Connections.

It’s a funny old thing you know, being from one place and living some place else. It’s wonderful because you get to see and experience stuff in a way that others probably take for granted or haven’t even noticed. For example, one of my favourite American things are drive-through banks. Being from a tiny little country town in the UK, I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

You mean, I don’t have to spend hours trying to find a parking space, walk up the high street to the bank, stand in a queue for 20mins, finally pay in my money and then walk back to my car in the pouring rain?

Nope. You drive up, pay in money and drive off. You don’t even need to get out of your car.

Drive-through banks. They are pretty darn cool.

There is a downside to being someone from somewhere else, and that is you always feel like a part of you is missing. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Austin ❤ It really feels like home to me. I love the people and (obviously) the music. But just lately I have been terribly homesick and I don’t have anyone to share this feeling with. It’s the kind of emotion you can’t really relate to unless you have moved from one country to another. Even though it’s still English speaking, when I arrived in Texas almost 5 years ago it was a bit of a culture shock. Before moving to Austin I’d lived in the same area of Devon for 33 years. I thought I’d have an idea of what this epic move would feel like. I was incredibly naïve and totally clueless. At times it’s a kind of loneliness you can’t even imagine and it’s difficult to describe. I miss my connections to the things that make me who I am. Such as the lingo. The British humour. The accents. The beaches. The farmland. The rolling hills of Devon. Fish and Chip shops. Packets of crisps. Jacket potatoes cooked on a bonfire. The beach jams with friends.

I have this big empty void inside of me, longing for all of these things and so much more.

I’ve missed out on almost 5 years of my dog’s life. She’s now 12 years old and lives with my parents. Don’t worry, she is spoilt rotten – eating 3 meals a day, going on Molly-walks twice a day and having an array of sofas and chairs in varying shapes / sizes / colours to choose from.

A little while back I wrote a FB post about my sweet Molly dog. She’s basically like a cat trapped inside a dogs body. She’s the most un-dog-like dog I’ve ever met. She HATES having cuddles or a big fuss made of her, to the point that she will get up and walk into another room if you start doing that crap. Her version of affection is to be sitting fairly close to you. If she’s doing that you should feel very special indeed.

Molly also has a rather unusual list of phobias:

  • Hot air balloons
  • Microlights
  • Fluorescent jackets
  • Paper towels
  • People with white hair
  • Church bells

I’m possibly making her sound like an insensitive soul, but she’s so in-tune with what’s going on around her it’s crazy. If either my brother (who she adores) or I are travelling to my parents farm, Molly will be sat by the front door waiting for us:

And when we leave she gets extremely depressed and wont eat her food for a couple of days.

She’s beautiful, sweet and incredibly weird – which is why I love her so much ❤

I miss living close to the ocean. Austin is the first place in my whole life I’ve lived in-land and energetically it’s very different. You can feel that sea water isn’t nearby. When I lived in Devon I tried to go surfing and kayaking as much as possible. But even if I didn’t have time to go for a few days, it’s just nice to know the ocean is there. The moment you step outside your door you can feel it.

The River Dart was also one of my favourite hang out spots, especially for kayaking. You are constantly surrounded by nature. Multiple days we were greeted by a couple of sea lions who would pop up right next to our kayak, trying to figure out what the bloody hell we were doing 😉



The Moors. Holy crap I miss the Moors. Miles and miles and miles of absolutely nothing but beautiful scenery, tiny little 100s-of-years-old villages, rivers, wild horses and lots of gigantic rocks piled on top of each other (aka Tors). There’s a kind of stillness on the Moors that you can actually physically feel, it’s wonderful. My Ex and I used to take our VW campervan (called Bertie) up there. We’d go for a walk with Molly, come back to Bertie and have a nice mug of tea and cook up a couple of egg and fake bacon sandwiches. It was lovely.

And speaking of fake bacon – I really miss an English Breakfast on a Sunday morning, or more specifically – my Dad’s English Breakfast. He makes THE BEST breakfasts. Fact. And although he and my Mother are meat eaters he makes an absolutely killer vegetarian breakfast, made up of baked beans, hash browns, 2 free range fried eggs, grilled tomatoes (from my Mum’s vege plot), mushrooms, toast and of course – a cup of tea. So. Freakin. Good.

Which then leads me on to what I miss the most – my parents and their beautiful farm, which will soon be leaving our family (a story for another time).

If I see my folks once a year I’m doing pretty well. Weeks and months seem to drift by and on some days the distance between us is so difficult. When I’m at the farm I am completely at peace. Everything is connected again. I love doing various jobs around the place, walking Molly, laughing about silly (and usually inappropriate) crap with my parents and consuming way too many cups of tea. But on the flip side, as beautiful as everything is, there are literally zero musical opportunities for me. I used to work a day job AND play music, hoping that one day after all my hard work and dedication to the cause I’d finally become a full time musician and ‘make it’. No one (other than my parents) ever took any of this terribly seriously, and as the years went by even I began to doubt myself and question the path I was on. I had absolutely no idea that Austin would be a portal to a life I never thought possible. But in order to do what I know is my life’s purpose, I have to sacrifice getting to see the people and places that I love more than anything in the whole word.

Which is very hard.

6 years ago I co-wrote a song with a German singer-songwriter called Elli (she’s awesome btw, please check out her music). This song was called Sand for Stone and at the time, I obviously had no idea that it would relate to everything I’m experiencing right now. I recently started playing this song at my shows again, as I can finally sing it knowing exactly what these words mean.

Here’s the first Verse and Chorus:

I’d forgotten how, how much this means to me
And every second I’m here, takes me back where I used to be
With an open heart, an open mind
This freedom and expression, is something I cannot find
In you or I, no it’s something I’ll never find
In you or I

But the truth is I have no idea where to call home
And this place is in my heart where ever I go

Breathe in the air and let it free up your mind
I learnt the hard way
That I need space and time
Before I feel alive, before I feel alive
I don’t need much before, I’m in harmony
But life is so much harder
Now I’m switching sand for stone
And the ocean is my home.  

I guess all of the above might make me sound like a right whining whinny.

Well why don’t you bugger off back there if it’s so amazing?

you might be thinking. Believe me when I say that I love living in Austin and my life right now is so amazing. Honestly. I’m getting to live the life I’ve always wanted and I’m incredibly grateful for everything I have.

It’s just tricky sometimes. That’s all.

Thank you as always for reading this far ❤ Really appreciate it a whole lot. Hope to see you somewhere soon 🙂

Battle of the Makeup People

A couple of blog posts back I wrote all about my new adventures into the magical and mystical world of makeup.

2 weeks have gone by and I’ve been extremely surprised by the way people reacted to that post.

Really surprised.

I’ve played probably 3 or 4 shows since then and before each gig I applied makeup. I followed the detailed instructions given to me by makeup Jedi Phoebe at the bareMinerals store in Austin (and quite frankly if I lose those instructions I’m screwed!).  After spending probably more time than necessary getting my face ready, I stepped out of the green room / bathroom / car with a face full of cosmetics.  I’m happy to report that no-one laughed at me and I didn’t make a complete tit out of myself.

Re-sult.

One thing that did happen at every single show, was a bunch of different people came up to me and shared their thoughts on this whole makeup malarkey – and more specifically, my original blog post.

There were a handful of in-betweeny people, but almost everyone I spoke to fitted very neatly into one of these two categories:

  • Category 1 – Super Happy People 🙂 

Hurrah! Yay! KM is finally wearing makeup!

These folks were upbeat and encouraging about the whole thing, saying it was wonderful that I was starting to think more about the way I present myself on stage and that it’s important to take pride in your appearance.

  • Category 2 – Mildly Offended People

Boo! Hiss! KM should NEVER wear makeup!!

These peeps were NOT impressed with it at all. They felt as though I wasn’t being true to who I am and that Katie Marie and Makeup are words that shouldn’t go together.  Over and over again I heard ‘you’re fine without makeup, so why wear it??‘.

This was all a big surprise to me – as to be honest, I thought my situation was pretty cut and dry.

I’m a girl.

Girls wear makeup.

Everyone thinks I should wear makeup.

I probably should. 

The end.

That’s not to say that I’m at all bothered by what people think – I’m really not.  I’m honestly ok not wearing makeup most of the time.  But just from a simple blog post I’ve learnt SO much about YOU.  I’ve discovered that there were a lot of people who in fact noticed that I don’t wear makeup and actually liked that about me.  I’ve also learned that there are a lot more makeup-phobic people out there than I realised.  But the main thing that struck me is that pro-makeup or against-makeup, everyone I spoke to genuinely cared about me and my approach towards this whole thing.  They were all supportive in their own way. ❤

One thing I do really want to make clear, is that this was a CHOICE I made.  I didn’t feel as though I needed to bow to peer-group-pressure or please others or that I’m not happy with how I look etc etc.  This is simply me presenting myself in a slightly different way.

Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT about to go through this whole bloody process outside of performing.  To plaster all that stuff on my face every single day seems annoying and rather time consuming to say the very least.

But for shows and photographs it’s kind of a necessity.  The stage lights tend to wash out your face, so that when you check out photos after a show it looks as though you don’t have a face or any features at all.

It’s weird.

With all that being said:

Whether you wear lots of makeup or none at all, you should ALWAYS do what ever makes YOU feel happy and comfortable.  If wearing a ton of makeup everyday makes you feel confident and able to face the world with a kickass attitude then good for you, that’s totally awesome.  By the same token, if wearing nothing at all or even just a smidgin every day is more your thing then that’s equally awesome.

The point is, I don’t ever want people to feel as though I’m trying to mask who I am, or changing into some fancy-super-fem-girly-girl.

I think we can safely assume that will never happen 😉

What ever you’re into, do it because it makes YOU feel happy.  What ever floats your boat is A-ok with me.  As with anything else in life, no one should be making you feel as though you should or shouldn’t do something.  Do it because it makes you feel empowered, happy, confident or anything else.  It’s all good.  There’s no right or wrong.

Thanks as always for reading this far, would love to know what you think.  Feel free to comment below with your thoughts 🙂

 

Self Help Books for Musicians

In between my musical activites I do a lot of reading.  I switch between fiction and non-fiction depending on my mood, but on the whole, I do tend to lean more in the direction of Educational and Self Help books. I’m a real learning junkie and love coming across a life changing read.

BUT – one thing you do realise very quickly when stepping into the world of Self Help books;

There is a TON of utter crap out there.

The Self Help section of any store is always filled with brightly coloured books of all shapes and sizes, all with snappy titles and a photo of the author printed on the back looking very smug indeed.  These happy, smiley people have jumped on the Self Help band wagon hoping to become the next Louise Hay or Wayne Dyer. Using lots of Self Help jargon to get your attention, each author brags about how, with their help, they can make YOUR life better.

In so many cases it becomes painfully clear quite early on that these people have no idea what the bloody hell they’re talking about and probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to them is their MacBook Air took 10 seconds longer to load than usual.

*sigh.

Thankfully, in between all the brightly coloured books screaming ‘pick me! pick me!’ are beautifully written works by genuine, authentic people who actually know their stuff.

And these are the books that have quite literally changed my life for the better, which is why I wanted to share them with you.

I do have some honourable mentions below my Top 5 list.  These are also well worth checking out.

Ok, so here goes – this is my Top 5 Self Help Books for Musical People

#5 – THE ART OF PRACTISING A Guide to Making Music From the Heart by Madeline Bruser

I remember reading the title of this book for the first time and rather obnoxiously thinking ‘a book about rehearsing? How interesting can that be?‘.  But after seeing it over and over and over again in various places, I decided to give it a try.

This is SUCH a wonderful book. 

Madeline combines musicality, spirituality and practical tips for getting the most out of your practise time.

Almost every page in my copy has a maker in it because there is so much to learn from this beautifully written book.

Go check it out if you haven’t already, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

#4 – EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

I know what you’re thinking.  This is a strange choice, but hear me out.

I am extremely introverted.  Extremely.  I used to be *terrible* at making conversation or meeting new people and HATED networking with a passion.

Thanks to this book I am now able to meet total strangers and converse with ease.  I *never* thought in my wildest dreams this would be possible for me. I had come to the conclusion that after X amount of years I wouldn’t be able to change that aspect of my personality. I was wrong.

For those of you that don’t know, EQ is Emotional Intelligence, which unlike IQ is much easier to change.  I normally don’t like books that have online features (such as go online and watch this video or unlock this feature etc etc, I bought a fecking book you bleedin eejot! I don’t want to be online) but in this instance it works EXTREMELY well.  You take their online test to find out what your current score is and the website figures out exactly what is making your score low and tells you how to raise it.  My score was 86, which is pretty high – but what let me down was my social skills.  There are specific chapters in the book that tell you how to improve in particular areas and I honestly can’t tell you how much this has helped me.

If you want to improve your networking / people skills, give this a try!

#3 – MORNING SIDEKICK JOURNAL by Habit Nest

Most of my musician friends have been making fun of me the past couple of months because I have been getting up at 7am almost every single morning without fail.

WHY? Why would you do that? I hear you cry.

Well, I was interested in creating more time in my day and thought I’d give this a try.

I was AMAZED at how much of a difference it made.

I sleep better. I have more energy through the day. I finally have some ME time. I get all my jobs done pretty much every day.  It’s truly awesome.

The Morning Sidekick Journal is part book, part journal.  You write in it every day and it holds you accountable for your daily actions, kind of like a personal coach.  It has tons of really inspiring success stories, tips on getting the most out of your mornings and so much more.  It’s been beautifully designed with great attention to detail which I very much appreciated.

The book lasts for a total of 66 days and I made it all the way through! I was actually very sad when it was over, but I’ve kept my morning routine going and I wouldn’t have been able to make that work without the help of this journal.  It really was life changing for me.

Since finishing this I have tried a couple of similar ones but they were all pretty awful (yep, you guessed it.  Jumping. Band Wagon).

I’m a full time musician and have managed to make this change work for me.

Go on, give it a try 🙂

#2 – YOU ARE A BADASS AT MAKING MONEY – Jen Sincero

I wanted to find a book specifically to help me with my hang ups surrounding money.  The Universe presented me with You Are a Badass at Making Money and I couldn’t have found a better book.  It TOTALLY changed my way of thinking and helped me work through all my energetic blocks surrounding moola.

Jen has a beautiful writing style.  Easy to read, relatable and extremely funny.  I’ve just finished reading her first book You Are a Badass which is also very good, but I thought this would be a good choice for creative types as let’s face it – most of us are pretty terrible with money.

Highly, HIGHLY, H-I-G-H-L-Y recommended.  An awesome, life changing read.

#1 – ZEN GUITAR by Philip Toshio Sudo

This book was published 20 years ago and amazingly I only came across recently.

Holy. Crap.

If you need to be brought back to centre and have gotten so caught up in the business side of things that you feel disconnected from your art – PLEASE read this book.  It’s another one where almost every page in my copy has a marker in it, because there are SO many things we ALL need to hear on an almost weekly (if not daily) basis.

Beautifully written with honesty and sincerity.  This applies to all musical people no matter what instrument you play.  Please go and get yourself a copy if you haven’t done so already.  It’s a wonderful book.

HONORARY MENTIONS: 

Even though these aren’t in my Top 5 list, they are all well worth checking out.

The Music Lesson – Victor Wooten
How Many People Does it Take to Make a Difference? – Dan Zadra
Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes (I highly recommend getting the audiobook version.  It’s read by Shonda and her inflections and brilliant reading style add so much).
Two Minute Mornings – A Journal to Win Your Day Every Day – Neil Pasricha (there are a lot of these journals popping up, but this is a very simple and well put together journal that I take with me on the road, due to it being nice and small!).

So that’s my list.  What do you think? Do you agree with my selection? Have I missed anything? I’d love to know what you think and if you have any suggestions, please comment below and let me know!

If you’re based in Austin please go and buy all of these books (and more) from my favourite indie book store – Book People.

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It’s time for me to become…….a girl.

Don’t worry. You’re not about to read a surprising blog post with the revelation that actually Katie Marie is a dude – I already have boobs and a va-jay-jay, so fear not.

When I say it’s time for me to become a girl, I’m not talking about that kind of thing. I’m talking about a far more terrifying and complicated matter, well for me anyway.

For almost 40 years I have managed to survive completely without one thing that everyone of a female persuasion seems to know SO much about.

I’m talking about makeup.

The most I have ever applied to my own face is the odd bit of mascara before shows – which I started doing about 2 years ago. I can count on one hand how many times other people have applied full makeup to my face and when they do I always think I look silly.  Whether I actually look silly or not is another matter.  That’s how it makes me FEEL on the inside.

Figuring out what the bloody hell everything is and how to use it has always seemed like some super complicated math algorithm that only certain people seem to understand.

But after much deliberation – I have decided it’s time for me to knuckle down and get jiggy with some makeup math.

Part of the reason I haven’t ever thought about makeup is probably due me being a very outdoorsy, earthy kind of chick who comes from a little town (Totnes in Devon) known throughout the UK for its alternative ways.

I may not look like a hippy, but almost everything about me is hippy.

For example:

Heart = Hippy Heart.

Skin = Hippy Skin.

Blood = Hippy blood.

Hair = definitely Hippy Hair.

You get the general idea.

I’m a vegetarian of 30 years, I love animals, support local and indie places, drink green tea, buy organic food.

Blah blah hippy blah.

So when I lived in Totnes I would go surfing A LOT.  I loved feeling the energy of the ocean and believe it or not, the water provided me with my daily hair and beauty regime.

Trying to catch waves meant water bashing into my face fairly often.  The salt from the water made my skin feel so soft and cleansed (like a facial scrub).  I also loved salt water in my hair because it meant I didn’t have tons of fly-aways and it used to feel so healthy and thick (I’ve replaced all that with hair spray) and if I missed it I had a however-high wave go right into my face and up into my nose, clearing out all my sinuses (like a netty pot).

I have deduced that the water, combined with living on a farm AND me not being terribly girlie are all reasons why I have zero skills in the makeup department.

But (hopefully) that’s about to change.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means planning on having a daily makeup routine. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that at all. If daily makeup works for you then that’s awesome. It’s just not my thing.  To me it seems very exhausting / annoying / time consuming to do it aaalll the time, so this is purely for shows and photographs.

In order to figure it all out, I changed my mindset and tried thinking about makeup in exactly the same way as music.  It’s just another skill to learn.  I spent time teaching myself various things about the instruments I play, all I have to do now is apply that same mindset to makeup.

I knew it was going to take some very special person indeed to help me. Someone with Jedi-like knowledge.  Thankfully that magical person was Phoebe at the bareMinerals shop in Austin.

The bareMinerals store is basically a giant room made up of multiple mirrors and extremely white lights that instantly make you take on the appearance of a creature from the underworld, asking yourself do I really look THAT bad without makeup? 

Phoebe greeted me with a friendly smile and asked how she could help.  I truthfully told her that I have NO idea what I’m doing and needed some advice on where to start.

I’m not sure if at this point she thought I was exaggerating a little about my makeup knowledge, but she replied reassuringly with ‘oh that’s ok, sit yourself down on that chair and I’ll bring out some things I think you’ll need’.

A few minutes later Phoebe arrived back, armed with an eclectic mix of brushes and stuff.  Makeup stuff.

‘So!’ she said with much enthusiasm, ‘I brought out a few blushers and a bronzer you might like, as well as this primer which works amazingly well, aaaaand this is a really great eyeliner, oh and this is my favourite compact that has a selection of shadows that I use all the time. Also these are some of my go-to brushes, this one is great for foundation and this one here is great for under the eyes. Any questions before we start?’.

For a few moments I stared blankly at the mix of products spread out before me, trying not to feel utterly overwhelmed.  I responded with ‘Yes, I do have a question actually. Sooooo, what’s that?’.

‘Oh, which one?’ she asked.

‘Well, all of it’ I replied.

Oh dear. Poor Phoebe.

I was expecting her to look at me like I was a complete nincompoop, or at the very least give me an extremely disapproving glare and retort with something like I didn’t know people like you existed! 

Thankfully I was extremely wrong.

Phoebe just smiled and said ‘ok, let me go through each thing step by step – I’ll show you step by step how to use each and every item I have here so you’ll be able to do everything yourself just fine, if you have any questions as we go just ask’.

As you may have guessed, I had a TON of questions, all of which were probably very silly, but Phoebe was SO unbelievably patient and kind. I was sat there for a couple of hours while she showed me the ways of the Jedi makeup artist.  I learnt about ‘bronzer’ and ‘blush’ and what type of brushes work best when applying them. I found out how to apply mascara without looking like a clown. I took mental notes on absolutely everything and at the end of our session Phoebe very kindly wrote down each step so I could do it all myself.

I then bought myself a fancy starter kit with everything I need.  I would even go as far as to say opening the box was pretty exciting (now I know what the bloody hell everything is of course).

Thus far, my journey into Makeupland has been a lot less scary and more interesting than I thought it would be.

Blimey.

 

The photo below is all Phoebe’s handy work and my mission is to try and re-create it, armed with detailed instructions (of course!):

I chose bareMinerals because I wanted makeup that was paraben free and not tested on animals (see, I told you. Hippy).  I also couldn’t have picked a nicer person to get me started. Not once did Phoebe laugh at me or make me feel stupid or inferior.  She explained everything in a clear and concise way and even liked when I compared the Mineral Veil to washing your car and putting the wax on afterwards to keep everything on there 😉

And so, my makeup adventures have officially begun.  Wish me luck! And if you have any hints and tips feel free to comment below, I will probably need a lot of guidance 😉

❤ ❤

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On the Roooaad Agaaaain

Austin TX to Nashville TN to Lansing MI to Livonia MI to Oberlin OH to Columbus OH and back to lovely Austin TX again.

As you may have already guessed, last week I was on the road having a ton of fun playing drums, mando and a smidgin of electric guitar for Wild Ponies.

It was a short run of 4 shows, all of which were extremely awesome.

But before I get stuck into story telling, I have to introduce you to my new friend, Bertie.

Bertie was my lovely drum kit for the week and he did a most excellent job.  On the ride to the house from Nashville airport I asked Doug what kit he had for me, to which he replied – ‘dunno what make it is, something old and weird!’….and Bertie is exactly that, old and weird – just like me.

Show #1 – The Old Town General Store, Lansing, Michigan.

My first time to both Lansing and this super characterful venue. If I could sum up my lovely little home town of Totnes in a single building – this would be it.

The Old Town General Store has a shopping area in the front selling mostly local produce and a lovely courtyard out back where all the live music happens. The shop had lots and lots of hippy stuff – all of which I wanted (I stocked up heavily on organic Kombucha and Michigan bumper stickers) and the courtyard was filled with beautiful and very happy looking flowers of all shapes and sizes.

The sun was shining, people were super into it, hurrah.

Here’s a little video courtesy of the my GoPro…

 

Food Stop – The Whistle Stop Diner, Pleasant Ridge MI

One of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had – it almost beat me! A toasted vege burrito with a side of hash browns, all washed down with a cup of tea – heck yeah.

Show #2 – Trinity House Theatre, Livonia, Michigan.  

The moment I stepped through the front door and saw the stage, I knew this was going to be an amazing show 🙂

I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed connecting with ‘old’ stuff since moving to the US, so it was lovely to walk into a building oozing with so much historic character and charm.

Apparently it use to be a church a while ago.  And so,

**BONUS** – guess what was right slap-bang next to the building?

A freakin’ super old graveyard! 😮

Well, by ‘super old’ I mean American super old (1830s)…but still, these were the oldest stones I’ve seen since moving here 4.5 years ago which was extremely cool.

Most people don’t know that in my ‘spare time’ I do volunteer work for a couple of organisations helping to preserve and document old grave sites in Texas. This includes documenting with photographs, clearing and cleaning stones all over the place and it’s been fascinating to learn about the history of each site.

Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but this was a real treat for me – music, old buildings AND dead people! 😉

The show was packed.  The audience were absolutely lovely and we had a wonderful time. Can’t wait to go back.

Food Stop – Wonder Bar, Milan OH

We stopped for food in a super cute town in Ohio called Milan (pronounced; My-Lan).  The first building we drove past appeared to be a food place called Invention Restaurant.  We all noticed this and agreed it was a rather odd name to call a restaurant.  Once we’d parked up I grabbed my camera and had a bit of a mooch about the town square, at which point I very quickly learned that Milan was the birth place of Thomas Edison.

Ahhhhh, okaaay.

Invention Restaurant.

Light bulb inventing dude.

Got it.

And for those of you who are interested, according to our resident Wiki expert (aka Greg Horne, guitarist, pedal steel and violin player for Wild Ponies) Milan has an annual Melon Festival.

I do think a melon festival could get you into all sorts of trouble if you’re not careful.

‘Look at the size of her melons!’

‘What lovely juicy melons you have!’

Really, the double entendre possibilities are pretty endless.

Anyways..

 

Show #3 – RiverDog, Oberlin, Ohio.

Right out in the arse-end-of-nowhere is an incredibly awesome place called Riverdog. Surrounded by trees, lush green grass and nature, Riverdog (as the name suggests) is right next to the river and there are 4 beautiful doggies who live there.

It’s magical, mystical and marvellous all rolled into one, and I didn’t want to leave.

Riverdog is owned by Terry and Deborah who are both artists.  They spent 5 years renovating the buildings on the property themselves and did a wonderful job.  The main house is an art gallery and studio.  The other is a guest house and coolest of all was the venue for that nights show, which was a converted barn.

Yes. It was freakin rad.

 

Here’s another little video from the second set, the atmosphere was beautiful.  Along with the 100 people sat inside and outside the barn, 4 doggies lay passed out asleep to my right, utterly unmoved by all that was going on around them.

🙂

Show #4 – Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, Columbus Ohio.

Two things I look forward to when playing at Natalie’s.

  1. Playing music (well, duh).
  2. Eating their amazing pear salad AND consuming large amounts of their outrageously tasty pizza.  It’s sooooo good.

I played at Natalie’s last year with Wild Ponies on the Galax tour (hence my pizza knowledge) and it was a ton of fun.

(I’m guessing I must’ve been too full of food to take any video or photos this time around 😉 ).

Then the following day we drove back to Nashville and I hopped on a plane to Austin.

For most of the trip the temperatures were between 75-80F and at night it cooled right down (which is what I’m use to being from the UK). It was a (nice) shock to the system when I got off the plane at 11:30pm in Austin to be greeted with 98F heat 😉

Good to be home ❤

I’ll be heading out with the Ponies again in a few weeks, can’t wait 🙂

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Peace Town.

In February of 2017 I decided to make some really big changes in my life.

Basically I got sick to death of being broke, feeling unfulfilled and as though I had zero control over my own destiny.

After a couple of intense meditation sessions the crux of my problem become extremely apparent, which was:

—> ME <— 

Without even realising it, I had been shutting myself off from any and all abundance / opportunities the Universe may have wanted to send in my direction.

How did I do that?

Well, a few steps were involved.

  1. I built an impressive virtual ‘wall’ between me and all the good stuff
  2. Once I had finished the ‘wall’ construction I grabbed a bottle of spray paint and graffitied quaint little sayings like ‘I’m an artist and I’m supposed to struggle’ and ‘I don’t deserve to be successful’.
  3. I sat back and looked at these lines over and over again, day in day out.
  4. I wondered why on earth life wasn’t really working out for me the way I wanted it to.

Yes I know what you’re thinking as I’m thinking it too, bloody idiot.

Piece by piece I began deconstructing this wall (which wasn’t easy) and started working on shifting my way of thinking. To help me with this, I wrote out positive and uplifting affirmations about abundance on 4 small pieces of paper.  Some were quotes I’d seen, others just came to me during a meditation session.  I kept all of them with me and 4 times a day I’d say each affirmation 3 times each.

I did this for about 3 weeks solid and it was almost as if the dam burst and all that good stuff I mentioned earlier came flooding towards me.

The Universe was like ‘f-I-n-a-l-l-y!! It took you long enough to realise I’m trying to bloody well help you here!!’.

Not long after that – one of my fav people Rebecca Loebe asked me to play drums for her album launch party at the Saxon Pub.

This made me extremely happy 🙂

The night of the launch party I got to meet Jimmy LaFave who was in the audience and from hearing me with Becca asked if I would play drums on a new album he wanted to record (Peace Town).

Today, almost a year later, I was finally able to hold the finished product in my hands.  It was so cool to hear everything mixed together and relive all the fun from that studio session. It was a truly magical experience that I’ll never forget.  Grateful, humbled, proud and so much more.

(After Jimmy passed away I wrote this blog post)

So many cool things have happened in 2017 and so far 2018 is totally kicking ass.  Everyone is so incredibly kind to me and I appreciate each and every chance I get to make music with awesome people.

A ba-zillion thank yous Universe…I’m ready for the good stuff now 😉

 

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Urg! and Grr! with a smidgin of WFT just happened?

I had this week’s blog post all planned out, like a good-well organised nerdy person.

Then this happened.

I’m going to regale you with an event that took place only last Saturday. And, if you have a crappy job, or you’re unhappy with the way you’re being treated by someone – you, ESPECIALLY YOU need to read this.

So, grab yourself a hot or cold beverage and get comfy-cozy, as some utterly bizzare real life sh*t is about to go down.

Last Saturday I had a show playing drums at an Austin venue called The Townsend.  This awesome little place is situated in one of my fav streets (Congress Avenue) and after a spot of setting up and sound checking, the wife and I decided to try and find a nice restaurant to have dinner.

We did much Google-ing and decided upon an Italian joint only a few blocks down heading in the direction of the capital building.

We walked in, got seated and proceeded to look at the menu.

So far, all very normal.

Our very nice waitress took our orders.  I went with the safe option of a margherita pizza.  Laran also ordered a cheese pizza, but asked if mushrooms could be added along with extra cheese.

Still, very normal.  But this is where things started to get a tad weird.

Our sweet waitress came back to us after putting the order in and said ‘just to let you ladies know I asked the chef if he could add mushrooms to your pizza and he said no.  So if it arrives without mushrooms just know that I did ask, ok?’.

A chef that wont put mushrooms on a pizza? That’s a new one.

Anyways….not important.  We just laughed about it and carried on with our conversation.

About 20mins or so later our food arrived.

My pizza looked like a pizza. Hurrah.

Laran’s however looked like a LOT of tomato and about 5 blobs of miniature mozzarella.  Zero mushrooms.

Laran asked the waitress (we’ll called her ‘Jane’ for the purposes of this story) if she could get more cheese on the pizza as that wasn’t going to be enough (duh). Jane was very apologetic but looked scared as hell….and we were about to find out why.

We watched from the very front of the restaurant as Jane walked all the way to the back, where you can clearly see the chef and the big pizza oven.  We continued to watch as she timidly handed him the pizza and presumably told him our request.

A few seconds later he threw the plate back across the counter and proceeded to throw a barrage of insults and verbal abuse in her direction.  It was so loud that we could hear it clearly from where we were seated up front.

Having stood there and just taken all of this, Jane walked back towards us, trying so hard not to cry.  ‘I’m not having that guy talk to her like that.  It’s not acceptable’  Laran said, quite right too.  Once Jane got closer to us, Laran asked ‘what’s the chef called?’. Before Jane had even finished the final syllable of this dude’s name, Laran was marching confidently towards him.

One thing I know from being married to this lady for the past 4.5 years, is that most of the time she’s very kind and sweet.  BUT, you *really* don’t want to get on the wrong side of her.  That being said, in these type of situations where there’s a male chauvinist a-hole involved who has absolutely zero respect for the people around him, it is the most gratifying thing on earth.

In the moments watching my wife walk towards the chef’s workstation, my inner nerd was like:

Now, I’m not in any way suggesting that my wife is a slobbering green monster who hides out in the ocean somewhere – just that she’s basically a pretty blonde haired version of the Kraken, with boobs.

Anyway.

For the first few seconds of their encounter, the chef (let’s name him ‘Bob’ for the purposes of this tale) attempted to speak to Laran the same way as the waitress he’d screamed at earlier. I’m assuming he thought Laran was going to react in a similar fashion.  He soon realised that was a very big mistake.

I looked on with extreme satisfaction and pride as a blonde haired chick put this guy in his place in an extremely short amount of time, informing him of how unacceptable it was to speak to his waitstaff like that, never mind the whole lack of cheese and mushroom situation.  Very quickly his body language changed, he stopped yelling and stood there as if no-one had ever talked back to him before in his entire life.

Another work college came out and apologised for his behaviour.  He also told us our meals were on the house.

We tried to get back to our original plan of sitting somewhere quietly and having a meal before my show. That was a tad tricky. But as crappy as our experience was, poor Jane had to STAY there and work. I watched as she quietly and apologetically served people, trying SO hard not to fall apart and burst into tears.

I worked out how much our meal was and gave it to Jane as a tip.  I told her that money was for HER, no-one else.  I also wanted her to know that she deserved respect and shouldn’t have to put up with someone yelling at her over really small stuff.

She thanked us.  We all hugged it out.  As we headed out the door Jane also told us that after Laran had ‘spoken’ to Bob, another table had ordered mushrooms on their pizza and the chef had put them on there as requested.

Surprise, surprise.

Maybe he needed someone to bring him back to reality.  Or more likely he was terrified that Laran would walk over there and remove parts of his male anatomy if he didn’t add mushrooms or cheese to anyone’s order.

As we were walking back to The Townsend I felt a huge mixture of relief, gratitude and sadness.

Relief – that we were the ones that happened to and could deal with it in a firm but kind way.

Gratitude – that my life and my job as a musician is so wonderful and amazing.

Sadness – that there are people who HAVE to put up with that kind of crap, for what ever reason….and if you’re one of those people, listen up.

Before I was able to become a full time musician, I had countless awful, terrible and super stressful jobs.  More often than not, there was an arsehole on the team and 2 jobs in particular I was basically Jane.  I was the one getting yelled at (once by a chef) over really nothing at all.  I too had to keep it together and carry on serving people.  Putting on a happy face.  Trying not to burst into a flood of tears for all to see.

I want you to know 2 things.

  1. You DESERVE to be treated with respect. Period. The end. If you are like Jane, please do me a favour.  Walk away. I promise you life will get so much better when you start putting your energy into positive rather than negative people and situations. Believe me when I tell you that I know EXTREME poverty.  I know what it’s like to HAVE to work that horrible job or you can’t eat or pay bills.  But all the while you’re around that type of energy, the good stuff can’t get to you.  Leap and the net will appear.  I promise you it will appear.
  2. Everything will be ok in the end.  I endured so many awful jobs for a looooong time and I can tell you that my life right now is AMAZING.  I wake up EVERY SINGLE DAY doing what I love.  I get paid to play, record and teach MUSIC! You can do ANYTHING you set you mind to.  Don’t lose hope.  Don’t give negativity the attention and energy it doesn’t deserve.

When they go low we go high – Michelle Obama

Thanks as always for reading this far.  Sending lots of good and positive vibes to all the Janes out there.  You got this!! ❤

 

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