Sunday, April 28, 2013

Resurrections (part deux)...

You know when you get an idea and you're excited about it, because it could lead to something really special, so you make plans, and you're still really excited about it, because it's still far away, so the fear and doubts are kept at bay.  And then the days pass, and the time gets closer, and you start to feel uneasy (okay, fine, I'll say it) I start to feel uneasy.  And I think, maybe I'm just not ready, maybe I need a little more time? You ever feel like that? No? Okay, so let's take a time out on that thought for a second.  No worries, we'll come back to it, I promise.

Some of you may know I had the huge opportunity to tour Europe in 2011 performing in Neutral Hero as a part of New York City Players. Music was a tremendous part of the show.  So not only did I have an incredible time performing throughout Europe, but I became friends with a couple of totally amazing musicians.  Sure we performed music in the show, but we also had sing-alongs in our hotel rooms, maybe a lobby or two, and during, what we like to call, musical brunch.  What's that now?  Yes, I said musical brunch.  More on that in a bit.  Believe me, I have some sort of point.  I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

So when you kinda mention to these musician friends that you've been writing some music, and they offer to lend you their talents, you get so excited because these are real actual gifted musicians.  So you send out an email, and you make plans, and you're excited, and then it gets to be the day before, and you get a little bit nervous, but then you haven't spoken about it in a few weeks, so you start thinking (and yes, by saying you, I mean me) "Oh, maybe it won't happen.  They're probably just really busy, and I'll just send an email and say, 'Hey guys, I know you're so busy, no worries, we can reschedule '" and then before you hit send, you get an email saying "Just checking in about tomorrow...".  Oh shit, it's happening.  So you put your uke in it's plushy, new case (with fears and all) and you hit the road...

My uke is very cute.
to Brooklyn, for Musical Brunch (yay, it's a picture blog day).  Okay, so what the heck is musical brunch you ask?  It's brunch, you know with some bites to eat and some drinks, but mainly it's drinking early in the day without feeling guilty about it because well, it's brunch, oh, and you also play music.  The first time we had musical brunch was in Vienna.  We had it on the grounds of our hotel (and I think it was probably not quite acceptable to play and drink where we did, but when in doubt, just look confused, ya know the look that says Oh, we're American, we don't know any better) .  It looked something like this...

Andie, James and me in Vienna.

So at this point you (and now by you, I do actually mean, you), you may be wondering why I was hoping to postpone musical brunch?  Good question folks.  And the answer is, because I'm insane.  Because going to musical brunch would mean putting myself out there, and quite possibly embarrassing myself in front of my friends. Now if you know these folks, you know they are the nicest and most supportive peeps on the planet, but they are insanely talented, and I am not a trained musician.  Let me translate the voices in my head for you, they go something like this "You are going to make a fool out of yourself.  Do you really think people are gonna like what you write?  Who do you think you are?"  Well, I told those voices to shut the f*#k up, and now back in America, musical brunch looks something like this...

Andie, Katie and James tuning up.
After some heavy carb-loading, and a few mimosas, we got down to business.  Finding some courage I played a bit of my song (and in case you missed my first demo of the song, you can find it in this post:  Resurrections, and when you listen you'll hear why I was nervous to play in front of them), they did what they do best.  We talked about the feel, asking my opinions, giving theirs, working together.  The thing about making music is there are so many possibilities.  It's all about the possibilities, and then making choices.  You try things out, add a solo here, one more measure there, you bring back the melodica, you take away the mandolin, and if it doesn't work, you try something different.  And isn't that what life is all about?  You make a choice, take a chance and if you fall down, you get back up again.

I can't tell you how great it felt to collaborate with my friends, especially listening to them play what I had only heard in my head, only now it sounded better than I imagined.  To me, now it sounds like an actual song.  They've inspired me to do more.  And I am.  I've also decided to set some goals for myself. Wanna hear 'em? Well, you don't have a choice (ok, you do, you can stop reading now, but I hope you don't) 1: to have four-five songs written, and arranged, by September and 2): to record those songs for an EP by the end of the year.  I'm excited and fear free (for now).

I think the time has come to share what we worked on.  We made a little recording again on my trusty iPhone, but I'm so proud to share it.   Mr. James Moore is on guitar, Ms. Andie Tanning Springer is on mandolin and melodica, Ms. Katie Cox is on banjolele (which is a banjo ukuele, and it's seriously the cutest thing ever) and I'm on vocals (yes, I chickened out and didn't play but, come on, it's hard for me to sing and play at the same time...cut me some slack, I'm learning to).   You can hear it by pressing this little link right here:

The Slaughter and the Lamb

And seriously, my friends are terrifically talented, and super amazing humans. I can't thank them enough for sharing their gifts and time with me. You can find out more info on them below:

James Moore
Andie Tanning Springer
Katie Cox

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Sometimes I doubt, and loudly. Sometimes the doubts get so loud, and scary, that it hurts. A few months ago they hit me so hard, I felt like I hit a wall. I really questioned if I should still be pursuing this career. I got up on a Saturday morning, took a shower and wept...for a long time. Thankfully, no one saw me because I'm one ugly crier. I mean like U-G-L-Y. Anyway, after I stopped, I realized I'm not ready to give up. BUT I could no longer continue on the same road I was on. Something had to change. Then I sat down to write (I'm not a big journaler, this blog is as journal-ly as I get. I've had a few diaries as a kid with entries like "I hate so and so, so much, everybody loves her blah, blah, blah". I filled in like three pages, and never wrote in them again. But something told me to write down what it felt like at that moment. Well, it felt like rock-bottom, and here it is, in all it's unedited, depressed gory glory:

     This is what rock-bottom looks like, well what it looks like to me. It’s a Saturday, early afternoon in February. Lying on the kitchen floor using a knife to pry the box of Benadryl that had fallen underneath the oven…Benadryl is expensive, when you are broke, not just broke but severely in debt. Rock-bottom is not knowing if you’ll have enough money to pay your health insurance this month or the next, but rock-bottom is knowing that you can no longer live in the state you are in. So there is a choice to be made, whether to continue on your path, albeit in a new direction, to give it up and try something new, or to end it. A brief dialogue goes on in your mind, and you then know in your heart that the option to end it is no option at all. So what to do? Get serious, because none of us have an infinite amount of time, and I’ve wasted enough minutes, and hours, and days, and months that have added up to years of, I can’t say complete failure because I’ve had some successes, and I’ve had some fun, and I’ve held on to my dreams, but holding on, and doing everything I possibly could do to move them forward...are different things, and I know I haven’t. I’m lazy and I get mad that things haven’t happened for me like other people but how can I? Yes, we may have the same dreams and I may even have more talent but they got up, and fell down and got right back up again the next day, and I got up, went to work and went back to sleep again. It’s not enough.

     I’ve spend my entire life afraid of making a fool of myself. God forbid I make a mistake, or even worse? I make a mistake in front of someone else, some one that I admire, or love, or someone I will never ever see again. I am so afraid to make a mistake, I don’t do a damn thing. You can’t get hurt, or embarrassed, or feel like a fool if you don’t do anything, but you can’t grow, and can’t succeed without a risk, a failure, having someone think that you suck, you’re an ass, you’re not good enough. Someone said if you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried hard enough. I haven’t failed enough. I haven’t done ENOUGH. 

     In my some odd thirty years of life, I have never taken a NYC bus ride by myself, why? Oh, right, because I was afraid that I would do the wrong thing and someone might think I was an idiot, or get annoyed that I didn’t know what I was doing, or shake their head at me. I might make a fool of myself, on the bus, in front of strangers. Holy shit, how bad would that be? (Side note: the me right now writing this blog and re-reading this realizes that this is a ridiculous fear, but it was my fear and I'm putting it out there and owning it. Okay, continuing on.) Well, I took a trip on the bus Friday night and I didn’t know I was supposed to use my metro to purchase a receipt for the bus outside of the bus. So I waited for the bus in the cold, got on the bus expecting to use my metro card and Ouch, I was wrong. Off the bus. So I had to wait for another know what the worst thing was? Waiting in the fucking cold for another bus. I made a mistake in public, and I didn’t die. 

     And so this is my project, my goal for the next 365 days. I do at least one thing a day for my career (write a line to a song, rewrite a line in a script, write a new line, submit for a project, record a song and put it on my website, go on an EPA audition/open call etc) and then document it here. Maybe it’s a small step one day, or maybe it’ll be a leap, but I can no longer play small, or I will HAVE to give this up. I will pick songs that I feel uncomfortable performing or singing. I’m not only here to perform greatly, but I’m here to learn all I can. I will try to make a fool of myself as much as I can, I will risk, because then I will deserve my just rewards. The time to be a fool in now! 

Reading that back now reminds me of what one of my college professors said of my short stories: Melodramatic! I used to watch a lot of soaps as a kid (yep, digressing again). But it's 100% how I felt at that moment, after questioning giving up my dreams, and then firmly believing, and saying NO, I CANNOT DO THAT TO MYSELF! But reading it now also feels like a wake up call once again, because can I honestly say that I've done one thing every single day since February 2nd, the day of my breakdown breakthrough, nope.  That's partly because the "documenting" I mentioned above lasted all of three days, so I don't know what I did, and when I did what (hmm, could consistency be an issue for me?) And, dear friends, it's also because I'm a lazy broad, probably not entirely sloth-like but who's to judge. However, I've written, and I've put myself out there a little more, and I've been embarrassed, and I've stumbled still, and I try to look people in the eye everyday, hold my head up high, and show up for myself...and I haven't felt like quitting, because I don't want to get off this road, because it's where I'm supposed to be. I AM A FOOL, and I'm kinda okay with it (so far)*.

*Looking forward to sharing the result of a little risk I embarked on today (let's say next blog post shall we?)!