7.1.17 Germany: Final Days Summed Up 

I would like to wrap up the rest of this tour using a few simple bullet points: 

1) Germany is a gorgeous country with incredibly kind and generous people. Go there and be grateful! 

2) When you book an international tour and plan on traveling as much as we did, get a USB stick so that you can work from the road. Things get stressful when your body is ready for bed but your brain tells you there is so much to get done. 

3) If you can book your own tour DO IT. If you work with booking agents, try to make it for a handful of performances here and there. Not entire tours. Also, try to work with booking agencies that have similar values to yours when it comes to handling their business. You are perceived by the company you keep (Yes, Mom, I just said that…). 

4) If you do what you love for a living, be grateful every moment. 

5) Touring with a partner can be a wonderful thing. 

6) Jet lag totally sucks. Give yourself at least 2 days on each end to recoup. 

7) Learn how to properly pronounce the names of the towns and venues you are playing in as well as a few other handy words, no matter how silly you sound speaking a foreign language. 

8) Know that growth takes time. Don’t be stressed if you do not make as much money as you had hoped on the first tour. Think ahead to how you can make future tours even better!  

Many more points to come on the next tour. Thanks for tuning in!

6.10.17 Germany: Days 1-4 

This is day 1 or 21, working with a booking agency. I have always booked my own performances, so I have some idea of what to expect, or at least a person at the venue that I have already been in contact with. Some of what I am to expect from the next 21 days is long drives to gigs and performances nearly every day. I am excited but have my reservations. I am touring with another artist who invited me to join them on this circuit tour. They are the main interest of the agency but their contract allows them to bring up to 4 artists along. So, the agency says OK to me being there as well. I consider it a privilege. 

Privileged as I may be, I do have my reservations. I have had a bad feeling in my gut about the agency for months. Between inflated commission percentages on pass the hat gigs, below market rate fixed-fees, a proposed label opportunity that would give them a worldwide exclusive to my music for 10 years (with a track record of 1 artist who has gained some success in Germany after being with them for 4 years), the company spelling my name wrong three different ways on promotional material (their response was “oh well it could’ve been worse”), unnecessarily passive aggressive emails from the owner to the fact that I had spoken with many artists who had done the circuit in the last 9 years and not one of them said something positive about working with the company (everything was negative or neutral – even from the people still work with them) – I was not impressed. However, I do consider this a learning opportunity, so I’m going in with the attitude that they will do a great job and all my reservations will fade away. 

Gig 1 was for a lovely audience of music lovers and took place at a super swanky furniture store, about an hour drive from the flat we rented for the month. We shared the gig with another artist and both acts received encore requests from the crowd. The only downside to this gig was that, when the crowd started to arrive, the venue owners herded us in to a room upstairs and expected us to stay there and not interact with the guests. They had paid the booking agency a fixed fee for us to be there and they treated us like the “hired help,” which I am not used to. That was a tough one to swallow. 

At the end of the gig, there was an obvious tension in the room, so we approached the owner whose interpreter explained to us that they were disappointed and found us to be unprofessional because we ended the show before 10pm. We were told by the booking agency to play two 45 minute sets with a break in the middle and we played two, 50 minute sets, ending at 9:50pm. The lesson I learned here is to speak with each venue owner this month to make sure that I clearly understand his or her expectations. 

We are absolutely exhausted from three hours of sleep the night before and a ton of travel hours, so we passed out when we got home and sleep in until noon the next day.

On day 2, we drove South to Gottingen, Germany for a gig we booked outside of the agency. House concerts and festivals are my favorite shows to play, hands down. This venue was on a gorgeous old farm in a small village, and friends of the hosts traveled from all over the country to attend the event. It was a special night and so well attended that everyone could barely in the living room! The room acoustics were fabulous and so was the potluck feast. We woke up early the next day and spent a few hours talking with our hosts and everyone else who had spent the night. I learned that “horse” in German is pferd (silent p like in English). 

Sunday night was at a cultural center in Bremen. Willy greeted us when we arrived. He is a 70 year old man with cognitive and physical disabilities who LOVES music! He was playing everything from Kanye to classical on his radio and was overjoyed when I let him play around with a Tabla Box (that is an electronic metronome for Indian music). I have never heard someone squeal with excitement like Willy, as he played the Tabla and strummed my guitar. Unfortunately, he had to go home before the performance, but it was a pleasure spending some time with him. 

The cultural center was undergoing a major renovation, so it was difficult to find. The property was home to 13 different clubs for everything from gardening to seniors. The gardens were breathtaking. We played in a room with incredible acoustics and a ceiling that was painted with constellations and had a light bulb in the place of every star. Once the show had finished, the manager turned on the lights so that we could see the “stars.” It was sad to hear that, due to the buildings age and design, the utility costs were so high that they planned to tear it down and build a more energy efficient building. We felt honored to experience the venue in its final days. 

Monday was our weekly meeting with the booking agency. We switched out some gear, fixed the Tabla box (Willy accidentally disconnected a wire) and we learned that one of our compatriots has laryngitis, so we agreed to cover a gig for him. The gig was performing for a group of children at an after school care program. It was themed around the topic of “children’s rights” and the teachers were two lovely women - a music teacher and a dance teacher. These children were a handful, to say the least. I don’t speak German but I do know a few German curse words, all of which I heard come from the students, age 8-10. So much sass! They were pretty fun to interact with, though my heart went out to their teachers. I connected with a Polish girl named Izzy who kept trying to speak with me in English, but got her words confused so she was actually skipping between 3 different languages. She kept saying “Oh, shit” in German every time she confused her words and then just stopped talking, scooted over to sit closer to me and smiled. 

We spent much of the gig just observing the kids and participating in activities with them. At the end we played them one of our songs. The second we started playing our music they became silent and attentive. They took turns asking us questions after the song. A few of the questions were: Are you in love? Have you seen the movie killer clown? Are you rich? Do you have children? How old are you? 

We finished early and headed home to work online for a few hours. It was just about the time everyone was waking up back in the States. I have been backed up on work for my small Utah booking agency so I called my business partner, Shannon. It was wonderful to hear her voice.

6.8.17 England 

It took me a weekend of me begging our GPS to start working properly before I figured out that it had been set to avoid highways. Good thing, because England, Day 1 was 7 hours of nothing but. 

We arrived in Battle with enough time to sound check and drop our luggage before heading back to the venue for dinner and our show. I’m on this tour with Aaron English. The Folk Club was pretty incredible and I must say that the sound was impeccable. Joe, the engineer, was one of the best I’ve ever worked with. It took me a few hours to finally get him to crack a smile and warm up to me, but it was worth the wait. I hear that he is also an incredible musician so I look forward to hearing some of his music. The two brothers who run the folk club were a riot. So much so, it was hard to leave after the show. Great people! I tried Talisker Storm whiskey that night and it tasted like fire-pit ash. 

We woke up in a barn, literally. It was built in the 13th century and transformed in to a beautiful home sometime in the 1970’s. In the 13th century, it was used as a grainery by French monks who owned most of the land in Battle. I was fascinated by stories of how they would hoist horses on a pulley system, in to the top of the barn, to pack the loose hay. Even more so by the story that the water in this area in the 13th century was lethal to drink so each monk was stipend 4 GALLONS of wine per day. That brings a whole new meaning to “drunk as a monk.” So, we slept in a loft of this barn and woke up to a beautiful morning with clear skies, coffee and croissants on the terrace. Our hosts grow grapes for making their own brand of sparkling wine. The farm to bottle operation is all run right on the property. It was impressive and they were lovely people. We left feeling grateful. 

Stop 2 was in Brighton. What a day this was!!! Regardless of my corrections to the system, our dated GPS kept losing signal, which resulted in us needing to “guess” where the venue was. It was surprisingly easy to find. The host was a genuine character to say the least, but probably one of the kindest human beings on the planet. He arranged a keyboard loan for us because Aaron’s decided to stop working at our first Scotland gig.  The host also set us up in a lovely flat near the venue. The keyboard donor was a songwriter named Sharon Lewis. She was in a 90’s group called Pooka and the music video for their song Rubber Arms, rocked my world. I actually had trouble believing that Sharon was the same woman from the video. Her music is very different now. 

Aaron spent the afternoon with his friend Mela, while I joined our venue host to set up for the performance. Aaron and Mela brought me vegan sushi, which was incredible. I was starving by that point. Next, we shot some promo photos on the pier with one of Aaron’s friends who lives in the area. Some of the photos came out more like awkward engagement shots than music promo but, maybe when we know more about what our duo is actually going to make music about, the photos will come. 

The show was at a really nice hostel next to the pier and the turnout was good. I made some new friends and enjoyed hearing The Warm Spots perform their busking set of harmonic music about love and acceptance. Their battery powered busking cart rig was cool too. 

Our last stop in England was a Folk Club in Coventry. These people were lovely and so much fun to play for. It was yet another opportunity to share the stage with a variety of talented musicians. The organizer, Karen, was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and did a wonderful job at running the event. She sent us off with all kinds of good info to check out for our next tour. I also found myself feeling a bit homesick as I talked about Utah with a woman who had visited the state a year ago. Her stories reminded me that I need to see Bryce Canyon and of how proud I am of my friend,Gigi Love, and her musical tribute to the United States National Parks. 

Our host that night was one of the best hippies I’ve ever met. His house had amazing energy and, even though we had to catch a cab to the airport at 3:45am, I still slept well. Hoping to spend more time with him on a future trip. Onward to Germany!

 

6.4.17 Scotland 

The flight to Europe wasn’t as grueling as I thought it would be. Las Vegas to Los Angeles was a bumpy three quarter hour over the mountains, but the sea fog was settling about the time we landed which was gorgeous. The musician playing at LAX during our layover ended up being a friend of a friend from Las Vegas. Ironic, but not surprising. I love how small the music community can be at times. 

I caught a few hours of sleep from LAX to Iceland and few more from Iceland to Amsterdam. I traded an old Macbook for an airport pickup and instrument delivery then spent a beautiful night in Amstelveen, at Nicky’s House AirBNB (HIGHLY recommended if you are ever traveling to Amsterdam and want a nice place to stay outside of the city hustle and bustle). A few hours of sleep and one more flight landed us in Glasgow, Scotland. 

A former owl sanctuary turned community garden was tour stop #1 of this trip. The 3 hour drive to the venue turned in to a 5 hour and 2 ferries later kind of trip. The one-lane roads through state park land were especially tricky since it was our first time driving on the “wrong”side of the road. But we made it and just in time. It was our host’s birthday and all of his musician friends played for us during the breaks. It was an amazing show of community and I felt right at home. Had a nice hike to a gorgeous view the next morning. You could see the ocean in every direction. It was one of the most scenic places I have ever been. 

Stop two was about 30 minutes down the road to a one-horse town. We had no idea where we were going and no cell service, which was a bit tricky. Luckily I’m my father’s daughter and suggested following the distant smoke from a bonfire, which of course took us straight to the venue. It was another great show of community with a large, diverse turnout. Lots of musicians who stayed up late, jamming and I ended up the lucky recipient of a cello lesson from a German multi-instrumentalist and a blues piano lesson from a 12 year old named, Sonny. This hippie hideaway was tucked between a sheep farm, organic garden and ancient ruins. It was also a full-time midgie breeding facility. I slept in a retired caravan and left with so many bug bites I had trouble convincing my next host that it wasn’t a rash! Can’t wait to go back. 

Spent the morning on the road, hauling ass to Hawick (pronounced Hoy-k) for an afternoon gig. This was stop 3 and 4 of 4 for Scotland. Our drive was spent weaving our way along the coastline and through Loch Lamond. It was breathtaking. The afternoon show in Hawick was another great opportunity to meet local musicians. The opening act that afternoon was a blast and we enjoyed an evening of catching up on emails over Indian food and a countryside view. 

Hawick has a history deep rooted in the horse. Every store window had tall boots or a saddle as part of the décor. The hair salons featured pictures of the past year’s competition winners, which I thought was hilarious because who wants the same haircut as someone whose hair is always tucked under a riding helmet? We performed at the Heart of Hawick concert series that night, opening for Charlie Dore. What an evening of inspiration! It was an honor meeting Charlie and her music partner, Julien. They are world-class songwriters and musicians. I’m listening to her latest album as I write this now. The inspiration doesn’t end. Also met a killer young artist from England who played a set in the middle of the show, Tommy Ashby. I hope he comes to play a few shows with me in Utah. Stayed that night with a Hawick local folk-singer, Kenny Spiers. It was lovely. Eight more hours of driving and we will be in England!

5.31.17 Senseless Beatings on the Vegas Strip 

I spent the day enjoying art in Las Vegas. Earlier, I performed for one of my favorite Unity congregations. They were receptive to everything I shared, even though I had reservations about playing a few of my songs for a predominantly posi-music loving audience. This was my second time performing for these folks and I trusted them. They didn’t let me down. 

One of the congregation members was performing on the strip, so I went to see her show and then decided to take a walk and enjoy some primo people watching. Everything from retro Gucci ads to flying fountains, intoxicated my senses. At one point, I saw a homeless man staring at what appeared to be a blank piece of paper. I looked back over my shoulder as I passed him and was delighted to see it was actually a sketch he was reviewing with meticulous thought. 

Walking out of one of the many hotel palaces, I couldn’t help but notice two women ahead of me with what must have been the most impressive posteriors I have seen…ever. So naturally, I slowed down and observed the impressive act of creation. Maybe it was the matching, lace bathing suit covers that so strategically revealed their silhouettes, or the fact that I had never seen that kind of rear end on a human being before, but I was entranced. Conveniently enough for me, we were headed in the same direction, so I had the opportunity to appreciate this sight for a few moments longer. 

As we turned the corner, the nightmare began. I swear I had seen this a million times before, yet I was still paralyzed, feeling utterly helpless. A woman called out from the sidelines, “DAMN, look at that ass.” I knew instantly that she was complimenting these women. I mean, c’mon, I had literally just slowed down to admire their gluteus gifts. Unfortunately, the women receiving the compliment didn’t take it as such. One lashed back with a nasty remark and all hell broke loose. The compliment bearer rocketed off her seat, faster than an Olympic sprinter off the block. In the fury of a moment, laced with hair and flying fingernails, big-bootied women #1 was on the ground with her friend curled up in the fetal position next to her, being kicked repeatedly by a hoard. 

What the hell just happened? A woman complimented two other women and the result was that the women being complemented got their asses kicked by the complimenter and her friends? Simply because they took the compliment as an insult? Yes. HOW can we stop this? There are enough senseless acts of violence every moment of the day and this one happened over someone misunderstanding what was intended to be a compliment. 

I keep replaying the event in my mind. If only the woman being complimented had responded with a “Thank you baby, you’re looking good yourself.” Or what if I had jumped in, trying to explain that it was just a misunderstanding and got everyone to chill out and apologize? I can’t go back to it, so I’ll never know, but I do know that I have yet another reason to keep encouraging people to respond instead of react in any given situation. This could have been avoided and it should have been. Women should support and love each other. We ALL should support and love each other. If you think someone is insulting you and you are not one to back down, there is still a better way to handle the insult than violence. Now, I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on the subject. Please.

 

Here is a song for your consideration, written by a friend whose actions always come from a place of love:

Peace by Aaron English

Song School at the Planet Bluegrass 

After my second year at Song School, I returned home to find reentry easier than last year.  The shift from Song School to the Folks Festival was still difficult.  If you aren't familiar, the process is going from 4 days connecting deeply with 200 other songwriters to the campground growing to 2,000 people almost overnight.  This time, I came away from Song School with a better understanding of myself and my musical goals.  Inspiration seeped out of everything from the trees to the music shared at campsites and in the silo.  I was accepted into Pat Pattison's Master Songwriting Class this year which left me with a brand new toolbox of songwriting gear and 12 new friends I consider more like family.  I spent a week hearing stories from other songwriters that reminded me I am not alone on this journey and I share my emotions with everyone else in the world.  I am not an outcast or so different that I cannot connect.  

This year, I watched my friends, Quiles & Cloud (and their bassist Oskar), open up the Folks Festival with a gorgeous set that brought me to laughter and tears.  I spent 8 hour in the car with Maria Quiles on the way home from Lyons.  Our conversation changed my life and aided my reentry.  I am forever grateful and feel so lucky to have her in my life.  One part of the conversation that struck me and I would like to share with you is this:  "A lack of connectivity in any relationship is a result of people not speaking their truths to one another."  Think about it for a second......when I heard it, I became overwhelmed with emotion and realized that I needed to speak ALL of my truths in relationships.  I struggled to connect deeply with people because I have been hurt so deeply by some, including myself.  This last week has been filled with speaking my truths aloud.  Some are harder than others but I have needed to hear every single one, and so have the people around me.  I feel stronger and more inspired than ever before.  

Thank you Song School for reviving me for yet another year.  My dreams will float me through your grounds, on the St. Vrain, until we can be together again.  All my love <3

Veggie Stew with Peanut Broth - Someone pinch me! 

I've been watching a few too many food documentaries on Netflix these days, which has left me craving veggies!  That and there is snow on the ground which makes me crave SOUP!  I love Angela Liddon's 'Oh She Glows' cookbook, so I've decided to share my adaptation of her Soulful African Peanut Stew.  Thank you Angela, for being so damn creative with meatless ingredients!  Though I will always have a true American love for bacon, your recipes do make being a Vegan quite tempting.

If you are digging some carbs with this dish, I highly suggest making a homemade flatbread and folding some roasted red pepper and roasted garlic bits in to the dough before baking.  If you aren't Suzie Homemaker - try buying a packet of Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast, following the directions and then proceed with the delicious roasted veggie folding before baking.  If you need help, just give me a ring ;-)

BLOW YOUR MIND VEGGIE STEW WITH PEANUT BROTH
Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion
5 Garlic Cloves
2 Red Bell Peppers
2 Green Jalapeños (1or none if you don't enjoy a good spice!)
1 White Sweet Potato (or any kind of sweet potato/yam)
28 oz Diced Tomatoes, with their juices (they come in a can if you don't make your own)
Salt n' Peppa
1/3 cup + a little more CRUNCHY Natural Peanut Butter (creamy works too but crunchy is the bomb in this recipe)
4 - 5 cups Veggie broth
2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (you don't have to but you should)
15 oz Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed (hydrated, not dried)
2 big handfuls Kale, de-stemmed and chopped (if you aren't digging the kale, sub spinach)
Some Cilantro or Parsley you have lying around makes a great garnish!

**All above ingredients are in the order they are used for this recipe**

-Heat oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or your favorite large, soup pot.

-Saute onion and garlic about 7 minutes - until translucent.

-Add bell peppers, jalapeños, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and simmer for another 7 minutes.  Now add a little salt n' peppa to that bad boy.

-Whisk together your peanut butter in a bowl with about a cup of broth, just enough to blend.  Add that to your soup, along with the rest of the broth, chili powder and cayenne.

-Cover and simmer for about 20 - 25 minutes, until the potato is tender.

-Stir in your chickpeas/garbanzos and greens (kale or spinach) to the hot soup.

-Serve her up in some bowls and top with that cilantro or parsley you had hanging around.

(Rice or egg noodles make an excellent seat for this mouth-wateringly SOUP-endous delight!)

ENJOY!!!


 

Elizabeth Hareza Starts Booking for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival 

It has been a whirlwind year for Park City, UT based singer songwriter, Elizabeth Hareza.  She started by celebrating the soft release of her Americana/Soul EP, My Peeps, at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.  The rest of the year was quickly filled up by tour dates that took her from West to East coast and back, including an 8 day stint in Nashville, TN. "You are literally surrounded by some of the most talented musicians, artists and songwriters in the world.  All day - all night - and it ALL good!" she says about Nashville.

The time she spent in Music City inspired her to start a songwriting group, upon her return to Park City, UT. "The idea was to create a community and train leaders within that community to facilitate songwriting for anyone and everyone who wanted to take part.  I wanted to create a failure free zone for all and, with the help of my friend Bill McGinnis, that is exactly what has happened.  One of the best parts is that all of our get togethers are free to attend!"  In only a month's time, the local group has gone from 20 to over 150 people having expressed interest. "It is wonderful to see so many people from different walks of life, co existing and appreciating each other with no judgements." says Hareza. "Our songwriter groups are a world that I would love to live in more than just twice a month!"

With 2016 right around the corner, Elizabeth has been writing, collaborating with other musicians and attending music industry conferences around the West.  she recently began booking private and public shows for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. "The (Sundance) Film Festival is a very special 10 days in Park City.  It fuels our economy and brings incredibly talented and inspirational human beings from all over the world, to our back yard."  Elizabeth is still accepting booking requests for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival as well as the winter season.  All booking requests can be submitted through her website or at elizabethlivemusic@gmail.com.

 

A Rant About LOVE 

I try so hard to support everyones right to believe in what we want to believe in. Even when I don't agree. It is so incredibly difficult to keep my cool when speaking to a bigot, racist or homophobe. I want to understand their opinions and respect them, but how can I when their entire stance revolves around not respecting others? There is plenty of room in this world for everyone to exist equally. I think I need to conduct some interviews and write a few new songs to get through this one. Seeing Kim Davis received from jail by a crowd of cheers and encouragement made my heart jump in to my throat today. WHY does hate and the disapproval of others consume the lives of so many people? Most of these encouragers would agree 100% that the world needs more love in it. So why do they get to define love? Why would you ever put restraints on a resource that is so incredibly depleted all over the world? I just don't get it. To anyone who is reading this - gay, straight, black, white, brown, green, purple, slow, fast, up, down, atheist, christian, etc. - I LOVE YOU AND I CONSIDER YOU MY EQUAL. You have my word that I will openly communicate that message of love every time I meet a new racist, bigot, homophobe, etc. Please continue to do the same. We can't change the world all at once, but we can definitely do it one person at a time! Let's go spread some love, people. Seriously!
Meganburtt2