Thursday, November 16, 2017

Oversharing, overasking, and Benyaro music.

This house-renovation thing has been all-emcompassing, and boredom has set in. I've been using miter saws, measuring baseboards, estimating angles (correctly!), and all the while sitting there thinking about blogs and essays and songs I'd like to be writing rather than caulking. So here's a quick update of something I managed to do in between installing backsplashes and quarter-round.

I went to a house concert on Tuesday! 

It required a babysitter and a lot of energy. It was at the most beautiful home I've seen in ages (mid-century-modern or 'MCM' as the kids say) and with the most spectacular art collection I've ever seen in a personal home. I was nervous because I didn't know the hosts very well, and I was going alone -- not knowing a single other person there. But I went, and I had a blast, even though I overshared and asked far too many questions of the musicians. At one point when I asked, "So when you get home from this 3-month-tour and you walk in the door, is your wife just going to hand you the baby and run?" and then a lovely and kind woman looked at me and asked, "Are you okay?"

Yikes. I assured her later that, yes, I am okay. But dammit, this solo parenting thing is hard, both for the spouse who travels and the one who stays home.

BUT THE MUSIC! The music was grand. The company was grand. The evening was grand. Only one of my kids was awake when I got home at 10.

The music was provided by Benyaro -- a duo from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They were delightful company and great music.

If you've never been to a house concert, YOU SHOULD GO! They are my absolute favorite place to hear music, whether it's a solo artist I've never heard of or a band I superfan for. It's so relaxed, that even people with anxiety can enjoy themselves.

I'm playing a house concert on Friday, November 17, in Scottsburg, Indiana, and I think there are a few seats still available for it. RSVP here:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

48 hours in Austin, Texas

Last week I took a quick trip to Austin to surprise my BFF on her 40th birthday. It was a well-executed gift plotted by her husband, and it meant we got to spend 48 hours together hanging out and playing with each other's kids. She hadn't met Angus yet, and I hadn't seen her or her kids in 3 years.

It also meant: VACATION FOOD!

Breakfast tacos!

There was an organized swanky birthday cocktail hour and dinner at Truluck's in downtown Austin, which had a tasty vegetarian entree. It was really just a brick of tofu on a bed of wild rice, but it was done surprisingly well. Also, the desserts were family-style wedges of cheesecake, chocolate cake, and carrot cake, and a pile of blackberries that wee Angus devoured pretty much singlehandedly.

Lyzz's birthday cake was Tres Leches with amazing frosting and shaped like a unicorn. It was perfection.

Also, BREAKFAST TACOS. I don't know why they haven't made their way to Louisville (don't try to convince me otherwise -- your $10 breakfast "tacos" are not done right and cost 5x what they should).

My superhero power of having perfect travel weather continued, as it was 70-80 degrees each day and perfectly pleasant. We played in Zilker Park, rode the train and visited the brand new Central library.



New library in Austin. Elephant chairs!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Matching doorknobs or macarons? No competition...

Freight Elevator turned into a bar!
photo by Daniel Stephen
You guys, I'm so far behind in everything because I've been working non-stop on this silly house because apparently people care about switch-plates matching closet doorknobs, which I think is completely absurd and, like, didn't you guys ever read any fables? I mean, material things don't matter, right? Anyway, material things do seem to matter, and so I've been sanding and painting and gardening and power washing and staining and doing all sorts of things that make my knuckles ache and my fingers shake.

Things I have also been doing, however: gigging like crazy.

Last weekend I played possibly the coolest event I've ever been to. It was a Bacchanal party at The Speed Art Museum here in Louisville, where I played a 90-minute set with the fabulous Laura Ellis (and equally fabulous Dennis Ledford and Scott Lankford) for beautiful people dressed in ancient-themed attire. The freight elevator had been turned into a red-carpeted bar, complete with muses handing out pomegranate cocktails in silver goblets.

One day I want to go to an event like this and not be working, though I admit it's kind of a fabulous job to mix and mingle with beautiful people, even if I'm just hanging around because it's too crowded to load out my gear.

Here are some photos of the fancy evening! Now I'm off to the paint store  as soon as the babysitter arrives. I'm sure that I owe you an email or a phone call. First, I have to sand the kitchen and put up a backsplash because I'm told people care about that sort of thing. Me, I prefer macarons...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Crockpot chili, house concerts, and 18th century dress!

I hosted a house concert last night, and it was just the most fun, pleasant little experience. My house isn't very big, so I didn't invite many people and ultimately had to decline a few people's interest for the sake of everyone having enough personal space in my living room. Still, it's amazing how much room you can find when you move the furniture out of the way and bring in a few folding chairs. We had a nice group of around 20 adults and 5 kids. It was plenty -- any more would have been uncomfortable -- but it was the perfect mix of neighbors and friends and family.

And The Black Feathers were just brilliant! I say "brilliant" partly because they live in England, and that's a very British word. Mostly, however, it's because they are really, really good. Tight harmonies, great picking, and just really pleasant to listen to.

It makes me want to build an addition onto my house purely for the sake of hosting house concerts. Or at least knock down that pesky living room wall.

I did make a crockpot chili that was popular -- though I think I used too much cinnamon.

Fabulous photos here:
Crockpot chili!

Also- I had 7 gigs last week, and one of them was a fantastically fun show with an 18th Century band that required Fancy Dress! My neighbor sews beautifully accurate historical clothing, so she dressed me. Then my Wee Angus promptly messed up my laces and undid my scarf, which made someone dressed like a RedCoat walk past and shout "Madam!" while covering his eyes. Oops. I'm an 18th century tart! But playing the musical saw and the mandolin was fun.

Monday, October 23, 2017

UK Tour dates... almost ready to announce...

I'm currently trying to fill in dates on this United Kingdom tour that I've booked for February. Some of the dates have been really easy to fill, but I'm now trying my best not to have any days off. Days off when you're on tour just mean you have to 1) pay for a hotel room and 2) not make any money. I've been staring at a Google doc I made, and my eyes are spinning now.

Here's what I'm looking to fill:

Sunday 28 January & Monday January 29 in Dorset or Somerset or South Wales
Saturday Feb 3 in Northumberland or the Scottish Borders or even Glasgow would be great

Anyone have any leads or ideas on pubs/venues/folk clubs or maybe even interest in hosting a house concert? House concerts can be as small as 10 people ... you don't need a huge place :)

In other news, I am hosting a House Concert at my place on Sunday, Oct 29. It's the Black Feathers, from Gloucestershire, England, and they are just wonderful. Message me if you're interested in attending ... it's looking like it'll have to be an indoor event because of weather, so I'll have to cap the RSVPs at 30.

Here's some of their music:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fixing things and gardening.

Wee Angus running through Dages Paint!
Have y'all ever flipped a house before? I am sort of doing that, except that it's a rental I've had for 14 years. And it's only ever cost me money because something major breaks and because pretty much every tenant -- no matter how nice a person -- has left the house damaged in some incredibly expensive way. (I swear, I've never been much of a Hobbesian, but being a landlord has given me reason to lean that way.) So really, I suppose, it's the opposite of flipping ...

Anyway, we are getting rid of this house, and we're fixing everything properly, unlike the people I bought the house from, who just sort of polished some things up and sold it to a sucker like me.

Fixing things up properly, it turns out, takes a lot of time and money and energy.

But I'm happy to see this lovely house shining again. I love old homes -- their history, their details, even their dirt. Schnitzelburg was a dairy farm back in the day, so the dirt there now is basically a massive compost bin (that doesn't smell). Gardening in Germantown made me feel like I had an exceptionally green thumb before a neighbor pointed out the amazingly lush history of the dirt.

Stressors abound lately, and throwing in selling a house just makes it laughable.

I know, however, that my life is pretty great. It's great to have a home to unload. It's great to be able to use that money to fix up my parents' home. It's great to be able to buy local for fixer-upper supplies (Dages paint got all my money, yesterday!) It's great to be married to David, who knows how to fix everything. (Also, he's really hot.)

Update on my mom here:
Ways to support indie musicians:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Blogging from the chemo lab.

Gooooood Monday morning, y'all! I'm writing from the Norton Cancer Institute where, for the first time in months, I'm able to accompany my mom to her doctor's appointment. I lost my nanny in August, and it's been a struggle to piecemeal childcare. My in-laws are visiting this week, however, so they're snuggling wee Angus, so I can snuggle my mommy.

Things I'm observing: it's been 3 months since she's been able to have treatment because her blood counts have been off, making it dangerous to have chemo. Good news/bad news, of course, because no treatment gives the tumors time to grow. Good news is her hair is growing back.

She'd been dying her hair red for about the last 10 years because she had this redhead daughter and had just always wanted red hair. Because of the dye jobs, none of us ever noticed if her hair was graying or not.

It's grown back, is about an inch or too long, and I'm here to tell you that at 66 years old, her hair is 98% brown. She has a super cut tiny white patch on her upper right forehead -- and that's it.

She's also been having some fun with her faux-hawk for the past month and dying it various bright colors that fade after a couple of days. Today she's sitting in a hospital chair, hooked up to a bag of fluids, scrolling through Facebook, with a burgundy stripe in her hair.

No word on whether there's treatment or not today -- I hope she can have it -- but in the mean time, I'm making good use of a rolling desk and hammering out emails and blogs this morning to catch up with work.

Super fun weekend of playing music with friends! Belknap Festival was brilliant. Photo below.

Ways to support indie musicians:

photo by Robert Pieroni

Oversharing, overasking, and Benyaro music.

This house-renovation thing has been all-emcompassing, and boredom has set in. I've been using miter saws, measuring baseboards, estimat...