Blimey. I wasn’t expecting that….

In the past few weeks our trusty tour van Princess Leia has taken us all over the bloomin’ place…..we’ve played Nashville, Knoxville, Mobile, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Madison, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Columbus, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

As some of you may have already seen on my FB page, I did fall madly in love with Madison, Indiana.

I mean, it’s so stinkin’ cute.

Out of all the above listed places, I did fall unexpectedly in love with another city – I’ll reveal which one very soon 🙂

Before that though, I want to tell you about one of the most incredible venues I’ve ever played.

On the way to this particular place, Doug & Telisha told me it was their favourite venue in the whole world.

That’s quite a statement.

After telling me this they then refused to tell me anything else because they wanted it to be a surprise (meeeaaannn!).

We pulled into the driveway of a very Ann Arbor-looking house.  Cute and full of character.  According to our sat nav we had indeed arrived at our final destination.

I was intrigued.

My first thought was that this must be a house concert series.

We went inside the house, down a few very old looking wooden stairs into the basement….and this is what greeted us:

Johnny’s Speakeasy.

I know, it’s amazing.  My photos don’t do it justice at all.

You’d think as this was in such an unusual location that no-one would know about it – but the place was packed and everyone was so attentive.

A musician’s dream venue ❤

They even made a documentary about the place a few years ago:

Definitely NOT what I was expecting!!

What an awesome surprise.  ❤

Small Talk.

If you’re one of those people who has skills in this field, then picture me right now looking at you in amazement and awe.

You are my hero.

So many times I have watched with utter admiration as these people put their jedi-like powers to work.  Without any hesitation what so ever, they just dive right into a crowd of total strangers and within a matter of minutes conversation is flowing freely.

Pretty amazing stuff.

Now image if you will a human being who is the total opposite of the above described Small Talk expert….

…..and you’ll be getting close to where I’m at.

I am SO bad at small talk.

If we were in some weird movie style scenario where I was selected as “the one” to save the planet from evil forces by using my powers of small talk, just assume that it would end with everyone dying a very slow and painful death.

Or to put it another way, if Small Talk were an Olympic Sport I’d be just like that poor dude who face plants into the first hurdle and then with a torn ligament and a couple of broken ribs tries to limp his way through the rest of the 100m, while spectators can’t decide whether to keep watching or just cover their eyes because it’s so cringe worthy.

That dear friends, is me with Small Talk.  We don’t get along well at all.

I know what you’re thinking.  How can it be so freakin hard? It’s just some light-hearted conversation between one or more people.  The very word suggests that it should be SO easy.

But almost every time it happens I want the ground to swallow me whole.  Preferably within the first 10 seconds.

What? You don’t believe me?

Well…..Let me give you a quick example of just how shitty I really am at this.

I’m going to show you a real conversation that took place last night after a show in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The show was amazing and of course, people wanted to converse with me.

That’s apparently what people do.

Here’s what happened:

———————————————————————————————————

*Me standing in the kitchen picking at some left over food*

*Guy walks over to me*

Guy: Hey! Really enjoyed the show!

Me: Oh thanks! It was a lot of fun.

Guy: So, you from Nashville too?

Me: No, I live in Austin.

Guy: *Smiles at me* oh great!

*Cue awkward silence*

Me (head dialog): *okkkaay, now what? Ooooo I know….*

Me: So where do you live?

Guy: Ann Arbor.

Me: Cool!

*Cue more awkward silence along with a gaggle of imaginary crickets*

Me (head dialog): *ok so I’ve asked him where he’s from, now what?……damn it I can’t think of anything* (gets out phone and looks at it like someone has texted me) *No! Don’t look at your damn phone Katie! That looks so rude and weird, put it away….ok, ask him something…..go on…..

*Now cue both of us standing awkwardly pretending like we’re 100% comfortable with what’s going on*

Me (further head dialog) : ok, now there’s been so much silence it’ll be totally weird to say something – it’ll look like you’re *trying* to make small talk, which is totally not how small talk happens….just act like this situation isn’t uncomfortable in any way shape or form.

*Woman walks towards us with a big smile on her face*

Woman: Hey there! Really enjoyed the show!

Me: Oh thanks! Me too 😊

Woman: So you’re from Austin I hear?

Me: Yep that’s right!

Woman: Great! You like it there?

Me: Yes.

………..

*Awkward silence, gaggle of crickets and now a hooting owl has joined in*

Me (Back into my head): oh great. Now I have two of them to try and small talk to.  And they’re looking at me like I’m going to impart some real words of wisdom…think Katie think, what can we talk about?

Me (looks at woman):….so, where do you live?

Woman: Oh I’m from Ann Arbor

Me: Great! Do you like it here?

Woman: Oh yes, very much.

Me: Good.  Cool.  Very cool.  Haha.  (why did I just laugh?)

Me (head dialog): Ok, time for an escape plan. Look casual and head for the door – on 3, ready….1…2…and 3 – go! Smile and walk, smile and walk….

———————————————————————————————————

There.

I rest my case.

Home is where the music lives….

Hey you 😊 How goes it?

The tour has been SO much fun.  Thus far we’ve completed 7 shows out of 54.  Kinda crazy when you stop and think about it.   

Last night we played in my home town of Austin which was awesome. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt very quickly on this tour, it’s finally knowing where I associate as home. 

If you’re someone who has moved from one place to another, you’ll know that for a little while it does feel very odd. 

And by ‘odd’ I don’t mean like that-creepy-weirdo-relative-who-does-odd-shit odd…I mean, unfamiliar.  A little bit scary.  Kinda lonely.  And if you’re also someone who has moved from one country to another, you’ll also be aware of how disconnected you feel and how everything and everyone around you is totally different.  Not in a bad way, just…..different.

I moved from my home town of Totnes, Devon almost 4 years ago and I don’t think a day has gone by where I don’t think about it.  I mean, how could you not miss this: 

 

Yeah, I know.  Totnes is pretty.  And along with those good looks she oozes historic character and charm. 

To use some British vernacular – Totnes is very much my cup of tea. 

Whenever I manage to get back home there’s something that I energetically connect to that makes me feel like I have arrived back to my roots.  It’s so difficult to explain….but it feels good. 

Really good. 

The down side is whenever I have to leave Devon it feels like I’m being ripped away from somewhere I utterly adore…..and the fact that I’m choosing to leave each time actually makes it more difficult.  I’m choosing to leave behind not just the breath taking scenery, but my family, my friends, my doggie Molly and so much more.      

Arriving in Nashville to begin the tour a few weeks ago I felt something unexpected.  A real feeling of being displaced once again, not knowing anyone or anywhere.  I felt real home sickness.  But this time it wasn’t for beautiful Devon – it’s was somewhere else.

Austin. 

This is the first time I have felt a very deep connection to somewhere other than my beloved Totnes, and during my time away I’ve realised how much I really do love Austin.  It finally feels like somewhere I belong and not just somewhere I happen to live.

There are many things I love about Austin.  But very high up on my list are all the people I have met since I arrived.

I can not tell you how kind everyone has been to me.

Well – actually that’s a lie.  I can tell you….and I did.  A few months back on Facebook 😉

Thanks as always for reading this far…. hope to see you somewhere soon!

KM x

Jimmy LaFave <3

Right now as I type this I am sitting on Doug and Telisha’s porch in beautiful Autumnal Nashville.  The sun’s out.  It’s warm but nothing too crazy.  Leaves of varying colours are quietly falling from characterful old trees close to the house – dancing in the light breeze before gently reaching their final resting place, where they will eventually re-join the earth and start anew.    

It was watching this same enchanting scene earlier this morning that Jimmy LaFave came very clearly into my mind.  I knew the time was right for me to finally put my thoughts and emotions into words and share.  

A few will think this is something I should have written a while ago – but there are a few reasons why I waited. 

I truly believe that if something is important and worth doing it deserves 100% of your attention.  It does not want to be worked on in between 12 other things.  It needs to have you completely in the present and is worth more than being that thing that you rush through in the 5 or 10mins you have spare during your lunch break.

I’m extremely grateful that the Universe has really looked after me and kept me busy with lots of work, but the down side to being busy is having no time to just…….be. 

But my main reason for not writing sooner is compared to most people I knew Jimmy for a very short amount of time.  I wanted to physically and energetically create as much space as possible for everyone else to feel sadness and grieve.  They deserved that – far more than I.  So my way of showing love was to patiently wait until the right time….and Jimmy let me know this morning that this is it.

Many of you don’t know that I was asked to play drums on what will be one of his last ever recordings.  He heard me performing with one of my favourite people Rebecca Loebe at the Saxon Pub and liked my playing style.  I was incredibly honoured to say the very least, especially as I’d only ever met Jimmy very briefly a couple of times in passing.   

The band was made of up of not only the best players but the best people you could hope to be around.  Drew Pressman on bass, Jesse LaFave on Guitar and Stefano Intelisano on keys. 

We spent a few days recording at Cedar Creek Studios with the awesome John Silva engineering.  I will remember those days for the rest of my life.  We had so much fun and the tracks sound incredible. 

Jimmy was kind, hilarious, inappropriate, brave and inspiring.  I tried to express to him a few times how much I appreciated him asking me to play but I don’t think he’ll ever know how much it meant to me. 

Every single day we were recording I’d be filled with so much gratitude.  I was surrounded by beautiful, talented souls and got to be part of something that will be enjoyed by so many people for many, many years.  It doesn’t get any better than that. 

Thank you Jimmy.  Thank you so much for reminding me that life is precious, music is the best thing in the world and that you should really make the most of each and every single day.  I wish we could have known each other longer but I am so very grateful for the time we did have together. 

It was truly awesome. 

❤ ❤ ❤

Like whaaaaaaa?! :-o

Well hey there 🙂 How’s things?

So using the wise words of Mr.Warren G, I’m gunna back up, back up for just a bit.

In less than 7 days SO much cool stuff that has happened and I don’t wanna miss a thing….(blimey, it appears to be a musical metaphors kinda day).

As some of you may already know – I’m originally from the UK but my home is Austin, TX.  And as some of you may also know – Texas is kind of like an oven….only a tad warmer.

One very valuable lesson the Universe taught me in a rather short space of time, is to never ASSUME that the weather in one place will always be the same as another and that a *really* super smart / sensible thing to do is check the weather forecast in the location where you are going.

Very obvious to most….not to me apparently.

So I left a wonderful, warm 90 degree Austin to arrive in a 55 degree rainy Nashville, dressed in nothing more than a thin shirt, jeans and flip-flops.

I know.  What a plonker.

But despite my lack of weather prep, I was extremely happy to be in Nashville – I mean….I’m a musician, of COURSE I’m going to be happy to be in Nashville.

Doug and Telisha very kindly hooked me up with a ticket to the AMA awards show at the Ryman Auditorium.

Unbeknown to me one of my all time fav people was on the bill.

Lori McKenna 😮 

I got to see Lori freakin McKenna playing at the Ryman, Nashville.

Pretty darn cool.

I also got to hear / see a ton of other amazing people including The Lumineers, Rodney Crowell, Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, Drive-By Truckers, Hi Rhythm Section, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Lee Ann Womack, Emmylou Harris, Van Morrison, Graham Nash and Hurray For The Riff Raff.

It was indeed a pretty cool way to kick off my trip here.

The following day was rehearsal and first-show-of-the-tour time.

Now, I’ve been playing drums for a ba-zillion years.

Well, a ba-zillion years is a slight exaggeration.  It’s been 20.

What I’m trying to get across is that I’m super confident and for the most part – know what I’m doing.

For the Wild Ponies I’m playing a mixture of drums and mandolin.

Now mando is awesome and rad BUT it’s an instrument I feel very vulnerable on because I’ve not been playing it that long.

….and now here I am.  In Nashville.  Surrounded by probably the best mando players in the Universe and I’m playing – to them.

Not intimidating in the slightest.

But I have come to the conclusion that the powers that be are putting my ego in check.  It’s always good to step out of your comfort zone every now and then and do something new (so people say).  I remember someone telling me that the Universe doesn’t throw anything at you that you can’t deal with.

I’m up for the challenge.  Let’s do this!

Fortunately for me not only are Doug and Telisha super sweet and awesome human beings who are full of praise and kind words – but our guitar, lap steel and fiddle playing dude Greg Horne has written books which have been mass published specifically on mandolin playing.

AND he too is super kind and a really nice guy.

Sooooooo….I’m in pretty good company.  I feel extremely lucky to be here and being the learning junkie that I am I can’t wait to soak up as many good vibes as I can.

Mind you – this is what they have to contend with:

The first show went well….in that it was the first time for me to play mandolin to a room full of people and I didn’t make a total arse out of myself 😉

Here’s a little snippet:

CD launch party is tonight…wish us lot luck and thanks for reading this far 🙂 ❤

KM x