There was a concert in my living room

A little while back I texted my friends and veteran house concert troubadours on their opinion of my house as an appropriate venue for hosting a show. Not their show….just a show. David thought I might be able to get 30 or so people in the space. 

I never did anything with that information. It was just another one of my Beautiful Ideas

Maybe a week later he asked me if I’d like to host a house concert? A lovely woman by the name of Marian Call was embarking upon a tour across the states. She and David had talked about getting together for a show for a while but it never seemed to work out. I think. Maybe that’s the story? It’s the new truth because it’s late and god-so-help-me, I just want to get this story told. So I can tell all the other ones waiting in the wings. 

My answer was yes. Actually, since we’re making up stuff around here, I was all, “Oh hell yesss, muthafucka!”

Profanity aside, I truly was excited to have them play here. I am a fan of David’s band, Dr. Pants, and to have that glory happening under my roof seemed like a no-brainer. I had never heard of Marian Call, but I trust his judgement.

Bryan, Marian’s guitarist for this leg of her tour, had flown in Saturday night and Sunday morning I scooted to his hotel to pick him up. Later in the afternoon, we three moved sofas, unfolded chairs and ::boom:: a venue was born.

So...this is happening.

 FYI to any indie folk artist who are looking for a place to have a house concert in Oklahoma City, my house seems as if it could hold 45 or so people. The final count for Sunday was right around 30, so things didn’t get crazy. In fact, things only got cooler as the evening wore on. 

 Right when they were supposed to, people arrived and they all had their proper donations. Some even had extra and I think the bands  had a successful night in Casa de Sheri. I had a successful night, too, as a friend from Texas brought up a case of bottled Fat Tire each for David and I. As I cleaned up after the show I proudly tossed vegetables from my crisper drawer to make room for all those lovely bottles. 

I don’t remember a whole lot of detail from the show. There were a lot of friends in the room, which was a perfectly acceptable distraction in my book, plus I was knee deep in Fat Tire and whatnot. Sitting here tonight, I can think of ways to improve for next time as a person who wants to be writing about these many adventures upon which she embarks. Perhaps I’ll keep a camera with me? Or….I don’t know….take photos of all these lovely friends who attended? Next time. Next time I will be more present and less flittery. The times lately that I’ve most enjoyed the magic of live music, I’ve been writing words in my head as I’m listening and watching. All systems are go and I’m taking note as to not forget.  

One memory did surface, and it’s one I experience more often and more deeply as I become better friends with David and his wife K.C. I get a little weepy or get chills at least once during the evening, whether it be a Dr. Pants set or a K.C. Clifford set. To see people I love do the work they love makes my heart swell and makes me want to be a more open and vulnerable person. This is how music makes me better. I watch their vulnerability and it gives me joy and strength, even when it involves throwing donuts to a captive audience. You know what…. ESPECIALLY when it involves throwing donuts into a captive audience. 

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Marian was delightful! She sings a lot about nerdy / geeky things, but then just funny / cool life observations, too. And she uses a vintage typewriter as a percussion instrument. Correction, she brilliantly uses a vintage typewriter as a percussion instrument.

And she handed out props for songs…

And Dr. Pants did what Dr. Pants does…

And it was glorious.

A big, huge thank you to David Broyles, K.C. Clifford, Marian Call and Bryan Ray for being so lovely to the newbie and for helping make a wonderful house concert happen. All I did was provide a venue and place for two musicians to sleep. They did all the magic and I’m, once again, grateful for the daily miracles. Sunday had miracles stacked to the rafters. <3

A grand adventure in a new city

Check!

At the beginning of this year my friend Tracey demanded I submit a list of 5 things I wanted from 2013. That conversation had to have been in January, before anything much had happened in my life. When I could feel that 2013 wouldn’t be normal but I had no real idea why. I told her I already had 5 things to work on. I had my Mighty Life List and the 5 things I chose to accomplish in 2013. 

She said that wasn’t good enough. She wanted a fresh list from me. I obliged. 

One of the 5 was, “Have a grand adventure in a new city.” 

I’ve had my eye out for this item to present itself all year. I’ve had grand adventures. And I have been in new cities. They have been mutually exclusive until a week ago. 

I told my friend Nathan, who I knew was playing Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, that I was jealous he was going to be there. And that I had played around with the idea of going. Like a good little hint-reader he said, “Well, if you decide to come up I’ll be sure to put you on the guest list.”

!!!

I let that whim roll around in my head and heart for a few hours. I worked a little, then I looked at flight prices. I worked a little more then texted friends for advice (fly? drive?). I worked more then thought of all the reasons I shouldn’t. Then of all the reasons I should. Rinse, repeat. That night after an hour of yoga, I thought I had gotten clarity. I texted Tracey and told her my decision and she agreed it was the right one. I was going to stay home, not be wrecked on Monday and get things done. Help a friend pack. Go help my dad with his printer. Clean my house. Be practical. Save money. 

The next morning I woke up, did my daily meditation (more on that later) and found a great passage I shared on Facebook. 

“To cultivate the light of awareness, pay attention to the clues and evidence that miracles are unfolding in your life. Notice the unexpected opportunities that come your way, the flash of insight, a sudden feeling of peace or joy, a chance meeting, or a spontaneous creative experience. You may want to keep a list of daily miracles in your journal. Whatever we pay attention to expands in our experience, so as you focus your attention on miracles you will begin to notice more grace, happiness, and love.” 

To which Tracey replied, “Maybe you better go away this weekend after all. Be wrecked Monday. You’ve been worse.” We took the convo offline and I told her all the reasons I could not go with a list of wonderful things I’d accomplish if I stayed home. She said, “We are all going to die. Eventually. When you look back this will be one of those things you did right. You won’t remember the tired. You will remember the good vibes of music in a mountain town.” To which I replied, “Fuck.”

She was right. So….I went. I got my inbox to zero, texted a lady in Colorado I’d found the day before on a festival forum about a place to stay, ran home for 10 minutes to pack and started driving north. After 4 hours I turned left, then drove 6 more. I stopped three times for less than 10 minutes each.

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I-70 from Salina to Denver should have been soul-crushing boredom, but I was giddy. I saw so many places and things I wanted to stop and photograph: Cool/weird billboards touting Jesus or chimney sweeps or odd museums; wind turbines placed right along the highway like dinosaur-sized daisies; a small clapboard church sitting in a green, planted field (of what?) whose steeple contained a brass bell; a gradually darkening smokey blue sky containing no other color or shape but a perfectly round sun that turned from brick red to crimson and slipped beneath the wide, flat horizon. But I did not stop, because the 10 hours I had planned to travel could easily turn into 14 hours of chasing rabbits down holes and I was headed towards music — nothing else. 

Upon arrival to Lyons, CO, I felt like the biggest fucking badass that ever existed.

Ever.

Despite crawling into bed around 12:30am, it was still an hour before I was able t wind down enough for sleep. I was awash with joy and gratitude! My home stay was lodge-like and walking distance to Planet Bluegrass, which are both the festival grounds and the home of the family of festivals I adore. Driving in during the night meant that when I walked to the festival that morning, I was treated to completely spectacular scenery. 

On Saturday I was on the guest list courtesy of Seryn, my friends from Denton, TX. Those guys who crashed on my floorI arrived at the ranch with just enough time to get my wristband and watch the annual running of the tarps, a tradition that happens at most or all Planet Bluegrass festivals in which folks line up to stake their claim on prime real estate every morning. Sometimes in costume. 

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The festival without the music is so cool. Lots of laid back hippies mixed with really awesome people. There was a guy handing out bear hugs. There was the St. Vrain river that runs by so close to the stage that lots of people opt to watch from a low-slung chair sitting right in the cool flowing water. I decided that what I had packed impulsively was going to murder me slowly under the blaring Colorado sun, so I stopped into a vendor tent and bought a tye-dyed sundress. Then wore it.

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 I watched a TON of music. If you go to Flickr you can look at all the photos I managed to catch with my iPhone. Amazing day. Uh-ma-zing. 

After I wrapped up a night of crying to Shane Koyczan and Patty Griffin followed by going aaaalllll the way down to boogey town with the John Butler Trio, I sat down in a chair backstage and took a moment. Had a breath. Looked around and experienced my gratitude. Gave it to the Universe. Namaste and all that. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this guy. 

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I had spoken to him earlier in the day to compliment him on his dancing. Josh, as his name turned out to be, had looked like the happiest damn guy in the whole wide world. Completely uninhibited. I don’t remember exactly why I went to talk to him, I just did. I am soooo glad I did. We got to chatting and I told him that I was having the best damn day ever. He must have asked about my excitement level for Sunday and I told him I didn’t have a plan or a ticket. He mentioned that he had just given away his +1 media pass because he hadn’t found the writer for which it was intended and didn’t want the ticket to go to waste. I mentioned I was a writer. He groaned. I groaned. So! Close!

Josh caught a festival organizer walking by and told him of the situation. He said he would try, but made no promises. I had zero expectations. He would text Josh in the morning. Josh and I talked a while longer and, maybe because I was drunk on Colorado air, festival love and a teensy bit of New Belgium products, I followed Josh into the evening.

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We went to song circles and in the morning I got a text. I would be attending the festival with press credentials.

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Later in the week, I published an article for Marquee Magazine. The editor said that anytime I wanted to write for them, I was welcome. Please take the time to let Josh’s photo galleries roll as his talent is almost as enormous as his heart. Many, many thanks to this new friend of mine. I hope to be writing alongside him again very soon.

Bonus: This is how Dancin’ Josh enjoys music festivals.

Then, this happened…

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Then I took a shower and went to work. For lunch that day I had a nap. I napped SO HARD, you guys. 

Best! Weekend! Ever!

As I was leaving Lyons, Tracey sent me my texts from Friday morning along with a note. “Just a reminder of how lame you almost were.”

 

 

I attended BlogHer Food in Austin

I did. And imma gonna tell you about it.

It was kind of was what I expected it to be in most ways. I’m glad it wasn’t a huge, sprawling conference and glad there was ample, ample time for networking with newbies, friends, brands, big-time food bloggers and others. Maybe it was my inexperience navigating the conference, but I felt it was a little light on the learning opportunities. I wanted more sessions!

I got to Austin the day before the conference and after settling into The Bubble, I headed over to the Tasty Kitchen party. It was a relaxing room full of awesome women who noshed on delicious food and sipped from an open bar. In fact, the hostess fetched me a drink just as soon as I walked in the door. 

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 There was a catch. Ahem.

I talked to Rebecca from Foodie with Family for a good long while (a blessed, recurring theme throughout the weekend) and after a couple of delicious and not-too-sweet margaritas, I sauntered over to the buffet for a snack. Looking around the room of confident women bloggers is a special kind of hell for me. See…they all seem to know each other well. Like old friends. They are old friends. I’m still a pretty new kid on this go round of writing on the Internet. There were no natural empty seats with people and I wanted to meet these ladies. I also wanted to eat. I inhaled the delicious scent of sauteed spinach and simmered black beans and reminded myself, “Comparison is the thief of joy. Just go eat alone. One thing at a time.” 

I found a corner with two large, empty sofas and sat down. As I tucked into my deliciousness, a nice lady walked up and asked if I minded if she sat. Perfect! We chatted one on one for 20 minutes or so and remembering that I was supposed to be networking, I fished a business card from my purse. She looked at it strangely, paused, and said, “I think I followed you on Twitter today.”

 

Yep, Merry from The Merry Gourmet  and I had chatted each other up for a good, long while before discovering we’d already met briefly on The Twitters, thanks to Vivian. And, eventually, once my blood sugar raised and my inhibitions lowered, I chatted with lots more people. Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes and her beau, Diane from Momo Fali, Meseidy from The Noshery, and a bunch of other women whose names I almost immediately forgot because…open bar.

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After several more appetizers, a few hours and a bunch of water, I snuck out of the party and raced across town to catch the last 1/3 of Matt the Electrician at Strange Brew. I almost blew it off, but so glad I didn’t.

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The next morning I headed to breakfast and then my first session, Principals of Storytelling. Almost immediately my table began exchanging business cards and I panicked. I wasn’t going to have enough to last through Day 1, much less Day 2.

::Activate MacGyver Mode::

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I searched for “business cards in downtown Austin” and came up with Paper Source. Perfect! A cab ride later I bought blanks and a nice felt-tipped pen, tweeted a pic of my cashier to The Pioneer Woman (I overheard her being a superfan) and strolled over to 24 Diner for workspace and glass of cava. Then I walked back a mile to the convention center. It was then I decided that Day 2 would not include my camera equipment and laptop. (ouch) To answer your question, I really don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I thought I’d be able to hail a cab on the way? Stop. I can hear you laughing.

The rest of the day was a bust, content-wise, but the evening brought foodie excursions out in Austin. 

Maria’s Taco Xpress. Whip In. Gourdoughs.

First stop! #AusProgEats

#ausprogeats #blogherfood2013

Fat Elvis, lit by the glow of a Moontower. #ausprogeats #blogherfood2013 #peanutbutter #banana #bacon

If you want more detail, feel free to meander over to Twitter or Instagram and search the hashtag #austinprogeats. I won’t spoil the whole story but I will tell you that Whip In is a Indian-fusion Gastropub and Gourdoughs sold me a donut topped with peanut butter icing, grilled bananas and bacon. It’s amazing I even came home.

Saturday was more conferencing, though this day’s sessions spoke to me far more than Friday’s did. My favorite session was called Blog on the Run and taught by Mallory Dash. Later in the evening I made my first pilgramage to Stubb’s BBQ for BBQ (duh) and a party hosted by Ree, Jaden and Elise. Ree told bad jokes. There was much merriment. I line danced and wore a pretty dress. Most of the bloggers from my last trip to The Ranch were in attendance and it was nice to catch up with them. So, I guess I maybe DID know some folks after all.

The day still wasn’t over! While at the party I got a call from my cutie neighbor with the invite to come see the new restaurant he was helping to open. So glad I did. 

Turns out it is called Eden East. It is on a farm. In Austin. Hyperlocal dining at its best. 

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I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t even eat and I didn’t want to leave. Then I woke up the next morning, didn’t want to leave, went to 24 Diner to eat a waffle, didn’t want to leave… then drove home.

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