We, The People

This week was a rough one for all Americans. I’ll not say too much about the Boston terror bombings except that no matter what happens, we’re all in this crazy life together and as a strong people, will make it through. Our thoughts are with all the Bostonian Buckaroos and their families.

On a more positive note, this year’s 30th Annual French Quarter Fest weekend was spectacular as usual and we were honored to be included for the sixth year in a row. Y’all came out in force for our show on the river and from all over the world, too. Hey, St. Louis! Hey, Colorado! And hello, San Francisco! Still though, we have yet to see one single picture from our performance, if you can believe it. (Post facto note: there are actually two cell phone photos up on my personal page…thanks Roblynn and Ron!) Please share the love by posting any photos on our Facebook page. If you’re not on social media you can email photos to the band by simply replying to this email. We’d really appreciate it!

I wanted to send a HUGE “Thank You!” to everyone who expressed your support both in person and financially to the family of Allison Pitcher, our friend and long time fan who passed suddenly a few weeks ago. The turnout at the benefit was awesome! You can still make a donation to the family online by clicking here to go to the website.

Tonight brings the Big Easy Entertainment Awards at Harrah’s Casino, and while Gal Holiday was not nominated, I was asked to be a presenter again this year. I’ll be wearing another beautiful dress from Trashy Diva, the fabulous New Orleans dress shop who sponsored the New Orleans Nightingales this year for French Quarter Fest. (Did you see the picture of the ‘Gales FQF performance yet? Now THERE’S an eyeful….) Trashy Diva has graciously sponsored me for both the awards show tonight AND our JazzFest performances. Too bad the guys in Gal Holiday don’t wear dresses. Great…now I’m picturing them all in frocks and it’s a little frightening!

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Photo courtesy: Eliot Kamenitz

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Photo courtesy: Babs Evangelista

20130422-141925.jpgFais Do Do @ The Maison – Photo courtesy: Vanessa Murphree

And that of course brings us to the upcoming New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and all the build up prior. We’ve got some great shows lined up this season! Unfortunately we had one cancellation due to ongoing noise ordinance issues in the city. Mimi’s in the Marigny has been served with a court injunction to cease and desist from all music. As far as I know that includes all Deejays, too.

This issue is a many sided one and you can find tons of extra reading on the subject by doing an online search. Being a musician and having lived in the boisterous French Quarter, I certainly have my opinions, of course. My feeling is that if you need peace and quiet you shouldn’t be living in this city. That said, there ARE quiet neighborhoods here. Shocking, I know. I do however, agree that too much noise can be downright annoying and that there should be rules and regulations. (All of which Mimi’s have complied with, FYI.)

Anyway, we’re trying to find a replacement show for the cancelled one next Thursday 5/2. Does anyone feel like hosting a house party? If you’re curious how that would work, please contact me. Also, keep an eye on our online schedule. Stuff pops up last minute all the time!

This week we’ll do a pre-Fest show at Rock ‘n’ Bowl for Swing Night on Wednesday 4/24. If you still haven’t been to this local insitution I will not chastise but simply encourage you to check it out! Friday 4/26 you can find us in the CBD at The Rusty Nail, which is the old Mermaid Lounge for those of you who go back that far. The fellas who own the bar have done a really beautiful renovation and it just keeps improving over the years.

On Saturday night 4/27, the ever tiny and super stellar Three Muses is the destination with our four piece band. Get there early and don’t be scared to squish…the food is superb and the service is, too. Then we have a few days off to fest with the rest and for me at least, celebrate a birthday! I feel like such a lucky gal to have my birthday during JazzFest each year. All the bulls in the house say, “Oh yea-yer!”

I’ll try to get another email out before the second weekend and our performance out at the fairgrounds on the second Friday. “Try” being the operative word. Once we get started we might just roll straight on through. We’re VERY excited about our slot this year, opening the Gentilly Stage for the great Willie Nelson! So please make sure to check our website, like us on Facebook and even follow me on Twitter. Plus, all the dates through both JazzFest weekends are below so keep scrolling.

Be safe, be smart and look out for and love each other. Until we meet again…

Your gal pal,
Vanessa

“Without the courage to fail there is no progress.”

Wednesday 4/24 @ Rock ‘n’ Bowl 3000 S. Carrollton Ave. (NOLA); 8:30pm-11:30pm
Friday 4/26 @ The Rusty Nail 1100 Constance St. (NOLA); 10pm-1am
Saturday 4/11 @ Three Muses 536 Frenchmen St. (NOLA); 9pm-12am
Wednesday 5/1 @ Siberia w/ opener Gregory Good 2227 St. Claude Ave. (NOLA); Gregory Good opens solo acoustic @ 9pm; Gal Holiday 10pm-1am
Thursday 5/2 @ TBA
Friday 5/3 @ New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: Gentilly Stage (NOLA); 11:10am-11:55am
Friday 5/3 @ New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: Kids’ Tent (NOLA); 5:15pm-6pm
Saturday 5/4 @ TBA

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Dangerous Drivers

It’s a known fact, and probability says that the more time you spend traveling in a vehicle the higher your chances for accidents. I’ve had my fair share of fender benders, mostly before my 21st birthday including one particularly horrifying and life changing crash involving a tractor trailer, which left me with a fractured pelvis and one dead in our vehicle. It happened a long time ago and fortunately I was not the driver, having fallen asleep in the backseat which lessened the impact. Nonetheless, I cringe when I see people driving dangerously on our highways and love the signs in TX that read, “Drive Friendly.” On our most recent tour through the American West this June we encountered a driver who was definitely NOT heeding the sign.

We had completed our run, which started in Los Angeles before heading into NM and CO via Phoenix, AZ. Making our way back to Louisiana we were minding our own business, doing the speed limit, (which, in TX is plenty fast for me at 75) when in my side mirror I saw a truck hauling ass. I must say that most truckers are great drivers, having jobs that depend on it and have gotten a bad reputation over the years, mostly from little old ladies. That said, this guy was a maniac, hauling an empty wide load trailer and passing at 85 or 90 by veering onto the shoulder.

Bastard. No offense to his mother intended.

Normally you would just mutter something like “asshole” and drive on, letting the dumbass get his comeuppance at some point down the road, hoping for a Highway Patrol to catch the offending driver. And then he threw a rock. Small. DING! Slow down a little…back off. But then came The Boulder. WHACK! Our guitar player, Chris Adkins who was sitting in the back seat actually ducked. And then gasps all around as we gazed upon the 3 inch, circular crack in the windshield.

Now, common sense would implore that you do something sane, like call the aforementioned HP. But not knowing exactly how much time that would take, we thought it would be much more productive to get the guys’ trucking company info. You’ll recall that he was going much faster than us, but we were about to hit Wichita Falls and more traffic so we hoped he would get slowed, allowing us to catch up.

I put all my driving skills to the test as I followed him, changing lanes (always using my blinkers, mind you) and weaving through traffic. I watched him almost run other cars off the road multiple times. I watched as more rocks were thrown. I knew we had to catch him. And just the other side of town, success! We pulled along his left side and Dave B was ready with the pen and paper to write down the info on the side of his cab. As he looked down and saw what was going on he immediately slowed down to below the speed limit. Ooooooooo, yeah. Sweet satisfaction.

Well the slower speed didn’t last for long. He pulled behind us and we figured it would be safer to follow him instead. The thought of some methed out trucker following us to a rest stop and kicking our asses crossed my mind, as it should. A quick call to his dispatch company in Michigan and ten minutes later he was doing the speed limit. I hope that guy really gets it from his boss.

We had another incident, also in TX with a rather large raccoon on the way back to California a week and a half later. But that’s a story for another time. Let’s just say that one raccoon who decided to cross the road didn’t make it to the other side.

And that folks, is all she wrote.

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AZ, NM, CO: Get the News, Buckaroos!

I’m writing this to y’all from sunny Los Angeles where we’ve been for a few restful days and Dave and I drove back from New Orleans, leaving after last Saturday’s Back to the Beach Festival and a mad frenzy of packing. We had a stellar time in the gulf south this spring which culminated in a blow out show with Flatbed Honeymoon at The Red Dragon Listening Room in Baton Rouge last Friday night. Chris Adkins flew out west to meet us and we had a great show here in Burbank on Wednesday. Now we’re eagerly anticipating our upcoming tour in the west that starts tomorrow in Chandler, AZ.

Please check the list below for our schedule which includes dates in AZ, NM and CO and visit our website at www.galholiday.com for more info. And please help us spread the word by clicking the links for the Facebook events and sharing with your online friends!

Saturday 6/9; Chandler, AZ @ Teakwoods Bar and Grill w/ HashKnife Outfit FB event
Sunday 6/10; Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room w/ Junction 10 FB event
Wednesday 6/13; Santa Fe, NM @ The Cowgirl BBQ FB event
Friday 6/15; Denver, CO @ Skylark Lounge FB event
Saturday 6/16; Salida, CO @ The Fritz FB event
Sunday 6/17; Ridgway, CO @ The New Sherbino Theater FB event

After the western tour we’ll be headed back down to Louisiana for a private event, a library tour of Point Coupee Parish and two great shows in New Orleans. I’ll keep y’all updated on the developing summer and fall touring schedule. Lots of exciting things are in the works including a trip to Northern CA for a few shows, one of which will hopefully shape up with our friend and fellow New Orleanian, Lynn Drury. There’s also another FL run and plans to make it up through the mid-west and northeast. Woohoo!

See y’all on the flip side…

Your gal pal,
Vanessa

“Without the courage to fail there is no progress.”

Small Town America

All small towns are not created equal. Salida, population 5500 is an amazing little valley town on the Arkansas River in the mountains of Colorado. With it’s proximity to the river and to Monarch, Salida is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts in both summer and winter, charming a wide swath of people with it’s historic downtown section and laid back, vintage-y charm. Ranchers, itinerants and artists of all ages and from all parts of the country have found a home there, some seasonally, some year round. And for yours truly, a trip to Colorado would not be complete without a stop in Salida.

My love for the area happened during the first Gal Holiday tour of Colorado in 2007. Close friends of mine, Rocketship Man Jimmy Descante and his lovely wife, Penelope had just moved to Salida from New Orleans and the timing was perfect on a day off to drop in for a few drinks, a ghost town or two and a hot spring. Pretty much every town we went to on that first tour had me falling in love with it, and then SALIDA. It had everything; amazing restaurants, ambiance, folks and scenery. I knew next time we came back we just had to play a show there!

My idea about what a small town is or isn’t has certainly changed drastically since I was a kid. After my family moved back to the mountains of western Maryland when I was 12, I grew more and more miserable living in a community of closed minded attitudes and narrow acceptance. My mother is an artist and a musician, as well as a very vocal environmentalist, preservationist and organic gardener who raised her children to be free thinking, open minded, conscious members of our global community. That is to say, we often had a hard time fitting in. As is usually the case in Small Town America there were a handful of wonderful people with whom we had much in common and more and more have moved in over the years, slowly changing the face of my hometown. Blame it on teenage angst, but back then I wrongly thought all small towns were the same and I wanted to get away as fast as possible.

That attitude changed when I started to travel on my own, moving down to Fredericksburg, Virginia and then to New Orleans where I learned about and fell in love with Abita Springs, LA. In Abita I had my first real taste of a small town where generational locals and artist transplants from the city actually lived and worked together, tradional and creative types respecting each other and (mostly) getting along. I’m sure John Preble of the UCM (pronounced You-See-‘Um) Museum in Abita would disagree with me and admittedly I have an outsiders point of view. But it’s a great little place and I’m proud to call John my friend and to have spent time in his small town.

Out west people are different though. Maybe it’s the enduring pioneer spirit that permeates, running through the culture like a vein of precious metal. Or maybe it’s the awe inspiring views, or the short growing season or even the harsh climate that helps to foster an attitude of cooperation and good will to man. I don’t know what it is but the people ARE different and it’s been my good fortune to have just gotten back from my third visit to Salida, CO with a plan for a return trip already in the pipeline. Just rest assured that it won’t be in the winter!

We had a marvelous first weekend of our Set Two Tour with Friday and Saturday night shows at The Victoria Tavern during ArtWalk weekend. We got ’em out on the dance floor, Jimmy and Penelope leading the charge and a couple from Texas two stepping both nights. On Sunday we moved over to J and P’s abode from the old whorehouse where The Vic puts up traveling musicians. We hiked up to a waterfall for some eye soothing views, our guitar player, Chris and I snapping tons of photos before heading back for a BBQ. Mucho Tequila, amazing food, pinball, conversation, and many new friends later we fell into deep slumber in the teepee that Jimmy, following up on a childhood dream erected in his yard with help from his “squaw” and his “squaw in law.”

And so I’ll say it again; all small towns are not created equal. It’s just finding the ones where you fit in and that do it for you. So that’s what I’m doing. Traveling around, playing music, making friends and finding those pockets of America where people are nice and being the weirdest person in the room is still okay.

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Diesel Smoke

Welcome to my first post here on my new blog, Life On (and Off) the Road with a Honky Tonk Gypsy Gal. Is the title clever enough? Does my header picture say what I want it to say? I’ve been at this for days on and off and really I just finally decided to just write something. I’ve been needing an outlet to get stuff off my chest more quickly and frequently than my band emails to fans and this seems to be just the ticket. What is this thing called Blog?

This past week has been one wild ride and here’s a little piece of why. The whole story  might fill a book so here’s a quickie recap.

Dave B and I left New Orleans on Sunday, bound for Denver, Colorado, a summer band tour and an exodus from the steamy south for the rest of the summer. We stopped for a night to visit family in Natchitoches, LA ready to really hit the road the next day with a leisurely trip ahead of us. You know where this is going right? No sooner do we get to the LA/TX line then black smoke starts chugging out of the back of our diesel van. Breakdown city. 110 degrees with the heat index and stuck on the side of the highway, trucks screaming by.

Basically, Garage #1 totally screwed us by telling us they could work on the van and then changing their minds the next morning which consequently ended up costing us 24 hours. Being on a schedule and not knowing if we were completely out of commission or not, we were put in the pressure cooker situation of sitting and waiting, completely at the mercy of the tow companies and Garage #2 who turned out to be angels in disguise.

One breakdown, two nights in a hotel and $800 later we decided to make up some time and run the 16 hour drive straight through from Shreveport, LA to Denver, CO. And we made it. That’s the point. And the tour starts tomorrow. Everyone safe and sound. My mom flew in for this weekend of the trip but that’s another story for another night. Stay tuned.

110 degrees