Greetings from St. Louis. We have a day off today on our way to Little Rock, Arkansas. Hard to believe we are already one week into the summer tour. Harder to believe that we finished recording all ten tracks for our new cd which will be released in February, 2009.
As many or all of you know, we are now officially a fully independent band, and the newest record will be our first independent ‘album’ release since 1987 when we released ‘Strange Fire’. Things have come full circle, and it feels liberating and centering, even in the midst of change. In addition to releasing the studio tracks recorded with the band (Matt Chamberlain: drums, Clare Kenny: bass, Mitchell Froom: keys, me and Amy), we will also release recordings of the same songs done acoustically. Amy and I sat in a room together with our instruments (Alison Brown joining in on some banjo), and recorded the same songs live together (plus at least one new song not on the band record and possibly another to come). We thought you might enjoy both versions of the new set of songs.
Mitchell and David (Boucher) came to Atlanta, and we basically worked straight through from April 21st- May14th to get the tracks completed for mixing. The process, although tiring at times, was quite exhilarating. We had to keep the energy up and make decisions on the music as we went along, rather than putting things off to come back to them later to change or belaboring decisions on performances. The result, I think, is fresh and unfettered. The mix process has been a real team effort with us and David and Mitchell all pitching in evenly on our approach to the songs with regards to things like vocal balance, where to place instruments and voices in the sound spectrum, what kinds of effects to use and how much, the order of the sequence, etc. It’s been a good mix of concentration and leaps of faith.
The plan now is to finalize the mixes and then go back to LA after the July summer tour leg and mix the acoustic tracks and possibly record another song. This, I must admit, depends on whether I will write a song I like for us by the end of the July leg!!!! We’ll see.
Back here on the road, the shows have been great. We started the tour with a make-up date in Richmond. I got sick and lost my voice back during our January tour, so some of these shows are make-up dates. I appreciate people accommodating us with rescheduling the shows. Richmond was an awesome way to begin the tour. The National is a new venue, and the crowd was full of energy and song and just the perfect way to kick off a new tour. Evan McHugh opened the show to much enthusiasm.
Since then, we did three ‘True Colors’ shows.’True Colors’was organized by Cyndi Lauper to give back to the queer community for their support and activism. Such fun shows. We were joined by Mary McBride, Canadian band the Cliks, the B-52’s, Cyndi, Rosie O’Donnell, Kate Clinton, and Regina Spektor. Carson Kressley emceed. The first of our shows was at Jones Beach, followed by one in the hallowed halls of Radio City and then Toronto. It was like a mini Lilith Fair tour with good company and music and many fond memories as we said our goodbyes and headed off to pick up the rest of our own summer tour.
House of Blues in Chicago (another rescheduled show) was simply awesome, with a packed house of duly rambunctious singers. Rose Polenzani opened the show and joined us for a rousing version of ‘Closer to Fine’. It’s been a while since we’ve toured with Rose, and it’s great to have her back.
Last night we played Milwaukee Pride. I’ve always thought Wisconsinites (is that how we refer to them?) are a hearty bunch of people, but now I know. The rain was torrential. We started the show early, fearing that lightning might roll in and shut the show down (as it rightly should). While Pride organizers expected 8,000 people, the storms drove out all but the fiercest Pride concert goers, and we sang to a small and unbelievably spirited and vocal group of soggy fans. Local heroes and friends, Mrs. Fun, joined us for ‘Closer’. I’ll never forget this show. And for those of you who endured the weather, I give you my heartfelt thanks and hope that you went home and had some hot soup. You totally rocked us
I want to say that Amy and I are especially happy to have Julie Wolf playing with us. Julie plays accordion and keys and sings harmony with us on this tour. We’ve known Julie for years, but this is our first long length tour together. She is a remarkable musician who has also recorded her own songs and scored film work. Along with Julie, we have the usual suspects and crew extraordinaire: Mike Rose on monitors, Brian Speiser house sound, and Sulli on instruments. Rick Stott continues to get us down the road. We also have Becky Bodonyi selling merch and coordinating our social issues tabling. Speaking of which, we will be focusing on voter registration for the tour, so if you haven’t registered, or know someone who hasn’t, and you’re coming to the show, this will be an opportunity to take part in this all too important election. Also look for groups tabling about the proposed constitutional gay marriage ban, which will be presented to California voters this Fall. We will be working to help secure and protect the civil rights of same-sex couples.
I’ll be keeping you up to date on tour shows and such. Just wanted to give you all a shout out and thank you for your unwavering support. We are inspired by all of you and truly grateful to be able to go out and play live for you and make records that you might like to listen to.
See you out there on the road!!!