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 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

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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