Is January over already? How time flies! It is so hard to believe how much has happened within the past year... It has been a year full of personal challenges and learning opportunities, but also one of successes and steps forward.
The year has started out well with a trip to Virginia to be on the local CBS morning show “Virginia This Morning”. I was also able to play 4 shows while I was there, including some time with dear friend and fellow musician Dave Tinney. Thanks SO MUCH for all of you who came out to show support!
Although I moved to Nashville in September of 2006, I was still transient as I continued to travel back and forth to Virginia every month to play shows and support myself. I finally sold my house in VA in August 2007, which enabled me to stay here in Tennessee. It took a couple of moves, roommates, 17” moving trucks, and storage units, but I finally got into a house of my own in October, which made for a much happier Kari! Even though I have learned a lot about the value (or lack thereof!) of material things, it is so nice to have all of my stuff here together where I know where it is and can get to it.
In January, I played my first out-of-state show in Michigan at The Bresa Del Rio. This was an absolutely wonderful venue with wonderful people. I was also the featured artist on Richmond's WRIR 97.3 FM "River City Limits" program, which showcases local original artists. Since one of my goals for a while had been radio play, I was so excited for this opportunity! I also got to meet artist Blake Shelton and his band, as well as his manager Narvel Blackstock and son Brandon Blackstock, husband and son of Reba McEntire.
In February, I played my first full-band show in Nashville at the 5-star Millenium Maxwell House Hotel. This was SO exciting - although the acoustic show I did at Tootsie's was great, I really enjoyed putting a band together and creating an awesome set list. I got to do a lot of rock and bluesy stuff, which I really enjoyed, and Nashville has so many talented musicians to choose from! I got to see Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, in concert.
In March, I moved from downtown Nashville to another apartment on the outskirts of Nashville. The accident I had in November 2006 took a toll on my musician’s wallet! Amazingly, no settlement is in sight yet, but I’m working on it! I had the opportunity to also play at The Bresa in Michigan again. I was so sad when the Bresa burned to the ground on Thanksgiving of this year.
In April, I performed both in Alabama and in Texas, the latter a homecoming party for troops in Iraq, one of which was my brother-in-law Ben. I also had an interview on internet radio station nixacountry.com.
In May, I traveled home twice. In the first visit, I performed 7 times, including at The Canal Club for “The Music Seen”, performing the National Anthem at a Richmond Braves game, having an interview on Richmond’s WRIR 97.3 FM, and hosting a radio show on Williamsburg’s WRRW 100.9 FM. The second visit was in anticipation of the birth of my youngest sister Kasi’s daughter Ella. She was born May 31, and is precious! I also was able to play 5 shows in Williamsburg and Glen Allen while I was there. In between visits, I played at Nashville Venue “The Rutledge”.
In June, I had the opportunity to participate as an extra in Blake Shelton’s video for “The More I Drink”. Although I don’t show up in the video, I had a lot of fun being on set and hanging out with the band on the bus!
In July, my trip back to Virginia included 3 shows, and a lot of packing!
In August, I made a trip back to Virginia with 10 performances in Richmond, Glen Allen, Newport News, Purcellville, Williamsburg, and Ashland.
In September, my dear friend Gary passed away of a heart attack while hiking. I was glad to be able to fly back to Richmond to attend a memorial celebration of his life. I put this painful experience into a song called “Remembering You”.
In October, many of you got to see my first television appearance on PBS’s “The Music Seen” or got to hear my live interview on “Music on the Row Radio”.
In November, I traveled to VA to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, all 4 sisters, and all 7 nieces and nephews! I was also able to perform in Richmond, Williamsburg, and Northern Virginia.
In December, I was blessed to spend Christmas with people who are certainly like family, since I couldn’t be in VA with my own family!
07/19/2008 Wanna go?
I got a call from a good friend who owns an artist development company. He presented this opportunity, and asked if I was interested. Pretty much the only details I got were – that I’d leave the next day, I’d be gone for 3 weeks (that turned into 3 months), how much I’d make, and a few of the states I’d be playing. My mind was a bit blown at the concept of just getting up and leaving my house for 3 weeks – much less 3 months! I had met Dan Evans briefly about a week before, at a listening party with the management company I told him that I was interested, but at that time, it was still completely up in the air. And I had a night planned already – I took my friend Casey to the Alison Krauss / Robert Plant concert for her birthday, and then downtown for some music. Even though I have never been a huge fan of Led Zepplin / Robert Plant, I still LOVE Allison Krauss and that it would be an interesting mix - and it was... those 2 were incredible! It was a really neat pairing, and the music was just beautiful...On my way home around 2am, I realized I’d gotten a text around midnight, saying that - pending a quick audition the next day – it was 99% sure that I’d be going. Oh – and be ready by 1pm the following day. That gave me around 10 hours to get home, get my house cleaned, laundry done, dishes done, make arrangements for my dog, rent checks, etc., pack for 3 weeks, and a bunch of other stuff that honestly I don’t remember right now. OH – and sleep…
07/20/2008 I met Rupert from Survivor!
So it was supposed to be 1pm and I was there and ready, but this industry is one of hurry-up-and-wait!! But anyway, by 1pm the next day, I was there with suitcases in hand, ready to do something pretty crazy! When Dan and mom Jackie got there, the first thing that Jackie said to me was, “you’ve got to be crazy to be actually doing this – and that’s half the reason we think this is going to work out!” To be honest, I had so little sleep and so little time to process everything that was going on that it really hadn’t hit me yet! I mean – it had… a little bit, and I had definitely had some emotions about what was going on, but I was just so sleep-deprived it hadn’t really sunk in yet! I did a quick audition with them, then we went to lunch to get to know each other. And to eat lunch. ;)
On the bus is Dan, his mom Jackie, his assistant Matt, his brother Rich, and his Dad, Bernie. Rich is a pilot for Delta, but helps out with some of the driving – and plays bass when he’s on the road with us. Anyway, they had several meetings in Nashville, so they got those done, and we got on the road around 10pm. We were all so tired, but for the most part, we were all up until around 5 in the morning, when we got into Indiana. (Keep in mind – I had about 3 hours of sleep the night before…)
In Indiana, we stopped to pick up a toy hauler – basically a big camper that has a bed, kitchen, etc., but also holds “toys” – in this case a Harley belonging to Rupert – remember him from Survivor? He’s a jolly man at 5am – ha! We were all pretty exhausted at that point… but our intentions of picking up the toy hauler and moving on were quickly squelched when we couldn’t get some weird lock out of the hitch of the toy hauler… We ended up not being able to do anything about it until the morning when we had 3 locksmiths came out – and still couldn’t do anything about it. They finally ended up using a drill or something – I don’t even know honestly what the deal was at that point. We parked it for the night and slept. Or not.
So I guess now it was technically Monday… The plan was to drive through to the Evans’ amazingly beautiful house, and spend a day there. It gave them a chance to do laundry, spend a night at home, etc. – they had already been on the road for a while. I didn’t need a break – yet – but I enjoyed playing their grand piano as much as I got a chance!
After the toy hauler was disconnected, we took the bus into town, because it was having some problems. Well, that took a little longer than we expected – long story short – we had to be picked up close to midnight – without the bus, which had to be left there, until a part could be ordered. While we (me and Rich) were out with the bus, Dan and his parents were in town – buying a golf cart! We got that so we could get around at Sturgis – and at other venues that were really large and involved moving equipment around. It’s really more like a 4-wheeler than a golf cart – the tires are lifted and really big, and it doesn’t have an awning or anything over it. I’ll have to get a picture! Even though we got back really late, we had to take the golf cart out for a ride – all SIX of us – and that turned into an all-night venture… I think we all stumbled to bed around 6am the next morning… YAWN!! But it was worth it…
The funniest thing that happened – we were driving this golf cart around with no lights – we were in the country on pretty quiet roads – and we saw something ahead of us that we weren’t sure what it was. We waited until we got up close on it, then hit the headlights. And what happened next was nothing but HYSTERICAL… there RIGHT in front of us was a car pulled off on the side of the road. You know where this is going, right? A girl JUMPED SO FAST off the guy in the driver’s seat and they peeled off SO quick – and of course we were all laughing hysterically and hollering at them… guess you had to be there!
We found out that the part would have to be ordered for the bus (a U joint… whatever that is… and the part that the U-joint goes into) and that it would be another day before we left. I didn’t do much today – except ride around and get some errands done. We had a practice tonight – which was more like LEARNING the songs than practicing them for me! It was priceless to be able to do that – it helped me SO much, especially not ever having heard the music. I play guitar for some songs, piano for some songs, and sing harmonies. Dan sings and plays guitar, and his brother Rich plays bass. Right now, while we’re promoting his CD (which will be released September 30), it’s mostly acoustic gigs. Again, we didn’t get home until midnight, and again - we took the golf cart for a ride. ;) Not quite as long of a ride this time – it was FREEZING cold! Instead, we just hung out in the toy hauler and chilled.
I LOVE starting out my mornings playing songs on that grand piano… it just soothes me for some reason… And they liked hearing me play, so it worked out well for everyone! One thing I noticed already – my very light sleeping problem is quickly going out the window… At home, I have a huge, comfy king-sized bed with 1000-thread sheets and a down comforter. At nights (or early in the morning, as it usually is…) I close my black-out curtains, close my bathroom door so the sun doesn’t wake me when it comes up fully, and turn on my noise-reducing humidifier. Then with my 3 pillows perfectly placed, I lay down – and usually lay there for a while before I actually fall asleep – and usually sleep for 8 hours, or somewhere close to it. Yeah… not so much any more… That doesn’t work so well on a bus!! Or even in a house where there are people already awake and making noise, no curtains on the windows – and apparently the 1000-thread count sheets weren’t a necessity either… imagine that!
Not much happened today – just praying all day that the repairs to be bus would be done sooner than later, although it didn’t really happen that way… I did some errands, including going to the Sprint store, and signing up for mobile broadband card, so I can be on the internet pretty much everywhere. These guys all have these cards, and they are absolutely great… which is way I can sit here and get all these emails done on a moving bus – I love it! I may be able to keep up with people better than I did while I was at home this way! Though don’t cross your fingers… ;) Things are pretty busy, and of course will get more so now that we’re actually underway. We didn’t get on the road until about 11pm, after the bus got back to the house, we unloaded it from the last trip and reloaded it for this one, and got the toy hauler hooked up.
We started the trip with another practice – thank God the first couple of fair shows Dan will only be playing 4 – 5 shows, so I didn’t have to learn the whole CD right off hand…
So here I am, at 6:41am – can you believe it? Kari’s up at 6am – of course it’s only because I’ve been up all night… Actually we turned on “Dan in Real Life” and I fell asleep for about an hour – and that’s all the sleep I’ve had. I can’t believe I’m even functioning at this point! So much for 8 hours a night! I’ve been playing co-pilot to Rich, so who is driving right now.
So here is the setup of the bus – of course there is the driver seat and a passenger "co-pilot" seat. Then there are 2 couches, along with the kitchen and a desk area where Dan usually sits with his laptop. Then there is a bathroom and a bedroom in the back. Bernie – Dad – is taking a sleeping shift in the back, and Dan and Matt (Dan’s assistant) are sleeping on the couches, so I pretty much can either sleep on the floor, or play co-pilot. So I’m playing co-pilot. When we are stopped, it’s different – the slide-outs come out and one of the couches folds out a queen-sized bed, and we have another queen-sized air bed. The slide-outs make it about twice as wide in here. The tour bus they have right now is set up a little more like a family-style than a band bus that has bunks along the aisle. We just crossed from Wisconsin into Minnesota – I’ve never been in either of those states before, so that’s kinda cool! We have our first show today at the North Dakota State Fair. We’re not going to make it there by noon – again because of the bus repairs, so I’m not sure how the schedule is being moved around, but it hopefully won’t be a problem. Sometimes things are out of our control!!
North Dakota is interesting... It's been so interesting for me to see different types of people and hear different accents... I have never had quite this much exposure to different parts of the country! We stopped at a gas station and after I got done paying for my snacks, I said "thank you, y'all have a nice day..." and they all looked at me like they needed a translator... I don't sound THAT southern... They are so close to Canadia (as I call it - pronounced Kuh-nay-dee-uh) and everyone says their oh's really funny and are just difficult to understand in general. (But that's probably what they said about me too...)
So here are a few questions that I’ve been asked several times:
1. Yes, you can poo on the bus. It’s not fun, and usually everyone’s mad at you for a minute or two after you come out, but it happens. It’s either that, or we’d have to pull over this freight train every time someone had to go. And if you saw this double-long thing going down the road, you’d understand…
2. No, I didn’t need to pack an entire 3 weeks worth of clothes – there is a washer / dryer on the bus. It’s actually 1 unit – it washes clothes, then the same thing dries them.
3. No, I am not bored on the bus. There are a million things to do right now! Between learning songs / practicing, writing, watching a whole entire book full of movies, and having rolling access to the internet – I haven’t gotten close to being bored yet!
4. Yes, I can shower on the bus. That happened today for the first time, and let me tell you... taking a shower while driving down the road at 70 MPH in a tour bus is hard enough without adding bumpy dirty gravel roads to the mix... and we did have to - I swear to you - drive down a gravel / dirt road as part of our journey to the fair. I mean - a LONG one... The bus got SOO dirty...
BOYS’ FEET STINK. Why did I never notice this before? Probably because I’ve never lived on a bus with 4 guys before…
You're not gonna believe this... we dropped off the toy-hauler in an overflow lot, then went through the tedious process of getting the tour bus parked in exactly the right spot. LITERALLY as soon as we got into our space, the U-joint that had just been replaced just KLUNK fell right out from underneath the bus... So again, we were stuck. Couldn't get more water in the bus, couldn't dump our um "black water", couldn't use the levelers to level the bus out (we were parked on an incline), but thankfully, our generator and AC and everything still worked, so we could still stay in it, sleep in it, and shower in it until we ran out of water.
It turned out that by the time we got there and settled, we were just too late to be able to play.
By the way - the pic is of an ADORABLE puppy that they had found left on the fairgrounds - I wanted to keep it!!
So by the time we got everything done and settled, we decided to check out the fair. We found some decent live music and had lots of fun listening to music, and enjoying some tasty cold beverages. I'll spare you the ugly details that followed, but along with a team of female college hockey players, there may possibly have been a short trek on a lifted golf cart (we may have woken up a goat or sheep or two), and an end to said golf cart ride that resulted in the 2 of us on the back being flung to the ground... No major injuries, but just a really bruised knee, a sprained ankle, and some minor road rash. But it's okay, because I had fun, right? ha!
Most of the day was spent recovering… From the golf cart fall, I mean… ha! I'm WAY too old for this... They all got a huge kick out of the fact that I wanted them to ask the ambulance volunteers next to our bus for a fluid IV - but I was so serious... Besides my massive headache, my ankle was sprained, my leg and foot were bruised up, and I was just pretty darn miserable. Lesson learned... But after I while, I actually got to lay outside for a little bit and get a little bit of sun… it felt awesome! Then I felt well enough to walk around the fair for a little while (I'm going to be SO sick of pig races and kettle corn in a minute...), then show time!
Considering that they hired me a week ago, we didn't have a whole lotta time to learn a bunch of new songs... Thankfully all of these gigs at first are like 30-minute slots. For this first gig, we had me, Dan, and his bro Rich playing bass. Of course things weren't absolutely perfect, but for the first time I think we did pretty well!
After we finished playing, we hung out with the girls we had met the night before. I played mom (ha! told ya I learned my lesson!) and hung out with everyone in the toy hauler til the wee hours (again...). Me and the girls had a late night trek into the grandstand to see just how well that jacked-up golf cart could take on a huge pile of dirt (I think they were the sides of a race track or something?)... Not that I doubted that it could handle that, since it had handled taking ELEVEN of us over to the toy-hauler! It’s also very good at crushing mounds of trash left behind from the Jason Aldean concert… Who knew that thing would be THAT useful?? ;)
saturday, july 26, 2008 I'm movin' on...
Saturday seemed like a quick day... it was our last day of ND State Fair, and we knew we'd have to get in the car after the show and leave. :(
We knew it was going to be tough when we got there and the girl that claims to look "just like Shania" and sings Shania Twain karaoke in teal stretch pants was going over her time slot by like 15 minutes. So we rushed to get set up, but the sound guy could NOT get Rich's bass amp set up. It kept squealing - I think I'm still a little deaf from that... Finally Dan told them to just GIVE IT UP and the show must go on! That was frustrating, but oh well! These things happen...
Afterwards, we hung out for a little while in the toy hauler while Dan went to the Sugarland concert with a ticket someone had given him. We were all so exhausted that I think we were pretty much comatose! After a while, I took a nap and all the guys went to say bye to all of our new friends.
Then we hit the road (way late again) - but this time under very different circumstances... Rather than the bus, we had to rent an "SUV" - a Subaru Forester which had to hold 3 people, 2 guitars, suitcases / luggage for 3 people, CDs, merch / T-shirts, tents and poles and signs, 3 laptops - you name it - and you get the point... We were smashed like sardines in there... And driving through North Dakota in the middle of the night is kinda weird - it's like a ghost town... Speaking of ghost - we had to drive through this one neighborhood, and there was this little girl - like 7 years old - just playing on the sidewalk at like 1am - like there was absolutely not a care in the world. My suggestion was to drive quickly until we were on to the next town. And drive we did... ALL the freakin way to Montana...
07/27/2008 True exhaustion...
Can I just tell you how NOT fun that was? After driving all the way through the night, we get into town, and there is NO room in the inn, if you will... We didn't plan on needing a hotel room - we thought we'd have the bus - so we had no reservation. And with the fair in town, every hotel was booked up. We finally found somewhere to take us for the night - but couldn't get into the room until maid service came like 2 hours later. So we had to sleep sitting in the car until they got there... Once they cleaned the room and let us in, we PASSED out for about 2 hours until we had to go and set up for our first show.
Considering how sleep- and food-deprived we were, I think we did pretty well! The sound was SUCH an improvement, and that just made our lives so much better! The stage isn't as close to the midway as the one in North Dakota, so the traffic wasn't as heavy, but having better sound made it seem SOO much better...
There was NO way that anything crazy was to be done that night - we were SO exhausted... We had dinner at Chili's - nice to have a break from beef jerky and assorted nuts! And we found out that Montana doesn't have any sales tax! I like this place already... ;)
Got LOTS of pictures today! I met Misha and Ronnie, whose dad is running our sound. They spent the day hanging out with me, and I thoroughly enjoyed their company… And Misha got to practice her photography skills! Reminds me of my mom, who can also be quite the shutter bug… (love you mama! ;)
We went to the petting zoo, where I fell in love with the kangaroo and the baby camel… gets lonely on the road… ha! We had 3 shows, rotated in with this Lumberjack show and twin magician / comedy act. The funny thing is that I’m starting to learn this dynamic of fair performers – and how they all know each other and live this way on the road. I was in Wal-Mart at like midnight (felt normal to me! :) and ran into the twins from the magic / comedy act. I thought it was hilarious that there I was in Podunk, Montana, and ran into someone I knew in Wal-Mart! And then while we were talking for like half an hour, our sound man walked by! It’s just amazing how many friends I’ve met already!
We were invited by the guy who runs the lumberjack show (Jesse) to come out to the “Sip-n-Dip”, which is a bar in one of the hotels where most of the fair performers stay. It features a glass window that looks into the hotel pool – where a lady dressed up as a mermaid swims around while you drink. Hmm… But anyway, I had the brilliant idea for 3 of us to go get our acoustic guitars, and the Jesse brought his collection of harmonicas. We asked the bar manager, and he said he’d let us as long as it didn’t get too loud. I LOVED every minute of that jam session! I of course made my start playing covers, so it was easy to figure out songs that everyone knew, and before you know it, the whole bar was singing along – and even making requests! The manager didn’t kick us out…. He actually bought us a round! What a good time…
Today was our last show in Great Falls, Montana. On the way here, it was dark and we were going about 90 miles an hour (literally) so I had NO idea how beautiful this part of the country is. I can’t even explain it, it just has to be experienced. The sky is so blue, there is such a perfect breeze, and everything just seems to simple. Bales of hay, grazing horses and cattle, rustic barns and silos, trains passing slowly, beautiful mountains and hills, and just miles and miles of sky. I LOVE it. Pictures really don’t even do it justice, although I’ll attach one anyway!
There was a group at the show today that heard about Dan playing on the morning news and came out. They were so into the music, and they were just so sweet. They took lots of pictures, and wanted lots of hugs – it made me proud to do what I do. To bring joy into ONE person’s life by doing something that I love and am passionate about is a BLESSING that I too often forget to thank God for.
Right now we are completing the drive back to North Dakota – and OUR BUS!! I can’t wait… It’s hard enough to live a bus, but then when you’re trying to pack from the bus and trying to stuff luggage, 3 people, 2 guitars, CDs, tents, signs, t-shirts, etc. into a car and drive like 432 hours, it’s even harder. I’m glad the countryside is so beautiful – it breaks things up! Also, having this wireless internet card is SAVING my sanity right now… And it enables me to keep up with you this way! Tonight we will spend the night in North Dakota (they say our bus is actually fixed and ready to go!) and tomorrow we’ll head out for Sturgis, South Dakota. Should be fun!!
08/02/2008 Buffalo Chip, Sturgis
Did I mention this place is pretty freakin' cool? We got in here on Thursday night pretty late, so not much was going on. We mostly just parked and slept! I was SO exhausted... the boys were horrified that I had never seen "The Office" so they put in the DVD and left me to absorb as much "Office" humor as possible. I'm not sure I made it through the first episode. Yeah - my abilities to sleep whenever and however are vastly improving. Now, I'm not to the level one of my beloved sisters - who falls asleep whilst in conversation with you - but I'm definitely getting better!
I actually spent most of Friday in the bus, practicing, and actually learning the music well. We have been so busy since we got out here that it's been hard to get a lot of practice in. Those of you who know my freakish organization obsession will be not at all surprised to know that I retyped all of the lyrics in Word (in the same font, layout, etc. ha!) and highlighted (in Word) all the harmony parts. We have a printer on the bus, so I printed them out, and that made my job a whole lot easier!
I also got a walk / run in - I am determined to not gain like 20 pounds on this trip. I have learned that "man cannot live on beef jerky and roasted peanuts alone"... It helps that we're basically living in a small house, and have a refrigerator, freezer, oven, stove, etc. - but it's still easy to get caught in the fast food / convenience food trap... It is SO beautiful here that it makes running easy - the Black Hills are beautiful, and honestly, I have never seen country like this in the Southeast, which is pretty much where I have spent my entire life!
This place is pretty darn cool! Things won't get extremely crazy / busy until Monday, but it's still fun already... Our first show is today!! Should be fun...
Okay, so I have to be honest - sometimes I actually get these things written, but not posted until a few days later... that may POSSIBLY be the case with these next couple... ha!
Everyone said that Sturgis doesn't even really get interesting until Monday, so we'll see how much more interesting it can possibly get! Foghat played Friday, Blind Melon played Saturday, and Puddle of Mudd played tonight. Tomorrow night is Kid Rock, and from what we've heard, we'll understand the true craziness of this place then...
We've played for the last 2 days, and the shows have been pretty successful. There were some last minute snafus with sound equipment and such, but we're becoming quite used to that routine! Jackie and Dan are also doing autograph signings once a day, and Dan has been doing just tons of radio spots, which is great for him! They also have a booth set up to sell CDs - or actually pre-sell, because Dan's album is coming out September 30.
The days for me are mostly a matter of recovering from the night before (ha!), catching up on emails, text messages, phone calls, etc., practicing and playing shows, exercising (we are quite possibly the only people who came to Sturgis with workout clothes...) and laying out (on top of the bus!) to get some sun! Because of where we are situated, it would be absolutely impossible to go to sleep until the concerts are over... it is LOUD!
Did I mention how absolutely beautiful this place is? The Black Hills, the open sky, the beautiful scenery - it really is just gorgeous...
"They" were right... the madness came into town on Monday with Kid Rock. Not only that, John McCain came out to the rally to speak. For such a short speech, it was incredible the amount of security that was out here! There were 4 snipers walking on the catwalk above the main stage, there were secret service guys everywhere, and getting in and out was a pain...
Kellie Pickler opened up for Kid Rock, which was quite an interesting mix... her pop country opening up for the craziness of Kid Rock was interesting. The boys prepared by BLARING Kid Rock ALL DAY on the bus -and we have quite the system on board! It was fun. :)
While the boys went down front for Kid Rock, I stayed back a bit and hung out with our friend "Sucker Punch" Toby and the Secret Service guys that were there on McCain duty. I've been promised pictures from that particular round of good times, but haven't received them quite yet - I think everyone's still recovering!! Toby worked for Sucker Punch, which is this new energy drink that was introduced (and given away by the case-loads) at Sturgis, and will be intro'd nationwide afterward. We have drank our WEIGHT in Sucker Punch... Toby had met some of the Secret Service guys, and so we hung out pretty much all night! I got the ol' guitar out and sang some, and then we went on a mission to procure a Buffalo Chip "Staff" t-shirt. (Mission: Accomplished... ha!)
We had the craziest storm yesterday. The really bad part is that there were like 11 million bikes on the road... We had gone into town (about a 35 minute drive!) and coming back, it was like the skies just opened up and started dumping... Every underpass was just cram packed with bikers trying to get out of the rain - I felt so sorry for them! There were a very few that were just toughing it out (which = being completely stupid) and they were just being blown all over the place. It got so bad that even we had to pull over - and we were in an SUV!
That didn't stop Lynyrd Skynyrd from playing - amazingly, since it was absolutely crazy weather! I really wish tourists in Nashville knew that they have SO many good songs, and not just Sweet Home Alabama... it would so improve the life of every Broadway musician!! ;) It was also really cool to see the motocross guys flying through the air - those guys are insane!
It was so nice to see my friends Frank and Andrea from TX while I was out there - I'm definitely missing my family! Being on the road is a really good distraction, but I couldn't believe how absolutely thrilled I was to see someone I knew... that was pretty cool!
I survived Sturgis! Yes, I did... and loved every minute of it! And guess what? I'm back in Nashville!! While we were at Sturgis, some folks from Dan's label came out and checked out the operations and had hours of meetings with Jackie and Dan (literally!). The result of those was that they want to change the direction of a couple of things, including Dan's venues and performances. Because Dan is really promoting himself as a solo artist and not a band, it causes some confusion to have me up there (or "half" a band sometimes when Rich is there playing bass.) People were constantly asking "is she your sister / girlfriend / wife?", etc. And unfortunately, it's hard at fairs, etc. to have the sound person understand that we are not a duo - he is singing lead, and my harmonies / backing vocals need to be under his, not the same as or louder than his. The result of all of that - Rich (bass player) and I headed home this weekend while they headed on to LA. Since LA was going to be just studio time, and Las Vegas was just a trade show, I wasn't necessary to those performances (though I wouldn't have minded going! :) and I had planned to come back to Nashville anyway to finish up my album. So where we stand now is that the rest of the gang is going to come back through Nashville in mid-August, and set up operations here and decide to where to go next. Dan only finished the show (Biggest Loser) in April, and things started down an absolute race track after that, so it only makes sense that they check out the results of what has happened so far and evaluate for further direction...
I'm quite pleased with that for several reasons... The first of which is that while I enjoy being on the road immensely and have no problems playing a support role, it definitely lit a fire under me to get crackin' on my own project! I will be back in the studio later this week, and that will begin the final step of finishing up my album! And for that, I am WAY excited!
Secondly, it showed me how much I absolutely LOVED being on the road. That part actually shocked me! I know I was only gone for 3 weeks - but I just so enjoyed seeing different parts of the country, meeting different people, getting to perform in so many new places - I loved it! And what that showed me was that I CAN do that for myself and enjoy it. I've always assumed that it would get old really quickly and that I would get frustrated with it. I'm sure those elements would eventually come into play, but it really surprised me how much I enjoyed myself!
Speaking of which, due to the direction of Dan's tour changing, several fairs and stops on the "places to play" list have been eliminated, including the VA State Fair. BUT I am already beginning plans for a trip home in October, and already have 3 gigs booked, 2 more unconfirmed, and hopefully a bunch more than that! So have no fear... you will see me soon... ;)
So where do we go from here? I'm not sure! Jackie and Dan are planning to set up an office in Nashville - and have even talked to me about joining their team - but that's something I would have to really think about, as right now my first priority is playing, singing, writing, performing! And with a CD getting close to being finished up, that's going to take more and more time!
Long story short, I am thrilled to be back home, sleeping in my own bed, and playing with my poor abandoned puppy (she wasn't abandoned, I just feel guilty for leaving her... :( - But also, I am more FIRED UP than ever about getting my music in front of as many people as I possibly can! There will be a LOT going on in these next few months, and I will still continue to blog to keep you in the loop as to what's going on!
And by the way - I know a BUNCH of you have called me, and I am SO sorry I have not returned calls. I have been SO busy - I'm not even unpacked yet! But I will definitely return those calls soon, and I appreciate every one of you that tries to keep tabs on me!!
Pictures - while we were driving on Friday (?) there was just about a tsunami - but this is what we saw afterward - it was beautiful!! If you look closely, there is another smaller rainbow on top of the more brilliant one. And I know the other picture is fuzzy, but it is of me on the golf cart with Sucker Punch Toby and the Secret Service guys... it's all I have until they send me copies from their cameras! Enjoy... ;)
Welcoming Promotions Manager Kelly Bellas…
This thing they call being a Professional Musician is growing beyond the scope of my availability! In response, I am so very happy to welcome Kelly Bellas to the team! She will be working with me to handle promotions, sponsorships, media, booking, and more!
Kelly is based in Northern Virginia, but the distance is spanned by the modern marvels of technology :) and Kelly’s previous experience in Nashville working in various facets of the music industry including solo artists, bands, studios, and record labels. Her personal dedication to artists and the music industry as a whole is a valuable asset that became evident when I first worked with her before moving to Nashville two years ago. She is already hard at work, and her results-driven work ethic are already yielding results!
Last night I saw the new Will Ferrell / John C. Reilly movie "Stepbrothers". THAT was funny, hilarious, hysterical... I was laughing so hard at one point the tears were falling into my open, laughing mouth... Will Ferrell is my hero...
At the end of the movie, I got up to leave, but some outtakes started so I sat back down. And what happened then was NOT so funny. I felt this extremely sharp pain in my back. I thought it may be my back acting up - I usually end up shifting around during movies a lot to accommodate my bad back, so I just ignored it. But as I started to walk out to the car (I fortunately was not alone), I realized it was more than just a back spasm. I could barely walk, and on the ride home, tears were streaming and it was all I could do to keep from crying out. Once I got home, I tried lying down, but the pain just wouldn't subside...
To make a long story short, after a trip to the ER and a night in the hospital, the result is that I apparently have gall bladder disease, and a gall stone that had lodged in the duct leading to my pancreas. The stone has returned to my gall bladder now, and i will most likely have to have surgery to have the gall bladder removed - I'll have to meet with a doctor to figure all that out this week. In the meantime, I have to switch my diet to one that is low in fat and completely bland, as well as take medicine 4x a day to keep the spasms from happening again. Let me tell you - I have fallen from motorcycles, horses, had knee surgeries, pneumonia, and broken bones, but NOTHING compares to that kind of pain... It was horrendous...
The realization I had was - if I had still been on the road, this would have been SO complicated. I would have been in the middle of nowhere at a hospital for hours, holding up the trip, and in that much pain alone. I think that God definitely sees the big picture where we don't sometimes - and makes provision, and I'm so grateful for that...
Thank you so much for your prayers... This is a scary and stressful time, largely due to the fact that I don't have medical insurance. The visit last night was over $2000, and they told me that other lab and ER doctor bills will come separately. Not to mention surgery - this is just scary. I have known over the last 2 1/2 years that an emergency could happen at any time, but minus the car accident, I have been very blessed to be healthy. But I guess it's relatively frequent that we don't know how to handle a situation until we are actually in it, and as always, I'll figure it out. But seriously, I do appreciate your prayers - and I know they are heard.
Thanks to the hard work of new Promotions Manager Kelly Bellas, I have 2 new sponsors, and I am pretty excited about it!
Cutting-up (http://www.cutting-up.com/) is - in their words - "A good vibe line with a relaxed, hip feel!". And that it is - I am IN LOVE with this brand already! They have AWESOME t-shirts and thermals, and way cool belts, buckles, necklaces, rings, as well as other gifts. I'm very proud to wear their clothing and accessories and hopes you'll check them out as well!
And thanks to my new makeup sponsor, Mary Kay Independent Sales Director Marti Hall for the color cosmetics! Talk about adapting to being on the road - I just went to her Mary Kay website (http://www.marykay.com/martihall) and did a virtual makeover - and the products were literally in the mail next day!
THANKS SO MUCH to both of you!
I have been SO incredibly busy! These are the times that I have so much to share, but so little time to share it! So a few updates...
My health - I had an appointment with my primary care physician last Thursday. She said I'll almost definitely need to have my gall bladder removed, and has set up an appointment with a surgeon for tomorrow. Most diseased gall bladders must be removed, and once you have stones (which I do), infection usually follows. If they remove it now, it will be much easier than if it becomes infected. Right now, the plan is still to be on the road starting in October, but that obviously may change, depending on the circumstances surrounding surgery. So I'll let you know tomorrow what they say! I just gotta keep on rollin'...
I have completed my part of the tracking of my CD! I am SOOO very happy with how everything is coming together! After being in the hospital over the weekend, I was able to "keep on rollin" enough to spend most of this past week in the studio! I was in the studio almost every day, and knocked out the instrumental tracking and all the vocals!! We really rocked this one out... All that is left now is for the background vocals and the fiddle / mandolin parts.
It always amazes me how talented these studio guys are - they just REALLY bring so much life to each one of these songs! I'm SO looking forward to sharing them with you... Right now it's looking like the CD will be finished in September and ready to release - YAY!
Well, I'm just a bit excited... I got a definite thumbs-up yesterday - I'm getting my first song cut!!
My song "My Sisters" is being cut by Mollie and Jackie Singer, 19-year old twin girls from Las Vegas. Besides being gorgeous guitar-playin' singers, they are also 4.0-carrying college students studying Music at UNLA, and busy advocates for diabetes research, having already raised over half a million dollars! Their TV credits include MSNBC, CNN, CBS Early Show, ABC News, Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, and Good Morning America. Print interviews and features include USA Today, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Boston Globe, New York Times Up Front Magazine, Girls' Life, The Las Vegas Review Journal, Time Kids, and most recently in Teen Vogue and Justine magazines in a MUDD Jeans national advertising campaign. They have performed at the National Finals Rodeo, Thomas and Mack Stadium, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the White House.
I never imagined that I'd even record this song - much less that it would be my first cut! I literally wrote this song while behind the wheel of a UHaul driving to Nashville, with tears streaming down my face as I realized I was leaving my family behind. When I played it for my producer following a long-winded disclaimer about its silliness, he immediately replied that we were cutting the song. I was truly shocked - but what a good call!
So thanks to MY sisters Karen, Shari, Sharen, and Kasi for the inspiration... and thanks MAMA for providing the subject matter! haha...
Here are the lyrics if you'd like to read them!
You might’ve seen them - they look just like me
They’ve got the same eyes and dimples in their cheeks
So much in common - but we still disagree
Talkin’ ‘bout my sisters
Distance is nothing when you’re joined at the heart
Although it’s hard sometimes for us to be apart
Pick up the telephone - it doesn’t seem so far
Talkin’ to my sisters
And I say hey, hey - I do miss them
I sure love them more than life itself
I say hey, hey - I didn’t pick them
But I’d sure take them over anyone else
Talkin’ ‘bout my sisters
So many memories, so many good times
Singing Shania with a spoon for a mic
I laid the rules out for “Any Man of Mine”
With the help of my sisters
© 2008 Kari Smith
Last Friday, I had my first 3-hr. solo show in a LOONG time! It was at the Nolensville Feed Mill, and it was a blast!
The Mill is an actual feed mill from the 1890s. It has been converted to an antique store, and has such a cool vibe! It was awesome weather to be playing outdoors, and it was so nice to be back up there, singing my own songs - and lots of old country. The crowd seemed to be really into that, so I kept it coming!
It was so enjoyable watching the kids dance around to the music - they looked like they were having so much fun! I was especially amused when a 7 year-old came up to the stage and asked if I knew "Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me..." I tried SO hard not to laugh (if you know the song, you'll understand why) as I explained to her that although I was familiar with the song, it wasn't easily duplicated on acoustic guitar.
I have my next show coming up this Saturday at Marathon Sports Bar & Grill this Saturday - yay!
Even if you don't know country music, you probably have heard of Jerry Reed. He was a country music singer, guitarist, writer, and actor. He sang "Amos Moses", "When You're Hot, You're Hot" - a song which won him the Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1972, and "East Bound and Down" - the theme song for the first "Smokey and the Bandit" movie, in which he played Burt Reynold's sidekick "Snowman" Cledus Snow. Jerry passed away August 31 of complications with emphysema.
I found out something pretty incredible last night - the last studio he recorded in six months ago is the same studio where I have recorded my album. My producer, Dennis Money, has a guitar in the studio that bears the signatures of many country music legends, and Jerry Reed signed it on his last visit. Dennis shared an amazing story with me last night... When Jerry was in the studio, he saw the guitar and some of the names that had been signed on it. (His signature is on the pick guard with Chet Atkins, Marty Stewart, Porter Wagoner, Johnny and Bobby Wright, and more.). He wanted to sign the guitar, but told Dennis that he hadn't signed anything in 2 years because his hands shook so badly. When he returned, he brought his wife, who helped hold his arm so that he could sign it.
I thought this was an amazing story - especially because I took the picture of this guitar 10 days before he died. So the quality of the pic isn't that great - I just took the picture because I thought it was so amazing to be standing in the same place where some of these country music legends stood. I love this town!
Nashville misses Jerry Reed - and all the late country music greats who paved the way!
I don't know why you people don't know a darn thing about songwriting, so I guess I need to explain this. (kidding :) I reported that I had my first songwriting cut, and I failed to explain what that even means!
The Singer Sisters are comprised of 2 groups of twins - 19 yr. old Mollie and Jackie, and their mom and HER twin sister, Mollie and Jackie - two generations of twin sisters! When they decided to cut an album, many different publishers "pitched" songs to them. The "pitch" involves finding out exactly what a singer is looking for, then submitting songs for them to pick from that fit their requirements. For the Sisters, the requirements were positive, upbeat, uplifting songs with no negative topics. "My Sisters" definitely fit AND was especially appropriate, since they are sisters! Once they and their management agreed upon recording the song, I found out that they definitely would "cut" - record - that song.
What does this mean for me? Am I still able to include this song on my CD? YES. I still wrote the song - lyrics and music, and I own the rights to the song. They are paying for the right to perform it and to include it on their CD and other media.
What does this mean for me? Do I get paid? YES. Paperwork is signed and submitted for a "mechanical license" allowing them to record my song. Pay is a standard flat rate - $.093 per song sold (a little over 9 cents). If the song was pitched by a publishing company that represents a writer, the writer splits that 9 cents with the publisher. If you are on a publishing (songwriting) deal and have been paid a "draw" (a regular salary no matter what), the publisher gets 100% until you have RE-PAID everything that has been paid to you in your draw. I won't go into details on how that works, as it doesn't pertain to this deal - I'm not signed to a publishing deal.
So how do I know when they sell an album? When their CDs are initially pressed, they pay that amount up front. If they were to have 10,000 CDs manufactured, $930 is paid up front. If the song were to be played on the radio, internet, digital media, etc., the rate is still 9 cents per song, but that is monitored and paid in the future. Radio stations record and report every song that is played, and that's how the artists / labels / writers are paid. The two larger performing rights organizations are ASCAP and BMI, and they track your radio play and send you a check - I believe quarterly. Again - remember the 50/50 split? That applies here. If I don't have my own publishing company (which I don't), I HAVE to work through a publishing company, which gets half of the pay, up front and in the future.
If I can get my world to slow down just a little (my car refuses to start and is sitting in the shop as we speak with a $700 tab racked up already ON TOP OF my medical / surgery issues...) then I will probably set up a publishing company of my own - this is how many people do it to retain their own rights to their music, and of course 100% of their pay. It of course costs money to set up your own publishing company, so there's no "easy" way around it!
What happens when you co-write a song? I wrote all the songs on my upcoming album, but 2 of them were co-writes. On "I Have Fun", Dennis is co-writer. All the rules above apply - except that it's $.0465 for each of the 2 co-writers. On "Mostly Me", Dennis is a co-writer, as is Bobby Fischer. All the rules above apply, except that it's $.031 per person.
Make sense? I hope so... you asked... ;) Being a singer/songwriter and both performing and recording artist is much more complicated than it sounds. I usually just laugh and let people believe that I watch soap operas and eat bon-bons all day, because it's just easier than explaining it all (if you're still reading, you probably agree! :)
Hope that this helps, for those of you who wanted more information - and thanks for caring enough to ask! If you want to know anything else, ask! Obviously it's my life, my career, my passion, so I'll tell just as much as you want to know, and on the rare occasion, a bit more. :)
Yay! I had a gig on Saturday night from 8 - 11pm at Marathon Sports Bar in Nashville... I was a BIT concerned about it for a few reasons. It was difficult to get the gig in the first place (the owner is this crochety 85-year old man that will kick you out for looking at him wrong) (hope he's not a blog reader), and when I came in and realized that the Miami / Florida game was on, I was a little worried! There were a few hard-core fans in there and they usually don't take kindly to having music played over their game! I waited til half-time to start, hoping that by the time the game was back on, they would be into the music!
I knew it would be a hard sell - the regulars and very regular, and I knew their opinions would definitely make a difference! They were all watching very closely, but were still pretty hard to read... When I took my first break an hour in, I was SO relieved to know that they were really enjoying it - both originals and covers!
When I was done, the owner called me over and I prepared for the worst... Usually when he speaks to me, it's to make some sort of semi-harassing comment or to make a snarky remark. Instead, he looked me straight in the eye, and said, "I loved it. And Kari - I have a lot of respect for you and your talent." I was BLOWN away. THEN he said, "would you be willing to do this every week?" I was THRILLED - it's my first weekly paid gig in Nashville, and that is a VERY good thing!!
I've learned my lesson... let me first explain what a writer's round is! The way that most rounds work in Nashville - there is a host, that sets up the round. He will choose usually 3 or 4 people, and each of those people will choose usually 2 other people that they want to play "in the round" with them.
Here's an example. Lee (the host) calls 4 people, and each of those people call 2 of their friends. So there will be a total of 12 people playing - 4 rounds of 3 people each. At 7:30, the first 3 people will be on. They will each play one song, then each play another, and so forth. Usually each person plays about 4 songs. So if each of 3 people plays 4 songs, that is 12 songs, which usually amounts to about an hour or so. Then they move off the stage, and the second group of 3 goes up and does the same thing.
The first time I played "in the round" at Hotel Indigo, I got a call from a guy who I had never heard of. A person in his round had cancelled, and he knew someone who gave him my name. He called me up the night before the show, and voila - I was in! This Friday night was much the same - I got a call from the host of the whole show to fill in for someone who had cancelled. I had all of about an hour lead time for that one...
Playing in the round is a great experience, is a great way to meet other writers, and can be good exposure. I haven't done many of these up until now, because believe it or not, it is work! When you don't really feel like going out, but you know that you need to for networking reasons, and to get your music heard - then you know it is work! Not that I don't enjoy playing, but it's actually a necessary part of the job.
September 10, 2008 was the 1-year anniversary of my dear friend Gary Wade. It was strange - it seemed as if it were just as hard as when he actually passed away.
Some of Gary's family from the UK came back to the States for the anniversary. Two of Gary's loves were theater and soccer. Together with the CAT Theater Group, they set up an annual "Gary Wade Volunteer Award", and they also brought over a football (English version - our soccer!) trophy to be played for as well as arranging for a garden of remembrance to be set up in the fields where Gary played soccer.
By "popular demand" (Gary had a LOT of friends!) I made a recording of the song that I wrote for Gary, called "Remembering You". I had CDs duplicated and printed, and if you're interested in a copy, please let me know. Many of the Richmond and UK branches of Gary's "family" may have already gotten one from Donna and Tony.
Although Gary's passing was so sad and hard, he is still with us in so many different wonderful ways, and we cherish the memories and friendships that came about because of him!
We all have it... right? I realized the other day that I frequently write about my successes and accomplishments, but not about some of the more frustrating aspects of being a musician. In order for this blog to be an accurate representation of this crazy life that I'm leading, it needs to include those things, right? So here goes...
Yes, the gas shortage in TN is a very real thing. It seems okay to write about now, because I have seen 2 gas stations with gas today! Before that, I think I probably went 4 days without seeing a gas station that actually had gas - and I probably passed 30 or 40 of them! It's a scary feeling - something that has never happened in my lifetime. You don't want to be "paranoid" about, but when you realize that at any time you could be without the means to get around and live your life - it is scary! The economy in general is worse than it has been in my memory and it's a constant challenge for all of us...
Most of you know already about my recent trip to the hospital for what ended up being gall bladder disease and stones. I am supposed to be having surgery to remove it as soon as possible, but haven't yet scheduled it. As a musician, I do not have insurance. It's doable, although difficult - especially as I have had to have thousands of dollars of dental work done this year, and the other assorted health problems that I constantly deal with - mostly my ongoing problem with low blood pressure and allergies. But this is obviously more than a routine doctor visit – it’s surgery and a hospital visit. My forays into trying to get financial aid to deal with this surgery have been long and completely fruitless. I’ve about given up on those processes – it’s very frustrating to be put off and put off until you’re finally told “oh it’s been too long – you’ll have to start the whole process over again…” when they’re the ones that caused the delay in the first place. I could rant about this endlessly but it wouldn’t help anything, so suffice it to say that I’m hoping my health will hold out until I can figure out how to afford this surgery.
My “weekly” gig has so far been no more than that one show. The next Saturday, one of the regular bar patrons had a party that included most of the patronage, and therefore the show was canceled the day of. The next week, there was a major football game that caused the show to be canceled the day of. This and next week I will be out of town. Although the owner is still very interested in me playing there, it just hasn’t happened again yet. It’s discouraging – especially when you plan on the income, but one of the hard knocks that comes along with this craziness…
Most of you know about the car accident that I had when I first moved to Nashville – TWO years ago… can you believe it? I can’t myself! Some days are better than others. I have recently been struggling more than I had with pain in my shoulders, back, and hips, and it’s just a constant reminder that your body will only take so much beating before it talks back! Next week I turn THIRTY (30)… can you believe it? Some days I feel like I’m about 60! I continue to go to the chiropractor as necessary when it gets unbearable, which it has some recently. Grin and bear it, right?
The good seems to come proportionately with the bad, and I hold tight to God’s promise that He won’t give me more than I can handle. Although sometimes I wonder if he is over-estimating my capabilities… ;) Seriously – I have been blessed, and I try to never let go of that.
Well, if nothing else, look at this as a big ol’ prayer list for Kari… I could use ‘em all! The next blog will be MUCH more positive – I promise… ;)
The recording of my Nashville debut album "Gypsy of Love" is complete! The artwork and printing are still pending, but they are NOW available for pre-order! If you are interested in ordering a copy of the CD, there are a few options.
1. If you are a PayPal user, go here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=287349 to pre-order. If you are not yet a PayPal user, it is easy to sign up for an account, and your payment via check or credit card is simple and secure!
2. If you prefer to pay by check or money order, send an email to karismithmusic @ gmail.com for the payment address. The cost is $15, and includes the album, a signed photo, and shipping / handling charges.
The album will be shipping in late October / early November. If you plan to purchase more than 1 copy, please let me know so that I can give you a discounted rate. THANK YOU SO MUCH for your support!! I am so proud of this album and everything that has gone into it, and I so appreciate you sharing in this experience with me!
After a busy, crazy trip to VA, I am back home in Nashville! I played 6 shows while I was home - in 10 days! Add seeing family and friends to that line-up, and it makes for a crazy time! I'm always glad to visit, and love being able to perform - especially for fans that have been so faithful... But I must say I'm also glad to be sleeping in my own bed again!
Thank you SO MUCH to those of you who came out to see me at one of my shows - and especially to those of you who came out to several shows! It makes me feel SO good to see all of you, and your belief in me and support just warms my heart!
I have to give an absolutely shameless shout-out to my sponsor Marti Hall, who is an amazing representative of Mary Kay cosmetics. She truly set me up for this trip and made sure I had everything I needed to travel as easily as possible, especially the Mary Kay Facial Cleansing Cloths, the Compact Pro, and a personal favorite - the Lotus and Bamboo body care set! If you use Mary Kay but don't have a consultant, check out her website - www.marykay.com/martihall - no matter where you live!
11/12/2008 The CMA and I have something in common...
We're both sponsored by Mary Kay! Hope this explains the pictures of me laughing while holding my Mary Kay Compact Pro (provided by my wonderful sponsor, Marti Hall - www.marykay.com/martihall - who wasn't able to be there) with a big ol' group of Cadillac-driving Mary Kay Directors! These ladies just happened to be sitting next to me at the 42nd Annual Country Music Association Awards, and they were great!
This is the second year I've been able to attend, and it's always fun to see all the stars out doing their thing... Some highlights for me were:
1. George Strait. period. I love George Strait! Whether he was performing, accepting an award, or just walking up to the stage - I love him! I was thrilled that he won single AND album of the year - faith in the Association has been restored! ;)
2. Kenny Chesney's performance with The Wailers (as in Bob Marley and... ;), who did a performance of "Three Little Birds" that was a cool compliment to Kenny's "Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven"!
3. Taylor Swift's performance of "Love Story" - I think this is a sweet song anyway, but the set for this was amazing! Last year, I went behind the scenes and saw how they set up for the CMAs - there were literally just ROWS of complete sets - one after another, all completely set up and ready to wheel in at the right time. But to see how much work went into this was amazing!
4. Brad Paisley kissing Kim's (his wife) pregnant belly before going up on stage to collect his award - SOO sweet!!
5. Lady Antebellum winning best new artist... I first saw this trio perform live at CRS (Country Radio Seminar) last year, and they were fabulous! Hillary Scott is the female voice of the trio, and her mother is Linda Davis, 1990s country music artist who sang the duet "Does He Love You" with Reba McEntire. Charles Kelley is the lead singer, and his brother Josh Kelley is a pop singer who I have always been a fan of! This group has a great sound, so I'm proud of them!
After the show, I was downtown and met Grammy-winning singer / songwriter Jim Lauderdale... THAT was an honor! I was probably more thrilled to meet him than I would have been to meet most any of the celebs at the CMAs! Besides singing backing vocals for Carlene Carter and Dwight Yoakam, Jim wrote songs for 8 George Strait, including 2 songs on his "Pure Country" soundtrack, and one of my favorites - "What Do You Say to That". He also wrote Perfect Stranger's "You Have the Right to Remain Silent", and songs for Patty Loveless, The Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Mark Chestnutt, and many more!
Tuesday, November 12, I had the honor and privilege of singing the National Anthem at the start of a college basketball game. That in itself was somewhat unremarkable - it was between Tennessee Tech and Lipscomb, not really "major" universities. There weren't thousands of people in the stands, and there weren't lights flashing and cameras going off!
But when that microphone was handed to me and I looked up at the flag, I got more than a little choked up... Right before, it was announced that there would be an opening prayer, then the National Anthem would be sung by "Nashville recording artist Kari Smith". The prayer that followed that announcement was so poignant that I literally for a moment was scared I would be too choked up to sing! The prayer brought attention to all that we have to be thankful for, and especially a gratefulness to the men and women who are serving our country here and abroad.
In the moment where I looked up and saw the flag, I realized how much I truly do have to be thankful for! It would have NEVER occurred to me 5 years ago when I was sitting in a cubicle at Capital One that pm this day, I would be introduced as "Nashville recording artist Kari Smith" - and yet here I am.... REALLY surreal to me, but true! :) Beyond that, the freedoms and opportunities that are afforded to me in this country, and that are represented by that flag I was singing about are made possible in part by people who have dedicated - or given up - their lives to make that possible.
These past few months have been a tough time - trying to get the record finished and released have been WAY more trying than I could have known, not ever having done things this "officially" before. It's easy to get caught up in ALL the details that have NOTHING to do with music - and more to do with legalities, the business, formalities, deadlines, finances - I could go on and on (which is why you haven't heard much from me lately!) But when it comes right down to it, the fact that I am living in this moment right now is truly overwhelming!
I'm just about done with this soapbox - I promise! : ) But I hope that as Thanksgiving comes around this week, you'll join me in shifting your thoughts away from politics, the economy, the media, etc. - and ponder those things that we are so accustomed to having that we tend to take for granted. I have a LOT to be thankful for...
Many of you have asked "how's the CD coming along?" I usually say "fine"... because the reality of it takes more breath to tell than I have! But if you truly want the nuts and bolts of what's going on - here it is! The relieving part (I'll start with this! : ) is that the CDs should be IN MY HANDS within 10 - 12 days. I do NOT have an official release date, or a CD release party scheduled. I gave up trying to predict when this thing would be done! My poor graphic artist has had to update my press kit 3 or 4 times now regarding the release - September, October, November, and now we're pushing December! Once it has been released, I will schedule CD release parties for both Nashville and Virginia.
So what's happening? Some things are really just out of our hands - but I'll try to give you the short story! Hold on to your hats for more information about the music business than you EVER wanted to know... and remember - ALL of the below work comes after or outside of preparation and recording the actual music!
I'll start with "publishing" - which refers to rights and royalties of a songwriter. I had it "easy" - I wrote or co-wrote every song on this album, as opposed to many singers who can easily have 12 songs by 12 different writers! I had one co-write, and one 3-way co-write. So the publishing rights for all of "my" songs belong fully to me, the co-write is owned 50/50% by me and 1 other person, and 3-way co-write is owned 33% each by me and 2 other people. Publishing rights are owned by a registered publishing company - not an individual, so I could either have registered by songs under my producer's publishing company "Gold Star", or I could form my own. If I established with Gold Star, the royalties (from CD sales, radio play, downloads, etc.) would be SPLIT between me (the writer) and Gold Star (the publishing company). But if I formed a publishing company, the profits would belong 100% to my company on the songs I wrote, and 50% or 33% on the co-writes. They are still "split" between me and the publishing company - but since I own the publishing company, they're still "technically" mine. Make sense? In the end, I formed my own publishing company. This is VERY common amongst writers in Nashville today. My long-term goal in this industry is to not depend on performance income (which is largely what I do now), but rather to make my "living" on songwriting. Easier said than done, but this is Step 1! And by the way - I NEVER thought I would have my first song cut by another artist (and eventually being paid for it!) at this point - I haven't even started pitching my music, and having that already is a blessing for which I am very grateful! Point being, I need to be prepared, and live as if my future goals and dreams are a present reality.
So I chose to create Vanillity Music LLC, with a publishing "arm". The LLC also serves to protect me, as an individual, as I go about the daily business of the company. The first challenge was actually coming up with a company name that is not yet used, trademarked, etc. There are a LOT of businesses out there! My first couple choices weren't available, but if any of you have ever been in "smelling distance" of me, you'll probably at least understand the "Vanilla" reference, since that scent is all I wear! :)
So now we have the LLC, and the publishing company within. And by the way - this doesn't necessarily mean that I "saved money" by keeping 100% of my royalties - definitely not up front! There are legal fees for setting up an LLC, registers, trademarks, etc., and fees to register the publishing company. The publishing company itself also has to be registered with whichever performing rights organization I belong to.
The 3 major performing rights organizations are BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. I belong to ASCAP, so Vanillity Music LLC must be registered with ASCAP - a different process than Kari Smith being registered with ASCAP, which is what I had before. So WHAT is a performing rights organization? Well, you may have walked into a business before and heard music playing through the speakers. Unless there is some sort of arrangement in place, the manager can't just decide to play his Kari Smith CD today (aw man... ;) When you walked into that bar, you may have seen a label or sign posted on the storefront that said "BMI" or "ASCAP" - SESAC is by far the smallest and not as common.
Additionally, when a program manager at a radio station decides that he wants to play a Kari Smith song 3 times today, he has to report those 3 plays to ASCAP, who collects the data and pays its songwriters quarterly. This same process goes for clubs, restaurants, and other venues that play music through loudspeakers, a jukebox, etc. - they are legally obligated to report it. If they don't, they are breaking the law, and there are "undercover" agents for these companies that literally go looking for non-compliance with these laws.
In addition to radio plays, downloads, etc., songwriters are paid for CD sales. This can be done when the CDs are pressed (manufactured) at all at once, "as you go" - as you sell the CDs. For example - I have an artist / group who is cutting one of my songs "My Sisters". They have a mechanical license (just roll with this!) and although I can put the song on my CD (and I did!), they have licensed the right to record it and put it on their CD. The fee is currently 9.3 cents a song. If they have 10,000 copies of the CD, as the songwriter of that song, I will make $930.
When a radio station reports that they played Kari Smith's song "Mostly Me" (this is the 3-way co-write on my album) for x amount of plays, how does ASCAP know who gets paid royalties for those plays? Well, when Dennis Money, Bobby Fischer and I wrote that song, we EACH had to register our 33% of the publishing rights to that song with our respective companies' performing rights organization. (See how freakin complicated this gets?)
Each song (or an "work") has to be turned in and filed with the national Copyrights Office, which of course carries its own set of paperwork, hassles, submissions, and fees.
Each song on the album has to have an ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) digitally embedded in it. This code refers to the recording itself - not the song - and is comprised of 12 numbers that refer to the country code, the registrant code, the year of registration, then the number of the recording itself. The purpose of the code is to facilitate royalty collecting, administration, and especially important today - anti-piracy safeguards. When I decided to form the LLC, I had to apply for ISRC codes. The digital embedding happens at the mastering stage (for the sake of my poor typing fingers, I will abbreviate my explanation of "mastering" by saying that it is "finishing" the CD in terms of audio levels, space between songs, etc.)
The graphics and layout for the CD are a whole process within themselves - "getting it right" for something this important takes a LOT of time, effort, inspection, revisions, and approval from me and my producer. It's amazing that Stacy - my graphic artist at http://www.psomadesign.com/ - didn't go nuts on this one! She is SO patient and amazingly talented! Unfortunately, there's now way to shorten that process unless you absolutely have no opinion on what your project will look like. I did. ;) Once we sent the artwork to the company that actually manufactures the discs, they needed revisions - despite the fact that she had built the artwork on their templates! It's not just a CD "cover" - it's a 6 panel (3 front, 3 back) insert, a interior tray card, an exterior tray card, and the actual CD itself that have to be designed and perfected. (Thanks to Brett Zwerdling for the album photography - I think that was the easiest part!! :) There are credits that have to be listed within the album artwork that are necessary for radio play and royalties. Publishing affiliations have to be listed in order for a radio station to play a song... Remember that scenario earlier about a radio program director reporting what songs they've played? If you submit an album that doesn't list publishing allocations and splits, there's a good possibility they're not going to play it!
Aren't you glad this is the short version? ;) I'll try to wrap this up!
If you're still reading - and you're wondering why I typed all this out - YOU are why I took the time! I know that this chosen career is sustained by the unwavering support of fans, listeners, people who care - however you want to classify yourself. If you know me at all, you know that if I'm up at 9:30am (the current time CST), it's not because I got up early - it's because I haven't gone to bed yet. But it is so very important to me to keep this experience as personal and as real to YOU, the fan, as I possibly can - because I feel that that's how I'm able to give back to you. Your support and your interest in what I do makes me want to share as much of it with you as possible! If that means losing sleep every once in a while, so be it - otherwise this would NEVER get written!
Thank you for caring about the process and what I've been facing to get this album released! There may be a mistake or two in here - (I'm uh about to fall over... ; ) but hopefully you get the gist! And a SPECIAL thank you to those of you who have pre-ordered the album - or plan to buy it once it's released. You don't know the sheer JOY I get when I see each one of those pre-sales! I've put my heart and soul into this album - it's the main reason I moved to this town - and I am SO proud of the result! Pre-orders through PayPal can be made at www.tinyurl.com/gypsyoflove or email me for a payment address if you'd rather send a check or money order. The CD, including shipping / handling, and an autographed 8x10 picture is $15, and will be shipping within 2 weeks! Many thanks!!!
I hope the holidays are treating you well! I finally got my Christmas tree up yesterday, and have worn through my collection of Christmas music! The Christmas parade was Friday here in Nashville, and man was it cold... But it was great to see everyone in the holiday spirit and enjoying themselves.
After several delays in production, I decided that I would not send another message until my new CD "Gypsy of Love" was ready to ship! But there is good news – they will be delivered tomorrow, and shipping Tuesday!! I am SO very excited – this record is the product of the last 2 years of my time here in Nashville, and I am so very proud of it!
If you have ordered your copy already – thank you so very much for your support!! It will be in the mail on Tuesday – and just in time for Christmas! If not, go to www.tinyurl.com/gypsyoflove to purchase through PayPal. If you'd like to purchase with check or money order, please reply to this email for the payment address and instructions. The CD, 8x10 picture, and shipping / handling is $15. If you're interested in purchasing more than one copy, please contact me for the discounted price.
For those of you who are interested in this crazy ride I've been on : ) and like to keep up with what's going on, thank you so much! I have moved from sending out frequent emails to recording much of my journey in a blog – and I try to update it relatively often!
I may possibly be back in Virginia for Christmas, now that the gas prices are steadily dropping! It's hard to believe that when I last drove to Virginia in October, gas cost more than twice what it does now! But I will definitely be back in January, and am working on a definite date for a CD release party at that time. Now that the CD has been completed, I plan to be back on the road, playing more shows, so let me know where you would like to hear me play!
Keep in touch, and thank you again, so much, for your support of me and my dream!