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Kathy Hussey's Bloggy Thing

My answer to your question: "Will you listen to my CD and tell me which song to enter in [Song Contest]?

I get asked this question a LOT - presumably because I have been a winner, a loser, a finalist, a non-starter, a judge, and a contest coordinator. I have gathered some wisdom along the way - particularly the wisdom to know that I cannot and will not answer this question in the way that you want me to. Unless you choose the song, you are always going to question the advice you were given by someone else. I decided, finally, to create the following advice to help you make that decision:


Write great songs. Hone your craft. Learn. Take workshops. Seek out and be open to honest criticism from fans and fellow writers. Be willing to rewrite and change things to honor the core of your song. Understand that being married to a particular lyric is pointless if that lyric doesn't make someone FEEL something.

Make good, quality recordings. This doesn't mean you have to spend a ton of money on full-production demos. To the contrary, I think that the most important thing is that a judge can hear YOU and what you do, which means good signal-to-noise ratio, and simple production. (Signal-to-noise ratio is a fancy way to say if you are buried in "tape hiss" or white noise, it suggests that you don't care much about how you present your music.)

****Please resist the temptation to use drum machines! The music placement service, Taxi, has on their standard critique sheet, the following short list of Sound Quality issues to check off:

Well Recorded
Too much distortion
Drums/percussion sound mechanical
Instrumentation sounds synthetic

Two of the 4 issues that they use to disqualify a song from being forwarded relate to the use of "canned" drums. Don't use them.

Are you at this point with your writing and recording? Okay, now you can enter contests.

Criteria for choosing the "right" song:

- Which song(s) is most often requested by your fans? Which song(s) is most likely to cause people that you don't know to come up after a show and tell you that you really "hit the mark" with that one?

-Is there a song that made you cry as you were writing it, and maybe it's even hard to get through without crying while you're singing it? A song that is that deeply personal is the most likely to connect with a listener. Please note that "personal" does not mean "navel-gazing" and does not forget to be universal and accessible.

-What kind of contest is it? Who are the judges? Is the prize a performance slot at a festival, a single-song publishing contract? (If the former, you'd choose something that comes off as a great performance...probably uptempo? If the latter, you'd choose your most commercially-viable song...broad, hooky.)

- What kinds of songs have won this contest in the past? What do they have in common? What do the winners have in common?

- Will the submission include lyric sheets? Are they allowing you to include a bio? (If you are including a bio, you would want to include any personal info that connects you with your song. For example, if your song is about weathering a storm, and you are a Katrina survivor, that info is important. It carries more weight and will be likely to stick with them. )

These contests are all about CONNECTING with whoever is listening. Generally, your most moving, but most broadly accessible or universal songs will fare best.

The other part of this is that even if you have hooked and connected with the first person that is screening songs, and even if, to them, you are "NUMERO UNO, this songwriter RULES and is definitely going to win this contest!" - most likely there is a line of other listeners, and ultimately a Panel of Final Judges, and every one of them is going to feel a connection to different songs for different reasons on different days depending on barometric pressure, the quality of the coffee they're drinking, and whether or not they have to tinkle really badly...among other things. It is truly a "crap shoot", and not getting into a contest does not mean your song isn't good.

Other things to consider when entering song contests:

-SHORT INTRO! Judges and screeners have a lot of songs to listen to. Save the long, instrumental intro for your live gigs. Get right into the song - a couple bars, TOPS, to establish feel is all you need before getting into your lyric. The person listening will be delighted, and you will score good will points immediately.

-GOOD CD! Make sure your CD is not defective before you send it in! Don't just burn it and put it in the envelope - listen to it. Seems so simple and obvious, but... you'd be surprised.

-FOLLOW CONTEST INSTRUCTIONS! Every contest is different - and all of them have rules in place for a reason. Ignoring them is a quick way to get filed in the "pass" bin. These rules can vary from how many submissions you are allowed, to whether they accept cassettes, to including biographical info (If they don't ask for it, DON'T include it - it will go straight into the trash).

-BE A PROFESSIONAL! As the field narrows and the judges are trying to choose between several equally wonderful songs, they may visit websites for more information or to hear other songs. There are several things that they will look at:

• your bio...make it factual and compelling without using a lot of flowery adjectives. Writing a good bio is like writing a good song - show 'em, don't tell 'em, and have an interesting point of view.

• your concert schedule...someone who is out there working all the time is going get the edge over someone whose calendar is empty. If, for some reason, you have nothing upcoming - show past dates, so it is clear that you have experience.

• your really should have a REAL website "" Most judges/industry pros will not take you seriously if your primary web presence is a MySpace page. Sorry, it's just the reality. Domains can be purchased for around 10.00 a year, and hosts like GoDaddy have VERY cheap hosting packages with templates to build your site. is the hosting company of choice for musicians - a little pricier (25.00/month) but they have loads of beautiful website templates and musician-specific features. (you can also host a self-produced website with them - you don't have to use their templates - I don't)

Also, keep your website current - don't make it obvious via blog posts or "news" items that you haven't updated your website since 2005. : )

• If you have entered via Sonicbids, make sure your EPK is freshened up, current, and full of information!


It's about persistence. It is a numbers game, much like anything in this business. 99% of the time you are going to hear "No"...whether you are pitching songs, trying to get gigs, attempting to score a deal with a label, or entering song contests. If your goal is to win or place in these contests, enter them all, and enter them repeatedly. If you let one "No" stop you, you might as well call it hobby, stay at home and play for the cat.

©2007 Kathy Hussey, all right reserved

I walked right by someone...

I walked right by someone the other day. At the grocery store...I was kind of in a hurry. I saw her and realized that she hadn’t seen me, and made a conscious decision to let the moment pass instead of taking a few minutes to say hello and catch up. I’ve done that before, with the optimistic attitude that we’d have another chance soon, maybe a quieter place, maybe a more intentional social situation, where we could really talk. That all seemed so logical and simple and inconsequential, several days ago at the Harris Teeter on 21st Ave.

And I wouldn’t have given it another thought, except that my phone just rang, and a stranger told me that he was holding her address book and calling everyone in it to let them know that she was found dead on Monday in a reservoir near Tullahoma. The horror of that, and the sadness of losing her, were only amplified by the knowledge that I CHOSE to pass up the chance to be in the presence of her sweet and gentle spirit, for, as it turned out, the last time.

So if I see you in the grocery store, I don’t care how busy I am, or how busy you look - I AM going to stop you and say hello, because the alternative no longer seems like such an okay idea.
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New Website!

Isn't it purty?

Yes, it's a couple days after my original deadline, but's not a WEEK after my original deadline!

Please leave comments here on the blog - you like the site/you don't like the site. Maybe you have found issues. I would love to hear about it!
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New website coming!

I designed my current website about 10 years ago, and at the time I loved it.  Much like the teal countertops in my kitchen that I thought were "the shizzle" in 1994 that I ripped out with great glee just over a year ago.  Tastes change, and we get tired of looking at the same old stuff.  The new site will be (hopefully) elegant, informative and relevant.  Working hard on it now and have come up with an overall design that I really like. 

My plan is to have the new site up by the end of January, and also to use this blog as a place for news and observations.  I really haven't kept it current, and I want to be better about that!

The plan for February?  A new CD. Yup, I said it outloud.  A new acoustic CD ... very stripped-down, just me and my guitar.  That's the plan for now.   

Looks like I have a lot of work to do, so I better get back to it!

Why I Don't Hate Music

I had dinner the other night with a couple hundred high school and middle school teachers...I had just written and performed a song with about 25 of them about their role as yearbook supervisors. Yes, really.

Anyway, my nearest (and most talkative) dining companion was a woman from Michigan who teaches journalism at the high school level. Someone recently donated a turntable to her classroom, and records have started pouring in from parents and other teachers. Her after-school yearbook meetings have turned into dance parties/history of popular music classes. The kids' favorites are Queen's Greatest Hits, and Michael Jackson's "Thriller". It's pretty easy for me to picture that scene, having lived it the first time around.

When she mentioned that several of her former students still stay in close touch with her, I wasn't a bit surprised - she is definitely the type that would be remembered as a favorite...young, cool, supportive...

One of these past students is a painter - dedicated and passionate and commited to making a living as an artist. In an email to her former teacher, this young woman revealed that she no longer took any pleasure in viewing the works of other painters. She rarely found joy anymore in what used to be the primary source of meaning in her life. She was confused, and she was upset, and she was looking for some answers.

This is where I enter the story, and why I'm relating it at all. Here is an artist, working in a completely different medium from my own, but likewise struggling with a universal conundrum. I suppose I knew that this particular angst wasn't exclusive to the music business, but I had never thought much about it, outside my own box. I did, however, feel uniquely qualified to weigh in...thusly:

I hate music. Okay, that's a little strong, but I have uttered that phrase, more than once. What I really hate is how often it lets me frequently I am just left cold when I start with high expectations. All good things are still possible right before the performer in question hits the first note, or while the CD is still sliding into the player...but more often then not, something falls short. I just know too much. I am too close to it. I go straight into critique mode. If you are an artist, you know exactly what I mean. We routinely pick apart everything in our medium to gain a better understanding of what is effective and what isn't. It's as though cynicism is essential to our process, not to mention our progress. Without it we become stagnant; anti-growth equals anti-art. So, in the interest of preserving our sanity, we unconsciously criticize other artists at least as harshly as we critcize ourselves. It's hard to give someone else a break when we're not able to extend ourselves that same courtesy.

But, lest you think that all I do is wallow in a state of artless misery, and that I recommend our Dismayed Young Artist do the same, my real point begins here:

Every now and then something breaks through. It might be a unique voice that commands without effort, or a turn of phrase that makes you cry. It might be an inspired and unexpected use of color, or a look on the face of a child in a mural...and you're left standing there with your heart wide open and every nerve tingling...with that sweet, old, familiar, "Here. Yes. This is it!" feeling filling up all the empty places carved by your pesky objectivity. There is more joy and relief in that moment than any "lay person" could ever experience. And it is BECAUSE of our cynicism, and not in spite of our cynicism, that we have such a heightened appreciation for sporadic magnificence. Oh, we KNOW what's good...and when it's good it's like manna from heaven.

So the final word to Dismayed Young Artist is: Embrace your cynicism but leave your heart open. The artists and the works that inspire you will be fewer and farther between, but when you ARE moved it will be with greater power and authenticity.

So if you ever hear me say that I hate music, what I really mean is that I'm currently getting in my own way, and I have temporarily forgotten what joy I will find in something that I don't even know about yet.

I don't really hate music. Not all the time...25 adults loving every minute of writing a song about yearbook deadlines and then hamming it up onstage for their colleagues, complete with conga line...a roomful of high school kids dancing around to Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something", 20+ years after I did exactly the same's practically enough restore my faith in humanity, not to mention, in music.
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What's for dinner?

I have been doing so much fun stuff recently – Colorado in May to teach at Creede High School...Kerrville, TX last week for the annual pilgrimage to the folk festival...and I return to Colorado in 2 days to go play in Telluride, and then Steamboat for 2 weeks teaching. Wow – life is good.

I thought I’d share a “recipe” with you today. I don’t use them myself...I love to cook, and generally take whatever I happen to have around, and/or whatever looked extra good at the produce market and create something deeee-licious. This means that I never make the same thing twice. My husband loves this, but is also tormented by the fact that he can’t get me to write any of it down so I can do it again. He doesn’t seem to understand that the reason I can’t “do it again” is because of the random nature of the found ingredients.

Anyway...after declaring the following Crawfish Stuffed Zucchini “The Best Meal He Ever Had” he insisted that I write it down. And he took a here it is: (you’ll notice that there aren’t many measurements included...I don’t measure much, I just add however much of something it needs. Good luck : )

Crawfish Stuffed Zucchini


crawfish tails (cooked and peeled)
Aged Gouda (NOT the nasty smoked crap – try Old Amsterdam or Rembrandt)
2 large zucchini
seasoned bread crumbs
stalk o’ celery
2 sm ears fresh corn on the cob
grape tomatoes
1 egg
fresh basil
olive oil
and other random things that will come up that I forgot to list

First, thaw, separate, rinse and then brine the crawfish tails in water with equal parts sugar and salt – put in fridge for the approximately 1.5 hours it will take you to do the rest of this stuff. (the crawfish tails that I used were purchased pre-cooked and frozen on my trip to the Gulf for the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival last November – these are DELICIOUS)

Pour your first glass of Chianti (I recommend Banfi Reserva) or a nice Pinot Grigio (how about Kris?)….drink some of this intermittently throughout the following process.

Now, make the bread crumbs – cut what’s left of the baguette you bought a couple days ago into thin slices . Slather each side with olive oil. Toast on a cookie sheet at about 300 deg until dried and nearly brown…but not actually brown…you know, like shortbread. Spin them up in a small food processor with garlic powder and salt and other delicious things of your choice – realize you need more and throw in the remains of a box of multi-grain and seed crackers that you got for your birthday from Yum.

Now prepare the filling for the zucchini:

Slice the kernels off the two ears of corn into a bowl…into a separate bowl, drag the knife across the cobs to pull out the “milk” and the soft, yummy remaining stuff.

Chop a few cloves of garlic and and a medium-ish celery stalk and add to the corn kernels. (Chop the celery very small because large pieces are NASTY)

Chop some grape tomatoes (6-8 or so) and add to the corn “milk”.

Grate about a cup of Gouda and set aside.

You’ll need another glass of wine about now. Have some Gouda with it. Turn on Kathy Griffin’s “Strong Black Woman” on Bravo. Laugh. Enhance your mirth by preheating oven to about 400deg.

Okay, zucchini time.

Put on a large, wide pot of salted water, cover and bring to a boil.

Slice zucchini lengthwise – remove stem end and little hard nub at the other end. You’re going to make a little canoe out of each of the halves, so, using a spoon, draw a guideline for the part you will remove…about ¼ in from the edge. Now scoop it out, being careful to keep all the canoe sides even thickness and not punch through…otherwise…you will take on water, and all your gear will get wet. (this is a canoe reference, not a food reference, don’t worry about it).

Reserve about ½ the pulp – chop it up – put it in a kitchen towel, some cheesecloth, or a double thickness of paper towel and wring it out over the sink to remove most of the water.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet – add corn kernels, celery, garlic mixture. Saute until you’re happy – then add zucchinni pulp – saute until you’re giddy. Remove from heat into a mixing bowl.

Momentary diversion to allow above to cool a bit:

Put zucchini canoes into boiling (hopefully, by now) water, and set a timer for 2 min. Have a bowl of cold water and ice cubes ready nearby.

Back to stuffing:

Toss in the corn milk and tomatoes…add bread crumbs (1/2 cup? I don’t know…look at it) and toss some more. Stir in grated cheese (leave some out for topping) and beaten egg. Season with cumin, salt and pepper (don’t be shy with the cumin – all these flavors are subtle and they will pop with the cumin). Dry and dice a handful of the brined crawfish tails and toss these in too.

Open another bottle of wine. ( you HAVE been consuming as instructed?)

When zucch have blanched for 2 min, remove them quickly and shock them in the cold water until chilled through – remove to towel to drain.

Prepare some couscous (Near East Parmesan flavor is a personal fave)

Run out to the garden for some fresh basil leaves.

Make a chiffonade* of said herb. Put aside.
*stack basil leaves one atop the other – roll the whole wad into a cigar – with a SHARP knife cut thin slices off the cigar from one end to the other

Rub zucchini all over with olive oil and align on cookie sheet – salt inside of canoes (and pepper if you happen to like black pepper, which I don’t). Divide filling equally into wee boaties. Sprinkle with grated gouda and put in oven – bake for approximately until they are done. Okay, maybe, 12-15 min.

MEANWHILE (right before the zucch is done):

Strain remaining crawfish tails – don’t pat them dry – a little brine is good here.

Put a couple tablespoons (okay, a half a stick) of butter in large skillet – heat to bubbling and then add tails and basil chiffonade. Remove from heat immediately and toss around to warm though and wilt the herbs.

Plate a zucchini and some couscous next to each other in an attractive and appetizing way. Spoon crawfish tails over both and then pour buttery pan juices over all.

Holy crap, this is delicious. I never said it was quick or easy.

And the picture doesn’t do it justice – the little salad is mesculun and baby bibb lettuce from my garden with shredded carrot and homemade blue cheese dressing. Perfect.

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The hot bath as a tribute...

I have been taking an awful lot of hot baths recently. At least one a day.Not because I need to relax, although I do enjoy a good blissful soak...and not for the purpose of getting clean - I prefer to get clean in the shower - not that you asked. It's because of my best friend - my little feline sidekick, my constant companion for 18 years. It's her absolutely favorite thing to do in the whole world. She doesn't get all the way in the bath with me, of course. No self-respecting cat would get all wet on purpose. She lays on the shelf in the corner of the tub on her folded-up towel, swirls her tail in the water, and occasionally leans in for a few sips of "hot tea". And she purrrrrrs...

She has been a fixture in my life since my senior year in college when she and her 2 brothers were brought to me by one of my apartment-mates. These three squirming little kitties were newborn and, according to him, I hand-raised them. Bottle feedings every 2 hours, several baths and blow-dryings a day...if you've ever done this, you know what I'm talking about.

So, I have been responsible for this sweet little creature for most of my adult life. Her comfort, her health, her safety, her nourishment...and now, I find myself making the choice of whether she will live or die. An almost year-long battle with a very aggressive cancer put me in this position, and I've had a long time to think about it. None of which prepared me for the reality of making the final decision, though. For weeks I have been agonizing about whether it is "time". People kept telling me that I would know...and today, I knew. So, I have exactly 13 1/2 hours left with my precious little girl. I am emotionally all over the map - mostly just heart-broken, a little angry that at one point I had to make a decision about her treatment based solely on my ability to pay for it, content in knowing that my schedule worked out that I was able to spend the last couple weeks as her nurse, tending to her every need, appreciative of her gentle spirit and the preternatural connection between us.

I am no longer wishing for her to hang on a little more...that time has passed. What I'm wishing for now is the ability to filter through and CHOOSE what to feel. I have often told people that we (warning: cliché ahead!) create our own's not what happens to us, but how we react to those things that shape our experiences. In this moment, I truly know how much easier it is to say that than it is to practice it. However, in the interest of not being a hypocrite, today I will do my best to focus on the following emotions:

I choose gratitude for having been given 18 years with her. I choose relief, knowing that I don't have to worry about her condition, how much pain she is in, and whether I'm doing enough. I choose awe, because through the power of modern medecine, I have the ability to gently and lovingly put an end to her suffering. I think mostly I choose to be thankful that I have had the time, over the last several weeks, to honor her by making sure that she has everything she needs, and is as comfortable as she can possibly be. So I've been taking an awful lot of hot baths recently. At least one a day.

In Memory Of:
Cantina aka "Toonies"

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Just the facts, Jack...photojournaling

I just found the following quote in a book that I am reading ("The Origin" by Irving Stone, a biographical novel about Charles Darwin) "It is not encumbent upon thee to complete the work, but neither art thou free to desist from it altogether." It is a Hebraic saying and I have no idea of its original context, but it followed perfectly from my last entry "Celebrating the Half-Assed Effort", so I was happy to have discovered it.

I have started thinking in blog entries since I started journaling this way...if I was a newspaper columnist, I would have a deadline and probably follow through on all the ideas I have for fun and fascinating blog entries...I know I should write more often, but I feel some pressure to be INTERESTING or ENLIGHTENING in some way. I probably ought to give that up and just stay in touch, no? So let's embark now on a strictly documentary and utilitarian kind of update.

The largest project of the moment is my involvement with the River Bluff Acoustic Music Festival in Ashland City, which is coming up this weekend (Oct. 8). I am coordinating the Performing Songwriter Competition, and, so far, have selected 10 finalists, secured judges, confirmed sponsors and prizes and's an exciting event and this whole week is dedicated to the tying up of loose ends and basic logistical stuff. Check out the festival website, and if you're in the Nashville area, I highly recommend it - great music all day long... River Bluff Acoustic Music Festival

Meanwhile, I am busy with all things art, music and children...teaching tie-dye workshops, refinishing a wrought-iron table and chairs, doing a photo shoot for a friend who needed head shots for an upcoming audition, writing songs with several 2nd and 3rd grade classes in Williamson County, playing gigs both far and near (see my performance calendar, plotting upcoming adventures, and plenty of other stuff that I will probably save for another post.

I am also investigating the best way to publish photo journals online - I take A LOT of pictures and I enjoy documenting even the most mundane things...they somehow take on a glory and an importance when they are captured and described in detail...for instance, the refinishing of the wrought iron furniture...I hope to have the entire story online soon, punctuated by photographs and meticulous (tedious?) details of my learning process, how my tools and techniques evolved as I invented my own thrilling it will be for you! It will be impossible for you to remain unchanged in the face of your newfound knowledge about soy stripper and the 5-in-1's a sneak peak of what awaits you:

NOW you're on the edge of your seat...

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Celebrating the Half-Assed Effort

There is plenty that I could have written about here, since my last
entry...among other things, I taught three week-long songwriting
workshops, had a benefit for the Humane Association, went on a
horse pack trip in the San Juan Mountains, played to an enthralled,
sold-out theater crowd in Colorado, and an empty, disinterested
coffeehouse in Atlanta. There have been so many stories and
adventures that I don't even know where to begin. If I started
telling you about the horse trip, I would feel compelled to mention
that I rode a $60,000 Arabian named "Famous" who was somewhat
neurotic, and I might even attempt to explain how he got that way.
I would, no doubt, go into way too much detail, get bogged down,
and give up because I just don't have the time. Here's a picture allegedly being worth a thousand words:

And that's exactly the point of this here ramble ... my "all or
nothing" attitude when it comes to just about everything...
housework, gardening, career...whatever. My office is more
than likely to be a complete disaster area, because if I actually
start to clean it, I'm liable to end up with all the furniture out
in the yard, drop cloths and dry wall mud scattered from one
end to the other, and me sitting in the corner reading each
book before I decide whether to deem it a keeper or a tosser.
So the more likely scenario is that I'll look at the stacks of
clutter and paperwork, ponder the quantities of drywall mud
that it's going to take to fix it, and then simply DO NOTHING.
I am thorough to the point of incapacitation.

So, this morning, I went completely against my nature and
emptied SOME of the dishes from the dishwasher, while I
waited for the kettle to boil. That's right. I left a full sink
of dirty dishes, and the entire upper rack of the dishwasher
untouched. It felt pretty good, actually. So maybe later I'll
walk through the kitchen and put away JUST the clean coffee
mugs. At this rate, I might even have the whole thing emptied
by the end of the day. Maybe I'll even [carefully!] open the scary
bathroom closet next time I'm in there and throw away ONE
abandoned hair product or a prescription from the 80's.
What the hell, I'm gonna empty half the trash as soon
as I finish this.

So today, I hope you'll join me in celebrating the Half-Assed
Effort. It is elegant in its simplicity, and dignified in its slow,
purposeful march toward perfection. I have so few chances
to be elegant and dignified, really. I'm going to try this
for a while.

half-heartedly yours, kathy
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Peter McCann at French QuarterFriday, May 14, 2004 4:27:03 PM

This was already a kinda different feeling night. Stephen Taylor was in town from Austin, so I booked a round for me, him, and David Llewellyn at French Quarter (Barbara Cloyd's show) ... we found out later that Joyce, Susan and Deanna Walker were playing the round after us, so I stayed and this guy Peter McCann played after them. He wrote "The Right Time of the Night" (jennifer Warnes sp?) and he spawned all these really cool song ideas as he talked to us - most notably "love and travel, travel and love are what I know" and I left all jazzed up about this guy inspiring a song about aging songwriters who had their hits 20-30 years ago.

I got in my car to leave, turned on XM radio (it was ALREADY on the 70's station, and the song that was playing was... THE RIGHT TIME OF THE NIGHT.

This same night, Mal Pope and Barbara Fleishhaker were in town and came out to hear me and David - David had known Mal 20 years ago in Wales and when I met Mal at Gum Tree he at first thought he didn't know David, but eventually realized that he did...and was planning to come to Nashville on Thurs, but came a night early to see David (and brought Barbara : )

The night before at Wilhagans, it was Kerrville night - I already knew that Stephen Taylor was going to be there, but David Lamotte was also in town...also in attendance, Kerrville-wise:
Joyce Woodson
David Llewellyn
Jim Stephens
Laurie McClain
Kevin Faherty

Happy 4th of July weekend - AND girls, girls girls!

It has been a weekend of fabulously talented women...last night I was part of a benefit for the Magdalen House at the Bluesboro in Murfreesboro, TN. The Magdalen House offers refuge and rehabilitation to women who have resorted to prostitution and/or dependence on drugs as a lifestyle - those who are willing to change their lives are given that opportunity...housing, counseling, etc...just a great cause. The bill last night was Treva Blomquist, Annie Mosher, Cheley Tackett, Cathey Stamps, Lisa Durand and me...great fun! A huge, steaming pile of talent.

Tonight was a reminder of where it all comes from - old friends, Nancy and Mike Morris, were in town from CT with their two daughters, Mandy and Melodie...Jim and Toni Ferguson hosted a dinner party on their beautiful new screened porch (that Jim built) - I felt like I was back in France - one delicious course after another, plenty of wine, and joyous exuberance all around. The evening was capped off by performances by all the kids - we had a house FULL of professional musicians, but tonight the kids were the focus. Melodie Morris is a gifted cellist - her sister, Mandy, is a singer on par with Mom, Nancy. Laura and Larry Winslow's daughter, whose name escapes me (!sorry!) played an extraordinary piano piece that she had written, called "Flicker", fulll of flying-fingered arpeggios and whacky dissonant chords - she's 10 years old and is already writing songs that could easily be orchestrated and arranged for...I dunno, string quartets, or any ensemble, really. Lily Ferguson is a virtuoso violinist, and joined all of the above, along with her Mom and one young woman I didn't meet, on a string arrangement of "Benjamin", a James Taylor song that sounded only vaguely familiar, but incredibly beautiful. GO GIRLS! It was just lovely to see this roomful of young women (10-15 years old) playing their hearts out and getting support, not only from their elders, but from each other. I wish I had my camera. Instead, here's a picture of a sweet group of young girls that I wrote songs with last year in Colorado...

We are continuing to see VERY encouraging support from Folk radio on "Moments of Wonder" - DJs, please keep playing it, and listeners, please request songs from the album on your local folk show!

love, kathy
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Radio play, more on the way, good thrift store day

The official release date for "Moments of Wonder" is still a few days away, and it is already getting airplay all over the country (including Hawaii). It's very exciting to get this kind of reaction from folk radio before we have even begun any promotional efforts. Thanks very much to all of you who are playing it and showing us the LOVE!

Went to my favorite thrift store yesterday to find a good gig bag that would house my pedal board, cables and all the various items that I carry to the stage with me at shows - I have gone through lots of different arrangements and still am not happy with what I've been using. I found the PERFECT bag yesterday, for only 4.99. God, I love that. Not to mention, I told Bob the other night that I really needed an 8X8 or 9X9 square baking pan (you know, for brownies) and what did I find at the dang thrift store? Yup. I also picked out about 6 paperbooks that I actually want to read...and just as I was finishing shopping, they announced that everything sporting a yellow price tag was 1/2 off! All of my books and the baking pan were marked with yellow tags, so I got out of there for under 10.00.

I am stunned by how much space I allotted to the thrift store adventure, and I greatly admire anyone who has made it this far in this post. I think I should find a picture of some sort to reward your tenacity.

Okay - here's your "reward". A picture of me, Bob, and Gary at my CD Release party - I was leaving for Kerrville the very next morning and so Gary the Gnome, a Camp Singkerrnicity icon who travels around the country between festivals, living in the homes of various Singkerrnicity-ites, was along for the party and anxiously looking forward to the Texas trip. (Look how anxious he is!):

and I can't resist one more, also from the CD release party:

Bob Mater (husband, producer, drummer), Dan Schaefer (songwriter, pal, guest vocalist), Kathy, Jim Savarino ("Sing My Memory" co-writer)

until next time! -Kathy

Back in Nashville, where the talent convenes

I drove home from Steamboat Springs (21 hours), arriving late Monday afternoon, in time to drop in on my parents and see them off as they head to upstate NY for the summer. It's hard to get us all in the same place, so I take every opportunity to visit with them.

I listened to a Jimmy Carter audiobook on the trip "Sharing Good Times"...the basic premise is that he has learned over the years that experiences gain added value when you share them with people - either directly, by experiencing them together, or indirectly by recounting them and sharing stories. That's exactly the sort of impulse that made me want to start this blog, and I'm grateful and a little surprised by how many of you seem to be enjoying sharing these experiences with me!

Nashville has spent the last 2 days proving to me [again] that there is magic here - it takes a couple weeks away to see that with fresh eyes...that may be just another good excuse for my endless wandering? I had been home for a mere 2 hours on Monday night when Bob and I headed out to a housewarming party, here in the 'Hood (Sylvan Park). Gail Davies and Rob Price have been busy renovating a place and we went to oooh and aaah over all their hard work. It was bound to be a great gathering of folks - Gail's son Chris is a multi-instrumentalist, and for this occasion he had brought the pedal steel - Rob Price is a wonderful bass player, and of course Gail is incomparable as a singer and a songwriter. The three of them started off playing a few songs, and over the course of the evening every talented human in the room had contributed a song or a vocal or picked a little on their instrument of choice. It was mostly classic country, and I can't get enough of that...another fun element to the evening was Kathy Chiavola shuttling musicians from all over the world back and forth to the party - she brought a young woman from Japan, Mari, who has moved here to Nashville recently to pursue her songwriting - next she arrived with a nice fellow from Germany, and later two guys from Holland, one of whom played one of his songs for could have been a country radio hit in the 70's and his Dutch accent completely disappeared when he sang. We got to hear and visit with Pete Huttlinger, which is always a treat...what a great player.

As if all that wasn't enough, my weekly Tuesday writers night at Wilhagans last night turned into a reunion of this year's Kerrville New Folk competition...along with some of my favorite regular attendees (Dan Schaefer, Alan Oatley, David Llewellyn, Doc West, Steve Taylor, etc) we also had the pleasure of hearing Tony Laiolo, Treva Blomquist, and "Ilyaimy" a duo from the Baltimore area who had simply blown me away in Texas a couple weeks ago. We did a campfire circle format last night, which is quickly becoming my favorite way to do the show. Aside from the obvious ease of not having to set up the PA, it allows us all to focus on each other and chat in-between songs. It's very intimate and warm...I may never set up the PA again, until we are forced back inside the bar by cold weather - that's a long way off, according to today's 90+ degrees.

I am going to post a few belated Kerrville pictures here...the first week was punctuated with some major thunderstorms (as usual) and after the biggest of those, I captured these kids playing in the "swamp" formerly known as the "road" in front of our camp:

and here's a lovely portrait of me having a post-storm measuring cup of wine:

That's all for now - I'll be home in Nashville for over a month, but there are plenty of interesting things coming up to report on...stay tuned.

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from Colorado...

I made it to Steamboat Springs where I am teaching songwriting to kids at of my favorite things to do all year. I have a couple days of classes under my belt and so far there are two songs happening, one called "Tossing and Turning", the other called "Grizzly River". The latter involves 3 characters: Little Creek, a native american boy, and his two pals Peek-a-Bear, an adult female bear, and her baby, Honey Cub. Too cute.

It was snowing like crazy when I drove over the Continental Divide on Saturday morning. It felt just like winter. I have never seen it do that out here in June, but apparently it is possible. Continued rainy and cold all that day and night, but otherwise has been pleasantly cool and sunny - more what I expect out here this time of year.

The new CD should be going out to radio right about now - I left Kari Estrin back in Nashville with a huge mountain of CDs to send out this week while I'm away. Hopefully, you'll be hearing your favorites on your local folk radio station very soon. Be sure to call and request it!

I'm enjoying seeing friends that I have worked with out here for the past seven years...there's always a lot of catching up to do with this motley crew of artsy, vagabond, life-loving folks. Looking forward to getting out into the mountains either on horseback or on foot sometime in the next couple days. If I get any good pics, I'll post them.


from Texas...

Well hey there. Writing a quick note from Kerrville - have been living in the tent for a week and haven't had a chance to write or to gather up any good pictures to show you, but will post some as soon as possible. It has been a lot of fun down here at the festival - lots of song swapping and laughter, interspersed with moments of weather-induced terror. Hail and wind and lightning - unbearable heat...then more fun and music.

I am lucky enough to be in the hotel room of a friend right now, checking email, showering, and lying still on a COOL soft surface. It's the little things, no?

I'm off to Steamboat Springs tomorrow (or the next day, depending on energy level) to teach the annual song workshop at Perry-Mansfield. I can hardly wait to get to Colorado where it is unlikely to be hot and muggy - the workshop is for young kids (8-11 yrs) and is one of my favorite things to do. They write with a fresh perspective and a lack of inhibition that is always an inspiration to me.

I'll write more soon and post pictures as soon as I can get my camera and my computer in the same place at the same time.

Peace, love and air-conditioning,

Guitar good as new - other exciting news...

After many requests to post pictures of the damage to my Taylor 615, I decided to take some pictures...I took it to Greg Krochman at Classic Ax here in Nashville for repair, and told him I didn't really care about what happened cosmetically, I just wanted it to be structurally sound and unlikely to get worse. I couldn't believe what a great job he did:

I highly recommend that you trust your guitars to Greg:

More fun news soon! -Kathy
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Kathy wins Smith Vinson Award - puts nasty hole in guitar...

I had a lovely time in Tupelo this past weekend, after a quick trip to Monroe, LA to play at a college coffeehouse where I provided a soundtrack by which several students studied for their medical chemistry exams. I did my best not to disturb them, and managed to sell some CDs in the process. On to Tupelo...I was invited to play at the Gum Tree Songwriters Festival as a finalist in their song contest, and I won the Grand Prize - The Smith Vinson Award! Thanks to Keith Sykes who was the judge this year...he clearly exhibited good taste in that regard, although missed the mark by not awarding my good friends Dan Schaefer and Alan Oatley who were, and always are simply marvelous. The three of us are great buddies and had the best of times spending the weekend together.

The wonderful Bill Kapenakas of Vanelli's restaurant (where I have played several times) took great care of us, feeding us Fri and Sat nights, so we repaid him by playing an "In the Round" set at his place Sat night. In my attempt to run sound and navigate the close quarters with 3 people and 3 guitars, I managed to knock my Taylor 615 off the stool that I had CARELESSLY laid it across, It hit the edge of a table on its way down with a sickening *crunch*, and I now have a large crack in the maple right on the top where I can gaze at it as I play. Of course, this was before we even started to play, so I had to just go on...2 songs in, I broke a string, so I borrowed Dan's guitar - promptly broke a string on his guitar too. All of this served to handily knock me back to my pre-Grand-Prize-winning level of humility, which I'm certain is a good thing.

Comedian Brad Tassell was playing Vanelli's Fri and Sat night, and we all hit it off and had fun eating dinner together and hanging out at the festival...he's hilarious and an awfully nice guy...lives in Santa Claus, Indiana. Here's a picture of Bill Kapenakas and Brad being our fans backstage at the songfest:

Of course the trip back was one of the highlights - a crisp and clear day to drive the Natchez Trace with the windows open, doing some hand surfing and trying to avoid being pelted by insects - especially the "hard, pointy ones" which are the worst kind, according to Alan (though at 55 mph, even the soft, rounded ones feel hard and pointy). We stopped several times - Indian burial mounds and several water features. I didn't have to rescue any turtles from the highway on this trip, though I was always at the ready and on the lookout. Here's Dan and Alan in an inexplicable pose by a lovely stream:

So, every time I look at the gash in my beautiful guitar I have the privilege of recalling all the fun, love and hilarity of this weekend. I'll keep it. May all of your wounds come with joyful memories.

love, kathy

Moments of Wonder available on CDBaby now!

The new CD is now available at! The address is:

Florida Trip

I just returned from a week and 1/2 trip in, productive, and pretty wet. I was invited to Live Oak, FL as a finalist in the Suwannee Springfest songwriter competition, along with 5 other performers. I came in second - the wonderful Michael Troy was the winner this year. As if that wasn't enough excitement, I also received a box of CDs from Discmakers the first night there, containing the new CD, Moments of Wonder...just in time to sell some at the festival.

3:00 am that following morning - a rain/hail/thunderstorm, the likes of which had NEVER been seen in this little part of the world, rocked the campground. The torrents of rain lasted, non-stop, until about 10:30 am...the folks in RVs were cozy and dry, but those of us in tents had a slightly harder go of it. I had just gotten a new tent for my birthday (note: I can buy beer legally now, finally) - actually attaches to the back of my station wagon, so I can keep all my gear in the tent, and set up the car as a bedroom...worked like a champ, so I was one of the lucky ones.

There are two main stages at the festival, and they were both underwater by Friday morning. No, that's not hyperbole...look:

I took lots of pictures to document what quickly became known as the "Tsunami in Suwanee"...I captured one guy walking around in a snorkel and mask - never figured out if he was actually going to use them or if it was just a bit of physical humor.

After the festival, I picked up Bob (my husband) in Jacksonville, and we drove down to St. Augustine for an actual vacation. The water was a little chilly (60 deg) but I have to swim, so I did it...ONCE. The rest of the time was spent relaxing on the beach, and either eating, drinking, or trying to decide where we were going to eat and drink next.

I also did a set at the Milltop Tavern, thanks to the fabulous Don Oja Dunaway, who has been playing there regularly for 28+ years. Amazing.

After taking Bob back to the airport - I went on to Tampa for a Southeast Regional Folk Alliance planning session...we are just getting organized as a region, and will have our first conference in Asheville, NC next year. Aside from the meeting and related camaraderie, the highlight here was visiting my good friends Erbie and Jackie Garrett in St. Petersburg. Erbie and I used to have a duo - we played a couple summers on the patio of Pizza Perfect on 21st Ave. The good ole days : )

Stay tuned for more adventures, kids! -Kathy
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"Moments of Wonder" just moments away!

The CD "Moments of Wonder" is done and will be available very soon through, CDBaby, ITunes and most other online retailers. Those of you that already have a pre-release copy may be wondering where the "behind the music" stories are - they are coming soon too!

Feel free to leave comments here - start discussions - whatever...I will answer questions or just keep in touch on this message board, so come back often!
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