Ellen Foster

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