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Spring 2015 Newsletter

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CNprofile retouched

Winter news, spring shows, & Music documentaries you don’t want to miss!

Spring!  My daffodils and hyacinths are blooming, and I’m now finally free to move about the country.  I took more time off the road last winter than usual, and did some necessary catching up that included some procrastinated dental work and physical exams, refinancing my house, and losing 10 pounds!  (I now have a whole new wardrobe that I found hanging in the back of my closet.)  I also did SEVEN years of taxes.  I had sent money in with the extensions I filed so I had no penalties, (and I’m actually getting money BACK!) but what a job it was to do all that paperwork. It’s quite a relief to have it done, and I’m now ready to start going through songs for the next CD.

I’m going to be doing a crowd funding campaign soon to finance the CD. Crowdfunding (in a  nutshell) is asking people to buy the CD in advance so that I will have the money to work with an amazing producer this time around.  A heavyweight producer means I can get one of the top record promoters interested, and that means chart success and airplay that will allow me to play the big festivals and get an AGENT which I so badly need.  The bulk of my time is spent booking myself, and I really need to be writing, recording, and doing social media for my gigs instead. The CD will come out so much faster with someone else producing it too.  (My last CD took me 6 years!).  I’ll have more info on it in the summer newsletter.  Also in the summer newsletter will be info about the wonderful tour I just had in the Northeast.


I didn’t stay home the whole the winter though.  In January I headed down to Mississippi and Alabama. I had originally booked the Back Door Coffeehouse show in Hattiesburg, MS because I was going to finally perform my song “J.C.” for the man himself. Sadly, J.C. passed away in early October.  I did get to sing it for his son Tony and several of his cousins however, and it was really a lovely show in a great setting.  My thanks to David Walker and his wonderful crew of volunteers.

From Hattiesburg I headed over to Birmingham to play the Moonlight again.  It’s a great little concert listening room and I’ve played there several times now.  Back at home in January I did  a “Short Set” at the Family Wash in Nashville.  I don’t perform in Nashville nearly often enough, so I had to make it a New Year’s resolution to do so this year. I was supposed to play a couple other shows in town in February but we had a hellacious ice storm and they were both cancelled.  Nashville was a skating rink for a week.

In February I played a great return engagement at a house concert in Brownsville (just outside Memphis) on Valentine’s day, then I headed down to Shrevport, LA to play a wonderful series called Shreveport House Concerts.  It’s actually held in a recording studio, and both audiences were extremely generous.  I had an encore AND standing ovation in Brownsville, followed by an encore in Shreveport.  It made driving home in an ice storm worth it.   But what a drive that was!  I sat PARKED on highway 30 between Texarkana & Little Rock for over an hour.  We finally got moving again and an hour west of Memphis I was PARKED on I40.  When that cleared up it was getting dark and the roads were turning to black ice so I rented a (gouged) hotel room and crawled home the next day.

In March I headed up to St. Louis to play a house concert. St. Louis has had several “boom” town times.  In it’s early days it boomed as the last stop on the Mississippi to sell cotton, a second boom came along with the industrial revolution.  As a result of the prosperity, the architecture of the town is fabulous. My house concert was for psychology writer Dr. Deb Carlin, and she was as gracious as her lovely antebellum home.

Well that’s about it for this newsletter.  I hope you’ll sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss the next one!


P.S. Normally I suggest a book to read here, but in the last year I’ve seen some great music documentaries, and I want to make sure you know about them.

Nashville had it’s “A Team”, a nickname given to a group of recording session musicians who earned wide acclaim in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. They backed dozens of popular singers, including Elvis Presley, Eddy Arnold, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Bob Dylan, Moon Mullican, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee and others.  In Los Angeles during  the 60s  a similar team called “The Wrecking Crew”  played on hits for the “Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Jan & Dean, The Monkees, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Mamas and Papas, Tijuana Brass, Ricky Nelson, and Johnny
Riverscky Nelson, and Johnny Rivers. They were also Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound.

Meanwhile in Michigan in 1959, Berry Gordy gathered the best musicians from Detroit’s thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on “My Girl,” “Bernadette,” I Was Made to Love Her,” and every other hit from Motown’s Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians who called themselves “the Funk Brothers” had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis, and the Beatles combined – which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music.



Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Rick Hall brought black and white together to create music for the generations. He is responsible for creating the “Muscle Shoals sound” and The Swampers, the house band at FAME Studios that eventually left to start its own successful studio known as Muscle Shoals Sound. Gregg Allman and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals’ magnetism, mystery and why it remains influential today. From Greg Allman to Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones, everyone wanted to cut there


The best known of these music documentaries to come out lately is 20 Feet From Stardom.  You may already seen it?  I particularly related to the joys and sorrows in the lives of these singers, having had a couple of boyfriends who thought I should be their backup singer rather than take center stage.  (No one who became famous incidentally!) These are the most important BG voices in the biz, singing for Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Mick Jagger (remember “rape… murder… it’s just a shot away” – that background vocal pretty much MADE that song a hit.

For you folk fans, I suggest “GREENWICH VILLAGE: MUSIC THAT DEFINED A GENERATION”. Narrated by Kris Kristofferson and Susan Sarandon, this film is about how the folk scene all started. It’s the real deal, not an “Inside llewyn Davis” pretend job. Inverviews with James Taylor, Judy Collins, Carly Simon, Pete Seeger, etc.  


2014 Year End Wrap Up

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Claudia’s 2014 Wrap up

Happy New Year!  I hope you have enjoyed the holiday season, and were surrounded by love and laughter.  I was home for the whole month of December and spent Christmas day in my recording studio without ever getting out of my jammies!  It was heaven.  I plan to be home a good portion of January and February too, as it’s time to start a new CD.  I’m working on song selection, and figuring out keys, tempos, and arrangement ideas. I’ve also been doing a little research into and as I think I’m going to do a crowd funding campaign soon to finance the new CD.  It would allow me to hire a REAL producer, and maybe it wouldn’t take me six years to do the next  album!  

And one more thing… besides this new newsletter, be sure to checkout my new book review of a very old book… “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” written in the late 1700s.  I can’t believe I never read it before now! (see link to left)


What a great summer I had! I kicked off the summer by returning to the Kerrville Folk Festival.  I wasn’t actually booked to play the main stage, but there was a lovely tribute to the founder of the festival Rod Kennedy who passed away this year, and some of us who were at the festival who had previously played the main stage were invited to get up and do a song.  I played “His Left Side”.  It was a lovely evening, and it was a great “hang” backstage with so many of my friends there.  That’s Dalis Allen who runs the festival in the selfie with me. And Butch Morgan with Jimmy LaFave top left, producer/artist Lloyd Maines (Natalie from the Dixie Chicks dad) bottom left.  Me with Brad Yoder sitting in bottom right.

Midsummer I headed west.  My first stop was a lovely show for the Bridger Folk Society in Logan, UT. The concert series is held in a bakery, (bottom left) and the inside of the bakery was like the inside of a boat. All that wood made for great acoustics. I was joined on bass by my friend Patrick McClellan who was in chorus with me in junior high school! They have a Bluebird Cafe there just like we do in Nashville.


From UT it was up to Boise, ID where in addition to playing a couple great shows I got to hang with family.  Family that includes boys under 4 years old and I was putty in their pudgy little hands.  I also got to see my dear friend Sara. I had not seen her in years, and she was the first person I ever played one of my songs to.  Neither one of us can remember the song!  From Boise it was on to Seattle where I played the Triple Door, showcased the Western Arts Alliance conference, and had return engagements at both Kenyon Hall, and Backyard Concerts. I’ve got some wonderful old friends up there, and I really enjoyed hanging out with Mike and Mona Harris who put me up in their guest house (bottom left) for a couple days, and took me to see Chief Seattle’s grave (bottom right) then to my friend Carol Collins McCarthy’s beautiful home on the water (middle photo) in Gig Harbor.  Yeah folks, life on the road is so “tough” alright!  Those are Norwegian cookies (upper left) called fattigman.

 I get to play music with a lot of great players as I prowl around the country, but I don’t know when I have experienced more “magic” than when I played with Moe Dixon in Portland last summer.  Moe plays guitar, uke, banjo, dobro, and cello, and all of them well! It was a great night at “Artichoke Music”. That view of the Columbia river is from Moe’s porch.  The top two picts on the right are from a lovely house concert hosted by my friends Rod & Nancy Graham in Medford, OR. I had the best time playing for their friends! If you are interested in hosting a house concert some time, email me here.
I left Oregon and flew to Minneapolis, where I attended the Arts Midwest conference.  I also got to see lots of family before flying into Chicago and playing the WI songwriters series, where I experienced my first cheese curds.  They made my teeth squeak, which I am told is because they were fresh.  That show was followed by a show during the block party for St. Giles Church in Oak Park the next day.  Oak Park is where the architect Frank Lloyd Wright lived, and there are lots of his homes sprinkled throughout the neighborhood.  I love reading books set in towns I’m about to perform in, and enjoyed reading “Loving Frank”- an historical fiction told from the viewpoint of Frank’s mistress.  These photos are homes in Oak Park that he designed and built.
It’s always such an honor to be invited back to a venue to perform, and this year I played my THIRD concert for “Folk At The Landings” in Savannah, GA. That’s the audience at the bottom, and my hosts Herb and Margaritte Goslin in the middle.  The top photo is “Moon River”.  Johnny Mercer is from Savannah, and there is a Johnny Mercer blvd, Johnny Mercer Drive, Johnny Mercer Junior High School, and yes… Moon River.  It wasn’t called that when he wrote the song.  The river was renamed in his honor.  I also played the Savannah songwriter series at the legendary Johnny Harris restaurant (the big bands used to play there in the 40s) and a night at Marlin Monroe’s on Tybee Island which is a great restaurant if y’all get down there!

My last day in Savannah I received some sad news. I hope you recall my song “J.C.”  I won the Kerrville Folk Festival Song Competition with it, and was thrilled two years ago to find J.C., the man I wrote it about, after having lost touch with him for decades.

It is with great sadness that I write here that J.C. passed away in early October. Initially I was SO disappointed. I had hoped for several more visits. However I am now thinking it may have been a blessing in disguise.  J.C. had bone cancer, and had he not had a heart attack he may have had a very painful and lingering death.  I am grateful that I was able to find him and see him before he passed, and that he got to hear the song. If you would like to hear it, Click here to see a video. I have written a blog about going down to Mississippi for his funeral, to meet his children and pay my respects to this man who taught me a great deal just by being himself. If you would like to see the photos and read the story click here.

At the beginning of November I headed up to Massachusetts again, and had several fabulous shows. Starting at Amazing Things in Framingham, then down to the cape for two “Sit-a-while with Kami Lyle” shows.  What a blast! Kami and I are not only both Norwegian (Norska Yentas) we’ve been friends for a while now and being able to do a show with someone you really like to hang out with is so fun! In addition we had her band back us up, and she invited Dennis Brannon who writes such great songs!  We played the Wellfleet Preservation Hall and the Cotuit Center for the Arts.  Finally I headed up to Pawtuckett for a lovely intimate show in a cool art gallery before heading back home.

After New England I flew to Tucson, Arizona for a show I had been looking forward to all year. The show was “Funny Females of Folk” featuring Cheryl Wheeler, Christine Lavin, Cosy Sheridan, and of course your’s truly.  What a night!  We broke the attendance record for the Vail Theatre of the Arts, and had incredible response. Everyone was complaining that their jaws hurt from laughing! I got to emcee the show, and it was so fun to get to know the girls a little bit.  I was so impressed by how down to earth they were, and MY jaw was aching too!  I was especially delighted that they want to do it again.  I can’t wait!

The next week was a trip down to Arkansas to play “That Bookstore in Blytheville, and then on to Texas for a return engagement at Concerts at Betty’s, followed by a show in Houston, and my final show of the year in Sulphur Springs.

It’s been a great year, and I feel so blessed. Thank you so much for coming out to my shows and buying my CDs and basically keeping me alive.  Without you, I’ve got no career.  It is you that has allowed me to quit my day job.  (Actually I don’t think I ever had one!!)  I wish you joy, luck, happiness, love, peace, good health in 2015!

Book Review: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

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“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” 
by Harriet Beecher Stowe. 

My father was a young man of 23 and just married at the end of the great depression.  Times were tough, and money hard won.  My grandfather, who was an alcoholic, came to my dad saying that he had a job in Seattle if he could just borrow the money for the bus ticket. My dad gave him the money, but a few days later dad heard from friends that they had seen his father rolling down (literally) the streets of Tacoma drunk on the money for the bus ticket.  Dad was furious. Two days later Grandpa Ole showed up at my parents house still drunk and wanting more money.  My mother, a new bride and a naïve farm girl from North Dakota was frightened of him, and instead of inviting grandpa in said she would go get dad.  To this Grandpa slurred “aren’t you gonna invite me in you little bitch”.  My dad heard him. Mother said all she could see coming from the living room was daddy’s fist. He knocked grandpa backwards off the porch and when Grandpa stumbled to his feet he said “That’s a fine way to treat your father.  You’ll never see me again!”.  No one ever saw him again.  We don’t even know where he ended up or how he died.

Forty years later I was performing at a fair in northern CA and staying at my parents ranch.  I got back to the ranch, and thirsty after a day spent in 103 degree heat, I made my way to the fridge where I found an open can of soda and took a big swig.  It was mostly vodka. My father by this time had inherited his fathers disease and had just gotten out of an alcohol abuse program, and that evening he was bragging to us about how well he was doing sober. Now it was my turn to be furious. I grabbed the can of soda out of the fridge, and slammed it down on the kitchen table yelling “then what the hell is this?”  Dad bolted up out of his chair and out of the door saying (verbatim) “That’s a fine way to treat your father.  You’ll never see me again!”.  My mother turned to me and said “Word for word!”  Dad was back later that night, but any good therapist will tell you that the family drama is either handed back (therapy) or passed on. The bible will tell you that the “sins of the fathers are revisited on the third and fourth generations”.  However you say it, the damage is usually multi-generational.

When I think of the psychological damage done to children growing up with an alcoholic parent I cannot help but think of how much more damaged the child of a slave would have been.  Even if you somehow escaped physical and sexual abuse, to have been sold away from the security and comfort of your parents, deprived of your culture and traditions and even your family name would be debilitating for generations to come.  Yet in 150 years, only three or four generations, black Americans have come to excell in all areas of our culture, and even to occupy the highest office in the land. That isn’t just amazing, it is heroic.

I can’t believe that I never read Uncle Tom’s Cabin until now. It should’ve been insisted on in my childhood, and not just because of it’s political importance. This book by Harriet Beecher Stowe is an incredible piece of literature written at a time when women were certainly not taken seriously as writers. I am amazed by her ability to write equally well from the perspective of not only the slaves, but also from the perspective of both the kind and cruel slaveowners. It is no surprise that this book was so intrumental in the abolition of slavery.  If you have never read it, it is time you do.  If you read it as a child it is time to read it with your “grownup’s eyes”.  It is available for free as an audio book from the app “Audiobooks”. Look for this icon:

2014 Spring Newsletter

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This was originally going to be a Holiday letter, then an end of the year, then a Valentine, and now… well I’m just glad to be getting it out before it becomes an April Fools Joke!  Being so far behind I’ve got a lot to tell, but before I do I should mention my spring shows. In March I’m headed to Memphis, then down to Texas. I’ll be up in Massachusetts in April, and back down to Texas again in May.  Visit my website tour schedule here for the details.  Also in the column on the left, check out the new book review in suggested “reads”.  The book is “Ellen Foster” by Kaye Gibbons.  I was also able to rent it on DVD from my library. 


After a week at home in early September, after the west coast tour, I headed up to New York to play the Riverfolk Concert Series, a Hedges Lake House Concert, and an exciting night at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.  Caffe Lena has been around for many decades going back to the “Llewellyn Davis” era of folk, and I was honored that they chose me to be the recipient of grant money from the New York Council on the arts.  It was also my first time to be on a “Concert Window” show.  Ever watched one? You watch a live show right from your computer, and can comment on the show in an iChat kind of way, interacting with the audience and artist.  I’m planning on doing one this summer, in which I will preview some new songs. I’m hoping you will tune in and give me feedback on which ones you like, thereby helping me choose the best ones to record!  It will be like entering a songwriting contest with myself!  Anyway more about that in the next newsletter.From New York I went down to Cape Cod for a house concert and public show, then made my way down to Philly where I had a chance to play with my buddy and a great harmonica player, Bob Beach.  Next it was down to Virginia for another house concert before heading home.  

In October I performed up in the St. Louis area, and in November it was back up to MA for a show at Old Sloop Coffeehouse in Rockport – an adorable seaport town if you get a chance to visit.  I also played a coffeehouse in Provincetown, MA, at the very end of Cape Cod.  The venue put me up in a world class B&B. Below is a shot of the view from my hotel!Before leaving the northeast I went back to New York for a folk music conference.That’s where I got the bug.  I left the conference and had a fine show in MD on the way home, but when I got home I was down for the count with the flu, and for WEEKS!  I had to cancel playing the Frank Brown songwriting festival in FL, and my entire Texas tour, including plans to spend Thanksgiving with my sister in Austin.


I wasn’t quite up to snuff when I left for California three weeks later, but having already been ill for three weeks I assumed I’d be well past it all in a day or two so onto the plane I went.  I wasn’t, but I had a great west coast tour in spite of it. I always really enjoy going out to the West Coast because I get to see so many friends when I’m out there. On this tour I played shows all over the Los Angeles basin. The first show started out in the valley, where I did a live webcast broadcast from Kulaks Woodshed. (Friend me on Facebook to find out about last minute webcasts like this)  I ended up with a pretty cool little video out of it. I also got a couple really good videos from my showcase at  Western Arts Alliance last August (also in Los Angeles). Click here to see the new videos     

From LA I took a beautiful drive along the Pacific coast up to Atascadero to play Musica Del Rio, and then back down it again for show at Alva’s Showroom in Long Beach.  From Los Angeles I flew up to Northern California where I also had many friends to see having grown up there. I performed for Point Richmond Acoustic Concerts (in another charming community)  and a great house concert hosted by friends in Folsom.  Yup, the Johnny Cash prison song Folsom. Next I flew up to Portland, Oregon to play the Artichoke, a nice concert series in Corvalis, and a wonderful house concert hosted by my friend Lauren Sheehan. When I landed in Portland my ears were completely plugged up and they stayed that way for a week.  It was like singing under water.  It’s weird because your voice is in your head so you can hear it, but your guitar sounds like it’s in the other room!  Everyone said I sounded fine, but maybe they just felt sorry for the deaf lady? While I was in Corvallis I sat down and blew my nose and one of my ears popped and the room started to spin and I literally saw stars.  It was pretty weird. From there I flew to Boise to spend Christmas with my cousin’s family and when the plane landed it sounded like a popcorn machine going on in my head.  In spite of the ears thing I had a beautiful Christmas in Boise. I was surrounded by rug rats, and it was a delight to smooch on their little collagen full faces, and we all did our part to eat, drink, and be Mary.  (Make that Merry.  Who would want to be Mary and give birth over the holidays!).  My cousin also took me up to see the Boise “Glow” park.  Amazing!


I spent most of January at home, working with my new interns.  I have three students from the Mike Curb school of music working with me until April 22nd, and we are catching up on some horrific administrative behindedness. Connor is helping me archive my song catalog, and so far we are up to 209 songs. The bulk of them have never been copy written, or registered with BMI, or even had lyric sheets typed for them.  I’ve created a data base that allows me to put in the pertinent info for each song, and it’s going to be wonderful to finally have what recordings I have of them, the best tempo, who I should try to get to cut them etc. all in one place. Once I finish this inventory of my work I will know which songs I want to consider for my next CD, and also which songs I think I could present to other acts.  My goal is to try to get back into pitching them to other people to record.  It’s a very time consuming business, and a career of it’s own, so I’ve had to let it slide for over a decade. It’s fun listening to songs I wrote years ago, but REALLY time consuming.  It’s especially time consuming because I seem to be writing a lot of new songs lately which is only adding to the pile. My second intern Teresa is helping me transfer previously recorded songs into “Pro Tools”, the recording software I’m now using. (Technology is ALWAYS changing in the recording industry) From PT I can get them into iTunes.  We are also keeping track of which of these little ditties would make a good free download for YOU!  My third intern is Stella, and she is helping me with publicity, social media, and press releases. We are also researching European DJs.  My last CD was never released in Europe even though I got five stars from the European music magazine Maverick. This was a wasted opportunity, but I didn’t have the money for a European record promoter.  If I can put the $2000 together it would be great to release “Storm” over there so that the DJs will already know who I am when the next CD comes out

.In February I got back on the road and drove up to Nebraska to perform a Valentine’s Day show, followed the next night by a house concert in Lincoln.  I also was invited back to sing on KZUM thanks to the incredibly supportive DJ Deb Andersen. 
From there I went down to Kansas City where I attended the international folk alliance conference and also was able to be on KKFI radio.  During the conference I was delighted to do a showcase at the conference backed up by my old friend Redd Volkaert.  (Redd is on the right, another stellar guitarist Bill Kirchen is on the left.) You’ve heard him play on my recordings.  Redd received a Grammy for his work with Merle Haggard whom he played with for many years.  Playing with Redd relit the fire that has been smoldering under me to buy an electric guitar. This kind of thinking is quite dangerous…  I also got to meet Christine Lavin and be part of her Concert Window fund raiser. I’m going to be doing a show in the fall with Christine, Cheryl Wheeler, and Cosy Sheridan called “Funny Folk Females” and it will be at the Vail theater in Tucson 11/15.  This is a pretty big deal for me, because Christine and Cheryl are quite well known artists, and this is a big THEATER show, not a small concert hall.  If you’ve never been to Tucson and you been thinking about going you might want to go the second week in November. I also got a chance to
I’m currently booking shows for the summer, and planning to be up around IL and the midwest in June & July, with a west coast tour coming together for August/September.  I hope I will see you at a show soon.  Be good to yourself, and be good to those around you!Claudia

Book Review: “Ellen Foster”

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“Ellen Foster” by Kaye Gibbons

It’s funny to talk about a book by bringing up a movie but I think seeing the movie Philomena made me want to read this book again. It’s one of the books that I read when I first joined my book club but it has stayed with me as one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read.  It’s the story of a young girl who loses her momma, and is left to the care of a late stage, abusive alcoholic father.  What is riveting about it though, is there is no trace of “victim” in the girl’s persona.  She tries to get taken in by her aunts and grandmother who refuse her, but when her situation becomes dangerous and she is rescued by someone who cares for her, the state disallows the adoption and gives her to her grandmother who didn’t want her to begin with.  Unable to be with people who genuinely want her, Ellen takes matters into her own hands and sets about finding a home for herself.  Reading this book I felt broken-hearted about this adorable little orphan and wanted to adopt her myself, but I also felt proud as a parent when she picked herself up and moved on. The courage and moxie of this child will put a tear in your eye, but at the same time lift your heart.  Gibbons won two literary awards for Ellen Foster, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and a citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation.

If you don’t like to read, or don’t have time (this is a short read however) “Ellen Foster” was also made into a movie by Hallmark, and Ellen was delightfully portrayed by Jenna Malone.  I was able to rent a DVD of it from my library. On a side note, (and I haven’t seen it), there’s a TV show called “the Fosters” on ABC with similar stories.  They probably got the idea for the show from this book.

Facts about homeless Teens…

1.      There are approximately 1.7 million homeless teens in the U.S.
2.     39 percent of the homeless population is young people under 18.
3.     About 75 percent of homeless teens use drugs or alcohol as a means to self
medicate, to deal with the traumatic experiences and abuse they face.
4.     5,000 young people die every year because of assault, illness, or suicide
while on the street.
5.     A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study found that 46
percent of homeless youth left their home because of physical abuse.
17 percent because of sexual abuse.
6.     Approximately 40 percent of homeless teens identify as Lesbian, Gay, or
7.     Over 50 percent of young people in shelters and on the streets report that
their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving and didn’t care.
8.     The average age a teen becomes homeless is 14.7 years.
9.     1 in 7 young people between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away.
10.   Teens age 12 to 17 are more likely to become homeless than adults.
11.   The HIV rates for homeless young people are 2 to 10 times higher than
reported rates for other samples of adolescents in the U.S.

Book Review: “Winter of the World” by Ken Follet

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Winter of the World by Ken Follett

At the beginning of this century, I made several trips to Lithuania for my church.  I wanted to start an Alateen program over there, which i finally did, though i have no idea if it still continues. On my first trip over we visited a place called The Ninth Fort.  it was a concentration camp created during World War II where thousands lost their lives. I won’t get into talking about The Ninth Fort here, because I could fill a whole blog with that, but I mention it because ever since being there I have been confounded by how much time, energy, and expense went into the creation of the fort and the transport of all of those people packed into boxcars.  Just to kill them.  It was an industry unto itself, and viewing it (once I had gotten numb to the horror of it)  I couldn’t understand why the Nazis didn’t just take their victims out in the forest and shoot them. How much quicker and less expensive that would’ve been.

Until I read this book.

In the century trilogy by Ken Follett there is an English family, an American family, a Russian family, and a German family.  The first book, “Fall Of Giants” takes place around World War I.  (I highly recommend this first book for Downton Abbey fans by the way).  “Winter of the World”, the second book, takes place during World War II.  This is the first book I have ever read that attempts to give the reader a view of World War II through the eyes of several different countries.  Raised as I was with the American prejudice and view of what transpired, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never given the European experience of the war much thought. This book had me thinking about it a lot.  The hardships of the English family during the blitz, the frozen Russian soldiers trying to save their fledgling communist government in the chaos of advancing Germany, the American political tightrope going into the war, and the impact of fascism on the German citizen would all individually make for a great read.  Combined they are riveting.

For me what was most incredible about this book however, was its ability to create an awareness for me of my own prejudice.  Growing up in post WWII America, my view of the German people was formed in the back seat of an old sedan at the drive-in movies.   It was an impression of a people that were cold and insensitive. It hasn’t at all jived with my experience touring Germany, where I found the German people to be warm, hospitable, and very generous.  I see now, that It was not only hard for the Nazis to kill the Jews without demonizing them first, it was hard for we Americans to go to war against the Germans without demonizing them. I grew up lumping the German people (of the 40s not my contemporaries because of course racism is always selective) in with the Nazi government.  While I certainly was aware of how fearful the Germans had to have been living under a fascist regime, I never gave them enough credit.  The Nazis built those concentration camps because if they had marched innocent people off into the forest and shot them, the German people would’ve risen up and toppled their own government.  This book isn’t just a page turner, it’s an eye-opener.

2013 Fall Newsletter

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I’m so late posting this fall 2013 newsletter, that in about five minutes I’ll post the spring newsletter for 2014! Oh well.  Better late than never?  My last blog left off in late spring of 2013, so this one picks up in early summer of 2013.
In June I made it down to play the Crossroads Music Company in Winnsboro.  It’s a cool little vintage town, with lovely restaurants, and I loved the venue.  Very intimate!  From there I headed down to the Kerrville Folk Festival where I hosted the ballad tree and did a showcase for Camp Sweetness & Light.  The next night I got invited by my friend Michael D’eath to sing with his harmonica circle, and I sat in with “I Don’t Need A Man”. It was the first and no doubt the last time I’ll ever sing that song with TWENTY harmonica solos in it! It was mind blowing.  I had not been to Kerrville since I played the mainstage several years ago, so I had a great time prowling the campfires with all the other pickers, sitting in here and there.  I especially enjoyed sitting in with accordion master Radislav (who was on Prairie Home Companion just a few nights earlier) and hearing him play on “I Want To Touch You”.  Kerrville is the festival where I won the songwriting competition in 2004.  Needless to say it’s one of my faves. After Kerrville I headed for Austin where I taped the podcast, and then down to Houston where I played Anderson Fair finally.   Love that venue!
May took me east up to Baltimore  for a lovely house concert in a great old foursquare.  My host was celebrating her husband’s new “Judgeship” and it was a great party with a whole table of crab, to say nothing of incredible dishes.  I LOVE playing house concerts.  Not only do I make new friends and get to sing in a really intimate environment with no drunks yelling across the room, I get to eat the most delicious food! On the way out of town I stopped at Fort McHenry where (a rather handsome) Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner”.  I was astonished to learn the song was originally a waltz!   From Baltimore I got to visit my cousin Karen a day or two, and then played a cool concert series “Focus Presents” in Rockville, MD.  The next day I drove down through the smokies to Asheville, NC for the annual Southeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference.

Smoky Mountain Rain

It was in a word FABULOUS.  Not only did I get seen and heard by many venues who offered me gainful employment, I also learned a lot from the workshops, and bonded much more deeply with my fellow traveling bards. It was so great to chew the fat with other singer songwriters about life on the road touring.  It probably seems to the fans that we all know each other well, but only at festivals and conferences do we perform at the same place and the same time.  I know it’s a cliche, but life on the road when you perform solo can get a bit lonely.April was a busy month, with shows in Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. In Nebraska I was hosted in a house concert by my friends Addie & Pat, at their beautiful home in Weeping Water.  It was a GREAT party, with fabulous food besides the (ahem) stellar musical talent.  (If you are interested in hosting me in a concert some time, email me back and I’ll send you some info about it.)  The next day I had the chance to be on Deb Anderson’s “The wimmin’s show” on KZUM radio in Lincoln, NE and several friends stopped by the station so we all went out for lunch after. From NE I headed down to Kansas, where I performed a week of shows for the arts and humanities project in Coffeyville, KS, Then it was on to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In ABQ I did a show for the Sandia Heights Coffeehouse.  What a gorgeous city, and what incredible hosts!  Linda & Kerney Bolton put me up in their stunning house at the base of the tram, (Kerney is an architect) and took me to dinner there.  There was a view of the whole town, and it was such beautiful weather.  The show was great too, and I was thrilled to be asked to do an encore.  I spent the next day rolling around up in Santa Fe, where I visited the Western exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum.  It was like taking a step backwards in time to when I was a kid on my dad’s ranch.  Viewing the old ranch photos from the 50s and 60s, and seeing the tack, clothing, and art, was rather emotional for me.  Santa Fe is stunning, and well worth a visit.

I then meandered down to Alamogordo, NM where I had the chance to be on KALH radio with Ken Bass.  Ken was the first DJ to play my new CD and has given me lots of airplay so I really appreciated the chance to meet him in person.  I played a lovely coffeehouse down there called “Stumpy’s”  and also did a house concert for “Alamogordo Live”.   When it was time to drive home, I took the back way through Roswell.  I didn’t see any aliens, but I saw some beautiful scenery and an interesting VW cemetery.


I left Nashville at the end of July, and my first stop was the Lupus General Store. Lupus is about 500 feet from the Missouri River, on the other side of it from Columbia, MO. The store is a very old building that reminded me a lot of my grandfather’s store in North Dakota.  It’s a brick shotgun, and with those old tin tiles on the ceiling the acoustics were fabulous. The weather was perfect too, and the audience was open, fun loving, and generous. I had a great time!

The next night I performed in a 150 year old barn in Weeping Water, NE.  It’s south of Omaha and east of Lincoln, and again the weather was perfect!  It was about 75 degrees, and at the end of July it could have easily been 100!  The barn, being made of wood (natch) and several stories tall had terrific acoustics just like the Lupus store, and I was wishing I could have recorded both shows.  My voice sounded so incredible in these two venues that I felt like an Italian Opera star. The evening was especially fine thanks to a great visit with a couple of my moms girlfriends, Addie Idler and Leslie Howard. It is so wonderful to have people in your life who remember your parents, only I can’t look at them when I sing “His Left Side” or I wont get through the song!

From Nebraska I pushed on to Denver where I did a show at a new venue called Starlite Station which is nestled in the center of a cloister of art galleries. I have played in many Colorado towns in the past but this was my first show in Denver. It was a combination of work and vacation as I was also able to see my Aunt Eloise and a couple cousins while I was there.

The next night I performed in Centennial, Wyoming.  It’s a small town up against the base of the Rockies, and I sang in a bar rather than a concert venue like I usually perform in.  The audience was well oiled when I got there, and after I sang a Patsy Cline song it was obvious how the evening was going to go.  I spent the rest of the night singing every old Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson song I could think of.  I had not sung those songs for a long time and I had a blast, mostly because the audience did too.  Normally I won’t take a bar gig, but Wyoming was a bucket list show as I’ve now performed in 48 of the 50 states! This is where I stopped for breakfast the next morning…

After a quick swing through Boise at the beginning of August I was on my way up to Seattle.  I was born in Tacoma, so performing on KBCS radio was something of a bucket list performance as well.  I  played a house concert up there at my friend Mike’s beautiful home overlooking a lake, followed the next night by a show at “Kenyon Hall”, a venue that has been in existence since my parents dated in that town. During my show at Kenyon Hall I got a wild hair and dumped my set list in favor of playing some new songs.  I’m planning a new CD, and it occured to me that I better start playing the new songs in public so I can see what the response is to them. It’s a brave thing to do.  We who do this for a living know which songs are guaranteed to get a good reaction, and it’s tough to cut one out of the set list to make room for a new one.  Still, if you aren’t willing to flop, show biz isn’t the right career to choose!

From Seattle I drove south through a forest fire down into Northern CA.  It was far enough away that it wasn’t scary, but still plenty smokey.  Mount Shasta was much closer than it appears in this photo, because of the smoke.

The perfect upper 70s weather followed me from Seattle down into Northern California where I played several shows and made my annual pilgrimage to see some dear friends.  I don’t know what I would do if I had to give up the road.  I’d miss my friends all over the country so much, and especially Northern CA as I grew up there.  My old school chum Marsha hosted yet another show for me in her stunning home in Los Altos Hills on 8/9, and the next night I played a show at the “Woodshed” at Keith Holland Guitars in Los Gatos. LG is where I cut my teeth in show biz long ago. My first partner and first love Chuck McCabe and I lived there and the venue is named after his record label, which was named after the bar on Cape Cod where we performed.  It was a full circle night, with many of his friends in attendance.  I just wish he had been there too, but sadly he passed away to pancreatic cancer a few years ago.  I did get to share the night with one of his best friends however, Jay Howlett.

The following weekend I performed a house concert in stunningly beautiful South Lake Tahoe at he home of some friends who first heard me sing back when I lived in LA in the early 80s!  They had recordings of me that even I didn’t have!

From Tahoe it was down to Pismo Beach to play Steve Key’s Songwriter series.  I had a stunningly beautiful drive down Route one through Big Sur.  God was having a REALLY good day when it did this…

I went on to play Noble House Concerts in Van Nuys (North LA), and then went down to San Diego to play the San Diego Songwriters Showcase which was killer fun because I got to play with a band, and had a lot of fans show up.  I had to backtrack up to LA from there for the Western Arts Alliance conference where I was humbled by the response from bookers. It was pretty darn exciting!  The next day I headed for Texas.  This was the sunset I saw just outside El Paso. As the sky grew darker, I saw “international roaming” on my phone, and lights began to appear over to my right.  It was the Mexican border.   A lot of hope crosses that border.  I after a couple shows in Texas, including “The Rock Room” which is a way cool venue, I headed for home.