Young Audiences: Fun at the library!

We work with a fantastic group called Young Audiences who place programming in schools and libraries. There are a handful of awesome Head Librarians in different Parishes who request us for their summer reading programs, including Ms. Patricia with the Plaquemines Parish Library system. Plaquemines Parish is the finger of land, much of which is threatened by the shrinking coastal marshes where the mighty Mississippi reaches the Gulf of Mexico. We spent the first three days of this week playing for the children of Buras, Belle Chasse and Port Sulphur, Louisiana.

Sharing music with kids who might not otherwise get a musical education is rewarding as well as mighty important these days, what with many school district cutting Arts curriculum completely. The upright bass and the drums are always the stars of the show, although the guitars are not far behind…

“Now let’s talk about the style of bass playing that Dave does which is called, ‘SLAPPING.’ You’re not supposed to do it to other people but it’s okay to slap a bass!”

In case anyone is curious what we play for the kiddos, here’s a set list:

Kids Show Summer 2014

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.


Broke Down and Broke

After our harrowing breakdown experience last week we wrote this song on the 17 hour drive to Denver from Shreveport:

Broke Down and Broke

Broke down and nearly broke
Ain’t that the way that it always goes
When time is on your side
And you’re feeling mighty fine
Moving on down the road

Thinking maybe so
We shoulda stopped a few miles ago
Outside the last town
When we heard that funny sound
And now the black smoke’s burning my nose

Now we’re broke down and nearly broke
We need a tow to the nearest garage
Made a call to triple “A”
But they wouldn’t pay
And now we’re sittin by the side of the road

Two nights in a roadside hotel
Our cash flow is getting real low
Gotta make up the cost
And the time that we lost
Getting the diesel repaired

We were broke down and now we’re broke
At least we’re back on the road
Until the next time my friends
When it happens again
And we’re broke down and broke

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