8 Things I Loved about 2018 + What’s next!

Hello and Happy New Year, friends!

Before I get into what’s been going on and what’s happening next, I want to call out 8 great things that happened in my life in 2018. I hope 2018 treated you well, too.

1) In January last year, I was invited to share music along with flautist Keith McGillivray for a Words on Fire poetry reading given by Door County poet Nancy Rafal. What a lovely night with great people! Door County has a wonderful arts community and beautiful scenery even in winter.

2) I attended Song Circle with Tricia Alexander at the Café Carpe most months in 2018. The wonderful Tricia Alexander, practitioner of the performing and healing arts, holds a monthly song circle, and I attend whenever possible because it feels restorative. Everyone is welcome: the space feels sacred and special in an inclusive way. We don’t “perform” songs. We share them from the heart and we can invite others to join in on the song or not. Everyone is in the circle. Those who don’t make music may pass or request. It’s such an uplifting experience. Check out the Café Carpe calendar if you think you’d like to participate. It’s usually the last Thursday of the month at 6:30 pm, but call (920) 563-9391 and ask to be sure.

3) In February 2018, I returned to give a concert at the Rockford Listening Room in Rockford, Illinois. Sharing music in listening rooms is a dream come true for me. I smile to think of where music has taken me. Thank you Rockford folks! I hope to see you again soon.

4) Also in February last year I gave a solo concert at the Café Carpe in Fort Atkinson. This space means so much to me because it helped me get back into performing professionally after taking a break when my sons were young. I resumed performing in 2007 by sharing songs at the open stage at the Café Carpe, resharpening old skills and building up new ones. Audience members and other artists gave me a lot of encouragement that kept me going. In 2008, I secretly set a goal of one day having an actual concert at the Café Carpe–not just appearing on the open stage. In March 2010 that happened for the first time. Since then, a few times a year, I have been grateful to share music in the back room of the historic, community-centered bar-restaurant that locals lovingly call “The Carpe.” Satchel Welch always sets the sound up nicely, and I can relax and enjoy spending the evening with the folks in the room, feeling the songs bringing us together, and knowing the room will help me sound great. I will be back there again this March (exact date not yet set) — nine years after my first professional concert there. Wow! Thank you Bill Camplin and Satchel and Kitty Welch for all you do. Your work brings joy to so many people!

5) In March 2018, I gave a co-billed concert with SistaStrings at The Coffee House in Milwaukee. If you haven’t heard of SistaStrings, please search online for their videos and go see one of their shows. You will be transported by the way they blend violin, cello, and vocals across multiple genres, and their composing and songwriting is outstanding. A bonus of co-billing with them is they sat in on one of my songs and we closed the concert by performing a song together. Special thanks to Peter Mulvey for introducing me to Monique and Chauntee Ross of SistaStrings a few months prior when we shared the stage at the Lamplighter series concert. They have an album coming out this year, so watch for it!

6) In April of last year I shared music at the Rainbow Hospice Memorial Quilt Dedication service, as I have in years past. I had moving conversations with family members there to dedicate quilt squares in memory of their loved ones. This event invites me to open myself to others and draw from my experience of having been with my late husband through his hospice care back in 2013. I am thankful to connect with people who have walked a similar path. The meaningfulness of this service moves me deeply. I hope to be invited again in 2019.

7) In May I co-led a women’s retreat called “With Every Breath: Finding Joy Within Us” with a dear friend and spiritual leader. We combined readings and music and conversation and art to create a shared experience of rejuvenation. I treasure all that I learned that day and the relationships it nurtured.

8) New venues and new musical friends! Ok, so I have way more than eight things in 2018 that I am grateful for, but I want to say how thrilling it was to perform for the Night Market in Viroqua (a production of Driftless Books & Music) and at two Madison, Wis. venues new to me: Crescendo on Monroe St. and BOS Meadery. Also new this past year was setting up co-billed concerts with John Stano. It started in June with the Café Carpe, which was great fun. Then, in September, John helped me out at BOS Meadery because I had an injury that made it hard for me to play the full evening (more on that in a minute). John and I are giving a concert in Milwaukee this month on Saturday the 19th at Linneman’s and we plan to book more co-billed events this coming year. John has a couple new albums out this year, so check out his website, too!

Now for something completely different:

It’s been so long since I last posted that you may have wondered what happened to me. I want to tell you about why I went quiet for several months, but first – I have events to announce (yes!):

  • This Saturday – Jan 12 at 6:30pm, John Stano and I will be on the radio with “Sessions with Sandy” a weekly live music and interview program on WXRW 104.1 FM Riverwest Radio, Milwaukee. You can listen live online at the River West Radio website.
  • January 19 at 8pm – concert with John Stano at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn 1001 E Locust St. Milwaukee, Wis. $8
  • February 4 at 1pm (lunch at noon) – Guest artist for the program at the Harry J. and Belle Goodman Lechayim Lunchtime Plus event. Open to all. You’re invited to come enjoy food, friends, fun and a concert and talk by Kaia Fowler at Lechayim Lunchtime Plus at Beth Israel Center, 1406 Mound Street, Madison, Wis. You may attend lunch and the program or just come for the concert. Contact Jewish Social Services at (608) 442-4081 no later than 2:00 pm Wednesday Jan. 30 to reserve. (Lunch Menu: Braised balsamic chicken, couscous, market salad, truffled white bean soup, rugelach / vegetarian option: balsamic tofu). If you are 60 years or older, a minimum donation of $4.00 is suggested, but please only pay what is comfortable for you. The cost of the meal is $8.97 for those younger than 60 years old. The program is free!
  • March -date TBA – one of the first two weekends – 8:30pm at the Café Carpe 18 South Water St. West Fort Atkinson, Wis. $8

So where have I been since summer musings? This fall was rough for several reasons, but one major incident that colored the past four months for me occurred at the beginning of Sept. My dog and I were attacked by a neighbor’s dog while we were out walking. In the process of trying to get away, I fell and got a severe nerve stretch injury and a neck injury. The fall caused me significant disability and pain for months and messed with my ability to play the guitar for some time. (Special thanks to Ken for loaning me a Collings Baby guitar! Because of that loan, I was able to get back to playing within a couple weeks and was able to perform at BOS Meadery in September. I couldn’t have done it otherwise.) My dog Gibson was bit in a couple places and healed quickly, thankfully.

So, I have been occupied with healing for about four months now. Through this experience, I have gained so much understanding of what it means to live with pain and disability. My heart goes out to all who endure that as part of daily life. I wish you comfort and relief. And I wish you strength and wellness. Those are the things I wanted most. My injury feels about 90% healed most days now, and the only effect on my guitar playing is that I have to play seated to keep the weight of the guitar off my shoulder while the nerve finishes healing. This means I can get back to the stage and back to working on my album. I am celebrating!

I am all for experiencing a great 2019 full of hope, joy, healing and rejuvenation. We have much work to do for this beautiful world and for each other. I wish us all the ability to seize opportunities for playfulness and compassion. I encourage us to look for joy and welcome it into our days, even if it is as small as a chickadee perched on a bare winter branch. Happy 2019 everyone! And thank you, as always, for caring about me and my music. May all your good dreams come true!

In peace and light and song,

p.s. If you are on Facebook, please go to my page at this link and like and follow it. I am working on growing my connection with you and others through social media this year.


Thoughts on Promises

Hello Friends in Song,
If you’re in a hurry, fall concert dates are below. But if you have a minute, I have a couple thoughts I would like to share with you.

Yesterday evening I took a walk under the full moon with my older son and my dog and welcomed the crisp cool air against my face. Lately I have been reflecting on the past year with awe and gratitude. When I decided to get back into performing my music after taking a break following my husband’s death, you were all there for me — even those of you I hadn’t met yet. I starting booking again, feeling nervous about how difficult it might be to get the attention of venues after being away from performing for nearly three years. Because of some enthusiastic fans reaching out to venues and suggesting they book me (thank you – you know who you are), I quickly gained momentum. Now I find myself scheduled on the Madison Folk Music Society stage for the Willy Street Fair, something I dreamed of doing a year ago. Opportunities keep opening up for me because of the warm, supportive community of fellow songwriters, venue operators, music promoters and listeners. Whatever category or categories you fall into, I thank you wholeheartedly for being with me on my journey. 

I have also been thinking about promises we make to ourselves. About 10 years ago I decided to give myself the gift of health for my birthday. I hadn’t been paying much attention to taking care of my body and was on the road to serious health problems later in life if I didn’t make some changes. I am far from perfect when it comes to nutrition and exercise, but, overall, I have kept that promise to myself and am enjoying the results everyday. When I got back into performing, I promised myself I would give myself enough time with my music to be the best I can be. Our lives fill up quickly with family, friends, homes needing work, and the things we do to provide food, shelter, and clothing to ourselves and our dependents. Still, I wanted to dedicate the time and effort it takes to create music at a level that people would want to listen to it. I have been given songs to share and a voice to sing them with, so I am putting in the time to serve the songs and you, my wonderful listeners. I intend to keep this promise to myself and to you: to be the best performing singer-songwriter I can be by embracing the work and pouring my heart into all I do.

You make it all so much more meaningful. Thank you again for being there, for your attentive minds, your kind hearts, your smiles and nods, and for singing along when the spirit moves you. I am looking forward to many more years of enjoying music together. I hope you can make it to one or more of these upcoming concerts. Say hello if you do!

Sat Sep 16 — 2pm — Willy Street Fair, Madison, Wis. 
Fri Sep 22 — 6pm — SchoolGrounds Café, Cottage Grove, Wis.
Sat Sep 23 — 9am — Fort Atkinson Farmers Market, Fort Atkinson, Wis.
Fri Sep 29 — 6:30pm — Fisher King Winery (in the round with Wisconsin Songwriter Circle)
Fri Oct 6 — 7:30pm — Wild Hog in the Woods, Madison, Wis. 
Sat Oct 7 — 7pm — opening for Anne Hills at Cotter Creek House Concert, Shawano, Wis.
Sat Oct 13 — 8pm — co-bill concert at Cafe Carpe, details tba
Wed Oct 11 — 10:45am — Oregon Area Senior Center, Oregon, Wis. 
Thur Oct 19 — Sun Oct 22 — Folk Alliance Regional Midwest Conference, Iowa City
Sat Nov 18 — 7pm — The Coffee House at Chestnut & Pine, Burlington, Wis. 

See the full schedule on my “shows” page.