Just Breathe.... 

The calendar reads 2017 now. That was quick!  Part of me has been left behind, still in 2016 waiting for unfinished projects, hopes and dreams to come to fruition. Looking back here I realize last year flew by with but one post...in February.  Maybe I haven't had much to say (who am I kidding..my head is always jam packed with words and musings..lol) so perhaps I've just been too overwhelmed...or lazy. "Hello, it's me"....here with my "Happy New Year" post.

2016 saw a lot of loss in the popular music/arts world beginning the year with the death of David Bowie and Prince, and finishing with Leonard Cohen and George Micheal. There are likely many logical reasons for this as one BBC article  points out, however the fact that many music/entertainment icons are getting to an age where serious illnesses are more likely to take their lives doesn't seem to take the sting out of losing these powerful artistic voices.

I often wonder, in this age of YouTube celebrity and short careers, if the deaths of current prominent artists thirty or forty years from now will have the same worldwide impact. Will these artists even still be viable? The popular music industry seems to have morphed into one of listening with the eyes instead of the ears and one can only try to look 25 and hip for so long, no matter how good the surgeon. 

Many people might say that celebrity musicians only make up a small part of the industry and that may be true, however I have noticed that more and more working musicians are giving up their full time craft in favour of the practicality of "putting food not the table." Gone are the days of patrons and government grants can only support an artist for so long. 

Music has been a huge part of my life. Listening to it. Creating it. Being inspired to higher thought. Truth be told, I recently had the realization that I feel a little betrayed. Perhaps like being married to someone for thirty years and suddenly finding out they are a complete sociopath. I have always believed that music for me, was a calling, a thing I needed/wanted to do. In my twenties and thirties I had a lot of (possibly naive) hope that things would work out in my favour if I just kept doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. Cliches like "do what you love and the money will follow" rattled around in my head and I took many dead end jobs dreaming that one day I could do music full time.

Well that dream became reality about 12-15 years ago. Yes, I do music full time. The reality is I make part time money and probably always will. I have worked at my craft and hopefully will continue to learn and take on new challenges. The current economic climate and 15 years self employment on my resume have ended my days of "side" jobs. This is neither good or bad, it is reality. 

I often agonize over my choice to be an artist. Often it doesn't feel like a choice, just something I could not "not do" ...especially in my tumultuous early years, when art and music were a refuge and welcome channel for grief, pain, and general fuckedupedness.

Now here I am, in 2017, with several suitcases full of doubt about my talents. My ability to earn money. My dubious choice to "follow my passion". It all feels foolish and shortsighted. Who am I to think that my art is "good enough" for public consumption? What sense of entitlement makes me think I "deserve" to make living from my art? Is it even possible at this late stage to even dream of opportunities? Yes I feel betrayed by music yet the solution, if there is one, is not to just stop.

"You made your bed, now you have to lie in it"

I have always hated that saying. So graceless. So harsh. So unforgiving. My goal for 2017 is to find a place of peace, grace, hope and artistic productivity. If I have learned one thing from the deaths of many of my musical icons is that the good ones keep creating right to the end.

This is also my hope for all struggling artist and musicians. Happy 2017 💗💗 

Light and Shadow 

 Time for news. I made a deal with myself to update this journal once a month in 2016 and true to my #lastminutelois character, here I am on Feb 29th, the bonus last day of February this year. Winnipeg has enjoyed a mild winter and the light is remaining longer and longer each day. Being drawn to warmth and light ,during the winter months I feel as though I am living in the shadows. Life slows down and there is much more time for reflection and solitude.

 The good news is that there are lessons to be learned and relearned in the shadows. I am grateful for this winter's unseasonable warmth. I travel a lot on foot and it has been easier! Still, with north facing light in my apt I have spent much time in a sort of hazy grey space, literally...


 I have thought a lot about why I make music and how I might want things to look on that front in the coming year. My work, musically, has been for some time more on the utilitarian side of things than the creative side. Providing music in healthcare settings, and teaching people to release their voices through teaching are both incredible jobs for which I am grateful. The work "pays the bills" and I have enjoyed many incredible moments coaching voices and playing for folks in hospitals and long term care.

 Always, on the back burner however, my desire is to spend time in the creative realm, writing, singing and performing music. One of the goals I have for this year is to bring that part of my musical self back out of the shadows and into the light.  I have no clear idea as to how this will unfold, however, the intention remains. Any steps are good, even baby steps. Disciplining myself to write,  with no eye to recording or having the songs heard is how I began music and I would like to get back to that pursuit, leaving behind some of the pressure to come up with a finished recorded project and/or a marketing plan. There is a purity in creating just because it is what we are called to do. I realize that for me, this has been buried in the pressure of internal messages.... "perform" "succeed" "make money"  "get your stuff out there" that somehow get mixed up with validation as an artist.

As a teen I started singing and playing and writing songs because I wanted to create beauty. It was a way to put expression to the harsher realities of my life. It was much later that I took the step of learning and growing as a musician in a more formal fashion. As I have matured the expression has changed, but the core desire to create and share beauty and story in song has remained. The voice is stronger, the confidence has grown, however the luxury of holing up in my teenage bedroom with my guitar and notebook has been sidelined somewhat by the realities and responsibilities of "grown up" life. Now it's an often precarious balance between that teenage self and the responsible adult artist who needs to pay rent, buy groceries and also grow in contributing meaningfully within a troubled world. I am cautiously hopeful that this year will bring some of that teen girl out to play again.

To that end I am really looking forward to finishing my project.. The Entanglements CD has been put on hold a few times over the last four years, for a variety of reasons and this Spring I hope to finally have it completed. Funding is an ongoing challenge for all artists and music is no exception. The bulk of this project has been funded by savings and some minor grants. Four years ago I also threw my hat into the crowdfunding ring to see how things would go. I reopened the campaign recently  as I am down to the three m's of the project..mixing, mastering and manufacturing. If you would like to pre-order the cd or just see what the heck I'm up to you can visit the page by clicking this ink ...Entanglements CD The campaign will  be coming to close in just over a month so if you  know anyone who may be interested please share the link on the social media platform of your choice! If you are not social media savvy you can always just direct folks to this website here :-) as there is a link on the homepage.
 
Here is a sneak peek rough mix of one of the tunes on the CD, aptly entitled, Dreamers and Drifters. Masterful Murray Pulver produced and contributed guitar, ganjo, and back up vocals. Gilles Fournier is the bass end and Paul Yee mixed. Wonderful talented guys. I am a lucky girl.  Hope you enjoy.

Happy Day of Big Leap!

Long and Winding Projects 

First blog post of 2016. 365...well more like 356 now...days of blank pages. Everyone likes a fresh start. I am not much for resolutions so all I could come up with is 1. Play more electric guitar and 2. Try to have a good attitude, about EVERYTHING. I think these two will keep me busy enough.

Today I am listening to the first three mixes for my long anticipated (at least for me!) CD.  Man it's hard to listen to myself. My inner critic is looming large and loud so I am trying my best to be objective and have a  GOOD ATTITUDE! Hahah!

This project has taken me down a lonnngg emotional/spiritual/financial winding road. I set out in 2012 to record my first professional CD. I wanted to hire people committed to their craft, with a passion for music and hopefully, kind humans. Kindness goes a long way. I started out building from a demo recorded in 2010 with the help of Manitoba Film and Sound and then received further funding from FACTOR in 2012 to produce a single. All of this helped to kickstart things and since then I have been funding this project inch by inch. Now I am in the final stages of mixing, mastering and hopefully, manufacturing some physical product. Still raising money for all this btw, so if you want to pre order or back the project in any way you can visit my Kapipal page. I have a love/hate relationship with crowdsourcing...though I'm glad I chose a site that allows for ongoing projects! My estimate of completion within a year has proven to be a wee bit ...off. :-)

I have learned so much about patience and persistence by not giving up on this project...though I must say, I wanted to...many many many times! There are probably more reasons to NOT make a CD than make one, especially if you are relatively unknown and not well connected in the music business. This will likely be the last CD I will ever be able to make and I wanted it to be the best it could possibly be. Murray Pulver has been instrumental in bringing these songs to life as well as all the musicians, some that I have never even met in person, who played so beautifully on these tunes. I really believe that bringing beauty to the world through music is a valid and important pursuit. Sounds a little cheesy but who doesn't like a good old cheddar?

So...these first mixes sound pretty good... thanks to the enormously talented Paul Yee....though I can't say it's easy to be objective. Listening to myself sing my own songs is not on my top ten list of fun activities. I am kind of excited to hear the finished project. I am tired and a little black and blue from fighting my inner demons...still...I am happy that I did not give up.

Thanks to the folks who pre-ordered and/or contributed, for your patience! I have all your names and will be delivering the finished CD very soon.
I hope these songs find their way to appreciative ears.

Bring on 2016...


 

Honest John Blog 

I feel like writing today. It's been a long time since I've tried to gather all the stray thoughts roaming around in my mind and get them to play nice. 
 Lately, I have been thinking about what I call the three D's...denial, distraction and drugs, No particular order. People who know me well I guess would say that I am blunt (more kindly termed "straight to the point)" and have a hard time staying in that "glass half full" frame of mind. My ears and eyes and heart are mostly wide open and much of the dirt I collect in day to day life never seems to totally wash off. That is where the  D's come in handy and since denial is no longer an option for me, I am left with distraction and/or drugs. Drugs are counterproductive to good singing so that leaves distraction...usually in the form of sci fi binge watching....or on a really bad day...too much cake and red wine.
 Gillian Welch, one of my favorite songwriters wrote a song entitled Dark Turn of Mind. which I think beautifully speaks about a more melancholic personality type. One of the amazing things about music and art is that is has the power to resonate with and comfort broken humans.
 As the song says, "some girls are bright as the morning, some girls are blessed with a dark turn of mind." The world is beautiful. Modern life is harsh. If one can find a way to stay in denial, stay constantly distracted, or altered by drugs maybe life won't feel so hard. Right? Maybe. It's possible I have too much time on my hands, so I THINK too much and end up in a different, much less fun rabbit hole than Alice (maybe she had some good drugs!) and I should learn to "buck up" or  "look at the bright side." I can do those things for awhile. Then I look at my facebook feed, or the local news feed, or play for someone in hospital or long term care whose loneliness and/or desperation is quietly screaming for a stiff shot of kindness and reality bites me in the ass again. Brrrr...it's cold here.
 I have a dear friend, who ALWAYS tells me I have the most important job a musician can ever have. With no awards or credits, or industry recognition and constant financial stress, I struggle to believe that, though I am grateful everytime she reminds me. I get to be a small part of a small solution.
 The worst part of life is being completely open, honest, free of the armour of self protection and present in harsh reality. It is also the best part of life. There is always hope and the ability to find some way to bring light into dark rooms and even darker hearts.

Pros and Cons  

It's been a couple of months since my last update and Spring has arrived motivating me to write a few thoughts. The title of the blog does not reflect the usual definition of pros and cons...as in making a list of positives and negatives. In this case I was thinking professionalism and consequences. I like to play with phrases. 
I also like to read interesting blogs about creativity and art. There is no shortage of opinions out there so what the heck, I have one too! Yes I do know what "they" say about opinions and a#%holes. 
Most blogs I read are entertaining and well written so I don't necessarily care if I agree or not. Lately, however, I have read several that are down right mean. I wonder at this phenomenon. Is it the anonymity of the internet? Are people really that caustic or is it just fun to stir the pot?
Usually I am able to keep myself from reacting or taking things personally when reading someone's opinion, however, when it comes to music and the music industry I sometimes can't help but get a wee bit surly.
I will preface my opinion saying that I have made a living (although meagre) as a professional musician for the past 12 plus years. The work has not been glamorous, nor has it garnered loads of media attention and accolades. It has been the well worn path less travelled. I play in hospitals and nursing homes, teach, write songs and try to get those songs recorded, look for opportunities to play live and share my music whenever and wherever I can. I may not be perfect at it, but I continue to do what I feel I am suited to while trying to maintain some sort of "normal" life.
I've noticed more than a few blogs decrying the use of Crowdfunding to raise money for recording, touring and marketing music. Summing up these blogs, it goes something like.."why should I give money to some lazy, begging band/musician when they can just work hard, tour, sell their cd's, or get a "real job" to finance their projects?" Ok. Fair enough. Maybe. What most of these writers seem to miss is the fact that it is still ridiculously costly to record, mix, master and manufacture a professional product somewhat necessary to have when trying to move ahead in the business of music. Despite the fact that CD sales have been steadily declining over the years and have become very expensive business cards for many  indie musicians. 
I have heard most of the arguments levelled at "whining" musicians and though I can agree with many of them I don't see the point in an armchair critic deciding the criteria for raising money to finance art of any kind. Last time I checked we were still a Capitalist society. How many times has a struggling artist heard or read from one of these guys/gals that if their work were really good they wouldn't have  to "beg" for money. They could just finance their own art by borrowing money (ever tried to get a loan as a freelancer?) or just keep playing everywhere possible until they are noticed. 
Easy! Right? For some yes. The stars align with their hard work and they are able to hire teams of people to help advance their careers. For the rest...hard work does not always equal conventional success and many will remain unsung heroes. Heroes for not giving up. For staying true to their passion/calling. To continue to make good (yes good) art.
So whether it be trying your hand at Crowdfunding, or saving your pennies working two jobs, or borrowing from Gramma or busking for money on the streets of your hometown, it's all good. To the mean people of the Blogosphere...figure out who or what hurt you so bad you have to bend your knee to anger and a deeply critical spirit. 
One of the consequences of a professional attitude, is respect for yourself and respect for others. Mean Girls/Guys never get that.

Defining Moments and a Happy New Year! 


Welcome to my first blog of 2015! I wish everyone an interesting New Year, full of surprises, hope, and health. I have settled into my new place, though I am still surrounded by unpacked boxes and stacks of books! After the frantic move it feels good to be able to (almost!) relax.
Coming out of a personal storm, however small or grand can bring on reflection (aka...angst..haha!) 

I have experienced the usual, "OMG what the f#%k am I doing with my life!!" and also noticed a curious kind of peace and acceptance of the path I seem to be travelling...however unpredictable, rocky, and uncomfortable it may be.

An artists life is challenging and so many can't withstand the ego crushing, doubting and financial insecurity that seems to accompany that life. Though I have questioned the path many, many, MANY times, it seems clear that this is the road for me. Besides, the world does not offer secure, well paid employment to folks with resumes chock full of contract work...haha!

Since having to divest myself of a lot of "stuff" in the move, I am realizing the feeling of freedom that comes from not being weighed down by "things".  Life brings enough complications without the the added stress of tending to a garden of possessions.I am in a new place, it's a new year, and I am hoping for new thoughts, ideas and adventures.

My first surprise of 2015 was a recent trip to Toronto to see a dear friend and celebrate another year around the sun with her. I played my way east on the Via Rail train as an "OBEP"...translation Onboard Entertainment Person. It was great fun despite the crazy delays. It's a beautiful way to see the country and the slow movement of the train (often NO movement...haha) coupled with no WIFI is a welcome de-stressor.
My short visit to T.O was great. I even got up to play at a local coffee shop. where my friend filmed this Iphone this version of Firework  by the well loved and equally despised Katy Perry. *sad face*  I do love Toronto, though it seems the weather got reversed and Winnipeg was warmer while I was gone! Darn!!

Before I set out east, I went back into the studio with Murray to resume recording vocals for the upcoming CD. My friend Heidi popped in during the session and took some iphone video so if you want a sneak peak of the recording of Consolation Prize, complete with #$@% take a look here

This brings me to the conclusion of First Blog of 2015 and if you read all the way through...congratulations! Haha! A final note. I am in the homestretch of the Entanglements CD project and due to the move and other unforseen events, the money for mixing, mastering and manufacturing has not magically appeared...double darn! If you are inclined to use social media and wish to help a gal out please share my Kapipal Crowdfunding page. You can find it here! And Winnipeggers....enjoy this odd warmth in January!!

Cheers!
 

First World Stress 

 It all started with a note slipped under my door shortly after Thanksgiving. I was propelled into the chaos and mayhem of having to pack up 9 years of my life and find a new place to live within 5 weeks. No I was not getting evicted, however, the owner of the building where I live has decided not to address a very serious problem and I knew that I had to get out. Alarm bells are ringing.

 I stay in my building because it is extremely spacious and musician friendly (aka cheap rent) but as the saying goes, you do often get what you pay for, in this case, a quirky, non communicative landlord who fixes nothing, and when his hand is forced, insists on donning his (Un) Handyman Cap and doing everything himself…including wiring and plumbing.

 My journey so far has been stressful and often humiliating as I apply for apartments that are 2-300 dollars more than I now pay and half the size…being told I need letters to prove that "Self Employed Musician" actually does mean I am a functional, responsible member of society despite what the numbers may show. Heaped on to that humiliation is being told I need a "guarantor" to even be considered by most property management companies. Using up money that I have set aside to finish my CD project is the sour icing on the cake.

 I really want to finish up my CD. It has been a struggle and labor of love for three years now. My friend and producer, Murray Pulver has not given up on the project, despite his crazy busy in-demand-as-a producer/player-etc schedule. He is a gem, and It will be a victory if I get to to introduce our project to  listening ears.

 So once  again, the project, and my life, seem to be in a holding pattern. I have taken a few minutes to watch the snow fall and write some thoughts. No word today on a place to live. No word on the car that sits in local repair shop. More boxes to pack and items to sort and toss. Oddly, I feel some weird version of peaceful.Things are out of my hands. I have done all I can do. Now the waiting.

 Yes, these are first world problems, yet this experience has given me a tiny glimpse into what it must be like to feel that you have no place to call home, no work to do, and absolutely no "status" in your society. It is not pretty. 

 Though I tire of flogging my craft and trying to create "buzz" and interest in the music I do, I will end with a reminder that if you wish to contribute to the Entanglements CD project, you can click Kapipal here or visit my homepage for the link.

Or…you can just send money…I will give you my address. Haha!  Everyone these days is jumping on the Crowd Funding wagon. Not sure how I feel about that, however, another thing this current journey had taught me, is that it's a good idea to explore ALL options!!

 

Peace

 

#tbt #blahblahblah 

  End of August and I have neglected to update my blog. So here I am to close out the month with some less than deep thoughts.
Summer has come and gone in Winnipeg...actually...probably never really arrived, and my trips to a few big box stores yesterday (ok don't judge me) reminded me that Fall is here. Throngs of frantic and/or exhausted looking parents gathering books, shoes and hello kitty backpacks, children in tow, many shrieking "I don't want THAT one!!" Some days I regret the the children thing was not in the cards for me, then I go to the grocery store or the mall and I remember the upside. All of this to say that I pretty constantly alerted to the skewed values and habits of our modern culture, whether or not I choose to stay at home or venture out.
  Too much time on Facebook (ok, you can judge me) has got me thinking about these hip hashtags so many people are using to signify "throwbackthursdays" which to me is proof that the younger crowd has all but abandoned this social platform and it's now over run with the 40 and up demographic. I see black and white photos of bands in their "glory" days and awkward school pictures. Those younger folks still present in the News Feed (mostly musicians on for promo purposes) have had to resort to bathtub pictures of themselves and their siblings at 3 or 4 years old.
It is an weird phenomenon. Since the older folks have taken over this platform as all the hip 20 somethings migrate to Instagram or whatever other new social media platform may emerge in the next few years, I posit  #tt, which I call "transparent Tuesdays", where all status updates reflect what people are REALLY thinking or what is REALLY going on in their lives, instead of some well crafted media spit polished version of themselves. Think it will catch on? Nope. Reality can just be too darn depressing for too many people. Especially "old" people. On Facebook. Bring on the nostalgia, puppies, kittens, and adorable babies! (Religious and Political activists/fanatics....carry on with your rants)
  For those of you who read this to find out what's happening on the music front, sorry to digress, however, not much to report these days. Still trying to get the ♫♫ "Ep prahh-ject that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends..."♫♪ finished up and released before we greet 2015. Over the last year or so I have come to terms with my limitations as a one man (woman) music business machine. I truly admire artists that succeed at the business aspect of art making or manage to assemble hard working teams around them. It's an incredible accomplishment. For everyone of these "successes" there are at least twenty artists toiling away in obscurity for the love of the muse. Whichever category you fall into , I applaud the courage and tenacity and hard work it takes to be the artists/musicians we are meant to be, no matter the cost. I will be very happy to release an album I am proud of and to continue to eek out a living as a self employed vocalist, songwriter and teacher in a somewhat inhospitable climate. 
Plus, I'm not that good at anything else... haha!  Be well!

Definitions and Other Stuff 

Anyone who knows me well is aware that I love words. I take words seriously. In life and in art. I am a stickler for definitions and like to take words at face value. No frills. Winnipeg is finally experiencing the warmth of Summer weather. My apartment is HOT. I am not complaining because I prefer this heat to the inevitable deep freeze that could arrive in as little as eight weeks. So I sit on my couch, fan directly pointed at my face, savour the humidity and think about words'n'stuff.

Lately I have been pondering the word career. I do this often. I have no idea why. The dictionary defines career as "a job or profession that someone does for a long time" so I suppose my choice to do music would qualify. I am more entertained by the verb ..."to go at top speed especially in a headlong manner" because I have fun imagining myself a speeding car heading down a magically sunset lit highway. Very romantic. Careers are not like it seems. At least not a music career. If one careers off to the next level of success, there is always a good chance of crashing. And going up in flames. I can't say I have careered towards success, however, that would lead to more definitions and musings on music as business and I like to keep these posts relatively brief. Best saved for another blog, written by someone more knowledgable than I in these matters. I do know that making a living musically requires the wearing of many hats, playing live and selling music online being only two colorful options. 

If you are interested in purchasing some tracks that I have already recorded there are a couple of sites where this is easy to do! Here at Reverbnation or here at Bandcamp. 

What can I say? It's hot and my thoughts are meandering. So I will wrap up with news on the Entanglements. Work on the project has been on hold again for a couple of months and I am hoping to resume in August, determined to get this CD finished THIS year! I am learning that I can't career towards the finish line on this one. I'm ok with that. A friend told me some of the best projects take the most time. I hope that is true.



 

Wide Open 

I haven't updated here since April due to life in slow motion. Did ya miss me? Haha! Summer has arrived (kind of) and as it's sung, the living is easy (some days). Most of my time since the last update in April is filled with teaching new students and writing new songs. Here's one...if you want to check it out. I am looking towards recording a new batch of tunes...even though I can't seem to finish the current project! Still at work on Entanglements and set an arbitrary deadline of June 30th to have all the recording done, though I have learned that deadlines, like budgets, seem to be more of a suggestion than a reality. My taxes were due June 15th and receipts still lay forlorn atop my desk, waiting to be tallied.
 
I am continuing to raise funds to complete the mastering and manufacturing of the Entanglements CD, so if you want to check out the Kapipal campaign, click here!  If you have wealthy friends who love supporting the arts and dig my music feel free to share the Kapipal link far and wide..haha! If you are apt to be as vexed by the internet as I often am, don't fret! There are buttons right on page where, like magic, with one click, you can tweet and facebook share!

In the meantime, I am exercising patience, and working in my little space, with windows wide open!
Enjoy the  summer breezes!