It’s here!!!! We’re over the moon to have this recording finished and in our hands. A collection of songs that were waiting for the right project to find a home. This was it, we think. There are songs that were written over 10 years ago and performed only once or twice over that time, like “Beautiful Scarecrow” and “Happy New Year”. Some not at all “Build the Fire” and “Myths and Miracles”. Not because we didn’t like them, but sometimes a song fades off our radar in favor of others we like to play more often. Many are more recent and written with this project in mind, like the title track “When They Fall” and “(That would do) Some Good”, “While it Lasted” and “Poor Old Me”.
February is nearly over and while there’s still plenty of snow on the ground our spring fever is primed and ready to kick in. The thin layer of ice dripping off the trees even resembles little buds that might be showing up in a month or so. Hard to say with our fickle Midwest weather. As usual, I’m writing this from my office staring out the window. There isn’t much happening out there save for a few squirrels in their heavy winter coats, digging in the snow for the stray morsel littered by the unusually large population of birds that are wintering in our back yard. I’ve seen blue jays, chickadees and nuthatches, tufted titmouses (or is it titmice?) and robins all attacking the feeders at regular intervals throughout the day. Even when the polar vortex was upon us. Must be all that flying around keeping them warm.
We had a great run of shows so far this year and most all of them have been sharing the stage with friends. Kicking off with the annual Yellow Room Gang show at The Ark is always a favorite, we’ve had a few Diamonds in the Rust shows despite Jan’s unfortunate shoulder injury she rallied and the concerts were super fun. Rod and I swapped songs with our talented pal, Joel Palmer at Zou Zou’s Cafe right here in our home town. I (Annie) got to share some songs in the round with Mark Jewett, Amy Petty and Sam Corbin for the third time! And let’s not forget our annual My Folky Valentine show. It was the 15th year for this lovefest and we featured Anne Heaton & Frank Marotta, Jr, Dave Boutette & Kristi Davis and Escaping Pavement. Wow!! And if that isn’t enough, I got to top off the month playing a couple songs for the Songwriters Anonymous Showcase to benefit the Trinity House Theatre featuring Gary Browe, Hugh Fader, Dan Hazlett, Karidia, Marty Kohn, Phil McMillion, Jerry Price, Jere Stormer, and Linden Thoburn. I was lucky enough to have the multi-talented Sharon Tse join me on percussion for my two songs! She rocked it!! So grateful for the opportunity to play with such wonderful songwriters and musicians.
Coming down the pick we’re a little light on performances but working furiously to finish our new CD.
Have we mentioned that we’re making a new CD? We’re about 75% done with the recording and the homestretch is always the longest it seems. It is not our intention to bombard you with requests for contributions to a fan-funding campaign but we do have a few nifty opportunities to help us reach the finish line.
One of the coolest things we’re doing is a special limited edition companion CD of cover songs. This will include many of the covers we’ve been performing at our shows over the years along with a couple new ones you probably haven’t heard us perform yet. You can get a free copy of this CD along with “When They Fall” for just $35. Even cooler, we’ll be recording this in front of a live audience at Big Sky Studio in Ann Arbor. Seating is limited to a small number so if you’re interested we recommend jumping on that now. Most importantly, we really want you to have this CD and Presales will help as much as anything.=
Check out all the options by clicking the button below.
Not what you’re thinking. WTF = When They Fall. That’s the title (at least for now) of our new CD that we’ve finally started recording! Interestingly enough, without any intention or planning, we’ve realized that every album of ours has a three word title. Not So Sure (NSS), One Big Show (OBS), In This Town (ITT), My Blue Garden (MBG), Searching for Neverland (SFN) and now When They Fall (WTF). Go figure. =)
This project is exciting for so many reasons. Not only do we get to keep working with our beloved and exceptionally talented band-mates, Jason Dennie and Ozzie Andrews, but we’ve also once again commission the phenomenal drummer/percussionist, Mike Shimmin (the olllam, Joshua Davis, May Erlewine, Madcat’s Midnight Blues Journey and so many more). We’re once again recording with master engineer, Geoff Michael at Big Sky Recording where most of our albums were done. We loved working with Geoff on Searching for Neverland and knew he could deliver the goods on this one too. For Neverland” we worked hard to capture as close to a ‘live’ sound as possible. For this album, we’re heading down a much different path. WTF is all about doing things we may NOT be able to capture live. Each of us will play multiple instruments (yep, there will be banjo), there will be several guest singers and other stuff we haven’t figured out yet. All we know for sure is that we want a sonic feast for your ears with lush arrangements all serving the songs. And speaking of the songs… you’ve heard some of them many times and you’ve heard a few of them once or twice if you’ve been coming to shows regularly over the years and at least one or two you’ve probably never heard (save for a few of you songwriters who come to Monday night Song Salon). Final list is still to be determined. But to answer the most FAQ, yes “This Little Apple” will be on the CD. A new recording of it with a few new names in the requiem verse.
At this time, we have no plans to use a crowd-funding service like Kickstarter or Indie Go Go but watch for details about how you can help us pay for this endeavor by pre-ordering a signed copy and taking advantage of some other premium deals.
It’s been 3 months since I’ve taken the time to blog about anything for our website. One of the other hats I’m wearing these days swallowed up my head and pushed all thought unrelated to it way far back into the recesses of my overwhelmed brain. The hat of which I speak was that of conference director for the Folk Alliance Region Midwest’s annual gathering in Grand Rapids. It took place the last weekend of October and by all standards, it was a huge success! I feel pretty good about that, but it sure does take a long time to come back down after such an intense immersion into one undertaking. In fact, before we could come down from FARM we hit the road for Stamford, CT to attend the annual North East Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) conference.
Rod and I have been attending these folk music conferences fairly steadily for the past 12+ years or so and have learned to appreciate the small connections and magical moments – not to mention the friendships – we’ve been lucky enough to experience. As a closet introvert (yes, it’s true, though nobody believes me when I tell them), I find it takes every ounce of energy I have be “on” for an entire weekend just in case you have the chance to talk to some talent buyer in the halls or in line at the breakfast buffet. Have your “elevator pitch” ready and make sure you invite them to your showcase at 2am in the most unnatural of performance settings – a hotel room. Why do we think THIS is when someone will see something in us and decide to book us? Whose idea was this anyway? Guerrilla showcasing in theory is a good plan since only a small number of the artists actually earn an official showcase of any kind. But to think that we are presenting our best selves in a situation we would NEVER actually perform, is ludicrous. And yet, it does happen. We’ve been at this long enough to know that a serious booker may see something in you, though it may take them seeing you play this unnatural setting multiple times before they’re convinced you’re worthy of a booking at their house concert or venue. But it DOES happen. Like everything worthwhile, it takes time.
These days I’m struggling with the search for patience amidst feelings of time whizzing by faster than ever. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone yet we’re pursuing gigs that are several hundred “tomorrows” away. There’s always tomorrow, until there isn’t. But we probably won’t know there won’t be a tomorrow until it doesn’t matter. So why stop going for it? We plan so far ahead, thinking we’ve got ample time to get our act together, yet the gig we booked a year ago seems to creep up out of nowhere. All that practice really does pay off, but at a snail’s pace. A year later, I feel no more worthy of this gig than the day they offered it to us. Why is that? and how did this post take me there? huh. Maybe I’ll figure it out tomorrow.
Just got back from my little polling place – the fire station in Dexter Twp, Michigan. The turnout was nothing like 2016’s Presidential election, but there was a line of well-behaved voters who had no idea which way the other would vote. We don’t ask. We’re not allowed but it’s also none of our business. We don’t ask … EVER … election day or not. Surely we find ourselves among like-minded people in the friendships we form. But we encounter all sorts of people on a daily basis. I don’t ask my postal worker or the gal at the checkout in my local grocery who they voted for. What difference does it make? Would I look at them in a different way? And I certainly don’t ask the people in our audience who they voted for. I don’t want to know. But sometimes I find out …
Jane and Carol are good friends. They come to a lot of our shows. They’re both singers in a choir which may be how they met. Both have good hearts and are always ready with a hug and kind words. They were at a concert we were playing just before the 2016 election. Not sure how it came up but we found out that one was voting for Trump and the other for Hillary. They made a point to say that they just don’t talk about it. Their friendship was based on way more than who they were voting for. With all the stories we’d heard about people unfriending each other on Facebook and family members never speaking to each other again, these two recognized that they had much more to talk about than who was gonna be President. What they have in common made them friends. And they are still good friends today. I like to believe this is true for most of us humans. Way more in common than differences. Today some of us are hoping for change and some of us are hoping things will stay the same. But I don’t know anyone who isn’t hoping the divisiveness, meanness, and hostility will stop. Civility and kindness can be found way more often in our day-to-day lives if we just turn off the t.v. or radio and share a conversation with someone about something we have in common. Music maybe??
POST SCRIPT: As I write this, NPR is on in the background and my ear caught a bit of the conversation Joshua Johnson (1A) is having with Bishop Michael Curry about LOVE. And they’d come around to the story of the Good Samaritan. He doesn’t ask about their political leanings, doesn’t care what race or ethnicity… just helps. Think I’ll have to go back and listen to the podcast.
Thanks to Mike Ball and his Lost Voices organization, I have had the privilege of spending a week (on more than one occasion) adding music and sometimes melody to the powerful words of the phenomenal girls at Vista Maria who, at ages ranging from 12 – 17, have survived the kind of trauma we could never imagine or understand. There’s really no way for me to explain the impact these young women have on me both in their bravery and gentleness. This blog post on the Lost Voices website is beautifully written by singer/songwriter and board member, Sharon Tse. You’ll be glad you read it.