Thursday, January 29, 2015

Shortest January Ever

January is usually this long terrible cold dark miserable month. There's no Christmas or Thanksgiving to look forward to. The holidays are over. All you're left with is snow and cold and limited hours of daylight.

But not this year.

January has flown by! And it's been kind of warm out. And I've been busy. And there are things happening. And I've neglected to write about most of them.

For example, we had this really amazing show at the Mpls Photo Center for their Rock N' Roll Exhibit Opening Night Reception. It was so much fun! It might have been one of my favorite shows we've ever played. We had a two hour set. We played all of the songs. We even learned some covers.

The place was packed pretty much from start to finish. It was a beautiful space. Considering we were not the main attraction (that was reserved for the stunning photography) the reception we had was lovely. I had such a good time.

Set List for Minneapolis Photo Center 1-16-15
  • Lens
  • Don't Let Me Down (Beatles cover)
  • Float
  • Where's the Fire?
  • Blind
  • A Story
  • Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry cover)
  • Sweet Jane (Cowboy Junkies cover)
  • Yesterday
  • One Way or Another (Blondie cover)
  • When You Were Mine (Prince cover)
  • Car 
  • Reactor
  • The Reminder
  • Good to Know
  • Here
  • Can't Even Tell
  • Beg, Borrow, or Steal
  • Introvert
  • The Paul Simon Song
  • Satisfaction (Rolling Stones cover)

Seriously. So many songs.

We've also pretty much finished mixing the new album. We're going back a week from Saturday to tweak a few things, but that part is basically finished. I can't believe it. I hope to have a single out in the next couple of weeks. Eeek! (I've posted a short video of playback of one of the new songs on our Facebook page.)

 I got to move one of the faders during mixing.

Speaking of that, in order to finish the album, we have to do a Kickstarter. I've written about my terror of this endeavor before - and I'm still mighty fearful. But I'm slightly confident (which is pretty much peak confidence for me) that we can meet the fairly meager goal we're setting. That will be coming out in a few weeks. If we don't meet the goal, the album will be pushed back to who knows when and that will be so incredibly sad. We really will need your help with this. So if you think you might buy the album when it comes out, please pre-order it from the Kickstarter instead so we can actually get it made. I would be forever grateful.

Sara's dad is a photographer and took this photo of us after our set at the Mpls Photo Center.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thanks For Finding My Ears #3

Looking back on when I last did one of these posts and it was way back in December 2011. Weird. Time flies, man.

With this post, I'd like to introduce you to S (aka Jenn Ghetto):

I discovered her via the radio, Radio K. I was driving home from a Target run one night back in November and none of the CDs in the car were appealing to me so I turned on the radio, flipped through some stations and landed on this song:

I immediately loved it and when I got home, I opened Twitter to scan the Radio K playlist that they tweet out to try to figure out what I heard. Then I went and looked up all I could of her on the internet and downloaded her latest album Cool Choices.

It's a super cool and beautiful album and it easily slipped in and made my Favorite Albums of 2014 list.The album bounces back and forth from piano driven ballads to hip guitar riffs, all guided by Jenn's sweet voice and the best bitter break-up lyrics. The songs are smart. The broken-heartedness is less Taylor Swift and more Exile in Guyville Liz Phair. Though, if I had to compare her to anyone, it would be Juliana Hatfield, who is having a bit of a resurgence in my life.

I've only given her earlier albums a sneak peek on iTunes, as I really want to give Cool Choices my full attention for a little while longer before I dig into her back catalog. But I'm already excited for that time to come because I discovered this song on YouTube and I love it:

It's always so nice to discover new artists that you easily fall in love with and instantly like all they do.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's Something Unknown That Drives You And Carries You Home

There was a time when you couldn't just look things up on the internet to get an answer. You had to work for those answers. Somethings, you never found out. Others, you stumbled on. But generally if you really wanted to find something out, you had to do some work to get the answer.

There was also a time when I really loved Guns N' Roses (don't worry, this all ties together). They were my everything. I bought the albums, t-shirts, posters...all of it. I also bought their double VHS release of their Use Your Illusion tour shows in Japan. 3 hours of early 90s rock excess. They were great.

In the middle of the show, before a certain song that I don't remember, Axl sang a bit of a song by another artist and it always stuck with me:

sail away sweet sister
sail across the sea
maybe you'll find somebody 
that loves you half as much as me
my heart is always with you
no matter what you do 
so sail away sweet sister
i'll always be in love with you

I don't know. I just liked it. And it was a nice, sweet, quiet Axl moment. And I liked Axl.

I knew it wasn't from a Guns N' Roses song and I didn't recognize it from anywhere else. He didn't say where it was from and it wasn't credited anywhere on the packaging.

But I knew it had to come from somewhere. But I had no way of knowing where.

I could do what one did back then: call radio stations or walk up to record store employees and sing the lyrics and hope they recognize it and tell me what it is.

But who's going to actually do that?

So I just went through life not knowing, but always keeping my ear out.

And then a few weeks ago I was listening to the radio and there it was. Those words. Out of the blue. Over 20 years later.

It's Queen.

I'm also a huge fan of Queen and have been since my Guns N' Roses days. I could probably credit being introduced to them via Axl Rose and his love for them - and also Wayne's World. But I don't have their entire discography. If only I would have picked up all of their albums years before...

...but that wasn't the first or the last time that had happened.

Keeping with the Queen theme, after Freddie Mercury died, a big benefit concert happened that EVERYONE played at - Guns N' Roses included. Their performance is still one of my favorite videos:

But anyway...

Robert Plant came out to sing some Led Zepplin songs. I was pretty young and hadn't fully been introduced to Led Zepplin at this time, except for the songs I'd hear on the classic rock station KQ92. But Robert Plant performed a song that I sure thought was pretty:

if the sun refused to shine
i would still be loving you
when mountains crumble to the sea
there will still be you and me

I now know this song as "Thank You". BUT, there was a typo or exclusion on the back of the VHS copy of this concert that was released (that I of course purchased). It said it was "Kashmir" - which is an entirely very different song on an entirely different album.


"Thank You"

So I went to the record store (because back then you couldn't preview the album ahead of time) and bought the album Physical Graffiti because "Kashmir" was on it. Oh, and I bought it on cassette.

I rushed home and placed the cassette in the tape player, so excited to hear the pretty song. I started to fast forward the tape as "Kashmir" was towards the end and at that moment, it was all I wanted to hear. I fast forwarded, rewound, let it play a bit...but nothing. The song that I knew as "Kashmir" was nowhere to be found. I was so confused. And disappointed.

Every once in a while I would try to find it on the tape again, but - obviously - I never could. Physical Graffiti just ended up collecting dust at the bottom of my tape collection.

Sorry, Physical Graffiti.

I don't even know when I discovered it was the wrong song. Obviously I did eventually. But oh the time wasted hitting fast forward and rewind on repeat trying to find that little song.

But the first song that left me searching for years was "Run for the Roses" by Dan Fogelberg.

When I was 7, 8, 9 years old,  I used to listen to the radio at night to fall asleep. My station of choice for this was Lite FM WLTE. WLTE consisted of mostly big ballads and soft rock. There was a lot of Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Gloria Estefan...that sort of thing.

And there was Dan Fogelberg and "Run for the Roses" (and his song "Leader of the Band" which is also awesome but not the subject right now).

"Run for the Roses" is a song about horses and the Kentucky Derby. As a young girl who loved horses, it was the Best. Song. Ever. But I was very young and never payed attention to the DJ breaks when they would announce what they just played - and I only ever caught the song by chance, usually while lying in bed trying to fall asleep. But I loved it so and I would get so happy when it would come on.

It wasn't until years later when I was in my teens and I started buying albums on my own that I thought to look for this song. It became an obsession.  I had guessed the song was called "Run for the Roses" or something along those lines and I knew it was a soft rock 70s or 80s male singer/songwriter. So I would spend time reading the tracklistings on the backs of records by the likes of John Denver, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Kriss Kristofferson...anyone that came to mind.

Dan Fogelberg never came to mind.

And then, one day, I had stayed over at a friend's house. I took a shower the next morning. In the bathroom they had a stereo. Her mom liked to listen to music while she took baths. Next to the stereo was a CD. A Dan Fogelberg's Greatest Hits CD. I picked it up just out of random curiosity and flipped the case over to see if I recognized anything by this guy.

And there it was..."Run for the Roses".

I nearly screamed with excitement. All that time searching and there it was.

The funny thing is, after all the time, it was still a while before I picked up the song. I was just so relieved to finally know what it was. It wasn't until my later teens when I started picking up vinyl that I grabbed this greatest hits collection on vinyl and discovered the 70s/80s soft rock awesomeness that is Dan Fogelberg. I was also thrilled to learn he also sang "Leader of the Band". And then, of course, once iTunes came around, it was an early download for me.

Just look at his awesomeness.

Needless to say, I am thankful for the internet and it's easy access to information. I will never be lost wondering what song I just heard. A quick lyric search of one or two lines gets me the info I need. But I do miss some of those discussions we all used to have - trying to remember the theme songs to TV shows - that sort of thing. Now it's all just a click away.

I'm going to stop now before I sound too old.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Fraud Police

I finished Amanda Palmer's book The Art of Asking last night. It's been a wealth of information and inspiration. A couple of years ago, Amanda - a musician - embarked on a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $100,000...she ended up making over $1,000,000. It was the most amount of money ever raised by a musician on Kickstarter. It sparked a slew of controversy. Who is she to ask for money? She used to be on a major label. This is like begging. Blah blah blah.

The book is part memoir, part self-help. It looks back on her life, emphasizing all the times she had to ask for help to get to where she is today. It highlights all those people who helped her. 

It helps you understand that it's okay to ask for help.

I don't like to ask for anything. A ride somewhere, to borrow a pen, to get a picture taken, advice...

I can think of hundreds of times where if I just would have asked for help things would have gone so much better. I think about how when I put out my first album, I had so many resources at my fingertips, but I was too scared to ask for help. My friend used to run a label. She knows everyone in town. She knows how to get an album reviewed. But I was scared to ask. So I didn't. And that was that. For my second album, I gathered up the courage and asked for her help. And she was happy to. And then I was on the radio.

All you have to do is ask.

So what does that have to do with The Fraud Police?

Throughout her book, Amanda talks about The Fraud Police. The Fraud Police is the name she gives for that nagging voice of self doubt that everyone has. The idea that someday someone is going to "bust you" and say: we always knew you weren't real. you don't deserve this. you suck at this. and now we figured it out and we're taking it all away.

It's a voice that lives way too close to the forefront of my brain. Any time I want to ask for help with something to do with music, I just hear that voice saying: everyone will laugh. nobody takes this seriously. they're just humoring you. nobody takes you seriously. you suck at this.

And that is terrifying.

In February, I'm hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the new record. It's been recorded, but there is still work to do. Expensive work. And I need help. And so I'm going to have to ask for it. 

And that is terrifying.

Finishing this record and getting it out in the world is so important to me. It's been years in the making and I need to get it out. And the thought that I can't do it without this one part of the equation sucks. 

Because I don't like to ask for help. Because I'm afraid the answer will be no. And then where does that leave me?

And then The Fraud Police come back and then I spend my nights lying in bed trying to convince them they are wrong.

Trying to convince myself.

Do I sound like a crazy person? 

We're entering into a new year, and with that comes all those resolutions. So I guess it's time to make one. It's time for me to learn how to stop worrying and let people help.

Thanks, Amanda.

(Also, it' a really good book and a quick read and you should get it and read it)