Oregon Coast!

 Just back from the road!  If you followed the Fan Flare page on Face book you will note we traveled to Oregon the last 2 weeks covering the Wallowa Mountains to the ocean beaches of Lincoln City and back to the forests of beautiful Bend. 

The happiest Mo I know!

The happiest Mo I know!

 It felt like 3 trips in one!  We are back home and barely acclimated but I wanted to take the opportunity before delving into “being home again”, to write.  This is the space that I love.  Breaking away from the things you think you “have to do”.  It’s difficult to be creative when you feel the “fork” of obligations “poke” you in the side. 

 I don’t have any of that going on at this particular moment.  I don’t have the weight of the world at this time.  Sure there are still the things that will eventually call me: mowing the grass, paying bills, checking e-mail, cleaning all the sand out of my car, appointments, etc.  All these things are still there, but they are not taking up my minds energy.

Beach time!

Beach time!

We came home a day early, so today feels like a “skip school day”, remember that?  A free-bee!?  Most people could certainly look at our lives and call it all a freebie.  But I would hope those close to us know better and how much it does take to make this musical wheel go round. 

 Mo has tried for years to land some of these shows this tour and for some reason the Universe aligned finally.  Salishan Resort in Gleneden Beach was a hard “fish to catch” for our anchor gig. As luck would have it, the manager of Salishan attended a house concert we did last October and invited us to come perform. It was kind of like an audition really. Fortunately we passed the test, and got to enjoy playing at this fancy resort, where staff and fans alike had a great time!  The place was packed on Saturday.  All folks from prior years of building relationships and ‘showing up.’  We were asked back again which always feels good, but there’s a likelihood that new management can slip in, and then you have to start all over again.  So you love the gig, when you have the gig, cause it could always be the last time you play there, even if it’s your first time.  So we had a most excellent adventure!

Sand face Juno!!!

Sand face Juno!!!

 Music has shown me how to let go and just allow and this trip was no exception.  We had 4+ of our VIP members join us for the first leg of our Joseph/Enterprise show; a brewery Friday, Pride celebration Sat. at Wallowa Lake; a club in Enterprise OR on Sat. night, all of this after the 5 hour trek to get there.  Our folks seem to understand how driving the long distances can knock your energy.  They couldn’t believe we had the energy to play the last show.  2 of them cut loose and couldn’t make our last gig and I completely understand and encouraged them to just relax.  It was exhausting!  I saw our friends so tired and thought, “How do WE do it?”  Ha ha!!! 

 Poor sleepy loving faces all in the audience as I completely adored their efforts to show up. But then “Bobbie McGee” came over me and the energetic song of “Looking Out” by Brandie Carlilie jumped from my guitar and out of my vocals to end this marathon of shows in this beautiful region.  We try our very best.  My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest and I had a dizzy feeling (with no alcohol consumption mind you)…could this be utter exhaustion?  How many times can I push through this?  How will I keep this up in my 60’s/70’s…my thoughts come up and skirt under the carpet of the final chorus, “Someone Loves Youuuuu!”  The Bar cheers, they all want another one.  We’ve gone into over-time and it’s done.  That is all you get Enterprise, until the next time. 

 Sustaining energy is another aspect of this lifestyle.  That’s why, when it’s good…you take it in…get rid of the guilt…enjoy the whole ride.  Because when you are called on and expected to perform, expected to lift heavy equipment up a steep flight of stairs after a long drive and then expected to lift people up for 2-3 hours, then tear it all down again, down that long flight of steps and into a strange bed to wake and do it twice the next day, it helps to not resist a thing.  Just allow.  Resistance of ANY KIND brings weariness.  We need our energies for the notes, chords and people.

Up up up…where are our LOADIES right now??? :-)

Up up up…where are our LOADIES right now??? :-)

That is why when we are in the middle of this beautiful mountain range with our butts handed to us, let’s take this tram up 8000 feet and check out the view!  Finding “Joy in our Ride”, we treat ourselves now and again.  If we didn’t do these things to rejuvenate we couldn’t do it.  I think our members are the only “public” that really know this private side, the “flip side” of what I referred to last month. 

At the top of the tram with Juno!

At the top of the tram with Juno!

 Flip sides occur and you never know what the venue will be like until you get there unless you’ve been there before.  The re-occuring theme that kept happening on this trip in particular was “little time”.  These “big time” shows of which my mind prepared for, as if I was going to step into an arena filled with 1000’s of people, were really “little time”.  Small.  Still wonderful and a “big” deal for town musicians, but not nearly what my mind had prepared for.  I had thought “Joseph Pride - big stage”, it was small, intimate and great but in its own way.  Salishan Resort, fancy…still small…very classy, wonderful…a glorified 365 Bar back in Boise, posh!  4th of July was BIG SOUND, medium stage.  The audience gathered around and a truck with speakers bigger than me aligned out to the shore to blare our music for about 1000 people, yet the sand dunes covered all hopes of eye contact to have with those folks.  We were LIVE RADIO to those folks on the beach.  There was no pressure, which was great as we played in a “bareeze way” from the park to the beach.  “What an interesting set up?” I thought. My solo’s were spot on for that show and in my head I closed my eyes and saw thousands, again in an arena. 

Sweet stage in Lincoln City for the 4th of July.

Sweet stage in Lincoln City for the 4th of July.

 Our last show in Bend, at a beautiful Lake, much like our home at Red Fish Lake Lodge, was surrounded by beautiful Ponderosa Pines with Mt. Bachelor and the Sisters Mtn. peeking upon us!  This show took the cake as the flip side.  The environment was glorious! We were supplied with sound equipment and a sound technician. Sounds great right? Boy, this was one of the roughest times for sound in most of my career.  I have had some doozeys.  Typically men looking at me from behind the board shrugging their shoulders not knowing how to fix a horrible feedback, static, clipping, a resonating annoying note or buzz. 

 This particular sound guy was capable and compassionate, yet ill equipped.  He had a monstrosity of speakers which probably gave him a minor hernia to hump down to the stage.  More speakers than what we needed. The venue supplied these speakers and the notepad to run the whole set up.

Simply beautiful backdrop!

Simply beautiful backdrop!

 He couldn’t get the hot-spot wifi to connect to the mother board.  It sounded great during sound check and when we went on, in front of about 300-400 people we sounded like we were in a little tiny band-aid box.  My inner-ears went south through his system too and I had to fish through 3 different cords to make my loop pedal work.  It was a big cluster and the audience waited.  They were SO patient! 

 We sang a 50 minute set out of this little “band-aid box” and I had had it.  I was like, “Dude, we have a perfectly capable system in our car and can have it set up in 10 minutes!  Let us sound like professionals here…this has amateur written all over it!”  I didn’t say it exactly like that, I was very diplomatic but I was peeved!  I just now had to remove my sweatshirt cause it makes me hot just thinking about this. 

 Terrible sound can KILL YOU!  Truly!  It reflects so poorly on a new crowd.  We sounded like we were a little AM radio station back in the 50’s!  It was noticeable!  Believe me!  The audience noticed.  Half of them probably thought it was on our end, the other wondered if it was the sound guy.  What was really wrong was faulty equipment. 

 I sang these powerful songs and they chirped out of these BIG fat speakers with NO volume.  Several audience members approached the sound guy.  He fibbed and told them that he was only allowed to have it a certain decibel, which was true but not why we sounded this way.  The venue designed their speakers to only allow for a specific volume level.  Like a governor on a rental car…you can only go so fast. 

Why have music, when you don’t want to hear the music?  We play for some venues here at home that cap our overall volume and it is always stifling.  I have managed to move beyond this as my inner ear gives me my own BIG AREANA sound that I so long for and crave.  I am a ROCK STAR in my own ears!  Ha ha!!!  It comes through perfectly!  But my inner ears weren’t working with his system either.

 The sound guy knew it wasn’t just the governor on this system.  He could not adjust anything.  10 minutes before the end of the first set (and 30 minutes too late in my book) I halted the music.  Told the audience we are definitely experiencing some technical difficulties and let the sound guy go get HIS notebook as he was INSISTENT to use his own stuff before allowing us to break out ours. 

 I get it…it’s his job on the line.  But we also had a job to do…and that part sucked!  I let him mess around with his notebook and try to get it right…but that wasn’t getting a signal either.  I said “fuck it!” (naughty me swearing in my mind of which you are right now privy to, ha ha!) 

 I knew he wasn’t gonna get it and I stopped and started walking towards the car to get the Bose.  Scott, our dear old friend who used to live in Boise and the best drummer we ever had, was in the audience.  I said, “Scott, can we use your muscles?”  And he said, “Sure!”  So 200 yards away is our car and he schlepped the sub woofers, I took the posts, Mo grabbed the bass stand and 10 minutes later we were back in our own “shoes” again.

 The audience clapped hard!  They were patient, yet half of them took off.  How deflating and frustrating?!  That took the wind out of our sails, we are used to people staying, not taking off.  But without “power”, you have no sticking power.  We drew on our unplugged/campfire feeling, but that wasn’t enough as the audience was large enough to be far away.  It would be like playing unplugged in a loud coffee shop and people were mostly quiet and trying to hear at this gig.

 Once we were back in our skin with our Bose system, we could feel the connection being made.  I could feel the power of the song seep into the audience’s ears.  I could feel hearts opening and enjoyment being had.  But I will admit, though you wouldn’t have been able to see it, I was rattled a bit.  It was a waffle and not the best way to leave the last leg of a great tour.  But it seems you have to roll with both the good and bad, cause it can’t always be gravy!

 Interesting though, my thoughts, like morning dew would seep in and I would try my best to step around the dew but it was everywhere.  (“You are so little time”, “Is this all we are destined for?”, “What a joke?”, “If I were a guy, would that sound dude have made us wait so long to switch out our equipment?”)  These thoughts are horribly untrue as I know this, but they still come.  The mind races with uncertainty, inferiority, insecurity, and like a meditation, I just watch the thoughts and point my heart in the direction of doing my very best for this audience that is still there, that STAYED!  

 The sound guy has NOTHING to do.  The Bose is simple.  We are dialed.  It sounds great! He comes up once to turn the whole mix down a little.  I look at Mo and smirk.  At least my ear buds work and I am in my big arena again in my mind.  I push all that “little sound, little performers, not good enough shit” out of my mind and end on a request from an audience member in which we are 300 miles away from our home town, “Life is Beautiful”.  I honor the original request.  I find my gratitude again.  The song leaps out with its first chord, a familiar rhythm I’ve played a million times!

Isn’t Life Beautiful?  Flip side and all~!

Isn’t Life Beautiful? Flip side and all~!

 I look back at the lake and Mt. Bachelor.  The lyrics pull me into a truth.  I stand in the middle of myself with all my faults, all my “littleness” and become “big” again.  Whole.  Simple.  Appreciative. 

 This music is medicine.  Maybe the whole world doesn’t know it.  Maybe they never will. Maybe just a few.  My corner of this great big world.  But I hope that I’ve made “my corner” better for trying.  I sing the song, I flash back to Juno fetching her ball within the waves, the crab that I got to eat, the amazing views upon the mountain top, all of our friend’s smiles along the way.  My heart swells as I look at Mo with that huge bass around her little body and the big grin on her face. 

Mo in her element.

Mo in her element.

 “Life IS Beautiful” – even through flip sides! 

 Thanks you guys, it’s good to be home.  It’s good to have an outlet for my inner thoughts, and have fans on the “inside” of what looks to all be a bed of roses.  Every life has some thorns yes, but that sweet smell gets us through the scratches!

 Much love to you all!!!   

Manzanita Beach Sunset!

Manzanita Beach Sunset!

Brandi Bear and Buffalo!

Hi Friends,

Top of the world! Jump for Joy and not for lightning!

Top of the world! Jump for Joy and not for lightning!

We are home for 2 days and I thought I would take advantage of my “time” (ha ha) and get you a little download I am super excited about AND tell you all the cool stuff we’ve witnessed and have done. I know as I tell you these stories many of you might think we live a “charmed” life. Believe me, I feel blessed, and for the most part we do. Just remember in ALL things, there is ALWAYS a “flip side”.

So, we leave for Washington May 30th. It’s late, 4 pm. We won’t make it there. We know that. We are exhausted. Our show is not until the next day (Friday). The Thunder crashes down in Boise. It’s an epic powerful storm. We had just planted our flower beds. We peek out the bay window with Juno and watch the big drops hit the soil. It suddenly starts to hail. Oh how I wish I could crawl into my bed with a good book and stay there for a few days!

We had just played a series of shows and June has me a bit anxiety ridden. I haven’t had enough time to myself, for anything (there’s that flip side I was talking about). I haven’t been able to read, write, and don’t even ask me how to relax or have fun. I simply felt at that point that I didn’t know how to do any of those things anymore.

I had several appointments, way over scheduled and a body work class to attend. Some of you know, I do body work on the side. It’s a passion, a love, a hobby, a fling career. I’m good at it. My small clientele love it and it pays some bills. I squeeze these appointments and lessons in between our shows and trips. It’s no easy juggle.

People have been doing yard work. There are several emergencies. Low backs and hips are going out and I am “on call”. I haven’t had a moment to take a pee and I am my own boss (!/?) I’m pretty ridiculous and questioning everything. The drops come down. I am over joyed to just stop and take it all in.

We are taking our trailer, leaving our beloved puppy with a great friend (thank you Jackie), and heading to the Gorge in Washington to witness one of our favorite musicians Brandi Carlile. Some how back in December I rationalized that we would have time and deserve to see our favorite players when they are in the Northwest. I was also scrambling for a good Christmas gift for Mo and I and was coming up short.

With the price of tickets now being so ridiculous (ridiculous must be my word tonight) I really felt like I bit off much more than I could chew with time and expense. Yet here we were. We had a gig less than a 1/4 mile from the big stage! We aren’t playing at the Amphitheater…but we are playing at the Gorge! Hallelujah!

I wrote a beautiful blog/newsletter about that whole trip here: Playing Next to Brandi Check that out if you want to take that journey, but let’s move on ward.

We get back from that trip and have 8 shows in 7 days, I have clients between those shows and another class. I’m a little concerned for myself, my energy level, etc. The saving grace, I have made time to get to the gym. I know. Crazy right?! I take only one hour to lift and swim 3 days a week. I lift for 20-35 min. and swim for 20-30 minutes and then I am OUT OF THERE! No time to flex in the mirror, no chatting it up; get busy, get to it!

That helped drastically! My energy levels you would think would have waned, but they didn’t. This helped beyond belief. All the more reason to stay in shape I thought. No easy task when you just want to escape into a bottle of wine! Ha! Someone wrote, “the bottom of a bottle’s not the safest place for you to hide”.

Some may be asking, escape from what? Responsibility, commitments, obligations, you name it! We all “adult” a bit too much at times and me…I am completely guilty of that! I would like to say and think I have balance, but I am definitely a “work in progress”.

We finish the 7 shows and the Universe steps in (what I like to call Divine Intervention) and our last show that week is cancelled by the venue due to their double booking! Hooray! I am saddened for the people that planned to attend the show, a little miffed at the loss of income, but I am truly relieved because we are leaving the NEXT DAY to BILLINGS Montana for another “splash in the pan”!

Juno goes to the sitter again as we thought we were FLYING to Billings but turns out, our stand by tickets would have kept us “standing by” to MISS the gig on the other side! Oh holy moly we are driving…again! Opposite direction! Here we go. Pack everything up.

The garden needs irrigation or all our work will die. We some how cram that in during the slew of shows. My tomato plants out back will be dealt with tomorrow, they somehow survived the drought of the last 4 days as we flooded them before we left. I ordered business cards from my web manager, folded t-shirts til 12:30am, checked on the new shipment of “SunRuns”, paid bills.

We are up and out Thursday. Longest drive in the Universe (except if you are driving back to Jersey, eii yii yii!) We get there. Our friends are tied up with some family illness. We recuperate the next day. I brought my yoga mat and stretched and rolled on my roller as my hip and butt were “yelling” at me. I catch a work out with our friends, and the next day is the show.

We play in an awesome horse training barn. OMG! A whole other life flashes before me. I was once a cow girl. Yep! Rode horses every day. Picked there feet, oiled my own saddle, pitched their shit, brushed and loved on my horses every day over 20 years. Wow! Just walking into that place and the smell of the leather brought me right back.

Just leapt up on him here…notice the soft dirt!  :-)

Just leapt up on him here…notice the soft dirt! :-)

This party was for Bon-Bon, otherwise known as that bad ass chick who plays electric guitar with us on occasion. She’s mega skilled and this was her day to shine and turn another decade older with two other friends. Bonnie turns 50, Lydia turns 60, and Trudy turns 70! She built a stage in the barn, this woman can do anything. She builds everything! Quiet a clever, wickedly funny, waggy tailed crusader of life and love and a sweet friend.

When we found out the day before we couldn’t fly…I must admit, I wanted to vomit just thinking about crawling into a car again. But then I thought of her smiley face on the other side. I thought of all the people we would help make their day special. I also thought, “Billings, that’s next to Red Lodge, which is next to the Beartooth Hi-way, which is next to the NE gate of Yellowstone”.

Let’s pull a crazy! Let’s go through Yellowstone on the way back! Many of you have seen the videos on Facebook. Boy did God bless US for our butt pain!!! 3 bears and hundreds of buffalo! Here is a video clip: Bear Buffalo

Oh MY GOD! Truly! How incredible was that? What was also incredible is that we got the last little cabin in Roosevelt at a decent price! When I called ahead of time they had reservations which were already out of my comfort zone financially and then they added another 30% on top of that for reservation charges and fees! I just laughed at the lady. Not in a mean way but, hell…I am a musician, not an I.T. agent. Who has crazy money to spend on a tiny cabin for one night? Ugh! I could go to Brandi Carlile for that kind of money! *eye roll here ha ha!

We get there and this place was a 1/4 of the price! Bingo! That we can do! We get into the little cabin and decide to venture out that evening and saw a big black bear off the side of the road and this little black bear that darn near looks like a cub, but it is a yearling. There is the gift! There were many gifts on this trip:

We got to make 3 people’s birthdays and about 150 other people very happy!

We got to play music with our buddy and hear her rock her guitar!

I got to ride “Bayley” the horse, a beautiful Palomino - bare back “bull-ya”!!! That REALLY took me back! (I looked at the ground before muscling my way up to it’s bare back and thought, “well, that dirt is soft enough” ha ha! )

We got to drive the bear tooth hi way again and take in that beautiful landscape.

Bear tooth.jpg

As we hiked to the outcrop at the top of the bear tooth summit we did NOT get struck by lightning even though our hairs stood up on end! Yikes!! (Gotta thank God for the things that DON’T happen!)

Electric Nicc

Electric Nicc

Electric Mo

Electric Mo

We saw a total of 3 bears! 2 giant black bears and one little one.

We literally got stuck in a Buffalo heard! Best traffic jam ever!

traffic jam.jpg

We saw some beauty and very cool geysers and springs.

Can you smell the sulfur?

Can you smell the sulfur?

We reconnected with a super fun Golden Doodle “Syd” and met 2 greyhounds ( I fell in love with “Wallace”).

Wallace the greyhound.  Sweet baby!

Wallace the greyhound. Sweet baby!

We got to come home to our lovely lily’s popping and our happy baby Juno and friends!

Flower garden finally complete.

Flower garden finally complete.

And now…we get to go to Oregon and play for several little towns and all kinds of different folks! Right after I put mulch down in the flower bed, attend another bodywork class and go see the Indigo Girls concert tomorrow with good friends (thank you Cindy and Shelly)! Ha ha ha!!!

One of our biggest influences.  They’ve written with courage and sang with grace for over 30 years. I’ve been a big fan for all that time!

One of our biggest influences. They’ve written with courage and sang with grace for over 30 years. I’ve been a big fan for all that time!

Ridiculous?….yes, that I am. I will probably move fast until I can’t move fast any more or learn how to just let go, slow down, relax, or not worry. I am completely blessed. Sometimes in the midst of it all, my “little brain” can forget that, like a little child that needs a nap. But for the most part, I treasure every moment, because ANY moment could be our last.

Enjoy your download, “The Story” a Brandi Carlile tune I covered a month or so back at DejaBrew. “All of the lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am. So many stories of where I’ve been and how I got to where I am!” Thanks for listening, thanks for reading the stories, thanks for everything!

I hope you all enjoy our whirl-wind. It is the Summer after all! Be well, go slow, go fast, do what you like!

Quick video of some highlights on our journey!

Oh no it's Raining AGAIN!

“Tut-tut, looks like Rain!”

“Tut-tut, looks like Rain!”

Hey Friends,

We have had our share of rain in Boise for sure! Despite the tricky weather, we have had some amazing shows the last few weeks. We hope you got to kick back a bit for the Memorial Day holiday. We had a mini-marathon of a weekend! We were up in Cascade Idaho Thursday night then trekked home (about a 2 hour drive) to play @ 2:00 in the Sandbar (one of Boise’s best venues) which was outside so they brought us inside to the 365 bar to beat the rain. Then we played that same night from 7:00-10:00 at a place called Deja Brew! I was feeling a bit of DejaVu ha!

Cascade Lake

Cascade Lake

Sat. night was a private party and so was Sunday and it’s a similar picture probably for the rest of the summer. I have been reconnected to the workout program and I think it’s saving my “bacon”. Honestly. I was a former PE teacher and have always known how important exercise is, yet who wants to work out when they are already “worn out”? Right? Well, I have noted that the “workouts” help to keep me from wearing out believe it or not. Something about being in a gym for me and then getting my swim laps in…my body just relaxes after that. I feel a deep sense of peace and calmness and then my energy will get a lift. So, I am a believer and I hope to carry this program off indefinitely.

But of course it gets interrupted as most things do in an adult life get. I’m presently reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. He speaks of resistance and how we often resist doing the very thing we need and want to do. We do all BUT sometimes. He talks about “going Pro” and there is a bit of an edge to the book with an attitude of, “pull yourself up by your boot straps” kind of positioning. But he has good points and some of them are laughable.

One point he made - even Hitler wanted to be an artist. He took all his inheritance and went to Art School and Pressfield makes the point, “Have you ever seen one of Hitlers paintings? No, neither have I. Resistance defeated him so much he would rather start a World War than face a blank canvas!” Wow! That one got me!

So I have been thinking about time, or rather, lack of it, and how to organize my time so that I can do things I want to do, like write, read, workout. It seems like it should be an easy juggle, but it can be a bit tricky. I’m sure many of you have similar challenges. The value of “uninterrupted time” is priceless. Especially when “mood” is optimal.

Have you ever noticed when you have the inclination, you may not have the time? Or when you have the time, you may not have the motivation or ideas? That is a slippery bridge and yet the last few weeks, I feel like I have stayed on my mark as best I can. Perhaps making time for my own health has aided this picture.

We are off running to Washington tomorrow, so yes the “home groove” will be knocked a bit but I will have to find my way back. As long as I get to the gym, get to the blank page, pick up the guitar, get in the studio…that is the biggest challenge. Just getting there, ya know? Once you are there, it seems like your inner self knows what to do and enjoys doing it. The rest is just distraction.

We are going to see one of my favorite artists this Sat., Brandi Carlile. People are finally tuning in to her music because she was part of the Grammy’s this year. She has been a favorite of mine for years! I surprised Mo this past Christmas with tickets to see her at the Gorge in Washington. This will be Brandi’s 40th Birthday! AND this has been one of her lifetime dreams to play at the Gorge. How cool is that!? How amazing it would be to play there!

But here’s a cool side thing! We get to play at a Winery 2 miles from the Gorge Amphitheater Friday night! We have our own “show at the Gorge” without all the pressure ha ha!!! I think that is fabulous! Kudos to Mo for scoring that gig! June is really sneaking up on us quickly and my summer “gear” has not quite “slipped in”.

I am off in “Elvis land” though…

Ummm…that IS my real hair, not the side burns though! LOL!

Ummm…that IS my real hair, not the side burns though! LOL!

I found these funny glasses and Mo has wanted to cover “That’s Alright Mama” for a while now, so that kinda came together. The glasses have been a hoot! Best $7.95 I ever spent! They make people laugh and add a levity to our set.

I am happy to say also that I completed mixing the audio for the Sapphire show we did in March. Well, it is nicely mixed and I am proud of the whole show. The players were spot on! There are some tweaks as I’ve burned a copy of the audio and played it in Mo’s car. I have questions to ask my producer friends about how to get the clarity in YOUR speakers (car, ear buds, all sorts of contraptions you might play music through) vs. MY speakers. I notice the bass and guitar really shows up in my speakers, but in the car they don’t as much. Makes sense I have 8’ sub woofers, but how do I translate that so it crosses all mediums?

Questions, and more questions…Also, how do I make Bonnie’s guitar not sound so terrible? It sounded great on stage but I am struggling with her guitar tone. It’s been a bugger. So, I need to call in some friends on this to help. The learning continues! BUT, the good news is…I’ve learned a lot AND I’m still motivated and open to the new!

And in the midst of the rain and the learning curve…I am proud to say that I think I produced a pretty cool take of “Over the Rainbow”. I did this for one of our members and we DO take requests, and appreciate requests. We get to them when we can of course, but if there is something you love that we cover…shoot us a note on the fan-flare page…or an e-mail! We are always open to your ideas!

That also goes for topics to write about on our blogs too! If you have questions for Mo or myself and want us to write about it here, let us know. That is what this page is all about! :-)

So I best bugger off to bed, it’s an early rise day and drive drive drive day tomorrow! Thanks for tuning in!

Much love to you all!

Niccole

The Sunshine Resides Above the Rain, at The Riverside Hotel. Shiny piano keys decor the walk-way! I want Mo and I to buy white suits and walk across this like the Beattles in “Abby Road” ! LOL!!!

The Sunshine Resides Above the Rain, at The Riverside Hotel. Shiny piano keys decor the walk-way! I want Mo and I to buy white suits and walk across this like the Beattles in “Abby Road” ! LOL!!!



Jersey Ride

Hey Friends,

I know I left you hanging a bit for this song. We were sick and not up for recording, but it’s posted now and here are the words. This mp3 take is from the most recent Sapphire show 3/19. I produced it myself and though it’s not “perfect” it’s real time audio footage, live and fun! Hope you enjoy!

Also, all recordings you get from the membership page are downloadable. Just click on the “download” word and you should be able to drop them into your player! Yippie!! These lyrics include the chords for any of you guitar players ;-)

Jersey Ride

 D                              A                                  G

Take me back to sweet times before cell phones and ringtones

  D                           A                                G

Smiles wide and Jersey skies and motor bike rides

          D                     A                        G

Top rolled down traveling highway 73

         D                 A                                                 G

The radio is my best friend back then in the early chapters of me.

               Bm             A

And Springsteen rambled on

         G                            A

As I lip synced my favorite songs

          Bm                            A                              G

And felt the beach air combing back my hair

Em                  F#m                      G

Some of the best days gone by

Em                                F#m                             G          A          D

Top rolled down, no cell phones and a sweet Jersey ride!  (sweet New Jersey night)

 

Skipping down the board-walk where adults talk and teenagers gawk

 

Blue collars making their dollars and custard cones

 

Free to be me with my MTV and the Rolling Stones

 

Kickball kids on a 4 corner town and Victorian Homes

 

CHORUS

BRIDGE:

Bm                                         G              Em

Sometimes you want to bottle “back then”

Bm                        G                           Em

Just to pull it out and show a friend…

Em                            F#m

The innocence of days gone by

G                                    A              D

Catching a breeze a sweet NJ ride

 

(New Jersey Ride-    Oh oh come take my hand, riding out to night to chase the promise land….oh oh oh oh Thunderoad  …..) - Bruce Springsteen tribute

This song was written in style of Jean Cardino, one of my mandolin friends. She uses upbeats and lots of words and I was playing around with her style just for fun. She did not write the song, but in a way deserves credit for a song I would never have attempted in this way. Thanks Jean!

 

Spring Grooving!!!

Hey Friends,

We are grooving with outdoor chores and yard work recently. It’s been a heck of a Spring! We are typically hustling off to other regions of the country this time of year to play but this year we are really happy to be home getting things done. Digging in the dirt never hurt and it rejuvenates the Spirit! There has been so many odd little jobs that just go to the way side once our “summer throttle” gets pinned back.

And how to “downshift” from that intensity anyway? It’s always a challenge to find the balance and I have been asking myself this question lately: “Where/How are you rejuvenated?” As I have said in my other posts (which I read before starting this one…a GOOD reminder) how do you just STOP, for a bit? Focus on ONE THING at a TIME instead of 1000? It’s such a “do do do” world and culture for us. Busyness is so highly regarded and honestly, I like to be a little busy. I like having things to do…but not TOO MUCH to do. Not so overwhelmingly so! I really LOVE jobs I can SEE the results! That is so rewarding! And to be physical, but my hips are presently telling me I’ve been TOO physical ha ha! (Those darn weeds!!!)

Stone hauling

Stone hauling

Our summer is for the most part, completely booked. I’m taking a solo journey mid summer in answer to the call of “rejuvenation” and “spiritual enrichment”. I so rarely get a minute to myself and I don’t say that as a complaint. I do love people and my partner (and of course my dog), but time to oneself is extremely important! Especially to a writer! It’s a deal breaker. No time to myself? No new songs. Pretty simple.

The great part about this life we’ve carved out is that I can be teaching a guitar lesson one minute, out in the yard the next, working on mixing a song, and at a show that night!. Also, we called in some amazing people to help us! What beautiful angels! One gal is helping us decide all our landscape needs. She has an amazing background in horticulture and has a waggy tail. Another is a sweet young man helping us to build a fence that has been needed for the past 14 years! (Have we really lived in this house for 14 years uhhh…wow!)

As you can imagine, tearing down a fence, hauling yard stone, digging, tilling, weeding, clipping, trimming has plum tuckered us out a wee bit! Ha! But here’s where we sit with the musical process aside from all of our personals, as I’m sure that is what is more interesting for all of you. You all have your own yards and chores and schedules etc.

demolition on the fence!

demolition on the fence!

Tilling the flower bed

Tilling the flower bed

Three truck loads of scratchy branches we took to recycling!

Three truck loads of scratchy branches we took to recycling!

Musically, we (finally) got the live tracks for the Sapphire show in March. I’ve never mixed a whole show before. What does that mean? What is “mixing”? It is the process of lining ALL the tracks (tracks are musical sound bytes - for example, Mo’s vocal is assigned to one track, her bass another and so on), labeling them, balancing all the sound so it blends and editing any obvious bloopers (just a couple of those *eye roll * )! It’s quite a complex process.

I use a software called ProTools. There a MANY software programs available. This particular one is considered one of the top standards by the industry. It can be complicated, especially if one is not tech savvy, or as I can be, tech challenged. I’ve grown A LOT in this department and I think this membership program has pushed me quite a bit to learn these things.

Mixing a whole show is taking about 1.5 hours of tracks, cutting them up, editing them song by song, balancing the sounds…letting your ears rest on it. Coming back and tweaking it again, panning all the players so they sound natural for a room.

For example, there will be a track for:

Cajon bottom, cajon top, Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Mando, Electric Guitar, Pedal Steel, Mo’s vocal, My vocal, Roxx vocal, Earl’s vocal.

This is not our session but what an open ProTools session looks like.  Each wave strip is a “track”.

This is not our session but what an open ProTools session looks like. Each wave strip is a “track”.

That is 11 tracks. If you set between 2 speakers, say in a car for example, listening to music, you want to hear it as if it’s being played like the band. If every instrument was coming at you from dead center it would sound flat and “unrealistic” and probably overwhelming. So, I set the tone quality just as if you were watching the show. You will hear the kick drum stage left, the electric lead stage right our vocals in the middle Earl’s pedal stage left. Make sense?

This is all very interesting for ME to do as I’m hearing impaired ha ha!!! But oddly, I do a decent job with all of that. The guitar may need to come up or down, my voice up or down…all that takes “automation”, boosting or cutting certain signals that may “get in the way” of each other, or rocking the slider up for effect at various parts of certain songs.

There is a WHOLE ART to this process and I never pictured myself with this ability! It all looked WAY too complicated for me! It also costs a minimum of $60.00 an hour and as you can imagine each song takes about 10 hours of mixing! So….we are saving ourselves a HEAP by learning this stuff! Right?!! (like 12K at least!) THANK YOU!!! You have been the motivation to get to this place! Truly! If I didn’t have music to make for you, I probably wouldn’t have taken on the task.

I’m no great producer…but this practice ground has made me aware and possibly a better musician because of this process.

So speaking of that…where are your new downloads??? Yes, I know…I owe you a few now. I am under a heap of what we call “rough mixes” and you WILL be getting a few new songs/covers this month. It’s all a matter of getting time to sit and listen and of course there is that technical “hidden bummer factor” that happens like space on the hard drive. Ugh! Another eye roll there!

I like that you folks are starting to request some covers to be recorded! We can totally do that! And will! But thanks for being so patient with us. We are on a bit of a “yard diversion” due to the cool weather and before we get rolling so fast. I will “diverge” BACK to mixing and completing these recording tasks…well actually, I do this when the Sun goes down. So, out in the yard do do do…Sun drops, eat, mix, walk away, listen, eat some more, mix. Ha ha!! That’s my life right now.

Wake up in the morning, go trim that tree, set the garden, come in; write a newsletter, publish a facebook event, listen to the mix, find files ect. Make sense?!

Oh yeah and practice! I have a FUN toy I will show you next blog thanks to a very special friend of ours! But I need to practice with it first! It’s quite mind blowing. There’s my “cliff hanger” for you all to come back to the cyber campfire with us!

Meanwhile, enjoy this BEAUTIFUL Spring! And thank you for all your support and love!

Niccole



No Nose and MANY shows!!!



Hey sweet friends!

February had us running around and pushing through illnesses, which is never any good and it seems March is off to a similar start! UGH! We ran up to Sandpoint for a reunion with my family. My sister and her family from NJ came and it has been SO LONG that our families have all gotten together. It was great to see them but not so great to drive in the snow.

“Sylvia”, my trusted SUV trekked along but she needed better “shoes” for the winter drive, so many “chips” later there were new tires placed on her in Sandpoint before making the trek back to Boise. Upon arriving home through a snowy Blue Mtn. pass we settled in for 4 days to get ready to jaunt to Wyoming. I had an oil change and of course there were other things I needed attend to on Sylvia…like a radiator housing which was another “cha-ching” WHEW! ($$) I AM glad I received word about the vehicle's “illness” or we could have been on the side of the road with a blown engine due to over heating. (This is another time when I thank all our VIP’s for their contributions…you really DO help us get to the show! OMG! Seriously! Thank you!!!)

On Monday before we left I felt ill. I realized that my energy was completely drained and just felt exhausted. Ut oh! Of course I go into “herb mode”; up the water, up the vitamins and all my remedies which include (if you are curious); Cat Claw, Oregano Oil, Garlic, Elderberry, higher doses of Vit.C & D, Golden Seal, Bio Vegetarian, Isitas Gold, L-Lysine, Astragalus, Minor Blueporium, Salt water gargle, netti pot and that is the SHORT list! Seriously! I whacked it with everything I had. This “bionic germ” was bound to clobber me!

I was so annoyed thinking the flu I got in January would some how immunize me for future sicknesses but apparently it did NOT. Infact here I sit, about to go into 4 shows this weekend with NO NOSE….AND a BIG PRODUCTION at the Sapphire Room coming up!

So, that’s a bit stressful. I am just practicing being present with what is and letting it ride over me. I have found surrender beats the fight in your head any day. I may not be at my best vocally, but I still have a lot of energy and love fortunately to give that amazing audience next Thursday. That is what it is really about!

In fact, let me tell you our Teton story! We made the drive over to Wyoming. Storm warnings all abound and really wondered about pulling the plug on the whole run out. We decided to buck up and go despite my run down feeling. We reunited with a wonderful old friend of mine Pam, and her partner just happens to be an Nurse Practitioner. I was bit mortified showing up “snotty” but they were wonderful. Michelle doctored me up with all kinds of Western medicine remedies. Mucinex, Advil/Tylonol, Flownase etc.

It snowed like hell and I laid around most of Wed. Then geared up for Thursday’s quiet, you can’t hear a pin drop concert, at Dornan’s. I just prayed a lot. I didn’t know where the energy was going to come from or how my voice would be. Blowing my nose also plugs up my ears and when you don’t have a “nose” you can’t sing through your head very well. When that chamber is plugged up, it’s almost like you have to sing “around a hole” in your head. I’ve done this before and it’s a bit tricky, but I’ve gotten better at it with all our years now.

So it’s snowing and side ways winds. We leave Pam’s house early and set up our equipment to play and Dornan’s was a success. They all dug it, which for me was a pleasant surprise as we are our worst critics, I knew the cold had altered my voice! The next day was suppose to be sunny! Yes, bring on the sun, as we’ve seen nothing but snow snow snow over 5 days!

I woke early and got a sneak peak at the beautiful Tetons in the morning hue. It was breath taking. Poor Mo went into “sherpa-mode”, you know…she looks like a walking coat wrack schlepping all of our luggage and belongings back into the car. I was still very weak and wondered again, “How in the HELL am I going to pull this off?!”

We checked the website to make sure the pass was clear. All clear, or so it seemed. The Teton pass has been known to have avalanches and in order for us to get into Wyoming, we had to drive an alternate route south to Hoback Junction which adds about another hour to hour and a half on an already long drive.

We get out the door after saying goodbye to our reunited friends and all their sweet animals and we are off in a shot to the Trap Bar at Grand Targee Ski Resort. Andrew, our sweet “Bond-fire member” (all the way from NC!), had shot us a text, “Have you made it over the pass?” and I replied we are on our way. I had a sinking feeling in my gut that moment and sure enough on a clear mountain day, the pass was closed due to avalanches!

Avalanche.jpg

Damn it! We were going to be late. We drove like bunnies down to Hoback junction and up over Swan Valley pass to finally ascend Grand Targee. We both felt disappointed in ourselves for not being able to get the hell out the door earlier and we left word with Andrew to tell the manager at the bar we are sorry we are running behind. And HOUR behind! Ugh! (More stress!)

It was in that moment going up to Swan Valley pass I looked at Mo and said, “Ya know honey…it’s going to be what it is. We can’t change this, so the best thing we can do is just pray for a forgiving crowd and when we take to that stage…give them hell! Make it a show worth waiting for, let the rest of this stressball go! It does us no good”. So…we tried. We drove and I took in the beauty of this mountain scene. The whites and the blues, the snow capped mountains, the dilapidated barn struggling to still stand with heaps of weight on it. “How was I just like that barn?” “I’m feeling old right now.” “Believe in yourself Nicc, I know you think you are rusty right now, just do the best you can!” My voices in my head. “How are you even going to load this equipment in?”

We get to the Trap and the “load in” is up 3 flights of stairs. Let’s face it, the load in is a bitch! It’s like running 3 football fields with a snotty nose to boot! We schlepp our stuff up into a massively crowded standing room only bar! I could barely move my guitar through the people!

The men right below the stage tout, “You better be good!” ha! This was a beautiful representation of growth right here…I simply laughed and said, “Right? If I suck there’s going to be a riot on our hands!” And we all laughed. It was funny and I wasn’t the least bit rocked or knocked off my game. I had a mission. To overcome how I felt and WIN this audience. To sing the best I could and give 110% and deliver the best performance I could muster up, even though my battery was 1/4 charged. Ha!

We did it! We blasted “Folsom Prison Blues” right off the bat. We took into it. Nobody wins a bar crowd better than Johnny Cash. Our sound guy was fumbling through and did NOT have the mix in the monitors very well. I suppose it sounded good in the house and this kind of thing happens all the time. You simply can not let a terrible distracting mix distract you from doing your best. We didn’t. We moved on through. We hit the next song, fast…”Find My Stride”, they were getting the “flavor” of Blaze and Kelly. They were loud, rowdy, fun and beautiful! They cheered, clapped, hooted and hollered! Then we played some originals. They liked it! We even played “Only the Lucky” to this raging crowed and they slowed down and took it in. I saw the big guys in front of the stage start to tear up, the ones that told me, “you better be good”. They shook their heads speechless.

What a moment! I had dared Mo to do “Shallow”. She refused at first, of course! Ha ha! (That is Mo’s “M.O” at first and rightfully so about this song.) We hadn’t learned it but a week or so and it was risky. I sang another and then said, “I think that song will go over well with this crowd”…and we went for it! She NAILED it! As soon as I played the first 2 chords the audience cheered! Many have seen the new movie, “A Star is Born” and if you listen to the radio, you’ve heard that beautiful song by Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper! It’s a wowsa! And Mo gets the highlight! How fabulous! It was such a great moment!

This show at the Trap, honestly…it probably belongs to someone younger. We’ve had our turn at it for the past 10+ years and every time we get the green light to come back we are slightly amazed. I’m not saying we are “old” and our time is done, but this show somehow symbolizes a high energy, slam dunk, bring it band! And we do our best to step up and into that. As much as two ladies can, WITHOUT A DRUMMER OR ELECTRIC GUITAR to give it the ROCK energy that the crowd so seemingly desires. But here’s the take away. They loved us anyway! What a true gift!

We sang REAL MUSIC to them and they ate it up! We played what they liked and then we played them our stuff and they took the whole show in and clapped like hell. It was such a gift! I will never forget it! It showed me that I can rise up even when I just want to go to bed! Ha! It taught me that even when I think I suck, I don’t. And Mo is right there with me, every step of the way, no matter what we’ve gone through, she is that beautiful voice and that booming bass line. What a power she possesses.! Wow!

I got to be a fly on the wall of my own performance that day. I was so high from the illness that there was a part of me 4 feet above my body just watching us! It was spectacular! Not that we were super stars with spellbound leads and musical virtuosity…but we came right from the heart, despite all the hell we had been through days and even minutes up to the show!

3 days prior to this show we learned that Mo’s mom went to the hospital and was having a rough time. This rocked the both of us and we both felt a bit helpless and of course wanted to get down to San Francisco immediately. That whole saying, “The show must go on!” is kinda true…and in situations like this, kinda sucks!

We were worried, exhausted, sick and worn out from stressful drives through snow storms up and over passes, time and energy NOT being on our side…and we STILL BROUGHT IT! And people still dug what we had to share! Hallelujah!!! The tip jar circled around the audience and they were truly generous! The next day I abandoned ski plans as I was way too tired. I dropped Mo off to ski with friends and I had myself a good cup of coffee and shed many tears thanking Divine for all these gifts and blessings. I was somehow restored from the idleness of this winter’s and lack.

We closed our chill time in Wyoming/East Idaho down days earlier than planned and raced on home so Mo could fly out to be with her mother. I stayed home to take care of the “fort” prepare for the Sapphire Show and of course take care of Juno! Juno, our amazing travel doggie, is a solid waggy tail, reminding us constantly of all the good there is in the world. What a terrific attitude that dog embodies!

Skipping forward it is now a day before our big production. Yes, I have a million details in my head and I’m finishing this blog. I am a writer before all things. It helps me make sense of my world and organizes my thoughts, and you people have been on my mind through our travels, our “oh shit” moments and our successes!

Leading up to this show, behind the scenes…we have dealt with illness not only with Mo and I but also our Sax player who can’t make the show. No one knows just yet, but he is out with influenza. Meow! Also our lead guitarist doesn’t think she will make it in from Billings as there is a wicked snow storm delaying and cancelling many flights from Denver. Zoiks!!! So…..

Ha! Here is the Universe, once again showing up for us to SHOW UP regardless of the circumstances! Here we are rearranging the set list in the final hours before a SOLD OUT SHOW!!! We have Rochelle and Earl. I know what Mo and I are capable of and I know what our accompanying players are capable of; and now I must see the vision and pull it all together to make the very best of what we all can do together - happen!

Instead of the “rock & roll” I thought electric lead and sax would bring to the table, we may just kick it back and be a bit more heartfelt. The beauty is, we don’t have to WIN the audience. This audience is already a waggy tailed true blue wonderful audience (and many of YOU folks will be there, tails wagging). That is a great thing, but I have a code and a standard in me that wants to bring the VERY BEST I can to these wonderful people! So in the next 24 hours, I have my work cut out for me in how to re-develop my “game plan” and offer up an amazing set of music! (Despite my still nasal nose and Mo’s hacking cough!)

The biggest take away from the Trap Bar? What I can apply to this sold out show tomorrow? It doesn’t matter WHAT SONG you sing…as long as you put your whole heart into it!!! I AM like that old barn weighted with snow….I’m still standing! ;-)

I love you guys! Thanks for reading!



old barn.jpg
packtetons.jpg

The Grand Teton like a solid pink beacon saying farewell to another day.

The Grand Teton like a solid pink beacon saying farewell to another day.

Juno with that same long tongue and classic easy going attitude that says, “I love the way snow feels on my belly!!!” Always a cheer up!

Juno with that same long tongue and classic easy going attitude that says, “I love the way snow feels on my belly!!!” Always a cheer up!

Fever this way lurks!


An unusual “writers den”.  Penning “Jersey Ride”.

An unusual “writers den”. Penning “Jersey Ride”.

Wow!  All I can say is WOW!  Ten days ago I had a crushing headache that gained intensity and then waned.  Soon after my symptoms slowed down Mo fell into a sickness that I would watch drain the blood out of her face and leave her in bed sweating, with a fever, chills and body aches to boot! Wow, Mo never gets sick.  

She held up in the bedroom as I bought her flowers, tea, water, juice, meals (well, I tried with the meals) and whatever else she needed and wanted.  I had NO fear that I would be coming down with the same thing 5 days after her but holy shit that’s what happened.

So I went down. Fever, body aches, chills, sweat, chills, sweat, sinus drain, more sweat.  If you lifted the covers you would have thought it was a green house under there! I felt like I had been cocooned and my whole body was liquefying.  I kept thinking of the caterpillar story and held out for the butterfly vision! It took serious concentration! I haven’t had a wave of utter sickness with fever hit me like that in YEARS!!!  

I had thought I’d been so careful as to not get the bug.  Keeping myself healthy, eating correctly, water, exercise, vitamins. After the holiday I departed from all alcohol and began juicing and doing “all things right” and I still got nailed!  Not only that, I had a serious case of sciatic pain running down both legs. I was a mess! In fact, WE were a mess.

After Mo’s symptom cleared she threw her back out with a simple task.  You know how that goes. She lifted a pan out of the oven and “click”. “Ut oh!”  I was still healthy enough before “my fall” of illness to help massage the intensity out of the back issue as a temporary fix and then I was down.  Down down down….and OUT!!!

The whole time I observed EVERYTHING!  My thinking. All the shit I had to get done.  I had plans. I was in a productive mood. I was taking care of business!  Ha! Funny how when you make a plan sometimes the Universe laughs. “Oh silly girl!”

I am on my 2nd day out of the fever woods. Yesterday I was a zombie and today I am still a bit nasally but I feel SO MUCH better and I am compelled to write about this so I will NEVER forget what a GIFT that illness was!  

As I said, I watched my mind.  I watched everything that came over me.  All my thoughts I investigated. I wondered how did I get here? Sick?  What did I do? What didn’t I do? And I realized that I dragged all my “homework” like a good student into the bed with me as I was sick.  

We are hosting a house concert, we have plans for a big Sapphire production here in Boise. We have a ticketed event in Wyoming and a prestigious bar gig to play there too!  We are inches away from signing some contracts with Art Centers in the Northwest for music this summer. Larger acts, larger gigs, tighter sets, elevated musicianship, larger pay checks, ticketed events, blah blah blah! All good.  All great! All our goal! And here I am. Paralyzed by sickness. Thinking I can THINK my way out of this sickness! What. A. Joke. Nope!

I was on such a train in my head it took the ultimate fever to come down upon me to release ALL plans of productivity.  It took a boiling circulatory system to pry and unhook my mind for it’s need to control the things I will NOT be able to control!  

What could I have done better before the illness?  STOP. Just STOP. Stop adding the coal to my “cho-cho train!”  The wheels of my mind were churning (pre-sickness) to an ultimate 100 mph.  Obsessing with new systems, the endless promotional, the mundane task of deleting emails, the new ideas of set list creation, practice, rehearsing,searching for more tone, more practice, lessons, more practice, booking meetings, decision making, fighting procrastinating and plowing through!  

It’s a new year boys and girls and I was on my way to becoming a different administrator to this thing called “Blaze and Kelly” we created!  And yet here came 101 degrees and then slowly 102.

I released.  I pushed all my books and papers and notes and things off my bed.  I just laid there. I shut my eyes too achy to fall asleep and somewhere in the dizzy haze of all the sheer panic I caused myself, I managed to stop; to disconnect; to let go.  Sleep finally came and so did the fire. The fire of my blood, the pounding of my head, the weakness of my body. This was baptism by fire into a New Year, a new mind state, a new way of being!  It all makes sense now, but then I felt like I was the character in the book of Job.

For a whole day I laid in bed, eyes to achy to read or even TV watch, I just lay there.  On occasion Juno would bound up and love me up and I was ever so thankful for that beautiful pooch.  I mainly sat there and meditated. The fever had me. I was caught in it’s vice-grips and I knew it would not let me go until I completely surrendered to it and so I did.  I went on many visionaries in my mind. Not quite asleep, but not quite awake either. It was transcending.

“The world looks good now and then upside-down!”  - Juno humor!

“The world looks good now and then upside-down!” - Juno humor!

I let go of all the “to do” stuff I thought I needed to get done.  I even disconnected from this life a bit. I found my focus lifting away from my current and daily affairs.  I kept coming in and out, seeing the larger picture, then my “little life” and then the larger picture. Where we’ve come, how far we’ve come then back into where we want to go, what we want to do, then as if from an angels point of view, “look at all you’ve done... all you do”. I rarely give myself time to think of it that way.   

This January marks the first month we have not had stacked shows in over 10 years!  Mo and I haven’t gotten off the “merry-go-round” since 2004. We have been working so hard on this music thing with extreme intensity for over 15 years.  We’ve risen to the level we are now. Not bad, not famous, not wrong, not rich. But in tact. Still together. Still making new songs. Still making new records. Still packing our stuff up in our car and heading to the show. Still practicing. Still dreaming.  Still loving music, each other, our fans.

After the fever slowly eased, I laid in bed listening to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography on audio books.  I’m close to finishing it now. This was so perfect. Bruce Springsteen emulates my New Jersey roots. He is an American legend whether you like his music or not.  He offers up fervor, passion, tenacity. His was the first rock and roll concert I ever went to back in 1983 at the Philadelphia Spectrum. In New Jersey...Bruce was and is...KING!  He was the man that put Jersey on the map.

Listening to his story made me appreciate once again my roots and the long tenacious, driven path we’ve chosen.  This man rocked Philadelphia for 4 hours! I was a freshman in high school and we were on our feet for the whole 4 hours!  I was alive with a rock and roll high for days after that concert. Not any drugs, just a high from the energy that the show delivered.  It was and STILL is the most amazing concert of my life! He would play his guitar with such passion and he would sweat and dance and he had everyone on their feet all night.  You didn’t WANT to sit down! He changed my life. Absolutely. His songs spoke true hardships of our state and current affairs at the time. His imperfect voice rang with a truth, and honestly and an authenticity that is so rare in this day.  I will always love Bruce for his gifts and now, trapped in bed he was in my ears like a long lost friend.

I was listening to all the backstories. How he struggled.  How he was fired and boo-ed. How he sucked for a while. How he was poor. He took me back with his words for the love of my homeland and spoke with that accent that I grew up with.  So nostalgic is his music that it will always make me cry. It just does. I can’t explain it. Memories of childhood and Jersey living flood back to me. I leap out of this current life of cell phones and face book and emails and task after task of multi-tasking.  

I stepped back in time of my Jersey days.  A slower time. Not necessarily a better time.  Just depends on how you look at it. But an innocent time indeed. A simpler time. Wow.  We really DON’T think of one thing at a time anymore. Everyone has ample things on their minds constantly. People are firing on 8 cylinders all the time!  When is there peace? Peace of mind? Bruce played the guitar and got his clooney friends together, formed a band, hit the streets, worked hard and now??? Now most musicians spend hours behind a screen pushing their playlists on Spotify waiting to be discovered.  It’s crazy.

I stopped listening for a while to the story.  I just allowed my mind to cruise. Remembering our house I grew up in.  Remembering the town. Remembering high-school days; my mother, my friends, the smells, the shore, the food. I simply focused on ONE THOUGHT AT. A. TIME.  

The next day, my fever broke completely!  Oh hallelujah! STILL not out of the woods I was exhausted.  My body would still sweat a bit but I clearly felt the pull of the fever off of me.  As if you can breath again. I picked up my guitar and brought it to bed and tinkered around on it.  Wondering how Bruce learned to play and how many other boys were into it and how many called him a freak.

When I picked up the guitar in the 70’s I had the same fascination he did.  I was 7 or 8 years old and it was hard. My little hands couldn’t do it just like his experience.  But I so was driven by a desire to learn that I went right out and picked it up again as I got older. I went to work as a machinist when I was 17 and my first paycheck bought me a Guild acoustic out of Trenton NJ at the “Hamilton Music Shop”.  Only 20 minutes from where Bruce Springsteen grew up. (I got lost in Freehold NJ once when I was 17. I drove around in circles for hours down the dark forever country highways, scared out of my mind and there was no cell phone to save me or Google Maps.)

I played this guitar strictly in my bedroom.  I was a “closet player” forever in those days.  I did NOT bring my guitar out. If you asked my graduating class if I played a musical instrument only super uber close friends would tell you about the guitar, but most had NO idea.  It was NOT cool for a GIRL to play guitar at that time! Simply not!!! Although I was a tom-boy and rode motorcycles I was “undercover” with most aspects of my true self at the time. Things I didn’t even KNOW about myself and one of them was- I wanted to be a musician.   

The thought of back playing guitar back then was not only thought as man’s world and art but if you reached for something “so high” you were “out of line”; an “attention seeker”; “a loud mouth”; “show off”; “unfeminine” and God forbid...you MUST be a “lesbian!”  These were the typical belief systems that were invisible to me at the time but that had their influence, like it own magnet. I would inevitably have to rise above these beliefs in my future.

So at that time...I kept it on the down low.  I wrote songs in my room to get over my poor teen turmoil.  I never sang them for anyone. And here Bruce tells me how he went “after it” all those years ago.  Wow! What would that have been like to be alive then, just a decade or so before my time? Could I have been Carly Simon or Carole King or someone like that!  Ha!!! What women could “go for it” and beat the streets and how many DID try but just got laughed at or a door slammed in their face? It became ok for women to sing but to yield an instrument, especially a guitar. There is/was something machismo about the guitar. We can STILL get looks from certain men now and then that make us wonder.

Overall, I am HAPPY being me born in my own “time-zone” of life. Truly.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  But it’s nice to day dream, to wonder and to be out of technology for a while.  I picked up my guitar and started to jot something down. I came up with a new song! “New Jersey Ride” of which I will post when my voice is back to normal.  I’m still not 100%. We ironically had a show tonight but the venue cancelled so, the Universe must be taking care of us with more rest.

The song is a simple look back at my Jersey days.  That concert, the excitement, driving down the shore, the air, the magic of being young.  I haven’t had a song spill out in one heap like that in a long time. It felt good. And Springsteen even stars in the song.  Ha! It may or may not resonate with you. But it’s about being grateful. Grateful for your roots, your health and those you love and a simple “ride” down memory lane.  

We’ve come a long way.  I’m gonna give myself that one. What an epic journey. And for one who has ample irons in the fire, I am practicing how to tend to one thing at a time again.  Multitasking is overrated. I’d rather have one thing on my mind than a 1000. And complete one task right then a 100 tasks half-ass. Mama always said, “Do it right the 1st time!” Ha!  

Thank you for listening.  Thanks for reading. Thanks for being.  

Niccole




Another year closes!

Hello Friends,

Well…December and the year of 2018 is almost over!  Why does it seem at the end of every year we say, “Wow…that went fast!”?  Yes, time ticks along and we are singing songs, day by day!  It IS incredible how quickly life has moved along.  My Dad came down for the Christmas Holiday.  He is 87 years old and though he looks amazing, I can tell he is reflecting on very much these days.  He can’t move as swiftly as he once did and he needs to rest more but he is doing very well. 

I reflect a lot without being 87.  I think this is part of a singer-songwriters mind.  I wonder, “How would I feel if I were in his shoes?  What thoughts would I have, knowing that I’m closer to the end of my ‘ride’”?  I know, a bit morose but when do we get to talk about these things?  No one wants to bring anyone down, but we all have the same questions.  “Where do we go after this?  Did we do what we set out to do in this lifetime?  Will we see those we love again when we cross over?” 

December is a month of inward reflection. We get together with friends and family we haven’t seen for a while.  We see age lying upon our faces only when you don’t see someone in our everyday world. 

It makes me feel better to know, on a gut level…we will all be “around”.  When we do cross over, there is another realm we will be transported to and we will have experiences with those we know once again.  I don’t know how it happens, but like all things in life…there is a circle so with death comes re-birth in some form or another. 

I remember the weeks after our beloved Osa dog passed.  I went to the gym to go for a swim.  I put my feet in the seemingly cold water and sat upon the edge.  I had many sad feelings about losing Osa and I just couldn’t seem to take the plunge into the pool.  I didn’t want the cold to lie over my body and I shivered just thinking about it.  I remember thinking, “where is she now?”  I pondered that thought.  I looked at the water and in a way, heard a deep wise voice from within saying, “this is exactly what transcending feels like…” and to my surprise, as if involuntarily, dove in the water.  Wow!  The cold rushed over me, but only for a second.  I was a little shocked but delightfully floating, no body weight to pull me down.  I was flying in the translucent liquid and I felt a FREEDOM!  I was swimming and my body adapted to the coolness in NO TIME!  In fact, the water was indeed, warmer than the air! That moment I had clarity of where we all must go. We move into a different reality and form, like ice melting into water.  We get reticent about the immediate departure and have many emotions before the “plunge”, but the instant we do it, we are truly OK. Truly FREE.    

There are many deaths we feel during life.  We feel the loss of love ones.  The pain of change or the seasons that call us into our winter fold.  We see wrinkles on our faces, missed dreams, blown opportunities.  Yet the glory is, we get to see the birth of many things too!  We get to feel ALIVE and expanded! We see dreams come true and meet new people to love. 

And new puppies too!!!

And new puppies too!!!

All this is to say, we are constantly expanding and contracting.  We go inward to uncover, we go outward to discover.  It’s like breathing.  We are not always on the exhale!  Much like the seasons we can shift our expanding and contracting in one day or within minutes!  Yet BOTH are valid.  I would not yell at the ocean for being in low tide, nor would I expect to always be inhaling.  We must DO both and value both.  We think about life and opportunity and greatness and excitement.  We think about death and loss and missed chances and pain.  The ALL of it, makes up our lives!  The ALL of it is - o.k.

I cannot come to a blog, a person, a crowd and be in expansion all the time.  There are moments I wonder, “What in THE HELL am I doing?!”  *Big Laugh!*  And I let the moment take me.  If a sad song comes up on my set list and I’m resonating with it or feel the crowd is cued for it, I must play it because that is just as true as a happy song.  All we really can do is be the best we can be in that moment, and sometimes in those moments we feel little deaths.  And sometimes in those moments we feel little births.  That IS Life.  Isn’t life beautiful?  The ALL of life?!! 

And with that, I close this blog.  Knowing that YOU dear reader will take from it what you will. May you move forward to this next year of 2019 embracing the ALL of life, its expansions and contractions, its births and deaths.  May you be blessed now and for the years that will buzz by, “Oh, how I wish I had, another 100 years with you…”  May we have another hundred years as we sit with our feet in the “pool” with anticipation of what is to come, and like a faithful dog, enthusiastically leap into our “freedom song” and swim gleefully into a new dream!!! 

Great Niece Mina, Juno with Nic & Mo Christmas Eve 2018!

Great Niece Mina, Juno with Nic & Mo Christmas Eve 2018!

Many blessings and much love!

Niccole