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.
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.