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 kickstarter.com and pledgemusic.com 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!