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Running Down A Dream: March 2009

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Running Down A Dream

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Running Down A Dream: March 2009

Running Down A Dream

Monday, March 30, 2009

Last Night in Nashville for 6 Weeks!

I had SUCH a long list of things I needed to do this week while I was at home.

I got the most important ones going.... you know... writing music!!! :) I am walking away with 3 songs finished and many more in the works. But ALL the other little things... :) they took a little back seat...

It's ok though!! I mean, really?? This week: Thursday I am opening for Josh Gracin in Mansfield PA. :) Friday I am singing for the Boston Celtics at a home game, and Sat I am playing at Cafe 939 in Boston - basically at Berklee. :) What a fun way to get this last leg of the tour rolling!!!!

Before I get back to doing laundry, packing, and realizing all the things I meant to do this week that never got done.... I have to give a shout-out to my good friend Mr. Charlie Hutto. We wrote yesterday and I finally got to catch up on all of his good news!!!

Just to remind everyone how I know Charlie: we met at Berklee, played a bunch together at school, and then when he moved to Nashville - he was in the band for a long time until we started going on the road full time.

Along with being an incredible songwriter, upcoming producer (he just produced another good friend, Jenn Bostic's record), and fantastic guitar player....
He is the Band leader and the "Riley" part of Williams Riley Band. :)
The Williams Riley Band just added their new single "I'm Still Me" to radio this week. And the video was added to CMT today!!!

They added the song on the same week as Keith Urban and Brad Paisley's new singles were added... that makes it even MORE difficult to get airplay as a new artist. But we can all help by requesting and spreading the word!!! :)

I'm just very happy for Charlie. They are having a blast on their radio tour right now - and we're gonna be zig-zagging along each other's paths up in the Northeast this week. :)

Hope to see y'all out on the road! We're driving to Rhode Island tomorrow. Well... getting a head start at least.

Peace. Love. Fiddle.

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Videos That Appear As If From Nowhere :)

I love it when I wake up and a new video has appeared on Youtube of one of our shows. :) That's a GOOD surprise. And it never gets old.

Someone posted videos from the audience at one of the NACA shows we did in the fall. :) It's so fun to see something like this from the audience perspective!!!

And she also posted "Even Alaska". It was funny to watch this one :) This was before I had settled on a key - so it is a half step down from where I sing it now. It sounds so low!!! Originally, we started a whole step up from this key... but after a few tries I didn't like it. Then we went down to F.... and now we are in F#. And F# seems to be the key of the year :) I always do that - not intentionally - but I'll go through phases where I gravitate to a specific key. It use to be "D"
It's also before Miguel and I added the fiddle/guitar jam at the end. I like the way it ends now. :)

Happy Monday!

Peace. Love. Fiddle.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Whoa. I'm on a Milk Carton :)

As I sit here working on a song and realizing I only have 2 more days until we go out for our final leg of the tour (our longest venture yet - 6 weeks without coming home) I can't BELIEVE how long it has been since I have played at home. It is so weird when I think about how just 2 years ago I only played shows in Nashville and Columbia... and I didn't even own a Suburban....

Now I have gone through 3 Suburbans and living on the road is a way of life.

All of this was rubbed in this morning when I awoke to an email that had me laughing out loud.

OK! OK!!! :) I GET IT!!! I PROMISE we will play a show here at home very soon. And I promise to make it worth the wait. There are SO many good things in the works right now and I have a lot to process before the next big Nashville show. :)~

I do however, think that was the cleverest and sweetest way for a fan to get his point across :)

Just give us this 6 weeks out on the road... (which is 27 shows... I just counted... there's a few 2-a-days in there) And I promise to have lots of fun surprises when we're back. We'll do it up all country-rockin style and have a big party when we get to come home! There will be LOTS of reasons to celebrate.

Peace. Love. Fiddle.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

So Many Songs

Finished another song today!!! I feel so accomplished. Sorry we didn't have a chance to make a video, but I am SURE you will hear this one soon enough. :)

I got back together with Angela Lauer and JoAnna Janet today. They are so much fun to write with. And thank goodness, Angela didn't have any contractions today!!!! Whew. She had a few rough kicks... but at least she didn't go into early labor. :)

The song we wrote is definitely gonna be a guilty pleasure song. It is so much fun - and I have to add one name to the decription I gave yesterday. I think it is a cross of Poison/ Bonnie Raitt/ and Shania Twain. YES! How great is that???

It's called "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" :)

After writing with those fine ladies, I headed over to Miguel's. He and I have been talking about coming up with some cool fiddle/guitar riffs. We have been playing so much more together in the shows and I can't speak for him, but I am having a BLAST with it. I LOVE it when the fiddle is doubling a guitar riff. There is something so cool and different about that sound.

But at this point, the majority of the fiddle/guitar stuff happens during our big rock medley we do (Black Dog, Back In Black, Ants Marching, Beat It, Are You Gonna Go My Way....)

So now I want to have MY OWN songs with that kind of hotness! :) I think we've stumbled onto something so cool. And it adds the flavor to my music that I think I have been missing for a while. I am a rockstar in my own head (Aren't we all?) and now that I am playing a lot of the same stuff Miguel is - well... let's just say that REALLY maks me feel like a rockstar. I mean Have you SEEN this guy play guitar?? Yeah. I am hoping his face-melting playing rubs off on me a bit...

The cool thing today was that he had come up with a really hot riff (whew - took me a few tries to get it right on the fiddle!). We played it a bunch and then he continued to share the other stuff he had come up with. And then out of nowhere I FLIPPED OUT! I was like "Whoa. Play that again." He played it again and I have to say it was a little Twilight Zonish...

Let me back up to explain:
I started writing a song in the dressing room at the Kenosha Wisconsin PAC show. It was one of those times I was curling my hair and divine inspiration struck. I started singing a song out of nowhere, and had to record it on my phone. (Quietly so all the stage hands getting our stage ready for the show wouldn't hear my goofy butt singing into a cell phone alone in my dressing room). I even came up with a little fiddle riff. Turns out the riff was cooler in my head than on the fiddle when I actually tried to play it. But I still loved the rest of the song ideas.

But TODAY I realized that the riff Miguel was playing fit PERFECTLY!!! The song was the same feel - it was the same key AND it was the perfect musical attitude for what I was envisioning. Ahhhh. Stars are aligning, ya'll.

Plus we started 2 or 3 other songs. I feel like I had SUCH a productive day! And I can't WAIT to work on all of these songs!

I've lost count of how many unfinished songs I have right now. But that's how I work best. I'll start churning them out, and we'll have TOO MANY for the new record :) How awesome would THAT be??? That's always the hope...

Peace. Love. Fiddle.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Tweaked Apparel

Today's writing session was a bit different than the usual :) Angela Lauer, JoAnna Janet and I were writing together. And ummm.... Angela started having contractions!!! She's pregnant and due in 5 weeks. And she seemed so unfazed by it. She'd say, "oh, hold on..." And then she would look like she was in intense pain, and then she'd go right back to whatever we were working on. It was pretty spectacular to watch.

We started this really fun song that sounds like a combination of Poison and Bonnie Raitt to me :) Yeah... I'm a weirdo.... but that's what is so fun about writing!!! And co-writing especially. You NEVER know what's gonna come out. We are finishing it up tomorrow, hopefully. So more on that later.

I have to share a couple of cute Cinnamon pics... just because I love my dog. We went to the park today so I could eat my Jimmy Johns and take a walk. Cinnamon was going NUTS... She was just so excited about life. :)

Cinnamon just chillin in front of the Parthenon.

We LOVE the blanket Tamara!!!

DUCKS!!! Cinnamon"Why won't they be my friend??"

James and I have the best roommates in the world. :)

Katie is probably the craftiest person I know :) She is a designer and is always coming up with the cutest stuff! She makes purses, messenger bags, clothes, hair accessories, bracelets, pins.... I am amazed when I watch her because she never seems to have a plan. She just starts cutting and sewing and then BAM! Cutest thing you've ever seen appears. You should probably go check out her website because she's so awesome:
Tweaked Apparel

She can do anything!

We were hanging out tonight and I was commenting on how cute this piece of fabric was. And then she started making a bracelet which was a new adventure... I thought it was adorable... and then I dozed off....

When I awoke - she had made ME a bracelet out of both of the fabrics I commented on today with a cute flower on top. AMAZING! I don't know how she does it!

So if you're ever looking for a really cool unique gift to give someone - Katie can make anything.

Today was a great day. Nothing monumental. But Katie did let me borrow a Patti Griffin cd. And I can already tell... my world is about to change.

Peace. Love. Fiddle. And Tweaked Apparel.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Writing with Pat McLaughlin

I wrote with Pat McLaughlin today!!!!! I feel SOOOO freakin cool. I LOVE his music and his feel and his groove and his guitar playing... and... and.... SO I was PUMPED when this appointment hit the books. I have seen it on there for weeks now, and I was anxiously anticipating this day. I had some ideas going in, but nothing too specific.

We started with one idea... which led to another... which took us somewhere completely different, and then by the time we got to the one we actually wrote we had probably started 10 different songs.I LOVE writing like that. That's how you find the magic :) We continued bouncing ideas off one another until we eventually ended up on this whole "Step By Step" thang. I LOVE it!!! We recorded a quick video of it to share with everyone. Don't mind my "waking up" the computer in the middle of the song so the screen wouldn't go dark :) And the image is reversed, so it looks like I am a left-handed fiddle player!!! It freaks me out a little....


Not bad for the first time writing together, eh? :)
When we finished recording he said, "I wasn't ready for that 'amazing' adjective in the beginning there...." :)-

Step By Step we'll all get a little Peace. Love. and Fiddle.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm Gonna "Shine"

On my way to JJ's to get my fruit tea today, I heard Jo Dee Messina's new single, "Shine" on the radio, and I got SOOOO excited!!! I had the sun roof open (I ALWAYS wanted to have a sun roof, and there happened to be one on this last Suburban we bought.... so I still get giddy when I get to use it!), the windows down, my puppy with me, and "Shine" blasting.

Now, the reason I am so excited? Not only is it a great song, but my fellow Berklee alum and friend Megan James wrote it!!! It makes me so proud!!!! Megan and I used to do shows together at Berklee, and it is just so stinking cool that she has the FIRST SINGLE on the new Jo Dee album. She and Clay Cumbie wrote it together. And if you like the song - then you HAVE to call the radio stations and request it!!! I told her that I heard it today, and SHE hasn't even heard it yet. So let's make sure she does! (I have no doubt it is gonna be a hit).

I went to visit Granny today. She LOVED the maple candies I got her in Vermont, so this last time we were there I got 4 more bags of them. She was so excited!!! Have I mentioned how amazed I am with my Granny? She never acts as though she is 98 (excuse me, she corrected me today.... she's 98 and 1/2!). And sometimes she prefers you to say she is only 2 years from 100 :) She always says "cause THAT sounds OLD" I love that. As if 98 isn't impressive enough....

One of her favorite stories to tell me is about when I was a little bitty girl. She took care of me a lot when I was little. She LOVES talking about the things I used to do that made her KNOW I was born to be an entertainer. She said I was about 3, maybe 4 at the time and we were getting ready to take a nap. She asked me to sing some song I always sang (probably "Jesus Loves Me" or "Twinkle Twinkle".... you know.... one of the usuals) and I said "No. I am gonna sing my own song." And I made up a song and sang it for her. :) Yeah. I remember making up songs when I was a kid. My favorite phrase to use was "It's plain to see" which is why I laugh every time I hear that phrase used now. There's nothing wrong with it, but I can't bring myself to ever use that phrase in a song, cause it just seems silly to me.

I am writing with Pat McLaughlin tomorrow. Can you say EXCITED!?!?!? Pat is INCREDIBLE. I still have yet to have a SEAT at one of his shows - even when we go over an hour early... cause it is always so packed. This is my favorite quote about Pat on his website:

"Groove and Soul, slink and stutter, groove and soul, wisdom and pain, groove and soul."
Peter Cooper, The Tennessean

He written for Bonnie Raitt, played for John Prine.... So yeah, writing with one of my favorite writers tomorrow. It's gonna be a good day. :) I have no idea what we'll write, but I can promise you that it won't have the phrase "It's plain to see" in it :)

Peace. Love. Fiddle.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Saving Cows and Reindeer Cookies

Ahhhh. What a wonderful day of resting :)

My voice is feeling better today - not back to normal yet, but that always happens when it is THIS tired. I hung out with Cinnamon all day - we went on a walk and as always, she got ALLLL the attention :) And tonight I hung out with my parents. They both cooked dinner.... mmmm... mmmm.... And we celebrated my birthday! I hadn't seen them since my birthday earlier this month, so we finally got to hang out.... eat a little Baskin Robbins Choc Chip ice cream cake.... only the BEST cake EVER. It was so nice. It is always good to catch up with them and just hang out. :)

I had bought Cinnamon a "Dog Cookie" at the Ben & Jerry's in Vermont. I think it was supposed to be a reindeer, so it looked just like her :) And SHE was Sooooo excited. She ate part of it. And then she started looking for a place to bury it. The ONLY other treat she does that with are those Iams toothbrushes - those are her favorite. But she must have REALLY like this one because she buried it, too!!! But she only waited about 5 minutes before she dug it back out of the clothes basket and ate the rest of it :) I love my dog.

WOW. And as I was uploading that picture... She definitely just scared herself. She does this all the time and it is adorable. But she'll eh emm.... let one rip (usually silently) and then she will quickly turn around and look at her butt sooooo confused, like "What the heck just happened back there??" And she'll stare at her rear for the longest time. SO funny.

In other resting/relaxing news....

I was playing my favorite iphone game "Cowabunga" today. I hadn't played it in a while, but Hootie beat my high score recently, so I needed to make a comeback. I held the high score in the band for a long time. But Hoot is really good at saving those cows, too. :)

I had by far the best game I EVER had. I saved 223 cows. My previous record was 181. But I got SOOOO excited that I didn't save my score. I immediately clicked out of it to text James to tell him.... and then I realized what I had done. I went back in and looked at the high scores, and there were TWO that had 222.... they probably had way higher points, so I still probably wouldn't have made it on the board. But STILL. Dangit! Oh well. At least I beat my own record - even if I can't share it with the world :)

Natalie Stovall: Saving cows... 200 at a time...

Paul texted me and said it is 16 in Boston tonight with a windchill in the single digits :( Booo for that. I am going to make sure I take advantage of this beautiful Tennessee Spring weather as much as possible while I am home! Here's to a week of Sunshine and hit songs y'all!!!!

Peace. Love. Fiddle.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Momma's Country Burned Down

It is so good to be home. We had a BEAUTIFUL drive back to Nashville today. James and I took our time :) The guys went back with Jenn last night, so it was just James and me today. I am almost in disbelief at this weather. I keep going outside with too many layers on. It's very strange to spend so much time in the Northeast and then BAM! Come back to Nashville and it is full blown spring here!!!! The Dogwood Trees are GORGEOUS. Right now they are making me reconsider the Ginkgo as my favorite tree :) (Not really, but pretty close!)

I found out last night from a friend that "Momma's Country" formerly known as "Big Jim Country" burned to the ground a couple of months ago. That is so crazy. Big Jim Country was my very first gig!

I had been singing backgrounds and playing fiddle for lots of other people's bands at Berklee, and James said "Why don't you have your own band?" And so it began :) I called my parents and said, "Hey. Ummm.... What do you think about having my band live with us this summer so we can tour around Nashville?" And WITHOUT hesitation, they said "Sure!" The first summer it was 4 guys and the second summer it was 5. We all have such good memories from those summers. And Big Jim's was a BIG part of that.

Big Jim owned the bar, but his ex-wife, Momma, ended up taking over the bar a few years ago. "Momma" had been a bar-tender there since the place began. She used to cook us dinner when we'd play there. She was so good to us. And they were not only our very first gig, but a source of a LOT of gigs (and stories) those 2 summers. If you ever want to hear "Big Jim's" stories - we've ALLLL got a BUNCH. That place toughened me up a bit... and taught me that I should NOT be the person that deals with money when talking to club owners. (That was back BEFORE Momma owned it).

So in memory of Big Jim Country in Lewisburg, TN... here's a picture of my VERY FIRST gig.... with my very first band at Big Jim's.

Me, James Bavendam, Dave Madden, Nate Telow, Adam Countryman

And the lesson here, folks:
Do NOT use a blow torch to thaw out frozen pipes. NOT a good idea.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wild Wings was WILD!!!

We're back in TENNESSEE!!!!!!!!!

We've had some good Wild Wings shows over the last year, but this one topped them ALL. The one in Knoxville is great to begin with. The stage is really nice and the room is very open with lots of good partying room :) Plus there is a huge deck with a little pond outside, so it is a beautiful place.

Tonight? STANDING ROOM ONLY. It was amazing. And we had TONS of groups that came out. We had a BLAST on stage tonight and really let loose. Miguel freakin played with his TEETH tonight!!! I have only seen him do that a few times, but he did it the longest I have ever seen him do it tonight. He broke a string during Sweet Child of Mine and had to play the ENTIRE solo with a broken string and would you have ever known if you hadn't seen the string flopping around? NOPE. He didn't miss a beat. He's a monster.

I walked right past some friends the first time I took a load in to set on the stage. I didn't even notice them at the table. Well, a few minutes later - I saw some of THEIR friends walking in the door. Kenny and Debbie Green drove ALL the way up from Columbia to come to the show tonight. And they were all decked out in their Peace, Love, Fiddle gear. Their friends (who have made it out to Sam Hill's on many an occasion) brought their daughter and son-in-law. Plus, Jennifer (Miguel's wife) came up, and she brought our friend John Anderlie. (Who coincidently used to work with Debbie and knows Kenny and Debbie quite well!)

After I saw this crew, I noticed a whole table of people from the Christmas party we played in December. And ummm... then I saw another table of people from the party.... and then another....
Here's Leslie and some of her peeps :)

When the guys, Jenn, and I sat down to dinner... I saw a couple that looked very familiar waaaaay across the room. At first I wasn't 100% sure because I thought, "What are they doing in Knoxville?" But then I saw them looking at me, too. We waved across the room and it WAS them!!!! It's Keith and Susan from my church at home! FUMC unites in Knowxville :) (They stayed until the very last note!) AND they brought friends.

Ok. Now it just seemed to get crazy. This place is 4 hours from my home town, but it was starting to feel like Columbia just because there were so many familiar faces!

The next person I saw was Caroline Marsh from BGA. We went to high school together, and I have not seen her since I graduated. She is in School in Knoxville, and this was her very sweet fiance Luke.

This group of people saw us in Panama City Beach last August, and then came here tonight, AND said they are coming back to PCB in August this year! YAY!!!

And THEN I saw Dave Evans. He had brought 3 whole tables of people, too!!! We played the music festival that he is in charge of this last summer - the Little Tennessee River Music festival in Vonore, Tn.

DJ Stan Duh Man is literally THE MAN!!! He wore his peace, love, fiddle t-shirt, he even sported a cowboy hat for me, AND not only did he play before between and after the sets - he scratched records during "Play That Funky Music" which was SOO fun!!! I have never had a dj sit in on a show before!

And this will probably go down as one of my favorite band pics of all time.

But now it is 6:30am so I should probably work on that whole sleeping thing. It's now officially Spring Break for me this week. We have a few days off, and I will finally get a chance to get some good writing done.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009


We were all just laughing so hard!! That was so funny.

We walked into the hotel a back way. We had come in the front earlier. So I guess we were a little turned around. Once we got up to third floor, we all looked at each other to see who remembered what room we were in. I thought it was 316. Miguel thought it was 317. It's 2:30am... Hootie and I both very quietly tried our keys in 317. No go. Red light.
So we then very quietly tried our keys in 316. Nope. Another red light. Then we all burst into laughter. :) Where the heck is our room???

Hootie said, "Wait! I know I put the 'Do Not Disturb sign up" and then someone said, I think it was 307??? So we walked all the way down the hall, around the corner.... and THEN things started looking familiar. There was a 'Do Not Disturb: sign on 307, and Hallelujah! Our key worked! :) Whew. Sooooo funny.

I'm surprised that hasn't happened more! I mean, we stay in a different room every night. But usually one of us remembers where we are!

Tonight we played at Wild Wing Cafe in Asheville, NC. It was another REALLY good show. (other than Halloween, which was INSANELY PACKED) It was the most packed show we've ever had there before. There were quite a few repeats, but a whole lot of newbies at this show. It's fun at a sports bar during March Madness :) Everyone is SO hyped up for the games, and then we just get to be the afterparty :)

We had a few mishaps, though. As James was setting up his drum throne - he noticed it was busted. So he ended up having to play in a folding chair with the rug I normally use folded to give him a little more height.

Miguel had a rough night, too. His guitar amp kept shorting out. I modified the set a little bit to try to cover. We ended up playing all of "Never Call Me By My Name" without guitar. But at least I can play fiddle on the whole thing since Hoot sings it!

He checked all the electrical hook-ups, they were all fine. So he figured it was the amp itself - he even switched some tubes inside the amp... but it kept happening the whole night.

At the end of the night, he plugged his guitar into my amp, and YUP!!! It's his guitar. At least he knows the problem. We're about to go on a band "spring break" so he'll have time back in Nashville to get it fixed!

But other than the technical difficulties, it was a great night!

At the very beginning of the night - before the show had even started, this little boy named Tyler came up to me and handed me a crayon and piece of paper (that he had already drawn all over). He asked for my autograph :) I autographed the paper, and then I asked him if he wanted a poster. He was really shy, but when I asked that, he nodded so big that he shook his entire body!!! :) So sweet.

Fred is one of my favorite bouncers. He always takes such good care of us. And he definitely did his job tonight. One guy had to be taken out of the bar for taking a swing at another customer (scary). And another poor guy passed out sitting up at his table during "Devil Went Down To Georgia". I had a hard time concentrating on the song because people were slapping him in the face trying to get him to wake up. It took them a good 20 minutes to get him back to a point where he was coherent. I had NEVER seen that before. I thought Fred was gonna have to carry him out of the bar!

These guys got SOOOOO excited when we sang David Allan Coe. He was playing next door at the Orange Peel tonight, so I sent it out to everyone who couldn't go to the concert, but came to see us instead :) I don't even think they noticed there was no guitar on the song - they were singing too loud!!! One of the guys even stole one of my posters off the wall and had me sign it :)

I LOVED this couple!! They were so complimentary of my originals, and they said they liked them more than the covers we were playing (and they knew EVERY WORD to the covers we played tonight). So yeah, these 2 rule. :)

The guy to the right of me asked me when I was playing Ft. Bragg. :) Ummmm... can you say coincidence!?!?! Ft. Bragg booked us 2 days ago for next year!!!

Hootie sang "Free Falling" tonight. A bunch of people wanted to buy cds and t-shirts, and we had already done all of Hoot's songs in the set. I called "Free Falling", cause I figured they could vamp on the intro. But Hootie started singing, which I had never heard him sing that one before!!! And it was a good thing, cause it took me the whole song to take care of everyone!!! :)

And in other news, my agent kept texting me today. We had 63 forms today (basically bookings) - 34 schools and 29 military bases, and it is only day 2 of the conference. Ya'll, that is NUTS! He said it was more than double of any other act so far. That blows my mind!!! I don't know what was so different about this conference. But everything just came together. And the military is being so great to us. They are already talking about shows that I am bursting to talk about. But I'll wait until everything is official. It's so great to know we'll have work for another year. We were nervous going into this conference because we know that everyone is suffering budget cuts, and you just never know.... But we have shows on the books now until July 4, 2010. And I know Ari - this is only the beginning! He'll get on the horn. In our experience with past conferences - most of the booking happen later anyway. So yeah. Life is WONDERFUL right now. But now I need to go finish all these new songs so we can get a new project recorded. :)

Peace. Love. Fiddle. And the right hotel room.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Greenville, South Carolina

This morning I spoke on a panel at APCA called "Rolling Out the Red Carpet." Boyd Jones from Winthrop University (and Columbia TN!!!) put this Ed Session together for the students. There were a couple of agents, a couple of artists, and then a poet, and a speaker.

The students were given a chance to ask questions, and we all just had a general discussion about the details that go into making the best show possible - for the schools, the agents, and the artists. :) It was a great panel, and it was fun to be a part of.

After that, I went to the co-op to see what that was like. Co-op is where the schools who are already interested in booking an artist have the chance to block book and work with other schools (which makes it cheaper). If 5 to 7 schools in a row book us all within driving distance of one another, then of course the price comes down.

When they announced my name, it felt a bit like being auctioned off :) I mean, it was AWESOME, but it was really strange to be sitting in the back of the room, with my little hat on, looking all incognito... and watching schools fight over dates and yelling across the room to work with each other. It looked like a bunch of commodities brokers! Absolute chaos. But it is an incredible feeling to know that we'll have work for at least the rest of the year. And we've already gotten booked for 4th of July in 2010, plus other dates in 2010. Wow. :)

James and I went back to the hotel, picked up the guys, and then we headed to Bosphorus. That is the Cymbal company that James endorses. Their main office is in Kennesaw Georgia, just north of Atlanta, so James always tries to stop in when we are close. Plus, it means he gets to try out a bunch of new cymbals :) He bought some hit-hats and a crash cymbal, which he played tonight! James was a happy boy.

So then we headed out to Greenville, South Carolina. We played at Wild Wing Cafe there tonight. We played there almost a year ago, so it has been a while since we have been back! Greenville has the cutest and most adorable downtown. I LOVE it. But we have never had enough time to explore. This is one of those places I would love to come back to when I can really spend some time. They had an outdoor concert going on (which was happening last year, too). And there are tons of cute little shops and restaurants with outdoor patios.

The show was awesome. This is one of my favorite Wild Wings we play. Load in is the hardest - it is an old building with... no elevator.... and we play on the second floor. Loading our entire trailer up stairs is never fun, but these strong boys can handle it :) Clemson was playing when we got there, and they had the game showing on 2 huge screens on stage. We wouldn't DARE get in the way of the screens, so we just waited until the game was over to actually set up on stage. The game was SOOO close.... but Clemson lost :( It was sad. The place was packed and they all just looked demoralized. So we lost a whole lot of the crowd before we even started... they all were slowly filtering out with their tails tucked between their legs... not really in the mood to hang out.

But those that stayed? And then those that came in and filled the place back up? QUALITY audience!!! They were so much fun. Everyone was dancing and singing and I remember seeing a lot of hilarious stuff happening from stage. :)

When I first walked in, my friend JEFRE T! (That's his myspace handle) was already there, and he had brought a CROWD! He was at the show last year, and he brought his wife and tons of friends to the show tonight!

This guy was at our show in Cape Carteret - at the The Dive last year. (We were the last band to play there before they had to shut their doors. Sad) But he told me the coolest story. He said he had brought (I think it was) his niece to the show at the Dive. She played the violin when she was growing up, but hadn't played in years. He said after they came to my show, she has been playing ever since. How cool is that!?!?! That makes me so happy to hear.

Howard The Disco Cowboy!!!! Howard won that buckle in a dance contest believe it or not! He is one of the most fun people to watch dance. I don't know how he does some of the stuff he can do. It is impressive! He used to line dance at the Wildhorse on TNN when that station was still around. And he also ballroom dances - his parter is from South America. Yay Howard! We love you!

Cowboy Hoot! When Hootie sang Hank Jr. - Howard couldn't resist giving his hat to Hoot!

Dana (on the right) was at the show last year, too! He and his friend had me sign a poster last year for another bar in town. He said it is still up in that venue - I've never played there, I just signed a poster for them :) And then someone else later in the evening was telling me how he had seen my poster in this other place and got excited!

These guys both came up on stage to take advantage of their free hugs :) One hugged me, the other hugged Hootie!

This guy was so much fun to watch. He was cuttin a rug out on the dance floor! It was AWESOME!

So yeah, we had a great night in Greenville. It may have been a Thursday, and Clemson may have lost, but that didn't stop these Greenvillians! They still partied just as hard or even harder!

You wanna know something awesome? We have a late check-out tomorrow. :)

Peace. Love. Fiddle.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

APCA Nationals!!!

I'm in a bit of a haze right now. We all got very little sleep last night.... And it's been a looooooong day. But it is one of those exhausting days that makes you feel so good - the exhaustion is how you KNOW it's been a great day.

We drove to Atlanta this morning (left at 6am.... and this is a group that usually goes to bed around 5am....) well... I say "we". JAMES drove. Sometimes I don't know how he does it. But he always does on the most important days - especially when I need to sleep to rest my voice.

We played at APCA Nationals tonight. We were the closing act for the opening showcase. And WHAT A CROWD!!!! The showcase was in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton in downtown Atlanta, and the place was packed.

Not gonna lie.... I felt pretty cool when I saw the line-up for the showcase. :)

The whole thing was incredible. The first guy was the most energetic man I have ever seen. He had a HUGE conga line going, then he had the entire audience singing "Summer Lovin" - it was the best way to start of the show. He got everyone pumped up for the rest of the entertainers!

Louis Ramey from Last Comic Standing was the first comedian in the showcase. He was HILARIOUS!!! I love this guy.

The next act was a singer songwriter who went out with just his guitar. His name was Austin and he had a ridiculous voice - impressively high for a guy. And then Alexandra McHale was on. We did a show with her in Philadelphia last year at St. Joseph's University, and she and I were both nominated for "Best Female Performer" in campus Activities magazine this year. She's a regular on VH1's "I love the 80's" and she is very funny.

Then this really inspiring and beautiful poet named Shanelle performed. And then it was our turn. In these showcases, you have exactly 15 minutes to get out there and show your stuff. :) And we BROUGHT IT tonight. I felt like it was the best showcase we've ever had. And this was a really important one. Not only were tons of schools here, but LOTS of military representatives were there as well. We knew it was an important night and we left everything we had out on the stage. I always like to be as far in front as possible - but tonight that meant I had to sacrifice having any kind of monitors. It wasn't that big of a deal. I could hear just enough from the main speakers out front to know what I was doing, so I just went with it. A big group got up and did the electric slide during "Beat It" in the medley :) It made me so happy.

After the show, they have what they call a "marketplace" where all the artists and buyers get 1 hour to meet and talk. And the people who are interested in booking on-site fill out "Strong Interest Forms". And then there are tons of other booths and activities going on in the marketplace... it's not just for the performers and their agents. Tonight I saw "make your own chapstick", inflatable laser tag, and yes.... a monkey. Well. I didn't get to see the monkey which made me sad. But Hootie and James did!!!

I made a whole bunch of new friends and got to hang with a ton of old friends!!! When I first got to the booth, there was another artist standing there. I recognized him, so I figured (since he was with my agency) that we had performed together before. And THEN I realized - NOPE. We haven't ever performed together. It was Dan Evans from the Biggest Loser!!! I LOVE that show. He and his mom were on it together. Dan just signed with my agent, so he came to the conference to check it out and see what it is all about. It was so cool to meet him and his brother!

Lori and Elizabeth from USAO in Chickasha, Ok came and sported their "Natalie Stovall" t-shirts!! It made me so happy when I saw them :) this is the shirt that Elizabeth brought to our show because she had forgotten to have me sign last year when we played at USAO. :) I love these girls.

This lady hired us to play at Ft. Benning in Georgia. That still goes down as one of my all-time favorite shows. We played for the soldiers who were about to finish up boot camp. My Daddy did his OCS training there, so he and Mamma got to come to the show. Man, that was an awesome event. You can check out a quick clip of the soldiers singing LOUDER THAN ME on the beginning of "Devil Went Down To Georgia" It was 100ยบ that day. whew. Ft. Benning Video

Look at those HATS!!!! I want one.

And then we ran into some friends from Berklee. Their agent had actually asked if he could borrow Hootie's bass stand for a band that needed it in the showcase after us. But we had NO IDEA that we knew the guys in the band!!! How fun :) It's just been like a big ole Berklee Reunion this week.

So yeah. It was a GREAT night. We got more strong interest forms than we've EVER gotten in one night. There are some really amazing opportunities on the horizon, and if ANY of them pan out - well... then we're gonna have some wild adventures in the near future!

I have SOOOOO many great pics from tonight. I've already posted them all on my facebook page, and I will have them up on my myspace page in the next couple of days. I'm speaking on a panel about how to make college events a "win, win, win" for artists, agents, and schools, bright and early tomorrow.... no rest for the weary. But I am excited. It's fun to be successful enough at something that someone actually values your opinion.

The best thing about tomorrow though has to be that Greenville is only 2 hours away!!! Do you know how EASY of a drive that is?!? Good Lord I am excited.

Peace. Love. Fiddle. and Awesomeness On The Way.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Berklee Spring Break Trip Show!

Every year Stephen Webber and Pat Pattison, 2 professors from Berklee, put together a Nashville trip for Berklee students. They come down to Nashville during their spring break, and they get to go to all kinds of workshops. It is an incredible opportunity for the students. I remember going to hear Wynonna talk to us for about 2 hours on one of the events I went to. It was so cool. And Ricky Skaggs always invites the students out to sit in on a session. And tomorrow morning they are getting to see Delbert McClinton (one of my Daddy's favorites!!!), Gary Nicholson, and a bunch of players in the studio.

And every year they put together a show with alumni in town. I happened to be in Nashville this one night on our way to Atlanta from Stowe, so I got to be a part of the show!!! It was REALLY fun. The students are so great. Miguel and I just did an acoustic set of 3 songs with a couple of other songwriters. I am AMAZED when I look around at the amount of talent in the room at one of these events.

Half the kids in Kingbilly are from Berklee and they are ALL OVER GAC right now, Megan James just got a Jo Dee Messina cut which is her first single on her new album, most of the kids have Publishing Deals, are cutting a record, or they are touring. It makes me so proud to say I went to Berklee. As cheesy as that sounds. I don't care. I loved every second of going to school there.

Jenn got to come to the show!!! I miss her so much. But of course she couldn't really see Miguel from where she was sitting. Oh well, she got to "hear" him play live tonight :) Step in the right direction..... It's better than her WHOLE FAMIY being at the show while she just has to sit at home in Nashville and listen over the cell phone :(

Berklee girls!!! Not a very common occurance... there's not many of us!!!!

John saw it in the Scene!!! I didn't even know it was a public event or I would have invited people to come!!! (Sorry FFBF!)

Jenn took a little pic of us doing our thing.... she made quite an effort to wiggle her way to the front, so I am posting this picture!!!

Yeah.... we had to show off our Shamrocks! Thanks Jenn!!! Is that a halo above Amy's head?!? Whoa.

And I met Jeff Cook tonight from Alabama! (The fiddle/guitar player) I had just walked in and there weren't a lot of people there yet. I was talking to a friend and this man taps me on the shoulder and asks "Is that a fiddle?" (On my shoulder) I said, "Yes it is" :) And then he introduced himself. Isn't that awesome? Jeff Cook came up to ME and introduced himself. I love Nashville.

Peace. Love. and Gotta have a fiddle in the band!

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Stowe, Vermont

What a weekend!!!

I can't say enough about how beautiful Stowe is. We could see a bit more of the landscape this time instead of just piles of snow :) But I like the piles of snow too... SOOO different from Tennessee.

The show on Friday night was really fun. It was a good crowd and a really good show on our part. There were a few key dancers on the dance floor that NEVER stopped. They kept the party going the whole evening.

The first person that came up to me was a very sweet girl who said "Are you Natalie?" I said, "Yeah." She said, "I heard you have a Chilean in your band!" And I eagerly pointed at Miguel. She was off!!! Miguel is quite popular in Stowe :) There are a lot of Chileans and Peruvians that work at the ski resort - and their housing is across the street from the Matterhorn! There was a whole group that came to support him.

John had the coldest job in the bar. He was our doorman both nights, and brrr. But at least it was 30 this time rather than the -15 we experienced last time - THAT was REALLY cold for him.

Saturday was quite a day. We had 2 shows. One was up on the mountain and then the night show was at the Matterhorn again. We were a bit concerned with the first show. Naturally, I was a worried about singing for 8 hours in one day.... they were both long shows. But even more so - we had to tear all our gear down at the club, load it into the trailer, drive 1/2 a mile up the road.... (and then the logistics of getting into the ski resort.... WHEW! Absolute chaos.), set up everything, do the show, tear down, reload the trailer, and then go unload and set up and do a whole other show.

We had NO idea what the show was going to be like at the ski lodge. We have a few days in April where we will have 2 shows in one day, but none of those will be 4 hour long shows.... So this was the day we were all the most apprehensive about. You know what, though? Everyone there - Everyone - helped out so much. Paul was a freakin workhorse. And everyone at the lodge was pitching in. We had a long way to load in all the gear - up an elevator through some curvy hallways and then through the dining area to the stage. But it didn't FEEL that way. It is amazing how when a lot of people pitch in to help - the work gets done SO quickly. Everyone's hospitality made the whole situation SOOO much better.

So the ski lodge? Gorgeous. It was GINORMOUS. (yes, that is an actual word people. Well, not really, but it should be) It was this really open room with food, a bar and glass widows all the way around so you could see the mountains outside. I have never played a gig before where I watched people skiing during the show!!! That was pretty cool, I must admit.

The show was from 2-6 (although set up took longer than usual, and we got a late start. But everyone was cool. Normally that would STRESS me out - but it was obvious we were working as fast as possible). And there were so many kids there. We had one group that pulled their chairs right up to the front of the stage. And did they sit in them? NOPE. They STOOD in them and screamed "You're AWESOME" and "You Rock" the whooooooole show. It was pretty amazing. Needless to say, our show was a bit different from a bar set or a typical "Natalie" show. I tried to incorporate the kids as much as possible. Especially since they were such a great audience!!!

These were the main front row girls who attracted MANY MANY more throughout the set. And I signed the one little girl's pink cast which she is showing off here. :)

This little boy was adorable!!! He was so shy when it came time to ask me... But he wanted me to sign his ski helmet. THAT was a first!!!

Signing ski boots was another first!

Ava wanted me to sign her hands. "Natalie" on one palm and "Stovall" on the other palm.

Then ALL of them wanted it:

Miguel gave a guitar lesson:

And James let a British chick play his drums:

There was a birthday party with about 200 people there too. It was Jim's 50th birthday! But Jim had a guest who was not prepared for the music. She came up to the stage and yelled at us - said she had to listen to us for TOO LONG (She was ANGRY) and wanted us to turn "all the way down"! I tried to be polite, and said "Ma'am, we only have 2 songs left, and then we're done." That did not matter. She kept yelling. But the song had already started. And no matter how much I tried to reason with her... she wouldn't listen. Even though it was 5:50!!! I wish stuff like that didn't get to me... but I found myself trying to sing "quieter". Ugh. Can't win em all. But the rest of the ginormous room seemed happy. :)

We finished the show, I signed some more interesting things - the inside hoods of jackets, tags or shirts.... you name it. Then we packed up and headed back down the mountain to the Matterhorn. When we got there, Gerry had his horse "Annie Oakley" tied up at the post. As soon as I got out of the car, he announced to everyone in the parking lot (he had been at the show the night before) "There's the singer!!! Natalie, come on. I brought Annie Oakley down for you to ride" I was SO excited he was gonna let me ride her!!! I shared one pic a couple of days ago. This was me right AFTER the ride.

Hootie got a turn, too. Right before he got off of her, she did a full body shake, and nearly shook him OFF! It was hilarious.

The show was AMAZING. It was PACKED just like last time. And I was really excited because there were a lot of people who had seen us there in January that came back this time!!! That always makes it fun.

This guy had me sign his shirt last time :) So he wanted to keep the Tradition alive I guess!!!

I had never met a world famous dog trainer before! But this is Alex and he's the trainer of Ashley Whippet. It is quite an amazing story - he and his increible dog Ashley have been on the David Letterman Show, The Today Show, you name it! Ashley has caught a frisbee on it!

It was the first time a fan has ever made and brought chex mix to a show for me!!! And mmm. mmmm. mmmmmm. He makes it with Worcestershire Sauce - just like my Mamma does!

These guys were all from the Harvard Business School. Pretty cool, huh?

Look at how much fun they are!!!

The Matterhorn did not disappoint. It was so incredible last time, that I didn't want it to be a disappointment this time. They had told us the season was winding down and it might not be as crowded, but it was AWESOME!!! It's just such a great bar. They have amazing food, enthusiastic clientele, and they even have Woodchuck on tap! HECK YEAH!!!! It's just good people, you know?

So after an amazing show, we are getting ready to head back to the hotel at 3am. James gets in Paul's car, and then Hootie, Miguel, and I are taking the Suburban. But as we are getting in the car, there is OBVIOUSLY a party going on inside the building we are next to. Miguel said, "OH!!! That must be the party they (the Chileans) were telling me about!" We walked in to see what was going on and we saw all these people who had been at the show. Everyone was dancing and getting down to Reggaeton (which was new to me!) and people were just having a good ole time. It was really fun. We couldn't stay because it was so late, but I wanted to!!! They were having so much fun. Ahh. Vermont is just filled with good people.

Driving back to Tennessee was looooooooooong. But good. And I love it here. Home is a good place to be. If only for 2 nights. :)

Peace. Love. Fiddle.

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