May 1st, 2013
Just back from Merlefest and I’m totally inspired to work on Dobro. I bought a brand new shorter tone bar from Beard that fits my little hands way better than what I’ve been using. I got to see Jerry Douglas, Mike Witcher and a whole host of other amazing Dobro players on stage. Thanks to the new video cameras the festival had this year, I could see their technique up close while hearing every note crystal clear. Very inspiring!
Hooray! My song Hello Goodbye has almost 9,000 YouTube hits so far! In only 2 months! It was a ton of fun to make and also fun to write. Speaking of writing, this month I have a good number of co-writing sessions set up both in NY and down in Nashville. The more I write for this RealWomenRealSongs project, the more excited I am about co-writing and ready I am to push the boundaries a little. Even when these sessions don’t lead to the perfect song, they inevitably teach me something about music, writing, lyrics, or even just about myself and the way I interact with people.
April 1st, 2013
What a great time I had in Australia!! It’s an amazing country with beautiful, friendly people who all seem to love music. Skipping the last bit of winter in the Northeast was also a treat. The tour went even better than we expected and by the last day people knew enough of our songs to start requesting them from the audience! We tried out a couple of my new songs that came from the Real Women Real Songs project and, despite being brand new, these were among the songs requested. “Lay Down Your Burden” is a call and response song that had the Aussie’s singing their hearts out (my first original sing-a-long song!) and “You Don’t Have the Heart for It” is a new country ballad that had them crying in their beers. It’s always amazing to see a song go from something I made up on my couch to a real thing on stage, especially when my Red Molly girls are there to sing it with me. They really bring songs to life!
As much fun as I had down under, I’m really happy to be back home. It’s tough to keep much of a routine while traveling, so I’m looking forward to getting back into practicing Dobro, exercising and writing songs. We’ve got some shows close to home in NY and then we’re off to Merlefest at the end of the month. It’s one of my favorite festivals with plenty of Dobro players on stage in various bands.
With all this excitement, I nearly forgot to tell you about my first official music video with Red Molly!! It was released in March and premiered on American Songwriter Magazine‘s website. The video is to the song “Hello Goodbye” written by yours truly and my dad Herb Gardner. It was a song featured on Light in the Sky, the latest Red Molly cd. Pretty exciting stuff! Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rUsIUWAMko
March 5th, 2013
WAHOO!! I’m in Australia for the month, playing big festivals and tiny house concerts crammed with happy smiling faces! Trying to keep up with the songwriting with my scraps of time off, but having NO worries, Mate! See ya in April, I gotta go catch a kangaroo….
February 1st, 2013
I’m back home in New Jersey gearing up for a a few Northeast Red Molly tours, including some dates with the Steel Wheels! Should be tons of fun. I love collaborating with other acts, especially over several nights where we can really get to know the songs and develop something special.
Speaking of which, February 11th will be the 11th Annual Groundhog’s Day Concert! They’ve renamed it the Valentine’s Massacre (how romantic?), but the jazz and the fun will be the same. This is my dad’s big gig every year, where he gets to pick the players and the songs and lead the whole night. He does that a lot, I suppose, but this one’s in a theater and we all dress up real nice too! I get to be just a chic singer, belting out the old standards with a great band to back me up. Pretty great gig! This year I’ll include one of my new songs from the Real Women Real Songs project as well. Here’s a nice writeup about the gig, featured in the New Jersey Jazz Society listings!
Hope to see you there!
January 20th, 2013
I’m currently on a tour of the Pacific Northwest with Red Molly. 10 shows over 2 weeks in a real variety of towns and venues… from the rainy city streets of Seattle, where we played the upscale Triple Door, to the scrappy little town of Redway, CA where we played a women’s music festival in the local community center. The land keeps changing as we travel, from ocean to redwood forrest, long stretches of vineyards and mossy Oregon rain forests. The beaches are not full of umbrellas and bikini-clad tourists like back at home. It’s damp and cold, making the beaches rustic, humble, and genuine. Beautiful. Oh the songs I could write if I stayed there for more than a day! The wool-capped locals are few, but they all know each other and where their wool comes from. They dare to fish the ocean in kayaks, avoiding the dangerous spots and eating their catch with friends and family in big flavorful soups. I got to play a handmade ukelele in Pistol River, OR, and couldn’t resist buying wool along the roadside, though I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with it. Driving through redwoods is a challenge, Route 1 and Route 128 are curvy and dark even in the daytime. The shows and traveling take up most of my time here, but I am using an ear training app in the backseat and still getting my RealWomenRealSongs assignments written and recorded (just barely!). This latest one was recorded backstage at the Freight & Salvage (a joy and honor to play in such a venue). We only had time for one take and I seem to be concentrating so much that I can’t seem to keep my mouth closed as my bandmate Molly sings! Ah well… Two more shows to go, then I get to spend three days out here doing intensive Dobro lessons with Mike Witcher. I’m super excited about sitting down with him one-on-one, as he’s a really fantastic player, teacher and all around musician. A great way to start off the year!
December 7th, 2012
Ah December… this is when I take a little bit of a rest from gigs. I can drink coffee from a real mug and keep my toiletries by the sink instead of in a suitcase. I mostly just want to do traditional hot yoga or sit around and read. Have I ever told you what a bookworm I am? I could read all day long like some folks would watch a Law & Order marathon. I haven’t switched to a Kindle or E-reader yet because I love the feel of a book in my hand, love the smell of them and love getting used books for 50 cents at my local church on Sunday afternoons.
RealWomenRealSongs is on the 14th week (out of 52) and I am in a bit of a slump. People still seem to enjoy what I come up with, but I know I could do better. It’s about the process more than the results and right now I’m procrastinating and not really delving into the creative playful space I know is there for me. Sometimes I dread it. Doing the dishes would feel more productive- first they’re dirty and then after you wash them they’re clean and the sink is empty and smells nice. Simple! Easy! With songwriting I need to allow myself to play more, try things, follow an idea down it’s crooked path just for the sake of getting my feet dirty. I am a silver lining type of person, so even in my slump I am seeing how joining this project is going to put creativity in my path more often. The struggle is something I don’t want to avoid anymore. Truth is, when a song idea catches, it’s the best feeling in the world. When I’m not writing I feel off, unsteady. When I am writing I feel more at home with myself. So, here’s to a big ol’ pile of dirty dishes in the sink and a little Dobro player who spends a little more time with her butt glued to a chair, playing with writing.
November 2nd, 2012
Greetings from Jersey City, where the town is actually on a curfew at night! Most of us finally have our electricity back on, but things are still pretty strange. Hurricane Sandy ripped through here like that movie “The Day After Tomorrow” and though I tend to like those disaster movies, I’m glad it’s pretty much over. Hoboken is STILL under water. My refrigerator decided not to come back to life, so I’m living off a whole lot of vegetables that don’t need cooling. Once there is gas at the gas stations and milk at the store (and of course, once the train to NY works again) I’ll feel even better, but for now I’m still just counting my blessings.
This weekend’s SWING DANCE is still ON!!! Hooray! I can’t think of single thing I’d rather do than get out there and sing and dance this weekend. We’ve all been cooped up too long! So, I hope you’ll join me! There will be swing dance lessons (no experience required!) and a live 5-piece traditional swing band, with me on Dobro and vocals. I know Dobro isn’t a traditional swing instrument, per se, but we’ll make it work! These tunes are so classic, so fun and melodic that I had to get in on the action! We’ll do classics like “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and “Makin’ Whoopee” and tons more. It’s pretty much a once a year thing, so I’m really excited!
Another annual event happening this month is the post-Thanksgiving show with Marc Douglas Berardo at Perks and Corks in Westerly, RI. Those folks know hurricanes all too well and I’m sure they’ll be ready to let their hair down for a night of original songs, laughter and good times. This will be the 3rd year in a row for this show!
The last thing I just have to mention is the amazing week I spent out in Lyons, CO with Sally Van Meter. She was one of my first Dobro teachers and one of the best, too! We spent 5 days together, 4-5 hours a day, one-on-one just working on Dobro. I can’t believe the amount of material we covered and how different I felt when I left. I contribute that to the amazing teacher she is and the great coffee at The Barking Dog. Every time I go through the lessons I recorded I feel re-energized about practicing and excited about the endless potential on this amazing instrument.
Hope to see you this weekend 11/3 in Dobbs Ferry, NY or 11/25 in Westerly, RI.
October 4th, 2012
WOW! My world has basically exploded! I have just joined the Real Women Real Songs challenge, where 14 female songwriters are writing a song every week for a YEAR! And that’s not all… they’re posting raw unedited videos of these new songs as well. I am a Friday writer, meaning my songs are posted on Friday mornings. I joined the challenge a little late, but it’s doing wonders for me already. I am simply obsessed with songwriting. Pushing past procrastination and knowing that I have to deliver in this way has made me delve into my ideas more fully. It’s exciting and scary, which is (for me) usually a sign that I’m onto something meaningful that will change my life for the better. My initial hopes are already coming to fruition- to write on different instruments, to write in different styles, to learn different chords and progressions, to simple write more frequently… other hopes I have are to collaborate with other writers/musicians, write more old-time style songs, write a song on banjo, write more songs on Dobro and ideally find some new songs that work for Red Molly, of course!
Speaking of Red Molly, we’ve just recorded our first music video! It’s my song Hello Goodbye, filmed at a carousel in Hyannis, MA. I’ll post it as soon as it’s edited and ready.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a few solo gigs this month in Massachusetts and Brooklyn. On 10/12 I’ll be performing with Craig Akin live at noon on WUMB, so be sure to tune in. Then it’s off to the awesome Fox Run Concert Series that night and back to Brooklyn for Church Korner Concerts on Sunday 10/14. A few tickets are still available for each show.
I’m also really excited to play a swing dance in Westchester on 11/3. We’ll have a traditional swing band, complete with Herb Gardner on keys. This is the FIRST time I’m combining swing and Dobro, so I couldn’t be more excited! I’m usually just the chic singer at these gigs, but this time I’ll play a few tunes on Dobro as well! And, of course, I get to cut a rug with the dancers as well. I hope you can make it!
September 3rd, 2012
Leaving are already falling here in Jersey City and I’m finally home with a bit of time to rest and regroup. I started running and it’s given me a ton of energy, so I’m working on writing out some vocal arrangements for Red Molly and trying to glue my butt to a chair to write some new tunes. It’s always like that with me, but somehow lately I’m enjoying it more and trying to take each song less seriously. No one will ever know how many bad songs I write! Does anyone point out that Thomas Edison had to go through 6,000 filaments for the lightbulb before he found one that worked? Nope. :)
Some really great September gigs coming up, including the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Festival (Bristol, VA/TN). It’ll be our 3rd time there, so we’re really starting to feel at home! Also, we get to open for Tony Rice at The Birchmere and and get back up to New England for a show in Portsmouth, RI- just in time to see the foliage! Then in October I get to do some solo shows. Life is good.
August 21st, 2012
Wahoo! I’ve been traveling all around the West with Red Molly and even up to Canada. Got home and took off for a little family R&R in New Hampshire and now I’m off to Kansas! Weeeee! I think it’d be more fun if I did all this travel on a pony instead.