AND THEN THERE WAS THIS TIME I WENT TO JAPAN…April 6, 2014
About 8 months ago, a young woman named Lindsey Pavao sent out a message on Twitter.  I can’t remember the exact wording, but the general gist was that she was booking her first tour through Texas and wanted some suggestions about venues to check out. We had never met, but I liked her music and sent out a few of my standard Austin suggestions. Fast-forward a little more than half a year and we spent 10 days making music and traveling in Japan together.

How did that happen, you may wonder?
Well, the internet is a vast network of wires and tubes. Some say Al Gore invented it. Some say it was the CIA. I say whoever the culprit was, I’m grateful to them because it brought Lindsey and I together by way of a lovely woman in Tokyo named Chelsea. See, while Lindsey and I were tweeting about venue ideas for her upcoming tour, Chelsea was inspired to chime in. 
“You two are my favorite singers from ‘The Voice’!” she said. “You should go on tour together!!!!!”
On a whim, I clicked on Chelsea’s profile, just to get any information I could quickly glean with which to personalize my reply. To my surprise, I saw that this blond-haired, blue eyed girl lived in Japan so I responded “That would be awesome! We should bring the tour to Tokyo! Lol ha ha ha” etc etc. 
Even more surprising was Chelsea’s response: “That would be amazing! We love it when American artists come perform on base! Would you like the contact information for the person in charge?” 
Yes, Chelsea. Yes I would.
A few days later, Chelsea made good on her word and sent us the email contact for the person in charge of booking entertainers on base. I immediately sent an email offering my and Lindsey’s services. The contact on the other end of the line was interested and asked for more details. We corresponded for months until all of the details were set and despite temporary hurdles such as personnel changes and government shutdowns, we eventually contracted one show and workshop for the residents of Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo, Japan. 
For months leading up to the show, it seemed like a dream. I didn’t want to jinx it by assuming it would come true. I kept referring to it as ‘the two weeks in March where I’m either going to Japan or getting to take some time off.’ Gradually, though, the details fell into place. Contracts were signed. Deposits paid. Tickets bought. 
I left Austin at 6 am on Wednesday, March 19th and landed in Tokyo at 4:15 pm on Thursday, March 20th. Lindsey’s flight landed an hour before mine, so she had already met with our guide Spike and been interviewed by Japanese TV. #WelcomeToJapan.
Spike was our main contact on base at Yokota. He made it his personal mission to balance the chaos of our artistic brains with order, ease and a very detailed schedule that started every day at oh seven hundred hours. He lead us, bewildered, through the airport, first to fetch my bags and then to the post office where I picked up the iPhone I had rented for the duration of our stay (one of several great travel suggestions I received from my friend Keith before I left the US). Next we headed to the train station office to have our JR passes validated (the suggestion to purchase a 7-day rail pass came from Matt the Electrician, who has toured in Japan no less than 7 times in the past 9 years). 
The first major difference I noticed between the US and Japan is that at the Tokyo airport, the luggage carts are free. It seemed incredibly civilized. After pushing our luggage out to the curb of the parking garage, I noticed that the cars are driven from the right side of the vehicle, in the left lane of the road. Somehow I didn’t know that Japan was one of the countries that drove on the left side of the road. It occurred to me that maybe I didn’t know all that much about Japan.
It was a little before 6 pm when Lindsey, Spike and I climbed into the giant, silver, 14-passenger van that would transport us to base. I was surprised to learn that the drive would take 3-4 hours. I don’t know why this surprised me, I had just assumed it would be closer. Spike asked if we were hungry and I realized I was, or at least I would be before the end of a 4 hour drive. He made plans for us to stop at a shopping mall along the way where we could find a meal in the food court. 
We entered the mall through a Sports Authority with an enormous ad for shoes featuring Justin Bieber (to be clear: it was the ad and not the shoes featuring the Biebs). Spike led us through the food court to a machine that converted dollars into yen. At the time of our trip, 98 yen were equivalent to 1 American dollar, basically meaning that every American cent equaled 1 yen. Even though I knew somewhere in my brain that a yen equaled a penny, it was still pretty exciting to have a bunch of 1000 yen bills ($10). It was also strange to hold a 500 yen coin knowing that it was worth about $5. Money is weird.

We ate sushi at a restaurant in the mall that was better than 99% of the sushi I have ever had in my life. During the meal, Spike and and our driver Hamo (who, it turns out, is a professional snowboarder!) told us a little bit about Japanese customs. For example: one should never hand money directly to someone – it’s considered rude. Also: there is no tipping. Everyone is paid a full wage for their work and to leave them extra money can be insulting. If you want to give someone a gratuity for a job extremely well done, you must put it in an envelope to signify that it is a gift. 
When the bill came, the server dropped off a tray with the check on it, and Lindsey and I excitedly counted out yen coins for the exact amount we owed. Spike looked at our wobbling towers of coins and told us to put them away, that he would cover the bill. I wondered if we had done something wrong – is building wobbly towers of yen considered rude? When we tried to protest and pay for our own dinner he laughed and said that he was in the mood for coffee. If we wanted, we could buy him Starbucks on the way to the van. And that is how, on my first night in Japan, I found myself in a Starbucks. 
Back in the van, I was very impressed by Lindsey’s ability to drink half a cup of coffee and fall dead asleep while holding it in her hand. I, too, was exhausted by the long flight, but I’m so caffeine sensitive that if I had drank any coffee I would not have been able to fall asleep. And even if I had, I would definitely have spilled it on myself. Not Ms. Pavao, however.
As the van wove in and out of nighttime Tokyo traffic, Spike pointed out downtown landmarks, colorful boats in the harbor, significant buildings and magnificent bridges. We murmured appreciatively, until I realized mine was the only voice murmuring. And then the van grew warmer, the sky grew darker, and there was only the hum of the road and velvety darkness between my ears. 
I must have slept for at least two, maybe three hours when we arrived at the bright front gate of Yokota Air Base. Armed guards pointed us over to the office where we trudged inside, rubbing our sleepy eyes, and produced our passports and travel orders signed by the commander of the base. Someone from higher up Spike’s chain of command was on hand to vouch for us and provide us with temporary passes to allow us onto the grounds. We shoved all the paperwork back into our purses and tumbled back into the van, which slowly rolled towards the inn on base where we were staying. Spike helped us each to our rooms, efficiencies with living rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms and small kitchens. My head hit the pillow at midnight on Thursday, Tokyo time. 10 am in Austin.

AND THEN THERE WAS THIS TIME I WENT TO JAPAN…
April 6, 2014

About 8 months ago, a young woman named Lindsey Pavao sent out a message on Twitter.  I can’t remember the exact wording, but the general gist was that she was booking her first tour through Texas and wanted some suggestions about venues to check out. We had never met, but I liked her music and sent out a few of my standard Austin suggestions. Fast-forward a little more than half a year and we spent 10 days making music and traveling in Japan together.


How did that happen, you may wonder?

Well, the internet is a vast network of wires and tubes. Some say Al Gore invented it. Some say it was the CIA. I say whoever the culprit was, I’m grateful to them because it brought Lindsey and I together by way of a lovely woman in Tokyo named Chelsea. See, while Lindsey and I were tweeting about venue ideas for her upcoming tour, Chelsea was inspired to chime in. 

“You two are my favorite singers from ‘The Voice’!” she said. “You should go on tour together!!!!!”

On a whim, I clicked on Chelsea’s profile, just to get any information I could quickly glean with which to personalize my reply. To my surprise, I saw that this blond-haired, blue eyed girl lived in Japan so I responded “That would be awesome! We should bring the tour to Tokyo! Lol ha ha ha” etc etc. 

Even more surprising was Chelsea’s response: “That would be amazing! We love it when American artists come perform on base! Would you like the contact information for the person in charge?” 

Yes, Chelsea. Yes I would.

A few days later, Chelsea made good on her word and sent us the email contact for the person in charge of booking entertainers on base. I immediately sent an email offering my and Lindsey’s services. The contact on the other end of the line was interested and asked for more details. We corresponded for months until all of the details were set and despite temporary hurdles such as personnel changes and government shutdowns, we eventually contracted one show and workshop for the residents of Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo, Japan. 

For months leading up to the show, it seemed like a dream. I didn’t want to jinx it by assuming it would come true. I kept referring to it as ‘the two weeks in March where I’m either going to Japan or getting to take some time off.’ Gradually, though, the details fell into place. Contracts were signed. Deposits paid. Tickets bought. 

I left Austin at 6 am on Wednesday, March 19th and landed in Tokyo at 4:15 pm on Thursday, March 20th. Lindsey’s flight landed an hour before mine, so she had already met with our guide Spike and been interviewed by Japanese TV. #WelcomeToJapan.

Spike was our main contact on base at Yokota. He made it his personal mission to balance the chaos of our artistic brains with order, ease and a very detailed schedule that started every day at oh seven hundred hours. He lead us, bewildered, through the airport, first to fetch my bags and then to the post office where I picked up the iPhone I had rented for the duration of our stay (one of several great travel suggestions I received from my friend Keith before I left the US). Next we headed to the train station office to have our JR passes validated (the suggestion to purchase a 7-day rail pass came from Matt the Electrician, who has toured in Japan no less than 7 times in the past 9 years). 

The first major difference I noticed between the US and Japan is that at the Tokyo airport, the luggage carts are free. It seemed incredibly civilized. After pushing our luggage out to the curb of the parking garage, I noticed that the cars are driven from the right side of the vehicle, in the left lane of the road. Somehow I didn’t know that Japan was one of the countries that drove on the left side of the road. It occurred to me that maybe I didn’t know all that much about Japan.

It was a little before 6 pm when Lindsey, Spike and I climbed into the giant, silver, 14-passenger van that would transport us to base. I was surprised to learn that the drive would take 3-4 hours. I don’t know why this surprised me, I had just assumed it would be closer. Spike asked if we were hungry and I realized I was, or at least I would be before the end of a 4 hour drive. He made plans for us to stop at a shopping mall along the way where we could find a meal in the food court. 

We entered the mall through a Sports Authority with an enormous ad for shoes featuring Justin Bieber (to be clear: it was the ad and not the shoes featuring the Biebs). Spike led us through the food court to a machine that converted dollars into yen. At the time of our trip, 98 yen were equivalent to 1 American dollar, basically meaning that every American cent equaled 1 yen. Even though I knew somewhere in my brain that a yen equaled a penny, it was still pretty exciting to have a bunch of 1000 yen bills ($10). It was also strange to hold a 500 yen coin knowing that it was worth about $5. Money is weird.

We ate sushi at a restaurant in the mall that was better than 99% of the sushi I have ever had in my life. During the meal, Spike and and our driver Hamo (who, it turns out, is a professional snowboarder!) told us a little bit about Japanese customs. For example: one should never hand money directly to someone – it’s considered rude. Also: there is no tipping. Everyone is paid a full wage for their work and to leave them extra money can be insulting. If you want to give someone a gratuity for a job extremely well done, you must put it in an envelope to signify that it is a gift. 

When the bill came, the server dropped off a tray with the check on it, and Lindsey and I excitedly counted out yen coins for the exact amount we owed. Spike looked at our wobbling towers of coins and told us to put them away, that he would cover the bill. I wondered if we had done something wrong – is building wobbly towers of yen considered rude? When we tried to protest and pay for our own dinner he laughed and said that he was in the mood for coffee. If we wanted, we could buy him Starbucks on the way to the van. And that is how, on my first night in Japan, I found myself in a Starbucks. 

Back in the van, I was very impressed by Lindsey’s ability to drink half a cup of coffee and fall dead asleep while holding it in her hand. I, too, was exhausted by the long flight, but I’m so caffeine sensitive that if I had drank any coffee I would not have been able to fall asleep. And even if I had, I would definitely have spilled it on myself. Not Ms. Pavao, however.

As the van wove in and out of nighttime Tokyo traffic, Spike pointed out downtown landmarks, colorful boats in the harbor, significant buildings and magnificent bridges. We murmured appreciatively, until I realized mine was the only voice murmuring. And then the van grew warmer, the sky grew darker, and there was only the hum of the road and velvety darkness between my ears. 

I must have slept for at least two, maybe three hours when we arrived at the bright front gate of Yokota Air Base. Armed guards pointed us over to the office where we trudged inside, rubbing our sleepy eyes, and produced our passports and travel orders signed by the commander of the base. Someone from higher up Spike’s chain of command was on hand to vouch for us and provide us with temporary passes to allow us onto the grounds. We shoved all the paperwork back into our purses and tumbled back into the van, which slowly rolled towards the inn on base where we were staying. Spike helped us each to our rooms, efficiencies with living rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms and small kitchens. My head hit the pillow at midnight on Thursday, Tokyo time. 10 am in Austin.

Packing, sorting, moving, sorting, unpacking…February 18, 2014
Packing, sorting, moving, sorting, unpacking. On and on it goes! In past moves I would do it all in one shot, but this time around with a month overlap and a full tour schedule, it’s happening in fits and starts. I’ll get in a few hours between rehearsals and meetings, then I’m swamped for a few days, then I’m packing and sorting and moving and unpacking again and then I’m on a plane and carrying suitcases through an airport, into a cab and onstage at a venue…then back to the airport and then I’m packing and sorting and moving and sorting and unpacking again. 
I’ve been in the studio for the past few days, producing mixes for my upcoming live album with Raina Rose and Smokey & The Mirror. Unfortunately, our talented engineer is a bit under the weather, so we’ve delayed our start this morning to give him some extra time to rest. I’m unpacking boxes in my future studio, and came across something I grabbed from my grandmothers house last time I was visiting my aunt Johnnye.
Backing up a bit — my grandmother Margaret kept detailed journals every day of her life until her hands couldn’t reliably hold a pen. She would show us the journals, pulling them out for reference mid-conversation, and I was always astonished by the fastidiousness with which she had chronicled her every motion for the past 40 years. At one point I was inspired to try the same and I bought myself a matching journal from the office supply store. I didn’t last a week! I didn’t decide to stop, I simply forgot to keep doing it…
Grandma passed just before Christmas last year, 40 days shy of her 100th birthday (she always said she didn’t want to turn 100, and I guess she wasn’t kidding). Although we were sad to be without her, we focused mostly on celebrating a long life well-lived. She was a smart, enterprising, generous, funny and kind woman. She and I were very close.
My aunt Johnnye still lives in the duplex they shared, and in all of my visits since, Johnnye has encouraged me to look through Grandma’s things in case there is anything I would like to have. The rows of journals caught my eye, lining shelves and shelves like a miniature encyclopedia of her life. After touching the spines of over four decades worth of volumes, I pulled out the book from the year I was born and tucked it in my bag.
This morning, unpacking my own scattered journals in my new home, I came across the book and sat down to read a few entries. I found myself on the entry for August 17, the day I was born. As with every page, the time of the sunrise and sunset are noted at the very top, and the first of the ruled lines contains some numbers which I assume have to do with blood pressure. Unlike the other days, the date in the top right corner is boxed in with red pen, and my name is written in the margins. The looping cursive and smudging pencil made reading the entry a challenge, but I got into the groove of it by the second paragraph. “Tried to call Al at office at 5:18 - N.A. He called from from Hospital at 5:20 - saying it’s a girl and she is “beautiful” — he was so excited - I got choked up!”
My favorite part, though, came at the very end: 
"Called Ella and Johnnye to tell them the news — then took myself to Neptune, drank 1/2 carafe of Rosé with dinner, then walked B. and went to bed early."
Looking at the lumpy stack of half (or less) filled journals of all shapes and sizes spilling out of boxes and finding their way onto my new shelves, I wonder what kind of chaotic narrative I will leave behind. Obviously there is no way to know, though I do know that the thought of Grandma Margaret taking herself out to dinner the night I was born puts a huge smile on my face. This mixed with curiosity about what treasure will present itself next in this process makes me much more excited as I open a new carton and continue the process of packing, sorting, moving, sorting, unpacking.

Packing, sorting, moving, sorting, unpacking…
February 18, 2014

Packing, sorting, moving, sorting, unpacking. On and on it goes! In past moves I would do it all in one shot, but this time around with a month overlap and a full tour schedule, it’s happening in fits and starts. I’ll get in a few hours between rehearsals and meetings, then I’m swamped for a few days, then I’m packing and sorting and moving and unpacking again and then I’m on a plane and carrying suitcases through an airport, into a cab and onstage at a venue…then back to the airport and then I’m packing and sorting and moving and sorting and unpacking again. 

I’ve been in the studio for the past few days, producing mixes for my upcoming live album with Raina Rose and Smokey & The Mirror. Unfortunately, our talented engineer is a bit under the weather, so we’ve delayed our start this morning to give him some extra time to rest. I’m unpacking boxes in my future studio, and came across something I grabbed from my grandmothers house last time I was visiting my aunt Johnnye.

Backing up a bit — my grandmother Margaret kept detailed journals every day of her life until her hands couldn’t reliably hold a pen. She would show us the journals, pulling them out for reference mid-conversation, and I was always astonished by the fastidiousness with which she had chronicled her every motion for the past 40 years. At one point I was inspired to try the same and I bought myself a matching journal from the office supply store. I didn’t last a week! I didn’t decide to stop, I simply forgot to keep doing it…

Grandma passed just before Christmas last year, 40 days shy of her 100th birthday (she always said she didn’t want to turn 100, and I guess she wasn’t kidding). Although we were sad to be without her, we focused mostly on celebrating a long life well-lived. She was a smart, enterprising, generous, funny and kind woman. She and I were very close.

My aunt Johnnye still lives in the duplex they shared, and in all of my visits since, Johnnye has encouraged me to look through Grandma’s things in case there is anything I would like to have. The rows of journals caught my eye, lining shelves and shelves like a miniature encyclopedia of her life. After touching the spines of over four decades worth of volumes, I pulled out the book from the year I was born and tucked it in my bag.

This morning, unpacking my own scattered journals in my new home, I came across the book and sat down to read a few entries. I found myself on the entry for August 17, the day I was born. As with every page, the time of the sunrise and sunset are noted at the very top, and the first of the ruled lines contains some numbers which I assume have to do with blood pressure. Unlike the other days, the date in the top right corner is boxed in with red pen, and my name is written in the margins. The looping cursive and smudging pencil made reading the entry a challenge, but I got into the groove of it by the second paragraph. “Tried to call Al at office at 5:18 - N.A. He called from from Hospital at 5:20 - saying it’s a girl and she is “beautiful” — he was so excited - I got choked up!”

My favorite part, though, came at the very end: 

"Called Ella and Johnnye to tell them the news — then took myself to Neptune, drank 1/2 carafe of Rosé with dinner, then walked B. and went to bed early."

Looking at the lumpy stack of half (or less) filled journals of all shapes and sizes spilling out of boxes and finding their way onto my new shelves, I wonder what kind of chaotic narrative I will leave behind. Obviously there is no way to know, though I do know that the thought of Grandma Margaret taking herself out to dinner the night I was born puts a huge smile on my face. This mixed with curiosity about what treasure will present itself next in this process makes me much more excited as I open a new carton and continue the process of packing, sorting, moving, sorting, unpacking.

BIG NEWS: SHOWS IN CANADA, EUROPE & JAPAN ANNOUNCED TODAY!February 4, 2013
I hope all is well in your world. I’ve spent the past few weeks on the road performing in Florida with the very talented Robby Hecht. We had all sorts of crazy adventures (including singing show tunes at dinner with his grandparents, recording this fun duet of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” in an abandoned ice factory and one unsuspecting house concert host walking in on me naked in the shower). Ah, the road. I’m happy to be back home for a few days before I head off to the southeast for shows this weekend inAtlanta, Auburn and Asheville.
All of my currently confirmed tour dates are at the bottom of this email, but there are a few things I wanted to draw your attention to:I. UPCOMING EDDIE’S SHOW!II. SPRING TOUR DATES IN CALGARY, TOKYO and HOLLAND. ADVICE?!     Yes, you read that right!III. CONCERT IN YOUR LIVING ROOM!IV. FULL TOUR CALENDARV. THANK YOUS!With no further adieu, the details:I. Upcoming Eddie’s Show!Performances at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta are always a highlight of my year, and this Saturday night, February 8th, will be no exception. I’ve got new songs, a full band and Robby Hecht kicking things off. What more could a girl want? Why, YOU in the audience, of course :-) CLICK HERE to buy tickets and remember — reserving a table in advance saves you money, guarantees you great seats AND enters you into a drawing to win free merch!II. Spring Tour Dates in Calgary, Tokyo and Holland!I have a few strong memories from when I went to montessori, learn-at-tour-own-pace kindergarten. Some of them involve singing, some involve playing in the sand box, and one involves seeing a globe for the first time. The teachers taught us a song by which to remember the names of all the continents, and I remember that as I learned about continents and countries and cultures, I did so with the expectation that eventually I would get to see all of them in person. I realized as I got older that not everyone views a globe as a to-do list, but perhaps that approach is why I have been able to roll with some pretty bizarre punches on the road. I love to travel and I want to see as much of the world as I can while I am here.So. The big news: I have performed in 41 states of the US, but I have never played a proper gig outside of my home country… Until now! Later this month I will be traveling to Calgary to perform with Ellis Paul. I will be happily accepting advice on how to dress for February in Alberta, so please send any tips or recommendations you have my way. Brrr!In March I will be traveling to Tokyo with fellow alum from The Voice Lindsey Pavao to give a concert and creativity workshop at Yakota Air Force Base. More details about the trip coming soon! I should have some time off for sight seeing, so if you’ve got any suggestions about how to make the most of my time there, please let me know :-)In April I will FINALLY fly to Holland to perform the concerts I had to cancel in order to appear on “The Voice” three years ago. Tour dates are still being added, but if you’ve got any suggestions about clubs, radio stations or record shops I should check out while I am in the Netherlands, please let me know! I am all ears…III. CONCERT IN YOUR LIVING ROOM!Wherever you are in the world, you can tune in on February 19th to see/hear me play a special live webcast on Concert Window. I’ll be playing songs, taking requests, and answering YOUR questions in real time! Show starts at 9/8/6 pm (Eastern, Central and Pacific times, respectively). You can purchase online tickets starting now at http://www.concertwindow.com/shows/3371-rebecca-loebe. The webcast will not be taped – it’s offered in real time and real time only. I hope you can join me! CLICK HERE to set a reminder for the day of the show!IV. FULL TOUR CALENDARHere are all of my currently announced tour dates, with more being added daily. Please take a peek at the list, mark your calendar and make plans for you and your friends to join me when the Loebe Circus rolls into your town!Feb 7 - Auburn, AL @ Sundilla Concert SeriesFeb 8 - Decatur, GA @ Eddie’s AtticFeb 9 - Asheville, NC @ Summerglen House ConcertsFeb 15 - Dallas, TX @ Songwriter Series House ConcertFeb 20 - Kansas City, MO @ Folk Alliance International ConferenceFeb 28 - Calgary, AB @ Calgary Folk ClubMar 7 - Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse Music HallMar 8 - North Andover, MA @ Cross Roads Coffee ShopMar 12 - Austin, TX @ Guero’s (South by Soup Fest Benefit for Caritas)Mar 13 - Austin, TX @ SXSW - Berklee College of Music Official Day PartyMar 20 - Tokyo, TY @ Yakota Air Force Base (Performance & Workshop)Mar 21 - Tokyo, TY @ Yakota Air Force Base (Performance & Workshop)Apr 10 - Tilburg,  @ ParadoxApr 11 - Borger,  @ Roots on the RoadApr 13 - Hoorn,  @ A Small Town Music WalkApr 14 - Bergen Op Zoom,  @ Café Het ZwijnshoofdMay 18 - Austin, TX @ Private EventJun 19 - Conroe, TX @ Dosey Doe Music CafeSep 12 - Lotus, CA @ American River Music FestivalSep 13 - Lotus, CA @ American River Music FestivalAs I said above, dates are still being announced at www.rebeccaloebe.com. Please let me know if there is somewhere in your town that you’d like to see me come perform! And if you’re interested in hosting a house concert or special event, reach out to my booking agent Mary. She’s really good at making those things work :-)V. THANK YOUS!2014 has been a wonderful year so far. I am acutely aware that I am able to work hard and follow my dreams because of the support of folks like you who read to the bottom of emails like these. So thanks to you! Huge thanks also to Diane Oehler, Ann Mount, Jim, Dave Allison, Joel Malizia (everyone check out www.creativebundle.com - they make beautiful videos!), Eric Dohogne, John & Nicole Kelly, Mark Fodor, Archie Asar, Ray Lewis, Ken & Cee Cee Connors, Don Harvey, Becky & Tom Abel, Sherry & Paul Millington, Ralph Jaccodine, Brittany Bethune, Mary Granata and everyone else who has housed, hosted, presented or otherwise aided and abetted my folk lifestyle. I am filled with gratitude. Oh! And let me not forget — special thanks to Chelsea Gipson, for sending the tweet that kicked off the entire Japan tour! New blog coming soon, but first I must do some laundry!Much love,~beccaPS: SPEAKING of laundry…yesterday morning I hand-washed all of the delicates that I had been living in for weeks on tour, mostly tunic-y blouses and leggings. Last time I hand-washed it took days for everything to dry on a rack in my living room, so this time I got a little adventurous: after washing but before hanging on the rack, I put each garment in my salad spinner and took it for a twirl! It was really fun and everything dried in less than half the time! Just thought I’d keep you updated. PPS: Want more weird stories from the road? Find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… I’m out there!PPPS: What are you listening to? I just downloaded Whiskey Gentry’s wonderful new album Holly Grove and I can’t stop listening to it. Run don’t walk!

BIG NEWS: SHOWS IN CANADA, EUROPE & JAPAN ANNOUNCED TODAY!
February 4, 2013

I hope all is well in your world. I’ve spent the past few weeks on the road performing in Florida with the very talented Robby Hecht. We had all sorts of crazy adventures (including singing show tunes at dinner with his grandparents, recording this fun duet of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” in an abandoned ice factory and one unsuspecting house concert host walking in on me naked in the shower). Ah, the road. I’m happy to be back home for a few days before I head off to the southeast for shows this weekend inAtlantaAuburn and Asheville.

All of my currently confirmed tour dates are at the bottom of this email, but there are a few things I wanted to draw your attention to:

I. UPCOMING EDDIE’S SHOW!
II. SPRING TOUR DATES IN CALGARY, TOKYO and HOLLAND. ADVICE?!
     Yes, you read that right!
III. CONCERT IN YOUR LIVING ROOM!
IV. FULL TOUR CALENDAR
V. THANK YOUS!

With no further adieu, the details:

I. Upcoming Eddie’s Show!
Performances at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta are always a highlight of my year, and this Saturday night, February 8th, will be no exception. I’ve got new songs, a full band and Robby Hecht kicking things off. What more could a girl want? Why, YOU in the audience, of course :-) CLICK HERE to buy tickets and remember — reserving a table in advance saves you money, guarantees you great seats AND enters you into a drawing to win free merch!

II. Spring Tour Dates in Calgary, Tokyo and Holland!
I have a few strong memories from when I went to montessori, learn-at-tour-own-pace kindergarten. Some of them involve singing, some involve playing in the sand box, and one involves seeing a globe for the first time. The teachers taught us a song by which to remember the names of all the continents, and I remember that as I learned about continents and countries and cultures, I did so with the expectation that eventually I would get to see all of them in person. I realized as I got older that not everyone views a globe as a to-do list, but perhaps that approach is why I have been able to roll with some pretty bizarre punches on the road. I love to travel and I want to see as much of the world as I can while I am here.

So. The big news: I have performed in 41 states of the US, but I have never played a proper gig outside of my home country… Until now! Later this month I will be traveling to Calgary to perform with Ellis Paul. I will be happily accepting advice on how to dress for February in Alberta, so please send any tips or recommendations you have my way. Brrr!

In March I will be traveling to Tokyo with fellow alum from The Voice Lindsey Pavao to give a concert and creativity workshop at Yakota Air Force Base. More details about the trip coming soon! I should have some time off for sight seeing, so if you’ve got any suggestions about how to make the most of my time there, please let me know :-)

In April I will FINALLY fly to Holland to perform the concerts I had to cancel in order to appear on “The Voice” three years ago. Tour dates are still being added, but if you’ve got any suggestions about clubs, radio stations or record shops I should check out while I am in the Netherlands, please let me know! I am all ears…

III. CONCERT IN YOUR LIVING ROOM!
Wherever you are in the world, you can tune in on February 19th to see/hear me play a special live webcast on Concert Window. I’ll be playing songs, taking requests, and answering YOUR questions in real time! Show starts at 9/8/6 pm (Eastern, Central and Pacific times, respectively). 

You can purchase online tickets starting now at http://www.concertwindow.com/shows/3371-rebecca-loebe. The webcast will not be taped – it’s offered in real time and real time only. I hope you can join me! 

CLICK HERE to set a reminder for the day of the show!

IV. FULL TOUR CALENDAR
Here are all of my currently announced tour dates, with more being added daily. Please take a peek at the list, mark your calendar and make plans for you and your friends to join me when the Loebe Circus rolls into your town!

Feb 7 - Auburn, AL @ Sundilla Concert Series
Feb 8 - Decatur, GA @ Eddie’s Attic
Feb 9 - Asheville, NC @ Summerglen House Concerts
Feb 15 - Dallas, TX @ Songwriter Series House Concert
Feb 20 - Kansas City, MO @ Folk Alliance International Conference
Feb 28 - Calgary, AB @ Calgary Folk Club
Mar 7 - Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse Music Hall
Mar 8 - North Andover, MA @ Cross Roads Coffee Shop
Mar 12 - Austin, TX @ Guero’s (South by Soup Fest Benefit for Caritas)
Mar 13 - Austin, TX @ SXSW - Berklee College of Music Official Day Party
Mar 20 - Tokyo, TY @ Yakota Air Force Base (Performance & Workshop)
Mar 21 - Tokyo, TY @ Yakota Air Force Base (Performance & Workshop)
Apr 10 - Tilburg,  @ Paradox
Apr 11 - Borger,  @ Roots on the Road
Apr 13 - Hoorn,  @ A Small Town Music Walk
Apr 14 - Bergen Op Zoom,  @ Café Het Zwijnshoofd
May 18 - Austin, TX @ Private Event
Jun 19 - Conroe, TX @ Dosey Doe Music Cafe
Sep 12 - Lotus, CA @ American River Music Festival
Sep 13 - Lotus, CA @ American River Music Festival


As I said above, dates are still being announced at www.rebeccaloebe.com
Please let me know if there is somewhere in your town that you’d like to see me come perform! And if you’re interested in hosting a house concert or special event, reach out to my booking agent Mary. She’s really good at making those things work :-)

V. THANK YOUS!
2014 has been a wonderful year so far. I am acutely aware that I am able to work hard and follow my dreams because of the support of folks like you who read to the bottom of emails like these. So thanks to you! Huge thanks also to Diane Oehler, Ann Mount, Jim, Dave Allison, Joel Malizia (everyone check out www.creativebundle.com - they make beautiful videos!), Eric Dohogne, John & Nicole Kelly, Mark Fodor, Archie Asar, Ray Lewis, Ken & Cee Cee Connors, Don Harvey, Becky & Tom Abel, Sherry & Paul Millington, Ralph Jaccodine, Brittany Bethune, Mary Granata and everyone else who has housed, hosted, presented or otherwise aided and abetted my folk lifestyle. I am filled with gratitude. 

Oh! And let me not forget — special thanks to Chelsea Gipson, for sending the tweet that kicked off the entire Japan tour!

 photo ScreenShot2014-02-04at104105AM_zpse8661cf3.png 

New blog coming soon, but first I must do some laundry!
Much love,
~becca

PS: SPEAKING of laundry…yesterday morning I hand-washed all of the delicates that I had been living in for weeks on tour, mostly tunic-y blouses and leggings. Last time I hand-washed it took days for everything to dry on a rack in my living room, so this time I got a little adventurous: after washing but before hanging on the rack, I put each garment in my salad spinner and took it for a twirl! It was really fun and everything dried in less than half the time! Just thought I’d keep you updated. 

PPS: Want more weird stories from the road? Find me on FacebookInstagramTwitter… I’m out there!

PPPS: What are you listening to? I just downloaded Whiskey Gentry’s wonderful new album Holly Grove and I can’t stop listening to it. Run don’t walk!

THE YEAR OF THE SELFIEDecember 28, 2013
I heard that the word “selfie” was recently added to the dictionary. When I played at The Blue Rock Studios Christmas Concert last month, owner Billy Crockett wrote a parody of “Deck the Halls” that included the lyrics “narcissistic little elfies, on Instagram they’re posting selfies” (fa la la la la, la la la la). In that last sentence, I mis-typed and spellcheck automatically corrected the word for me. Selfies. The word is part of the culture now.
As a person trying to make a living in the quasi-public, I run a number of social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (although pinterest has more to do with my desire to buy more things than I can afford, so I just tuck pictures of them away on pinboards and pine). If Myspace ever gets it’s act together again I’ll probably be back over there too. I appreciate the connectivity social media brings us, both because it’s a nice way to keep track of my friends but also because it’s a great way to connect with existing fans and try to reach new ones. 
When I joined Instagram last year, I felt a little late to the party (sort of like how I felt like a “late bloomer” when I had my first kiss at a party in 7th grade). I know it’s ridiculous; there are tons of people who don’t use the application now and who probably never will, but much like a hormone-fueled kiss from a pimply middle schooler with braces, it felt like something I needed to get out of the way, so I climbed on board. Most of my photos are of the sights and scenes that I encounter while out and about the country on tour - sunsets, old churches, pastures, friends, windmills, political rallies, stone bridges, venues, snapshots of my garden at home and animals of all shapes and sizes. There are some selfies, usually when I am standing near someone/something that I also want to take a photo of, but less than 10% of the photos I take/post fall into that category.
So recently I fell into a late night internet wormhole and found myself on a website that compiles your Top 5 Instagram posts of the year in chronological order with music. It’s cute. I plugged in my information and when my slideshow arrived, I was startled to see that all the photos (not just most, but all) were selfies. The same part of me that is a little reluctant to post selfies was a little grossed out by the slideshow (if one selfie is possibly too self-indulgent, five is out of the question). I did not post the slideshow anywhere. 
But it got me thinking: maybe I’m going about this wrong. I’ve intentionally put my mug on the cover of my last couple of records because I think that human connection is an important part of life in general and, by extension, the music business. I put myself on my album covers as a way of saying “Hello. I am here to share my music/thoughts/feelings/life with you. This is who you are listening to. Here is the “I” in my songs.” Certainly at some point I’ll use other art when it feels appropriate for the album (otherwise you’d be able to use my album covers to create a flipbook and watch me age…actually, that could be kind of cool…), but recently this is what has felt right to me and I have defended my choice in conversations with musicians who disagree. So why would I approach a social media profile differently?
So here’s what I’m embarrassed to admit: I’ve always assumed selfies are about the post-ers, in some way craving feedback for their appearance. Perhaps I wasn’t looking at the whole picture. In this new digital relationship that we are creating, material is experienced by the post-er and by the post-ee (I’m just making up words here left and right, forgive me). Have I been too focused on my experience as the poster? Have I been shy about posting selfies in part because I don’t want to be judged in the way that *I* judge people who post tons of selfies? (note: If you read this and you post tons of selfies, I’m totally not talking about you. I’m talking about all the other people). 
So. 2014. Less judgement. More selfies?
Thanks for following along,
~becca
PS: In case you’re wondering, I looked up the dictionary definition of “selfie.” Oxford says: “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
And then Oxford checks itself and realizes that it is shelved among respected volumes of reference material. In an impressive compromise move, Oxford slides a little shade into the second half of its definition, with the requisite example of context: “occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.”
Duly noted, Oxford. Duly noted.



THE YEAR OF THE SELFIE
December 28, 2013

I heard that the word “selfie” was recently added to the dictionary. When I played at The Blue Rock Studios Christmas Concert last month, owner Billy Crockett wrote a parody of “Deck the Halls” that included the lyrics “narcissistic little elfies, on Instagram they’re posting selfies” (fa la la la la, la la la la). In that last sentence, I mis-typed and spellcheck automatically corrected the word for me. Selfies. The word is part of the culture now.

As a person trying to make a living in the quasi-public, I run a number of social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (although pinterest has more to do with my desire to buy more things than I can afford, so I just tuck pictures of them away on pinboards and pine). If Myspace ever gets it’s act together again I’ll probably be back over there too. I appreciate the connectivity social media brings us, both because it’s a nice way to keep track of my friends but also because it’s a great way to connect with existing fans and try to reach new ones. 

When I joined Instagram last year, I felt a little late to the party (sort of like how I felt like a “late bloomer” when I had my first kiss at a party in 7th grade). I know it’s ridiculous; there are tons of people who don’t use the application now and who probably never will, but much like a hormone-fueled kiss from a pimply middle schooler with braces, it felt like something I needed to get out of the way, so I climbed on board. Most of my photos are of the sights and scenes that I encounter while out and about the country on tour - sunsets, old churches, pastures, friends, windmills, political rallies, stone bridges, venues, snapshots of my garden at home and animals of all shapes and sizes. There are some selfies, usually when I am standing near someone/something that I also want to take a photo of, but less than 10% of the photos I take/post fall into that category.

So recently I fell into a late night internet wormhole and found myself on a website that compiles your Top 5 Instagram posts of the year in chronological order with music. It’s cute. I plugged in my information and when my slideshow arrived, I was startled to see that all the photos (not just most, but all) were selfies. The same part of me that is a little reluctant to post selfies was a little grossed out by the slideshow (if one selfie is possibly too self-indulgent, five is out of the question). I did not post the slideshow anywhere. 

But it got me thinking: maybe I’m going about this wrong. I’ve intentionally put my mug on the cover of my last couple of records because I think that human connection is an important part of life in general and, by extension, the music business. I put myself on my album covers as a way of saying “Hello. I am here to share my music/thoughts/feelings/life with you. This is who you are listening to. Here is the “I” in my songs.” Certainly at some point I’ll use other art when it feels appropriate for the album (otherwise you’d be able to use my album covers to create a flipbook and watch me age…actually, that could be kind of cool…), but recently this is what has felt right to me and I have defended my choice in conversations with musicians who disagree. So why would I approach a social media profile differently?

So here’s what I’m embarrassed to admit: I’ve always assumed selfies are about the post-ers, in some way craving feedback for their appearance. Perhaps I wasn’t looking at the whole picture. In this new digital relationship that we are creating, material is experienced by the post-er and by the post-ee (I’m just making up words here left and right, forgive me). Have I been too focused on my experience as the poster? Have I been shy about posting selfies in part because I don’t want to be judged in the way that *I* judge people who post tons of selfies? (note: If you read this and you post tons of selfies, I’m totally not talking about you. I’m talking about all the other people). 

So. 2014. Less judgement. More selfies?

Thanks for following along,

~becca

PS: In case you’re wondering, I looked up the dictionary definition of “selfie.” Oxford says: “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

And then Oxford checks itself and realizes that it is shelved among respected volumes of reference material. In an impressive compromise move, Oxford slides a little shade into the second half of its definition, with the requisite example of context: “occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.”

Duly noted, Oxford. Duly noted.



TAKE THAT, WEDNESDAY!
(December 4, 2013)

In a few moments I will close my eyes and the intricacies of today will be sloughed off the etch-a-sketch of my mind to make room for the inevitabilities of tomorrow. So now, as I’m inexplicably awake almost a full 24 hours after starting my day, I figure I might as well take a moment to write down today’s adventures.

My alarm went off at 4:30 am. Up late the night before packing for the trip,  the fear of oversleeping had prevented me from resting too deeply. I awoke  easily. My normal cab driver (“Steven—Taxi!” as he is labeled in my phone) is out of town and texted me the number of his dispatch with the recommendation that I make a reservation the night before and then call as soon as I woke up to confirm that they were indeed coming for me. Sleepily, I followed his instructions. Darlin got out of bed and heated up some steak and broccoli which I was still chewing on when the cab pulled up at 5:01. A  bit early, but certainly better than a bit late. I gulped some water and we lugged my guitar, backpack and two suitcases out to the cab. 

The driver was sweet with nice eyes and a very warm smile. His accent was beautiful but incredibly thick and I had some difficulty understanding him. On the way I thought about complimenting his accent and asking where he was from, but the thought of fighting to be heard from the backseat, over road noise and through a language barrier was just too exhausting so I leaned my head back and stared out the window instead. We were alone on the road and made it to the airport in record time.  He tallied my total under his breath, ending with “and one dollar off, for Sister,” which I thought was  sweet. He carried my bags to the curb and once I made sure I had them all, I headed groggily towards the sky cap counter. 

Within seconds I realized that my cell phone was missing, still on the backseat of the cab. I looked to the curb, but there was already an SUV unloading a duo of juicy couture track-suited heartbreakers in the spot where I had been dropped off. Luckily for me, the Southwest gate agent at the sky cap counter is accustomed to dealing with Distressed Persons, and he handed me his phone nonchalantly while processing my ID and boarding pass. Suddenly wide awake, I called my phone repeatedly, hoping to draw some attention to its position in the back of the cab. I didn’t know the name of the cab company, since Steven—Taxi! had just texted me the dispatch number. All I remembered is that it had a lot of 2’s in it. So, on the gate agent’s phone, I googled “Austin Taxi 22” and called the first company returned in the search. Luckily, the dispatch remembered my pick up street right off the bat and was able to radio the taxi driver who had dropped me off. I listened as they tried to communicate with one another through the crackling radio, and a couple minutes later the dispatch told me that Taxi 99 would be returning soon to the spot where he had dropped me off. 

I looked at my watch — 5:50 am. I still had almost an hour until my flight began to board, so I waited nervously, staring at the horizon, hoping to see Taxi 99. I hoped that The Dispatcher and Taxi 99 had understood one another, and that the cab was in fact returning to the airport and not my house or the dispatch station or anywhere else on earth. Ten minutes passed, fifteen and I started to think my way through a 5-day, 6-show tour with no phone. I could rent a GPS from the rental car counter. I could look up my gig addresses on my laptop from the plane. People used to tour without phones all time, surely I could manage…  I wondered if I should call the dispatch again. I decided to give it five more minutes. At 6:09 the taxi pulled up. The driver looked tired, but handed over my phone with a smile. I gave him $20, wishing I had more to give him for going out of his way. I stood in the longest line I have ever seen at the Austin airport security and it still took all of 14 minutes (have I mentioned recently that I love the Austin airport?). Pulling on my boots and coat as I ran, I got to my gate just as my flight began to board.

I slept sitting up in the aisle seat, waking only when my row-mates needed to use the restroom. My layover in Baltimore was tight, but I charged determinedly from one gate to the next, again arriving just as the flight was boarding. I stayed awake on this short flight and landed at Islip airport in Long Island (the New York equivalent of Austin’s quaint airport) right on time at 1:30 pm. I checked in with the rental car company while waiting on out bags to come out on the carousel, and had my keys in hand by the time my bags appeared. With my guitar on my back, my book bag slung around my front like a papoose and a rolling suitcase in each hand I sprinted to the yard and exploded into a brand-new Ford Focus. I made it into Manhattan with 30 minutes to spare before soundcheck and treated myself to lunch at the fancy Italian restaurant next door.

The rest of the day was denouement, honestly. Funny when the drama of your day peaks before 7 am. By 4 I was laughing jovially with Kevin, the student activities director at Marymount, who had brought me back to campus to perform an afternoon show in the Nugent Lounge. I tried out a new set list and threw in a couple new covers, just to see how it went. The audience was a sweet combination of studying, visiting and genuinely intrigued students, plus the odd pack of dancers who would duck out of rehearsal in their leotards and ballet flats to come fill their bottles from the reverse osmosis water machine positioned 6 feet to the right of my makeshift stage.

After an hour of singing, I visited with some students and briefly fantasized about driving down to times square, parking somewhere and trying to get tickets to something. I am so rarely in New York City with a night off — because this was such an early show, I was packed up and done by 6:15. I could probably get a great single ticket to Book of Mormon! What better way to end such a thoroughly bizarre and exhausting day than with the spectacle of a Broadway show? Right? Part of me was very tempted, but the other part of me packed up the car and drove to Connecticut, where some friends of mine graciously agreed to let me stay with them on very short notice.

So here I am! So tired that I can’t sleep. The first step is probably trying, however, so for now I will close this illuminated distracto-tron that I spend more time looking at than any human probably should… I’m guessing nature will take it from there.

I hope you have had a wonderful day.

With love,

~becca

POST-TOUR MUSINGS FROM THE BACK OF A MINIVAN HEADING HOME ON I-35. TOO EXHAUSTED TO MAKE UP A BETTER TITLE. SO THERE YA GO.November 18, 2013
Have you ever woken up feeling like your entire body and soul had just been pressed flat and ground through a cartoon pasta making machine? That’s kinda how I felt this morning, but in a good way… Last week was wild and busy - on Sunday I helped coordinate the filming of six singer/songwriter promo videos at a fancy recording studio in Austin. Monday was spent taking care of last minute production details for the following week which included two rehearsal days that lasted over nine hours each and four shows, of which three were recorded for an album and two were filmed by multiple cameras. Whew! No wonder I’m tired… But seriously, the past week was an incredible experience. 
Making music with Raina Rose, Bernice and Bryan Hembree ( Smokey and the Mirror) Will Robertson and Daniel Walker was incredible. Everyone is so talented, and we had such a good time putting together arrangements of new and old songs. I’ve been working and planning for this project for almost a full year and now that this phase is over, I can honestly say that it was much, much more fun than I ever could have expected.
All this is to say thank you to you wonderful folks who came out to these shows, and to everyone who supports live music… We work hard to be able to do this for a living, but none of that work would matter a bit if we didn’t have support from folks like you. So thank you thank you thank you!
Huge thanks also to the beautiful souls that I had the good fortune to spend the past week making music with. I hope we find ourselves together in some dark room, messy van or squished stage again sometime very soon! xoxo
~becca
PS: I love this picture taken by Shawnee Kilgore at The Cactus Cafe in Austin last weekend 

POST-TOUR MUSINGS FROM THE BACK OF A MINIVAN HEADING HOME ON I-35. TOO EXHAUSTED TO MAKE UP A BETTER TITLE. SO THERE YA GO.
November 18, 2013

Have you ever woken up feeling like your entire body and soul had just been pressed flat and ground through a cartoon pasta making machine? That’s kinda how I felt this morning, but in a good way… Last week was wild and busy - on Sunday I helped coordinate the filming of six singer/songwriter promo videos at a fancy recording studio in Austin. Monday was spent taking care of last minute production details for the following week which included two rehearsal days that lasted over nine hours each and four shows, of which three were recorded for an album and two were filmed by multiple cameras. Whew! No wonder I’m tired… But seriously, the past week was an incredible experience. 

Making music with Raina Rose, Bernice and Bryan Hembree ( Smokey and the Mirror) Will Robertson and Daniel Walker was incredible. Everyone is so talented, and we had such a good time putting together arrangements of new and old songs. I’ve been working and planning for this project for almost a full year and now that this phase is over, I can honestly say that it was much, much more fun than I ever could have expected.

All this is to say thank you to you wonderful folks who came out to these shows, and to everyone who supports live music… We work hard to be able to do this for a living, but none of that work would matter a bit if we didn’t have support from folks like you. So thank you thank you thank you!

Huge thanks also to the beautiful souls that I had the good fortune to spend the past week making music with. I hope we find ourselves together in some dark room, messy van or squished stage again sometime very soon! xoxo

~becca

PS: I love this picture taken by Shawnee Kilgore at The Cactus Cafe in Austin last weekend 

HOW TO PLAY ‘LAY ME DOWN LOWLY’ BY ALBERT LOEBE(November 6, 2013)

I received an email over the weekend from someone inquiring about the chord changes to Lay Me Down Lowly. I had so much fun writing a response I figured I’d post it for anyone else who may or may not be interested :-)
Hey there!What a sweet note! So glad to hear from you :-)I’m so thrilled that you want to learn Lay Me Down Lowly! I’m sure my dad will be too when I tell him. I’ve never written out the chords before, but I’ll give it a shot. Try this and let me know if you have any questions —VERSE:C / G / C / CC / G / C / C7F / G / C / F (*walk down C —> F)C / G / C  CCHORUS (1st and 2nd)F / G / C / CF / G / C / CF / G / C / F * walk down C —> F C / G / C / C*LAST CHORUS:F / G / C / CF / G / C / CF / G / C / F * walk down C —> F C / G / Am / AmF / G / F / G F / G / C / CThe basic strum pattern is what I call (in my head) “Pluck/Strum.” I also sometimes call it “Boom/Chunk.” That’s what gives it such country charm :-) To do this you pluck the bass note of the chord and then strum the rest of the strings. The pluck falls on the downbeat and the strum on the upbeat. So if you’re counting “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and” the numbers are bass notes and the “ands” are strums. To really take it up a country notch, I suggest you use an alternating bass line, which means that on the first pluck you pluck the bass note of the chord and then on the second pluck you pluck another low note of the chord, usually the neighboring string. ** Rule of thumb is that if the first pluck is the 6/low e string, then next pluck will be the 5/a string. If you start on the 5/a, then the next pluck will be the 6/e.  It really helps to play the C chord by covering the 3rd fret on the Low E string with your ring finger, and the 3rd fret on the A string with your pinkie. Growing up my dad told me that’s the “British” way to play the C chord, I think because that’s how the Beatles did it. 
Here’s a diagram in case that’s helpful:


So on the British C chord, your first pluck will be the 5/a string, then you strum all the strings, then you pluck the 6/e string, then strum all the strings. If this is totally new to you, I recommend you just practice over and over again with the British C chord, since it comprises about 80% of this song. Once you get a natural groove going, try playing through the rest of the chords of the song. If you get stuck on anything, stop there and practice it over and over and over and over. Hint: On the F & G chords you alternate the bass line by playing the E string first (then strum) then the A string (then strum).Later in the song, when the Am chord arrives, you plus the 5/a string first (then strum) and then pluck the 4/d string (then strum).Hope that’s helpful! Good luck! Let me know how it goes :-)xo~beccaPS: My dad really plays it best! When I was recording The Brooklyn Series I cornered him in his room and asked him to play the song for me once so I could test out my recording gear (I knew if he knew I was recording for the album it would make him nervous). He nailed it in one take (of course) so you can hear his fancy picking for yourself :-)PPS: Here are the lyrics!Lay Me Down Lowly by Albert LoebeV1:  i don’t understand the ways you love mei don’t even know the reasons why, oh whyi just understand the softness of your handand the bright look of love that’s in your eyeC1:  lay me down lowly when you love metell me everything will be alrightlay me down easy and don’t look aroundand you know i’m going to love you all the timeV2:  i don’t understand what makes you happyi don’t even know what i should try, oh tryi just understand the softness of your handand the bright look of love that’s in your eyeC2:  lay me down lowly when you love metell me everything will be alrightlay me down easy and don’t look aroundand you know i’m going to love you all the timeV3:  someday i will know just how to love youto thrill you and still fulfill your mind, your minduntil that day i will try to find a wayto stay with you and never be unkindC3:  lay me down lowly when you love metell me everything will be alrightlay me down easy and don’t look aroundand you know i’m going to love you all the time

HOW TO PLAY ‘LAY ME DOWN LOWLY’ BY ALBERT LOEBE
(November 6, 2013)

I received an email over the weekend from someone inquiring about the chord changes to Lay Me Down Lowly. I had so much fun writing a response I figured I’d post it for anyone else who may or may not be interested :-)

Hey there!
What a sweet note! So glad to hear from you :-)
I’m so thrilled that you want to learn Lay Me Down Lowly! I’m sure my dad will be too when I tell him. I’ve never written out the chords before, but I’ll give it a shot. Try this and let me know if you have any questions —

VERSE:
C / G / C / C
C / G / C / C7
F / G / C / F (*walk down C —> F)
C / G / C  C

CHORUS (1st and 2nd)
F / G / C / C
F / G / C / C
F / G / C / F * walk down C —> F 
C / G / C / C

*LAST CHORUS:
F / G / C / C
F / G / C / C
F / G / C / F * walk down C —> F 
C / G / Am / Am
F / G / F / G 
F / G / C / C

The basic strum pattern is what I call (in my head) “Pluck/Strum.” I also sometimes call it “Boom/Chunk.” That’s what gives it such country charm :-) 

To do this you pluck the bass note of the chord and then strum the rest of the strings. The pluck falls on the downbeat and the strum on the upbeat. So if you’re counting “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and” the numbers are bass notes and the “ands” are strums. 

To really take it up a country notch, I suggest you use an alternating bass line, which means that on the first pluck you pluck the bass note of the chord and then on the second pluck you pluck another low note of the chord, usually the neighboring string. 
** Rule of thumb is that if the first pluck is the 6/low e string, then next pluck will be the 5/a string. If you start on the 5/a, then the next pluck will be the 6/e.  

It really helps to play the C chord by covering the 3rd fret on the Low E string with your ring finger, and the 3rd fret on the A string with your pinkie. Growing up my dad told me that’s the “British” way to play the C chord, I think because that’s how the Beatles did it. 

Here’s a diagram in case that’s helpful:

The "British" C Chord

So on the British C chord, your first pluck will be the 5/a string, then you strum all the strings, then you pluck the 6/e string, then strum all the strings. If this is totally new to you, I recommend you just practice over and over again with the British C chord, since it comprises about 80% of this song. Once you get a natural groove going, try playing through the rest of the chords of the song. If you get stuck on anything, stop there and practice it over and over and over and over. 

Hint: On the F & G chords you alternate the bass line by playing the E string first (then strum) then the A string (then strum).

Later in the song, when the Am chord arrives, you plus the 5/a string first (then strum) and then pluck the 4/d string (then strum).

Hope that’s helpful! Good luck! Let me know how it goes :-)
xo
~becca

PS: My dad really plays it best! When I was recording The Brooklyn Series I cornered him in his room and asked him to play the song for me once so I could test out my recording gear (I knew if he knew I was recording for the album it would make him nervous). He nailed it in one take (of course) so you can hear his fancy picking for yourself :-)

PPS: Here are the lyrics!

Lay Me Down Lowly by Albert Loebe

V1:  i don’t understand the ways you love me
i don’t even know the reasons why, oh why
i just understand the softness of your hand
and the bright look of love that’s in your eye

C1:  lay me down lowly when you love me
tell me everything will be alright
lay me down easy and don’t look around
and you know i’m going to love you all the time

V2:  i don’t understand what makes you happy
i don’t even know what i should try, oh try
i just understand the softness of your hand
and the bright look of love that’s in your eye

C2:  lay me down lowly when you love me
tell me everything will be alright
lay me down easy and don’t look around
and you know i’m going to love you all the time

V3:  someday i will know just how to love you
to thrill you and still fulfill your mind, your mind
until that day i will try to find a way
to stay with you and never be unkind

C3:  lay me down lowly when you love me
tell me everything will be alright
lay me down easy and don’t look around
and you know i’m going to love you all the time

THE OBVIOUS DOWNSIDE TO THE FREE MUSCLE CAR UPGRADE(November 2, 2013)
When the blue lights pulled out behind me, I didn’t move from my lane because it didn’t occur to me that I was being pulled over. I looked at the speedometer and, sure. I had braked suddenly out of habit when I saw the flashing lights, but I was still comfortably in the mid-40’s and there is no way the speed limit on this desolate Vermont country road was below 40, right?
Wrong. The speed limit was, in fact, 10 miles below 40 and I was clocked going 47 in a 30.
I’ve been paranoid about this ever since they gave me this crazy muscle car on Tuesday. I’ve paid super close attention to speed limit signs, set my cruise control religiously on highways and really made an all around effort not to draw attention to myself. But alas, on this stretch of road between town and the highway entrance (that I was basically across from by the time I did pull over) they want you to slow. your. roll. 
The officer was polite. I was definitely not what he expected to see in the front seat of the car, and watching that register across his face was amusing for a brief moment.  Side note — there was a time when I had a pretty good track record of wriggling my way out of tickets. Maybe I got cocky, maybe some of the sparkle faded, or maybe when my saturn returned the universe deemed me too grown for that shit, but somewhere along the line my magical powers of ticket-evasion definitely dimmed.
Officer I-Didn’t-Get-His-Name-Because-I-Was-Too-Busy-Supressing-The-Urge-To-Make-A-Super-Troopers-Reference was nice. I stammered through an explanation of my situation best I could. I asked for a Prius, I said. I didn’t even want this car. I’m from out of town. I was playing music at the college up the street, just headed to my hotel for the night… He asked if I was in the military and smiled when I said “The folk military.” He asked to see the registration for the car and watched me slowly implode as I realized that, in situations like this, your rental car receipt serves as your registration…and I had lost that pink piece of paper weeks ago. 
He held his flashlight for me while I looked through the trunk. As I pawed through piles of chaos, I told him that I hadn’t seen any speed limit signs. He replied that there were signs in town and that although the speed limit on this road becomes 50 mph just “down the way” from where we were standing, the part of it we were on was still technically within town limits and therefore the speed limit signs from town still applied. I looked left and right and could not see a single building or light source of any kind in any direction but, hey, if they say this is what their town looks like, who am I to argue? A person from Texas who is about to get a speeding ticket, that’s who. I forced my face not to react to this explanation. 
When it became clear that my rental car receipt was not going to emerge, he told me to get back in the car and he walked back to his. I sat still in the front seat for 20 minutes (or was it 20 years?). It felt like a long time. His white and blue LEDs were blinding, cold and bright in my rear view. Multiple cop cars drove by slowly. Every few minutes a train would rattle past on the other side of the trees by the highway. At the beginning of the The Wait I was just confounded by my predicament; disappointed that I had missed the signs, disappointed that I got caught, very disappointed that my mistake was going to cost me some hard-earned folk dollars. As the minutes and the cop cars and the trains passed, I began anxiously envisioning a near future in which I spent the night in jail, incarcerated for driving too fast without any proof that I was legally entitled to this Starskey & Hutch stunt vehicle. I desperately wished that I had worn thicker pants. 
Officer IDGHNBIWTBSTUTMASTR came back with a multi-colored stack of papers. He handed me a thin yellow slip and said that because I was “so decent” to him, he would give me a warning about the registration, since I “obviously don’t have any proof of registration for this vehicle.” Solid, thank you officer. Next came a little pink paper, clearly not a warning. He told me, again due to my decency, that he had managed to reduce my speed from 47 to 40, which saved me some money and points on my license. Having moments before feared that I would spend the night in the pokey, I felt pretty good about a $100 ticket. I thanked him for being decent to me, and we both went our separate ways. 
Next time I will politely decline the free upgrade to the ridiculous muscle car.

THE OBVIOUS DOWNSIDE TO THE FREE MUSCLE CAR UPGRADE
(November 2, 2013)

When the blue lights pulled out behind me, I didn’t move from my lane because it didn’t occur to me that I was being pulled over. I looked at the speedometer and, sure. I had braked suddenly out of habit when I saw the flashing lights, but I was still comfortably in the mid-40’s and there is no way the speed limit on this desolate Vermont country road was below 40, right?

Wrong. The speed limit was, in fact, 10 miles below 40 and I was clocked going 47 in a 30.

I’ve been paranoid about this ever since they gave me this crazy muscle car on Tuesday. I’ve paid super close attention to speed limit signs, set my cruise control religiously on highways and really made an all around effort not to draw attention to myself. But alas, on this stretch of road between town and the highway entrance (that I was basically across from by the time I did pull over) they want you to slow. your. roll. 

The officer was polite. I was definitely not what he expected to see in the front seat of the car, and watching that register across his face was amusing for a brief moment.  Side note — there was a time when I had a pretty good track record of wriggling my way out of tickets. Maybe I got cocky, maybe some of the sparkle faded, or maybe when my saturn returned the universe deemed me too grown for that shit, but somewhere along the line my magical powers of ticket-evasion definitely dimmed.

Officer I-Didn’t-Get-His-Name-Because-I-Was-Too-Busy-Supressing-The-Urge-To-Make-A-Super-Troopers-Reference was nice. I stammered through an explanation of my situation best I could. I asked for a Prius, I said. I didn’t even want this car. I’m from out of town. I was playing music at the college up the street, just headed to my hotel for the night… He asked if I was in the military and smiled when I said “The folk military.” He asked to see the registration for the car and watched me slowly implode as I realized that, in situations like this, your rental car receipt serves as your registration…and I had lost that pink piece of paper weeks ago. 

He held his flashlight for me while I looked through the trunk. As I pawed through piles of chaos, I told him that I hadn’t seen any speed limit signs. He replied that there were signs in town and that although the speed limit on this road becomes 50 mph just “down the way” from where we were standing, the part of it we were on was still technically within town limits and therefore the speed limit signs from town still applied. I looked left and right and could not see a single building or light source of any kind in any direction but, hey, if they say this is what their town looks like, who am I to argue? A person from Texas who is about to get a speeding ticket, that’s who. I forced my face not to react to this explanation. 

When it became clear that my rental car receipt was not going to emerge, he told me to get back in the car and he walked back to his. I sat still in the front seat for 20 minutes (or was it 20 years?). It felt like a long time. His white and blue LEDs were blinding, cold and bright in my rear view. Multiple cop cars drove by slowly. Every few minutes a train would rattle past on the other side of the trees by the highway. At the beginning of the The Wait I was just confounded by my predicament; disappointed that I had missed the signs, disappointed that I got caught, very disappointed that my mistake was going to cost me some hard-earned folk dollars. As the minutes and the cop cars and the trains passed, I began anxiously envisioning a near future in which I spent the night in jail, incarcerated for driving too fast without any proof that I was legally entitled to this Starskey & Hutch stunt vehicle. I desperately wished that I had worn thicker pants. 

Officer IDGHNBIWTBSTUTMASTR came back with a multi-colored stack of papers. He handed me a thin yellow slip and said that because I was “so decent” to him, he would give me a warning about the registration, since I “obviously don’t have any proof of registration for this vehicle.” Solid, thank you officer. Next came a little pink paper, clearly not a warning. He told me, again due to my decency, that he had managed to reduce my speed from 47 to 40, which saved me some money and points on my license. Having moments before feared that I would spend the night in the pokey, I felt pretty good about a $100 ticket. I thanked him for being decent to me, and we both went our separate ways. 

Next time I will politely decline the free upgrade to the ridiculous muscle car.

CALIFORNIA, BY HOOK OR BY CROOK(October 8, 2013)
California tours are always interesting. This time, it was an amazing reminder that I am not alone in the world. I have spectacular friends. This life is chock full of surprises! Crazy curve balls! However, I am surrounded by incredible people who will help me keep my head above water and my metaphors pleasantly mixed. Here’s how it went down:
The day before the tour began I learned that my Texas drivers license was suspended, due to a speeding ticket I received months earlier in Connecticut and paid. Problem solved, right? Nope, it turns out that Texas never received notification from Connecticut that the ticket was paid. Texas did write me a letter explaining the situation and offering me a 20 day window in which to provide proof of payment, but I didn’t see the ticket until I got home from tour 3 weeks after said window had lapsed and one day after the threatened suspension took place.
This left me with a choice between 
A) Flying out to California and “winging it” (relying on public transportation and the kindness of friends and strangers alike), or
B) Canceling the tour.
Already exhausted from a summer chock full of travel, I weighed these two options carefully. This tour didn’t contain any “anchor dates” (that means high dollar gigs that make the tour financially intelligent). Instead, the “anchor” of the tour was actually the wedding of a dear friend. On the one hand, I definitely didn’t want to miss her wedding. On the other hand, she’s a great friend. She would totally understand if the license situation would cost a ton of money and hassle and make the trip no longer make sense. On the mystical third hand of mental logic, there was this: I don’t have a ton of experience touring on the West Coast. I’m still building my career out there. While the gigs aren’t super lucrative right now, it’s certainly not going to get any better if I cancel gigs with the people who are currently willing to host me.
I chose option A.
Before I left, I called a couple close friends to inform them of my situation and ask for advice. Tiff Jimber offered to help me with a little transportation. Ash offered to meet me at the airport and pick up my bags before I took the shuttle to the wedding, and also offered to let me stay with her anytime. Someone suggested I look into the train, though I can’t remember who. I checked out the Amtrak website. I looked at busses. I learned that the rental car I had reserved for the trip and now wouldn’t be using, due to the whole suspended license situation, was non-refundable. And then it was 4:30 am, I was waking up from a harried two hours of sleep and heading towards the airport. 
DAY 1, Saturday, August 31:
My brothers 27th birthday. They are twins and I love them deeply. Happy birthday boys!
I flew from Austin to LA. When I landed I called my friend Ash. If you can only have one kind of friend, you hope it’s a friend like Ash. She is unwavering, calm in a crisis and looks at you like a privileged fool when you compare a suspended license to a crisis. She has seen much worse. 
My flight landed at LAX at 10 am and Ash offered to swing by the airport and pick up my luggage, so that I didn’t have to haul it all to the wedding in Oxnard, about 70 miles north of LA. She actually scooped me from the airport too, and took me to a nearby Starbucks. We spent an hour catching up on our lives, jobs, partners, trains, tribulations, funny stories, sad stories, all of it. I re-organized my bag in the parking lot and she dropped me back off at the airport, minus my guitar and heavy luggage, so that I could catch the shuttle to the wedding.
Buffy’s wedding was glorious. When I say that it looks like Etsy and Pinterest had a baby all over the grounds of that rented family farm, I mean it in the kindest possible way. The bride looked gorgeous, the groom was a prince, and every single detail was charming, quirky, homespun and heartwarming. Also, the bride sang a badass Billie Holiday deep cut when the toasts were done. I couldn’t possibly do it justice with mere words, so you should just head over to Instagram and stalk the #JoshandBuffy2013 stream. It’s amazing (I’m totally not exaggerating about the homespun grandeur of this wedding — since it’s taken me weeks to get this blog up, I can tell you that the wedding was featured in Billboard Magazine, since there were so many music industry professionals involved and it was so badass). 
Johannes Raasinna, a college friend who I hadn’t seen basically since graduation day, responded mercifully to the plea I had sent him on Facebook the day before and agreed to drive me back to Los Angeles after the reception. We had a great time catching up and I also got to know his lady friend Luna, and we listened to her new record that they have been working on together. It’s great! They dropped me off at Ash’s house and I fell asleep on her couch pretty much instantly. 
DAYS 2-5, September 1, 2, 3, & 4:
After visiting with Ash and Joseph in the morning, they dropped me off at my friend Wendysue’s house. Wendysue is amazing! I met her at Folk Alliance in 2008, and we’ve been friends ever since. I was planning on staying with her for the week, but was a little nervous about staying without a car: 4 days is a long time to impose on someone! Ash took me to a grocery store, I bought flowers for Wendy and some provisions for myself. Ash dropped me off and I tried to be the best house guest of all time.
As it turns out, I think Wendysue kinda liked it that I didn’t have a car. Normally when I stay with her I am in and out, setting up meetings with various friends and business contacts in LA, trying to make the most out of the time I have in a town where music is one of the main industries. This time around I was totally at her disposable, available to experience LA from her perspective. I must say, I really loved the view! She has a new dog named Beanie (the first dog she has ever had! Their bond is very special to observe), and we had a lot of fun playing with him. We also went on a whale watching cruise (didn’t see any whales, but we did see a bunch of dolphins which was totally good enough for me!), went to a Korean day spa, watched movies on her couch and spent an afternoon on the rooftop patio of a swanky down hotel that allows non-guests to make use of the pool. In those three days I got a glimpse of what being a retiree or an heiress could look like and I think I liked it…



DAY 6, Thursday, September 5:
Tiff Jimber didn’t show up wearing a cape and tights, but she might as well have. She picked me up from Wendysue’s house in Los Angeles and drove me to San Diego, spent the day with me there, attended my show, dropped me off at the house where I was staying and then drove home to LA after the gig. Yes, that’s right. 1000% above and beyond the call of normal friendship duty.
Tiff and I have toured together before and it was really nice to be in the car with her again (even if the ride involved some silly LA mid-day gridlock). We got to San Diego plenty early, and she showed me around the Old Town area (I had never been before). The gig was at Le Stat’s, a funky 24-hour coffeeshop with a dedicated “alernative” crowd. We spent a couple hours there working on our laptops before soundcheck, and when the time rolled around we checked in with the venue and learned that the band I was co-billing with had blown a tire in the desert and was running late. Louis, who runs the joint, suggested we go on a walk around the neighborhood instead of soundcheck. He offered to buy us ice cream. We headed down the street to an art gallery where Gregory Page was DJ-ing old 78 records on a gramophone setup, using the name Gramophone Gregory. We returned to the venue, set up a little late (but the boss was with us so it didn’t matter) and played a very fun show with Into the Egress, a hard-touring 8 piece steampunk cabaret outfit out of Bethlehem, PA. They had even called ahead and found some local dancers to come join their set. It was a fun night. 
At Buffy’s wedding the previous weekend I re-met an old friend of hers named MC. Over finger sandwiches we discussed my travel plans, and she offered to let me stay in her guest room in San Diego next time I was in town. I laughed and told her to be careful what she wished for. After wrapping things up at Lestat’s,Tiff dropped me off at MC’s house around midnight. I stumbled inside and made the most minimal of polite salutations and expressions of gratitude before collapsing into a comfortable guest bed in a room with a door that closed.
DAY 7 Friday, September 6:
I woke up mid-morning on Friday and stayed in bed for several hours, working on the computer and trying to remain quiet. Silent, actually. After a full week of socializing, I could feel my voice getting tired and the best remedy I have found for that is vocal rest, for as close to 12 hours as possible. If we have EVER met you know this is hard to me — I like to talk! So the best way I have found of achieving this is just by staying away from people.
When I stumbled out of my room at 1 pm, I found MC sitting in the living room painting her toenails. “You’re HERE?!” she practically shout-giggled. “I assumed you left hours ago!” We sat chatting for a little while, until she had to leave for work. I spent the afternoon pretending her beautiful house was my own. I read on the couch, exercised in the living room and took her bike down to the beach for a long sunset bike ride. I would estimate that I spoke maybe 100 words over the course of the entire day and it was absolutely sublime.

DAY 8 Saturday, September 7:
My reverie in Pacific Beach lasted until the middle of Saturday; I worked out some more, ran errands on MC’s bike, took myself out to breakfast where I started reading a novel that I had randomly selected from her shelf as if I intended to stick around town and finish reading it. I swung by the beach for one more glimpse of the ocean and all of a sudden it was time to head back to reality. I packed my bags and was ready to go when Jann Klose pulled up in his rental car to drive me to our gig that night. We played a house concert in Carmel Valley, about 13 miles north of San Diego. On the drive, I recounted to him my week so far. Right around Tiff’s heroics on Thursday, his eyes got very wide and he deadpanned through his metro German accent “You have really nice friends.”
I know, it’s true.
I made a few new good friends that night at a house concert on Fred Powell’s beautiful patio. I didn’t know anyone there but Jann, so I had a good time mingling over hors d’oeuvres and chatting with people who I think assumed I was also attending the show. It was really fun to get to know the guests of the concert beforehand, it made hopping on stage and singing for them all the more rewarding. After the show Jann and I drove up to Orange County where he had been staying with some friends.

DAY 9 Sunday, September 8:
Our only LA-area gig was actually in Altadena, about 45 minutes north of the center of town. It was an afternoon matinee show on a glorious sunny day. After the show I was back in Ash and Joseph’s custody, and they kindly drove me to a restaurant where I met up with a group of friends who had been at the concert.
Something it has taken me a long time to learn is that gigs (my gigs, specifically) are a TERRIBLE place to catch up with old friends. The hours beforehand are consumed with set up, then of course I am onstage and afterwards I am busy trying to engage with the audience I have just performed for, sell CDs when possible, sign people up for the email list and then I’ve gotta pack my gear up and load out. Basically I’m at work until all of my gear is in the car, and then it’s time to leave the club. Luckily, my friends have learned this with me over the years, and they are mostly willing to hang around and chat with each other until I’m available to go to relocate to a somewhere that we can actually relax and hang out. On this afternoon, that location featured microbrewed beers and dates wrapped in bacon. It was a good afternoon. 
I got to catch up with my college buddy Frogs who I hadn’t seen in years. Turns out he is playing bass in a band called Stars in Stereo that is doing pretty well. He told me that at their most recent band meeting there had been heated discussion over whether their new album should be promoted to the “Modern Rock” or “Active Rock” format. Sheesh, I thought that the “Folk” vs. “Americana” vs. “AAA” debate was mind-numbing! It was a good reminder that there is a ton of stuff going on in the world that I have absolutely no idea about :-) How tiny we all are! What a wide, wonderful world it is! 
DAY 10 Monday, September 9:
I left Southern California by train at 9 am on Monday morning. Ash drove me into downtown during Monday morning rush hour, and then walked into Grand Central Station with me and waited until my train came. She is seriously the best. The ride was lovely - I had never been on a long train ride before. I was seated next to a 92 year old man named Marion. He had fluffy white hair and very kind eyes. He was a total wiz on his smart phone, and when we said goodbye at the end of the day, I gave him a card and he had me enter my contact information into the address book on his tablet.
I arrived in San Luis Obispo around 3 hours before my gig started, and a wonderful woman named Cheryl picked me up at the train station and drove me to her house where I was able to shower and relax a little before the show (Cheryl happens to be the aunt-aged cousin of my friend Tiff, who drove me to San Diego earlier in this adventure. Generous genes!). I played a songwriter showcase gig at a Cajun-themed restaurant in the parking lot of a Howard Johnson Hotel. It felt a little like A Mighty Wind meets the end of Spinal Tap, but it was fun and the audience really listened (which, at the end of the day, is all I really care about :-). The plan was for Steve Key to drop me off at the bus stop after the show because, unfortunately, he train only ran from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco in the afternoon and arrived too late in the evening for me to make it in time for my gig that night.
My train was scheduled to depart at 12:20 am and, this being a folk gig, I was done by about 9:45 pm. Luckily, one of the other performers of that evening, Ryan Dishen, was a really sweet young man who had just returned from his first cross-country tour with his equally sweet girlfriend. They both had lots of questions about life on the road and booking tours, so we went out for a bite during the hours I had to kill before I had to be at the bus stop. We had a great conversation over pizza (I actually got a small spinach salad which they marveled at, and I told them that’s the first lesson of the road: eat fresh vegetables whenever they are available). We traded CDs as we said goodbye, and at about ten minutes til midnight they dropped me off at the bus station in downtown San Luis Obispo.
The bus stop was right outside of the large indoor train station, which was closed due to the late hour. It was a little chilly out. My phone was running very low on batteries. I jumped at the sound of every creaking branch, suddenly acutely aware that I was sitting alone on a bench in a town where I know almost nobody surrounded by all of my most valuable possessions. I channeled all of my available energy into not getting stabbed.
The minutes passed very slowly, and when 12:20 came and went without the appearance of a bus, I tried not to panic. Who had come up with this ridiculous plan? Oh, right. I did. I waited as patiently as I could and bounded eagerly onto the bus when it arrived at a quarter to one.
DAY 11, Tuesday, September 10:
I woke up with a start approximately every 45 minutes of the bus ride to San Francisco. This was a local bus that stopped in every town along the way, turning on all the lights each time. I actually tried to disembark in San Jose — startled awake, vaguely aware of having heard the prefix “San…” at the beginning of the stop announcement, I grabbed my belongings and stumbled off the bus into the dark. Luckily the driver was more aware of our surroundings than I and he sent me back to my seat. “Next stop,” he said. 40 winks later we pulled into San Francisco, in the dark of night just under the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge. I stood on the sidewalk for a minute to gather my bearings, and began to walk in the direction of the home of my friend Matt Moldover.
The plan was to take a cab to a restaurant near his house and wait for the hour to become a bit more decent before ringing his doorbell. Instead I took the trolley car as the sun rose around me and, finding no restaurants in his hip neighborhood open before 7 am, I rang his door apologetically at about 6. He ushered me inside, showed me to my room, and I slept deeply until almost noon.
When I woke up, Matt gave me a brief tour of the Upper Haight neighborhood where he lives. We walked to a nearby brunch spot and caught up over delicious veggie egg scrambles. Since many years have passed and I’m fairly sure noone will read this far into this blog post, I’ll admit that I had a bit of a crush on Matt when we first met 7-ish years ago. He was just coming out of a tough relationship and I was still figuring out how human interactions work, and for whatever reason nothing ever happened between the two of us. In retrospect, I’m extremely glad because I don’t think I would have the nerve to ring on the doorbell of an ex-anything at 6 in the morning and I was really, deeply grateful for his friendship that morning.
The afternoon was fun. Matt is known professionally by his last name Moldover, and has built a really impressive career for himself as an electronic musician and builder of musical machinery. His latest invention is an electric guitar with built in signal processing on the front of it — basically it takes all of the effects that guitar players plug into foot pedals and puts them all of the face of the guitar. He let me play it. I felt like a total rockstar. Right now there is only one of them in the world, but hopefully they will be produced on a large scale someday so you can all see what I’m talking about.
The last gig of my California tour was that night at Hotel Utah in San Francisco. It was a co-bill with a local guy named KC Turner who I like a lot - we have met on several occasions through mutual friends and he books house concerts and promotes shows locally (in fact, he hosted G. Love last night which I think is awesome). We had a great time turning a divey little downtown bar with a balcony that looks like a boat suspended from the ceiling into an intimate listening room. 
DAY 12, Wednesday, September 11:
I’m pretty sure I did almost nothing on this day. Matt was busy preparing for a trip out of town, so we had breakfast together and then I retreated to my guest room to exercise and work on the computer and I think that’s all I did until evening when I ventured out to meet a friend for dinner. It was nice to give my body and mind a day off, a day to rest in one place, a moment to catch up.
DAY 13, Thursday, September 12:
My last full day in California! I met up with one of my favorite songwriters who also happens to be a close friend, John Elliott, for breakfast.  We wandered through the Upper Haight neighborhood browsing the various stationary shops for bric a brac. I bought a small drawing for my house in Austin that I really love (it’s a tongue-in-cheek illustration of a map called “Growing Up: A Landscape” and features such sites as “Camp Should’ve Kept My Mouth Shut” and “High School Isn’t Everything Road.” John and I laughed out loud the whole time we were reading it, so I decided it would make a good souvenir from my zany trip). We accompanied each other on mundane errands (he had to go to the post office, I to the bank) and then we said goodbye in the early afternoon, promising to try to meet up at a rest stop in New England when we’re both up there on tour later in the fall. I took myself on a walk around the neighborhood, browsed for some clothes and set off towards the only “tourist destination” in town that I really wanted to see: The Dahlia Garden.
My previous tour in California was around this time last year, and a friend took me to the Golden Gate Park where there is a special garden of Dahlia flowers. I was excited to learn that Matt’s house is within walking distance and I headed that way. It took a long time to get there, not because it was terribly far but because I was very easily distracted by the boutique shops and co-op grocery stores that littered my path. When I finally arrived, it was breathtaking: a long, oval, wrought-iron fenced in enclosure brimming with dahlia flowers at full bloom. I walked around the oval two, three times, taking photos and staring into the center of many of the flowers, trying to imprint their bright colors on brain. It was impossible to pick a favorite of the flowers, all I know is that that spot is one of my favorites on earth.
Even though I had walked all the way around the flowers several times, I wasn’t ready to leave so I drifted over towards a bench where some folks were playing music. I pulled a stack of notecards out of my bag, and began writing thank you cards to the people who had helped me along my crazy journey. Suddenly, an SUV pulled up to the curb and a short middle-aged woman with curly brown hair and massive energy bounded onto the sidewalk carrying a tall stack over silver aluminum trays. 
"OK guys," She said, "Mostly carbs today, but there are some hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Also some cupcakes, make sure you get a cupcake, they’re really good." 
The musicians nearby hopped off the bench, and the aluminum trays were spread out to uncover a large amount of food. Plastic utensils, paper plates and napkins appeared. The woman apologized for not being able to stay and visit longer, she was running late to meet a client, but she greeted several of the men by name and said she’d see them tomorrow.
As she drove away, the picture came into focus: the musicians playing near the bench were mostly homeless and hungry. I learned from the man nearest me on the bench that the woman who brought the food runs a catering company with her husband, and she comes by almost every day with the leftover food from the lunch events that they cater. 
What struck me most about the men was how, once the food arrived, all they wanted to do was share it. They offered it to every person who walked by, tourists, commuters, park employees. “Hey!” They would shout, “Want a cupcake? We have cupcakes! They’re really good!” One child excitedly accepted a cupcake, but for the most part people took wide steps in the opposite direction and quietly declined.
I stayed on the bench writing thank you notes. One of the men sat down next to me and asked if I was doing research, or maybe writing a dissertation about the homeless in the park. I laughed and showed him my cards. We talked about traveling, and he told me that several of them are in a band and that they go on tour every summer, up to a campsite about 30 miles north of the city where they camp out on the river every summer. Another man sitting next to me told me about his dad who was a professional saxophone player before immigrating to the US and how, even though the family was poor when he grew up, his father always made sure there was money for music lessons.
I wished I could have stayed longer, but I knew I had to make it back to Matt’s in time for my 6 pm pick up and I was running out of time. I said my goodbyes and walked back to the Haight as quickly as I could. 



The final piece of my complicated California travel puzzle came together when Sajel and Krishna, friends of my mothers, came to pick me up at the end of their work day. I met them on the sidewalk with all of my luggage and they drove me to their apartment on the other side of town. We walked around their neighborhood and went to an Ethiopian restaurant they had been wanting to try for dinner. On the way back to their apartment we stopped at a fancy grocery store where we stocked up on red wine and dark chocolate, which we happily consumed on the couch while watching some reality TV shows they had stored up on the DVR (X Factor and Shark Tank…so scary! Watching shows like this, my PTVD - post traumatic voice disorder - flairs up and I get really anxious for the contestants. Luckily I had plenty of red wine and dark chocolate to medicate with…).
When 11 pm rolled around we piled back into the car and they dropped me off at the San Francisco airport for my second overnight travel experience of the week, this time on a red eye to Ohio.
In retrospect, the red wine might not have been the best idea, but it sure did help me sleep on the flights. The weekend’s travel with Ellis Paul, who I was opening for, was easy by comparison to my California odyssey. On Monday morning I found out from a friend at the Texas DMV that my license had been re-instated just in time for my flight home.
On and on I go! Thanks for following along :-)xo~becca

CALIFORNIA, BY HOOK OR BY CROOK
(October 8, 2013)

California tours are always interesting. This time, it was an amazing reminder that I am not alone in the world. I have spectacular friends. This life is chock full of surprises! Crazy curve balls! However, I am surrounded by incredible people who will help me keep my head above water and my metaphors pleasantly mixed. Here’s how it went down:

The day before the tour began I learned that my Texas drivers license was suspended, due to a speeding ticket I received months earlier in Connecticut and paid. Problem solved, right? Nope, it turns out that Texas never received notification from Connecticut that the ticket was paid. Texas did write me a letter explaining the situation and offering me a 20 day window in which to provide proof of payment, but I didn’t see the ticket until I got home from tour 3 weeks after said window had lapsed and one day after the threatened suspension took place.

This left me with a choice between 

A) Flying out to California and “winging it” (relying on public transportation and the kindness of friends and strangers alike), or

B) Canceling the tour.

Already exhausted from a summer chock full of travel, I weighed these two options carefully. This tour didn’t contain any “anchor dates” (that means high dollar gigs that make the tour financially intelligent). Instead, the “anchor” of the tour was actually the wedding of a dear friend. On the one hand, I definitely didn’t want to miss her wedding. On the other hand, she’s a great friend. She would totally understand if the license situation would cost a ton of money and hassle and make the trip no longer make sense. On the mystical third hand of mental logic, there was this: I don’t have a ton of experience touring on the West Coast. I’m still building my career out there. While the gigs aren’t super lucrative right now, it’s certainly not going to get any better if I cancel gigs with the people who are currently willing to host me.

I chose option A.

Before I left, I called a couple close friends to inform them of my situation and ask for advice. Tiff Jimber offered to help me with a little transportation. Ash offered to meet me at the airport and pick up my bags before I took the shuttle to the wedding, and also offered to let me stay with her anytime. Someone suggested I look into the train, though I can’t remember who. I checked out the Amtrak website. I looked at busses. I learned that the rental car I had reserved for the trip and now wouldn’t be using, due to the whole suspended license situation, was non-refundable. And then it was 4:30 am, I was waking up from a harried two hours of sleep and heading towards the airport. 

DAY 1, Saturday, August 31:

My brothers 27th birthday. They are twins and I love them deeply. Happy birthday boys!

I flew from Austin to LA. When I landed I called my friend Ash. If you can only have one kind of friend, you hope it’s a friend like Ash. She is unwavering, calm in a crisis and looks at you like a privileged fool when you compare a suspended license to a crisis. She has seen much worse. 

My flight landed at LAX at 10 am and Ash offered to swing by the airport and pick up my luggage, so that I didn’t have to haul it all to the wedding in Oxnard, about 70 miles north of LA. She actually scooped me from the airport too, and took me to a nearby Starbucks. We spent an hour catching up on our lives, jobs, partners, trains, tribulations, funny stories, sad stories, all of it. I re-organized my bag in the parking lot and she dropped me back off at the airport, minus my guitar and heavy luggage, so that I could catch the shuttle to the wedding.

Buffy’s wedding was glorious. When I say that it looks like Etsy and Pinterest had a baby all over the grounds of that rented family farm, I mean it in the kindest possible way. The bride looked gorgeous, the groom was a prince, and every single detail was charming, quirky, homespun and heartwarming. Also, the bride sang a badass Billie Holiday deep cut when the toasts were done. I couldn’t possibly do it justice with mere words, so you should just head over to Instagram and stalk the #JoshandBuffy2013 stream. It’s amazing (I’m totally not exaggerating about the homespun grandeur of this wedding — since it’s taken me weeks to get this blog up, I can tell you that the wedding was featured in Billboard Magazine, since there were so many music industry professionals involved and it was so badass). 

Johannes Raasinna, a college friend who I hadn’t seen basically since graduation day, responded mercifully to the plea I had sent him on Facebook the day before and agreed to drive me back to Los Angeles after the reception. We had a great time catching up and I also got to know his lady friend Luna, and we listened to her new record that they have been working on together. It’s great! They dropped me off at Ash’s house and I fell asleep on her couch pretty much instantly. 

DAYS 2-5, September 1, 2, 3, & 4:

After visiting with Ash and Joseph in the morning, they dropped me off at my friend Wendysue’s house. Wendysue is amazing! I met her at Folk Alliance in 2008, and we’ve been friends ever since. I was planning on staying with her for the week, but was a little nervous about staying without a car: 4 days is a long time to impose on someone! Ash took me to a grocery store, I bought flowers for Wendy and some provisions for myself. Ash dropped me off and I tried to be the best house guest of all time.

As it turns out, I think Wendysue kinda liked it that I didn’t have a car. Normally when I stay with her I am in and out, setting up meetings with various friends and business contacts in LA, trying to make the most out of the time I have in a town where music is one of the main industries. This time around I was totally at her disposable, available to experience LA from her perspective. I must say, I really loved the view! She has a new dog named Beanie (the first dog she has ever had! Their bond is very special to observe), and we had a lot of fun playing with him. We also went on a whale watching cruise (didn’t see any whales, but we did see a bunch of dolphins which was totally good enough for me!), went to a Korean day spa, watched movies on her couch and spent an afternoon on the rooftop patio of a swanky down hotel that allows non-guests to make use of the pool. In those three days I got a glimpse of what being a retiree or an heiress could look like and I think I liked it…

photo 20130901_174929_zps8640ed79.jpg

photo ScreenShot2013-09-04at120439AM_zpsfddf83db.png

photo IMG_2995_zps9b8ec0c4.jpg

DAY 6, Thursday, September 5:

Tiff Jimber didn’t show up wearing a cape and tights, but she might as well have. She picked me up from Wendysue’s house in Los Angeles and drove me to San Diego, spent the day with me there, attended my show, dropped me off at the house where I was staying and then drove home to LA after the gig. Yes, that’s right. 1000% above and beyond the call of normal friendship duty.

Tiff and I have toured together before and it was really nice to be in the car with her again (even if the ride involved some silly LA mid-day gridlock). We got to San Diego plenty early, and she showed me around the Old Town area (I had never been before). The gig was at Le Stat’s, a funky 24-hour coffeeshop with a dedicated “alernative” crowd. We spent a couple hours there working on our laptops before soundcheck, and when the time rolled around we checked in with the venue and learned that the band I was co-billing with had blown a tire in the desert and was running late. Louis, who runs the joint, suggested we go on a walk around the neighborhood instead of soundcheck. He offered to buy us ice cream. We headed down the street to an art gallery where Gregory Page was DJ-ing old 78 records on a gramophone setup, using the name Gramophone Gregory. We returned to the venue, set up a little late (but the boss was with us so it didn’t matter) and played a very fun show with Into the Egress, a hard-touring 8 piece steampunk cabaret outfit out of Bethlehem, PA. They had even called ahead and found some local dancers to come join their set. It was a fun night. 

At Buffy’s wedding the previous weekend I re-met an old friend of hers named MC. Over finger sandwiches we discussed my travel plans, and she offered to let me stay in her guest room in San Diego next time I was in town. I laughed and told her to be careful what she wished for. After wrapping things up at Lestat’s,Tiff dropped me off at MC’s house around midnight. I stumbled inside and made the most minimal of polite salutations and expressions of gratitude before collapsing into a comfortable guest bed in a room with a door that closed.

DAY 7 Friday, September 6:

I woke up mid-morning on Friday and stayed in bed for several hours, working on the computer and trying to remain quiet. Silent, actually. After a full week of socializing, I could feel my voice getting tired and the best remedy I have found for that is vocal rest, for as close to 12 hours as possible. If we have EVER met you know this is hard to me — I like to talk! So the best way I have found of achieving this is just by staying away from people.

When I stumbled out of my room at 1 pm, I found MC sitting in the living room painting her toenails. “You’re HERE?!” she practically shout-giggled. “I assumed you left hours ago!” We sat chatting for a little while, until she had to leave for work. I spent the afternoon pretending her beautiful house was my own. I read on the couch, exercised in the living room and took her bike down to the beach for a long sunset bike ride. I would estimate that I spoke maybe 100 words over the course of the entire day and it was absolutely sublime.

photo ScreenShot2013-09-07at120356AM_zpsf1abd5b8.png

DAY 8 Saturday, September 7:

My reverie in Pacific Beach lasted until the middle of Saturday; I worked out some more, ran errands on MC’s bike, took myself out to breakfast where I started reading a novel that I had randomly selected from her shelf as if I intended to stick around town and finish reading it. I swung by the beach for one more glimpse of the ocean and all of a sudden it was time to head back to reality. I packed my bags and was ready to go when Jann Klose pulled up in his rental car to drive me to our gig that night. We played a house concert in Carmel Valley, about 13 miles north of San Diego. On the drive, I recounted to him my week so far. Right around Tiff’s heroics on Thursday, his eyes got very wide and he deadpanned through his metro German accent “You have really nice friends.”

I know, it’s true.

I made a few new good friends that night at a house concert on Fred Powell’s beautiful patio. I didn’t know anyone there but Jann, so I had a good time mingling over hors d’oeuvres and chatting with people who I think assumed I was also attending the show. It was really fun to get to know the guests of the concert beforehand, it made hopping on stage and singing for them all the more rewarding. After the show Jann and I drove up to Orange County where he had been staying with some friends.

photo IMG_3031_zpsae1a01a9.jpg

DAY 9 Sunday, September 8:

Our only LA-area gig was actually in Altadena, about 45 minutes north of the center of town. It was an afternoon matinee show on a glorious sunny day. After the show I was back in Ash and Joseph’s custody, and they kindly drove me to a restaurant where I met up with a group of friends who had been at the concert.

Something it has taken me a long time to learn is that gigs (my gigs, specifically) are a TERRIBLE place to catch up with old friends. The hours beforehand are consumed with set up, then of course I am onstage and afterwards I am busy trying to engage with the audience I have just performed for, sell CDs when possible, sign people up for the email list and then I’ve gotta pack my gear up and load out. Basically I’m at work until all of my gear is in the car, and then it’s time to leave the club. Luckily, my friends have learned this with me over the years, and they are mostly willing to hang around and chat with each other until I’m available to go to relocate to a somewhere that we can actually relax and hang out. On this afternoon, that location featured microbrewed beers and dates wrapped in bacon. It was a good afternoon. 

I got to catch up with my college buddy Frogs who I hadn’t seen in years. Turns out he is playing bass in a band called Stars in Stereo that is doing pretty well. He told me that at their most recent band meeting there had been heated discussion over whether their new album should be promoted to the “Modern Rock” or “Active Rock” format. Sheesh, I thought that the “Folk” vs. “Americana” vs. “AAA” debate was mind-numbing! It was a good reminder that there is a ton of stuff going on in the world that I have absolutely no idea about :-) How tiny we all are! What a wide, wonderful world it is! 

DAY 10 Monday, September 9:

I left Southern California by train at 9 am on Monday morning. Ash drove me into downtown during Monday morning rush hour, and then walked into Grand Central Station with me and waited until my train came. She is seriously the best. The ride was lovely - I had never been on a long train ride before. I was seated next to a 92 year old man named Marion. He had fluffy white hair and very kind eyes. He was a total wiz on his smart phone, and when we said goodbye at the end of the day, I gave him a card and he had me enter my contact information into the address book on his tablet.

I arrived in San Luis Obispo around 3 hours before my gig started, and a wonderful woman named Cheryl picked me up at the train station and drove me to her house where I was able to shower and relax a little before the show (Cheryl happens to be the aunt-aged cousin of my friend Tiff, who drove me to San Diego earlier in this adventure. Generous genes!). I played a songwriter showcase gig at a Cajun-themed restaurant in the parking lot of a Howard Johnson Hotel. It felt a little like A Mighty Wind meets the end of Spinal Tap, but it was fun and the audience really listened (which, at the end of the day, is all I really care about :-). The plan was for Steve Key to drop me off at the bus stop after the show because, unfortunately, he train only ran from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco in the afternoon and arrived too late in the evening for me to make it in time for my gig that night.

My train was scheduled to depart at 12:20 am and, this being a folk gig, I was done by about 9:45 pm. Luckily, one of the other performers of that evening, Ryan Dishen, was a really sweet young man who had just returned from his first cross-country tour with his equally sweet girlfriend. They both had lots of questions about life on the road and booking tours, so we went out for a bite during the hours I had to kill before I had to be at the bus stop. We had a great conversation over pizza (I actually got a small spinach salad which they marveled at, and I told them that’s the first lesson of the road: eat fresh vegetables whenever they are available). We traded CDs as we said goodbye, and at about ten minutes til midnight they dropped me off at the bus station in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The bus stop was right outside of the large indoor train station, which was closed due to the late hour. It was a little chilly out. My phone was running very low on batteries. I jumped at the sound of every creaking branch, suddenly acutely aware that I was sitting alone on a bench in a town where I know almost nobody surrounded by all of my most valuable possessions. I channeled all of my available energy into not getting stabbed.

The minutes passed very slowly, and when 12:20 came and went without the appearance of a bus, I tried not to panic. Who had come up with this ridiculous plan? Oh, right. I did. I waited as patiently as I could and bounded eagerly onto the bus when it arrived at a quarter to one.

DAY 11, Tuesday, September 10:

I woke up with a start approximately every 45 minutes of the bus ride to San Francisco. This was a local bus that stopped in every town along the way, turning on all the lights each time. I actually tried to disembark in San Jose — startled awake, vaguely aware of having heard the prefix “San…” at the beginning of the stop announcement, I grabbed my belongings and stumbled off the bus into the dark. Luckily the driver was more aware of our surroundings than I and he sent me back to my seat. “Next stop,” he said. 40 winks later we pulled into San Francisco, in the dark of night just under the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge. I stood on the sidewalk for a minute to gather my bearings, and began to walk in the direction of the home of my friend Matt Moldover.

The plan was to take a cab to a restaurant near his house and wait for the hour to become a bit more decent before ringing his doorbell. Instead I took the trolley car as the sun rose around me and, finding no restaurants in his hip neighborhood open before 7 am, I rang his door apologetically at about 6. He ushered me inside, showed me to my room, and I slept deeply until almost noon.

When I woke up, Matt gave me a brief tour of the Upper Haight neighborhood where he lives. We walked to a nearby brunch spot and caught up over delicious veggie egg scrambles. Since many years have passed and I’m fairly sure noone will read this far into this blog post, I’ll admit that I had a bit of a crush on Matt when we first met 7-ish years ago. He was just coming out of a tough relationship and I was still figuring out how human interactions work, and for whatever reason nothing ever happened between the two of us. In retrospect, I’m extremely glad because I don’t think I would have the nerve to ring on the doorbell of an ex-anything at 6 in the morning and I was really, deeply grateful for his friendship that morning.

The afternoon was fun. Matt is known professionally by his last name Moldover, and has built a really impressive career for himself as an electronic musician and builder of musical machinery. His latest invention is an electric guitar with built in signal processing on the front of it — basically it takes all of the effects that guitar players plug into foot pedals and puts them all of the face of the guitar. He let me play it. I felt like a total rockstar. Right now there is only one of them in the world, but hopefully they will be produced on a large scale someday so you can all see what I’m talking about.

The last gig of my California tour was that night at Hotel Utah in San Francisco. It was a co-bill with a local guy named KC Turner who I like a lot - we have met on several occasions through mutual friends and he books house concerts and promotes shows locally (in fact, he hosted G. Love last night which I think is awesome). We had a great time turning a divey little downtown bar with a balcony that looks like a boat suspended from the ceiling into an intimate listening room. 

DAY 12, Wednesday, September 11:

I’m pretty sure I did almost nothing on this day. Matt was busy preparing for a trip out of town, so we had breakfast together and then I retreated to my guest room to exercise and work on the computer and I think that’s all I did until evening when I ventured out to meet a friend for dinner. It was nice to give my body and mind a day off, a day to rest in one place, a moment to catch up.

DAY 13, Thursday, September 12:

My last full day in California! I met up with one of my favorite songwriters who also happens to be a close friend, John Elliott, for breakfast.  We wandered through the Upper Haight neighborhood browsing the various stationary shops for bric a brac. I bought a small drawing for my house in Austin that I really love (it’s a tongue-in-cheek illustration of a map called “Growing Up: A Landscape” and features such sites as “Camp Should’ve Kept My Mouth Shut” and “High School Isn’t Everything Road.” John and I laughed out loud the whole time we were reading it, so I decided it would make a good souvenir from my zany trip). We accompanied each other on mundane errands (he had to go to the post office, I to the bank) and then we said goodbye in the early afternoon, promising to try to meet up at a rest stop in New England when we’re both up there on tour later in the fall. I took myself on a walk around the neighborhood, browsed for some clothes and set off towards the only “tourist destination” in town that I really wanted to see: The Dahlia Garden.

My previous tour in California was around this time last year, and a friend took me to the Golden Gate Park where there is a special garden of Dahlia flowers. I was excited to learn that Matt’s house is within walking distance and I headed that way. It took a long time to get there, not because it was terribly far but because I was very easily distracted by the boutique shops and co-op grocery stores that littered my path. When I finally arrived, it was breathtaking: a long, oval, wrought-iron fenced in enclosure brimming with dahlia flowers at full bloom. I walked around the oval two, three times, taking photos and staring into the center of many of the flowers, trying to imprint their bright colors on brain. It was impossible to pick a favorite of the flowers, all I know is that that spot is one of my favorites on earth.

Even though I had walked all the way around the flowers several times, I wasn’t ready to leave so I drifted over towards a bench where some folks were playing music. I pulled a stack of notecards out of my bag, and began writing thank you cards to the people who had helped me along my crazy journey. Suddenly, an SUV pulled up to the curb and a short middle-aged woman with curly brown hair and massive energy bounded onto the sidewalk carrying a tall stack over silver aluminum trays. 

"OK guys," She said, "Mostly carbs today, but there are some hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Also some cupcakes, make sure you get a cupcake, they’re really good." 

The musicians nearby hopped off the bench, and the aluminum trays were spread out to uncover a large amount of food. Plastic utensils, paper plates and napkins appeared. The woman apologized for not being able to stay and visit longer, she was running late to meet a client, but she greeted several of the men by name and said she’d see them tomorrow.

As she drove away, the picture came into focus: the musicians playing near the bench were mostly homeless and hungry. I learned from the man nearest me on the bench that the woman who brought the food runs a catering company with her husband, and she comes by almost every day with the leftover food from the lunch events that they cater. 

What struck me most about the men was how, once the food arrived, all they wanted to do was share it. They offered it to every person who walked by, tourists, commuters, park employees. “Hey!” They would shout, “Want a cupcake? We have cupcakes! They’re really good!” One child excitedly accepted a cupcake, but for the most part people took wide steps in the opposite direction and quietly declined.

I stayed on the bench writing thank you notes. One of the men sat down next to me and asked if I was doing research, or maybe writing a dissertation about the homeless in the park. I laughed and showed him my cards. We talked about traveling, and he told me that several of them are in a band and that they go on tour every summer, up to a campsite about 30 miles north of the city where they camp out on the river every summer. Another man sitting next to me told me about his dad who was a professional saxophone player before immigrating to the US and how, even though the family was poor when he grew up, his father always made sure there was money for music lessons.

I wished I could have stayed longer, but I knew I had to make it back to Matt’s in time for my 6 pm pick up and I was running out of time. I said my goodbyes and walked back to the Haight as quickly as I could. 

photo IMG_3068_zps350f0724.jpg

photo IMG_3069_zps613cd8d7.jpg

photo IMG_3071_zpsccc4aab0.jpg

The final piece of my complicated California travel puzzle came together when Sajel and Krishna, friends of my mothers, came to pick me up at the end of their work day. I met them on the sidewalk with all of my luggage and they drove me to their apartment on the other side of town. We walked around their neighborhood and went to an Ethiopian restaurant they had been wanting to try for dinner. On the way back to their apartment we stopped at a fancy grocery store where we stocked up on red wine and dark chocolate, which we happily consumed on the couch while watching some reality TV shows they had stored up on the DVR (X Factor and Shark Tank…so scary! Watching shows like this, my PTVD - post traumatic voice disorder - flairs up and I get really anxious for the contestants. Luckily I had plenty of red wine and dark chocolate to medicate with…).

When 11 pm rolled around we piled back into the car and they dropped me off at the San Francisco airport for my second overnight travel experience of the week, this time on a red eye to Ohio.

In retrospect, the red wine might not have been the best idea, but it sure did help me sleep on the flights. The weekend’s travel with Ellis Paul, who I was opening for, was easy by comparison to my California odyssey. On Monday morning I found out from a friend at the Texas DMV that my license had been re-instated just in time for my flight home.

On and on I go!
Thanks for following along :-)
xo
~becca

THE AGONY! THE ECSTASY! THE AIRPORT!!!
(June 12, 2013)

I inexplicably missed my connecting flight to San Antonio. I was sitting at the correct gate, neither talking on the phone nor listening to headphones. I just missed it. Long day (week/month/year), I guess. So Delta put me on the standby list for the last flight of the day to Austin. I was 7th out of 12. As take off time neared, the 12 of us hovered, trying to keep a respectful distance from the desk while thrusting all of our energy in that direction. One by one, we were called up to take seats on the plane, until a final burst of passengers were admitted, including me and one person in line after me. As I shuffled onto the plane, a flight attendant said, “Here miss, you can take that seat,” and gestured towards an open seat in First Class. Then there was a little commotion; it seemed they admitted one person too many. I buckled in, ducked my head and tried to look invisible. Next to me, a dude bro in a polo shirt and cowboy boots talked loudly about how they are now “giving away” seats in first class. He suggested that the extra passengers should thumb wrestle for it. We chatted for a moment, and he seemed visibly disturbed that someone from the lower class should be allowed to have what he had paid extra for. He is at least 3 years younger than me. The flight took off with me still strapped in, and at this moment Dude Bro is sleeping soundly with his mouth open, dreaming of a feudal serfdom in the sky. I am sipping a cocktail out of a glass. Made of glass.

The agony! The ecstasy! THE AIRPORT!