Claudia’s 2011 End of the year newsletter

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LOOKING BACK ON 2011

Dear friends,

What can I say about 2011 except it may have been the best year of my life!

After YEARS of working on my new CD, I finally finished it in late 2010, and began mixing. I mixed it with several different engineers (and spent WAY too much money on it as a result), and just didn’t hear what I was listening for. I had just about decided that it wasn’t going to be possible to get what I wanted when I discovered Dan Frizsell at Legends Studio here in Nashville. He volunteered to mix one song “Miss Kitty” and said if I didn’t like it I didn’t have to pay him. It was GREAT, and I took another giant leap of faith and we started mixing the whole thing. It took us about a month, mixing a few songs, going back and tweaking them, and repeating the process, until I finally felt it was the best it could be. Dan tells me no one is ever “finished” with a recording project, you decide to abandon it at some point. (Usually when you run out of money!) It sounds like a joke but it really is true. When you are working on it, you are constantly learning new things, and by the time you finish it, you have learned so much that if you were just starting the recording at that point, you would end up with a completely different project! I learned alot, not just about recording and production, but about singing and writing too.

I had had a lot of strong, positive response from the song about my dad – “His Left Side”, so I wanted the CD in the hands of the DJs by Fathers day. That meant it had to be mailed by June 1st, and THAT meant the printing and manufacturing had to be done by May 10th, and THAT meant the artwork had to be done by April 15th, and so on. Unless I do a Christmas album, I hope I never put myself under a time deadline like this again! Since I did all the artwork for the CD and the onesheet myself, I was working as hard and fast as I could for months, and six days after I got it in the mail I was on a plane to Seattle where I started the tour!

“Let The Storm Roll In” was in the mail to DJ’s three days before James Arness passed away, and when it hit the radio stations they jumped right on “Miss Kitty”, a song I wrote about Marshall Dillon of Gunsmoke being so stingy with the smooches. The CD shot up to #1 on the Roots Country Chart, #8 on the Folk DJ Chart, and # 26 on the Roots Music Americana Chart.  I had of course hoped it would be well received, but it far exceeded my expectations, and even my hopes! It was so exciting!  The press loved it too.   It got incredible reviews, (check out the reviews tab above) including 5 stars from an important roots music magazine in the UK called “Maverick”.

By July, eleven of the twelve songs had gotten airplay.  I wish you could have been there when my record promoter called to tell me that the twelfth song had just been made song of the week at a station in New Zealand, and that EVERY song had now been played on the radio! There was dancing in the kitchen! I was just floating for days. For years, I’ve been blessed with wonderful audiences who have loved my writing.  (Thank you by the way!)  But even though I believed in the songs myself, I was never sure if people were responding to the songs, or to their delivery.  (I am nothing if not a ham.) It was so validating when that piece of cold hard plastic traveled across the country and overseas, and the songs jumped out at the critics and DJs to such favorable response.

It was also validating for me as a producer.   When I selected the musicians and arranged the album, I pretty much just followed my instincts.   I put tuba on a country song (not something you hear a lot of) and chose cello for “His Left Side” (the song about my dad’s stroke).  I knew it worked when it ripped my heart right out of my chest, but I didn’t know if it would have the same effect on anyone else.  I really went out on a limb with “Big Country”, which is about different nationalities immigrating to America, and I used native instruments as I introduced each nationality: pennywhistle for the Irish, Hardanger fiddle for the Scandinavians, and Tex-Mex accordion for the Mexicans. When I was recording “Big Country”, I was nervous that it might be too much of a hodge-podge of sounds, but the song ended up being the one that went to #8 on the Folk DJ chart, and it has just been added to the in-flight play list on Lufthansa Airlines!

Once the CD was done, I was delighted to get out of the studio and back on the road. I covered a lot of ground in 2011.   In late spring I toured around Georgia and made a run down to Texas.  In May I was off to the DC area to play the Susquehanna Music Festival.  In June the tour started in Seattle, where I first heard the recording on the radio (KBCS) while visiting my friends Andy & Barbara in Suquamish, WA.  From there it was up to beautiful Vancouver BC and then down to Northern California to play in San Francisco and Santa Cruz.  I was delighted to be on the radio at one of my long-time favorite stations “KPIG” in Santa Cruz, with the legendary Sleepy John.  I hope to have a podcast for you to download off my website from that show soon.  I also went down to the Los Angeles area, where I did a taping on the syndicated radio show “Folkscene” hosted by Roz Larman, with my pal Freebo sitting in on bass.  That was followed by a brief trip home before heading up to the Northeast.   I had a great time performing near my old stomping grounds on Cape Cod, and doing a show on WOMR, plus fun gigs with my friend JoAnne Lurgio in RI, and a great visit and show up in the Adirondacks in NY where I had never been before.  Late summer found me back in TN and KY, and up to MI to perform at the lovely Trinity House Theatre in Livonia.  Then in the fall it was back out to the west coast, home for 3 days before heading up to Chicago, then back up to New York, after which I had ONE night at home followed by a couple dates in Tennessee and back down to Texas.   It all starts again in two weeks when I head down to GA to play in Savannah and Atlanta, followed by a trip out west again, LA, Idaho, and Northern CA.  Maybe you are reading this and thinking, “How can she keep doing this”.  Well here is the deal.  When you love something as much as I love singing and writing it’s really fun.  When you start getting really good at it, it’s even MORE fun!  The traveling is a grind, but the performing is a joy.

I really appreciate your taking the time to come visit my website. Do click on the video tab above, and take a look at the GREAT video of “Miss Kitty” before you leave.  A woman in the UK has done a fabulous job of editing film clips from Gunsmoke to the song.  And of course I hope you will have a listen to track samples from the new CD! You will see a song called “J.C” on the CD.  It is a true story written about a real man.  A real man, who I just found after not having seen him since I was a kid!  I had googled him unsuccessfully twice before, when I wrote the song, and again when I won the Kerrville Folk Festival Song Competition with it.  Last summer, my sister Marsha googled him and found him!  He is in Sumrall, MS and I’m hoping to get down there to see him again this spring.

One of my new year’s resolutions is to send out an email newsletter at least quarterly.   I also plan to have a lot of free downloads from live shows and new videos and pod casts on my website this year, so make sure to join the email list (top right above the photo) if you haven’t already.  If you only want to get my annual letter and hear from me when I’m going to be in your area, send me an email with “lite” typed in the subject line. Please also included your zip code so I know when to send it!

Also, you can stay in touch by following me on Twitter or friending me on Facebook, or both! Click on these links or on the logos in the naviagation bar above. (You can unsubscribe at any time.) Have you discovered Twitter yet? Via twitter you’ll get a two or three line blast to your twitter account on your computer, or via a text message to your phone, You will be able to “travel” with me, as I record my rather left of center, pithy impressions of the world as I’m moving through it. You’ll also be able to play “where’s Waldo” with me and know where I am, if I’m about to sit in somewhere at the last minute, and (most important to me), you can text me back! It would be great to get a message when I’m traveling through a town that you are familiar with about where to eat and what to see!

Well I guess that’s about it for now.  If I don’t wrap this up it will be a Valentines Day blog.  I will leave you with this thought.  I heard recently that if you have a roof over your head, heat, electricity, hot & cold running water, and indoor plumbing, you live better than 70% of the people on this planet.  There has been a lot of trouble in the world this year, but we are still so blessed.   Let us all find it within ourselves to be grateful for what we have, and a willingness to extend our help to others so that they can share in our abundance.  Let us believe we can make a difference, so that we can take the action to do so.  Here is to a year with less violence, war, greed, and hate.  Here’s to a year where in sharing love and hope, we discover we are lifted up as well.

Here is to 2012!

Claudia

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One thought on “Claudia’s 2011 End of the year newsletter

    Vertia Wilbon said:
    January 19, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Hi Claudia, Beautiful tribute to my uncle JC Watts. Loved reading it!

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