pale beneath the blue

Road stories and more from singer/songwriter, pale beneath the blue.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Who's Song is it, Anyway? part 2

Tonite was the second installment of our improv night at Kaldi's in downtown Cincinnati. It was our first beautiful day here in months so it was extremely slow at the coffee shop. And there were a ton of other functions going on in and around town so I kind of expected it. However, there were 4 of us participating and writing songs--Sharon, Eric, Beau and myself.

Our prompt was "like a common criminal she stole..." we had to go from there. Eric and Sharon were up first and they are amazing. Sharon just jumps in on the piano even when she has no clue where the song is going. Beau and I were having some issues--I was trying to follow his melody on the guitar which was a little tough, but we wanted to do something really cool and interesting to break up the monotony so we were trying some different things and I realized that I can white girl rap. I've always wanted to, but never had the push to do it, but it just kinda came out.

Then it was on to the lightening round--things you drink. Eric made up a lovely story about his first ever Mountain Dew that he had at the YMCA. Then Sharon made up a jingle for Silk Soy Milk and nearly fell off the chair at the piano because she was laughing so hard. Then she played for Beau as he sang about how Ocean Spray Cranberry is good for Urinary tract infections. And then I screamed into the mic and played really fast singing "Rocket Fuel, rocket fuel..." That was fun. We did another round of jingles and then the girls from Pike came so I chatted with them and Sharon went back to accompianing Eric. I think that they've decided to do a record together. Which was part of the goal of doing this whole improv night--finding people to work with that you maybe wouldn't have otherwise. It was a good night.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The theme is crazy...grrr.

I'm exhausted and frustrated and want everything to be finished so I can just sit down and write a song. I guess I can't complain too much, Improv night is just two days away. But finally tonite I had to just push everything aside for a few minutes and play guitar. I started by working with a poem by Ray that he sent me yesterday? Maybe it was today and I forgot already. Anyway, then I moved on to writing a song about a guy or maybe a girl who was making up things in his own mind to keep from believing that he got dumped. Then I moved onto a lyrical idea I'd had a while ago about a girl who went silent one day and no one can figure out why. I didn't really get very far before I stumbled upon "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson. It seems that once you find the chord progression and rhythm pattern, you can't get rid of it. It's like an addiction.

So, anyway, I was brushing my teeth and recalled an anonymous comment where someone stated that they liked my writing and I should write a book. Which I do have answers to everything, though, they are rather simple and wouldn't even fill one of those little grocery store pocket guides. For those of you who read this all the time, I'm going to give you all my answers for free and there are no pills to buy. Are you ready? Alright, here goes:

Overweight? Stop buying bigger pants!
Can't sleep? Write 3 pages of anything every morning--just let things flow out. And you could stop with the coffee.
Restless leg syndrome? Again with the coffee and maybe work out once in a while.
Reflux? Get yourself out of debt and other situations that are stressing you out.
ADD? It's not that you can't concentrate, you just have too many things going on in your mind. Relax. Breath and stop calling it a disease.
Crazy? Okay, I got're on your own.

Just trying to help.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sunday, March 19, SXSW cont'd

I can't believe it's morning already. Plus, we have to pack and check out before Allison's gig at Bella Blue. Jinkies. It never ends. I'm hoping to have enough energy to get through my performance this afternoon. Also, it's raining, again. Lovely.

It didn't rain too hard so Allison and Jenn got to play my keyboard at their outdoor shows. I worked my way back and forth between Bella Blue and Vanilla Girl (two very fun stores with lots of talent). I got to see Lynn King (NJ), and Rachel Palli something. I will find out her name, she was amazing. Poor thing, the airline lost her keyboard stand and she had just gotten her keyboard that morning. I got my throne and stand for her and was happy that I did. She was really good. But alas, it's time to head out again. Allison and I must get to Cafe Caffeine for another show. Oh, and the sun is coming out.

Cafe Caffeine is this gorgeous cafe that I would surely hang out at if I lived in Austin. They had the same light fixture that I have in my kitchen, hanging in the restroom. I had to laugh. We gushed over everyone that was there since they were so kind and attentive and we were soooo not ready to leave this amazing place. Austin is the best oasis I've found as an artist. Nashville is great but more pushy and commercial. These folks just sort of sit back and let things roll. They are great people and they seem to care, none of that fake, "that was nice" "thanks for coming" kind of thing. My buddy Paul (whom I met last year) came out and spurred us on to head outside and play some more as the weather had cleared up for a bit. Since Matt the Electrician was playing after me (a local), folks were walking over and sitting on the sidewalk and listening until our time was up. They were very appreciative as were we. I did not want to go home. I already felt as if I was home. James could drive down and visit, right?

Alas, Allison forced me out of the place and we headed back to pick up Jenny and Kyle to head home. We said our goodbyes to everyone and set to hit the road. We had one last stop before leaving town. WHATABURGER! A favorite of Bobby Hill and now I know why. It's something I can't quite describe, yet delicious to the last bite.

Our 17 hour drive home quickly became a nightmare as we got stuck in traffic for hours heading N to Dallas, hoping that we weren't going to get stuck in all the flood waters. Three hours we sat there, yet found ways to amuse ourselves. Jenny was singing Debbie Gibson songs and then we both started acting completely goofy and sang Eternal Flame at the top of our lungs. We had to do something to pass the time. Then we started texting Mike Huberty from Sunspot. We would send a couple lines from a song and see what he would write back. He's so fun. Then we put in the Sunspot sampler and sang Scott Baccula about a million times. I have one word for you, "crackula." Only Sunspot could use that in a song and make it work.

My goodness, I'm tired. It's been 22 hours and I'm finally nearing home. I think I slept a couple of hours at some point. I cannot wait to take a shower and sleep. And do it all again sometime soon.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Saturday, March 18th, SXSW continued

I don't know what I was thinking really. I had plans of doing lots of things--seeing cool bands and interviewing folks for as well as meeting new people and promoting my new record. So, far, I've made a few new friends but I have done nothing else. The internet connection in our room is not working this morning so I'm not going to get to check in with my online class either. Crud. Oh, well, I have to go play this show with Allison at the book store. Maybe that will be interesting. But I feel bad that I'm leaving all my other room mates to fend for themselves. Oh, well, I don't have a choice.

The bookstore was cool. Bookwoman, a women's bookstore in Austin, just W of the capital a few blocks, is like everything else in Austin--really neat. Brian Baker from City Beat stopped in to say hello, which was nice because I'd never met him in Cincinnati. The sound was really super strange, but we were running it so it was to be expected, I guess. Everyone there was really nice and I found this very strange photocopied book called, "So Midwest." I was getting quite a kick out of it so I bought it. I'm sure you'll hear more about it in the near future.

Anyway, Allison and I headed out to Ruta Maya, this really cool club in some business complex (music equipment, sound companies, advertising, graphic designers, etc. ). We talked with Bob Baker ( and then rushed off to Vanilla Girl (clothing store) to hear our room mate Jennifer do her set. On our way out, Madalyn informs us that Melissa Ferrick will be coming to perform for an hour and told us not to leave. But we couldn't blow off Jennifer so we ran to see Jennifer and then grabbed she and Jenn Franklin and headed back to Ruta Maya. We caught the last few songs but it was good. However, I had to give the sound guy a dirty look for just sitting there and not adjusting her guitar level on the last song. Why do they do that? It's so annoying.

We weren't there long when it was time to go again. Finally, Dale Johnson called and asked me to meet him at a private party where the Minni Thins were playing. We dropped one Jen off at the Four Seasons to schmooze and Allison and I headed over. What a cool place. It's an apartment complex with retail stores in the bottem, and a covered outdoor picnic/ampitheater place. Who knew? It was good to see the Cincinnati gang--I'd been trying to reach them for a couple of days.

After that, I had to take Allison to her Indie Grrl gig way out in BFE. We got to see lots of Austin on this trip and we got lost on several occassions. She was playing at Y Bar and Grill. A pretty fancy place. I sat and leisurely and ate a steak (yes, I'm a carnivore) while listening to the tunes. Allison got free dinner for playing. Mine was okay, but way overpriced for the quality. Anyway, we rushed out of there to head back downtown to see if I could possibly get into
Rhett Miller's set at Emo's. On the way, I received a text from my friend Jim from . He said that his co-worker, Heidi, was getting ready to hit the stage at Trophy's so we decided to head there instead. We picked up Jenn Franklin and managed to pick up the other Jen too and headed over. Heidi is in the all-girl, EJ Labb and the Association. The were hot. I cannot explain to you--seriously you had to be there, but it was the bomb. I don't even like rap, but this was cool. And then I realized that apparently it's a thing with Jim and I since he was with me last year for Vanilla Ice. After that, we made space in the car and took Jim downtown too and tried to see what we could find. Rhett was over, but Okkervil River would be onstage in about an hour and 15. Already the line at their tent was down the street. Again, I would not be seeing the band I so wanted to see. Fine. I give up. Let's see what else we can find.

We meandered down Sixth and looked at signs posted on the doors of clubs and couldn't find anyone we knew of or were thrilled to pay to go see. Finally, at the same club I was turned away from the night before--Martha Wainwright was onstage now. And up next,
Josh Ritter. We were all singer/songwriters so we felt comfortable with our decision to stop searching and pay the $15 cover. Martha is good. She was sweetly singing and mesmerizing the crowd as we were struggling to find a place to watch her. We finally headed upstairs and found a place to sit though we couldn't actually see her. We were all tired and didn't really care. We had done it, we found a real show to get into. For Josh Ritter, we secured a spot behind the stage, though above it--a very strange vantage point. It was freaking me out a little, but it was cool sitting on top of the drummers head. It was a good show, but nothing amazing which led me to wonder, why do some people make it and some do not? A question I pondered with my friends Damon and Derron from the Minni Thins when we noticed they were standing next to us. They both recommended that we stay for Two Gallants as they had interviewed them earlier in the week. So, when they sucked, I thought that I was too tired or they had really horrible taste in music. I was told later that they also left the show because the band was just awful and exhausted from playing so much that week. After we dropped everyone off, we made our way to the hotel and crashed once again.

March 17th in Austin

So, this is the first time I've been able to get back on the internet--I was swamped yesterday. This is a recap of Friday--I'll get to Saturday later.

Friday, we woke up to warm, sunny Austin--I wish. It was freezing and I was thrilled that I remembered to bring a warm sweater and long sleeves. Honestly, most of the day is a blur now. I think we went downtown to see if we could find anything going on, but our parking meeter was only for an hour and 15 minutes. We did stop in to see one singer/songwriter guy--he was pretty good. Actually, nearly everyone here is good. There's no question as to why most of them are here. So, we walked around and finally decided to head over the Austin City Limits set to the KEXP taping. Of course, we didn't get to actually see anyone perform because we got there at the perfect time to just miss them. But it was cool to be there anyway and we got to see part of UT.

I must say this city is by far, the coolest place I've ever been. Minus the music, it's still exceptionally cool. Lots of artists and folks who make clothing and jewelry. If you've ever been to Yellow Springs, OH, it's kinda like that except miles and miles of it.

But as for music, I was thrilled to have Mark Messerly and Dawn Burman join me for the Gogirls 2 song night. Things were running behind so we got to hear Sara Bettens (former K's Choice) do her sound check. It was amazing and unexpected. After that, I had to run Mark and Dawn and my friend Ben (Sunspot) back to downtown then I drove back South of town and picked up my keyboard, Allison Tartalia, Jennifer Richman and Deborah Crooks for a night on the town.

Downtown was a mess. It was, of course, St. Patrick's Day which screwed up everything. There were so many people in the streets that we could barely walk. We walked at least 10 blocks to get to the club where Rhett Miller was playing under an assumed name. Normally we would be able to pay $10 or $15 to get into the show but they were accepting only wristbands and badges. What? Are you serious? The club isn't even full--how can you not let us in? I was crushed. I had come all this way and tripped over people on my crutches and now I can't get in. We meandered around a little and decided to get some Mexican food at a little place nearby. Then we decided to see what else was going on. Nearly every club was taking only wristbands and badges so that's why so many people where just milling around in the streets. The clubs that were letting people in had metal bands or a bunch of folks we had never heard of. The one band I wanted to see, I missed because of the stupid time change and my inability to understand that it was actually 12a and not 11p. I was exhausted and confused.

On our way back toward the minivan, we caught a few acts on the street which actually were pretty good. There was a brass jazz band from New ORleans, and a little bluegrass band. The blue grass band was amazing--the guy playing stand-up bass playing really percussively, while smoking a cigarette and talking on the cell phone and the kids that played violin, guitar and banjo were probably in jr. high or high school. It was good, and free.

We fought the crowds and went back to 4th St. where there had been an outdoor tent--maybe they still had something going on. But no. When we got there, there wasn't anyone playing and there were just people. We decided to cut through between the street and the tent--ick. I got some sort of beer infused muddy crud on my shoes and crutches--now what? It just so happened that there was this nice pool of water at a building across from the parking lot we parked in. I stood near the edge and stuck the bottem of my crutches in to rid them of crud and suddenly, there's this guy on a cell phone walking through the pool. He gets out on the other side and is telling the person on the phone that he was wet but he couldn't figure out how he got that way. He looks down and says, "I must be drunk." Really? We all laughed. Then he proceeded to yell at the person on the other end of the phone. "Come pick me up, B#*&#! You're going to make me get wet again!" And he walked back into the pool of water. Gee, was it really any wonder why she wasn't coming to get him?

Well, time to head back to the hotel and then do it all again tomorrow.

Friday, March 17, 2006

SXSW on the Cheap

I played in Nashville on Wednesday night with Jenn Franklin. Fun was had by the guy from British Columbia who stopped in to hear some tunes after the hockey tourney. We drove straight through and hit Austin about 1:30p. I only got about an hour or so, maybe 2, of sleep on the ride over but the adrenaline kept me going most of the night.

I'm sharing the cost of a 6 person "suite" so it's only about 20-30 bucks per night. Jenny Schmidt is splitting the gas with me and we're only eating 2 meals, good meals per day. Jenny bought me a margarita at dinner. That was yummy.

We saw
Sunspot at a free show at 5p and then hung out at the whole FREE show thing on 6th St. for part of the evening. Then I headed S and hit the Small Stars FREE show. Good stuff but somewhat unsatisfying. I think I was too tired to really appreciate anything. I headed down the street to the Gogirls Music showcase just in time to see Rachel Sage's last song. I like the trumpet player. I'm carting around my room mates so I agreed to stay for Jen Foster's set. I was literally falling asleep during it. She was really good so I felt extremely bad and wanted to apologize. Jenny Schmidt said that people would probably assume that I was just drunk. I'm not certain which is worse. So, Jenny drove us back to the hotel where I almost immediately crashed.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Planes, Trains and Micorophones

Wow, I've had an interesting week. It's been flying by. We had a great time with the folks who came out to see us in Evansville last Friday. I turned around about a million times on that trip--it was just one of those days. Patrice and I enjoyed playing with Heidi Schwartz from Nashville. And I will be heading to Nashville in less than a week to play another show with Heidi on the way to Austin.

It's crazy though. I went to DC on Monday--I flew into Baltimore and walked out the door at the baggage claim and got on a bus that took me to the train station where I caught a train to Union Station in DC. I could have taken the Metro to Arlington, but Blake came and picked me up. The train station is beautiful. I'd never been in there but there are these Roman soldiers that stand and stare at you from their pedestals near the ceiling. It's kinda weird. Pretty, but wierd. When I walked out of the station, there was this Asian guy with an amplifier singing hymns by this big statue and he was snagging people to sing with him. I think they were singing "How Great Thou Art." That's something I don't normally see in Cincinnati.

Blake and I spent 20 hours in about a day and a half working on the mixes and we're almost done. I've got some work to do here but hopefully, I can still get everything done. On Wednesday, I got dropped back off at the train station and reversed the process to get back to the airport. The coolest thing was that there was XM Satellite Radio in the armrests on the plane. I got to hear some cool stuff on XMU, the college station. Fortunately, the plane rides were uneventful.

So, now I'm back home fighting to find a microphone that will allow me to record some descent vocals in my house. Apparently, dry wall is not the best thing for recording. Either that or I just am not supposed to get this new CD done. I guess we'll see.

More later. Big show this weekend in Newport with Jayne Sachs.
xoxo. R.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oh, My Gosh--It's March

I've been held up in the house creating new tunes and booking shows that I totally missed the beginning of the month. It's crazy. I was up until 3a last night working on mixes for the new record and making certain that I'm prepared for Blake to get his hands on the tracks. James is adding some cool things to Witches, it almost sounds like a song now. I do believe that progress is being made, though we are hardly finished.

Allison and I have been making some progress booking some things. It's very cool watching things come together--but that EASY button would be even better. I hate that I've hardly been out of the house. I haven't seen anyone or any shows, nothing really. I did watch Zoolander the other night before my photo shoot, but that's about it.

I also learned, sort-of, some Ben Folds Five stuff yesterday on the piano. I've seen him play live otherwise I wouldn't believe that he's actually playing it all. It's crazy. He's the only person I've ever seen break a piano string. That was on the first song. Amazing stuff.

Can't wait to see you all this weekend. There are new songs to share and lots of cool things to talk about.