Regrets?

When I first started out on my journey as a pro muso (*cough *cough years ago) someone shared a well known saying with me, which went something along the lines of as long as you have your art, nothing else matters. More than a handful of occasions in my lifetime I have looked back on this particular saying and thought to myself ‘what a total bunch of hippy-dippy crap‘. These were usually moments when I didn’t have enough money to pay for the petrol I had just put into my car, or when my debit card had been declined at the grocery store checkout, or when I got late fees because bills went out of my account and I didn’t have enough funds to cover them, yadda yadda yadda. At that time I thought whoever said those stupid words had zero idea what it was like to suffer for your art. It did really feel like a terrible curse and that living like any other normal-non-arty-human-being would’ve been SO much easier.

In a similar vein, I read an article years ago about an art teacher who greeted his students at their very first class with ‘some of you will have the misfortune of becoming artists‘. Depressing, but kinda true.

You may well be wondering where I’m going with all this.

Well, I got a question for ya.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if, knowing what you know now, you were able to travel back in time and re-do your life again? Is there anything you’d do differently? What If you could go back and meet a much younger version of yourself? What would you say?

From time to time I do ponder this very question and the answer always comes back no, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy and grateful I chose this path. Now that I’m older, I understand that the struggle itself is a gift. I’m a stronger, more resilient person because of it. Those words that I used to resent so much now make perfect sense. These days my life is considerably easier, but through all the awful hardship and embarrassing lack of funds, it was art that got me through. Music kept me on the straight and narrow and it really is a blessing to know without any doubt whatsoever who you are meant to be. Over the years people and places would change, but music was and will always be there when ever I need it. It’s a beautiful thing.

Just lately though, I have been thinking a lot about my life over the past 38 years. Recently I asked myself that same question – do I have any regrets? As mentioned earlier, my answer is usually no.

But this time I hesitated. Actually, there are a few things I would change, or if I was able to travel back in time and meet much younger Katie Marie I’d love to tell her a thing or two.

A couple of weeks ago I had a really interesting conversation with one of my students. She’s young. Just 14 years old, and like me at 14, she knows everything about everything. We got talking about how things have changed over the years with technology and music and I began a sentence with words I never thought I’d use –

When I was your age….

Oh Lordy. It’s official. I’m an old fart.

After our lesson I really thought a lot about those 5 words…when I was your age. I reflected on when I was a teenager. What I thought about, how I felt, how I acted. And because of this, my answer to the ‘would I change anything’ question has changed.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that most people know I bat for the other team. Now, I don’t go about waving flags or making a big song and dance about it – because to be honest, in every day situations I don’t consider it to be of great importance. That being said, I am very open about it and would never dream of pretending to be something I’m not in order to make someone else feel more comfortable.

Quite frankly, that’s just dumb.

From an early age, my parents drummed into both me and my brother: Be Your True Authentic Selves. DO NOT follow the herd. They have always encouraged us to follow our hearts and do what ever makes us happy, without any expectations. Both my parents loved that I was super into music and have always supported me wanting to be a musician.

Along with being into creative stuff, from an early age I knew that I was different and I also had a very clear idea about what I liked and didn’t like. I loved music. I adored being close to trees and nature, to the point that as a 4 / 5 year old I would get up in the middle of a lesson and either head to the piano in another classroom or go outside and sit by some trees. I’d be invited by my class mates to birthday parties and all the other children would be obediently sat around playing games and interacting with each other.  ‘Where’s Katie?’ would be a question often asked by the adults, at which point they’d go looking for me and more often than not find me somewhere on my own, either looking at a book, sitting next to an animal of some description or (if there was one available) playing a musical instrument. I found groups of people drained my energy. I was happier in my own company surrounded by animals or inanimate objects. They were peaceful and calming to me.

My parents (thank God) never tried to change me and just accepted me the way I am. They didn’t ever say things like ‘you must interact and socialise with the other children more Katie’, quite the opposite, they encouraged me to be myself and made it very clear that being unique and different is most definitely a good thing. If I didn’t want to hang out with the other kids and wanted to talk to a cow in the next field, then so be it.

I had this loving, kind and extremely accepting energy from my parents – and yet the moment I turned into a teenager *everything* became complicated.

At 14 years old I did NOT think that being unique was a good thing at all. I was different and it was a total pain in the bottom.

I wanted to be like everyone else. But no matter how hard I tried (and I really did try) I just couldn’t do it. At school the teachers attempted to squeeze every ounce of individuality out of each and every child and push them into the same shaped hole as everyone else. All the other kids went along without a lot of resistance. They accepted being herded into the sheep pen and told that your life will be exactly the same as everyone else’s.

Those teachers taught me that when you get older you get married to someone of the opposite sex, have a fancy job (which isn’t necessarily something that makes you happy, but it does make a butt load of money and impress others), buy a house, have kids, watch them have children and then retire.

Which is totally fine, if that’s what floats your boat and makes you happy. The problem for me is that’s what every one *else* does. And in my school if you didn’t want the above and wanted something different, something outside of the realms of what was presented by those people – you were considered an outcast, a waste of space and someone destined to amount to very little.

I remember meeting with multiple ‘careers advisors’ and teachers who were supposed to help us decide what jobs we were going to work towards. When I told them I wanted to be a musician, each and every one of them replied straight away with ‘that’s NOT a profession, you have to pick something else’. ‘But that’s what I want to do with my life, isn’t it my choice?’ I would ask. After refusing to change my carear choice I ended up getting a detention for being disrespectful to my teachers.

I know, talk about things that make you go hmmmmm?

The problem that these people refused to acknowledge or recognise, was that I’m not meant to follow the herd, have a regular job and do regular people things. I’m an arty sort, something I’ve known my whole life. But my school teachers were hell-bent on spending their days slowly but surely trying to mould me into something I wasn’t.

There was also a very heavy assumption from both school and society in general that:

  • I would *want* to get absolutely wasted on what ever liquor or substance I could get my hands on
  • I’d *choose* to stay out late and hang out in crappy nightclubs listening to shitty music at an annoyingly loud volume while at the same time oogling at dirty-smelly boys
  • And worse than both of those things put together – it was a given that I would be attracted these dirty-smelly dudes and want to sleep with them

So when none of the above was of interest to me at all I seriously thought something was wrong with me.

You have to remember – this was pre-internet and Google. Back then the only way to have questions answered was by writing a letter to the Agony Aunt column in Bliss Magazine and hoping they’d select your question. This was (of course) highly unlikely as hundreds of confused and needy girls would write letters to Bliss about boys and va-jay-jays every single week. Also, living in a small rural town in Devon, there wasn’t exactly an eclectic mix of people to hang out with and there was certainly no mention of there being any alternative ways of living. My heart knew what I wanted and needed, but day after day, month after month, year after year, I chose to ignore what it was telling me and did the complete opposite, just to fit in.

Laaaame-o.

I would tell myself, surely if I do all these things over and over at some point it will feel normal??

Rather unsurprisingly, it never did.

My heart repeatedly told me:

I love staying up late and working on new songs or learning covers by my favourite artists and bands.

I am most at peace when I am around animals and nature.  

Playing music makes me very happy.  

Drinking and doing drugs in public places makes me feel very uneasy.

I am not attracted to dudes. Not at all. And that’s totally ok.

It told me this over and over again. At first quietly, then the further I moved away from my true self it got louder and louder. I kept ignoring it. I kept telling myself that because I’m not like other people something was WRONG.

Which of course, is ridiculous. I know that now, decades later. But back then I wasn’t brave or kind enough to know that outside approval is most definitely not needed and that you should always follow your heart. It knows the way. Always.

So – to answer my original question, my only regret, the one and only thing I’d change, is that I wish I could’ve been kinder to me and been true to myself.

I would love to go back in time and meet me at 14 and say ‘you know what KM, it doesn’t feel right because it ISN’T right! And that’s totally ok. You aren’t meant to follow others. You are unique and that’s a gift! You were meant to march to a different drum beat – everyone’s in 4/4 and you’re marching to some kind of super hip 7/8 beat where the accent changes with each measure (*sorry, nerdy music talk)’

At the time, external validation was SO important. I needed ‘insert name of popular person here’ to like me and think I was cool. Why can’t I think I’m cool and that be enough? Because I was 14 and figuring shit out and stupid unimportant things like that matter to you at that age.

So that’s my story. What about you? Do you have any regrets? Anything you’d change if you could? What would you tell a younger version of you?

Thanks as always for reading this far ❤ You are a legend.

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Ponies, Music & White Sandy Beaches

A very weird thing happens when you’re on tour.  The passage of time seems to shift all over the bloomin place.  There are moments when an hour feels like an eternity.  Other times it feels like seconds.  Then at the end of it you’re left asking yourself; ‘did we really do ALL that in XX amount of days?!’

…which is exactly how I felt after my most recent trip away.  It went a little bit like this:

On Sept 20th I set out on an East Coast tour with Doug and Telisha from Wild Ponies. We played 8 extremely fun shows in 6 different States.

Brooklyn Americana Fest, New York, New Yooooooork

I’ve been to NY a handful of times and this is generally how it makes me feel:

Days 1-4: I absolutely LOVE New York. I love that there’s so much going on and that everything is just go, go, go all the time.

Days 4+: Ok I’ve had enough. I hate that there’s so much going on and that everything is just go, go, go all the time.

I caught a 6am flight out of Austin and a few hours later landed in Newark, NY. I had a taxi driver take me from the airport to Manhattan, where I was staying with D & T.  On this 30min taxi ride through down town, I felt a mixture of intense fear combined with utter amazement that no one was either killed or run over.  The driver seemed to possess Jedi-like powers and was able to make a rather large passenger van shrink down and fit through the tiniest of gaps.  Random people just walked out into the road, seemingly oblivious to any thoughts of self preservation.  Cars, trucks and motorbikes casually pulled out in front of each other at speed, as if they were surrounded by an invisible forcefield preventing anything from simply ploughing straight into them.  The one thing everyone did have in common was driving like they were in some sort of drag race, where you get extra points if you take out pedestrians and other road users.

As we would say in the UK, it was totally bonkers.

And yet, despite all of this – nothing bad happened.  No-one crashed and everything was fine.

How? I’ve absolutely NO idea.

We played 2 shows at the Brooklyn Americana Festival.  First at The Jalopy Theatre and then the second under a railway bridge.

I realise the second venue sounds a little unusual – but it was actually a lot of fun. We played under the Dumbo Archway with trains passing overhead every few minutes.  I absolutely loved it.`

Friendly River Music, Maine

Having spent some time in New York, I couldn’t wait to see some green stuff.  By green stuff I mean trees, fields and birds (Yes I know birds aren’t green…but like me, they enjoy hanging out in green stuff).  I’m an earthy, hippy, outdoorsy kind of gal and my natural habitat is being close to water, plants and wildlife.  It re-charges my batteries and brings me back to centre.

Friendly River Music is one of my FAVOURITE places to play. It’s a live music venue and a freakin music shop, in arse-end-of-no-where Maine surrounded by nothing but nature.

The show was sold out.  The crowd and our hosts John and Charlene (as always) were lovely.  Such a magical night ❤ Can’t wait to go back.

Café 9, Connecticut

We played this venue on the Galax release tour last year.  My memory of this is that our show was a lot of fun and afterwards I went outside to get a bit of fresh air.  I was wearing my Wild Ponies baseball T – which has the band name clearly written across the front of it.  A random male driver with his window fully down drove past me, wolf whistled, pointed in my direction and at the top of his voice yelled out

‘Whoooo! Look at them titties!!’.

I suppose there are some people in the world who would consider this flattering.  I however find it rude, kind of yucky and not ok. My first reaction was to flip the guy off, but as I was wearing a Wild Ponies shirt thought better of it. So I did nothing.  Later in the van I told D & T about what happened and the first thing they said was, ‘I hope you flipped the guy off!’.  So just for future reference, I have been actively encouraged to express my feelings should this happen again.  Thankfully it hasn’t.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

Just like our previous show, this one was also a blast.  However there was no mention of my boobs, just my drumming.  Yay.  Progress.

While we were in Connecticut we wanted to sample some pizza from what has been labelled by many as ‘the best pizza joint in the world’.

That place was Frank Pepe’s Pizza and legend has it that Frank Sinatra himself would regularly stop by and order a clam pizza (Doug did in fact put in an order for clam pizza, you’ll have to ask him what it was like 😉 ).

Frank Pepe’s is a pretty cool place and, as per the legend, the pizza was indeed A-MAZING. Check it out:

2 Days off in Virginia

This is the second year I’ve spent my birthday on the road with D & T.  My birthday eve and birthday were spent with Doug’s lovely family in their equally lovely house in Virginia.

Everyone put in so much time and effort into making the day special ❤ For dinner we had an authentic British meal of Jacket Potatoes with baked beans and cheese.  Doug’s Mum also made a delicious vegetarian soup and desert was a specially made birthday apple crumble which yes, was bloody lovely.

Hurrah and yay 🙂 ❤

Tin Pan, Virginia

I’ve never played at this venue before but it was a lovely space.  Like a little kid I get super excited when I look at old gig posters and see the faces of people I grew up listening to (Joan Osborne, Paula Cole etc) and think to myself ‘they played on this stage!’.

It was awesome to meet a lot of people who saw us playing at the Richmond Folk Festival last year (THAT was fun).

Footlight Theatre, South Carolina

My first ever trip to S. Carolina.  My Mother-in-law is from here and always brags about how awesome it is.  She wasn’t wrong.  It’s very cool (definitely not temperature wise though!).

The theatre was a super characterful place located in the French quarter of Charleston.  There were a TON of historical buildings in that area (from the 1670s), the oldest I’ve seen since moving to the USA.

The show was great, but we had a looooonnnnggg drive ahead of us – as we were playing a live radio show in Tampa, FL at 12pm the following day! 😮

Suncoast Songwriters Weekend, Don CeSar Hotel, Florida 

We made it to the radio show, then travelled onwards towards the Don CeSar hotel – the venue for the Suncoast Songwriters Weekend.  As we drove across a bridge covering a large stretch of water, far off into the distance we could see a HUGE pink building that towered over the land like some sort of giant pink castle.

Surely that’s not where we’re staying? I kept thinking as we got closer and closer.

Yep, it was.

The hotel is absolutely beautiful, and get this – it’s right slap-bang next to the beach!! 😮

The first night I went and sat on the beautiful white sand for a good hour.  I listened to the sound of the waves moving gently back and forth and gazed up at the clear night sky.

While sitting there I recorded this voice memo:

The Don CeSar hotel is by far one of the most magical places I’ve ever stayed ❤ I really hope one day I’ll be lucky enough to go back there.

 

Back to Austin

Sunday I flew back home and that evening got to hear my dear friend Sarah McQuaid play her wonderful music.  She’s from Cornwall (which is right next to Devon in the UK) and is currently on an epic US tour. She very kindly gave me a copy of her new album (which btw is rad, been listening to it in my car since I’ve been home) and I can’t wait to nerd out on her DADGAD guitar book.

All in all, it was an amazing 10 days.

I know.  All that in 10 days.  Like I said earlier: touring = time warp.

I think it’s safe to say that next to my adventures in Norway back in June, this trip will definitely be one of my highlights of 2018.

Thank you so much as always for reading this far 🙂 Appreciate you coming on these adventures with me ❤

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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 🙂

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Adventures in Norway.

If you read my previous blog, you’ll know that I had the most amazing experience exploring beautiful Eidfjord in Norway.

I honestly didn’t think it could get any better….and then there was Geiranger.

Holy. Crap.

The cruise ship left Eidfjord and traveled all through the night to get to Geiranger.  The following morning I woke up to find our vessel parked right slap-bang between a gaggle of HUGE snow capped fjords.

So…just to give you some idea of the view from my cabin window – you know those pictures they always use to advertise the ‘magical’ Norwegian fjords? They’re always on a perfectly still sunny day, with the clearest looking water you’ve ever seen in your life, capturing spectacular wildlife and waterfalls dotted here and there….

Well, it looked a bit like that. No, it looked EXACTLY like that….only way better.  It was like total eye candy for the soul….and it was REAL, totally real.  AND right outside my little window!

Once I saw what was out there I grabbed my camera and headed out to explore.

I didn’t have any kind of game plan. I just walked where ever felt right…which in that moment was a road off to the left that followed the water along a mild incline and up towards a steep hill.

Having lived in Austin, TX for the past 4.5 years my steep hill climbing skills are much weaker than they used to be when I lived in hilly Devon, England 😉 But luckily there were PLENTY of sights to ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhh’ at long before the rather scary looking incline.  I was stopping literally every 5 mins, convinced each time that I’d seen the best views to take photos of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a truly magical experience that I’ll never forget ❤

Thank you so much Geiranger, you’re awesome – but I’m sure you already know it.

The next two locations on our journey were Alesund and Bregen.

I’m slightly ashamed to say I decided to have a ‘hang out on the cruise ship’ day in Alesund and I was prevented from seeing Bregen due to inclement weather.

It was raining, a lot.

Just a heads up for anyone who doesn’t already know – I’m originally from the UK…so my opinion of what a lot of rain is may well be very different from yours.

In Austin, TX if it rains people act like acid is falling from the sky and they’re going to die.  At the very least, they wont go anywhere.  Plans are changed, people refuse to go out.

If they adopted that approach in England, they literally wouldn’t go anywhere. Ever.  It rains more often than not.  And by ‘rains’ I don’t mean for like 10mins here and there – I mean HEAVY rain for sometimes weeks at a time.

So when the cruise ship said the rain was making it unsafe for people to venture out, I stuck my head out and thought…

‘Pah.  Really? I’ve taken my dog for a walk in worse than this’. 😉

But after standing there for a few moments watching the freezing cold sideways rain drench absolutely everything it came into contact with, the newly born Texan in me (who has gotten very used to almost 300 days of sunshine a year) thought….

‘ya know – getting wet and soggy isn’t actually that appealing, let’s go back inside and grab a drink or something’…

…to which of course the British part of me responded in total disgust with ‘Coward! You’re scared of a few drops of rain?! You can STILL have TONS of fun *even* in the pouring rain!!’.

Sorry Brit, it actually sucks being cold and wet….unless there’s a toasty fire, a cup of tea and a tray of chocolate digestives waiting for me….then it’s not so bad.

And due to the yucky weather we ended up leaving Bregen early as we were due to hit a nasty storm.  They announced to the whole ship that we’d be hitting 10ft high swells and if we had any anti-nausea medication now would be the perfect time to take it.

Oh great. Hold on tight peeps, we’re about to hit Hurl Central.

The captain said he thought the rough seas would only last a couple of hours.

A few hours turned into 8….and they were 8 very loooooong hours.

This is a short clip of how it all started – when it got really rough I couldn’t stay upright (in this video I struggled to hold the camera up we were rocking around so much!).

Thankfully by the following morning everything had calmed down and we could continue our journey back to Rotterdam in a much more civilised fashion 😉

And after a 48 hour boat ride, a 9 hour flight, followed by a 2 hour flight, finishing with a 45min car ride….I was back at home in lovely Austin. It felt like I’d been gone forever….it was only 14 days.

What a super cool experience that I’ll never forget.

Thank YOU as always for reading this far.  Can’t wait to see where life takes me next….

Oh! And I couldn’t finish this post without showing you an animal made out of towels.  Ari my amazing room cleaning dude made me a different animal every single day.

Yes, he was a legend and a genius.

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