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!
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!