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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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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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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Magical Music and Fantastic Fjords

A few months back I was asked if I would like to play a couple of shows with Ruthie Foster on a cruise ship heading out of Rotterdam and then spending 5 days exploring the fjords of Norway.

Rather unsurprisingly, I said yes 😉

I’d never been on a cruise ship before, never mind played any music on one – so I really had no idea what to expect.  I heard multiple horror stories from various folks eager to share their experiences (which seemed to mostly involve getting motion sickness and then hurling somewhere or another).  This didn’t exactly fill me with confidence – but thankfully all was totally fine….

…..with the exception of the last night of the cruise – which I’ll tell you about later.

The cruise lasted a total of 7 days and a couple of those were spent being out in open water.  Not seeing any land did feel a little odd at first, but once I found the very top deck and could look out across miles and miles of absolutely nothing but beautiful blue sea it was wonderful.

My shows with Ruthie were on the second day of the cruise and were (of course) SO much fun.  I played mostly drums but also bass on a couple of tunes.

Here’s a few clips.  Sorry we appear to be in miniature (we are regular sized people I promise). I thought this would be a good spot for my GoPro camera to sit. You may need set of opera glasses….

 

 

After the shows were finished, all I had to think about was exploring Norway.

Heck yeah.

I woke up the morning after our show believing we were still moving across the ocean….but I drew my curtains and was greeted by 2 giant fjords and a small cluster of characterful houses of all shapes and sizes dotted around the hillside.

We had arrived in Eidfjord, a beautiful village in the arse end of nowhere, with a total of 250 inhabitants.

Apparently the quaint village of Eidfjord has to contend with around 500,000 tourists descending upon their little oasis every year….coming from a seaside town, I know how that feels – but nothing like on that kind of scale.  Helpful to the local economy yes, but extremely overwhelming I’d imagine.

The first place I went to check out was an Iron Age Burial Ground, located at the very top of a rather nasty hill which almost killed me.

(A part of me did wonder if as a joke the locals picked a spot on the top of a very steep hill, put a pile of rocks together, covered it in moss and told the tourists it was an ancient burial ground) 

Other than the epic hill towards the end, the walk to the above burial site was absolutely lovely….as the footpath took me right through the middle of a forest. I kept thinking how much my doggy Molly would’ve loved to have gone on this walk with me ❤

My favorite forest find was a lake located just off to the right of the main path.

It was surrounded by fjords, waterfalls, trees and nature.

I could’ve stayed here a while.  A loooong while.  And in that moment if you’d offered me a cup of tea and a guitar I definitely wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

Another building I wanted to check out was an old stone church dating back to the 14th century. Along with the church was a beautiful old cemetery (yes, I like looking at old graves…I’m weird and I don’t care who knows about it) and with the fjords as the backdrop it really was a beautiful sight – even on a cloudy day.

So having taken a ba-zillion and one photographs on my lovely cameras – I headed back to the ship….which looked enormous moored up in the tiny little village dock.

I very reluctantly said goodbye to beautiful Eidfjord.  What a gorgeous place.  History, hardly any people (well, except the hordes or tourists), tons of nature and zero phone or internet signal.

Heaven.

Surely this was the highlight of the trip – it can’t get any more beautiful than this, can it?

Oh! Hello Geiranger 🙂

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