2014 Year End Wrap Up

Posted on Updated on


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!

2014 Spring Newsletter

Posted on Updated on

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

2013 Fall Newsletter

Posted on Updated on


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.

Spring 2013 Newsletter

Posted on Updated on

Well last December I boldly claimed I would write on this blog MONTHLY.   So far I have failed miserably!  However, if I change to writing quarterly I’m right on time!  Anyway, here is a recap of the last three months…

The biggest news starting out the new year, was the completion of a new video of my song Coyote.  It really came out well, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out on my videos page.  I’m really delighted with how it turned out.

Coyote Title

In January I headed down to Texas where I played the Open Door Coffeehouse.  It’s held in the Trinity United Methodist Church in Arlington (Dallas area),  and it’s a great concert series that has been going on for over 15 years now.  I also had  a fun gig at Benini sculpture ranch. It’s a way cool gallery outside of Johnson City, with sculptures not only inside the gallery, but all over the property.  It literally looks like they are growing sculptures there. On my way to the ranch, in the middle of the road, was this beautiful mare and her buddy the burrow.  We had a short conversation during which I suggested another place to stand might add to her longevity.

Horsing Aroundsm

In February I was in Southern California where I did a show at the “Coffee Gallery Backstage” in Altadena. It’s a WONDERFUL listening room, and I was thrilled to have a reporter there from the extremely hip Americana magazine “No Depression”.  He said he loved my songs and that he was going to do a story on me so hopefully I’ll be posting that soon. Next I performed for Fireside Concerts in Newbury Park, with the “Mighty Echos” doo wop group.  I’ve never had so many people sign up to be on my mailing list after a show before.  I felt like a prom queen!  I finshed up the trip with a show for the San Diego Folk Heritage Society at a vintage performance spot called Templar’s Hall in San Diego.  It’s such a great old building, all wood inside and with great acoustics, nestled in Poway Park which also houses the Poway Midland Railway.  Funky and fun, and I saw a lot of friends I’ve not seen in about ten years.  CityImage

Later in February, back in Nashville, I had the chance to perform at the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.  It is the second oldest radio show in history!  I was so thrilled to be on that stage where so many famous country stars had stood.cropped-texasttheatre.jpg

In early March I was up in Massachussetts, where I had a chance to play a well known house concert called “Fox Run” with Martyn Joseph from Wales who is a hauntingly beautiful guitar player.  The next night, Sunday 3/3 I was down on Cape Cod playing Brick Hill House Concerts. I’ve been performing on Cape Cod since my very first gig, but I had never played there in the winter before so I was curious to see what it would be like to be on the cape “off season”.  With the tourists gone it really reminded me of the way it was when I first went there in my twenties.  I had a GREAT night, with friends at the show who were at that very first gig, many decades ago! My host Dinah put on a great Lasagna pot luck too, and the evening was capped off when another old friend, Kami Lyle, (this one from Nashville but now living up there) sat in on a few songs playing her trumpet.

Norska Yentas

Also at the show, was  Deb Ennis and Bob Weiser, DJ at WOMR.  weiserandme

The next night I was up in Provincetown to do a live show on WOMR with Dinah who also is a DJ at the station.


 Later in March I headed up to Ohio and Pittsburgh to perform.  I thought I was clever to not book anything up in the “Lake Effects Snow” area until late in March, figuring it would be warming up by then.  Boy was I in for a surprise.  It was snowing most of the time I was up there, and I was pretty happy I had new tires and new windshield wipers!  I played the Winchester Music Hall in Cleveland, which is a wonderful performance space, and also had a great time at Sonnets in Wadsworth near Akron thanks to my friend Kathy Johnson promoting my show a lot.  In Pittsburg I did a house concert in a great old “Four Square” home built in 1908.  I felt like Jo in “Little Women” every time I came down the elaborate staircase to see the window seat.

I’m now getting ready to swing up towards the heartland, with gigs in Nebraska, Kansas, & New Mexico.  Check out my tourschedule to see the details.

Stay healthy and happy till I see you next!


Happy Holidays And quick year-end wrap up before the world ends on 12/22!

Posted on Updated on

Towards the end of her life, my momma used to say that life for her had become a series of Fridays.  I’m beginning to know what she meant.  With the exception of a couple bad concerts I sat through this year that seemed to drag on and on (Yes I AM jaded, I live in Nashville and the bar gets set pretty high here!) it seems like this year has just sped by.  Not as fast as 2011, which with the release of “Let The Storm Roll In” seemed to careen by taking the corners on two tires, but pretty darn fast all the same.

It was a year of heavy touring, overwhelming audience response that left me very humbled indeed, and a lot of fresh writing.   As 2012 began, I was down to Georgia, out to California and up to Idaho, where speaking of careening, I was pretty excited to try snowmobiling for the first time.  Apparently my need to (therapy words here) “feel more alive in a crisis” has not abated with age.

Springtime dates took me up to the Midwest, where I had performances in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.  The end of the tour found me in Chicago, where I was invited up to the Obama National Headquarters office.   After going through tremendous security (and he wasn’t even in town!) I was escorted up to the top floor to witness the campaign in full swing.  It was quite impressive!  No matter what political party you belong to, you have to be in awe of this incredible experiment we call democracy.  For one party to turn over the reins to another with no guns and no warfare every 4-8 years is something akin to a miracle when you compare us to the way governments change hands the Middle East and Africa.

During the summer I zigzagged across the country like I was a political candidate myself.  In May I was up to Maryland where I was honored to be a showcase artist for the NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance) mini conference, then it was back out to California.  Then I was back up to the northeast where I was again chosen a showcase artist for the Boston one day NERFA conference. I was home at the end of June, and then back up to the Northeast in July and August for dates in the Adirondacks, on Cape Cod, and points in between.


I did have a little time at home in June, and did a house concert at my own house!  It was really fun, and since a friend of mine brought his gourmet group along, it was mighty tasty too!  If you ever want to host me at your house, just gather up your friends and have them bring whatever they’re drinking, and a dish to share.  You provide the chairs, dishware, and cutlery and we’ve got a party!   I videotaped the show, and one of the songs “Coyote” came out really well.  I had a great time putting it together, complete with film of the actual animals, in iMovie.  Click here to see the new “Coyote” video.

In September I did a little tour that swung down through Alabama and into Texas, with a stop in Mississippi on the way.  I stopped in MS to see an old friend by the name of J.C.  Yep, the J.C. in my song.  I had not seen him since I was in high school, and I was both nervous and excited.  I wasn’t sure I would even remember him, but when he came around the corner from his den to the kitchen and I saw that big smile, I was a kid all over again.  It was wonderful.   To read all about my visit with J.C. and see some great photos of our reunion click on “Finding J.C.” at the top left hand corner of this page.

 JC final4web

The fall took me back out to California AGAIN, and back up to New York AGAIN, and then at the end of November I rode Buckbeak down to the Florida Panhandle for my last road date of the year.  In December I’m staying HOME!  December 14th numerous songwriter friends will join me as we put on a concert of original Christmas songs that will be a benefit for “You Have The Power”, a victim’s advocacy nonprofit.  On the other side of that coin, I’m also doing a little guitar picking and carol singing for a party my church throws every year for the children of prisoners.

2013 dates are coming in, with trips down to Texas in January, June, and November.  A trip to California in February, travel up to the Northeast in March, July, September, and November, and a Midwest tour through Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico in April.  If you might be interested in hosting me in a house concert when I am in your area, just send me an email at claudianygaard @ (take out the spaces before and after the “at” sign.)

Somehow this year, I’m also going to have to get going on a new CD! I was so encouraged by the reviews and airplay to “Let The Storm Roll In” (which makes an excellent stocking stuffer by the way, click here to buy!) I am excited to get started.  Of course between booking myself, handling publicity, radio promotion, writing, and touring, I stay pretty busy.  It’s been hard to sit down and really focus on what songs I want to put forth on the next project, and the artistic direction that those songs will dictate.   Hopefully I’ll be able to start getting organized after the holidays.

Well, I guess I better wrap this up.  I’ve got a lot to do before the world ends in a couple weeks.  But before I do, I’d like to show my appreciation for your friendship and support, by giving you a Christmas present.  Here is a free download of a song called “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.  I didn’t write it, but I’m quite proud of the way I sang it with my old duet partner Jimmy Maddox.  Please feel free to forward it on to your friends.  I’m hoping they will like my music too.

I’d love to hear back from you, so please like my facebook page, or if you are on twitter I hope you will follow me.  (See widgits to the left)  I wish you the happiest of holidays, and I hope that 2013 is your best year ever (assuming the Mayans were wrong).

Love & Peace,


Welcome to my new blog! Plus a new video, and a tour up to the northeast!

Posted on Updated on





Happy Fourth of july!

I’ve been trying for several years now to send out a monthly newsletter, and I’ve failed miserably.  I’ve even failed to send it out quarterly, which was my new year’s resolution.  I’m now up to a semi-annual newsletter, with a monthly blog, which I’m bound and determined to keep up with!  Of course I don’t know when during a particular month I am going to write it, so unfortunately, neither will you.  I hope you will click on the “Follow Blog” link to the left so you can have it delivered via email to your inbox when I do.

Since I’m new to blogging, I have no idea if these posts will be long or short, pithy or mundane, sarcastic or sentimental.  My guess is they will sometimes be all of the above.  But what I hope for here, is a conversation with you.  I’ve enjoyed talking to people on facebook, but so many of my friends aren’t on facebook, and a lot of people who have never even heard one of my songs are “friending me”  just to try to gain popularity.  It has left me thinking, “what if I was talking to people who really know me and/or my music?  What if I could stay in touch with the wonderful people I meet out on the road, and here on the internet too, who aren’t on facebook?  So that’s what I’m hoping will happen here. Besides, this way I won’t be forced to send emails to poor unsuspecting fans who just want to know when I’m performing in town, and really don’t care if I’ve just fallen in love with a rock star, gotten arrested for stalking him, and finally convinced him to marry me.  Or not.

a new video – Happy Birthday America!

I’ve been REALLY busy for the last year  since my CD “Let The Storm Roll In” came out.  But I’ve had an idea for a video of my song “Big Country” for that long, and this year I was determined to get it done in time for the Fourth of July.  So here it is! It’s not a performance video, it’s more like a little mini movie with graphics from Ellis Island, national landmarks, and some footage taken during a blizzard in North Dakota – (about 90 miles from Grenora where my momma was born).   It even has a shot of my great grandparents Ole & Ingeborg in it! I  hope you will take a look at it, and please feel free to forward it on to your friends as a Fourth of July present.

Click on the photo to see the video.  It will be the one on the top left.


A NORTHEAST TOUR, and playing house concerts

 I’m back on the road in mid July.  I’m heading up north to perform in the big apple, the Adirondacks, Cape Cod, and outside of Boston.  July 22nd and 30th I’ll be doing some radio shows you may be able to listen to online, without having to come with me!  Click on the shows button in the navigation bar above to go to my website tour schedule.  It will list the venues where I’m performing, and also the times and links to the radio stations. While you’re there, take a look at my Autumn dates too.  I’ll be down in the southeast and back out to the west coast.  Maybe down to Texas.  If you see a hole in my schedule, and you would like to try to host a house concert for your freinds that night, just send me an email.  Have you ever been to a house concert? I play a lot of them all over the country, and last month my downstairs rental apartment was vacant so I decided I should take advantage of the extra space and host my own. And yes, I was the artist.  It was a smashing success.  About 27 people came, and several were members of a gourmet group so the potluck was superb!  We also had lovely weather, and a stunning sunset.  (I live on the Cumberland River) I am told the concert wasn’t bad either.   If you think you might be interested in having me do a concert at your house for your friends some time just let me know.  I LOVE the intimacy of playing house concerts.  It’s not a lot of hassle.  Just send invites out to your friends and tell them it’s pot luck and BYOB.  Then round up some chairs, paper plates, cups, and cutlery.  Oh, and put a basket on the table with a “$15 suggested donation for the artist” sign.

Happy house concert guests…


what I’ve been up to So Far This year…

I back-posted my January newsletter (see Archives) but not having sent out a newsletter since then, I should mention these highlights of the last six months…

In January I was back down in Savannah, GA, to play some venues I’ve played before (always nice to be invited BACK!) and to hang out a little with some friends that I have loved for over a decade. Then it was up to Boise, ID where I played a little music, saw family I have sorely missed, and discovered I can drive a snowmobile as badly as I do my SUV.  I also discovered that age has not made me any more prudent when it comes to adventure.  I apparently have never found a conditioner that can tame that wild hair.  I was also down in Southern California where I made some new friends, saw old friends that have on many occasions been my anchor in this world, and played some great gigs. (Again a couple I have played before!) Then it was up to Northern CA where I saw more family, more old friends, and played even more fun gigs!

Spring shows included a run up to Iowa to play a new venue (thanks Nancy!), Nebraska where I’ve had some wonderful radio support (thanks Debbie), Minnesota where I not only saw family I haven’t seen in a decade, but got to eat some of my fave Norwegian food: Lefse (kind of a thin potato pancake) and Rollepulsa.  Rollepulsa is a spiced meat that has been marinated – originally reindeer, but now usually beef, pork, or veal.  Yep that’s right, my tribe eats Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Comet, etc… Then it was down to Chicago, where my song “Big Country” got me an invite to tour Obama’s National Campaign Headquarters.  In May I went back out to Northern CA and did it all again.

In early May and June I was honored to be chosen for the official showcase for BOTH the Boston and Washington DC Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conferences!  It was  wonderful to get to meet a couple of the WUMB DJs who had my CD in serious rotation last summer.

Boston: Looking down at my guitar like it’s my baby…which of course it is!

Well that’s about it for this post.  Before you leave this page, I hope you will click on the link to your left that says “Follow blog via email”, or join me on Facebook or Twitter.  If you haven’t been to my website before (or for a while), please also check out my news page and see the wonderful response I had to my latest CD.  And if you haven’t seen the “Miss Kitty” video with its great Gunsmoke footage,  do check it out on my video page.

Thanks for visiting.  Happy fourth and try not to set yourself on fire.


Claudia’s 2011 End of the year newsletter

Posted on Updated on


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!