Life has been a little crazy lately and I know that some of you have heard a few rumors and are wondering what’s going on!
2010 has been a very tough year for Kari. But Kari is strong, and Kari will keep moving forward. And Kari is now finished speaking in the third person. : ) I had some unexpected medical situations earlier this year that resulted in many thousands of dollars of debt, and I need another surgery as soon as possible to remove my diseased gall bladder and gall stones (sexy, huh? ;). Being without insurance, any medical visit can be expensive and a major procedure can be financially crippling. Therefore, I’m having to move out of the house I’ve lived in here in Nashville for the last 3 years. Although I love it and really don’t want to leave, I just cannot afford the rent with the current and potential medical debt that’s piled up. I spoke to my landlord regarding the situation, and although he agreed to let me out of my lease, he also gave me a 3-week deadline to vacate the property so that he can market it for a new tenant. That was a week ago - the last week has been a blur of packing, organizing, throwing out, selling on ebay and Craigslist, and trying to figure out where I’m going to go. I’m fortunate to have a friend that will put me up until I can find another place that I can afford.
This, along with many other difficult challenges, fortunately, has not caused me to waver from my path and following my dreams. For as long as I can reasonably manage, I will continue to do what I love and what I feel I am called to do – to create and play music. The amount of work, challenges, and difficulties that come along with doing what I love are sometimes enough to make me question my own sanity. But just when I start to get to that point, something happens to give me that little “tap on the shoulder” that says that I’m doing the right thing and should press on.
The “tap on the shoulder” this last trip was one that I won’t forget for a really, really long time. The first few days of my trip to VA included a trip to Deltaville, where the lodging for my 4-day run of gigs didn’t turn out quite as expected. That bad luck was quickly turned around by an amazing group of people that I already love dearly! Between Wynn, Kenny, Tom, Blair, Doreen, and Bill – they gave me a place to stay with some of the most amazing hospitality I have ever experienced, helped carry, break down, and load my equipment, fed me meals like I was family, gave me a ride when my car battery died and moved the heaven and freakin earth to make sure my car was fixed and where I needed it to be when I needed it, came to every show and cheered me on, and did this all and more for a total stranger – even though some of them had heard me sing before, none had ever met me before this visit. The second weekend I was there, I had one of the most intense days I have ever experienced as a performing musician with three back to back performances. The hero citation that weekend goes to Jenn & Doug Andrews, and Brian and Angela Smith. The first show of the day was the Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial, which I was so incredibly honored to be included in – and a show which was booked for me by Jenn. After the show, which Jenn came to and supported me during, Jenn realized how little time I had between shows and how difficult it would be to make everything happen in time. She offered me her car and drove mine – with all my equipment and PA – and took it to the venue where I was performing that night while I went to my second gig of the day. She, Doug, Brian, and Angela set up all the equipment for me while I was performing at the Relay for Life event in New Kent. When I drove back, streaked in sweat and dirt from the outdoor show, Jenn and Angela met me at Angela’s house near the venue so that I could shower and clean up. (You’ve never seen a female shower that fast, trust me… ; ) Jenn even drove me back to the venue so I could finish getting ready while she drove! When I arrived at the venue, they were like my support team – fetching things from my car, making me eat (I run out of time or forget to, a lot!), making last minute adjustments, taking pictures during the gig – it was absolutely amazing. Angela and Jenn manned the merchandise and sold CDs for me at the gig. After the gig, Doug noticed my tail light was out and replaced it for me. I drove back to Nashville with an absolute glow – I was literally basking in the love that was just lavished on me the whole trip.
I know that’s a lot of story, and not ONE of those people did any of that for any kind of recognition – in fact I hope they don’t mind me sharing! But I share it partially as an acknowledgement to myself and all of you that in spite of the difficulty we sometimes go through, there is so much good in people, and so much love to be given and received. I also share it because I don’t think that you have any idea how much of a positive impact it has on me when you support the journey I’m on – whether it’s a little email response to my updates, coming to a show, helping carry equipment, buying a CD or t-shirt, putting a tip in the jar, giving me an idea for a gig venue, turning someone else on to my music, putting me up while I’m in town, I could go on and on about the way people have helped me and how VERY, VERY BLESSED I AM by those of you who choose to take part in this journey I’m on.
I have been keeping busy – and trying to supplement my income by doing some work with other artists as well as my own shows. The week I returned to Nashville after the VA trip was CMA Fan Fest week (formerly Fan Fair) and I performed 8 days in a row – performing 2 shows in one day 3 of those days, and long rehearsals 2 of those days in addition to shows. I was privileged to play keys for MJ2 – the double twin group out of Vegas that cut my song “My Sisters” on their upcoming record. They were SO much fun and I really enjoyed getting to work with them. Next week, I will be in Destin, FL again playing keys with amazing singer / guitar slinger Eric Heatherly, whom you may remember from the early 2000s when he released a few singles, including his hit remake of “Flowers on the Wall”. After that trip, I’ll have a week back in Nashville before my trip to Eatonton, GA to see another group of amazing folks down at the Crooked Creek’s Bone Island Grill.
Life during the next month or so promises to be a little chaotic, but I’ll be glad to see the VA crew once more when I come back the last weekend in July for another week and a half. Can’t wait to see you then!
Georgia is on my mind! I pulled in very early yesterday morning and played the Wednesday night show last night. I still have Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to go, so if you’re around south Georgia, you should come out! Thursday’s show will be on the patio from 6 – 10pm, and Friday and Saturday shows will be inside from 8:30pm – 12:30am.
If you are my friend on Facebook, chances are that you already know that I have once again moved – this time into a 2007 Toyota Tundra, pulling a 25-foot travel trailer! Amazingly enough, monthly payments on a truck, travel trailer, and insurance are less than HALF of what I was paying for rent before! Gas – that’s a different story… ; ) But this move is one that I’ve been contemplating for a very long time, and I’m so glad that I finally had the motivation necessary to move forward with buying it! The story behind my motivation is a long one, but I’d like to share at least part of it with you.
I played a gig on Saturday, September 4 at the cigar bar (Music City Cigars) in Nashville on Broadway. This has become sort of my “home” gig. Around midnight, a man came in and sat down to listen. Through the next couple of hours, my interaction with him revealed that he was from UK. I told him about my friend Gary (who was British), and how Gary had passed away 3 years ago on September 10. After I shared that story with him, he shared that he was a funeral director in England. A year ago, he did a funeral for a man who was not only his age, but literally born on the same day as he was. The man had been killed instantly in a car crash. Burying a man his exact age shook him up to the point that it really hit him that his time could be over at any point – we never know. Right then, he decided to take a year off his job to do what he’d always wanted to do. He has been traveling the world and has been in 11 different countries in the last 10 months. This year has been a very difficult year for me personally, and as I shared some of my story, he encouraged me to “live like I were dying”. Although I have always been extremely conservative financially, I decided that although after 6 years of no car payments had been wonderful, it was time. I bought the truck Friday, and the trailer Monday. It is quite a financial undertaking, but not nearly as much so as the house I had been renting for the last 2 ½ years, and I will still be able to try to work through the medical debt that I accrued earlier this year.
Making a decision this big is TERRIFYING for me! But I know that it was the right one. The venue I’m playing now is a marina with campground hookups, so it couldn’t be more convenient. I was able to come let my Sierra (my dog) out on my break! Having her as a constant traveling companion is a HUGE benefit for me and her, and I love having her with me all the time. It was so nice to be able to set up my gear before the show tonight, then run over to the trailer to take a quick shower before performing! In addition to that, I have my own space, my own freedom, something that belongs to me – and NOT a SUITCASE on board!! The plan now is to live in this at least all the time I am on the road and to maintain a rented room in Nashville for the interim until I figure out a different long-term plan.
I will be back in Nashville next week, and at the end of this month, I will be back in Virginia. I am VERY excited to be playing the Newport News Fall Folklife Festival on October 3, just 2 days after my birthday, so hopefully I’ll be older and wiser for the performance… ; ) I also have shows scheduled at several other venues – see the calendar below for details.
I had the extreme pleasure to see 2 concerts at the Bridgestone arena in Nashville in the last month – the first was Ray Lamontagne and David Gray (any of my show-going fans probably know I’m a HUUUGE fan of Ray!) and the second was last weekend to see George Strait and Reba McEntire. Both concerts were amazing, and really inspired me! I have begun to write again, and am hoping to have some new material ready by the end of the month when I come to Virginia.
Thanks AS ALWAYS for your continued support!
Carrying my home on my back (the truck and travel trailer) has been easier for me to adapt to than I would have expected! I just finished my first long trip in it (3 weeks on the road in Virginia) and I loved every minute of it... Having the comforts of home are amazing - especially since I'm used to lugging suitcases and various can't-live-without things from place to place, intruding on friends and family for a bed, and sleeping in different beds (including cheap, nasty hotel beds) every night! Oooh... that didn't sound right... but you know what I mean!! :)
The best benefit of this thus far though has maybe been having my angel baby Sierra with me. She is the cuddliest, most lovable, most loyal 4-legged travel companion I could ever, ever ask for! It took a little bit to get used to the trailer - getting up in it, how it wobbles when the stabilizer jacks aren't down, the heat vents in the floor, the narrow aisle when the slide-out is in, etc. But I can honestly say she has really adjusted to all of that very well! She still follows me from room to room though - even though it's only a 25-ft long camper!! I love her... She is 7 years old now, and now that she is getting older, I am SO glad that I'm able to have her with me wherever I go.
I had my first "trailer party" in the camper on this trip - it was SO much fun! A bunch of my fans turned friends came over and we hung out, had drinks and snacks, and I even played a few songs on the guitar and sang... (never a night off!) but I loved it... And now I know that 4 people - and a dog - can sit on my couch at once! I think there were 6 people in here that night - and that was pretty tight - but we were comfortable and had a blast!
Tonight I'm "boondocking" in a WalMart parking lot - this means that you just pull in somewhere and park, without plugging into electricity or water. I still have water in my fresh water tanks, so I'm able to wash dishes or my hands, cook, or even take a shower if I wanted! My water is heated by propane - and my trailer as well for that matter. Tonight it is in the 40s, but it is TOASTY in here! I just finished cooking and eating lobster and shrimp ravioli with white sauce - it was excellent! So nice to go in and buy groceries and then come out and cook dinner - in the parking lot! There are 6 other various RVs and trailers out here with me - we're like our own little camping ground!
I've done a horrible job lately of posting blogs, but I'm going to really try hard to start doing this more often, especially now that I'm actually living on the road! My address - and my belongings - are still in Nashville, but this is definitely a new experience for me, and I'm really enjoying it!
Being on the road makes me want to blog more – it makes me want to share everything that I see and every new experience with all of you… it makes me want to write more songs… I drove 270 miles yesterday and about 150 today – and I never turned on the radio or any other music. The silence and the wheels rolling under me get the wheels rolling in my head… Last night was spent in Little Rock, AR, and tonight I am in Atlanta, TX. On Monday, I’ll head to Spring, TX for a week for Thanksgiving. The following Monday I’ll head to Tunica, MS for a week of band gigs with Nervous Presley – an AMAZING band from Nashville. After that, I’ll head to South Georgia for a week of gigs, then head to Virginia for Christmas, New Years, and shows in Richmond and the surrounding area. By the time I head back to Nashville, I will have been on the road for 7 weeks – my longest trip so far!!
I am LOVING life on the road in my travel trailer, and I feel more convinced every day that everyone should have to live in a trailer for a month or two. Like maybe after high school or something… sounds ridiculous, but here goes my soapbox moment. We are SUCH a wasteful people, and the convenience of everything we have access to leads many of us to take for granted the availability of what we have. Living in a 25 x 8 space (well, more with my slide-out… ;) has been such an amazing lesson of all the many things that I can comfortably live without. And the recognition that there are soooo many people all over the world who live in a smaller space than this, without the microwave, stove, oven, heater, air conditioner, refrigerator, freezer, shower, TV – and on and on and on – is a little humbling. In the 1800 square foot home that I owned, I frequently felt like I didn’t have enough space. After you live in this small of a space for a month and realize that there was so much that you can really live without, you realize the excess of what you have.
I didn’t realize the lesson I was going to learn about wastefulness – and it didn’t start out that way. When you don’t know when and where you’ll be able to connect to water or fill your water tank again, you use much less water. You turn the water off while brushing your teeth. You turn the water off while your scrubbing the dishes and turn it back on just long enough to quickly rinse them. You take quick showers because besides using up all your water, you don’t know when you’ll have a spot to dump your gray (sink and shower) water again. You use half the toilet paper because you can’t clog the RV septic system. You don’t turn all the lights on because you don’t want to run the battery down. You don’t buy more food than you can eat, because it wouldn’t fit in the refrigerator anyway. You drive slower and more conservatively because you don’t want to use any more fuel than necessary. You don’t wash clothes that aren’t dirty because you don’t know when you’ll get to do laundry again. You multi-task. In so many ways, you are mindful of your consumption of every resource. I’ve always been big on recycling, reusing things, “free-cycling” and not throwing away anything that still has use, etc. but this just takes that “green” way of thinking to another level.
Every lesson has its place – and no doubt there will be times when I want to be on a solid foundation with a bigger bathtub ;) but the ongoing reminder of the REAL “necessities” is so good for me. I have so much to be thankful for!!
The trip has been great so far! I got to stay with dear friends in Little Rock. It was great to visit, and also had help mounting a TV in my camper! It’s nice to have some noise to keep my company late at night… Since Friday, I’ve been with my cousin and his wife in TX. We have had an amazing visit, just talking, visiting, and getting to see some other family members. They have a beautiful park-like farm complete with horses, dogs, chickens, and amazingly beautiful gardens. It’s been a very relaxing, enjoyable time.
Tomorrow I will hit the road for 6 – 7 hours on the way to Spring, TX, where I’ll spend the week – and Thanksgiving – with my sister and her family. After that, I’ll head to Tunica, and the “work” part of the journey will begin in full-force! I’m definitely enjoying the time off!
Well, I’ve passed the 1200 mile mark on this trip, and it’s been great so far! Last night I played a show in Zachary, Louisiana, which is right outside Baton Rouge. I had a great time after the show hanging with the folks that got me booked, and it was a great time! They gave me a history lesson in the world of all things Cajun – including food! I ate my weight’s worth of Couvillion (pronounced “coo-vee-yah”) and they sent more with me! It’s like a red sauce with garlic, onion, green peppers, and shrimp – all served over rice. They also introduced me to Boudin (pronounced “boo-dah”) and I now have some of that in my freezer too! : ) Yummy… I’m in love with Cajun food…
Tonight I’m at the KOA – my first time staying in one! Although it costs a lot more (about $36 a night), it is nice to have unlimited access to water, sewer, and even cable! It’s also nice to have a pull-through spot – I don’t have to back up! Even though I’ve gotten used to it, that’s quite a bonus! Up until now, I’ve stayed at people’s houses, a Wal-Mart parking lot, a Cracker Barrel parking lot, and a state park. It’s been quite a variety of experiences!
From here, I’ll head to Tunica, Mississippi, where I’ll be playing 5 nights at the Gold Strike Casino with a band called Nervous Presley. I’ll be playing keys and acoustic guitar and singing. Most of their music is 80s rock, and they are AMAZING! This is my first time playing with this band, and I’m so looking forward to the experience! It’s definitely different than anything I’ve done before, but I’m really looking forward to it!
I've been doing the solo thing for quite a long time, so my keys gig with Nervous Presley this past week was a pretty new experience for me.
Nervous Presley is a band out of Nashville that plays mostly 80s rock. Think lots of Toto, some AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, even throw in some Michael Jackson. If you know me well, you'll know that that's almost all pretty new music for me! It was absolutely wonderful though. I've known all the guys from Nashville for several years (Danny Archer on guitar and vocals, Link Detten on guitar and vocals, RK Brown on bass and vocals, and Bobo on drums and vocals. We met Manda - another vocalist - there in Tunica which is where she lives, and she was awesome to hang out with and be on stage with!
We played for 5 nights (Tuesday - Saturday) at the Gold Strike in Tunica, MS, and it was a great time. I played almost all keys, and guitar on maybe 6 or 7 tunes. We all traded vocals and everybody in the whole bands takes turns singing leads. They're an amazing band and an amazing group of people! We had SO much fun, and I don't think I've laughed that much this year!! Starting up again in March, this will become a regular gig (we're already booked for March, April, and May) so I'm pretty excited!! It was pretty interesting, but since I am on the road for 7 weeks, I had my travel trailer with me - but nowhere to really park it since casinos down there don't have RV facilities. It was a daily race from my trailer to my room on the casino and back again. Of course I had to sleep in my trailer every night even though I had a king-sized bed in my room - I couldn't leave my little Sierra to sleep alone!! ;)
Tunica is very close to Memphis, and while I was in Tunica, I went to the Hollywood Cafe. If you've every heard the song "Walking in Memphis" by March Cohn ("put on my blue suede shoes and I boarded the plane..."), then you've probably heard the line in the last verse that says "Muriel plays piano every Friday at the Hollywood". That's the Hollywood I went to, and after some cajoling, I got up and played Muriel's actual piano! I thought they'd be sick of hearing "Walking in Memphis", but I played it anyway, and they loved it! All the staff came out of the kitchen and watched, and long story short... they are booking me for every Friday that I'm back in Tunica! It was a great compliment and just a wonderful experience...
This coming week I will be in Georgia for 3 nights (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) at Crooked Creek Marina's Bone Island Grill on Lake Sinclair and for 1 night (Thursday) at Mellow Mushroom in Milledgeville, GA. I hope to see all of the wonderful Georgia folks out!
After this week of shows, I'll be headed to Virginia, where I have shows lined up all the way through the New Year! I'm very excited to see all the Virginia folks again, and look forward to the holidays!
Over 3,000 miles into this tour! I’m in week 5 now, and loving every minute of it. I really should take out stock in a gasoline company for real though… ; )
Besides almost zero access to internet and cell phone, my week in Georgia was wonderful! We had so much fun at the Bone Island Grill at Crooked Creek Marina, and at the Milledgeville Mellow Mushroom! Their pizza is soooooo good and they have Woodchuck on tap, which really makes me smile…. ; ) It was so good to see all the Georgia folks again, and I can’t wait until I’m back in February! I’ll be playing at the Marina and the Mellow again, but also adding Jackson’s on Sinclair (formerly Choby’s), and Shooters in Gray, so it’ll be a good long week and a half trip! Can’t wait!
I’ve been in VA for less than 48 hours and it has already been wonderful!!! I was sooo scared of the trip up here, but had no problems on I-77, I-85, or I-95. The only time I hit any trouble at all was on I-295 and the secondary roads, and even they were passable. I feel very grateful because I was pretty nervous about my first trek through ice and snow with this truck and trailer. The snow, ice, and freezing temperatures definitely make for constant monitoring of lines and tanks for freezing, but so far so good… The trailer stays plenty warm, but I am going through some propane for sure! I saw my first icicle on my “house” yesterday and had to take a picture (bottom pic - it doesn't show up well, but it's there! :) Sierra loved playing in the snow too – despite her almost 8 years, her Greyhound / Husky traits show themselves when she tears around the yard in circles! She makes me smile…
I spent the first night in Virginia parked in front of my parents’ house – which is always nice, because they come in and I give them all my little “fix-it” projects. Mama always ends up sewing things, helping me with my laundry, etc. and Daddy always ends up with a screw driver, a little 3-in-1 oil, or something similar! Their neighbors came over for dinner, and we played cards and I played some tunes for them all. Now I’m set up in my “yard” for the rest of my trip with dear friends. It was hilarious when I woke up today and let my Sierra out – my friend opened her window and I opened my door and we had a chat without stepping foot outside! :) It’s nice to be neighbors with such great people!
Last night was my first Virginia gig at Lakeside Sports Grill, and it was wonderful!! Thank you SO much to Wynn, Kenny, Linda Grace, Barbara, Kathy, Margaret, Ray, Linda, Phil, Angela and Brian, Leisa, Andrew, Brian and Loretta, and all the other folks who came out whose names I can’t remember right now! We had so much fun and for some strange reason, I decided to play for 4 hours and 15 minutes without ever stopping or taking a break! Now I could use a 4+ hour back and hand massage… : ) And uh… I guess that means I must have been a little dehydrated! ; ) If you haven’t been out there yet, you definitely should. They are re-opened under new ownership, and the food, service, and staff are wonderful!
Tonight’s gig is at Marty’s Grill in Mechanicsville, and this is another first-time venue for me. I’m hoping there’s a great turnout, despite the lingering snow!