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Running Down A Dream: February 2009

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Running Down A Dream

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Running Down A Dream: February 2009

Running Down A Dream

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hendrix College

We left from Nashville this morning to head out to Conway, Arkansas. I've been here before!!! Back when "If I Run To You Now" was getting airplay, I did a little radio tour with a bunch of stops in Arkansas. I realized during the show tonight (and shared with the students) that Arkansas was on of the states that had the most stations playing my song. :) So yeah, I love Arkansas.

We got there and I was having trouble helping James look for the building we were supposed to find because I was so caught up in how beautiful their campus was. It was exactly the kind of campus I always pictured in my head of "college". It looked so inviting. It's funny though. I had always envisioned a big "Campus" and then I ended up going to a school in the middle of Boston that had no campus.... just random buildings on the street. :) But who am I kidding? I loved that, too!

This was another school where the students were there and ready to help from the moment we pulled in. They were all lifting and helping us get all of our gear out of the car. This is the social committee - everyone who helped bring us to Hendrix, put on the show, and took great care of us!

This is Lydia and John. They were our main contacts for the evening. They had one of the best intro's for us EVER. I'm not even sure what all they said, :) but they had everyone laughing before we went out on stage. What a great way to get a show started!

You would have thought this crowd was in a packed arena. They were so energetic and excited from the first note. I could see these girls in the front row singing along to every word of "Whatever It Takes". I LOVE that. :)

After we took our picture, they were telling me how they go to the "VFW" all the time and sing "Fancy" in Karaoke. The "V" as they referred to it :) is the only place in town to have a drink! How great is that? I would love to visit their VFW. The ones I have gone to are more of a "Taco Night" establishment. Not beer and karaoke! Don't get me wrong.... those are some of the best tacos I have ever had... but come on... they call it the "V".

And these girls all jumped up from their seats at the beginning of the show, came down front, and danced the WHOLE time. It was the best. That was my favorite (shhhh.... don't tell).

Happy Birthday Jake!!! Jake was at NACA and he was one of the guys responsible for bringing us to Hendrix! He said "I never thought I would ever hear 'Fancy' live.... EVER" So I am REALLY glad I did "Fancy" tonight. :) Apparently it isn't only MY favorite song! This crowd went NUTS for it. And ummm.... Miguel helps out with his freakishly face-melting solo at the end...

FIDDLE PLAYERS!!!! Both of these guys play the fiddle. This is Patrick on the left and Louis on the right. Louis actually went to Mark O'Connor's fiddle camp last summer. I have always wanted to do that. I'm jealous!!! And Patrick is in High school. I would have never known. I just thought he was in college. But he is visiting Hendrix to see if he wants to go to school there.
These guys also informed me that there is a guy in the top 12 of American Idol from Conway, Arkansas! I had no idea. I haven't seen ANY Idols this year... well other than a couple of auditions.... we're always driving when it is on. But I thought that was cool. :) They were really proud.

She was also just visiting from high school. And she came to MY show!! :)

I love what I do so much. And I keep being surprised and excited by each show. That is what is so great about live shows. Even on nights when we do the exact same set, it is NEVER the same. Different audiences bring different things out of us. And when an audience is as energetic as the one tonight - it just makes our job so easy. It definitely isn't about the size of a crowd - it's about the "might" if you will. :)

Topeka - here we come!!

Peace, Love, Fiddle, and goodnight from Arkansas!

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Peace, Love, Fiddle, and Bre Strong!

Good News!!!

I just found out that I have been nominated for APCA's "Female Solo Artist of the Year"!!! WOW!!!! I am so excited!!!
First, Campus Activities Magazine and now APCA, too! (APCA stands for Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities)
I sure was excited about going to college my whole life - especially when I was frustrated with the artistic limitations of my high school. Colleges seem to be the "gift that keeps on giving" in my life though!!! My personal experience at Berklee was more than I ever hoped for. And now, I spend so much of my time getting to play at the greatest schools in the country. It's great - it's all the fun parts of college - no homework... I just show up for the party! :)

Today was a good day for my soul. I spent the first half of the day with my best friend, Sarah Valley. Sarah and I met on our first day of orientation at the Opryland Kid's Club. Her mom was giving birth to her youngest brother that day - so we always celebrate our "friendship anniversary" on Nathan's birthday. :) Been almost 17 years now!!!! Crazy!!! We've spent so much of our lives performing together, singing, dancing, going to concerts.... SO many good times. :) I LOVE that girl.

And tonight I surprised my sister's girls and went to have dinner with them. All I remember doing all night was LAUGHING. We were telling our favorite stories of the girls. My sister, Stephanie, has 3 girls, Bailey, Shelby, and Ansley. One of my favorites of Shelby: we went to see "Beauty and the Beast" at the IMAX and when it was over, she said REALLY loud so everyone could hear "Mommy. Rewind it!!!"

We went to have ice cream at the Marble Slab, and the girls all bought me a dress for my birthday since I won't be home. We had so much fun!!!

When we got home, Ansley was watching The Opryland Kid's Club Video. That thing has been in heavy rotation in our family for years!!! She was so sweet watching it - she kept saying "Look! Natalie! You're on tv! WATCH WATCH!" :)

And then Shelby read me her favorite book of all time. It is so silly and adorable. "The Dumb Bunnies' Easter":

Look at that cute ring Bailey helped me pick out!!! :) I am SUPER excited about it.

So yeah. Good day. It's such a blessing to be surrounded with such supportive and loving friends and family. I am so thankful every day for what I have. James and I are both so blessed, and especially now that our two families are joined. We don't get to see ANY of them as much as we'd like, but I'm sure ANYONE who is reading this could say that about their own friends and family. It's not about being on the road.... or living far apart.... or even living in the same town. One of my favorite quotes/thoughts is from James' Dad. He says "Two people can be thousands of miles apart and be closer than 2 people who live in the same house."
It is SO true.

Before I close up shop for the night, I want to leave you with one more thing. I have to tell you about my friend Bre. She is one of the stronget and most beautiful women I know. A few months ago, I got an ecstatic phone call from Bre. She was sharing with me that she is pregnant. Lots of hollerin, clapping, and grinning so hard my cheeks were hurting ensued after she told me the news. Well, a few weeks later she called back with a much more serious tone. She had found out that she had breast cancer and would need Chemotherapy. I had NO IDEA it was safe to have chemo while being pregnant. But let me tell you.... Bre is a fighter, and if there is ANYONE in this world who can get through this, it is her. I tell you all of this because I think she is an inspiration. She is as radiant as I have ever seen her, yet I know she is going through one of the toughest stages of life. I only hope I can face all of life's challenges with her spirit. She reminds me of my Granny who kicked Breast Cancer's butt at the age of 86!!! Who does that?!?! Granny. She never flinched. And that is exactly how Bre is. Breast Cancer? Preggers? Bring it on!!!

This is Bre "getting one more laugh in before ALL her hair fell out" Yeah Mo-hawks!!!

And the day it all fell out. How beautiful is she?!?

A friend has set up a website for her and they are selling "Bre Strong" bracelets and t-shirts to help raise money for the astronomical medical costs. I can't WAIT to get mine!!! We are leaving so early tomorrow for Arkansas that I won't be able to pick mine up until we come back in a month. But I thought I would share in case anyone is interested!!! I know we have all been directly or indirectly affected by cancer of some kind. Whether it is friends, family, ourselves, co-workers. And something so simple - a $5 purchase of a bracelet will go a LONG way to help Bre and her sweet baby and her husband make it through this tough time in their lives.

Peace, Love, Fiddle, and Bre Strong!!!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

From JJ's BBQ to Africa

Something about a giant baked potato with the best pulled pork BBQ I know of just makes the world make sense to me. I LOVE the Pulled Pork Potatoes from JJ's in Columbia. And ummm.... most anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with their fruit tea as well. I even have the recipe and use it frequently at Thanksgiving, Christmas... you know... days when JJ's isn't open. :)-

After loading up on JJ's today, Jessie finally got to catch me up on the videos I had yet to see from The Raining Season's trip to Sierra Leone. It amazing what perspective does. It's heartbreaking, inspiring, uplifting, and overwhelming all at the same time to watch the footage from their trip. These children and these people have been left with so little. Their country is in ruin after a brutal civil war. Children who are suffering can't get the medical attention they need because there's always someone who is worse off. It is hard to watch. But it is beautiful to see something being done.

I am so inspired by the work the Raining Season is doing. And they are helping people brick by brick, drop by drop, and grain by grain. The people of Sierra Leone are so grateful. Seeing an entire people that know nothing but poverty, who are thankful for a bowl of rice each day, and seem so happy.... It's beautiful.

After talking and watching the footage with Jessie, I was heading back to my apartment with a quick pit stop for my sister. I went to her best friend's house to pick something up for her. Now, Stephanie's best friend Suzanne. Wow. I know her first 2 children. But I hadn't really gotten to spend time with or meet the rest of her kids. There have been 4 additions since the last time I saw her!!! How crazy is that? I had the best time talking with and getting to actually spend time with her children. Children just fill my heart. They LOVED Cinnamon and let me bring her in. They were having a ball chasing her around the house! (Not sure how Cinnamon felt, but she's pretty good at holding her own. With 7 nieces and nephews... she's gotten pretty used to it!)

This is Caleb, Annabelle, Michael, MillerAnne, Joshua, Grace, and Mallory (Mallory is "technically" a neighbor, but let's face it - she's family!)

Suzanne is such a beautiful person. She is actually going to Uganda very soon. And her 2 oldest children who are around 10 and 12 are going with her. I have just spent the last 30 minutes reading and looking at the blogs of Amazima Ministries. Amazima is what inspired Suzanne to make her trip to Africa.
Katie is a 21 year old girl who first went to Uganda at 18. She fell in love with the people, and her heart was broken as she saw so may children just sitting idly on the side of the road. She started this foundation which has grown tremendously over the last few years. Her stories are so moving. And I encourage everyone to at least read some of her stories. It will impact your day in a beautiful way.

I spent part of my night catching up on some accounting, and I found a movie about Coco Chanel which sounded like a good working/listening movie. Boy was I wrong!!! I was having trouble focusing on my work because she was such a captivating woman.

At one point in the movie, they are discussing how frustrating it is that men seem to have so many advantages (this is the early 1900's) Her friend says,"That's just the way the world is. Not like you can change the world." Coco replied with "Why not?"


Here's to whatever your light is in the world - music, fashion, mission work, cooking....

Peace, Love, Fiddle, and doing what we can to change the world

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Yes, I am very aware that Valentine's Day was over a week ago... but today was the day James and I celebrated.... we drove 14 hours on actual Valentine's Day.... we probably ate at Subway... Wait. Subway has GREAT cookies. ok. Nevermind. I have NO grounds to be knocking Subway as an appropriate "Valentine's Day" destination. Maybe not someone's typical "first choice" when making reservations... but hey! Heat those cookies up in the microwave and it's a special occasion to me!

So I woke up to a slew of phone calls and messages... pretty normal when I sleep in :) But I got everything all squared away and even had time to get my hair appointments in!!! Y'all. I feel 10 pounds lighter!!! It has been so long since I got my hair cut. And though I have made it work... it will be SOOOO much easier to fix now. At least the PA State Troopers won't make me weigh in at the weight stations anymore ;)

So I was letting my highlights dry, and I had to do a bit of multi-tasking. I had an interview with Kearney, Nebraska's Daily newspaper (for our show there March 5 at Cunnighams). I had it all planned - I knew I would just be sitting there in the dryer when I needed to be doing the interview - and it actually couldn't have worked out more perfectly. It was so funny though. I was sitting in the hair salon, looking *oh so lovely* with tons of foil in my hair, doing an interview for an upcoming show. I felt so Hollywood! :) Hmmm... not sure how I feel about "feeling Hollywood"... but it's always fun to feel like one of the cool kids every once in a while. :)

I have to say, I have had so much fun with interviews lately. The interviewers have all been asking questions I have never been asked before. They are really keeping me on my toes and making me think! Today, I was talking to Mr. Rick Brown - who just seemed like the coolest guy, and we had been talking about my writing process, the writing of my first record, how it has changed since then, where my songs come from... you get the gist. Then he asked "Do you consider yourself more of a writer or a performer?"

No one has ever asked me that before!

The only way I knew how to answer was to say, "Well, if you told me I could only do one or the other for the rest of my life... I would have to choose performing. I don't know what I would do without it. But I surely can't imagine life without writing."
That one really makes me think! I stick by my answer 100%, but wow. Can't imagine life without EITHER ONE.

I remember watching the John Mayer/Brad Paisley Crossroads and they were asked (or maybe asking each other... don't recall) "If you had to choose between singing or playing guitar for the rest of your life - which would you choose?" They BOTH said playing guitar! I surely wouldn't want to have to choose between singing and playing the fiddle. They have both been such a part of my life since... well... since I can remember. But I think my heart would be absolutely broken if I could never sing again.

So back to Valentine's Day:
After getting my hair "did" all pretty.... THANK YOU DEBBIE!!! James surprised me with dinner reservations at the MELTING POT!!!
He had surprised me all day with chocolates left outside my door. :) Did y'all know they make DARK CHOCOLATE M&M's!?!?!? WOW. And if you have never been to the Melting Pot... someday you have to go! It's not something we can do often. That is for sure. But it is such a fun experience! You need at least a couple of hours.... Fondue takes a while! Plus, you get SOOO much food. But y'all. Dessert. Heavenly. I was SOOO full by the time we made it to desert that I was having a hard time eating it all. Who am I kidding? I was having a hard time during the main entree.

This was my Everest: (Yes. I took pictures)

And we decided on the Dark Chocolate/White Chocolate Fondue. They totally make it into a Yin Yang!

I could barely walk to the car. It's so funny. I ALWAYS take home left overs. I can't eat a lot at once - I always eat lots of small meals. But you can't take fondue home! It's just not the same. I didn't even eat THAT much.... It's just that I get full so quickly. But it was worth the "waddling" to the car. We don't EVER splurge like that. So yeah. Good day. :) And Good night!

Peace, Love, Fiddle, and Fondue,


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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Granny Stole an Apple

Let me first say "Thank You" to anyone reading this right now. If you are, then you have personally enabled me to have a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch! ( I am pausing after every sentence or two to take a bite).
James and I took the trailer to Columbia last night when we got home.... spent most of the day lounging (ahhh!!! IT WAS SOOO GOOD) hold on....*bite*....
went to see Granny, cleaned out the Suburban (didn't start that task until 11pm... We are so weird)
I lied.... *2 bites*...
And THEN we decided to drive back to Nashville. Well, he got me all excited when he mentioned he was going to go buy milk so we'd have some for cereal (About the only thing good in our pantry at the moment). But when I got home, I got all busy doing stuff... unpacking... cleaning... getting ready for bed...
I got all the way into bed, and then I realized "I HAVEN'T WRITTEN MY BLOG!!!"
*bite* MAN this stuff is good.
So I figured... well, hey! If I have to get back up, then I HAVE to go eat that bowl of CTC I had been thinking about, right? I mean, I was all sleepy.... so I need the energy. Right? (The correct response is YES no matter what the correct "answer" is)
*bite* or 2....

So back to the whole "going to see Granny" part of the day. My Granny is so awesome. I love her so much. And you would NEVER know she is 98 to look at her. She talks about how she is "losing her mind" yet she can recount story after story with fascinating and elegant detail. She told us a few stories today that I had never heard before!

One was about the only time she ever stole.

This is amazing, so I have to share.

When my Granny was 10 years old (which was 1920), her mother could not afford to take care of her. At that time there were orphanages set up for just that purpose. You didn't have to be what we normally think of as an "orphan"... if your parents couldn't afford to take care of you, churches and organizations had orphanages set up to help out. I hadn't heard her talk about the orphanage until a few years ago, but now she talks very openly about it. She always prefaces any story about the orphanage with how grateful she was to have that place to go to. It impacted her life in a HUGE way, and she loved being there because she knew it was the best thing for everyone. She and her younger sister (who I never got to know) both went there.

The orphanage was the first place she had ever seen an indoor toilet. And today she said "It had hot water in the faucet ALL day and night, and there was a basin JUST for washing your hands" (Just to put things in perspective).
She stayed there for 5 years and each year she alternated jobs.

Now for the story:
One year she waited on the "Lady's Table" as part of her daily task. She had to go into the storage closet for some reason and there were HUGE bags of apples and potatoes in the closet. She was hungry, so she took an apple and tied it up in her bloomers. When she finally retired for the evening, she went to her bedroom, took out the apple and had every intention of eating it.

But she couldn't.

The guilt of stealing overwhelmed her, and she could NOT bring herself to eat that apple.

The next day, she took the apple back to the storage room and put it back in the bag. She assured me that even though it had been in her bloomers, they cut and peeled and cooked the apples.... so it was fine :)

The funny thing is, I can't imagine her doing it in the first place. But the way it affected her? Makes SO much sense. I think it says a LOT about her character. And she did a wonderful job of instilling that kind of integrity into Mamma. Mamma is the exact same way.

It reminds me of a story that is probably James' favorite "Little Natalie" story. When I was 11, I went to an acting camp in NY. We were not allowed to talk to our parents the entire week of the camp, nor were we allowed any sweets. (Not sure what all that had to do with acting.... this was an extremely regimented and disciplined acting camp. Peter Sklar's Boot Camp Acting Workshop for Kids... I guess...)
*last bite of CTC*
Our parents did have our address, though and could send us letters in the mail. That was the only contact we could have with them.
So one day, I get a letter from my parents. I was laying in my bunk reading it. And after reading the main letter, there was this one envelope marked "FOR NATALIE'S EYES ONLY" in my Daddy's handwriting. I opened up the envelope... and there were 3 Werther's Originals Candies inside this envelope. Butterflies entered my stomach. This wave of panic overcame me.
We were NOT supposed to have ANY sugar. I had signed a 50 page contract (we had to sign EACH page - 1 parent AND me) that said I would strictly adhere to the rules. I took this stuff seriously, y'all. I just KNEW if I ate those candies, something bad would happen to me. I felt SOOOO guilty.
I asked my favorite counselor to come over to my bed. I whispered to her "My dad sent me these in a secret envelope and I don't know what to do with them". She gave me this look like "Oh no." And said "Sweetie, I can't let you have these. Hand them over" For some reason I felt like I was in even MORE trouble. There wasn't any, "Thanks for telling me. Or Thanks for being honest" Just "HAND THEM OVER". Funny thing is... she probably ate them. She was probably thinking "This poor girl... takes this so seriously, but SCORE! They are MINE now." Hehe :) That's what I am imagining right now anyway.
But I felt good about not eating them and keeping my word, nonetheless. So I guess Granny has passed down that overwhelming sense of guilt to me, too.

*drinking the milk now* mmm... so sugary!

Other than the one story, that acting camp was SO much fun. We had the opportunity to perform in front of all these agents in a beautiful off-broadway theater in NYC. It was my first time to NYC. It had actually been my first time on a plane and I had to go by myself - at 11!!!! I can't believe that looking back. But I had no fear. I just wanted to perform. It didn't matter what it took to get me there, I was going to NY!!!!

I remember getting a phone call at home and being invited by an agent to come to NYC after that. I wanted to go. But they were asking us to be there for 6 months. I had a great job at Opryland, and the thought of not getting to do Kid's Club again for something that may or may not pan out... well.... we decided to stay at home. :)
It's funny to talk about some of this stuff. I had a relatively normal childhood. But instead of sports or band... I worked a Opryland or played conventions around the country... or opened for old school country acts...
I guess not a whole lot has changed, huh?

Peace, Love, Fiddle

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Awesome Video from Cameron University

I have something I want to share with everyone. :)

I want to say a HUGE thank you to Ryan Faucett for posting this video!!! It made my day!

Peace, Love, Fiddle,

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

University of Findlay

I didn't turn the light out until 6am last night (or this morning? ummm... whatever....) I was falling asleep trying to proof read my blog... I felt like I was back in high school studying for some crazy test... :)

Needless to say, we slept in as long as we could. We were only 3.5 hrs away from Findlay, so we were able to get a late check out. We were all dragging a little bit getting ready this morning and no one bothered to open the curtains in our room... I remember us all laughing and talking on the elevator as we were heading down to check out. As we turned the corner into the lobby... BAM!! Blizzard. The room fell silent. Now, we were leaving with 2 extra hours... but with snow we were gonna need every bit of those 2 hours! It was a crazy drive. I've never seen this before: We would drive for a while and the snow would be thick enough it would make it hard to see.... then, all of a sudden, we'd drive out of it and it was pouring rain.... then we'd drive right back into snow. Did that quite a few times! SO strange.

Needless to say, we were VERY happy to get there. And the icing on the cake?? There were tons of students waiting on us when we arrived. I don't talk about this often, but this school sets a GREAT example. The students there were so helpful we barely had to unload. James and Joe would take stuff out of the trailer, lift it onto the platform, and then the students would take it inside faster than we could unpack it.

I can't tell you what a big difference that makes for us. We load and unload that trailer EVERY DAY. So to have any help is a big deal... And when you get a LOT of help, it just makes everything so much nicer.

We don't expect it, nor is it necessary, but it is VERY MUCH appreciated.

These students were really on their game. They did tons of promotion and had fliers up all over school for the show. They made sure our videos were played on the school's tv station and they even took the time to decorate our Green Room with "Welcome" and "Good Luck" messages. We even had a "Break a leg (not literally)" sign... I love it!!

Campus Programming Board

Hootie = "The Thinker" aka Dobie Gillis

Sharinda, the lady who brought us here, thought that James looks just like Ben Roethlisberger :) Ben grew up in Findlay and she said that James looks and acts so much like him!!! How funny is that? She said when he had his hat on especially - he was just like "Big Ben" :)

My husband: Quarterback by day.      Drummer by night.

We were playing in the Winebrenner Theological Seminary which was a really beautiful auditorium. We played 2, 1 hour sets, so it was another show where I really had time to have great dialogue with the audience. I really love that...

This guy. Wow. One of my favorite people ever and I just met him tonight. From the first note, he was SOOO into it. He was whoopin and hollerin and giving us so much love the WHOLE show. He had such kind words for us at the end of the night. Such a warm, crazy, fun person. I love all the people we get to meet doing this!

I think my favorite part was when we got to the chorus of "Purple Rain" and you just saw the light bulb come on. "PURPLE RAIN, BABY!!!!"

Students from 'round the world!! I was SO excited they came, and I admire anyone who is brave enough to go to a country where they don't speak the primary language fluently. I can't imagine - ESPECIALLY since I don't speak ANY other languages.
During intermission, I was told they had come in towards the end of the first set and started asking what kind of music it was... Someone told them that it was "country music". One of the kids said, "Oh. I like her music and her country." How awesome is that!!?? Natalie Stovall: bringing people together. ;)

Then came the part of the evening that I will affectionately refer to as: "Natalie is an idiot" time...

Let me disclaimer this first by saying: I was told these foreign exchange students didn't speak English fluently.

When they came up to talk to me after the show one of the guys asked "Picture?" and I said OF COURSE! And after we took the picture, I looked at the girl next to him and said fairly deliberately "Are you on facebook?" Hoping she would understand... The girl replied very casually "Oh yeah, I'm on facebook!" Making it quite apparent that she spoke English rather fluently...

Sooo yeah, I felt about 2 inches tall. I sure hope she didn't take offense, I felt SO stupid... I was told they would have trouble understanding me and I believed it... Burned... by life...

They were so much fun and were all rocking the "cell-phone lighters". That never gets old :)

These girls are both Equestrian Students!! How cool is it that you can go to college and study to train horses?? I think that is awesome. After the show they both ran back to their rooms to get money to buy cds! That's dedication. :)

Oh! And they knew every word to "Fancy", which makes them even cooler... :)

This sweet girl was sitting right up front. Her parents brought her out because she plays guitar AND piano. She was up WAY past her bedtime, but you would have never known it. She didn't miss a beat - she sang along, danced, and was right up in front with all the college students on "Sweet Child"! I love seeing kids with so much passion for music. Never give up on your dreams sweet girl!
Her Dad mentioned that she already writes her own songs. That's awesome... He said that, right now, her style is a bit like Phoebe from "Friends" :) I would love to hear her songs. You keep writing girl!

Kyle! LOVE that cowboy hat. I wanted to wear it :)

So thank you guys so much!!! We had yet another amazing show tonight. It's hard to believe... I feel like that's all I've been talking about lately, but the crazy thing is that it's been true. We've had such a great run of shows lately. It's been such a wonderful way to kickstart this tour and this year. I'm so happy to get to go home for a few days, but I don't want to stop cause I don't want to lose this great momentum we seem to have right now... Wow... I love it!

After all that, we ended up at Denny's for dinner around midnight, finally made it to the hotel, and now we are just praying some of this black ice will melt away so we can safely get back to Tennessee. We have a few days at home before we head out for another month. I can't WAIT to see Cinnamon!!! YAY!!! And now... take a wild guess... I'm going to bed y'all! Goodnight!

peace, love, fiddle, and breakfast for dinner,

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Saturday, February 21, 2009


The Rathskeller is THE BEST BAR in INDIANAPOLIS!!!! If you live anywhere close to Indianapolis and you have never been - YOU NEED TO GO NOW!!! Seriously. RUN! I'll time you :)

The Rathskeller is just so cool. And the food. Oh the food... Don't get me started - I'll get all hungry again. Though I don't know how I'll EVER be hungry again after how well they fed us tonight.

Dan, the owner aka Dan THE Man... of awesomeness.... is one of the coolest guys in the world. It's not often we get to really talk to and hang out with the owner of the clubs we play in. The managers? Yes. The owners? No way! They usually aren't there! But Dan is.

When I walked in today, Dan pointed at me and said, "Tortilla Soup, right???" (Somebody's been reading the blog!!! YEHYAH!!!) I said "Ummm, yes please!!!" He said "I have some you'll LOVE. It's Shrimp Tortilla Soup"
Ok, I've put hamburger and ground turkey in mine - NEVER thought to put shrimp in. MMM. mmm. MMM!! It was so good. REALLY spicy. Just how I like it! Man, I wish I had another bowl right now.

Dan the Man (who you can see in Tour Diary #2 from the first time we played at the Rathskeller)

And then Dan's wife and her 2 best friends came back. This is a really cute story. Leslie and Jackie - the 2 beautiful ladies on the left side - came to our very first show at the Rathskeller. They met for the first time that evening. They have been best friends ever since!!! They even just went to Cabo San Lucas together! Isn't that cool? Peace, Love, Fiddle - bringing people TOGETHER!

Ok. Now for THE BEST SURPRISE I've had in a LOOOOOOONG time. (I LOVE LOVE LOVE surprises) MAMMA and DADDY came!!! They are so sneaky! I had NO idea - not even a hunch they were coming! They drove all the way from Nashville just to surprise us and watch the show. It was so exciting to have them there and share the night with them. We have so much catching up to do ALWAYS. But I won't have to catch them up on THIS show! They got to witness all the craziness firsthand! And Dan. My Goodness. He gave them the star treatment! Every time I looked up they were wisked off to meet more cool people! (And Daddy was VERY happy with eating dinner here!)

We were gonna try to stay at the same hotel, but it ended up taking us a while to get packed up at the end of the night. Plus, we were going in different directions. Plus, good ole Jeeves... trying to take us on state roads even though there was an interstate RIGHT NEXT TO US. We keep ending up having to navigate with our iphones. Dangit Jeeves! Get it together!

Karen and Pat.
Ok. These two are such wonderful people. The last time we played the Rathskeller, they came and brought me a present. Karen had made me Peace, Love, Fiddle earrings!!! How cool is that? This time... they brought a HUGE group of people with them AND they made me another design of Peace, Love, Fiddle earrings!!!! Goodness. I love them.
James was there to document the whole thing!
Me unwrapping the earrings (Did I mention that I also LOVE to unwrap things? Cds... Dvds... wrapped boxes... they don't even have to have anything in them. It is just fun to unwrap!! Seriously.)

Me showing off the earrings:

Me thinking that Karen made them again:

Me finding out that Pat drilled holes in them - so he made them too!!!

And then tonight I took a picture of BOTH pairs of earrings so you could see how adorable they are!!! The first pair is on the left and tonight's is on the right:

And the whole group they brought with them!!! How AWESOME are they!?!?

There were a few celebrities in the room tonight as well :) Along with Karen and Pat's group was their niece, Sarah Fisher - a professional Indy Car Race Driver. She's the on the right.
In 2000, Fisher became the third woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500. She went on to become the first female to earn a pole position and is the fastest woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 with a four-lap average of 229.439 mph. I looked it up! I mean.... I knew that off the top of my head :-)~

And then all of a sudden, all these guys with these gargantuan Super Bowl Rings seemed to appear out of nowhere! I am not sure about all of them, but I know one of the guys said he a Doctor for the team!

I didn't want to be left out, so I stuck my ring in there, too. And I thought MY ring was big.

Happy Birthday Lawana!

Jill's sons were at the venue across the street watching Mudvayne. So she came over to the country concert! She ended up staying the whole night!

The show was really fun. We hadn't played a bar set in a LONG time it felt like. So far on this leg of the trip, it has just been Colleges. We ROCKED IT OUT tonight. Once Pat and Karen took the dance floor - the rest of the crowd followed their lead, and they all stayed out and danced for the rest of the night. It was so fun!!!

Next time we go back to the Rathskeller is July 11. We'll be back out at the Bier Garden in the beautiful warm weather!!! But I will definitely remind everyone when we are going back! Thank you for everything Dan!!

Peace, Love, Fiddle,

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Friday, February 20, 2009

University of Wisonsin, Parkside Arts Alive!

Tonight we played at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. We played in a gorgeous theater as a part of the Arts Alive! Series. They really did a fantastic job putting on the show. I am so disappointed I didn't get any photos of the theater to share with you. I have been searching online to try to find some, but no dice...

The stage came right up to the front row, and the bottom level sat 500 people, which was packed out. It still had this very intimate feel even though it held a lot of people. The stage itself reminded me of the "Austin City Limits" Stage. We played 2, 45 minute sets, which was fun because it was just a bit different than our last few shows. Lately they have all been 1, 60-75 minute set. It's always fun to have a little change in there! I was worried about being too loud because they told us that they were trying something new with us. This crowd isn't accustomed to "loud" music. :) (It's funny to me that... little country girl is considered "loud music" but Lord knows.... we love to cut loose when you give us the chance.) We had our amps turned down, and even put a road case in front of Miguel's guitar amp so that it would stifle the stage volume that bleeds out into the crowd. That just gives the Front of House sound man a little more control over how loud everything is out in the audience.

The crazy thing is that, even with all of that, we still had a few people that were holding their ears during the first set. I get so stressed and worried looking out and seeing that. It makes it so hard to play. I don't want anyone hurting!!!! And all I can focus on are the poor people holding their ears. But of course, at the same time, I don't want to lessen the show for the other 496 people that DON'T think it is too loud. So I made some adjustments on the fly to the first set... (God Bless the guys for always just following me!) made sure we skipped anything that was a little on the louder side... and it all worked out!

The sound guys, the band and I all had a little pow-wow during intermission. They brought the sound down in the house and we tried to be even more conscious of our own levels on stage. And the show didn't suffer a bit! We were still able to play everything we had planned on and the young 'uns AND the not-so-young 'uns ALL had a great time!!!

You know, all the craziness and unpredictability... that is the beauty of live shows. AND the beauty of playing such a wide variety of venues and events. Tonight was a LOT different from a bar set. I was able to take my time and tell the stories of each song. This theater and the stage set-up really lent itself to allow me to have more of a dialogue with the audience. I LOVE being able to do that.

Tonight was a really big night for the band, too. Last year in Feb, we were heading to Wisconsin when we got hit on the interstate.... we never made it... So to make it tonight, and actually play the show... well, that was a big deal!!!

As we were loading in - we saw 5 deer just hanging out on campus!!! It was so beautiful!

These 3 guys were JAMMING OUT in the front row right in front of Miguel the WHOLE night. It was awesome :)

I like Zombie-Hoot in this picture. :)

The boy on the left? He's a cello player. His sister? She plays the violin. :) They both take Suzuki lessons which is how I started!!
How fun to have a sibling to play with!

Happy Anniversary!!! :) Shhh... don't tell Ramon, but he is getting a cd!!!

DATE NIGHT!!! First night out alone without the kids. :) They have a 6 month old and a 22 month old. PHWEW!!!! Yeah, I'd say they were definitely in need of a night out!!!!

LOOK at that cute little guy on her backpack!!! I LOVE him! :)

Emily just got cast in the Music Man!!! YAY!!! Congrats sweet girl! And she still had homework she had to go home and do after my show (it was about 9:45 at picture time). The life of an artist!!! Brings back memories...

I have to say a HUGE thank you to our sound guys again. One of our easiest sound checks ever. John, you have got to be one of the nicest and most accommodating sound men in the world. You're so fun to work with! And thanks is GREATLY due to Dwight who REALLY took care of us tonight. Thank you for the chicken parm, bringing us to Wisconsin, unbelievable amounts of kindness, and even escorting us to our hotel! (since Jeeves failed miserably tonight at that one) For anyone who is confused - Jeeves is our GPS unit - he has a British accent, so he is our "Jeeves".

And can I just say? Thanks for reading! Hope to see all the Indy folks out at the Rathskeller tomorrow night! WOO HOO!

Peace, Love, Fiddle

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

CU pics, Indy Radio Spot, and Awesome Write-Up from the University of Wisconsin!

When we had a few hours in Nashville this last weekend - our stop off between PA and OK - James went to get the oil changed and the tires rotated on the Suburban. He went back to the place where he bought the tires a few weeks ago. The guy was so confused when he asked him to rotate the tires - he said "There's NO WAY you've already driven 5,000 miles". James said "Ummm... yeah.... actually we have." The guy didn't believe him, so he compared the odometer with his records. He was stunned. His response was "HOW MUCH DO YOU DRIVE!?!" I love it. :)

We left Oklahoma this morning from our awesome Best Western (Thank you USAO!!!) and it was 65 degrees. We are now a little north of Springfield Illinois and it is snowing. Yup. That's pretty normal these days :)

So I got on facebook today and I was so excited. There were a bunch more pics uploaded from the past few shows. And Amanda Finch actually posted some from MY point of view at Cameron University!!! I didn't even know she was back there taking pics, but I am so glad she did. Now you guys can understand what I am talking about!!

I wish my monitors had been closer to the front of the stage.... I wasn't close enough to everyone!!! But if I am playing fiddle in the song I am singing, I HAVE to stay behind the mic stand because well... I just can't hold the mic, sing, AND play at the same time. That'd be pretty impressive if I could. Maybe if I had a 3rd hand. I should work on that.

But when I got the chance - I was RIGHT UP FRONT!!!
This right here = happiness.

We also just heard our radio spot for our Indianapolis show at the Rathskeller!!! We play on Friday night at the Rathskeller from 8pm -12! So come party with us!!! The Rathskeller is one of our favorite bars. That place is so cool. You can listen to the spot by clicking the video - we added a little visual stimulation since we have the technology :)

Our show tomorrow sounds like so much fun! We are playing at the University of Wisconsin in Kenosha. Here's the awesome write-up they provided:

Arts Alive presents Natalie Stovall
Communication Arts Theatre

The UW-Parkside Arts Alive! series, in partnership with the Parkside Activities Board, proudly presents singer/ fiddler Natalie Stovall in concert. This bundle of musical energy bursts onto the Communication Arts Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. for a sensational one-night-only performance. Although her star is just beginning to rise nationally, Stovall has been building her musical reputation in her hometown of Nashville for two decades. Starting with the Opryland Kids Club as a youngster, she made her Grand Ole Opry debut as a teenager playing fiddle and singing Mary-Chapin Carpenter’s “Down at the Twist & Shout.” She appeared on “Oprah” at the age of 16. Since then, Stovall’s rapid-fire fiddle and powerful voice—alternating between angelic and sultry—have solidified her status as a hometown hero and put her on a path to national stardom. Arts Alive! Director Dwight Vaught said although Stovall’s roots say “country,” her performance strays to rock, pop and blue-eyed soul. “She, and her band, are so versatile that an evening with Natalie Stovall will take you through several styles of American music--often during the same song--with some great arrangements,” Vaught stated. “She’s as good a songwriter as she is a singer, and she loves to perform. And when you realize she is such a mature artist for only being in her mid-20’s, you’ll be seeing a lot of her in the years to come.” Vaught said her concerts alternate between songs from her “Late Night Conversations” CD like “If I Run To You Now” which is part of the soundtrack for the upcoming Farrelly Brothers film “Bag Boy,” and music made popular by artists like Shania Twain, Bonnie Raitt, and Dusty Springfield. Her version of the Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil went down to Georgia” redefines the song with fiddle playing that rivals Daniels’ very best.

Tomorrow is a great day, and it's not even here yet!!!
Goodnight from a Comfort Inn somewhere in Illinois. :)

Peace, Love, Fiddle,

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

USAO - Chickasha, OK

We're back!!! We are in Chickasha Oklahoma tonight. USAO is the first college to bring us back for a second show! We played at Droverstock last year - which was a blast. So we were really looking forward to coming back tonight! The hotel they put us up in - it's a Best Western but think Opryland Hotel meets a Best Western. :) We were so excited to come back to our "jungle Best Western" There are so many plants in the courtyard in the middle of the hotel. There's a great indoor pool and a ping pong table! (James LOVES the ping pong!) I want to go swimming but I don't think I'll have time :( NOT complaining though!!!
We actually spent 3 days here the last time we came into town because a show had canceled on us - so we just hung out, played ping pong and walked to Walmart next door a bunch!

Lori Underwood is the lady who brought us back to play tonight! She is one of the sweetest and most wonderful people to work with. It was so good to see her again! Oh, and she got us Pizza Hut Pasta for dinner.... those commercials aren't lying! It is REALLY good. Thank you for everything Lori!!!

We actually had quite a few people who came out to the show that were at Droverstock last year. Droverstock is this giant academic testing day for all the high schools in area. In addition to the testing - there is a HUGE festival that goes on - including live bands all day (you know - why we were there). And they have this HUGE sidewalk chalk art contest - I have NEVER seen such unbelievable sidewalk art!!! They were so creative - it was like going to one of those ridiculous sand castle competitions where people build dragons in amazing detail - yeah. The creativity in these drawings was inspiring! And then all the clubs and organizations at USAO have booths and sell all kinds of fun things. It's really awesome!

She totally brought her shirt from Droverstock for me to sign because she forgot it last year!!! How cute is that?!

And some more repeat customers from Droverstock :)

Now, Terry is a repeat customer, but not because he was a high school student last year. :) He actually came to see us in 2007 at the Jack Daniel's Saloon. He signed up on the email list and has kept up with us ever since. He came out tonight and even brought a friend! How awesome is that!? That right there is what touring is all about y'all!

We were excited because we almost matched perfectly - looks like we planned it... cause, ya know... I tell everyone to wear fuchsia when I am planning on wearing it :)

Amelia!!! One of our youngest audience members. :) This was her first concert! She even managed to get a little nap in during a couple of the slower songs, but woke right back up for the energetic ones. She didn't make a peep, and was SO attentive the entire show!

After we got back to hotel - I finally ate my pasta.... WOW. SOOO good. And I definitely had another package of Keebler Fudge Shop Cookies from last night (Thanks Robin!). And James bought a deck of cards - the guys have been playing cards while I was uploading photos to facebook. And y'all - they are being so funny right now. I think they each picked a laugh or something - Miguel will laugh really funny and choppy, Hootie will laugh all high pitched and sqeaky, and then James laughs all low and Barry White-like. And then all of that makes us ALL laugh for REAL. They are so funny. I love my band.

And can we just talk about how it is so warm here that we had to turn on the AC in the Suburban today? Ummm.... a little different from last week's shoveling of the snow... It was 70 here today. Wow.
Tomorrow, back to the cold! We drive to Wisconsin :) Kenosha, here we come!

peace, love, fiddle, and laughter


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