Wow! The biggest honor- one of my songs, "Heart Given," has been chosen
to take part in this AMAZING SIX MILE PUBLIC GALLERY AND MUSIC
INSTALLATION in Saint Paul, Minnesota, by Wing Young Huie! It begins May
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
SANTA FE AND SOUTH BY
THE DREAM that WAS REALITY:
I awoke in a sensual confusion of snow on the trees and the eaves, white linens wrapped all around me, the heater blasting in my room… I was confused at the snow on the trees. Where was I? Santa Fe… the blizzard on the way up… parched, I needed water. I pushed aside the soft white of the bed and stumbled into the other room of the suite. Water. Water. Here was a bottle of water, half consumed from the night before. What time was it? I consulted my laptop. It said what time it was, something like 8:00 am, but it made no sense to me. I felt it could have been noon or five am or five pm. I looked again and again at the day and time on the top right hand corner of the screening, desperate to figure out some sense of space and time, but nothing made sense.
I went back to bed and watched the snow sit heavy on the branches for a while. A while became a long while and I fell asleep.
I awoke… it felt like hours, maybe even days… I got up to look at the time. 8:30? Now it made less sense. Was it the next day? No… Monday 8:30 am. Monday? It was Monday?
I gave up and went back to bed. I stared at the ceiling, listened to the quiet. Then there were children in the hallway; then there were not.
Some time later I rose. I spoke to someone on the phone, I did yoga. I put on a sweater and went to some art galleries. I went to see the painting, “Love” by Lynden St. Victor. I had no sense of time or place. The snow was melting and it was growing warm. I walked for hours and hours in the old town part of Santa Fe, but kept ending up at my hotel. Finally, I got to a Whole Foods Market and realized I needed something to eat.
The day was confusing, and terribly beautiful.
I got back to my hotel room. I realized I hadn’t watched TV in months and turned it on to see what was happening… and who should be on Larry King but Sean Astin, and then Jesse Ventura, former governor of my home state and father to my good friend, and Michele Bachman, also of Minnesota. I laughed out loud. Doesn’t matter my state of confusion or poetry, I’m always everywhere I go.
A few days passed, and a million years passed.
And the dream ended and I woke up in Austin, TX, just in time for the Red Gorilla Music Festival and the SXSW film and music festival!
So, I had never been to Austin before. My friend Josh moved there a year or so ago and he is totally in love with the city. And I see why. Generally great weather, tons of great restaurants and places to go, lots of fun outdoors activities, and…. the people. I mean, really. It was remarkable. Austinites seem… um… happy. Or… um… the word is… friendly. Like… there were hipsters but they could look at something besides their own navels. They were not too cool for school, which is the quality that has always sort of… well, I hate to admit it, but… annoyed me about the hipster element in most cities I’ve lived in. I have never been too cool for school. In fact, I had to learn how to not raise my hand ALL THE TIME in this extended metaphor for city living. And all sorts of people seemed to have all sorts of room for each other. And… yeah. Great people. Amazing.
I stayed with Josh at his fancy resort style apartment village. It was really a lot of fun- Josh is one of my favorite people in the world. We never run out of things to laugh about, or talk about, or dream about. We laughed while working out at the gym. We laughed while eating veggie burgers at the diner. We laughed and laughed and laughed at his two French Bulldog puppies and their love of farting. I mean, I know I’m supposed to be erudite and all that, but there are some things that are just fartastically hilarious. Like Molly and Gigi. They literally woke me from a dead sleep with the incredible odiferous power of their gas.
My very dear friend from childhood, also named Erin, and so called Erin C, flew in on the same day that I went to go meet another buddy of mine, the never ceasing to amaze me Mark. Mark and his band Ruby Isle were playing Wednesday night and rumor had it they were going to be performing Appetite For Destruction in its entirety. Um, one of my favorite albums of all time? Check. One of my favorite performers? Check. Heck yes.
Quick review of Mark’s band. It’s hard not to love them, because, well, each member is so wonderful on his own, and together they rock. But I think they should not cover Appetite. I think they should cover something a little more non sequitor…. because, even though they are not G’N’R and all that, it’s still a little too close. Just my opinion, but I’d love to see Ruby Isle do their own take on something like…. Like…. Like a Prayer, my favorite Madonna Album…. THAT would be something. Or… oh my god. A weird choice could be “Fumbling Toward Ecstasy.” I would actually love to hear Mallman cover Sarah McLachlan. Hm.
Anyway, it was still a fun show, although they only played a few songs from AFD. And for me, that was actually better, because I really wanted to hear their original works as well.
The next day was all about Josh and Erin C and me. We just had a blast bumming around and being lazy. We were really quite the Motley Crew in Minneapolis, but we have not all been together in about five years. I love old friends, though. It’s like we just picked right up as if we had seen each other last Saturday… It was also fun for me because I have really mellowed out as a person. Ahem. I used to be, uh, let’s use the phrase, high strung. That’s the nice way of putting it. And Erin C? She has known me alllll my life. So either she has great compassion for humanity or a heck of a lot of self-hatred because I have not always been positive or pleasant to be around. I’m speaking in hyperbole, sort of. I mean, Erin C DOES have a lot of compassion for people, and she loves me and I love her. She has been an amazing friend to me my whole life long and I am so grateful. It also makes me feel a lot better about myself during times where I’ve really struggled in life, because it makes me think, well, if someone as wonderful as Erin C is still my friend… I’m not so bad!
Seriously, though, I have really mellowed out. I mean, in the past, if the three of us were together, I would have been not just having coffee with them, I also would have been texting, calling, emailing, facebooking, myspacing, hitting on the guy at the table next to us, brokering a deal for my next gig and giving an interview. I would not have been fully present for any of that and I would have felt miserable and stuffed my face with a cookie and then not have eaten dinner because I forsook it for the damned Snickerdoodle.
I know, not so unreasonable what I just said, right? I mean, we all have to multitask and all that, and life is busy and so are we.
But guess what?
This is elementary for many, I’m sure, but for me, it’s HUGE:
I did not multitask. I was completely present to Josh and Erin C and what was occurring at our coffee date. (I did flirt with the guy that ferried us in the golf cart from the parking lot across the street to the coffee shop on the Lake, but that was called for. He was cute.) Later, I gave an interview via the internet, and I updated a few facebook things, and had my meetings, and checked in as an artist to my festival, and met my sound man, and sussed out my venue, and did my business. But nothing was missing, anywhere, in any part of my life. And… I had fun… and… I relaxed… and… so did they. And I didn’t stuff a cookie in my face out of frustration and feeling the lack of joy because I had to WORK SO HARD ALL THE TIME. I just stuffed the cookie in my face because it was freakin’ delicious.
I’m blogging about this, very publicly, because I think my conscious choice last fall to change my lifestyle from “busy” to “lazy” was really important. My life is just as successful or not successful as it has ever been. And I’m certainly not lazy, really, as much as I’m just relaxed. It’s just that I refuse to get all caught up in a tizzy because of my ideas about the way the world does or doesn’t work. I want to enjoy my life while I’m alive, you know? And before, when I was such a workaholic and always multitasking a million things, I wasn’t happy, or relaxed, or even really getting the juice out of the lemon. And the only thing that has really changed is me, my perception. And yet. Everything has changed.
THERE WERE NEVER SUCH DEVOTED SISTERS
So, the next day, my sister flew in from the Midwest. Now, anyone who knows me knows I LOVE my sister. She is my favorite person in the world. Maybe she competes with a few people. But if there were a top ten of favorite people, I was currently about to be with three of them!
Also, anyone who really knows me, knows that my Bettie Page meets Jessica Rabbit demeanor belies a HUGE GOOFBALL NERD HEART. So I got this really brilliant idea that, when we went to pick Laura up from the airport, we should carry balloons and signs welcoming her to Texas.
None of us are from Texas. We are all from Minnesota.
Don’t Mess with Texas? Don’t… uh… Don’t not get a load a Minnesota?
Don’t… be a foe ta Minnesota?
Don’t misquote-a Minnesota-(n?)
Oh it’s just getting worse. One more.
Don’t bring a ho to Minnesota!?
(‘cause she’ll be underdressed. Damn. It’s cold there!)
Ok. I officially apologize. At least for that last one.
I convinced/ coerced/ cajoled Erin and Josh in to helping me make these big beautiful signs with tagboard form Walgreen’s and ribbons and magic markers and glitter and glue. They read things like:
“LAURA IS THE YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS!”
“TEXAS IS HOOTIN’ AND HOLLERIN’ OVER LAURA!”
(I know, I know.)
AND I got some really pretty Mylar balloons.
So imagine my sister’s surprise when she came down that escalator to baggage claim after a ten-hour travel day! She actually blushed and the lady in front of her was like, “That’s for you?” Because Erin and Josh and I were cheering and clapping and really truly hootin’ and hollerin’. It was maybe the MOST fun I have ever had at an airport.
And I got to be with three of my all time favorite people in all the world. Sometimes, life is just soooooo sweet.
So, Smokey gave the opening speech and I saw the interview he gave. I remember when I was little, my mom and dad used to play Smokey records and my brother and I would act out little dramas to go with the songs. My Dad loves loves LOVES Motown, and R&B, and blues and jazz. I often get Smokey (and Percy Sledge, and Diana Ross) stuck in my head. Tracks of my Tears was about the saddest song in the universe to me, and along with Brandy, by Looking Glass, was this song that I just loved to cry over.
Anyway, what struck me most about what he had to say was that he was talking about gratitude. He was talking about how he has been in entertainment for fifty years and every day he hears no, no, no, and every day he keeps finding ways to be an optimist, and to never give up, and to be so thankful for every break he has ever had and continues to get. I really liked what he had to say… because, for my money, it doesn’t matter if a person “makes” it the way they think they are supposed to or not. What matters is giving your all, and being in love, and continuing to grow, and be in gratitude for each moment, shiny or dull. And I loved that he was saying, “be grateful.” And that here was an ICON who still faced rejection every day. I mean. Come on… You just don’t know what the deal is until you’re going through it and even then, you don’t really know. So be grateful and extend that hand of gratitude to the next.
Well, I like that philosophy. It certainly has worked a lot better for me than the method of backstabbing and ladder climbing that I have never been very good at… that method of going about the music business is VERY unattractive and soul killing. In. My. Opinion. I mean, I will admit that I have certainly played those games, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes because I thought I had to, and sometimes just to see what would happen. And you know what? No good could come from any of it, because I knew in my heart what I was doing. I’m not saying you don’t go swimming with the sharks. I’m just saying, I don’t wanna be one of the sharks myself.
And I like gratitude. Even for the seemingly awful things in life. Even the awful tragedies of life bring some healing, some beauty, some growth… if you stick around long enough to see it…. if you don’t shut down before it arrives….
Sharon Jones. Dap Kings. I mean. Come on. ‘Nuff said. We all know that girl is outrageous. Let her sing on forever ‘cause she’s truly truly truly outrageous. This feeling’s contagious!
THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
The state is disbanding.
Some folks are choosing nostalgia. Others are choosing fear. I am choosing a combination of adventure, lunacy, and Taoism.
No worries. I happen to have my black steed and my silver star right here… I’ll just aim for that big ‘ol full moon and never worry ‘bout the rest.
I was nervous, admittedly, about my performance. It was the first day during the Austin Days that I was not relaxed. I meditated a bit to get myself into a state of presence, but I saw very clearly that my persona as a singer at this particular moment in space and time at this particular set of music festivals was not laconic. I am a passionate, fiery woman… and a passionate, fiery singer! So I COULDN’T be little Miss Zen Princess Erin. I had to reach into that SPANISH LADY ERIN because? She was coming out to sing! Watch out, wild hearts!
I wore my sister’s Grecian v-neck grayish silver tunic dress, which gathered just below my décolletage. I wore my thigh high pirate boots, but folded them over to the knees, and then I wore a bright red toreador jacket over the whole ensemble. It sounds strange but it worked, somehow. I wore a red feather flower in my hair. I wore my Hand of God bracelet, which is a red string with a clasp on either end connecting to a blue Hand of God. I wore diamond droplet earrings.
THE SET LIST:
Never, Never, Never (Shirley Bassey/ Mina)
Sober (a new song)
Too Much (on piano)
the rest of the tracks I performed also with the sampled tracks from the record:
Poet’s Lovely Daughter
Shadow and Silt
City Behind the Sky
THE SOUND GUY:
Sean was super cool and a Pisces. I asked him why Austin is such a great city- why the people were so happy. He said, “It’s just such a great place to live, and it has such great music, and it’s the kind of place where you can do music full time and own a house. Why wouldn’t we be happy? Austin’s special.”
Was good. The owner was a cool guy. He was really supportive to the performers! He came up to me before AND after and offered me beverages. One thing… it was funny to me… because we were mostly acoustic acts/ broken down acts at this club…. as I was the first three songs of my set, until I added in the full track samples for the end of my set…. the stage was right next to the front door, where people were coming in and out, and so I could hear the heavy rock band, which was playing in the club next door to me, during my entire set. It makes perfect sense that I could hear them since they were about fifteen feet away from me… LOL…. Only I could hear that… later, I watched the video, as Josh taped the performance for me to see/ hear/ learn, and there was no sign in any way that I was singing not only to me accompaniment and tracks, but to a hair band as well.
It almost made sense to me, on stage. My philosophy about performing is: ride the energy as it is, and fall in love with the wave. That’s what I did, hair band and all.
The place was packed and people were streaming in and out. The crowd was amazing. Some of my fans got there early and were super supportive, getting really into it and even dancing during some of it. There is almost nothing more gratifying then people dancing to Supernatural, or to an acoustic piano version of La Vie En Rose. Really. It really means a lot to me when people show support and enjoy the music. It makes me want to give you everything I’ve got plus ten thousand. So, guys, thank you so much for being there! It makes all the difference in the world! And I love you back. And let’s hang out again sometime soon. I’ll bring my guitar.