Sunday, November 18, 2012


When I first started this blog, I told the story of my path to becoming a musician, a singer, a songwriter.... that story starts  here, but is continued throughout this blog.....

One of my first music memories is taking lessons on the piano. I wanted to learn SO BAD, and the music teacher in elementary school, Mrs Rumpke, kindly taught me at school for a while, but then the lessons moved to her home (not so great, gas was expensive, my father's time was limited, and he did not like to drive 'all the way to germantown' to pick me up.... but he did).

What he would NOT do, is buy a piano.... the house was too small (it IS), pianos were too expensive, and they made NOISE..... so I got a tiny toy piano only two octaves long. As you can imagine, that did not work as time went on, and the paper piano I tried to practice on did not work either.....

So, she dropped me from lessons. I can't blame her, how could she teach when I could not practice? It did break my heart, though.....

And I grew up. I bought guitars and learned how to play them. I bought a keyboard and used it mostly to teach myself rhythm. I do remember the notes on the piano and I do remember all my major scales and I love the sound of a piano..... but I never had the opportunity to own one.

A year or two ago, I saw a piano advertised on Freecycle (check it out if you don't know about it!!!). At the same time, my buddies also saw the same piano and we independently 'put in for it'.... but I got it first, and tried to find someone to bring it to my house.....

My friends and I figured out that we had all 'put in' for the same piano, but they had wanted to get it for REV, the coffeehouse we have Song Circle in!!! The REV was getting redone, and we had to move the piano right away, so they moved it to my house for me to hold while the REV was getting made over.....

Time went on and on, and it became pretty obvious that that piano was not going to make it to REV, and finally we decided I could keep it. However, it was in a tiny room and no one ever went in there to play it.....

This weekend, I had the piano moved to my living room, and tomorrow she will get fine tuned. As I sat and looked at her today, I realized that I had at LONG LAST gotten something I have dreamed about almost my whole life..... a PIANO!!!!  And, inadvertently, I had decorated the top with a picture of my grandparents, the grandparents that inspired my song 'Dancing Tonight'. My grandfather is the only relative I have that was musical, and everyone tells me he was VERY talented..... and I remember fondly the piano in his home that was unused and out of tune, but still loved....

I feel like I have completed a circle.

Just wanted to share that.....

And here she is, at HOME!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012


This is Tequila. The cat. She is afraid of this:
So. I feel like I torture her regularly. And now, back to the torture..... Hehehe!!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer Fun



Patio song circles.

Summertime is the time to sit (or stand!) around and make music, just for fun, with your friends, to your friends. I am fortunate to have bunches of friends, from all over, who like to just make music for the fun of it.... cause it sure is a LOT of fun!!!

I hope you do too.....

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Every time I get paid to make music, that money goes into an account that will pay for my next record. I am getting antsy about it now, because I have the songs, and I have the sounds in my head that I want to hear on the record, and I have the people to come into the studio with me that will create that sound.... AND we have the energy to make it work.

What I don't have, is the money.....

There is KickStarter.... some of my friends have used KickStarter and gotten their projects paid for with a lot of help from their friends. But, well, for some reason, that does not feel right for ME to do, though I support the idea and LOVE the community feel to these kickstarter programs..... So I have tried to think of other ways to get some money into the 'Dreamer' account.... And of course, that means I need to ask my friends, relatives and fans for some assistance......

There are two ways of helping me that I have been thinking of.....

1)  let me come to your home and do a show for you. You can pay me a set fee or whatever gets collected 'at the door'. I can give you original music or folky covers or a sing along or ???? A house concert, or just have me over for your BBQ to sing some songs..... I have done this a few times, and it is ALWAYS a good time-- for me, the hosts AND the guests!!!

2) OR.... if you have not bought my current record, Nighthawk, consider supporting my NEXT record by purchasing THAT one.....  If you look immediately to the right of this note, you will see at the top of the page, a 'name your own price' download opportunity from BandCamp.... I would truly appreciate every dollar, as that is one dollar closer to being able to lay down my new songs. You can also consider buying the CD from CD Baby, if you still like to hold your music in your hand....

In case you are wondering, I am looking to do an album very much in the style of my cover, Travel On, which you can hear HERE, with BetsiK and Mike and hopefully, a few others (who I have not even asked yet, see how much just a dream this still is??... but, with your help.....)

Please support MUSIC!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SOLAR up and running...

About a year ago, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and start making the changes that I can, to support local business and end my interaction with big corporations that do not hold the interests in this community that I do. I moved my mortgage from Chase to our local Greene County Bank. I stopped doing all business with Verizon and now get my internet from the local NYAir (owned by MidHudsonCable). I continue to use CREDO for my cell phone, and bought my new Solar System on a Working Assets revolving credit (google them for info). I am pretty proud of my changes. Now to live out all those little 'votes with my dollars' that each of us make on a daily basis..... because it doesn't stop here....

Monday, June 18, 2012

House Concerts

I would love to play your house concert. Don't know how to begin? You may try this HOUSE CONCERT blog for information, as well as some email addresses of people who have held successful shows in their homes. You can have five guests or a hundred, and I would be happy.... lets talk!! And YES I WILL travel....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

BUSKING today....

Today, Betsi K and I and anyone else who happens along with an instrument (yesterday, Dan the Banjo Guy sat in....) will be busking on Warren Street from 11am for as long as we can stand and our voices hold out! Today is the Pride Day Parade (2pm) and we hope to see lots of our friends and supporters out and about! Betsi found this pic and posted it to the facebook page 'Hudson Busk', and I stole it to post here too.....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Peace of Mind House Concerts

Last weekend, I was invited by Don and Jill Seagraves to open a show for Tom Pacheco at their new House Concert Series, Peace of Mind.

The time leading up to the show was a little nerve wracking. I couldn't get people to commit to coming..... many had gigs of their own, or they were not interested in traveling to Sheffield, MA to see me when I am pretty available many weekends right here.... and no spending cover charges or high gas prices to do so. Most of my friends and fans had never heard of Tom, so that was not a draw either.

Don and Jill were not having their phone ring off the wall with reservations either. There was some discussion about cancelling the show all together when a few reservations started to trickle in and a few rusties let it be known that they were traveling distances to come for the chance to party with other rusties and hear some new music!!

I am SO glad we continued with the show. First of all, Tom and his manager Nancy and roadman Fred, were great people! Very comfortable, interesting, and very very nice to me. And Tom writes amazingly good songs, telling interesting stories and singing them with conviction and skill. His guitar playing is excellent and he puts on a show that will keep you listening and laughing and tapping and feeling.

Second of all, it was a fantastic experience for me. Tom was very pleasant to me, listening to my entire set with an occasional nod and frequent smile, and even mentioned me during his show!! At first it was very very odd to actually have people LISTENING to my songs, INTENSELY. Most often, playing bars, or coffee shops or farmers markets, people experience what I do as background to their conversations. It took me by such surprise, and made me feel so self conscious, that I mentioned it from the 'stage'..... and got some laughs.... AND a lot of relaxation. I learned that YES, just be WHO YOU ARE, talk like you do every other day and time, and present the songs as if they are stories these people never heard before. Just be myself, not an 'act', not a 'show', just ME. I felt vulnerable on that stage, and realized that what I was really feeling was OPEN to the music, and singing it from my gut, where it lives, instead of from my head or my throat or my fingers.

And I saw people respond. I could tell by their expressions, how they nodded and moved to the songs, that I was doing what I dreamed of doing for folks at a show..... I was taking them on a journey of stories and thoughts and feelings, and they were coming with me and enjoying the trip.....

What an amazing experience.
Thank you, Don and Jill.
Thank you, Tom and Fred and Nancy.
Thank you, audience.
Thank you, music!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cayamo Cruising....

Sometimes it is hard to play. I recently went on a cruise, and it was difficult. I felt so very very strange, so out of sorts. It is hard to explain, but it was, as I sit in this plane going to Seattle, very much like the head I get when I fly...... Sort of like- impossible to think. Tired. Kind of dopey, actually. But not in a good way at all.....

The first night I was there, I ran into Wayne, who I first met at SAMW (Summer Acoustic Music Week). He was leading a small group of folks who are playing together, in a lounge right near a bar, center of the ship. We play a few songs, and I am asked to lead a tune. I choose Angel from Montgomery, as I had JUST heard John Prine (one of my musical heros) do the song in concert on board. When I dared to look around, I saw lots of smiles, people who had stopped just to hear the song. Of course, that felt REAL good......

The next day, after all the shows I wanted to see were done, I eagerly grabbed my guitar and went to the lounge near the bar. Tonight, there were about 20 people crowded in the area. Good players, lots of energy. I was feeling weird, my head felt like I couldn't think my way out of a paper bag....... But I followed along, strumming until I realized I had to go to sleep. Of course, that was when someone looked around the group and saw me there on the outskirts.

'You gotta song?'

'You want some Neil Young?'

Of course they did. I stepped into the middle of the circle, turned off that shyness, turned on my 'stage thing' and taught them the chords briefly and we were OFF!!!! What a LOT of fun!!!! Singing the choruses at the top of their lungs, the audience and other players smiled and clapped and listened and played. I asked for and got some amazing solos!!! I walked out of the group with several folks commenting on the energy, the song choice, the leadership. I left soon after (I really DID need to SLEEP).

The next night we met in  this area that at the back of the boat, where food was served as a buffet. It had a big canvas awning and was my favorite breakfast place. A few folks had gathered there and we spent some time strumming and teaching each other songs. The most memorable thing about that night was a man who sang a few songs he wrote..... And every tune was funny, well sung-- great songs done well....... I wish I had gotten his contact info right then, as I never ran into him again.

So, the next night, I was even more fatigued. The constant rocking movement (we had 'Moderate Seas' most of the time) really was wearing on me. However, after seeing all the shows I wanted, I grabbed my guitar and headed to the place I was told we would be meeting that night. You see, I was told, and it may have been meant differently, but......

I was told that the 'real' musicians (as opposed to us hacks, I suppose) were going to be in the lounge outside the bar, and you had to be invited to play. The kind of playing situation that I don't do well in at all.... So I headed out to the outside food area, where I met Wayne........ And couldn't play to save my life. I couldn't remember ANYTHING, I could not follow the songs he was trying to teach me. I think I did 'Leaving on a Jet Plane', and did get some clapping by the folks taking a late nite snack, but *I* didn't feel good about the performance. We then went and met the other folks in the library, where I did not do any better, and left after a short time. I heard that the 'by invite only' jam was really a lot of fun..... and wished I had gone, just to listen, but I sure was glad I didn't try to play at THAT.....

I tried to change my strings after that, but didn't have the tools. I also didn't have the energy. Everything, absolutely everything, became a large, hard thing to accomplish. I only played in the room  after that. It seemed the music left me as the fatigue grew.

It took me a while after I got home to feel normal again, but I do, finally. I have written some new tunes, and I can't get enough of the sound of my guitar. I restrung the travel guitar and it waits right now in its case, in the luggage bin over my head in this plane bound for Seattle. I will be getting it out. I will likely be playing and singing Neil Young songs with my other Neil Young -loving buddies before too long.

Glad the music came back to me.....

(I should say before leaving this post, that although the music seemed to leave ME, I still greatly enjoyed all the music I heard from so many fantastic musicians on this cruise..... James McMurtney, John Prine, Richard Thompson, Shawn Mullins, Chuck Cannon. WOW.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Professional Enough?

I have been told before that my website is not 'professional enough'. I have often wondered what that means. Is it because I talk about stage fright? I don't have enough promotional things? I don't talk about touring or shows, but about regular people making music in my home town? I really don't know and if someone can tell me I would appreciate it. Not that I want to change this site..... But I would like to know what those folks mean.....

Maybe I could find out it I networked enough. Maybe if I paid some money and had one of those professional site builders redesign me. Or took a class on how to market myself. Yeah, that would do it. I would get more offers on Sonic Bids for gigs down in New York where I have to guarantee 25 paid tickets, and only after that do I get a percentage of the door. And did I mention I get a full 40 minutes to play!

Maybe, since I haven't gotten too many reviews on my CD, I should pay someone to write one. Or even pay for a bunch of 'market experts' that don't usually listen to my genre, to critically appraise my work. I can then use those things to help write my bio..... I will then have a bunch of quotes to use all over my site, make it look like folks all over are talking about me. Would that be more professional?

When I first started on this journey, I just wanted to enjoy making music with other Neil Young fans. Then I found out how much fun it was to play in front of an audience. That gets cool real quick. THEN, I found out how much even better it feels to play your OWN songs with others in front of an audience, particularly one that listens and cares. WOW.

At that point, I was just happy being able to play. But it became apparent that I could get better gigs if I had a CD to send, professionally produced, of course. And, after spending all that money on those CDs, I should promote them, sell them, try to find people to help promote (radio, print, blog). And to do that, there are lots of people out there willing to take my money to 'help' me make my goal......

But really, what is my goal???

I am never going to make even extra spending money making music, let alone cover my expenses making those CDs. I am not going to tour. I would love to do house concerts, but my website is not professional enough.

So I am one of those musicians who takes the local gigs, for no pay, just for the love of playing music with my friends for an audience.  The professional musicians complain to me about that, but I think that if I (or someone like me) didn't play those gigs, there just wouldn't be any live music in that venue. Co-ops, coffeeshops and farmers markets are not exactly rolling in the dough.... I really don't think I am taking work from anyone.....

I invite people into my gigs, just as so many people have done for me.  I encourage people all around me to participate in the music...... Not elitist enough, I suspect.

I guess I am just not professional enough...... but I do get people to laugh and smile and dance and feel GOOD.... and that makes me feel good.

I am who and what I am..... and I will keep at it.....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Acres Coop Gigs

I just finished a group of gigs at the Acres Co-op. I can't tell you what that is, exactly. I understand that it is a 'Co-op', though I am not sure what that means. I also am told that next time it 'opens', it will look more like a store and less like a flea market for food. I know that something that dissappointed me is the price of staples offered, such as a vendor wanting $8 for 6 organic eggs. Around here, I can get organic, free range, locally produced eggs in the Supermarket for $4/dozen. As a person that works a lot trying to get poor people to eat healthy(er), I was NOT happy about that...... but I don't know how they determine prices and I certainly don't know the answer to the problem of getting GOOD food into the city.....

But this series of gigs have got to be my FAVORITE gigs ever. Did folks stop and really listen? Nope, not reallly. They were there to shop. Did I get money in my tip jar?? Nope, I left it at home the last three times. Did I get appreciated? Sure did. By the vendors who were OH, so kind, to feed me and thank me and ask me back. By the kids who were SO attracted to this guitar playing, singing person in bright clothing, that they couldn't help but dance. Did I have help? YES, I had lots of musicians stop by and contribute their sounds, and I appreciated them all. We had sing alongs. I had a child draw a picture of me playing. It was a no stress time of sharing music, passing time, celebrating the production of real, solid, healthy foods. For SURE, a gig i will remember. But, it is all over now.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Music....Is it only for the most talented?

"Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that are the best."~Henry Van Dyke

Hmmmmm..... There is a constant debate I have with certain friends. It usually starts with a comment like, 'Music like that should be outlawed', or 'There should be rules that stuff that bad can't be heard in public'.

This is why so many of us, even those with a great skill, a beautiful voice and a wonderful gift, are shy about playing 'in public'. SOMEONE will hear them and have a criticism. Their tone is poor, the production stinks, their pitch is off, the rhythm is not accurate.

I believe that we all,  rank beginner to amateur to professional, have things to learn and get better at.  I don't mean to say that we should all just make a noise and TOO BAD to folks that don't like it. No. You do need to respect the natural laws that govern a sound that feels good to hear. You need to respect the fact that you have something to learn, and that you can get better. When playing with others, you need to understand and listen and contribute in a way that compliments the song.

But if you love music, and want to try to make it, and love to do that, it is not up to me to judge the value of your sound. It is up to me only to find my relationship to it:  to personally like it or not, to continue to listen to it or not. But judging value??? Nope. Art is a distinctly human activity that has worth just by being created.

There is a lot of music that I personally can't listen to, it just rubs me the wrong way. But that doesn't mean it is BAD, it means it does not do anything FOR ME. The music is still valid for someone, if only the creator. 

So, if you want to make music, do it. Practice. Listen to others. Get better. But don't wait until you sound like Adele before you venture into the world..... first of all, you probably won't sound like Adele, EVER. Second of all, you will never experience the joy of performance or the joy of making music with other human beings, and THAT is a great loss for you.

The question is: Is Music Making only for the elite?? Or for all?? I sure do LOVE to listen to great musicians, and catch as many shows as I can. But I also love to play with and listen to just ordinary people making music solely for the love of the sound. I still believe that music is better as a participant sport, as opposed to a spectator sport.

The joy that a person gets out of making music has no relationship to his/her talent, thank heavens. And, in actual fact, talent bears little relationship to the joy a person can give others by playing music. And ALL music made in joy has validity.

SO..... SING!!!!  And remember what a good friend said to me about 'making it' in music..... 'I MAKE IT every time someone hears me and feels a little better that day.'  THAT is what it is all about.......

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

KarmaTube: The Power of Music

KarmaTube: The Power of Music

Jack Leroy Tueller's decision to play his trumpet for the last remaining Germany sniper threatening his unit so moved the sniper that he couldn't shoot, and surrendered the next morning. By choosing to play 'his love song', Jack recognized the fear and loneliness common to all of us. Now 90, he shares his story....

Video from KarmaTube