February/March 2018: Tour Recap and a Big Time Life Update

Hello hello!

Somehow it’s nearly the end of March already, and I do apologize for not writing sooner. I’ve been home from tour for a few weeks now, but I’m only just beginning to regain my wits once more. (Only to probably have them dashed away again shortly, but more on that later. Who needs wits, anyways?) These days I’ve been watching a rather abundant amount of movies (okay here are my two immediate recommendations: Coco and Call Me By Your Name. Get ready to CRY.) and, perhaps consequently, making a lot of popcorn at home. (Recently I had a popcorn seasoning breakthrough: paprika & brown sugar, my friends. You won’t be sorry.) But enough about the present for now. We must talk about February, which means we must talk about the tour!

Maybe we all saw this coming, but who can never be sure. I sure wasn’t! I do my best, but sometimes I have a hard time adjusting to new things, and can be picky and whatnot. So I didn’t know if I’d take to tour life. But my friends, I come bearing well researched and thoroughly experimented tidings: I am absolutely smitten with being on the road! It was quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Exhilarating, fulfilling, hard, emotional, beautiful, funny, intense, exhausting, expansive. I met wonderful people every single day, and there’s something about the intense brevity of tour-spacetime that makes every interaction more lasting and special than I could imagine otherwise. When I think back on that month I follow a long glowing string of fondnesses, each one just as remarkable as the last. New friends, old friends, beautiful trees and sunsets and skyscapes and landscapes, and oh man, so many wonderful dogs and cats. My cup runneth over, to say the least. And getting a small taste of what it feels like to live in so many different parts of the country was illuminating in a way I can’t fully verbalize. All of us have a more minimized conception of the world than we’d like to believe, you know? No matter who you are or how much you’ve seen or done, there’s always room to expand. And nothing more effectively rids us of our bubbles and our blindnesses than travelling. Seeing (and physically driving to!) so many new places and meeting so many new people gave me such a rich and varied and reverent perspective of this huge place I call home, which I think now more than ever is paramount to maintain.  

And to have MUSIC be the THING propelling us from place to place — ah! I could weep. I’m so grateful. I’d never been to a lot of the places we stopped on the road, nevermind that I’d never played music in them. But somehow, folks always came out, and we got to share these songs with new people every night. (You included, perhaps! It was really so lovely to meet you.) Every show was beautiful in its own special way, and I really can’t wait to get back out there again. But to stave off the tour addiction, I’ll settle from some good ol’ nostalgia and show you a couple pictures from our journey.

 ya girl & some barrels at Hardywood Brewery in Richmond, VA. Photo by Avery Ballotta

ya girl & some barrels at Hardywood Brewery in Richmond, VA. Photo by Avery Ballotta

 at The Root Note in La Crosse, WI. Photo by Taylor Donskey.

at The Root Note in La Crosse, WI. Photo by Taylor Donskey.

 at The Oxbow Hotel in Eau Claire, WI. Photo by Luong Huynh.

at The Oxbow Hotel in Eau Claire, WI. Photo by Luong Huynh.

 at The Red Room in Chicago, IL. Photo by Tom Hack

at The Red Room in Chicago, IL. Photo by Tom Hack

 A (by no means comprehensive) collection of some of the furry (& finny) friends we met on the road. 

A (by no means comprehensive) collection of some of the furry (& finny) friends we met on the road. 

Avery (my bandmate/partner/copilot extraordinaire) and I spent a lot of time in the car, which of course means a lot of time listening to stuff. In heavy rotation was this amazing record by Juana Molina; I discovered her from an amazing article in She Shreds Magazine, the cover of which she graced this past month in accompaniment. (She Shreds is a really fabulous publication that champions women guitar & bass players, and I’d highly recommend checking it out.) You know that feeling of reading/hearing someone’s words and finding that they’re speaking fluently and definitively to points that you feel so strongly in your heart, but that you’ve never had the capacity to verbalize so perfectly? That’s how I felt reading this interview with Juana Molina — she effortlessly embodies so much that I aspire to in my art, so I knew right away that I’d love her music. She rules, and she has the quality I most admire in musicians: no ego. (Maybe I’ll throw my ego manifesto in a letter one day. Maybe.) Also, her instagram account is simply delightful, if you too indulge in the dystopian hellscape that is instagram. (I’m kidding. kind of.)

Another star player in our car soundtrack was a podcast so well done and entertaining I could not recommend quickly or highly enough. Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music in the Twentieth Century, hosted by Tyler Mahan Coe. Run don’t walk, my friends. The stories presented here are so thoughtful and well researched that regardless of your interest in the music, it’s worth a listen. But if you’re a fan of country like me, it’s even sweeter. And! Each episode has a blog post in accompaniment, with a full transcript and links for all the music he references. So thorough! So great! 

Well, that’s the tour update. These days, I’m buzzing about a bit frantically tending to some general loose ends of life, because. . . I’m moving out of Boston at the end of March. (!!!!!!) It was a rather sudden decision, and I’m still feeling quite emotional about it, but I’ve lived in Boston for a little over five and a half years, and I think a change will be good. As for where I’m going, who knows! I caught the travel bug in a big way while being on tour. I’m spending the month of April with my family in Michigan, where I’ll be hangin with them and writing a lot of music and hopefully tackling some projects that have been burning in my craft queue. But more on that in the next letter I’m sure.

I do have some shows in the east in May though, so I suppose I’ll be back before you know it. Some highlights: on May 5 I’ll be back in Burlington, VT at Light Club Lamp Shop with Lyle Brewer! I fell quite madly in love with Burlington when we were there on tour, so I really can’t wait to be back. And I’m so honored to be sharing the night with Lyle; he’s a phenomenal musician and it’ll be a great show! And to keep the great show streak alive, I’m also playing with my friends Honeysuckle (aka THE BEST BAND IN THE WORLD, have you heard their most recent record yet??) at The Burren in Somerville on May 11. I’m a lucky gal to get to play with all these wonderful people!

Well I should get going pretty soon — lots to do before I skip town, not the least of which is getting everything ready for my show next week. Back at my favorite haunt, Club Passim, with my gal pal Ellie Buckland. (Another great show! Will the joyful pairings never cease? I hope not!) I’m looking forward to this one for many reasons, but especially because I finally get to live my friggin dream of having my backing band be a STRING QUARTET. I got to do it on the record, of course, but never live. Until now!

Before I go though, can I give a quick shoutout to the Somerville Public Library, where I’ve written most of this letter? And all libraries in general? I don’t have to get into my “reclaiming public space” manifesto right here and right now (what can I say, I’m a manifesto kind of gal), but damn. Libraries are powerful. Anyone of any level of opportunity can come here and access a GLORIOUS WEALTH of information. At the Somerville Library, for instance, besides your typical book/movie/internet fare, you can rent out a friggin BIRDING KIT or a TELESCOPE or a pass to one of Boston’s RAD museums. How beautiful is that? Libraries so directly reflect the communities they serve; it’s our job to value and support and fight for them. Viva La Library!

Alright, anyways. To the string writing cave!

Love,

AB