It's not about me... only sort of... 

Last year around this time, I was fortunate enough to take part in Divas Night Out, a fundraiser for Women's Shelters in Regina.  This year I'm not involved in the event, so I was completely taken by surprise when I opened the paper this morning and saw myself.  I won't lie, I was excited to see myself in the paper - it was a wonderful reminder of the great experience I had at last year's event and it's especially nice to be reminded of right now since I've been unable to do music for over a month due to an extremely clingy chest infection.  That being said, I have no stake in this year's fundraiser and while I'm psyched they included a photo from last year's event, I urge you to focus on the words rather than the picture.

The fundraiser is this Friday night (October 7th) at Double Tree by Hilton and they're having trouble selling tickets. It's a great cause (the proceeds go to shelters that help women and children escaping domestic abuse) and the change of venue means it's now open to all ages.  Last year's event was a blast so I would bet this year's will be as well. If you're free this Friday night and have the money to attend, please do, or if you know someone who might be interested, please tell them about it.  This annual charity event may not continue beyond this year if they don't sell enough tickets by Friday.  For more information check out this Leader Post article or the Diva's Night Out website.

What do love and a deck of cards have in common? 

Add them together (along with a bunch of other words) and you have my new song This Deck Of Cards!  I'm really excited to be performing it for the first time tomorrow night (July 7th) at The Capitol with my friend Kara Golemba!  

Harmonies - Check.  
Guitar - Check.  
Keys - Check.
Deck of Cards - Not Check. (I probably don't need to bring an actual deck of cards with me... although now that I've thought about it, I kind of want to... just because.)

"There are no other suits in this deck of cards
There's only hearts"

Debuting a new song with a little help from my friend... 

A week from now I'll be debuting a new song during my performance at The Capitol in Regina, SK with the help of my good friend (and talented singer-songwriter) Kara Golemba.  We've been getting together for rehearsals over the last few weeks, with our final rehearsal yesterday afternoon.  All set to duo the heck out of my new song on July 7th.  
Me & Kara at our last rehearsalMe & Kara at our last rehearsal.
Not all the guitars will be used in the performance.  It's just a lot of guitars (and a mandolin barely making the shot on the left).
Not all these guitars will be used in the performance.  That's just a lot of guitars.

I'm back! And I'm breathing! 

I know I haven't been around much for the last while (since the beginning of this year to be exact) and that's because my year started off with some pretty serious breathing problems (has anyone else ever noticed how amazing it is to breathe?!) that made me his the pause button on music (and a lot of other things) for a while.  (This might seem odd, but when you can't really breathe it's a little hard to sing.  Who knew, right?)

Finally, after 4 long months, my breathing is back to normal and one week from today I'll be taking the stage for the first time in 2016!  I cannot even begin to explain how incredible it is to be able to get back to music and to connecting and sharing with all of you (I missed you guys so much!).  

In short, my 2016 feels like it's starting a bit later than everyone else's, but I'm sure glad to be joining party!  I'll even be unveiling some new tunes at next week's show in celebration, so come by if you want to be the first to hear them.  I'll be splitting the bill with 2 other talented ladies (Kara Golemba and Kenzie) at the Creative City Centre in Regina, Thursday May 12 at 8pm (doors at 7:30).  Tickets are on sale now (see my Events page for more details).

Eeeeekk!!

Girl Power!! (or Woman/Female/Lady Power) 

Women are [insert flattering term of choice here]!!
Women are also [insert other flattering term of choice here]!!

(Not saying those with both X and Y chromosomes aren't also awesome (because you are!), but this post is about the ladies.)  

As it happens, the last 3 performances I've had were also all about the ladies!!  It wasn't planned that way, but sometimes cool things happen on their own.

1) First, there was Divas' Night Out in October.  This fantastic fundraiser at the Casino Regina raised $5500 for local Women's Shelters (Regina Transition House and YWCA Isabel Johnson Shelter)!!  In its 13th year, Divas' Night Out is an event put on by women for women - a truly female powered fundraiser, it's a great example of "girl power"!  A huge thank you to all the women who made that night what it was! (And a huge thank you to the men who came out in support of women!) Special thanks to Tess Boehm for putting together this year's event and inviting me to be a part of it!

Left to Right (Tess Boehm, Me, Frank Boehm)


2) Next up was Women In Song at Bushwakker (Regina) earlier this month.  This series celebrates "women in song" by featuring local female singer-songwriters.  I had the great pleasure of performing with the very talented Megan Nash and Kara Golemba!  Not only are they uber awesome at music, they're also incredibly super human beings.  If you haven't heard either of them before, you should definitely check them out!

Left to Right Guys (Chris Mercer, Brent Nielsen, Taron Cochrane); Front to Back Girls (Megan Nash, Me, Kara Golemba)


3) Last but definitely not least was Girls Night Out this past Thursday (November 19) at the Club (part of the Cultural Exchange in Regina)!!  Again featuring local females in music, this event was put together by Kaeli Dane, a sweetheart and a wonderful singer-songwriter!  I had the great pleasure of both meeting and hearing her music for the first time that night and it was fantastic!  In addition to Kaeli and myself, the 3rd act of the evening was Lysh Music who took the stage for their first ever performance!!  I'm quite glad Lysh has started sharing their music with the public and I expect you'll be hearing more from them in the future!  Add in to the mix one of the most attentive and supportive audiences I've ever played for and what you get is an extra special evening!  Thank you so much to all the people who came out on Thursday, you're super amazing!!!!

Left to Right (Alyshia Chabot [Lysh Music], Kaeli Dane, Me)


I feel extremely lucky to have been part of these 3 fantastic events and I'm happy to see so much love and support for women in Regina!  Now, if anyone happens to put on a guys night out, I'd be eager to come watch - after all, there were men in the audience of each show supporting us ladies (thank you for that)!
 

A for Alexandra, B for Beat, C for Culture, D for Diva  

Busy, busy, busy.  That was me this past week.  Having a blast.  That was also me this past week.  Here is the story:

Side-note: I have heard that when telling a story one should start at the beginning.  But I say, I should start where I want to start... which is the beginning...  The beginning of the week, not the beginning of the alphabet.

D for Diva
Divas' Night Out is coming up in a little over a week and I have been busy preparing for the show.  Rehearsing for the performance is just one aspect of that.  Another aspect is getting all Diva'd up!!!  (See?  That's me in the picture.  Don't let the tiara and boa fool you; I may be diva'd up, but I'm still me.)  Last Monday, I picked up my tiara and feather boa then went to a photoshoot with Erika Templeton.  It was fun expressing my inner diva by dressing up and I look forward to doing it again on October 8.  Tiaras and boas will be for sale at the event next Thursday, so if you're interested in joining me, please do!
A for Alexandra
Saturday afternoon (Tuesday to Friday were less eventful), I went to a SaskMusic workshop where Craig Silliphant of Saskatoon taught us all about one-sheets and bios.  It was very informative (SaskMusic is wonderfully consistent that way) and not only did I learn stuff, I also got to see fellow musician friends and had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Alexandra.  Alexandra is one half of the duo Acadence and also just released her very first single as a solo artist!  I encourage you to check out her single "Masquerade", which was recorded at Nebulous Entertainment.

B for Beat
Saturday evening I went to Live Band Karaoke at the Creative City Centre, which was part of Culture Days.  Jaxe, the live band, were rockin' out and everyone had tons of fun.  I may have had my own dance party at the back of the room (this is where the beat comes into play).  I hopped on stage at one point and sang "Let It Be" - my first time ever doing karaoke with real live people instead of a machine.  Pretty cool!

C for Culture
Sunday afternoon (also known as yesterday afternoon), I went to a whole medley of Culture Days activities at the Creative City Centre.  I got to screen print a T-shirt at Articulate Ink, made my own buttons (the pin kind not the button-up shirt kind), got my face painted (so not just for kids - don't let anyone tell you it is), and sewed a business card holder.  That was a very full afternoon and a very fun afternoon!  If you live in Canada, I hope you also had a chance to check out some Culture Days activities on the weekend!  If you feel like it, I'd love to hear what you did for Culture Days!

This week is likely to be less action packed but I'll be busy preparing for the Casino next Thursday night.  If you want to know more about the show, please check out my upcoming eventsDivas' Night Out is fundraiser for the Regina Transition House and YWCA Isabel Johnson Shelter, so it's a great cause!

With Great Power Comes... 

As most superhero movies demonstrate, power can be used for good or for evil.  Perhaps in real life the divide is not always as drastic as superheros and supervillains, but power does put people in a position where what they say and do has a much larger and wide spread effect.  The more famous someone becomes, the more powerful they get.

I have been a Taylor Swift fan since I first heard "Teardrops on my Guitar" on the radio in 2008.  Since then, she has continually grown more famous and achieved superstardom (probably music's version of gaining superpowers).  I greatly admire what she is doing with that power - especially the way she uses it to stand up for the rights of others who are not in such prominent positions.  Most artists couldn't afford to take their music off Spotify or stand up to a huge conglomerate like Apple and even if they did, no one would notice.  This is why I want to say thank you to Taylor Swift for doing what others can't. 

Last year, she took her music off Spotify and other artists followed her lead.  Today, she posted an open letter to Apple regarding Apple Music's free trial period for which artists will not be getting paid.  I think Apple is fantastic and agree with Taylor's praise of the company and her other comments in the letter.  I hope they will change their decision to not pay artists during the 3 month trial, but whether or not they do, Taylor Swift continues to draw attention to aspects of the music industry that would otherwise go unnoticed by most.  If I could speak to her I would say, "Thanks for using your superpowers for good Taylor."

To read her open letter to apple go to: http://taylorswift.tumblr.com/post/122071902085/to-apple-love-taylor

Soul Sisters & Crafting New Gear 

Last night was the Soul Sisters Benefit for the YWCA at The Bushwakker in Regina.  I had a wonderful time performing and getting to know the other musicians - Rebecca Lascue, Judith Morrissey, and Joel Henderson (Poor Nameless Boy) - both on and off the stage.  I also got to chat with a number of other people for first time and saw a few familiar faces.  I want to say thank you so much to everyone who came out to support this cause and to everyone involved in making the event happen!  I'm happy I was able to be a part of it and I was even happier to see so many people there, helping to fund the YWCA and their programs for women and children.

Now, you may not know this about me, but I'm a little obsessed with crafting.  Recently, I felt inspired to make myself a new gig bag, one that reflects my personality.  I used it for the first time last night and in the spirit of helping, I am going to share a bit of a tutorial on how I did it, in case any of you folks are interested in knowing how to make something like this:
(If you don't want to know how I made this, stop reading here, because the remainder of this post is the tutorial.)

As you can see, it's actually more of a gig briefcase (I have multiple gig bags with different purposes).  I didn't think to take a before photo, but it started out as a fairly standard brown leather briefcase (see photo below from www.styleforum.net), which a family member had given me because she no longer needed it.  (Free stuff!! Boo ya!! - Btw: If anyone tells you no one says "boo ya" anymore, you can be like "Oh yeah? At least one person does, so there!" Also btw: you should probably not take advice on comebacks from me because I suggest things like that.)
Photo from www.styleforum.netAnywho (not a typo, typed "anywho" on purpose), to personalize the briefcase, I used Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Paint combined with Martha Stewart Crafts Fabric Medium (mixed together they make fabric paint).  I used one color (a dark metallic silver) for the front and back of the case and mixed two different pinks together to create the pink around the edges. 

I cleaned the briefcase (with leather cleaner, about a week before I started painting, so feel free to actually follow the instructions on the paint if you want to do it properly, but this seems to have worked fine), then painted the first coat.  I let it dry about an hour between coats (followed the instructions on that one), then after the second coat I waited 24 hours for the paint to dry completely (also in the instructions).  I had to do the painting in more than 2 steps so the paint in one area had time to dry before doing the next section (I painted all sides, including the bottom, and the handle).  I didn't tape before painting, but if you wanted really clean lines it would be best to tape off the areas you don't to paint.

This is the order in which I painted the sections.  In between each section, I waited at least an hour after the 2nd coat had been painted before moving onto the next (I waited about 24 hours before flipping the case over to paint the back, because I wanted to make sure the painted side resting on the floor was completely dry).

1) I painted the top and both sides of the briefcase pink (with the exception of where the handle was resting on the top).
2) I painted the front of the briefcase silver.
3) I painted the bottom of the briefcase pink.
4) I stood the briefcase up and flipped the handle to the other side so I could paint the remainder of the top pink.
5) Day 2, I laid the briefcase with painted front on the floor and painted the back silver.
6) I stood the briefcase up to paint the handle.  I painted one side of the handle, then once it felt dry, I flipped the handle over and painted the other side.

One last thing.  This particular briefcase does not stay open on it's own (notice the silver stick keeping in open in the photo).  Since I didn't want to hold the case open myself, I devised a simple (and free!!!) way to prop it open.  I took a thick cardboard tube that had been the inside of a roll of paper and cut it to the size I needed.  Then, I painted it with 2 coats of the silver Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Paint (without the fabric medium).  I let the paint dry an hour between coats and 24 hours after the 2nd coat.  It worked great for the show last night and when closing the case, I just lay the post flat inside the briefcase. 

Ta-da!  That's how I made my personalized gig briefcase!  I might decide to add even more detail/personalization to it later, but simply painting it has transformed it significantly. Hurray!  It wasn't hard to do but be aware that it does take a good chunk of time.  And make sure you cover your work surface if you don't want to get paint everywhere.  If you have any questions for me, I encourage you to leave them in the comments and I will answer them to the best of my ability.  Happy crafting!

Inspiring and educational experience: Learning to use new tools (not the household kind) 

Two weekends ago, I had a fantastic, soul enriching and inspiring weekend.  I went to a live performance by Amelia Curran and Ryan Boldt (from the Deep Dark Woods).  I had never heard either of them before and they were both great!  The following day I attended two workshops: the first was a songwriting workshop with Amelia Curran and the second was a Looping Pedal workshop with spoken word artist and musician Moe Clark.  All 3 of these events had the artist in me grinning (a Julia Roberts grin) and inspired me to try some new things with my songwriting.

More on Workshop 1:  
Amelia Curran is well-known for her descriptive lyrics, full of imagery and metaphor.  Seeing her perform before attending the workshop was very rewarding for me as I got a sense of how she applies metaphors and images to her songs (and how well they work!).  At the workshop, it was great to hear more about her writing process, how she finds inspiration and what writing methods she uses.  The interactive form of the workshop also gave us all a chance to learn little tips and tricks from one another.  Songwriting is such an individual thing, everyone writes differently and there is no one right way to do it; so I have always found it very rewarding to hear how different songwriters write.  It gives me new ideas of things to try in my own writing process.  I like to challenge myself and try new ways of writing to see what comes out, discover new sounds and continue growing as an artist.

More on Workshop 2:
In the workshop with Moe Clark, we explored the looping pedal from an interactive perspective - we all had to be spontaneous and create a group piece using our voices and the various instruments Moe had brought along.  She introduced new methods of experimenting with the writing process using the looping pedal and it was a very soul-enriching experience to interact with other artists in such a way.
 
Then there was the technical side of the workshop, learning how the Looping Pedal works and what it can do.  Moe has a nice fancy one and I absolutely want to get one for myself.  Alas (that's right, alas), there is this little thing called money the people at the store want in exchange for the product... so I don't own one yet.  I am not the most technologically skilled person, so it was great to learn about the pedal and see it action in the workshop.  I had only ever seen them in use on stage before and for whatever reason the people don't stop their performance to explain to you how it all works.  (Weird, right?)  I feel like a looping pedal would add another great experimental aspect to my songwriting process and possibly to my stage show (I look forward to playing around with one and discovering how I want to use it).

The Result:
All of those experiences combined to inspire a new song over the following week, written with some different techniques/ideas than previous songs I've written.  The song is not completely done by any means, there are still so many fun things to explore, but I have the basic form, melody and lyrics and I'm quite happy with it!  I was so inspired to try out some of the new techniques and apply them to my own songwriting... so I did! It was fun, and I look forward to having a wider array of tools in my songwriting toolkit going forward!  The only problem is that now I'm quite jealous of anyone with a looping pedal... I didn't know what I was missing out on until Moe's workshop.  I'm no longer blissfully ignorant when it comes to looping pedals and I'll be saving up so I can afford one of my own.  (In the meantime, if I see you with a looping pedal, I will probably be staring at it, drooling enviously.  Don't mind me.)

Excited for Valentine's + Free Download 

I'm getting excited for Valentine's Day! Valentine's to me is a celebration of all love, not just romantic love.  Love is what makes our world beautiful and there is a far bigger spectrum of love than the romantic kind alone.   Given that, I have always loved Valentine's, as a kid and as an adult, regardless of  whether I'm single or in a relationship.  My parents used to give us little heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and I loved giving Valentine cards to friends and family.  I have always looked at Valentine's as an opportunity to celebrate love between people (friends, family, lovers, etc.) as well as love of one's self (I mean, I can buy myself a heart shaped box of chocolates because they're delicious and hearts are awesome.  And to quote a Whitney Houston song "Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.").  So I encourage you to show some love this Valentine's Day, whether it's to yourself, to a family member, friend, partner, stranger, or anyone else you can think of!

I'd like to show my fans some love over the next few days by offering a free download of my song "Hey Valentine"!  For the next four days (Feb. 11, 12, 13 and 14) anyone who signs up for my mailing list, follows me on Twitter, or Likes my Facebook page will get a free download.  And to thank the wonderful fans and followers I have already, if you have previously done any of those things, just message me if you want the free download!  I don't want you to feel deprived because you became a fan too early!!  I love all my fans and I want to thank you for being awesome!! :)

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