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)
THE NEWS SINCE LAST SUMMER
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!
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.
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 @ gmail.com (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,