February 2010
My grateful Heart


Ben Butler, the saucy Aussie

Gail "Bye Bye Blackbird" Dorsey


Rich "Mercury Rising" Mercurio

 I can't begin to say how grateful I am to my incredible musicians, and to my tour manager/amazing sound mixer Paul Mitchell.



(The cheekiest monkey of all, Paul Mitchell)

Thomas Kristensen also, as usual worked above and beyond.


(Thomas Kristensen, the only guy who can get a good coffee out of a rest stop machine.)


And my husband, who came out for the UK shows, humped gear around, drove the tippy van on the WRONG SIDE OF THE STREET, sold merch, and put up with our crazy schedule while he was juggling three other artists' careers.

Being on the road is not glamorous. I know a lot of the pictures I share are fun, and funny. But in the end, Rich put it really well one day after a long grueling drive, no good coffee and some pretty crummy hotel rooms. "You don't really get paid to play, you get paid to TRAVEL."


Like it or not, nothing is for sure, and NOTHING is easy out here getting from point A to B. Airports SUCK. If they don't cancel your flight, they will charge you 550 pounds extra for your gear. Because they can. Or they will make it impossible to get an easy connection, and invariably thread you through the dreaded HEATHROW airport, where you have a 60 per cent chance your luggage will not arrive with you when you finally get to WHEREVER.


So you get into a little road team bubble, and become a fierce unit. It is a BATTLE. It's all about what you have to do on any given day. Leave time, interview time, soundcheck time, time for dinner? Maybe not.  Day after day, we just keep trying to win the war!

If you're lucky, (I am) you find people that, besides being ridiculously talented at what they do, are really great human beings. They've got your back. Ben, Rich, Gail, Paul, Thomas. I really feel this to my very core and I am sooooo soooooo grateful.


Sometimes I completely lose track of what's happening in the "real" world. Every day is about finding good coffee, fighting to get enough sleep, maybe some vegetables so you don't get SCURVY! Once in a while, I can even find a Bikram yoga class! And then there's the blissful part – the show. God bless the SHOW!

Last night, Copenhagen, you stole my heart AGAIN. My husband proposed to me in this perfect place, and each time I come back I am reminded how much I love this city.

Aarhus was beautiful, I met some very new fans (courtesy of the DOLLHOUSE theme song!!) After the show I had promised to sing "Keep the River on Your Right" for Tim. So we ended up having a little impromptu concert in the merch line!!

In Odense, I met some incredible people. The love in the room was palpable, delicious. I even was given a perfect, beautiful new hat. My new friend Torben put it on my head when it got chilly in the room after the show, and then VANISHED.


me and Torben, the international man of mystery!

We all decided to to try it to make sure it was really meant for me!!


Gail felt too goofy


Ben felt too Russian


 Rich just wasn't feeling it!


Thomas rocked it up pretty good.

Paul wouldn't even put it on.....

So he played us weird Al Jankovich's new record after soundcheck and we polka'd until we dropped.

Point is? I am the luckiest girl in the world. THANK YOU ALL from the bottom of my heart.

TOYFLAND, forever in our hearts

(Kerstin, Karsten, JB, Soomi)


These beautiful people brought us back to a tiny school in the middle of Denmark - Toftlund. And boy were we happy to be there.


It's an incredible music, theatre, arts, production, dance school, kind of like fame.


We felt like we were the Beatles. They treated us like absolute musical ROYALTY. We had many many assistants.

and many many friends

Knud Daamgard showed up, (thank god) with a lovely loaner guitar because my guild Valencia split practically in HALF at the last gig in UK. :(


God Bless KNUD!!


My first treat was a suprise. 5 sets of the music students had taken the words and the chords from "My Sweet and Bitter Bowl" and created their own melodies and arrangements. I was in tears from the get go. They had such beautiful imaginative ideas, So creative, so different, each one from the next. I will treasure these moments. REALLY.


the beautiful arts building.

Then I gave a workshop. So much fun, great questions!! Perfect audience!

Then Ben gave a guitar hero workshop!!

They jammed for almost twenty minutes on that song by KANSAS. ("carry on your.... wayward? whatever")


We had an amazing fun gig. Full on fans with lighters and dancing and waving arms in the front row. I'm sure someone will send a picture of that, as I was busy singing!!


And then, too bad, I found my new look after the concert was over, in the costume department.

Thank you so much TOFYLAND. We will never forget our magical perfect day.

soomi and jb


soomi and gail


the last supper!


A bientot. we LOVE You!!!

All the Cheeky Monkeys

I've been working on new pseudo britishisms all week. "Cheeky Monkey" got me started when we got here, along with the Easy Jet "Speedy Boarder." Too funny when people surge to board the planes and all the  speedy boarders look down their noses at the poor sods who didn't pay the five quid extra to board first. bollocks!


Here are todays' faves. Saucy Kangaroo, Frisky Mongoose, Sexy Hedgerow, Naughty Panda, Dirty Bird.


Whiny Bastard should probably be in there somewhere too!


We started in Kendal with the band. They are sublime!! And it's Sooo lovely to have the extra oomph in the pocket!! My niece Ariel even came from Glasgow to check them out!


Then we drove through a blizzard. Yup, a BLIZZARD to Bristol, to the ever quirky beloved St. Bonaventure's Social Club.

Snowflakes the size of small children.... 


I forgot I was in a catholic establishment and so might have tweaked a few ears when I went on about Jill Sobule being the original best "I kissed a girl" girl.... (she's playing there in march) but all in good fun.

me and Gail at St. Bon's


Bush Hall was incredible 

sound check, bush hall


Graham, my valentine from Leicester was in fine form and left me a lovely gift at the foot of the microphone stand.


A leather whip. Oh my!! (I had been talking about my cheeky, saucy, naughty, circus girl character, and how much my dance days influenced the songs....) Then, after the break, he left me ANOTHER gift. a tiny sword.

Can't top that.

my favorite cheeky monkey Ariel


paul checking out Ben's guitar...


Onto Manchester. What a beautiful club. The crowd was small but dedicated. Some had driven great distances for which we are all super grateful!!

rich at the band on a wall.


Saucy Aussie, Ben Butler


WE finished our little UK sprint at Milton Keynes's ever beautiful Stables. Thanks to all our HUGE supporters there!! Vic and June, Nigel and Roz, we love you big time.


And Gail did a big interview with UK Bass player magazine. She'll be on the cover soon. !!!@#$%^& YAY


On to Denmark. We'll be there in the rain when the tent goes up!!

valentines in Leicester

My biggest fan in Leicester is named Graham. He brought me the sweetest Valentine, with his list of requests for the set list. So I did them all.



He also had every single thing I've ever done. Including posters.

Bowie, and.... is that Woody?? (Leicester, the WALL at the Musician)


Then Cambridge. what a gorgeous place the Junction is. Thanks all who were there. I had a lovely evening. And every one I met afterwards had a great story. God Bless the Brits!!


And that's quite a nice church you've got in town there...


The locals mentioned some scandal involving someone else named Brooke.....


But we've escaped in time to get to Kendal, beloved Kendal. I fell in love with the place last year. This is where my obsession with photographing sheep started. They're just so friggin' funny. (I am of course working on two sweaters as we speak!)


Anyway, the band made it safe and sound. We will rock the Brewery Arts Center tonight. Don't miss it!


cheers. Still got some chocolate left.

I left my heart in County Cork

We, oddly, had a little time off in the middle of our tour-lette and were able to hunker down for a couple days in a breathtakingly gorgeous manor near the sea in the southwest of Cork.

Oh My, the pictures don't even do it justice. Our hosts were incredible, their pack of rescued dogs and horses and donkeys were unforgettable.

The food, drink, and company right there on the top ten list!!

So Happy Valentine's day. May you find beauty in it all today! And spread LOVE.

And a toast to Ireland and its big hearty welcome.

 cliffs at old Head.

Rugby at the Spaniard. A devastating day for the Irish. But the guinness tasted great anyway.

 This is Damian, our Rugby aficionado. It was a five pint match.

The kids got in on it too.

 Paul, and Barbara and Werner, our lovely hosts.

In the back of every Irish mind....

Benny, the king of the castle.

My soulful new pal, Billy

Oscar and Max, true love.

secret garden behind the manor.

Thank God it's Friday lads and Barbara after a hard day's work.

I'm sure this means something nice, right??

On to Leicester!! Come on out to the Musician tonight. I'll sing you some love songs special for Valentines!!

Bring dark chocolate!! 


So sorry we couldn't pull off the Cork gig last night. Seems like people are just staying home, or else no one knew about it down here. Or both. Times are tough for all of us.


Meanwhile, this week's news. Got to see my beloved Bob Harris again at the BBC London.


I, for some reason, did three new songs. (I always get soooo nervous, but at least now that's done and I can start putting them in the set!) If you hear the flubs, pretend I did them on purpose.


Bob was, as ever, lovely, encyclopedic, fun... and I got to play deejay and play two of my favorite songs of all time. "Boxes" by Charlie Winston, and "Pray-er" by Gerry Leonard.


On to Dublin. Whelan's is still there,

that guy at the bar is still there. 


And the Irish just can't be beat!! Although, they still haven't figured out how to get HEAT into the dressing room. We had to huddle in one of the bathrooms as that was where the only heater was. We even turned on that blowy dryer thing to give it a little extra goose.


Somehow my travel agent talked me into a lovely hotel in Dunleary. I thought, oh well, how the hell far could that be, why not? Well.... it was FAR!! But I had a lovely walk out a long pier.


And, touch wood, there has actually been sun for three days in a row now. So I will tread lightly and not complain, so as not to jinx it.


secret passage in the rock.

Oh little birds.....

Lost in Translation

Well, it snowed off and on for most of the day in London yesterday, and today the sun has struggled through for a total of ten minutes.

 But at least that gives the heart a little boost.


I took a long walk in Fulham and came across my lovely yarn shop, all shuttered and gone. ;(

bye bye STASH.


I found a cute new restaurant, but something got lost in translation. I can't imagine many women being keen on a meal here.


So then I visited my favorite graveyard. Some very old souls at large.


and some heartbeaking stories...

the mum died at 22, and her baby died a short four months later.


And then, just steps away, a beautiful sculpture of mother and child.


It made me think, after the Giacometti "walking man" fetched 109 million dollars at auction the other day, that we should now call this "walking woman" and celebrate Helen Sinclair.



And then.... spring??


The UK has always seemed a great combination of longsuffering patience, and great humor and hardiness. Brits are great at Queuing (and drinking) and laughing at adversity. Hence the hardy flowers, growing green.


My favorite part of the excursion? the prayer board at all Saints Church.


I'm sure this guy meant it in all the best ways...


Best to keep the river on your right, and keep walking.

Off to Bob Harris at the BBC this afternoon.




Aberdeen, as expected, is rainy and grey. BUT my niece is here! and we found GREAT coffee. In SCOTLAND! 'nuff said.


A few highlights of our day:

the mall. We think it becomes an ARK in case of deluge.


 some of the ancestors




a great game we DIDN'T buy in the local "toy" shop.


Cards we LOVE




my new favorite wrapping paper.


best coffee, worst clock.


Swanky Ariel.


Dreamy Ariel.


Come on down to the Lemon Tree. We'll be knitting in the corner. Ok, there will be singing!! And Ariel taught me a Highland fling that I might just have to break out on stage.


In Ye COME!! 

Back to my roots

It's true, it's soon, plane leaves tomorrow. And no matter how many times I hit the road, packing is a nightmare. How many shoes? How cold, how many sweaters. It just never gets easier. Will they steal my knitting needles at Heathrow again?


I've been doing interviews today with press in the UK and Ireland. Oh my. So exciting.


And my brother has sent me our family history... it's true, my great great grandfather is in the records in Glasgow. I'm sure I've got cousins in Aberdeen for goodness sake.



According to Todd, (and this is part of the very long story of why he plays the bagpipes) On July 2, at 23 Hunter St. in Glasgow Scotland, Alexander Neilson, a journeyman joiner, and Jeanie Callum, listed simply as "spinster" in the record, were married by Rev. Woodrow Thompson of St. Luke's Church. Alexander was 24 years old, son of Agnes and James Neilson, Ploughman. Jeanie was 23, one of the eight children of James Callum, shoemaker, and M. S. Cave. Soon after their marriage, they emigrated to Toronto, eventually settling in Erie county, New York. They had a son, James, who had a son Robert, who named his son Robert, who named his son Todd.


Every couple of years Todd and I talk about how to get him playing the pipes on a record of mine. It's really just a matter of time and the right tune. Maybe I'll finally write a good one while I'm traipsing the rugged moors!


cheers! please come out and say hello!