By | just do it, little epiphanies, music, performance, the pursuit | 4 Comments


Over the years Ive had a weird and unhealthy relationship with performing. I always felt like i never chose this life. It chose me. And because I ‘didnt have a choice’ I felt unqualified to make music b/c I hadnt been trained traditionally. My biggest fear was (and is) playing in front of other musicians b/c it was the one place people would listen to me with critical ears and I would ultimately be exposed for being an imposter – someone who has no idea whether shes playing a Gsus or G7 or Gwhatever. Someone who is faking it until she makes it.

Its a weird feeling thinking of all the doors that have opened up over the past year – wondering how it happened and worrying whether or not I will mess it up. These days I have learned to ask myself a very important question when I get off stage after a bad set: “What do I think happened and what actually happened?“ Reality and perception are two very different things, and often we confuse them and make them the same. This question has really helped to steer me away from those moments when all I wanna do is rip myself apart and say “YOU SUCK! You shouldnt be here. They only clapped b/c thats what theyre supposed to do“. If there is one thing I know now, its that musicians make mistakes…all the time. They just get better at hiding them :) If there is anything else I know, its that the more you practice, the better you get. These are two facts that I wish the 21-year old version of me knew 11 years ago, although to be honest, Im not sure it would have saved me from any of my episodes of self-deprecation.

Ive also begun to tell myself one other thing (this time before I get on stage): “this show is not about you. you are simply the messenger delivering the message. Someone needs to be encouraged. Someone else needs to access a buried emotion. Someone else just really needs to have a good time tonight. Help them do that with your music.“ Reminding myself of this keeps me from wallowing in self pity, constantly apologizing on stage for my imperfections, and making awkward comments to distract people from the fact that I’m very uncomfortable. Over the years, I’ve frozen up on stage out of the fear that I wouldn’t perform flawlessly (ironic), I’ve kept to myself b/c I felt I wasn’t good enough to associate with certain people of a higher musical caliber, I’ve made one apology after another after another.

So you played a song and you hit a wrong note…or two…or three. It’s ok. Now they all know you’re human.  When it comes down to it, music makes people happy, it enriches their lives. And it’s your gift to give to the world. Don’t hoard it. Everybody already knows you’re not perfect, but it finally becomes fun when you accept it.

#290 Flashback

By | performance, purpose, the pursuit | No Comments

Time really seems to be flying…like really fast! Tonight I spent a good portion of my evening sifting through YouTube, deleting some old videos and unlisting ones that had formerly been public. I’m cleaning up my YouTube for something big that’s coming this week! Check back here for that announcement on Wednesday. It’s pretty BIG!

As i was sifting through videos, I found ones that were extremely outdated and highly bootleg-looking. But they are still very dear to me because they remind me of how this all started. And the thing is that, even though time is flying, some of these videos aren’t really all that old in the grand scheme of things. Some of them are from 2010. Some are even 2012. But it’s amazing to me how much can happen in 1 year…or 3. And it’s also amazing to me how quickly video quality changes…or the standard of what’s deemed professional and unprofessional as far as presentation goes.

Anyhow, here are some oldies but goodies. Fun things, random footage, and alot of bad hairstyles!

This one’s the Lilith Fair feature by Ourstage. This video feels so old…including my mushroomtop head thing! :)

Myself, JD Eicher, and Kurt Scobie trying to figure out how to collectively promote our tour even though Kurt lived over 600 miles away! I get a kick out of this one every time :)

My first time introducing my new instrument. Why was I rambling? Also, I played so terribly!

First music video…and still my favorite

This was probably one of my favorite tours of all time. Maybe top 5. The highlight was certainly the now defunct Music Festival, Purple Door.

My friend Ranika decided to do an “After-show” interview with attendees at the 2010 album release party. This was a great day :)

#251 Pour In. Pour Out

By | books, performance, Uncategorized | No Comments

Sarah Masen

Friday’s show was one of those nights where I felt so blessed to be doing what I’m doing. Much like the It Was Good event 2 weeks ago, tonight was magical. The Nashville concert and book launch carried much of the same beauty as the Lancaster launch, but there was a certain richness and depth in the music that contributed to this particular evening’s uniqueness.

I don’t often have the chance to share a stage with music veterans, let alone female music veterans who have such a rich history of music-making. So being able to listen and talk with Sarah Masen, Sandra McCracken, Katy Bowers, and Julie Lee was a priceless honor. There’s something about being around people who “get it” – they understand what you’re doing, and why it matters. And they also understand the hardships that come with the journey – something you can’t fully translate to others no matter how articulate you are.

Somehow I felt like I was seeing the future. Like I was seeing what the future could be. Women who grew up together making music for each other, their friends, and fans were now making music for their children. It was so beautiful. I now realize that I was poised less as an observer and more as a student at the show – watching and hoping, just hoping that some of their awesome would rub off on me.

The day before, Leslie Bustard, wife of Ned Bustard (Creative Director of Square Halo Books), read us a book on the drive down to Nashville. The book is called On Becoming Generative: An Introduction to Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura. The book talks about what it looks like to create art that contributes to the building up of culture instead of the tearing down of it. For me, the most meaningful concept in the book was the idea of being poured into so you actually have something to pour out. We can spend so much time creating to the point where we have nothing left to offer. That’s called burnout and we all know the feeling. When we get to the point of burnout, our work begins to lose its beauty and its  joy.

On Friday i felt poured into. I felt like a car overdue for an oil change. And i finally got it!

I was also blessed by the Spirit of excellence by every one involved – the soundmen, stage hands, and stage manager/event coordinator, Steve Guthrie. I can’t remember the last time I was part of an event where so much care was given to the coordination of the evening and to artist communication. It contributed to a flawlessly-run night and what i believable was an enjoyable experience for the artists and audience alike.

All in all, i feel blessed, grateful, and happy :)

#239 When Everyone Cares

By | performance | One Comment

Two nights ago I had the pleasure of performing in Lancaster’s Trust Performing Arts Center for the It Was Good Book Launch. It was a beautiful hall with an arched ceiling, marble walls, and a grand piano in the center of it all. It was one of those rooms that, when you walk into it, you feel different. You feel like something special is about to happen because only special things happen there.

I’m a temperamental musician. In fact, most times I really don’t like calling myself a musician simply for that fact. When i don’t feel at home in a space, I don’t perform well. When there’s a coffee grinder whirring in the background my performance is terrible. When people are talking, during a song, I suddenly can’t remember lyrics. It’s a mess. Often times I feel like every show is a gamble…especially when I’m not familiar with the space. My set could go so many ways and its all dependent on the room and how it influences those who are in it. So when I walked into the Trust Performing Arts Center on Friday afternoon for soundcheck, I was more than just excited for that evening’s show.

If you’re an artist you know what I mean. After playing out for a while, you get used to people not paying attention to you. In fact, you’re spending alot of time in front of people, but half of the time, they act like you’re not there. It’s a very unsettling feeling because you can’t make someone care; they have to do that on their own. So when someone actually does care…when everyone cares you feel completely spoiled. Spoiled by the fact that you can actually share the songs, why they were necessary to write, and then talk to people afterwards about what those songs mean to them. It’s a conversation, an exchange, a genuine connection that can only happen when people actually care and want to listen.

And for some reason, when the audience cares, you suddenly care so much more. And ultimately the level and quality of evening is so much higher because everyone is on the same page.