock show in the same evening tonight

Tonight at 7:30pm I will read from my first novel that came out almost a year ago. 

"A Girl Called Sidney: The Coldest Place" has already made my life better in many ways.

I intend for it to be a four book series.

I want to chart the life of a girl who has a dream of being a great artist, but she barely even knows that about herself, at first.

She does what comes naturally. But then the confines and conventions of the world close in around her and challenge her.

She has to actually think about it and make conscious determined choices.

There is this vein running through Sidney's story.

Another theme I am trying to play out is to show how a girl in a bad family is hurt by the uncaring actions of family members.

That's one thing, but it's entirely another when the girl becomes her own worst enemy by acting out in bad ways because of how she was treated.

I hope that by the end of book four, after Sidney has been audited by the State Of Minnesota tax department (hahahahaha), she will have risen above all of it and will be a paradigm of great determination and good will to all. But we shall see!

Tonight at 9:30pm I play a rock set as the opener for another artist's EP release.

Rob Genadek will thankfully be joining me for this performance because it's much easier to play a rock set with drums!

And Rob brings the party with his backing vocals and his energy on stage. Rob, maybe because he's a drummer at heart, cares a lot about the groove and the tempos and that really keeps a songwriter like me on my toes. I tend to be all about expressing the profundity that I feel in the words and melody. When Rob is accompanying me he drives the songs in an energized way that's fun for everybody. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to be on stage with him tonight after doing mostly solo shows lately.

See you about town if you're in Minneapolis tonight!

And love to you where ever you are.

I think it's gonna be a good night.

 

Today is 100% Positive

 

Today is 100% positive!

I'm going to the University of St. Thomas this morning to be a featured artist for a music business class.

They are graduating seniors in the music department, specifically studying the current lay of the land in the popular music industry.

I'm excited to hear their presentation about my work.

Their goal was to study an artist in the Twin Cities who has a lot of promising things going on but who wants to succeed at a higher level and to give that artist a business plan for how best to move forward.

In light of my recent great reviews for "High Priestess And The Renegade", I am very encouraged and very motivated.

I welcome all of their input today!

Tonight I am having dinner with a friend who I originally met here in Minneapolis, but when she and her husband moved to NYC I helped them find their first apartment and our times together in NYC have been some of my favorite memories.

Tonight we'll have dinner at a restaurant I love that has just changed ownership, and because my friend is a food expert, truly, I will have a wonderful time getting her critique of the new management.

All in all a truly positive day.

 

The taxman came and left

I'm going to break my blogging rules and post a second entry in one day today.

The MN state taxman came to Rob's house, asked many questions, and left.

As I said earlier today, they are auditing the last three years of my MN taxes.

I was truly amazed that the bulk of the questions were intended to determine my "intent" as an artist and entrepreneur.

It seemed novelistic; a perfect scene for the "Sidney" series, book four.

I sat there answering questions like, "How long have you been doing this activity?"

I said, "You mean the songwriting and singing?"

He said, "Yes. We're trying to determine what level of expertise and commitment you have and what ability you have to make this a business that makes a profit consistently."

So there I was talking to the taxman about how my grandmother gave me a guitar for Christmas when I was eight, how I wrote a song and played it for my church choir director when I was ten. How my choir director invited me to perform my song at one of the first "acoustic services" at the big Lutheran Church in Chicago in 1971.

My life played out before my eyes today. Everything I've ever done, every effort I've ever made. 

The taxman may end up telling me I can't declare all the expenses for my touring and making of records.

I could owe more than $!00,000 in back taxes if they decide this is my hobby.

He asked me how much time each day I devote to the activity of being an artist.

I said twenty-four-seven.

He smiled and said, "I'm actually going to write that down. I think that's probably true about you."

We'll see what they decide. 

But no matter what they decide, the State Of Minnesota gave me a great gift today.

I got to try to prove that what I'm doing isn't a folly.

I discovered in the process that I'm proud of what I've done, I'm proud of who I am.

I saw myself in the taxman's eyes and I love what I see.

The Taxman Cometh

 

The taxman cometh. Today. To Rob's house. A taxman who makes house calls. Yuck.

He's from the State Of Minnesota tax department.

I've always loved the State Of Minnesota.

I hired a tax accountant in the State Of Minnesota every year to do my self-employed post divorce taxes just so that I would be sure I was doing everything right and so that I wouldn't get audited. Sad.

I used to be a doctor's wife...fifteen years ago...and for a long while I had child support and alimony, and a savings account.

When my last child turned eighteen, four years ago, I went cold turkey on getting any external financial help and committed to succeeding as a full time artist. Success would mean being able to support myself comfortably. 

I am not at all comfortable yet, but this month will be the first month that my new MN subsidized health care kicks in and that means one less $440 payment per month. My asthma medicine will go from $100 a month to $3.00 a month.

I finally have purified my soul of the blood money of the divorce and I can begin again with a clean slate.

This is the beginning of a new era of artist survival for me and I'm excited about it.

And let's not forget that the plane tickets to Europe for our August return tour were purchased yesterday by the promoter I'm working with, so there is a lot to be excited about.

But in the face of fairly dramatic financial challenges,

with a currently empty savings account,

and a currently maxed out credit card,

here comes the tax man.

I'm going to be polite and nice and answer all of his questions.

I'm going to resist the urge to offer him a beer and play him a few songs on my guitar.

Wouldn't that be funny?

"Here, buddy, have a beer. I'm gonna play you a few of my songs on this here guitar."

One of his concerns is whether what I'm doing is a hobby or a full fledged career.

If it isn't a career then I can't write off my expenditures.

"This ain't no hobby, Dude. Have another beer. I'll play you this new one that says 'fear is my enemy and money is my rival'."

 

laundry list

I have been told that in any entrepreneurial effort you'll know when there is too much for you to do on your own, and that will be a sign of progress or of impending success.

I've also been told that in the music business an artist doesn't need a manager until there's something to manage.

Right now I am managing it all on my own, but it's enough work for more people than just me.

There are still three more shows that need to be booked for August Europe tour.

The press I'm getting right now is fantastic on the new album, and all of those reviews need to be read, sorted, quoted, posted, and put on the Press page of this website.

We need to do a fundraising campaign to collect the $2000-3000 it will take to make a "Hey Lulu" music video here in Minneapolis ideally with the real Lulu herself. And then organize and make that video asap while the album is doing well and getting excellent reviews.

I need to finish the editing of the second "Sidney" book and get that to the publisher...by a month ago.

The state of MN needs all my bank statements for the last three years for tomorrow.

The fall tour schedule should be addressed right now: East coast and West coast tours, September and October. Inquiries need to go out now for these.

Daily blog, but I ain't gonna delegate this 'cuz I love it and it loves me.

What else? Play the shows on the calendar right now. Play the house concerts that I adore so much. Fly to NYC for my son's graduation..with the plane ticket my kids pitched in for me, and sleep in my daughter's new tiny room with her for a couple nights.

Drive twice to Chicago for shows in the month of June. 

Figure out how to scrounge up the money to buy another box of my own book to sell at all these upcoming events. The distributor is giving me 40% off retail.

Wish list? I wish I could make small envelopes with a cd and one sheet of "High Priestess.." to send to American reviewers with an extra note quoting these Europe reviews that have come in. I would love to send out one hundred cds to one hundred blogs, music magazines, record labels, etc. in the US right now. What's keeping me from doing that? Time and money. It should get done!

One of my darling children arrives today for a week long visit. This slows me down, but it is also more important than all of this put together.

Another darling child is begging me to fly to Denver..at her expense..to stay with her in her brand new apartment and visit her brand new job and be a fun good mom. I have to make time for that in June...or July probably.

The other darling child graduates next week and I will be there to hear Justin Trudeau give their commencement speech so I got that one right.

Also, the plane tickets for the Europe tour in August were purchased last night and that is one huge hurdle accomplished.

I will continue to Pray to the Great God of American Record Labels that someone will pick up this fabulous album of mine and throw some industry weight behind this colossal effort.

Keep calm and carry on, as the English like to say.

Oh my God!

So what's the goal?

The goal is to be doing the right thing at any given moment.

That's all anybody can do.

 

 

personal style is cooler than fashion

In my humble opinion, personal style is cooler than fashion every time.

When Scott Schuman started doing his Sartorialist blog in NYC, the people he photographed were all personal style.

Some of Scott's followers, maybe myself included, thought that Scott became more fashion industry minded as his blog became more and more famous.

I remember one of his photos where he had become the arbiter of good taste and was commenting on what the exact length of a man's dress shirt should be beneath his suit coat. Scott was getting dictatorial on his followers it seemed to me.

But then Scott went to some exotic places and photographed people wearing original and beautiful combinations of all sorts of things. He branched out geographically and sartorially, and he gave us all something to think about when it comes to clothing.

When fashion dictates then it's no fun. When people who love fashion start telling everyone what's classy and what's trashy, they take all the fun out of it.

The indigenous peoples of the world have often dressed with great creativity and flare. Photos taken in the early nineteen hundreds of Native American women and men show their majestic attention to detail. Their use of sueded leather and fringe and beads is still just about as wonderful as it gets to my way of thinking as far as fashion goes.

In a parallel universe there is, for me, the punk black leather and silver studs styles that are supremely urban and make me think of New York and London.

A black leather jacket with a tulle skirt, or tutu, is one of my favorite combos for stage wear.

I love when great fashion designers take street or indigenous elements and make them into a head to toe ensemble that works for modern life. 

I don't love when wealthy women buy the whole thing from the designer and just walk around in somebody else's concept. And then the next season they buy a whole new concept head to toe from somebody else and just wear somebody else's idea all over again.

The fact is that human beings had to design clothing from necessity. We don't have fur. We're the only creature on Earth that has to put something on to protect our bodies in most of the places where we live. Okay, hermit crabs do too.

So, like it or not, you get dressed every day. And every one of us is making choices. Some are dictated by cost, but wearing your hair long or short, tied up or hanging long, which t shirt with which slogan printed on the front, some of these choices are allowed to most anyone at any budget. 

One of the homeless guys in my neighborhood in New York wore bright colored pipe cleaners twisted in his long hair. It looked cool.

I want to feel free to wear whatever makes me feel free. 

If I want to wear flowers in my hair I don't want to end up not wearing them when I leave the house because I'm afraid someone will look at me with mockery in their eyes.

I want to be brave.

I won't mock those who wear something that makes them seem a slave to fashion. I won't discredit someone who does not exercise their creativity in their choices of clothing. I won't criticize anyone, for anything, because we are all trying to survive either psychologically or monetarily or both.

I'll just walk around in my tutus and my flowers and my fringe jackets and my black leather with studs, and mind my own business.

 

what's your goal

Sometimes when I work with people in the music industry they will start a meeting by asking, so what is your goal? Where is this all heading for you? What are you hoping to achieve? I used to always think to myself, "Why are you asking me this? Every singer/songwriter has the same goal. Everybody wants to be Bob Dylan, right? Why make me have to say it?"

Well, it turns out that everybody doesn't want to be Bob Dylan.

I am noticing what may seem entirely obvious to you but has not until recently been obvious to me, which is that everybody is different and everybody's vision of where their efforts are leading is different.

Last night I played on a bill of four songwriters.

Every time I do that I think I know what that will look like.

But in fact I am always surprised. Each human being, when laid plain upon the stage, comes up looking so unique.

Each person who performed last night was a walking Victorian length novel full of trials and tribulations, strengths and foibles, brave gestures and missteps.

It's beautiful and heartbreaking to watch someone stand alone at a microphone, guitar on a strap, strumming and singing their own compositions.

You see what they are hoping to be. You see it. And you see what is in their heart. You see it. And you see what they are, not what they may become, that is unknown to you and maybe to them as well. But you see where they are right then.

Everyone should do it. Write a song, strap on a guitar, go sing it on a stage someplace.

It's a great leveler. It's a great revelator. 

Here's me last night working at this craft:

Statements of good hope and good will

Sometimes it's best to just write out the statements of good hope and good will. 

I love seeing little plants poking up their heads right now in the early Spring of Minnesota.

I love that the big old Martin guitar may have a crack in it but it still sounds pretty damn good.

I love that my little dog sits out on the porch with me when I'm writing now and he stands up and growls at the big black fly who comes to be nosy.

I love that my barbecue grill is set up on Rob's back patio ready for business and my kids are coming to visit soon.

I love love love that my son is graduating next week and I get to go hear Justin Trudea give the commencement speech!

I love that I get to play an hour long solo set tonight at a nice little songwriter place in Minneapolis and see if I can win people over.

I love that there is so much promise in the world with young women in Africa tending orphaned elephants now as real work that can help both the people and the wildlife.

I love that there is so much promise all around.

hard work or talent

Some people want to put an artist in a box because they don't really like your lifestyle.

Mark Knofler famously sang, "that ain't workin', that's the way you do it, you play the guitar on the MTV, no that ain't working that's the way you do it, get your money for nothing get your chicks for free".

He was talking about some manual laborer making fun of rock musicians.

I don't know how hard some musicians work compared to how much they get paid, but it seems like Beyonce works very hard.

Bob Dylan seems to have worked hard his whole life even though he had plenty of money from early on, that's the same with Beyonce.

Yesterday someone told me I shouldn't compare myself to great successful artists for two reasons. Reason one is I haven't made money and won awards like they have, and reason two is it makes me look bad to other people when I talk about those artists because people think I'm saying I can relate to them like I consider myself to be their equal.

Well, I do consider myself to be their equal, as in, all people are created equal. I think that way.

Also, why do I want to have on my radar artists who have not broken through?

Just so we can all be in the struggle together?

Honestly, I don't think we're all in the struggle together anyway. I think if you're creating solo works you are going it alone and nobody else is on your path with you as much as you might like them to be or as much as they might wish to be.

It feels like Billy Jo Armstrong singing, "I walk this lonely road, the only one that I have ever known, don't know where it goes but it's only me and I walk alone".

So when somebody says to me, "Oh well you just work so hard and if you work that hard at it for that long something's bound to happen."

Yeah, sort of, but you can't just make it about how hard and long an artist works at their craft.

That's the scariest part! 

What if I put all my efforts, all my money, all my time into one big dream?

What if I fail?

What if it turns out that there's a missing ingredient to my formula and that missing ingredient is the one thing that money or hard work or effort can't buy. 

Is there an illusive thing that is "talent"?

Maybe it's an aptitude, an interest, a passion, an affinity.

I don't know if anyone knows about that word talent.

I don't like to use it.

But there is some sort of "je ne sais quoi"; the special something, the "I know not what" that a great artist has in any medium.

I don't know what I can do about that, certainly, absolutely nothing.

Claude Monet painted the waterlilies from the bridge more than one hundred times.

Only a few of those paintings are considered masterpieces.

Hard work, determination, passion, resolve. But what made a few of those efforts brilliant?

Luck, achievement, inevitability, talent.

Je ne sais quoi.

Here's Claude out having a cig by the bridge and the waterlilies, looking like a boss:

 

 

Asking for what I really want

 

I really want to get back to Europe for the thirteen shows I have booked in August.

I'm not sure where the money is coming from to pay for the tickets, rental car, and gas.

We have places to stay for free along the tour route so that's great.

I want it to work out and will keep working to make it happen.

I didn't have it figured out when i said yes to the first show invitations that came in, but if I had said no to those, it could never happen.

Spring forward and the way will open before you.

In my ten years of touring in Europe I've been hoping for true fans who would invite me for some of their best events of the year.

If that is starting to happen, and I love the people and the places I'm invited back to, then I must make it happen whatever it takes.

I don't want to chicken out right when things are finally starting to get good!

So, I will keep asking for the answers to the big desires.

Is there enough money to go to the grocery store this morning?

Maybe not, but the cupboard is not bare.

In the meantime, am I setting up shows from Lake Vermilion to the Baltic Sea and back again?

Yes I am.

Also, the State of MN is auditing me.

I don't have money to pay for representation so I'm going to represent myself.

They say they don't know if my music business is real or if it should just be considered a hobby for tax purposes.

I am going to the first meeting with them next week.

This does not feel like no hobby to me.

 

A few days of silence strung together

What I need is a few days of silence strung together.

I didn't mean to get that right now, but it's what I got.

I have students and clients I'm working with, some every week, some every once in a while, maybe ten people all together.

This week so far I've only met with one of my regular clients, others have been out of town or had complications in their schedules.

I was gearing up to get worried, and also to start putting the word out for more students.

But there's a manuscript hanging in the balance right now and in every way it's my top priority.

The story is written but the manuscript is too long for the publisher's preference. I've been asked to cut out quite a bit. 

I'm talking about the second "Sidney" book here, and I really really want that to come out as soon as possible, so, like I said, this manuscript is my top priority.

Well, this is perfect timing, or as my mother loves to say, "God's timing is perfect Courtney."

Okay Mom, I hear ya.

Yesterday was when I noticed the shift happening, in the afternoon, after having no shows or big interactions with people since Sunday afternoon's house concert.

I felt my mind clearing in a way that made the manuscript easier to read. Yesterday afternoon I was supposed to have another student come, but instead I had the whole day in silence, no one at the house but me and my little dog. We went for a long walk in the morning. I went out again for a jog in the early afternoon.

I came back from jogging, took a shower, put on a favorite sweater. I lit the candles on the front porch and brought out black bean chips and my favorite salsa. A glass of white wine. I brought out my laptop and opened up my manuscript to edit.

I felt the silence all around me like a cocoon, protecting me, protecting the work I still need to do to make that story sing for readers.

But the beautiful thing is that I could see the value of the work I've already done and I could hear Sidney's voice telling her story again. I could hear the wind in the trees and see the sunlight on the water.

I don't have anyone coming today either. The bad news, of course, about no students is no money coming in. People don't pay you when they miss a session, it's just not the custom. So I'm getting creative with the carton of eggs I have in the refrigerator, and I'm finishing up small amounts of anything in the cupboard.

Am I afraid? No!

Am I grateful for this time to focus on what is most important to me? Yes!

 5am this morning with candles lit for extra fortification...

 

 

discouragement

If I let the negative feelings creep in, I get discouraged.

Sometimes I don't even know what has flipped the switch, but suddenly I can't enjoy the moment.

There has been some small gesture from the outside world; an email saying they're sorry but I was not chosen to play their summer festival, my mother saying that I'm looking tired. That kind of thing can get me down and I don't realize it.

I get a vague dissatisfied feeling going, an unrest, a bitter taste setting in.

I hate when it happens and the truth is that something like that happens all the time.

These moments are the pea under the mattress for sleeping beauty, and no matter how many mattresses they piled up for her she could still feel it and she couldn't sleep. Get over it girlfriend. Snap out of that obsessive crap and get on with your life.

That's what I have to tell myself. I get so scared when my bank account is on the edge of disaster. I get so bummed out if I have a feeling that anyone was disappointed in me.

Today I have about ten of those things hovering around me like bats circling my head.

Make them go away!

I almost didn't write this daily discipline or daily meditation of mine because I said to myself, "I'm not in a good place and I don't want to taint my blog when it's been going so well." 

Well, if I'm going to write this every day then some of the days have to reflect the fighting the good fight moments.

To me, being able to wave away the circling bats of discouragement is one of the keys to being a productive person.

My new song "Missing Us" on my "High Priestess And The Renegade" album talks about the bats too.

You can listen to it right here for free because I appreciate your interest in my blog posts so much.

10_-_Missing_Us.mp3

Keep it simple

I played a house concert yesterday afternoon, on a sunny Sunday in Minneapolis.

The small house was full of people.

I achieved what I always pray I will achieve, which is some kind of holy communion between the listeners and myself.

So beautiful, to witness the songs being the thing valued by us all for a brief time.

I didn't draw this, but I'm very high on acoustic guitar shows right now, so this is me today:

Crow's nests as primary art forms

 

Two days ago a guy said to me that he is not creative at all and that he has no creativity.

He works in a technical sales field.

I told him that I think every human being is creative.

Crows are creative, for God's sake.

Have you ever read about how crows like bright colored things or sparkling things?

I've seen crows nests that break my heart with their creativity; a bit of tinsel from someone's alley Christmas tree or some bright colored thread woven in, a metal key tucked down in the center.

 When you get dressed you make choices, or even if you wear the same thing every day, you made choices when you went to buy those things. If your job requires a uniform then you are even more creative when you're off duty because you could wear literally anything in the world during your off times. Whether you choose to wear a Grateful Dead t shirt or a pressed blue dress shirt with your jeans, not to mention what sort of jeans, you are creatively making a personal statement.

You can't hide from the necessity to be creative for survival.

When you eat, what you eat, how you eat crosslegged on the ground or high on a bar stool, you are creating your reality from sheer personal freedom.

The bird's nest is a primary art form but also it's a utilitarian construct.

Setting up your first apartment is an exercise in creative use of space, limited finances, limited materials. To make yourself feel comfortable and happy takes creative energy.

Okay so I think the guy was wrong about his way of thinking of himself, but also, because he thinks of himself that way, he may be overlooking opportunities that come to him to be more creative.

I think of the Tarot card of the guy crosslegged on the ground pouting over the cups he has in front of him. He's disappointed and bored. A magical hand is offering him another cup but he's so glum that he can't see the gift being offered.

To me this is what creativity is.

It's a gift given to you every day every minute to be used in how you deal with every single situation from your food, clothing, and shelter, to your interactions with children and adults, to how you spend your free time.

Not exercising your creative choices or not being aware that you have them will make you frustrated and sad.

Also, and more importantly, there are more satisfying and less satisfying ways to be creative.

It's creative to go to a flea market and make personal choices, purchasing things that you think reflect your values. That's a way of using your creativity. 

It's also creative to sit down and write a letter to someone you love.

It's also creative to try to make the letter have lines that rhyme.

It's also creative to try to make up a tune that goes with the lines.

It's also creative to decide to go sing what you wrote to the person you love.

 Here's the guy who's pouting about how life is no fun and how he has no good options.

This is from Tarot.com:

Four of Cups

Four of Cups

The Four of Cups refers to a restless time, when you have become dissatisfied with life and disappointed with where you now sit. Feeling stagnant and longing for change, your heart is questioning its options, and you may find yourself pulling away from the world. When the Four of Cups comes up in your Tarot reading, beware becoming so self-absorbed and ungrateful that you cannot even see the joyful opportunities that are right in front of you. A more open outlook can change everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The porch is ready for creative discussions

The front porch is ready for creative conversations.

A friend is coming this evening to help me break it in.

We're going to light all the candles and sit out talking until it gets too chilly.

It's Rob's front porch so Rob will undoubtedly join in at some point as well, but he keeps long late hours at the recording studio so we never know when we'll see him.

I like that I have some free time coming up the next few weeks and I plan to sit on this porch rain or shine and finish editing my manuscript for book two in my "Sidney" series.

I will also be summoning the spirit with an acoustic guitar and a songwriting notebook from time to time in hopes of making a new acoustic album this year.

I am also taking maybe two or three new artist consult clients over the summer.

I charge $50 an hour and you can come sit on the porch and work on your prose, poetry, songwriting, or music business questions with me. Day or evening, weekdays or weekends.

I have a license to teach high school creative writing and literature in Minnesota, and many great references, and my clients range from age 15-80.

The porch will hopefully still be getting a new rug, three hanging baskets, and possibly a canvas curtain that can be drawn across the far end to shelter from windy days.

So far so good though.

Summer, here we come!

My health insurance experience yesterday

I went to a state office yesterday. Going to state run public service offices is like going to the dentist for me. No fun.

But what a wonderful experience I had!

First, which I considered a very bad sign, I had called these people on the phone to ask why my application was being rejected on their website.

The person on the phone asked me a lot of questions, the last being whether I had "Windows" or whether I was working from "an Apple product". I said I have an Apple laptop, but that it's only two years old and I never have trouble working on line with it.

She said that the state run website for applying for health insurance is not "Apple friendly" and works best with Windows. She advised I make an appointment, come in to her office, and apply on line with her help on her office computer.

Wow. Well, here we go. 

So I went in yesterday. There were some people ahead of me finishing their appointments. None of them spoke English as their first language and none of them looked like they were prospering in their current circumstances.

I had a happy hour show and had to be at the venue by 4pm so I was dressed for my performance. No, I was not wearing my tutu skirt, but I was wearing my black slip dress with the silver bugle bead trim and a "heartbreaker tour" t shirt, black tights and rocker boots, my favorite camouflage jacket, and a black beret, black eye liner and mod pink lipstick.

I thought to myself that I was about to be treated badly. I thought to myself, "these women work for the poor and the dispossessed. They don't want to see some able bodied woman like me coming in here looking sassy and scamming the state run health care system. Claiming that I'm a full time artist is not going to inspire sympathy."

Well, so, I sat down across from the desk of a very beautiful young black woman with an exotic name and a foreign (to me) accent. She was very kind, very dignified, very compassionate.

What do they say is an indication of a person's character? It's something about if you can treat everyone you encounter with the same respect regardless of how much higher or lower than you they appear to be, and regardless of what they can do for you, then your character is pure.

The young woman who helped me at the health insurance office treated me with understanding. She first said that she liked my outfit. I said, "Thanks. I like your hairstyle." Her long black hair was piled into a high heavy coil and twisted into a braided bun. It was gorgeous.

Then she explained that she needed to ask me several questions to see f I was going to be eligible for their health care options.

The first question she asked, and probably not the first question she usually asks, was "Are you self-employed working in a creative field?"

Ha! Wonderful! She had already made this easier for me. I smiled and told her how three years ago I had decided to make my art projects and performances my way of living. I explained that I considered it an entrepreneurial venture and that I invested every last cent I had, hoping it would all perfectly dovetail into financial success just as my savings was running out. But alas, I was only now beginning to see a trickle of a "profit" on my efforts. Although I had earned $25,000.00 from my music and writings in 2017, my touring and album production costs had come to almost the same amount. The line they care about on your US tax form 1040 is line 37. My line 37 "adjusted income after expenses" for last year was $1016.00. Full disclosure, I received donations all year from fans and supporters, to the tune of another $15,000.00 but the IRS doesn't consider the donations through gofundme.com to be "income".

So, I qualified and starting pro-dated to April 1st, 2018, I now have health care provided by MNsure. If I start making a real profit I will no longer qualify. I hope I make a livable profit starting this year! I hope I don't qualify next year! But in the meantime, it's a game changer for me because I have asthma, I take medication every day and the inhaler I use costs over $100 for a month's supply without health insurance. On my new plan, my inhaler is $3.00 each month. My health insurance I had purchased for myself for the past ten years was now up to $440.00 per month for the premiums. So with my medications I was paying over $500.00 a month.

I wonder how you feel about this as you read it. Maybe if you are a Europe friend or fan you are thinking that it's ridiculous that we even have to do things this way in America. Maybe if you are American you are thinking the same. Or maybe you are thinking that someone like me should go get a "real job" that has health care benefits.

Please comment as you wish.

I will say that I used to think that if I hadn't "succeeded" as an artist by now that I would go get a full time teaching job. Now I'm not sure that I could get myself hired at this point in my life, and I'm not sure I could actually do the job well. I've become what I've become. I feel like I am now the unique product of all of my touring and performing, of all my personal efforts to wear my inside on the outside. I don't think I could pull myself together enough to fit into a system now. 

I love my life. I'm grateful to have the freedom to make things that I believe are of value and inspiration to others. I like that I feel like a contributing member of society, but contributing what I feel is the best use of what I am as a person, with all pistons firing. 

I'm working the hardest I've ever worked in my life.

Do I deserve nearly free health care?

I don't know, but I'm damn glad to have it.

 

Freedom to express with no constraints

 

So far, I am finding the daily blog to be a good outlet for a different kind of self expression. I don't really express myself in my fiction writing. In the "Sidney" four book series I'm working on, Sidney is the one who is expressing herself, and although the character is based on me and my own experiences, she has become a character in my mind and on the page. What I write for that series serves the story more than serves me. The story has to move along, be concise, stay focused. Readers don't like to be lead off on wild goose chases...tangents...that end up feeling like a waste of their time.

I love nothing more than to sit somewhere beautiful with a trusted friend or two, with a bottle of good wine, and explore every tangent we come up with for hours on end. Freedom to explore the depths of your own subconscious, to dream out loud, to remember things you'd forgotten about yourself, the people you love, the life you've lived.

Writing a daily blog for me should be just that same way. No constraints, no apologies. Ideally liberating, but not incoherent.

The blog for me is not memoir. I'm not writing stories of my personal experiences. I'm writing inspirations. I'm writing morning thoughts on the possibilities for the rest of the day. The days go by quickly. Each morning holds great promise. The blog can serve as a determination to make the day worth living.

Songwriting is another thing all together.  Also a discipline, maybe, depending on what kind of song you want to write. Someone recently said to me that the songs I write should be simpler now, easy to understand on one listening. Maybe. But my one and only hero Mr. Dylan does not seem to have prescribed to this theory. I don't want easy songs but I do want wonderful songs. I want to stand up in the palace and know what I'm singing and why. Why am I singing this to these people? I always ask myself this question. Why am I singing these words to these people? Why indeed. I think there has to be a good reason. The reason for me has to be that the song feels important. The song feels important even if only in a vague way, and it's importance has me thoroughly captivated. That's what I want in a song. 

So I continue to explore with this blog. I want to see how far it can be pushed and spread, like rolling out pie dough into a wide smooth circle. I want to keep pushing at the edges of what I think is possible with this.

Today is a new day.

I won't add a photo today so that the words can be their own image, and the words can stand in place of a photo.

 

How Private to keep this

I've been writing a daily entry here for a couple of weeks now.

I can't tell yet how much to publicize it or whether to let these daily musings be found by the person who takes the time to look more closely at my website.

Yesterday's harmless little post about fixing up Rob's front porch seems to have lost me some followers on twitter and instagram.

Why?

I don't usually lose followers on social media. Not even when I post political comments, not even when I use swear words. 

So weird! I think that the photo of a porch I posted on Instagram seemed lame af possibly because it isn't the actual porch I'm working on, it was a stock photo from the internet. Also, it was a little blurry and Instagram doesn't look cool when it's blurry. 

Also, and this is not my personal opinion but could be the opinion of some, cute old front porches aren't cool.

Cute front porches and photos of cute front porches are for decorating magazines and dorky lifestyle magazines.

Cute front porches are not for rock goddesses and international superstars.

Do you think it was just the poor quality of the photo or do you think it was the subject matter as well that made some people hit their unfollow button?

Answers accepted below.

Either way, I see the bigger question being whether I should continue my new practice of writing the morning blog, attaching a photo to it, then posting the photo and the blog link on all of my social media pages. I will keep writing the blog posts either way but I could stop posting about them on my social media pages.

One good thing about posting the photo every day is it makes my pages look more diversified because the photos now are everything from an old guitar to a first Robin Red Breast to a porch full of flowers. Usually my social media pages are filled with pictures and videos of me in live performances plus announcements of shows and reviews and radio airplay. 

I started this daily blog in part to make a daily connection with fans who I sometimes only see once a year on tour, but who know me as a person not only as a performer. I know already that some of these fans are enjoying the daily connection and even if they don't read this religiously every day they like that they can pop in and see what I'm up to.

So for me it is not a question of whether I should keep writing about anything and everything including front porches.

It's more a question of how to make sure I am doing everything in my capabilities to build relationships and widen awareness of myself in the world as an artist and that I'm not turning people away by careless errors like blurry stock photos. Blurry stock photos.

For this morning, let's try this actual photo of the porch I'm working on in mid spruce up.......and let's see how it's received.

 

Set up the front porch for summer

I'm excited about Rob's front porch.

He's excited about sitting out there and so is the dog and so are the kids and so are the friends and a few neighbors.

But I'm excited about setting it up.

I need to go buy two new cushions and I am doing some mentoring today so I should make enough money to go buy them.

The porch has my good old white wicker furniture and a wonderful yellow bench.

So's it's already off to a good start.

When we were on tour in Germany last month many houses had tin buckets and clay pots planted up with pansies and even geraniums.

Today in Minneapolis it's going to be 67 degrees so now is the very first possibility of such potting projects.

I'm going to do what I can with about $70.00 to spend.

Later tonight I am going to my first meeting at the recording studio on Nicollet Island in the Mississippi River where I hope to make a new album of the most front porch style music I can possibly write.

Folk.

Music.

On a front porch with an acoustic guitar and flowers everywhere.

 

 

 

Songwriter Sunday Morning

 

Sunday morning coming down.

Songwriter church.

In the golden Springtime light through a small stained glass window above a small electric piano/organ.

A mug of hot coffee with heavy cream and dark chocolate.

Two trusty guitars.

The black Martin is the one I sold and then regretted selling two years later.

My friend who bought it gave it back without being repaid.

He got his two years of fun out of it. So kind of him.

It used to have stickers so as of this week it does again.

Ready for summer, that's what that guitar is.

Songs about the spacious beauty of life lived close to the ground, with many things stripped away.

Beauty is easier to see when you have fewer choices, when beauty isn't crowded out by too many things, too much opulence, too much abundance.

Later today, the small glass dish of black raspberries like tiny jewels.

The small stack of good crackers with a small wedge of a rich delicious cheese.

The one bottle of a very nice dry rosé to share with a friend.

Speaking of which, there's one called "MADO au provence", with a drawing of a woman on a bicycle on the label.

The bottle is clear glass and it has a clear glass stopper instead of a cork.

The nice man at the wine store suggested that the bottle could be later used to make one's own infused olive oil.

I'm going to do it!

Either fresh rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves, or oregano and garlic and maybe whole peppercorns.

"when Holy water was rare at best, barely wet my fingertips 

now I have to hold my breath, it's like I'm swimming in a sea of it" ~Peter Mayer

I can revel in abundance on a sunny Sunday morning in April with the Spring and the Summer stretching out before me.

"so let the sun flow through your fingertips

warm on your hands in the afternoon

the ice is gone and the summer's come

I know you never dreamed the sun would come again" ~me from my song Seven Times As Lucky on the Beautiful Lonely album

Songwriter Sunday morning.

Kimono Sessions Summer 2018

 

I feel a new era of my music coming on.

Monday I'm going to a meeting at a recording studio on an island to begin talking about my new simple solo folk album.

I have ideas about a new time coming of reveling in the guitar lifestyle I've been creating these recent years.

I have an idea to make some music videos this summer at a campsite in Birchwood, Wisconsin.

Everyone's invited.

Rob Genadek has a Volkswagon camper van from 1970 that runs great.

I have a canopy with mosquito netting in case of rain.

Joe Pollock doesn't know it yet, but he's filming these sessions while he camps with us.

I want to invite other female songwriters to play solo acoustic original songs.

I want my daughter, the artist Nina Luna, to be one of the guest performers on her acoustic guitar.

Women wearing kimonos playing acoustic guitars, hell yeah.

Fringe jackets, cut off shorts, Frye boots, kimonos.

It's not a festival, it's not glamping, it's an on location music video shoot that feels like all of that but without the hype.

Just us doing what we do.

Guitars.

"cuz if you can sing it with a guitar, it's all that matters if not to them, then at least to me"

Yeah Baby.

If you have a fringe jacket or a kimono you don't want any more, reconsider and start wearing it, or send them my way.

hashtag psyched on life this morning

 

Macklemore knows what's up.

 

 

Fringe Jackets Are For Girls Who Play Guitars

Fashion falls in line with girls who play guitars and boys who skateboard.

That's part of street cred.

I like fringe suede jackets.

I don't want dark hair right now, or short hair for that matter, but I do still like this fringe jacket and so if you see me around town, I'll probably be experimenting with different ways to wear this old friend again now that my natural blonde hippie hair thing is coming on.

I'm gonna get out of bed and go play dress up.

Write a new album now

I have done some interviews this week about my new album that's just been released, "High Priestess And The Renegade".

One thing that became very clear to me is that all of the stories about this album circle around April 2016 when I had to give up my tiny gem of an apartment in New York City.

I had to give it up even though I adored being there. I adored the apartment itself, and the city, the two block walk to Central Park, me and my little dog sitting in the outdoor cafes, meeting up with my glamorous children for drinks, riding the subway to play songwriter showcases with my guitar strapped to my back. 

I felt like I had died and was living in Heaven.

But strangely, at night, alone in my beautiful room, I felt frightened, untethered psychologically. 

I was truly afraid for myself for the first time in my life.

I had the overwhelming feeling that what I was doing was wrong.

It was wrong financially. I went deeper into debt every month, hoping something would happen with my career that would perfectly dovetail with my running out of money.

But there was more that was wrong.

One night I went to see one of my daughter's songwriter showcases and came back late from Brooklyn on the subway.

I had my guitar with me on my back, and a small amp.

I was wearing high heeled boots.

My phone had lost it's charge and I couldn't check the subway app to be sure I was on the right train.

There was a transfer involved near Time Square, I was sure of that, so I got off and set out on foot to find the right connection.

I kept walking in the underground tunnels but it seemed that some of the trains to the Upper West weren't running that late.

I climbed the steps to the street and walked some more.

Eventually I saw a familiar subway entrance, ran down the steps again and caught a train bound for my neighborhood.

By the time I walked home from the train and climbed the three flights of stairs to my little apartment, one of my knees was hurting badly.

The next morning when I woke up my knee was swollen.

I stood and could barely walk.

Frightened at the prospect of being unable to take my dog for his long morning walk, or carry my laundry to the laundromat two blocks away, and of being unable to carry my guitar on the subway to tomorrow night's gig, I called an old friend of my family in Minneapolis.

The man I called was an orthopedic surgeon.

I told him about my knee and he asked many questions.

Eventually he said that it was called "overuse" and that moving to New York City at the age of fifty-five to pursue your dream with a guitar on your back was probably going to put a strain on your body.

I knew it had put a strain on my body and my mind.

The pressure to succeed was something I created because I didn't want to lose my little slice of Heaven.

I wanted to sustain what I had created.

But alas, I could not.

My knee and my credit card balance were both protesting.

And my mind was giving in to despairing thoughts.

I didn't give up.

I got forced out.

I was forced out by the facts that I couldn't ignore.

I came back to Minneapolis, screaming NO! on the inside.

Some part of me is still screaming. This can't be how it's all going to go down.

The great thing was getting to work with Rob Genadek on the "High Priestess" album and seeing that through with recording and touring.

But it's such a big beautiful world.

I would love to go to Nashville, I've never been there, and live on somebody's sofa and make an old style country album and wear cowgirl clothes.

I don't need to be in New York right now, I've accepted that.

But I need to start something new.

I love starting a new album, fresh beginning, new perspective.

Can I make Minneapolis my Nashville Skyline?

What I have in Minneapolis is my bicycle, a few people who love me including my mom, and relationships I cherish with a whole community of creative music people.

I can write the album I'm dreaming of now, the songs I wish I was singing now.

My mind is pretty strong now, my knee is pretty good, my finances are rough but thanks to staying with Rob, not dire.

I'm going to write a new album now.

Here are some pictures and people that inspire me right now:

 

Image result for willie nelson age at height of careerImage result for dolly at fifty with guitarImage result for emmylou with guitar

 

 

Alternative Folk Punk

I recorded a folk version of my song "Scrutiny" six years ago this week.

I wore a flowered dress and played my acoustic guitar. 

My black touring Martin guitar had stickers of butterflies on it, and my initials.

I got that guitar back recently from a guy I had sold it to when I was moving to New York City.

To sell it, I had taken all the stickers off and cleaned it up. 

I thought I was leaving this phase of my music and my life behind.

No more folky stuff for me.

But Rob Genadek bought me that guitar for my very first Europe tour ten years ago.

And I like wearing little flowered dresses.

I can't just walk around in a tutu and a black leather jacket all the time.

I gotta have some variety. I got to express the full range of who I am!

This picture was offered to me by the weird machinations of Facebook this morning.

What's that weird thing they say to you?

"We care about you and your memories." 

This picture was posted six years ago with a caption about how I was at Rob's studio that day recording a folk version of my new song "Scrutiny".

I love it.

I'm so thankful that the nice guy who bought that black guitar was willing to let me have it back.

I'm going to put new stickers on it!

Also, I have several songs from my newest album getting on the folk charts in the US, UK, and Europe.

So, folk never left me.

I'm not switching genres, I'm embracing who I've been, what I've done.

The "genre" for my new album has been labeled by me and by others as alternative folk, and as alternative folk punk.

Rock and roll springing from a folk singer sensibility with an emphasis on energetic sass and brash in your face New York City vibes.

What?! Is that a sentence?

So Beautiful

 

I love to love Beauty.

I had a mentor in creative writing, a woman named Carol Bly.

She was the ex wife of the poet by the same last name.

Carol helped me with my first manuscript, when all of the four "Sidney" stories were written out as one big memoir.

I didn't end up publishing that version, the memoir version, and I thank God I didn't!

There is much more beauty in my fictional writings.

Fiction allows for magical thinking.

There are ghosts in real life, but they can be so much more in fiction.

Charles Dickens wrote fiction based on his own life, and he had ghosts too.

I think of how he wrote "A Christmas Carol" and how it held such power and such simple beauty.

When he first published it, the story became immediately popular because it resonated with everyone.

It was full of dark truths but at the same time it was so full of Beauty.

There was nothing else like it, and yet, it was instantly so familiar.

Charles Dickens could write beautiful stories because he was a beautiful soul.

Carol Bly thought a lot about what made good writing.

She thought that the character of the writer was the core ingredient.

She wrote in one of her essays something about how there are stages of development of human character.

She said that the simplest level was to have a love of Beauty.

The next was to develop a love of Justice.

The third level was to develop a code of Personal Principles.

The fourth was to be able to sacrifice those principles for the Greater Good.

 

Charles Dickens knew this, you see it in his works.

 

Something to aspire to, to be able to live by all four:

to enjoy a love of beauty

defend your love of justice

live by your own code of personal principles

and be prepared to sacrifice those principles for the greater good

 

I will endeavor to live by all four.

 

And every day I will revel in the Beauty all around me.

I'm in a working class neighborhood in Minneapolis this morning.

A newlywed Robin couple are trying to decide whether Rob's front porch is a good place to build their starter home.

I'm watching them from the front windows.

They are beautiful as they look at me, first with one eye, and then with the other.

The April snow is melting and there is a freshness that only a Minnesota morning captures in my mind.

I'm going to take my little dog and head out to the mighty Mississippi for a long walk.

We'll head over to the beautiful Minnehaha Falls which has been an ice palace all winter but now has the mad rushing waters of early Spring.

Beauty abounding.

 

 

Generate Content and Pray

Tell the world what you want.

Ask out loud for what you want.

I want to get my music heard by people in the music industry who want to help me break on through to the other side.

I send emails to record label executives.

They listen and write back with compliments and encouraging words, which is promising.

But no one has said, "Okay let's do this!" yet.

I'm looking for the right American label that will be excited about who I am and what I'm doing.

I want to be playing shows every night most of the year in cities across the country and the world.

My live performance abilities are the best they've been in my whole life and my songs are strong enough to do a whole concert of original pieces and feel great about the entertainment value and the message.

I am playing over 100 shows a year across the US and Europe but for all of my travels I am only a little above the break even mark financially right now.

I play to filled rooms, but very small rooms.

I want some power behind me that can promote my music to radio, book me in better places for more pay, get the press that my new album deserves.

In the meantime I believe in staying focused and generating quality content.

If the content is great enough and I am consistent and persistent, and I keep doing the heavy lifting on my own, eventually the industry will believe.

If you're reading this, consider sharing my website with someone you think might like my music.

I will continue to generate content and I will continue to pray.

 

 

Spring forward and the way will open before you

I think it's a Rumi quote that says something like "spring forward and the way will open before you".

That's the kind of expression that people like my mom don't like.

It's ridiculous.

You can't do anything without making sure you're prepared and have the proper supplies.

But I have found, quite to the contrary of the Boy Scout motto "be prepared", that if I spring forward the way does open before me.

So, what do you make of it?

 I am planning to return to Germany in August. I've been invited back by many people and venues to play in some lovely situations, and I want to say yes.

So I'm saying yes.

I don't have it planned out.

And there isn't the money in the coffers to cover the expenses.

How will it happen?

It will be a tight rope walk!

Why did circus people ever make up a trick where you tied a tight rope across an open area, high up off the ground, and then attempted to walk across the rope?

Why did anyone ever make up such a dangerous and frivolous folly?

Well, I can's speak for the circus performers, but I can speak for my ideas about touring.

I want to be with the people so much.

I want to play my songs and test them out in places where I know no one and see if the songs can be a bridge.

I am seeing that my songs can be a bridge.

These people are not inviting me back because we've all become such close friends.

They're inviting me back because they're as excited as I am about my songs and their potential in the world.

We all see something shimmering, promising, in the music I'm making.

We are trying to capture it, forward it, share it, fan the sparks into flames.

So it is a tight rope walk to make it happen but it is a beautiful act of faith as well.

"Fear is my enemy, money is my rival.

Gratitude is the remedy and love is my survival.

Hold me up, hold me high.

Don't let me fall."

The obsession continues as I add more dates to my summer schedule here on the website for the world to see.

 

This French painting by Forain is so wonderful to me in part because the female tight rope walker decided it was appropriate to wear a tutu when she attempts this death defying feat, as do I when I attempt mine.

Stand And Deliver

"Like a rose under the April snow, I was always certain that love would grow"

...that's a line from the Star Is Born movie soundtrack that Barbra Streisand made in the Seventies.

I had that whole soundtrack memorized in High School.

Singing along to great recordings is one way to hone your craft as a vocalist.

Sing along to Aretha Franklin and you will learn something for sure.

I'm going to sing a lot at the piano today at Rob's house.

It's snowing in Minnesota on April 14th, snowing so much that my concert for tonight has been cancelled.

(I'm pretty sure it's being rescheduled, and the new date will be announced later today, thank God.)

In the meantime I am singing at home today.

I used to say that I didn't care about the vocalizing and that I wasn't a vocalist.

I used to say I wanted to be like Bob Dylan and make it all about the words.

Well, I owe Mr. Dylan an apology on that because when I listen to his recordings I can hear his brilliant phrasing and passionate delivery.

His recordings are very much about his voice.

Nina Simone's version of his song "I Shall Be Released" is just as much about her vocal delivery as his recorded version is about his voice.

I see now that even in alternative genres, alt country like Lucinda Williams' recordings, or alt rock like Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows, these singers are singing in a purposeful and captivating way. And they have been successful doing it that way.

I seek to find breadth and depth in my vocalizing now. I'm into it.

I like to watch Beyonce's Lemonade album/movie/music video for inspiration and tutelage.

There's a lot to like and a lot to learn there.

As I accept more invitations to perform solo, I feel that I have to bring the spirit with my voice and my words.

I'm going to work on my guitar grooves today too, which are the other important component.

Stand and deliver.

 

 

Consider The Lilies Of The Field

I am considering the lilies of the field, and as far as I can see, they are lucky indeed.

The expression about how the lilies of the field don't worry about how they're going to survive comes from the Christian Bible.

I think about that a lot as an artist.

Last night I couldn't sleep because I am so scared about money again.

In the month of April I am editing the manuscript for my second novel.

That's what I planned to do, that's what I'm doing.

It takes me a lot of time and effort, but no one is paying me to do it so I'm not bringing in much money.

Thank God for the other artists I mentor, and thank God for the live performances I have lined up.

But right now I'm down to the empty cupboard and the empty piggy bank, and the nearly maxed out credit card.

So, I pray. And I consider the lilies of the field.

I indulge in a fair amount of magical thinking, wishful thinking.

I believe there are valuable lessons in staying the course through thick and thin.

I'm not hurting anyone else by my choices at this point in my life.

I love the idea that these difficult times are galvanizing my determination and my abilities as a writer and as a performer.

Or, put another way, if I had a million dollars right now I may very well not be trying as hard to finish the second novel in my series.

If I had a million dollars right now I might not be trying as hard to make every performance extraordinary for my audiences.

Also, if I go today and find myself a regular job, I might not be as determined to continue with my performing and writing.

I probably would not be sitting here writing this if I had to be at work in two hours.

Well, we don't know what we would do in other circumstances, and we can only live the life we're living to the best of our abilities.

I feel so strongly compelled to continue on my path that I am unwilling to give up right now.

I am terrified by the financial aspect, but I am delighted by the freedom and the creative work.

I am purified by the pursuit of excellence.

So I continue.

And I remember the lilies who want for nothing.

 John Singer Sargent 1885

Solo Residency on Wednesdays

I started doing a solo residency at the Underground Music Cafe in St. Paul, MN before I left for Europe.

I have picked it up again now that I'm back. This time it's four Wednesdays in a row 5-6:30pm.

I am so grateful for this opportunity.

There's a lot I think is important about doing these shows.

One thing is that I get to look forward to it every week.

I think live performance art is addicting because there are so many factors that impact the success of the event.

One great thing about being on tour is that you are playing the show all through every night, often in a new city to a new crowd.

When you know you're going to play the show again the next night, your mind is constantly aware of improvements that can be made in the performance.

When I'm back in Minneapolis my live performances become less frequent.

Every show feels like an isolated event. There's no chance to perfect it the next night.

The next show might be a week away, which, after the exquisite privilege of playing to a crowd every night, feels like an eternity.

I am so grateful to be able to look forward to returning next week to the Underground!

Last night I didn't have my small acoustic amp for my acoustic guitar because my gear is so different for touring in Europe.

I've played for a month relying on an Orange Amp simulator going direct into the house system, and it was great, but for the Underground I get a better sound for the audience if I bring my two amps for my two guitars.

I didn't like the acoustic guitar sound I had last night at all so I skipped some of those songs and stayed on my Guyatone the rest of the show.

Next week I will for sure have my acoustic sound right.

Another thing about the solo residency is that there is this fun continuity with a listening community when you get to say "see you next Wednesday!"

That is such a joy!

I wish I could always say that at the end of every show everywhere I go.

I love love love the people I play to.

The people are everything to me. The people and the songs.

When I sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", I always look into the faces of the people when the lines come, "I used to live alone before I knew you".

I used to live alone before I knew these beautiful people, of all ages, in so many different places, who all love the communion of the live performance, the words standing out to all of us, anointing all of us with their beauty. 

Again I think of the Peter Mayer song I quoted in an earlier post, a much less famous but arguably just as beautiful expression, as he startes the song with this verse:

"When I was a child each week on Sunday we would go to church

pay attention to the Priest and he would read the Holy Word

Consecrate the Holy bread and everyone would kneel and bow

today the only difference is that everything is Holy now"

Damn straight Peter Mayer!

So the next thing I think of about this Solo Residency I'm doing is that playing solo is another discipline.

When I play with a full band it's a certain type of animal. I often play with an all male backing band and I can feel their testosterone at my back on the stage like a hurricane blowing. There's a lot of force in a four piece rock band set up if it's super tight and everybody's really good at what they do.

I often end up dancing and shaking my ass and waving my arms in the air a lot because they don't need my guitar on the verses hardly at all.

It's super fun to just get up and party like a rock star during your own performances.

And it's so much easier!

Then there's the beautiful duo arrangement that I have been touring with for the past two years.

Music producer Rob Genadek brings a stripped down drum kit with electronic triggers that give a beats-in-the-house vibe to my shows.

Playing as a duo with Rob's drums and his excellent backing vocals is a revelation for me musically. 

The songs are made important by the way they are arranged in the duo.

And when I play with Rob Genadek I am playing up to his standards of excellence.

He has no patience for inaccuracies in my guitar work.

He has no patience for fumbling around between songs.

He has no patience for poorly delivered stories between songs, or poorly delivered lyrics during songs.

When I am on stage with Rob G I am bringing the best I got to give.

If Rob ain't happy nobody's happy and only if the music is great is Rob happy.

So, my solo residency every Wednesday is like playing my same show after the bottom has dropped out.

It's like playing my same songs with nobody there to save me.

I can watch the people in the audience at this small Underground Music Cafe.

The lights on the small stage are not blinding. I see everyone perfectly.

I have just played every night for a month as the duo.

I was cheered on to do many encores on those nights.

We were all in Holy communion those nights.

I am excruciatingly aware of what the shows can mean..to me..and to the listeners.

Can I bring what I know is the way and the truth and the light when I play solo every week at the Underground?

Is it possible?

There are things I can still control.

I can continue to be precise in my storytelling, to be accurate and concise in the delivery of the songs.

I can bring the same burning intensity to the words, the same driving determination to the grooves.

There is a lot more to distract me and there is very little to support me in doing a performance at this level of Belief.

The casual nature of the situation, playing for only a tip jar in a place with a fairly low expectations vibe, is not easy to rise above.

And I don't want to rise above, I want to bring everyone in the house with me!

Can she do it?

Stand and deliver.

Stand and deliver.

Fashion thoughts for summer festival performances

Yesterday the organizer of a big Midwest festival called to invite me to be on the bill this summer.

The festival has some "heritage acts" from the Sixties and Seventies, bands that are still together and still touring that started out and had hits during the early decades of rock and roll.

And they're adding in some emerging artists like me.

I am psyched, man.

He asked if I do any "vintage" covers in my concert sets.

On our Europe tour last month I was playing "You're A Big Girl Now" by Bob Dylan (my one and only hero), "I Don't Want To Talk About It" which is well known as a Rod Stewart recording, and ending shows with Dylan's "I Shall Be Released".

The festival organizer was happy.

We also talked about the look of the festival and I said I'd get into my Woodstock vibe for the show.

Which brings me to one of my favorite subjects which in my mind is a whole intellectual and creative pursuit called "what I'm going to wear for my next tour".

I find this topic to be endlessly captivating.

I feel like I have three basic vibes in my repertoire.

I got the fashion-girl-slash-Elton-John thing like this:

      

I got the New York City punk rock vibe like this (with a tutu):

    

And I got the fashion-girl-gone-western thing like this:

  

So the fun fun fun is to think about what to wear on stage this summer..and on the road trips from stage to stage!

If you see me around town, I'll most likely be doing a test run of some hybrid of all of the above, based of course, on what's already in my closet.

You are what you dream!

 

   

 

 

Good And Evil

Folks, there is Good and there is Evil, and if you think there isn't then I am here to set your ass straight.

I have had so many great one on one conversations in the past few weeks, and a theme running through them all has been the motivations of others and the benevolence or malevolence in their intentions.

I have been the Evil. I have been the ugliness, the bitterness, the striving, the grasping. I'm not sure I've ever hoped something bad would happen to anyone....oh wait, no, I have. I used to wish that one particular husband would die. There I said it. I did do that.

So people can have good motivations or evil motivations.

I have seen the subtle and the not so subtle lately.

I think that when you are trying to do something big and you are really taking risks, the actions of others towards you have an exaggerated effect on you.

If somebody is nice, boy, you notice it.

If somebody is discouraging, or manipulative, or worse yet undermining, you feel that.

So, in my recent conversations I have been so very uplifted by confirmations that I'm not imagining things; Good and Evil are real.

Most people try to stay on the Good side and only slip from time to time into the Evil.

I have slipped a lot, for sure.

But, like, even though I was really over that one husband, I didn't try to poison him or anything. And now I'm actually very grateful that this particular ex husband is in this world. I thank God he is! He brings a lot to the people I love most, in many ways.

I love staying in line with Good now. I love how it feels to be all filled up with Love that is brimming over inside of you and all around you.

There's a magnificent song I have been singing for many years written by a guy named Peter Mayer.

On this tour's last concert in Germany, the night before Easter Sunday, I added this song to our set.

I almost couldn't sing it because I was so overwhelmed by the words as they were coming out of my mouth.

My brain and my heart were both on fire from the magnitude of the words I was singing.

The second verse says.....

"....when Holy water was rare at best, barely wet my fingertips, now I have to hold my breath, it's like I'm swimming in a sea of it"

Amen, Peter Mayer.

How do you capture this feeling for yourself?

How do you not have this feeling be a fluke?

It's like getting good sex right with a true companion.

You can learn to have this feeling any time, all the time.

The revelation to internalize is that this feeling is your soul in perfect communion with the Good.

Free yourself, free the world.

You purify your soul, you clear your mind of Evil, you clear your heart of yearning or hatred, and you are swimming in the Goodness.

You can then work magic.

You then have access to the Glory.

For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory.

This is from the Christian "Lord's Prayer".

The kingdom and the power and the glory are not yours or mine. They belong only to the Good. If you can align yourself with Good and eradicate your Evil you can partake of the kingdom and the power and the glory.

What do you think of this?

I maybe am finally understanding what all the hymns I sang in church choir were telling us.

I don't want to make a blog about religion.

I do want to acknowledge that I am reverent these days to the powers of Good and Evil.

 

 

Fear is my Enemy and Money is my Rival

The duality of my circumstances is a message from the Lord that is not lost on me.

I just completed my tour in Europe.

I generated enough money to pay for all the expenses and to pay Rob what he rightly deserves for being away from his recording studio for a whole month playing 26 shows in 32 days in foreign cities for the promotion of my music.

After all is said and done it was an artistic breakthrough, a spiritual breakthrough; many lessons learned, many fears assuaged.

But this morning I am walking up to the bank with a bag of sixty dollars worth of coins...literally from my piggy bank...to make sure my health insurance payment doesn't bounce.

The piggy bank is supposed to be a fun thing that we use like once a year, when it's really full, for something fun like a family party.

Okay, so I'm having to use the piggy bank to make sure the health insurance check (which is $880 because I missed last month worrying about tour expenses) doesn't bounce. What does this say? What does this say about me? What does this say about my career as an artist? 

I'm going to decide right now what it says.

It says, "Get back Devil!"

It says, "You can't bully me, Money!"

It says, "Any day now, any day now, I shall be Released!"

You know why the gesture of bringing the bag of coins to the bank makes these powerful statements?

Because it says I am grateful that I have health insurance three years in on being a full time artist.

Because it says I'm resourceful.

It says I will do whatever it takes to maintain my artistic independence.

I am aware of the wildly audacious choice I am making to be a full time artist.

I am willing to make the inevitable sacrifices.

Every lifestyle has it's price.

Every job has it's unpleasantries.

Freedom.

I have my Freedom.

Fear is my enemy and money is my rival.

I believe that faith means that I should stay on my path and be so grateful that there were enough coins in the piggy bank to make up the difference this morning. What a miracle!

I have everything I need!

I'm drinking coffee with dark chocolate in it right now at 7am on a Monday.

At 8am I'm going to walk up to the bank which is two miles each way.

I love to walk and it's a true luxury and a great blessing to have the time and the health to make that walk.

Today I'm meeting with a group of college seniors at The University of St. Thomas to discuss their final project for their major in Music Business. They have chosen to represent the music artist Courtney Yasmineh as an "artist management group" for their senior project. They've been following the release of my new album and my Europe tour and working with Prof. Steve Cole on new strategies for better visibility for my music in the marketplace.

Isn't that a wonderful miracle?

Also, later today, I get to work with one of the artists I mentor. A great guy who is a corporate executive is working with me on his first novel and today we'll be going over a new chapter. I am getting paid to do that, so I will be able to stop at the grocery store on the way home. And tonight, I should be able to empty a few coins out of my pockets back into the piggy bank!

Fear is my enemy and money is my rival, gratitude is the remedy and love is my survival.

Keep the faith.

Fortune favors the brave!

 

 

 

Bringing The Spirit

 

On this just completed month long Europe tour Rob and I talked about our friend named Kale, a great musician who has toured as part of my band in the past. I was thinking of him because of something that he said once on one of my earlier Europe tours.

I had just finished a long concert in a small club where every table was full by getting back up on stage alone with acoustic guitar. The audience was asking for encores and the band didn't know any more of my songs, so I was going to do the encores solo. I hadn't expected encores so I had to think of songs to play on the spot. 

I was very moved by their appreciation that night. I felt very strong because of their encouragement. I sang alone, three more songs, each time encouraged to continue by the audience. No one was talking. No one was leaving. The staff was all lined up at the back of the bar facing me, listening.

When I got off stage, I was very emotional. I went to where Rob and Kale were standing at the back of the club. He and Rob both said that even they had been moved to tears. Kale then asked me why the hell, if I'm capable of that kind of performance, that I don't do that every night. I laughed it off. "Ha! I can't do that every night! This was a perfect set of circumstances that came together and made those encores possible. I can't just get up anywhere any time and make that happen! It's impossible."

Well, on this tour, I didn't do that every night, but I did it with much more consistency. Most shows were like that. Most of the time I got on stage at the beginning of the concert and I thought right away, it's here. The feeling is here already. I've got this one. We are all going to love this night.

Why am I thinking this way now? How am I able to make what I thought was a fluke and a miracle into a consistent outcome?

To some degree I have more acclaim now so my reputation precedes me and people are already prepared psychologically to sit down and listen carefully for two and a half hours. This is sort of true at least some of the time. Or at least there may be a few people who come prepared and they set the tone for the audience, even to the point of telling the non-believers to shut up...which they do from time to time.

The venues are better because I'm getting some traction in my career. This is also only sort of true because we did play some small cafes or bars that literally only accommodate like twenty people tops so it isn't the size of the venue that is significant. Better venues can refer to the culture of the venue, whether the owner sets a precedent of quality listening when there is live music being performed. If the owner of the club or cafe or restaurant comes up to the microphone and introduces me in the language of the area, there is a much better chance that people will be good listeners, for example.

So the external circumstances matter. If the sound is good, I'm more inspired. If the sound tech is good and also encouraging and excited to be working with me for my show, I feel more honored and I act accordingly. If people are already seated and they stop talking when I step to the microphone, well, that makes it easy. 

My days are hopefully over of playing places where no one really wants to listen to a songwriter play heartfelt original material. I have hopefully payed my dues at that level of anonymity. At first you just play where ever you can play to whomever or to no one even.

But now I have a new sense that once I'm given the platform so to speak, I had better be prepared to take full advantage of the opportunity. And this is where Kale's comment that night really comes back to me. I want every performance to have the same glorious outcome. So how can I ensure that?
 My idea today, after talking with a true friend for long hours here in Minneapolis, and after talking with true friends in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, over the past month, my idea now is that the answer is the spirit of God and it's within me. I bring the belief that I can summon the spirit of God, like the Holy Ghost or something, summon that spirit to the sacred space where I'm performing. Whether it's a bar or a church or someone's back garden, I will summon the Holy Ghost by my intention and my belief and my own reverence for the music and the lyrics and the story that I am telling. I am telling some kind of profound story in the way each song is chosen for that evening and the way that each song is introduced, what is said and what is unsaid. The way I look, the way I act. My tone of voice in singing and in speaking. These things communicate a clear and undeniable message to the audience. I reveal more of myself than I can comprehend. The audience takes what they want, rejects what they don't want. The audience is unable to connect with the spirit if I cannot lay it all out in a meaningful way for them. 

The responsibility is one hundred percent mine. If they don't care, I have not made it possible for them to care. If they aren't listening, I have not cut through the noise and the chatter and the meaningless drivel and presented them with something to care about. 

Some people I know in the US tell me that I'm "big in Europe" because people are different there. I'm not any "bigger" any where in particular. That isn't true. And people aren't different either. Human beings all understand the profundity of the spirit of God.  Young and old, all nations, all walks of life. All religions. Even disbelievers know the truth of deep emotion.

So I wonder now whether I can stand and sing alone, without back up singing and drums, without Rob when he can't come out on the road with me. Can I make the magic happen every night in every town, alone on stage with just a guitar? Is it possible? Will the world prove me wrong or will I be able to give the gift of the spirit, one performance at a time?

I'm going to set up a series of solo shows and head out to discover the truth.

 

Conversation Yesterday With Ava

My daughter Ava is brilliant and beautiful and people like her a lot. She has had many options since she graduated from college a few years ago.

She is a horse woman through and through and for a while she was a horse trainer in Colorado, training young horses, training aspiring equestrians of all ages too.

She made enough money to survive but her work was affected by holidays, snow storms, people's changing plans. Sometimes I helped her out when she couldn't pay her bills.

She got an idea that she wanted her own apartment, maybe that was the start of the change. No more living with a female room mate, a boyfriend, or her parents. Her own nice apartment.

She started applying for "real jobs", "regular jobs", "desk jobs".

She landed one in Denver and it's a whopper!

She has her own apartment and didn't need anyone to co-sign.

She is working very hard but she says that she loves the structure and high expectations. Plus she loves that the office is very hip and full of young ambitious people who are fun and funny. 

Okay, so that's the awesome news about Ava.

She called me yesterday and we "decorated" her new apartment by facetime on our phones.

She asked me how I was doing, and when Ava listens she really listens.

I told her that the audiences on my recent tour were my best yet. I also said that the money was enough to pay for everything and pay Rob and I was able to cover my health insurance and all my basic bills, but there was nothing beyond that. So I'm back to survival mode.

She said, "Mom, but you just went all around performing to rooms full of people in Europe who love your music. That's a huge thing."

I agreed. It's hard to hold it in your heart when you're back in snowy Minneapolis and there isn't enough money for more than basic groceries.

I told her that I taught a mentoring session that day and took our family dog for a long walk along the Mississippi.

She said, "Mom, you're making a choice to be able to go for the long walk, to work on your writing, to practice your music. Hardly anyone has that kind of freedom."

She talked about how much freedom she had when she worked as a free lance horse trainer.

She talked about how she works ten hour days almost every day now.

She said that she doesn't want to have this lifestyle of five days a week ten hours a day forever but she is enjoying the structure and the rewards.

She said that the young people at her work look happy but that some of the older people look unhealthy from the routine.

Trade offs.

We agreed that life has trade offs.

No free lunch.

My other daughter who's a songwriter and performer, Nina, recently watched the Lady Gaga documentary.

Rob and I watched it during our tour.

Nina and I agreed that Lady Gaga's level of fame includes a huge personal price tag that doesn't appeal to either of us even though we appreciate her work and even though we both take our own music seriously.

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Kris Kristofferson was probably right. So was Janice Joplin when she sang these words.

But nothing left to lose is beautiful freedom from grasping, palm open.

My dad was a stock broker. He used to say, "Another day, another dollar."

Maybe another dollar to give to the homeless guy who stands out in the snow on Hiawatha and 46th.

I have a lot to lose.

I have everything I need.

I have these beautiful relationships in my life.

I have the gift of the music.

I am rich.

 

Arina's Cafe March 2018 

Take what you have on the inside and manifest it on the outside

 

I want to take what I have on the inside and manifest it to the world.

Why?

There's a light shining deep inside of me that is fostered by the spirit of the universe.

That light should shine forth for all.

That light is in everyone.

We see it in others and we are warmed and encouraged and inspired by the light.

What is that?

Divine inspiration. Divinity. Love. 

Maybe you can't go around trying to prove you have it, but maybe you must endeavor to go around letting it shine forth.

Resentment blocks it. Doubt blocks it. A loss of faith blocks it. Anger blocks it. Probably sarcasm and bitterness block it.

I am picturing a person with a miner's lamp strapped to his head. He turns it on and goes forth. He is a beacon.

If he gets lost or loses confidence, I picture him taking the lamp off his head and turning it off.

He stands alone in the darkness.

Others can't see him, he can't help lead the way.

That's me when I get discouraged.

I turn off my light and stand alone in my darkness.

And it sucks for me and for people who love me.

It sucks for people who were encouraged by my light.

Remember to turn on your headlamp and put that thing on and march bravely forward into the unknown

with faith and belief and gratitude for the chance to face the darkness with your light shining bright.

Today I'm spending some time writing emails to people in the music industry who are doing things I want to be doing.

I hope at least one of these wonderful brave people will respond to me.

I am shining my light.

I hope they will see it.

Hope. Faith. Gratitude.

Here's my new album poster!

Nothing to prove and Everything to do

I mentor other artists.

They pay me and I use the money to survive.

Some of them I see once a month, others I see once a week.

All of them are brilliant and beautiful.

Male, female, young, old.

They are all in search of their own dream.

They are all pursuing their own excellence.

Yesterday, after a month on the road playing my shows in Europe, I was back to sitting in Rob's living room being a mentor.

I felt so grateful. Gratitude was coursing through my veins.

Too much information: I desperately need the money because as usual my health insurance monthly payment of $440 is overdue. If I lose my health insurance I won't be able to get the asthma medicine I use every day. If my asthma gets bad I can't sing. 

But in a way that is beyond the worldly necessities, these mentoring sessions sustain me. 

I am able to see what I know and what I believe in by having to show it to them.

I am able to recall and revel in my favorite lessons and stories when I talk with them.

Yesterday I watched a young female artist perform a new song.

First as a guitar and singing piece and second as an interpretive dance, she performed in Rob's little living room!

Her dancing reminded me of when Lorde danced to her own song and didn't sing...was that last year at the VMAs or something?

Anyway, it was cool.

I felt awesome sitting there being the witness to this girl's creative outpouring.

I felt like all was right with the world.

Later in the afternoon a female artist who is closer to my own age came to share with me her newly written stories and songs and to report in about her experiences going to a series of open mics and also playing some shows in other parts of the Midwest, all while I was on tour.

She usually stays a couple of hours and I charge her for two hours.

Yesterday she arrived at 1pm and the next thing I knew she had just left and I went into the kitchen to make myself some dinner and it was 6pm.

I charged her for her usual two hours.

That was fair because the hours we spent held great benefit for me as well.

We got on a captivating subject of what emotions hold you back from DOING what you want to do.

I talked about hating people for not believing in me or respecting what I am or what I do.

I said that I don't want to write to people at record labels right now even though I have been advised that I should.

I said that I will hate writing to them.

She said that she feels things differently. She feels fear or discouragement but she doesn't hate like I do.

We talked about parents who don't believe in their children.

We talked about artists feeling like they have something to prove.

She said that people who have something to prove are the hardest people to be around because they act from a place that makes them do inauthentic things.

My brain started lighting up as she spoke.

I felt images flash in my brain.

                                    My brain was saying, "Yes! I know this!

                                                                     I have been this way!

                                                                     Something to prove!

                                                                     Yes!

                                                                     Always!

                                                                     And hatred!

                                                                     Hatred for the people who don't believe in my potential!"

I fucking hate people who don't believe that I can achieve what I want to achieve.

Well, honestly, that's not that many people, not as many as my hatred imagines.

Most of the people on the planet Earth, if I went up to them and said that I want to be a great artist,

they would just say, "Good for you, go for it, knock yourself out!"

They would not say, "What? That's ridiculous! Who do you think you are?"

They would not say that.

Looking at this more closely, there are only a handful of people who might respond to me that way.

These people might be anyone who knows me well and holds some kind of bitterness or envy in their heart that is connected with me.

There probably are a few people who would have a reaction of disgust or eye rolling.

The beauty of my discussion yesterday with the artist I mentor is that I saw the tiny effect of a few people rolling their eyes in my life.

A few people rolling their eyes is nothing.

I have taken that and magnified it many times.

I have felt that the whole world is rolling it's eyes at my new recordings or my new book or my new tour.

My brain responds with hatred.

"Yeah, well you can all go suck it! I don't give a shit what you all think!"

Then I get on stage angry.

Then I play angry guitar in my bedroom, writing angry songs.

Then I hate the people I'm with in social situations.

Then I stay home and hang out with my dog a lot.

I can't bear to have anyone not believe like I do in the vision I have for my maximum potential.

Well, I saw an interview with Bob Dylan when he was older but not as old as he is now, where he says that you can't tell people the vision you have for yourself because they will invariably shoot it down. He said he didn't know why but they just always do.

So I believe in the artists I mentor because I know that their ability to achieve their potential is one hundred percent attached to the amount of belief in themselves they are able to sustain on a daily basis.

I am not that great at sustaining my own belief in myself on a daily basis.

Hatred sidetracks me. Discouragement brings me down. 

The artists I mentor lift me back up because I know what's right and I have to show it to them.

The artists I work with make me a better person and they make me a better artist.

I achieve loving positive conviction in the presence of their belief in me.

Hatred dissolves.

There is no place for it.

Hatred at the non-believers is Don Quixote flailing his sword at the imagined enemy that was the windmill.

Lay down the unnecessary sword, My Soul.

Walk forward with no weapon.

Scatter the seeds of the Lupines along the roadsides.

Sing the songs with love and joy.

Feel the hand of God on your shoulder as you sing at the shore of the shining water the songs that the spirit has given you.

No artifice is necessary.

No determination is necessary.

Nothing must be proven.

Stand in your moccasins and sing, Child of God.

Dance with the joy and abandon of the gift of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The steward of this little girl's dreams

This is me when I was little going to see the "Christmas Fairy" at State Street Marshall Field's in Chicago.

christmas fairy and me

I found this picture recently in an old photo album I made for myself before I ran away to the cabin.

First of all, I remember I had a vague feeling for many years that the dress I'm wearing was actually an Easter dress because the flowers were supposed to be tulips. But now I don't even know if that's true. They look like some kind of folkloric heart shaped flowers. And the green does work for Christmas. I'm not sure whether at the time I thought it was a good dress or not, but judging from the look on my face, I think I thought everything was awesome, as is.

So, what I really want to talk about is what this little girl is saying to the "Christmas Fairy".

The "Christmas Fairy" must have been something Marshall Field's made up so everyone wouldn't just be standing around waiting to see Santa. I don't even remember Santa. I thought the "Christmas Fairy" was the most glorious person I had ever seen. And I couldn't wait to talk to her.

So there I am, finally getting my chance.

You were supposed to tell her your wishes I think. And she had special fairy dust that she sprinkled on your head so that your wishes would come true.

What was I saying to her?

I look at this little girl and every time, I feel it.

I feel the energy of possibility. I feel the anticipation of all wonderful things. I feel the belief. I feel the excitement and the power and the glory.

This is the channeling of the spirit. This is what life is all about.

What am I saying to her?

"Yes, okay, well, when I grow up I'm going to play the guitar and sing. I'm going to write songs and make albums. I'm going to go on tour all over the world. I'm going to write books of stories and poems."

I like thinking that that's the caption of this photo.

Maybe I was really saying something about wishing I could fly or wishing I had my own pony. I have no idea.

But for the sake of the spiritual discipline of writing daily musings, I'm going to stick with the idea that the little girl is saying all the things she is going to do with her life. I could add in that she is going to raise three children, but that was never a dream of mine, it was and is a beautiful incredible gift that was given to me in spite of myself, to become a mother. It was what happens along the way as you pursue your vision of who you want to be. Life is what happens along the way. And my life held the grandest blessing of children. But giving birth and raising children is not the illusive dream I'm talking about here.

The illusive dream is stated some how by the little girl. It is a seed.

By the time I was three years old I was singing into the telephone receiver like it was a microphone, Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking", for anyone my big brother would call. He was eight years old. He babysat me alone in a third floor walk up apartment in Chicago while our mother went to work at the public library part time. She would tell us to run get the lady downstairs if anything bad happened. I had barely ever seen the lady downstairs. But I think my brother actually knew her. For entertainment, every once in a while, my brother would call his friends and have them listen to me sing. I think at three i only had that one song. Maybe a couple others but I'm not sure. I only remember the one.

The little girl talking to the Fairy is maybe five years old and by then I may have had ideas about music and about singing. I saw the children's choir at the big Lutheran church around this time...maybe this very same Christmas...and I begged my parents to help me find out how to join the choir.

I remember seeing the children's choir process into the sanctuary on Christmas Eve in white robes and with battery powered candles in their hands and my mind just firing inside like fireworks. I started asking, "How did they get to do that? How did those kids get to do that?"

So the little girl in the photograph has the excitement of possibility in her posture and on her face.

And now I am the steward of her dreams.

I am in charge of making sure that she is not disappointed.

She believed and I must believe so that I don't let her down.

She didn't care about all the unutterable negative thoughts that I know about.

She was pure in her delight and her belief.

I must not tarnish her dream with despair.

I must not be so ungrateful for the privilege of living out her dreams as to give in to the dark temptation to say that it has all been for nought.

I won't say that.

I won't think that.

I won't give her, or you, or myself, that burden.

I believe. Yes I do.

 

A New Practice Begins Today: The Blog As Salvation

I am going to try something new.

I'm going to write every morning here the way I have written in a journal every morning for thirty years.

Why not make these musings semi-public?

I have bared my soul to the public on stage now many many times.

You have seen me cry over the songs myself.

I have nothing to hide from you.

I just completed twenty-six shows in thirty-two days in Europe.

I hurts my heart to think of how much I love the people I know from these shows.

I know you.

And you know me.

On this tour I thought a lot about social media.

I thought that it seems like a shallow version of connecting with others.

It's not the fault of social media, it's the way it's constructed to be quick and easy.

I think for my music life it works super great for getting the word out and staying in touch internationally about shows, recordings, events, lots of things.

But it has left me wanting more for myself in terms of expressing myself to the people who care about my live performances.

These people, and if you're reading this you are possibly one of them, these people might like to see more of the inner workings of a mind and a heart like mine.

I have had this hunch for a while.

So I stopped writing in a journal for the first time really since before my children were born.

I stopped writing in a journal for this whole past month while we were on tour.

A couple of times in the mornings (at the Artist Flat for Songs And Whispers concert series) I actually picked up on of the markers I use to autograph my albums and books, and I tried to write an impromptu journal entry on the back of the printed out tour schedule.

I did that and as I tried to write down some thoughts in fat black letters I asked myself why?

Why the compulsion to write things down in the morning? Thirty years of writing shit down every morning. No one else has ever read any of it. Who cares? I don't care that none of that has ever been read. I'm pretty damn glad it hasn't been! There's probably some stuff in those journals that would get me in trouble with a person or two.

But that was then and this is now. My mind is different now. My heart is different.

I have nothing private to say.

I don't need to ruminate over troubles and problems and fears.

What I want to do is to extend my stage performance persona by bridging the gap between my inner life and my outer work.

This is not my series of novels about "A Girl Called Sidney". Sidney, more than ever at the end of book two, is her own person. She is not me and she cannot fulfill my desires. She is beautiful and she has value in her story and in her journey. But she is not me and she is not me now.

There is a me now that is so new and so fresh and so exciting, so full of promise and beauty, that I want to try to express this.

I think this blog may well be the answer.

We shall see! If I quit it by the end of a week, then it didn't work. That's okay. If it doesn't work there's no point in forcing it.

But if it does work, it could be wonderful!

I have two fans in Bremen, Germany who have really touched my soul.

The one is a gardener. She has reminded me how much I love gardening.

When I stopped owning my own home I gave up hope of ever gardening again.

Now I have been living at Rob's house.

If you know my music, you know who Rob is.

Well, I have been "staying temporarily" at Rob's house for two years now!

My idea was to get back to New York City by raising my acclaim through my books and music.

I wanted to make enough money to be able to afford my own apartment in New York. My eyes sting with tears as I write this.

The Dream.

In the meantime, I have been "staying at Rob's house" to be able to afford to make this new album that has just been released.

I have been "staying at Rob's house" to be able to afford my recent West Coast tour and also my just yesterday completed Europe tour.

But now I want so badly to plant flowers and herbs and see their little faces every morning in the Spring and Summer. 

I can't wait any more. Rob says he always said I could plant things at his house.

But it isn't my home. I don't own it. And I'm not married to Rob.

Well, fuck it.

We're gonna do some gardening anyway friends!

I pledge that even if I have to use quarters from the ceramic piggy bank I keep in the guest room where my kids stay when they come to Minneapolis, even if I have to ride my bicycle over to the nice little garden shop called Mother Earth in Rob's neighborhood and buy one hydrangea plant with all quarters, I'm going to fucking do it.

So, this is a taste of what we're up against with this blog practice.

I will endeavor to reveal myself and if you read this you will endeavor to slog through somebody writing their crap out in all the different combinations of the twenty-six symbols that are the English language.

And you will decide if you want to read it or not.

And I will decide if I want to do this or not.

Like the gardening idea, I have a lot of impulsive ideas about fashion as well.

I am thinking about the bolero hat I went in search of and found in Minneapolis thanks to other musician friends for my West Coast tour. That same kind of bolero hat with the chin tie ended up all over the new Dior cruise collection ads on Jennifer Lawrence and all their models. I am so psyched to wear this kind of stuff here in Minneapolis this Spring. I don't need to buy anything to dress like this. I have stuff like this, basically.   Black cowboy boots, tan western style suede booties. Lace dresses in black or white or cream. 

Also, I want to go on tour again in Germany for outdoor festivals in August. I have six firm bookings so far!!!!!!!

The gardening, the fashion, the touring.

Also, keep churning out Sidney's story. Book two is just about finished.

Also, my mom, my dog, my beautiful brilliant children. 

And Rob, the Lion.

So, here we go!

 

High Priestess And The Renegade by Courtney Yasmineh, produced by Rob Genadek

The world changed for me during the two years we made this album and on February !st, 2018 the world changed for me again.

I didn't understand so many things about how to do what you want to do with your life.

There are some keys and some rules.

I didn't know what they were, much less how to abide by them.

I'm getting the hang of this mentality of visualizing the way you want our life to be and then going for it.

Producer Rob Genadek is a guru of living the dream as you envision it.

I'm grateful to him for his example and his help.

Love to you where ever you are today in your own journey.

 

Busking

Busking in Mpls

I am really psyched on being a street performer right now in Minneapolis.

I am writing the second novel in my four book series about a young songwriter named Sidney who is sort of me.

I write every morning from something like 6am until 11am.

Then when I can't take it any more, I bundle up in warm clothes (cute warm clothes ideally) and head downtown on the light rail train.

I have my Taylor guitar in a backpack case and I fill the case up with copies of my seven albums in cd and vinyl.

I even have a couple copies of "A Girl Called Sidney:The Coldest Place" with me.

I try to find a spot where I won't get arrested or hassled and I won't freeze to death.

So far so good!

Come find me. Most days from now until my next tour I will be downtown somewhere playing and singing in the afternoon.

Love to all!

Opened for Joey Molland of Badfinger at The Dakota Jazz Club

The Dakota Jazz Club opening for Joey Molland

I opened for Joey Molland, Liverpool heartthrob, longtime member of the fated Badfinger rock band.

My music producer Rob Genadek and I had just returned to Mpls in the second half of October from a West Coast duo tour.

I was invited to open two shows at The Dakota Jazz Club downtown Mpls for Joey upon our return.

Both nights were wonderful. Joey and his LA based backing band were very inspiring to me.

The Dakota Jazz Club 10/2017

Published Novelist as of today!

 

 Ta Da!

Yes, folks, I did it! Thanks to Deborah Gibson Robertson of Gibson House Press!

 

 A Girl Called Sidney: The Coldest Place published by Gibson House Press is Courtney's first published novel, part of a four book series that follows the adventures of a young songwriter.

 

Ghost Party Reunion 2017 is the new studio album!

G

This is the moment I've been waiting for people!

Tonight we launched the Ghost Party Reunion 2017 recording sessions!

The studio is called The Pearl...which is perfectly, deliciously pirate-like.

I am happier than I've ever been going into basic tracking sessions.

I keep saying to myself, My God Where Did These Songs Come From?

I think you are going to like this album.

I am praying it's everything we all want from new rock and roll music right now.

God Help Us!

We start tracking tomorrow, Sunday August 21st at noon.

We are summoning the spirits of rock and roll past, present, and future.

It's a Ghost Party Reunion! 

 

Radio Promo Tour Kicks Off This Week!

Follow Courtney And Rob Genadek, who produced the new Red Letter Day album as they tour New England

playing live on radio stations, visiting record stores, and playing shows.....

 

Snap Chat Stories of SXSW Tour 2015

 

Here's a fun series of silly tales of the road by our wonderful videographer at large Joe Pollock.....made during our tour to Austin, Texas in March. View at your own discretion...not for the faint of heart....

 

day 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNMpX7aO-L4

 

 

day 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcv61X86D4U

 

 

day 3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sb2_RTJ5nAk

 

 

day 4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hqRs4Bjsiw

 

 

day 5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_X2IIJLDuE

Happy New Year! 2015, here we come!

In 2015, for the first time in my life, I will be a full time musician without any other source of income but my music.

God help me.

Come to a show.

Download an album.

Throw a dollar in my guitar case if you pass me on the sidewalk or in the subway.

I will be grateful, I promise.

Love and peace and happiness in the deepest depths of your souls, from me to you, this year.

 

Love from the hometown

This article appeared in the small local paper from the town where I didn't grow up, but where I spent twenty years of my life, being a good citizen in a community of good citizens. When I broke out to be the rock and roller I was meant to be, my town rolled with it and started writing nice articles like this one.....thanks Wayzata, you rock.

From left: John Lehmkuhl, Jonathan Benson, Courtney Yasmineh and Rob Genadek. (Submitted photo)

From left: John Lehmkuhl, Jonathan Benson, Courtney Yasmineh and Rob Genadek. (Submitted photo)

Courtney Yasmineh felt the pull to be a performer at a young age. When she was 6 years old, her parents brought her to a church choir concert in her hometown Chicago. Yasmineh remembers a girl the same age as her singing a solo in the middle of the performance.

“When she opened her mouth, I freaked out,” Yasmineh remembers, “I kept saying to my parents, ‘How did she get to do that?’”

The feeling lingered. When she went to concerts with her friends growing up, Yasmineh could only watch wide-eyed at whoever was behind the microphone.

“There would be something inside of me screaming, ‘Why am I not doing that? How do you get to do that? How do you get to be that person on that stage?’”

Yasmineh said she performed often in school, but said she wanted something more. She wanted to write her own songs. She wanted to do something more meaningful.

“I wanted to be more like Bob Dylan,” she said.

If only Yasmineh knew how prophetic that feeling would later become.

Up on the Iron Range

Yasmineh left Chicago in a stolen Jaguar. She was 16 when she took her father’s car and headed to northern Minnesota.

“My parents got divorced,” Yasmineh said. “I ran away from home because my family life was really bad at that time, and the divorce was very upsetting.”

She found refuge in her late grandfather’s hunting cabin in the small Iron Range town of Tower.

Less than an hour from Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, Yasmineh spent her days listening to bootlegged recordings of Dylan, playing the tapes on her grandfather’s dictation machine left in the cabin. In the winter, she worked to keep the wood-burning stove running to heat the small cabin.

She enrolled to the town’s high school for her senior year. She told the school that she had just moved to town with her parents and signing their names on any documents the teachers handed out.

Yasmineh went to the local bars with her guitar. She sat in with a local bluegrass band, singing harmony and performing some of her own songs.

“It was a blast,” she remembers.

But living on her own was a scary new experience. When the cabin’s pipes froze that winter, Yasmineh snuck into the high school to take showers in the gym. One day, the high school’s principal confronted her after he saw her sneaking into the school after hours.

Yasmineh told the principal her story. Being close to graduation, the principal decided to let her finish out the school year, but he wanted her to meet with his friend – the head of the English Department at Macalester College in St. Paul. Reluctantly, Yasmineh agreed and boarded a Greyhound bus to the Twin Cities after graduation.

Yasmineh attended Macalester on a full scholarship, finishing with a degree in creative writing and earning her teaching license. She would get married soon after college and move to Wayzata to settle down into a suburban lifestyle. While she still wrote and performed as much as she could, Yasmineh’s aspirations to become a professional musician were put on hold.

A second wind

After raising three kids, all graduating from Wayzata High School, Yasmineh’s focus began to shift back to music. After years of living the conventional life, Yasmineh said she was ready to take a shot at realizing her dream of becoming a fulltime musician.

With the release of an acoustic album of folk songs in 2004, Yasmineh said she felt revitalized.

“I would get this glimmer of what you could be. There were moments of a great show or a good turnout … But I was very uneven in how I performed because I didn’t play shows often enough,” she said. “But it would be those glimmers where I’d think that I could probably be good at this if I could do it every night.”

Blending alternative rock, folk, country and pop, Yasmineh and her band worked out of Brewhouse Studios in Minneapolis.

Today, Yasmineh is busy putting the finishing touches on her fourth album, “Red Letter Days.” The album’s release will be celebrated with a show at the Icehouse in Minneapolis Friday, Nov. 21.

The new album, “Red Letter Day,” from Wayzata’s Courtney Yasmineh. A release show for the album is Nov. 21 at the Icehouse in Minneapolis. (Submitted photo)

The new album, “Red Letter Day,” from Wayzata’s Courtney Yasmineh. A release show for the album is Nov. 21 at the Icehouse in Minneapolis. (Submitted photo)

“This one is really different from the other records,” Yasmineh said.

The singer-songwriter is on the phone from New York. While she still has a house in Wayzata, she’s been splitting her time between Minnesota and New York. The new album was recorded at No Shame Labs in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood and brought back to the Minneapolis studio for mixing and mastering.

“It’s still very much a Twin Cities project,” Yasmineh said.

Restricted by a tight budget, the new album was recorded in just nine days.

During the short time frame, Yasmineh also busily wrote songs that would find themselves onto the new record. It was a practice she said shaped the album’s sound and gave it a feeling of intensity and immediacy.

While the practice proved stressful, the singer-songwriter said the end product was worth the headaches.

“This is the best record of my career,” Yasmineh said confidently.

The songwriter said the decision to record in New York was largely based on the opportunity to work with musican-producer Charlie Drayton, whose long list of credentials include work with Fiona Apple, Keith Richards and Paul Simon.

Yasmineh said the new album takes life a little more lightheartedly than her past albums.

“I wanted it to be a fun record for people to listen to,” she said.

The singer and her band have also kept a busy tour schedule over the years. Having returned from a 10-date tour of the Netherlands, Belgium and France, they’re already planning a tour of Europe in March. So far, Yasmineh has been on nine tours performing in clubs around Europe. But she said the treks to exotic locations overseas have felt far from a vacation.

“I’m just trying to go anywhere where people like my music,” Yasmineh added. “Whether it’s South by Southwest (music festival) or Amsterdam. And it’s not like we’re all living the dream in Paris. We play in Paris, but it’s hard work. It’s the same as playing a club anywhere else.”

Grammy nominated producer Rob Genadek, owner of Minneapolis’ Brewhouse Studios and producer on the recent album, has become a longtime collaborator with Yasmineh. Genadek is also a drummer in the band has helped shape the singer-songwriter’s sound over the years. It’s a sound Yasmineh said is based on her desire to forge ahead at all costs.

“And it’s not about fame and fortune,” Yasmineh added. “I just want to keep making records and keep collaborating with great people… That’s all I want.”

And now, that desire that has led to the most recent and proud step in her career.

“I feel like this record has been what I’ve always wanted to do,” Yasmineh said. “And I’m finally getting to do it.”

Contact Jason Jenkins at jason.jenkins@ecm-inc.com

If you go:

Courtney Yasmineh album release party for “Red Letter Day” with Sunday Islands (featuring Mayda)

Where: Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis

When: 10 p.m. doors, 10:30 p.m. show

Price: $8 advance, $10 at the door

Tickets and Info: icehousempls.com.

Advance Praise for our new Red Letter Day album due out November 2014

Red Letter Day – Courtney Yasmineh (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

securedownloadWhen reviewing Wake Me Up When It’s Over, the last release from Courtney and the band, I had them down as an alt-country-rock hybrid, Sheryl Crowe meets Patti Smith perhaps, here though something much more provoking seems to be on offer. There has always been a genre hopping nature to what she does but Red Letter Day seems to be her “what the hell, let’s just do it” moment. As a statement of intent, opening salvo ‘Get It’ is perfect; all Anthony Kiedis styled staccato lyricism over squalling, rabid guitars. This is Courtney with the sass, not to mention the expectation, turned up to maximum.

 

What follows is the art of being throwing musical curveballs but without sounding out of line with the overall sound of the album. I guess the phrase “it’s the singer not the song “ is appropriate here as it is the bands component parts, their familiarity and skills as a working unit that provide the cohesion allowing the songs to head off into more adventurous musical territory yet without seeming too far from home.

 

If tracks such as ‘Friend of Mine’ are a direct pop-rock bridge to the previous album, it is the title track with its Daytripper-esque groove running through the middle distance and its touches of 60’s soul that show that the band know how to keep originality and momentum in an industry that expects you to merely give them what they want. Thankfully this album gives them what they didn’t know they wanted, a rare gift indeed.

 

There is room for beautiful torch songs (‘Change Your Mind’) and anthemic country rock (‘Hang on For the Ride’) but it is ‘Misfits and Losers’ that stands out as the real high point of the album for me. If ever they were going for a chart looking pop-rock crossover (think Pink!) then this certainly opens that door.

 

To sum up – Adventurous, generically eclectic, forward looking and great song writing. I’d say that’s all boxes ticked.

Hometown Article!

This is the best magazine that comes out of the area where I lived for a long time. It's nice to have their support and acknowledgement.

A Suburban Rock Star

How Wayzata resident Courtney Yasmineh defied convention and built a rock star career.

The famed Troubadour club in London has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Adele and Amy Winehouse. Yet in March 2013, there stood Wayzata resident Courtney Yasmineh, on stage, ready to close the show. Yasmineh worried that everyone would leave before she even strummed her first note, since she and her bandmates were following three acts of British natives.

“We finished the first song and I thought people were just hanging around talking to their friends or getting ready to go,” Yasmineh says. “Then they were cheering like crazy. I turned and looked back because I thought something must be going on behind me, and [drummer] Rob [Genadek] was saying, ‘They’re cheering for you.’”

The story represents Yasmineh perfectly, showing the insecurity of a musician coming to grips with her own success through a career that began with a rock-star attitude and followed an arc that is beyond unconventional.

Yasmineh always dreamed of playing music for a living. She sang in the church choir at age 8, got her first guitar at the same age, and wrote her first songs at 12, all the while watching other musicians and thinking, “How do I get to do that?” After issues in her home life in Chicago got to be too much, Yasmineh ran away and took refuge in the home of her grandfather (now deceased) on the Iron Range of Minnesota at age 17. “I moved up to northern Minnesota at that time when people thought Bob Dylan was the bomb. And I did too,” she says.

It took years before this rock-star move made Yasmineh an actual rock star. When her high school principal discovered she was living alone, he got her in touch with the head of the English department at Macalester College. She was granted a full scholarship and graduated with a degree in literature and creative writing, minoring in business and also obtaining her teaching license. Shortly after, she married a doctor, had kids, and ended up in Wayzata living the suburban lifestyle. “I loved what I was doing and I believed in my idea of having a more conventional life and raising children,” she says. “I don’t regret putting in the time.”

The years of waiting paid off in 2001, when she wrote a song after 9/11 and ended up parlaying that into her first album in 2004. “I knew I always wanted to [make an album] and I had been performing, but I thought that if you were good, you would get discovered when you were younger, and I didn’t get discovered,” Yasmineh says. “I didn’t understand you had to put your mind to it and fight for it and not take no for an answer.”

Yasmineh ditched her conventional life to do battle for her dream. She thought she would be rejected by the industry because of her age, and that people would write her off as some lady having a midlife crisis. It’s not often you find a middle-aged woman in Wayzata touring Europe with her band.

Yasmineh’s fourth record was released in December, and in addition to playing the Twin Cities club scene, she’s completed seven European tours since 2010. Over the years, Yasmineh has fine-tuned a sound that she and Genadek, her drummer and a Grammy nominated music producer, describe as “adult alternative.” She writes her own songs, with Genadek serving as a sounding board for ideas while helping create the musical arrangements and giving Yasmineh the honest, sometimes brutal, feedback she needs.

“She’s started coming into her own and becoming more confident in herself,” Genadek says. “From what she was writing about and where she came from, it seems like a pretty battered place. You go through anything like that and you’re going to be standing on shaky ground—especially with something as personal as music.”

Her songs trace her experiences which give her lyrics meaning. Whether it’s her teenage fans who look up to her or her middle-aged fans who understand what she’s going through, Yasmineh has found her audience through coming to grips with her personal history.

“People lose the ability to write about relationships and everyday sentiments that everybody can relate to,” she says of musicians who grind out a life on the road. “As a songwriter, [my background] has been better—what I’d like it to be is I can offer people meaningful lyrics with real-life experiences that matter to them.”

In March, one year after her gig at the Troubadour, Yasmineh and her band went to Austin, Texas, to play SXSW, one of the biggest music festivals of the year. She’s built a music career during a time in life when most people worry their kids will decide one day they’re leaving school to become a rock star.

“You can defy convention with a tiny bit more confidence,” Yasmineh says. “It has taken all these years to convince myself I can do this… Right this minute, I’m happier about my career than I think a lot of women would say with whatever career they’re doing,” she says “I’m doing the best work of my career right now.”

Minneapolis TV piece from their Women Who Rock Series

 

Thanks to the people at WCCO TV out of Minneapolis who put together this fun piece and had me on their program live at 5 in the morning on the station's rooftop to promote the show!

Nice Interview Out of the Northcountry

Here's the link to this nice Q&A with a wonderful writer and artist from the North Country on the shores of Lake Superior. I will be up there soon for a Bob Dylan Tribute Concert May 18th.

http://pioneerproductions.blogspot.com/2014/04/courtney-yasmineh-returns-for-salute-to_18.html

And here it is in it's entirety for your amusement and general edification on the subject of all things CY......

Courtney Yasmineh Returns for A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan (Interview)
When Courtney Yasmineh joined Scarlet Rivera and Gene Lafond last year at Weber Hall, there was a certain amount of risk as she was accustomed to performing with her own band and not Gene's backup band The Wild Unknown. On top of that, an hour before showtime Courtney and Scarlet were shaken up in a car accident on the way to getting ready for the concert. Despite the distractions, both performers never let on -- they were cool like ice, like fire -- and a stellar concert ensued.

Once on the stage Yamineh holds nothing back. You can feel the energy she projects, even from the farthest corners of the hall. It's exciting to have her here again for the upcoming kickoff event of our North Country Dylan Days Celebration which is now just a month away.

EN: You recently had to perform at SXSW. How’d it go? 

Courtney Yasmineh: SXSW was such a growth experience for me and for my band. We were so pleased to be invited, first of all, for the first time in my career. We played two prime time evening shows on the main street of Austin where most of the action is for up and coming artists. We were part of the Red Gorilla Fest which is a subdivision of the scene down there that really caters to new artists. We played on rooftop stages at two different venues to enthusiastic crowds. 

I felt like I really got to see how the American SXSW audience, who are mostly young people from around the country who love new music, responded to my songs and my band's presentation. I knew going in that this could be discouraging for me if it didn't go well, but honestly, I was not prepared for how well we were received! I feel so inspired and full of conviction as a result of our efforts there, and that is a great gift! 

EN: Last year you told me of a book you wanted to write. How’s that going? 

CY: I have written about 200 pages of the story of my adolescent experience. I ran away from Chicago to Northern Minnesota when I was seventeen mostly because my parents were getting divorced and I was extremely disillusioned with everything about my young life there. I went to live on Lake Vermilion in a cabin my Grandfather had left to our family when he died. And that winter I learned as many Bob Dylan songs as I could, and began performing with my guitar. I had already started writing songs, but that winter provided much new inspiration and I wrote many songs about my experience. 

EN: What is it that so attracts you to Dylan’s music? 

CY: The joy for me in singing songs that Bob Dylan has written is that he is my greatest hero and his body of work and his career are such an inspiration to me. 

EN: What are your favorite Dylan songs that you like to sing? 

CY: I like to sing Dylan's song "Sara"... I like when he says lines like "staying up for days in the Chelsea Hotel writing 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' for you." Staying up for days!!!! Love that!!! 

I also like "Times They Are A-Changin'" because it's so brilliant and I think it takes a lot to deliver it with the right tone… not too strident… not too sentimental… and especially coming from a female, those words have a lot of power and can be off-putting. 

My favorite might be "Tom Thumb's Blues." A better folk rock opening line has never been written than..."When you're lost in the rain in Juarez and it's Easter time too..." When delivered right, that line can make you feel like a real bad ass on the microphone! 

EN: What have you learned about yourself through your experiences performing? 

CY: I've learned a lot about myself over the last few years of performing for people in other cities, other countries, and at home in Minnesota. I've learned that I am a people pleaser and I want to see people's eyes light up. I've learned that I do not have to be loud to be heard. I've learned that my most helpful attribute in performance is how much I care about the meaning of the words. I've learned that I have to really feel good about the level of quality of what I'm offering in order for me to relax and put on a fun show. 

EN: What kind of thoughts are you thinking when you look at an audience at the beginning of a concert? 

CY: At the beginning of a concert, I am usually already playing the first song, watching people, feeling their level of acceptance of my band, feeling how the band likes the situation… the sound quality, the circumstances of how we've been treated so far....and if all's well, about half way into the first song, I start thinking...'okay, we've got this' and then I relax and start having the time of my life. 

* * * * *

EdNote: This blog entry and others like it have the aim of raising awareness for the upcoming Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concert which will kick off the 2014 North Country Dylan Celebration in Duluth and Hibbing. For tickets to this great event visitdulutharmory.org/events

SXSW2014 the video reprise!

Here we are in all the mayhem and majesty of Austin Texas in the month of March...............

 

Austin, TX 2014

My band and I drove to Austin to play two shows during SXSW2014.

We were part of the Red Gorilla Fest...the Red Gorilla people are taking the main drag in Austin..6th Street..by storm and

are giving emerging artists great visibility and exposure. 

We loved our two rooftop stages and we got to play prime time hour long sets.

The sound people were helpful and pretty darn good..considering that amplification issues abound

when so many bands are playing back to back.

The best thing for me was to see the genuine interest and enthusiasm people had for our performances and for our new album.

I was encouraged and inspired!

I really wasn't sure if that was going to be possible in such an environment of overabundance of bands and noise, noise, noise, noise!

If you haven't been to SXSW ever, it did remind me of the Dr. Suess portraits of the whoos in whooville with their made up instruments and funny bicycles with one man band horns and drums and crazy stuff. Remember that?

On 6th Street, any time of day or evening, there were bands rolling drum kits on dollies and people biking with guitars on their backs and an amp in one hand.

Where there's a will there's a way.

I want to go back with a brand new album..hopefully next year!

A Nice Review at College Radio

KAMP Radio Arizona U

Wake Me Up When It's Over

Submitted by salmog on Sat, 12/07/2013 - 5:34pm Artist: Courtney Yasmineh Non-Airable Tracks:

none Label: Stupid Bitch Records

Courtney Yasmineh, a Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter and guitarist, plays lively alternative rock and indie pop with her four person band. Her newest release, "Wake Me Up When It's Over," collaborates again with Grammy-nominated studio guru, musician, and musical director, Rob Genadek. She has a growing fan base in the United States and abroad through radio airplay. She has an expansive body of work of over four albums, and a colorful collection of new videos. Her voice is extremely unique and is consistent with every song. I love this album! Courtney Yasmineh is definitely one of a kind. Her lyrics are playful and catchy, almost everyone can relate to them. Each song tells a story. Play this on your station, its a must!!

Sounds Like: LizPhair Sounds Like: Alanis Morrisette Sounds Like: Debbie Harry Sounds Like: Sheryl Crowe

Recommended Tracks: 1 Ballad To My Other Self: a very catchy song!! I especially like the beginning 2 Wake Me Up When It's Over: my favorite song in the album! has great guitars beats 4 Scrutiny: girly rock anthem 5 Apparition: I love the musicality in this song!! 11 Entertained: probably the most different song in the album, very chill and a little dark

Name: Sivanne Almog Date Reviewed: 12/07/2013

Alt [1] Alternative Pop/Rock [2] Singer/Songwriter [3]

Thanks to Shoreditch Radio London

Bury Me, our winter song, made this best of 2013 playlist today!

The RealMusik Radio Show-RealMusik In 2013 on Wednesday 11 December 2013 at 2pm
 
Looking back at the highlights of the first year of The RealMusik Radio Show
 
 
Playlist
 
The Barnum Meserve-Autumn Park
Frank Hamilton-Things I Do
Hadar Manor-March Song
Beth Rowley-Wretched Body
Kevin Pearce-Tides
Mamaduke Dando-The Trick Of Singularity
Adrian Roye & The Exiles-Pebbles & Stones
Samsara-Effigy
Leapfrog-Double Trouble
Bethia Beadman-Fire
Courtney Yasmineh-Bury Me
Gertrude-Message From Dorothy From The Other Side
Kaz Simmons-I Know You
The Balconies-Kill Count

Love from the UK

This thoughtful review came in early in the release process of our new album "Wake Me Up When It's Over", and it stands out now as a favorite! Thank you Dave Franklin of Green Man Music!

Wake Me Up When It’s Over – Courtney Yasmineh band

Well, if you ask me  (and if you are reading this you kind of did) the evolution of the rock chick and all that that implies, seems to have made a unexpected turn into a bit of a cul-de-sac in recent years. When did the brash femininity of the 90’s get dampened down, married off and traded in for mealy-mouthed chic-lit concerns? Frankness, irony and guts got replaced by unfascinating intricacies of past relationships, throwaway college lyricism and dance routines. And Jessie J! With the exception of a few feisty folkies, there seems to be a void that needs filling. Where is the new Patti Smith, the new Natalie Merchant, Debbie Harry, Sheryl Crowe or Alanis Morrisette (early years only of course)?

 Someone who is helping to fill that girl with a guitar shaped hole is Courtney Yasmineh.

Hometown Love from The Current MN Public Radio

The Current is a great Public Radio station in Minneapolis, and one of their staff writers, Andrea Swensson, took time to interview me and write this.....plus she premiered our song Apparition on the air and featured our newest music video....all just in time for our Minneapolis CD Release Show which featured the horn section that played on the new album.

Courtney Yasmineh comes clean with her past and pushes forward with a new album

by Andrea Swensson · October 18, 2013

New Music Video for the single "Apparition" ..the Pirate Edit

This is it..the black and white version you've been hearing about..we call it...

THE PIRATE EDIT: APPARITION 

 

Apparition_10_11 from Joe Pollock Films on Vimeo.

Europe Tour September 24-October 8

 

Taking it to the streets of the UK and Europe September-October 2013

We will have the new album in hard copies for you!

Come be a part of our video for the new single "Apparition" September 28 and 29..we'll be filming on the fabled cliffs of Dover.

Watch our facebook posts for locations and times and come say hello and be a part of our new film project!

We'll also be spending time in London, Leeds, and Amsterdam...see you there! 

Our "Bury Me" video

The Bury Me video that Steven Cohen made with me is getting some love from Minneapolis City Pages magazine.

We filmed it on the frozen tundra..said only half in jest..of January in Minneapolis...complete with frozen lake film shoot, frozen rooftop performance, frozen fingers, frozen camera lens, and general freezing of everybody's asses off.

"Only One" video with the little monkey

The Only One video was made by Alea Toussaint, a young film student in the grad program at MCAD in Minneapolis.

The style of animation she employed is difficult to execute but deceptively naive in its sensibility.  

We filmed "Heartbreak Woman" in Paris!

It was fun to work with Joe Pollock, an excellent young documentary-style filmmaker from Minneapolis, on this video on the streets of Paris!

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