Wednesday, July 31, 2013


About six months ago I quickly scribbled a bunch of thoughts I felt inspired to share on a piece of paper, then I folded it in half and stuck it behind a box for a time I was ready. I found it tonight, so I think it's time. It's probably going to be long.

They say that breaking up is hard to do... there is a wealth of information out there on how to deal with the end of a romantic relationship, divorce or a separation with a lover. But what about when something goes wrong in an important friendship? It's a topic that I haven't seen a lot of talk about. I am ready to talk about it.

A friend break-up can be just as traumatic as the unraveling of a romantic relationship... we are left with a lot of loose ends, and the end of a friendship can dramatically change the landscape of your life, particularly if you live far away from your family...

Monday, July 29, 2013


I've always wanted to sing this tune, but thought it was the predictable choice... but then I thought, whats wrong with predictable ? :) The late legendary John Denver wrote this song. My parents loved John Denver, therefore I love John Denver and his pure humble voice...  reminds me of being a kid. Peter Paul and Mary made it famous with their three part harmony, now I will attempt to sing it super simply from my living room. Everyone knows this song, everyone loves this song, feel free to Sing along! 

Oh, and This weekend Dave Ray took me to see John Mayer in Irvine... I'm a fan. I've been following John since "Inside wants out" and saw him perform at Mesa Amphitheater twelve years ago with my brother Tyler. From a glossy Room for Squares, to a poppy Heavier Things, to the bluesy John Mayer trio, to the perfect Continuum, to the transitional battle studies, to his California country Born and Raised and his upcoming Paradise Valley... John keeps evolving as an artist. And where ever he goes I will follow. Yeah I know he had his less than chivalrous moments, and has dated everyone from Simpson to Swift and Aniston to Perry... I don't give a whoop about any of that. (haven't said "give a whoop" since the 90's)But I do care about the music, the guitar playing and slaying, the soul, the dedication and persistence to artistry when not a lot of people seem to care about that anymore. 

Small sidenote: I gave birth to London while Born and Raised comforted my agonizing body and petrified mind. It will forever be the soundtrack of the biggest bestest day of our lives to date.

The show was nothing short of magical. The set was beautiful, the band was off the charts. There was a new humility about him, and he got pretty carried away in the music, his face was about to explode with happiness and he was so whitty. What can I say, the guy is talented. He was killing me softly, slaying my soul, blowing my mind, and melting my face off with his guitar.  I came home inspired, ready to write, ready to practice, ready to listen. 

Oh, one last super awesome thing! L.A. traffic was at it's gnarliest, It took us nearly three hours to get there, not so awesome. We missed Phillip Phillips who opened the show, also not awesome (that we missed him, not that he opened, that is so awesome). If only we could've pulled a chitty chitty bang bang over the 405. However as we were driving there, my manager brad was in the backseat, we were listening to the Mayer playlist I put together for the drive, we got to talking about who produced Born and Raised, he googled it and found out it was Don Was... the same Don Was that produced Carly Simon, and Bonnie Raitt and Dylan, and the Stones. I said to Brad "I need him to produce my next record"... he laughed "yeah". We arrived, and we could hear "paper doll" from the parking lot. It was the first song of the set. We ran to will call and got our tickets and then bolted through the pavillion to get to our seats, but I decided to quickly stop at the merch booth and pick up my new favorite "queen of california" t-shirt. I paid and ran with my JM Tee in hand... and just yards away from the ticket usher, we saw this guy with dreads and a hat and cool sun glasses. Brad said "I think that is Don Was"... 
He said, lets go talk to him, so we walked over... I was too nervous to approach him and so Brad said "are you Don" and it was :) I told him that he was awesome, we talked about Carly Simon, he seemed to know that I sing, he was beyond nice. I told him "I would love you to make my next record" like a big nerd. I asked him if he would take a picture with me. He did. True story. Later he went up on stage and played with John. Don Was is awesome.

Lastly, totally and completely unrelated... I put up a baby gate tutorial over on The Girls with Glasses blog. If you have a wild monkey adventure baby that loves to climb to the top of your hardwood stairs, like I do, then you need this gate. 

Monday, July 15, 2013


You will notice a cute Londy Loo, waddling around the background in this one. Motherhood and Music must exist in the same room, as I always hoped it would, and I'm grateful that it does :) You will also noticed I said "forget" twice in the bridge, I mean't "regret" the second time. (important lyric distinction)

If you were to ask most singers, they would tell ya that they prefer to sing ballads. Why? 

Probably because they contain more emotion, and the slower pace makes it easier to give it the inflection and feeling it needs to really find it's soul and connect with the lyric. In a way, it's easier-ish, kind of. An up tempo tune with the wrong arrangement was usually the kiss of death on American Idol. That is why everyone is singing slow songs, if you were wondering:) It is deceptively hard to perform fast songs and pull it off.  I mean don't get me wrong, when it comes to listening to records, I prefer something peppy, something with a solid beat that makes me wanna dance and let my hair down. Yes I do love to rock. And if I am in the studio, putting together an upbeat track is the greatest! But making it happen live, different story. Be it fast or slow, singing really well while also connecting really well while also playing an instrument really well, and picking or writing a song really well... is well, really quite tricky! I just keep working at it... someday I might get "there"!

As I mentioned last week, I also wrote this song for Banner 4th of July. The inspiration was fully present in writing this one. It is definitely my favorite song of the two, and certainly my favorite scene in the movie with Christian Campbell. I am posting half of the scene below that mjsbigblog put up on Youtube, (thanks MJBB!). This was the song that she had written just before the band split. She was feeling the need to "go find her way all on her own". But it's never really that easy, leaving the familiar, the family, the place you've always known, and it almost always hurts the ones you leave behind, and that is the hardest part. We all go through this at some point in our lives whether it's a place, a relationship or even a job, sometimes you got to fly fly fly away... and yet those places and people and things will always be a part of who you are. 

At this point in the story, years have passed, feelings are hurt, a brother and sister damaged by the distance and a misunderstood past. This song is the healer. As it always does, the music is what says what she has never been able to say, and it speaks to him what he's never been able to hear. It transcends who's wrong and who's right... it's the language that the heart can understand.

We usually never intend on hurting the ones we love, and yet so often we do... it's a bummer. Life is complicated, and so much get's lost in misunderstanding. How do we make it right? Time? Saying a sincere I'm sorry? Letting go of pride, failed expectations? Sometimes we just let it be. 

In this case, Desiree Banner makes it right with a song. And in many of my own cases, I do too... or at least, I try.

PS- Thank you and happy birthday to the lovely miss Priscilla Chang for capturing this video for me, and for helping me get my JAMM back!

PSS- Oh and yes, FLY FLY FLY is available on itunes! yay!

Monday, July 8, 2013


Well my friends, it's been a few Mondays since I last posted my lil' homemade iphone music videos. You know I intended on it, but...

Too much, not worth the explanation, but the good news is I'm back in business with JAMM... and yes I am just going to shorten it to JAMM because Just Another Music Monday just takes too long to type:)

Apparently I have this reputation for being... long winded, chatty, descriptive, redundant and possibly over communicative. Now, I'm not saying that I am going to go drastically changin', cause I like the details, however I am going to attempt to say more by saying less. I know we don't have time to scroll down through my novelish length posts all the live long day. I mean, who reads these days? (ha!). So If there is a way to write with heartfelt efficiency, and for you to read and connect with heartfelt efficiency then that would be super duper for all of us. 

Back to JAMM... I've been a'waitin' (in the words of Buddy Holly, needless side note? totally needful in my book, this less is more thing is gonna be tricky) to play you this song that I wrote back in March just after I got the call to play the roll of Desiree Banner, however I had to wait till the movie aired (Btw, a big thanks to all of you that tuned into the Hallmark Channel to watch Banner 4th of July. Also a necessary sidenote. I want to say more, resisting). Any who, I read the script before I was officially casted, thought it was cute,  hoped I would get the part. Weeks later I had a conference call with the director, producer, writer and EP of the movie, and they informed me that they would like me to write a few original tunes that I would also sing. With great excitement they explained that I need to write "the Banner Project's big hit" they would really love something "kinda mumford & sons-ish meet's Phillip Phillips Home and a little bit Lumineersy". I had to chuckle, if I knew how to write songs like that I'd probably be wearin' a rolex and drivin' a Rolls, but let's be honest, I'm wearin' a timex and driving a Honda (which is honestly my preference) By my own personal standards, I'm successful, but not that successful! :) Sarcasm aside, I really wanted to take on the challenge, and the reference was quite helpful, so I told them, YES! I will do it! Oh, and I supposed that meant I got the part? :)

When it comes to writing songs, I rarely sit down with such a specific concept, or think "write a song that sounds like this". So I felt like maybe this wasn't something I would be able to pull off. Generally I feel at the mercy of whatever song wants to present itself to me. People always ask me "how do you write a song", and I always give a confusing long non-answer, cause I really don't know. Obviously I write lyrics, and pair them to a melody that sings over an arrangement of chords, obvious I know, but how? The songs write themselves, I just try to make myself available when they are ready. Cause believe me, I try to write songs all the time, and a lot of times it is a lot of staring at a blank sheet of paper. I put in the time, I write down stuff, I play a lot of stuff, and a lot of that stuff is, pretty much crap. However, I do wonder if all that stuff is just necessary priming for the real thing. The work precedes the inspiration? Like I said, I really don't know. Honestly, every time I finish a song, I wonder "will I ever be able to do that again?". Writing a really good song sort of feels like winning the Lotto. It feels lucky... that being said,  I've never played the Lotto, so I definitely have never won the lotto... lame comparison?! 

Ah! Trying to make this short(er), so I wrote this song, I was very surprised. The whole "write a song that sounds like this" thing totally worked! And no it doesn't sound like M&S or PP, but it was my best original interpretation that felt right for this story.  Best of all, they were happy, and I was happy. And let me tell you, I love acting, it is really interesting and challenging and fun, and I don't do it very often for complicated reasons, but being able to write the songs as a songwriter, and then sing them in the movie as an actress was really really rewarding. In the final scene of the movie, we (the banner project, me and my bros. Mitchell and Johnny) sing this song to our hometown. It was about 30 degrees that "4th of July" night and it was raining, you could see our breath, and we literally sang sun up sun down, from sun down to sun up. We pulled an all nighter, along with a couple hundred of the most enthusiastic group of extras I've ever seen. Seriously the  citizens of North Bay Ontario deserved an academy award for their level of commitment to being the most believably energetic, excited crowd I've ever seen in all my time on stage. Granted they were "acting" but they sang along to every word, and danced and shouted so joyfully, to every single take. It was pretend, but it was real. It was kind of amazing. 

So here it is, this is how every song begins, just a guitar (or piano) and a voice...

Oh, If you like it, you can find it over on the iTunes. Up next Monday... Fly Fly Fly, the other song I wrote for the movie. 

*A shout out to Christian Campbell (who plays Mitch) for singing a great vocal on this track. And one more shout out to Kevin "Kedge" Haaland for producing and playing a lot of instruments on this record, so great.