July 2009
Maine, oh Maine, oh Maine

A few highlights from the last few days in Maine.....


"Gracie" from The quilt store... of course I thought it said the "Guilt STORE" -- just like a girl visiting her mom.

who are you calling FAT?


nothing like lunch by the water.


Dennis the farmer's market sheep. He thinks he's a dog.


early morning. lighthouse rocks.




the way down


back up.


string theory, blue hill Maine, YUMMY knitting store.


karen and me. she and tanis dye the most amazing wools....



Gus, my brother's 'guard' dog.


Friday's handiwork. A picture mom found....


worship on your way....


waiting for cocktails.


raining again


another early morning


all you really need.

The big cook off.

My husband loves to cook. He calls himself chef 'boy oh boy.' He keeps it to simple, rustic fare, but once you've had his risotto with caremelized onions and sage, or his poussin with a pomegranate reduction? You won't want anything else. I married him for his pasta sauce.


One of our oldest friends, Tommy Lipuma has a beautiful place outside the city. Tommy signed me to my very first two record deals. And I still play my records for him for his well tuned responses. Well, once in a while we drive out to his house, cook, drink great wine, and generally savor a nice summer day with his family. It was my husband Pat's turn to cook, so he decided to try out this old recipe from outside of Montreux Switzerland yesterday. Rabbit stew. With polenta.


We also invited one of the best chef/restaurateurs in the city to come take a day off and let us cook for HIM. We are huge fans of Giuseppe Bruno's restaurant "Sistina" and now his new one, "Carravagio" so, I don't know if my husband was nervous, but I was. Well, everything tasted AMAZING. (I am the sous chef, I am only qualified to chop, peel, and clean up.)

a little of my handiwork


some wine we just couldn't resist.


chateauneuf du pape, pourquoi pas?


Pat Giuseppe and Tommy


early stage rabbit in the pot.


Polenta to DIE for. Crispy onions and extra gruyere on the top.


Oh my, I just couldn't stop eating.


And even the kids loved the polenta!

Can we have some more please?

GRIT TV, jingle land

Years ago I did a radio interview/visit with Laura Flanders on Air America. It was one of the most thoughtful, intelligent and fun exchanges I've had.



The more I traipse around the world, whether it's radio visits, concerts, TV, press interviews, the smaller this world gets. The reassuring part is that the people who consistently do really good work, who are conscientious, smart, and steady keep turning up in cool places. Laura is one of those lovely surprises.


Yesterday when i got to GRIT tv to do an interview about "The Works" and to play a couple of tunes, there she was. I've gotten so busy, that I hadn't kept track of where Laura might be. But sure enough, it was another easy, smart conversation, and I got to perform again in a place that felt like-minded and unimpressed with fluff! You can see the interview HERE.


Then, last minute call, potential jingle gig... I flitted over to Big Foote Music. They are one of the coolest music houses in the city here. They always treat me great, they have incredible musicians on staff

Darren at work.


 Drum world.


and yesterday they had a cute new dog as greeter.

Big Foote MAX


 Again, especially with the music world as topsy turvy as ever, it's incredibly heartening to be able to work with people who keep it REAL. Thanks Kari!!

Kari, ensconced in music land.

Purple Thumb

My husband and I brought home two jasmine plants and a little rosemary plant from the farmer's market two summers ago. We figured, how hard can this be? water, sun, air. We'll bring them in during the winter. I can sing to them, plants like that, right?


Well it didn't take long for us to kill our first rosemary plant. And they're the ones that are supposed to be really hardy and doofis proof. Were we overwatering? Underwatering? Was I singing the wrong songs?

Our brave new hope


This spring, although the jasmine plants had pretty much succumbed to our incompetence too, we put them outside and prayed for a miracle. Just this week, unbelievably, two little flowers poked out, and there's a whole new world of leaves. We quickly bought a new rosemary plant so they wouldn't feel like anything had really changed.

good thing we don't have pets!


And so, on to our experimental tomato! so far so good.

Maybe it was all that June rain. We didn't even have to think about watering.


And this morning? More rain. But hopefully that means it will be beautiful tomorrow for our big Madison Square Park gig. 7pm, hope you can come. (and thanks all for the support at the living room last night. so fun working out the kinks among friends)

Worrying about your performance?

"worrying about your performance?"


(I accosted this poor guy at a construction site today and asked if i could take his picture. he didn't understand a word of english, which made his shirt even funnier. He wouldn't hold still, but I just loved his face.)


I realized today that I must have been really nervous about these gigs with the band. I've been playing solo for the past couple of years, and I've gotten really comfortable with that. (and I've also been able to pay a few more bills) But transitioning back, and rehearsing and shaping the new songs into arrangements that will sing has been a lot of work.


Well last night it was all worth it.  I do so love rocking it out a little more when I've got the power of beautiful musicians behind me. Big kudos and love to the boys, Rich Mercurio, Richard Hammond and Ben Butler

Richard and Ben


 Mimi and a smidgen of Rich. Mimi was the band mascot.


After our big gig last night at Madison Square Park, (couple of photos HERE) I finally felt that blissful happy contentment of work well done, and rewards received. The audience couldn't have been more wonderful, the weather couldn't have been better. It was one of those evenings when once again, I could have wept with gratitude for the love of what I do.


Thank you soooo much also to WFUV for their support for the last few days, it's practically been Jonatha Brooke week over there!! And John Platt was super cool to come introduce us last night. Oh, I am a lucky girl.

Darren Devivo and JB, yesterday morning.


Ben and Richard in the studio.


Thank you thank you thank you, all who made yesterday so unforgettable. 

style section

I've always loved hats. When I was little and no hat was at hand, i would (according to my mother) just pull my dress over my head.


Now hats balance me out, as I am at times self conscious about my very small cranium! But which hat? My friend Ronnie came down for the weekend and we've agonized over today's hats....

the oversized beach hat vs. the leprechaun fedora


 ronnie and "mean girl" in the background


 this is the white fedora that is all the rage on the streets of new york, according to the styles section of the New York Times.


 so lucky that we're among the stylish


beach hats with lots of holes for air, not much street cred....


corduroy messenger, black handy rain hat, and you always have to think about accessorizing. Purses and knit goods are key.


Sally Melville was at SQUAM. LOVE this mother-daughter knitting book.


black suede messenger, distressed green leather messenger...


Sidney, my bear since I was six.


And, of course, there is the cool factor. NOT.


My favorite accessory. Goes with EVERYTHING. I mean FRIENDS. Ok the CD is a good second. ;)

Hot Hot Hot

Oh, it was hot. For me though, the humidity is the kicker. I just can't seem to pull enough air out of the air sometimes. So I go into slow motion.


Kids were in the fountain in the park


But I had to make one last trip to Brooklyn to finish up TINKERBELL. A little harmonium and a little melodica, that's the ticket.


took the car...


It was hot in Brooklyn too. But parking was no problem


Even the dogs were hot


But my pal, "Lavish," who's always there in the parking lot of KEY FOODS, he was doing ok. And he always says "God Bless" when I walk by.


I just about passed out though, trying to play a part on the melodica in Ben's studio. I could muster about two bars before I got dizzy.

I was sweating worse than in Bikram YOGA! Aaaah, for the love of MUSIC.


It was definitely worth it though. I love this little song. It has really turned out beautifully. The release date is now September 22nd. AND, this just in, Jesse McCartney's version of "I'll Try" (my song from "Peter Pan, Return to Neverland." will also be on the CD. Jesse is voicing one of the characters in the movie, so... it's perfect.


Stay cool everyone.


p.s. how many days until "DOLLHOUSE" is back??

The Living Room

The Living Room last night was such a treat. To play low key and kind of in the audience's lap. To be able to be that loose. To try some of the new songs with a band for the first time. To figure out what works and what really doesn't without being excoriated or irrevocably judged.


Rich, Ben, Tania (the amazing Taiwanese artist) and Whynot


 We'll be back next Monday at 9 to come right back at it! And then ROCKING Madison Square Park at 7pm on the 22nd.


Thank you to the wicked lovely audience. It did feel like home even though I was nervous and couldn't hear particularly well. I was really touched by the old friends and new that came out to support and hang. Thank you thank you, I am such a lucky girl.

me and the boys.

Les Ephemeres

My friend Sandrine had told me gushingly about this theatre company -- this approach to theatre really, that she insisted I come to see. A woman named Ariane Mnouchkine has been creating epic journeys with her company for almost thirty years now.


We bought tickets early. I always trust Sandrine, she is one of these people with her finger on a very deep pulse. She has a heart bigger than the ocean and embraces the beauty in the tiniest things. She also took the photos here for "The Works."


"Les Ephemeres" is vignettes of very ordinary lives in extraordinary detail, painstakingly, perfectly rendered. Each half of the production runs over three hours long. I could have stayed for three hours more. Some scenes are just tiny slices, some characters and situations keep filling out and coming back, expanding over the entire afternoon and evening.


They ARE ephemeral as they are so ordinary, and yet, these people and lives will probably stay with me forever. I don't remember being so moved by theatre EVER. I was crying from the very first tableau, a circular 'chariot' on which the possessions of a lifetime were painstakingly, carefully placed in the dark. They could just as easily have wheeled the tableau in fully dressed, but no, this was way more powerful, every breath. You could feel the weight of the scene that was coming. A woman is grieving the loss of her mother, and has just decided to sell her house, full of her things, untouched. The look on her face as the lights came up is burned in my memory.


There is a knock, she reluctantly shows a beaming, bouncy new father who comes to see the property... her mother's beloved garden....


We know it's not his problem, he'll never understand what she is feeling. Nor can she remotely comprehend his exuberance. But that's not the point, they are just there, every fibre of heartbreak and joy perfectly calibrated.

This is just a bad snapshot of the picture in the little program notes album. But this actress (the one in that first scene) was riveting, believable as a ten year old, a ratty teen ager, a crazy, fun, manic mother, and as a devastated 40-something.

But ALL the actors, even the kids, were this nuanced, this disciplined and astounding.


I could write about it for days.... just see this company's work if you ever have the opportunity.

Me and Sandrine, waiting for the second half to begin.


Sandrine, outside the curtains that ring the performance space.


My heart will never be the same.

sneaky gigs and Okemah, OKLAHOMA

We've got a couple of low key little hang gigs coming up at the Living Room in NYC the next three Monday nights, it's been so long since I've played with the boys.... I got all choked up in rehearsal on Monday because I just love them so much.

Rich, Whynot, Ben, JB


The BIG GIG is July 22nd in Madison Square Park. It's a gorgeous place right at 23rd and Madison. And they're putting on a very cool series of summer shows. We will rock out around 7pm. Bring the family, bring a picnic...


Yesterday Paul Mitchell (beloved sound man/tour manager) and I  flew into Oklahoma City, then drove to Okemah, Oklahoma, home of the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival.


Now I've never even been to Oklahoma before, so it is a little bit of culture shock. I am a little groggy without my usual quadruple espresso.


But you can't beat the welcome. Paul Mitchell and the welcome sign.


Last night we tried the local wine. Corner of Woody and Elm.



With a catchy little hook:


Today has been dramatic with biblical cloud moments and crazy thunder and lightning waves.


We found some cool stuff downtown


Paul needed sunglasses.


We looked harder for some coffee.


But mostly found incredibly lovely, friendly people, psyched to have us coming through town.

Outside the Brick Street Cafe.


Come on down if you're around these parts. It's going to be FUN. And I promise I'll try to make Woody proud. Here comes the rain. Glad we made it in in time!

so long okemah

All I can say is, there was a LOT of love in this room on Wednesday night. The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival draws some of the most generous, lovelyest, singingest, kindest, wonderfulest people EVER. (i think that's how Woody would have said it. ;)


And it's free. Everyone is there for the love of Woody, so you can imagine the reception for these new Woody songs, right there in his home town.


Deana, who somehow organizes the whole shebang was a joy.

Deana and Baxter, cutest puppy ever.


 Her husband, the fabulous emcee rocked the evening.


My security detail was entertaining AND fierce!


Even Paul, my sound man and tour manager felt his roots stirring here at the Crystal Theatre.

We even had time for a little sightseeing.


We went to the Grape Ranch vineyard!


Had lunch at the very storied Brick Street Cafe. It has its own WALL of Woody!


Wall of Woody below


And  I met a real HUNK, Bubba. I just love his green earrings with that gorgeous black coat.


His girlfriend Jolene did NOT like the competition.


I just want to thank EVERYBODY who works so hard to make this festival happen. I know I didn't get everybody's name down, but I certainly have you all in my heart.


THANK YOU!  I had a BALL. I'm so sad to miss the rest of the weekend. I'm  back in New York finishing up my new Tinkerbell ditty.


But it's been soooo good to know ya!


In the year 1880, on the fourth day of July, in the city of Lancaster, a group of men of German origin met and organized a Singing Society to be henceforth known as the LIEDERKRANZ.   The object of this organization was to meet fraternally, sing and preserve native songs and music as well as perpetuate social customs of the Homeland.

Well, I just happened to walk by the New York Liederkranz building on July 4th this year. I was smitten by the statue, and so came home and looked

it up.

"We welcome membership applications from all persons of good will age 21 years or older. If you wish to join ask for an application from a member or at the club bar."

Who knew? They even have a BAR!! I just may apply.

With this jolly news and all of my good will, I trekked back over to Brooklyn yesterday to keep working on my new Tinkerbell song.

Ben Butler came by to add his gorgeous electric  guitar genius.

There are so many pedals in guitar land. I, (of course during the technical down time,) couldn't resist photo opps with my favorites... although Ben hadn't brought "The big Muff" or his "Wah Wah"

He did have the "cry baby"

And the 'equalizer' (makes everyone feel right at home. ;)

 The "BOSS" tuner: For the control freak in us all...

tremolo always comes in handy in bridges!

And every song needs a HOOTER!

Ok, so we had too much coffee, and it was a gorgeous sunny day, there was giddiness.

And Ben's magic "ebow"

Ben Wittman at the controls. (notice poster of airplane cockpit - Ben also has his pilot's license for quick getaways)

Anyway, Tinkerbell is really starting to FLY. The song is called "It's Love that Holds Your Hand." sniff. Always a good sign when a new song makes me a little weepy!

yarn and fireworks

So I had the lazy opportunity to finish up a few knitting projects! I had started a complicated cably, gazillion stitch dress.... and then gotten the back almost finished before I realized it was just ridiculously mis-sized. ARGGHGG. So some lovely, way-smarter-than-I knitting geniuses at Squam had advised me to just make it into a skirt, mini dress, something to take away the agony of all the work that seemed to be for NOTHING.


So... voila! My new cable tube skirt with sexy shoelace detail.


Quilt in the background? by my UBER talented sister in law, Lesley Brody Nelson (yup, the one I met and chose for my brother when I was ten) Journal archives


Then I pieced together a troubled little tank top


this one was fraught with mistakes. but I cheated and fudged, and so far you can't tell!


Then, a crunchy chunky wool 'wife-beater' experiment. Not bad.

Although it's kind of weird to have something that chunky in a summer pattern. hmmm. This one may have to be turned into a scarf come fall....Mostly feels good to HAVE some finished goods!



And then, FIREWORKS!!


How lucky, didn't even have to leave home. And I got a show! It's funny, when you travel as much as I do, I cling to my home time. I live in this vibrant crazy city, and yet, I'd rather just be home with my love and my idiosyncratic habits. So it was a fireworks, fine red wine and knitting kind of 4th of July for me!!


Now, if Federer can just pull off this 15th grand slam win.... I'll knit him an angora tennis racket cover!!

My New York

It's the big July 4th weekend here in New York, but the city feels empty. Lots of people just clear out on Wednesday night! That's when I like staying here. I love the city when it's quiet, no traffic, no tempers. It's a kinder gentler place.


There are new exploding colors in my conservatory garden.


I never get enough of the pink


I came across a statue of Dewitt Clinton (any relation?) just nearby.


Nice boots!


The hard part is actually slowing MYSELF down.


There IS Wimbledon! I have to admit I am an UBER Roger Federer fan. He and Bjorn borg are the only 'performers' I've ever been kind of goofy over. When I was a kid, I would never leave the room if Borg was on tv. I was so superstitious I thought that I just might jinx things for him if I budged from my spot. So I'm all Roger now.


But there are so many books I've been waiting to crack open.


So many gorgeous piles of wool, just waiting to be concocted into new delectables.

And still so many things left unfinished from the week.


I love my new Tinkerbell song, and want it to be perfect, I want to finish the six other songs in my crockpot, there is laundry, paperwork.... where did this guilt come from that keeps me from just chilling?


So today, I will just try to find some kind of balance between should and can and will. Grateful that these are today's biggest challenges!

Tinkerbell 2

I've been working on another song for Disney. They have been rolling out a new franchise with TINKERBELL. I think they are planning a movie and companion CD a year for the next, oh, decade or so.


vocal mic, drums, Ben Wittman


Last fall, the first one was released. I was among the artists asked to contribute a song "inspired by Disney Fairies." Well, number 2 is slated for this October. Break out the green tutus!!


Of course I called my long time friend/engineer/producer from the STORY days, Ben Wittman. Ben helped me and Jennifer make our very first demo, which in turn led to our first record deal. And he was the drummer extraordinaire for all those early years. Needless to say we've got some HISTORY! And some STORIES! Sometimes it's hard to get back to work when we remember another road dooozy.


Anyway, I am not yet fluent in pro-tools, not even close, so when I want to get serious right away, I go to Brooklyn and hang with Ben. We got the mandolin rocking, a little wurlitzer, some tasty drums, and late yesterday, our pal Richard Hammond dropped by to play some lovely upright bass on the tune.


 Richard Hammond.


The only drawback to Ben's rig, is that when you're recording, the AC can't be on... too noisy, so we definitely worked up some serious sweat. Richard was soaked by the end of the take!


I worked on the acoustic part squeezed between Ben's many bass drums, his dresser and bed. This is true home recording!


Of course, the second I left last night? DOWNPOUR. I got soaked schlepping all my stuff from Brooklyn back to Spanish Harlem. I swear, Seattle is looking better and better.


 Steady ON Tinkerbell!