Tom Waits, Miss Kitty and Jerome, Arizona
... or Best Gig Award for the Aug-Sept. 2009 tour
Every tour has them, these golden moments that come out of nowhere. Moments that make you say "ahhhh, NOW I remember why
I gave up a promising career in ____________ to play music!"
For Nomad and me on this tour, that golden gig happened at the Spirit Room in Jerome, Arizona. "Where?" you ask. Jerome!
Population 200. Elevation 5,080. It's a tiny Old West mining town nestled on the side of an Arizona high desert hill.
Now the town survives almost exclusively on tourism.
We booked a Tuesday night there on a recommendation from the Fiddler's Dream down in Phoenix (another stellar gig).
There was a modest guarantee and a room for two nights, but to really describe Jerome, I have to start with Flagstaff.
Now, being basically happy, positive people, we don't give a "worst gig of the tour" award. But oh buddy, if we did,
this Flagstaff show would have won hands down. We had left a virtual paradise in Anaheim (another great gig!) to play
this coffee shop in Flagstaff -- for a guarantee of $20. No, that's not a typo. I guess it was a momentary lapse of
reason on my part, but it was a Monday night, and we were driving right through...
Anyway, it wasnÕt the money (or lack thereof) that made this gig bad. Even if it had paid $500, it still would have
sucked -- though much less! :-) No, it was abysmal because for some reason, no one was listening to us. I
don't mean that they were distracted, or talking through our songs. I literally mean it was as if no one could HEAR
us. The lone exception, and only reason we made it through that night, was a sweet family who, I found out later, had
actually driven an hour and a half to see our show. For some reason THEY could hear us, but seriously I don't think
anyone else could. No one clapped, no one smiled, no one tapped a single toe. At one point I even asked the girls
behind the counter how to turn the stage lights on, and they didn't look up either. Nomad actually asked ON MIC,
"Are we in some kind of a vortex where no one can hear us?" I laughed. No one answered.
That gig FINALLY ended, and we found a dingy grocery store, bought bread and cheese and ate sandwiches in the gloomy
parking lot. Also, we made a phone call to Jerome to double check that there would be a room waiting for us, and the
woman, instead of confirming our reservation, began to give Nomad long-winded directions. "Go through two of those
things. What are they called? Where you don't have to stop but you drive in a circle? Roundabouts, right. So you go
through two of those. Or is it three?" etc. Meanwhile Nomad's cell phone is beeping cause the battery is dying. I
honestly thought he was going to hyperventilate from his deep breathing trying to keep calm.
But Nomad survives, the room is confirmed, and we drive off into the dark Arizona night.
I'll skip the part about the winding, nineteenth century mountaintop trails and gravel-road rollercoasters our GPS
recommended (what had that lady said about roundabouts? Maybe we should have written that down!). We finally had
to turn the GPS off and turn on (gasp!) our brains. Follow the PAVED road. We get to the town. Almost midnight.
Really looked like something out of ummm, what was that cowboy show, with Miss Kitty? Except for the electricity
Hotel reception was closed, but the bar had our keys. Dimly-lit, two or three customers, juke box playing ... was
that Tom Waits? The bartender had long, silver hair and the kind of laid-back attitude that makes a California
surfer seem uptight. Sign over the bar reads "Jerome, AZ. We're all here because we're not all there." Funky.
Almost spooky, but really cool. I could feel the day's tension fading along with our cell phone reception.
And the room! Again, from the Miss Kitty show. (Except for the giant flat-screen TV on the wall, oh, and the whirlpool
tub, and the microwave ... hmmm, maybe I need to watch that show again?) But the giant antique bed frame and the furniture
and the hotel itself were certainly in-keeping with the Old West theme. And to have a real bed! How many nights in a row
had we slept in the car? Six? Seven? Soft pillows, clean sheets, fluffy down comforter. Felt like heaven.
I wanted to do everything at once. Pop the complimentary popcorn, watch a movie, take a whirlpool bath. In the end,
we just slept.
We woke up early the next day and realized we didnÕt have to drive at all. First day in weeks we didn't have at least
a 3 or 4 (if not 8 or 9) hour drive ahead of us. We breakfasted in the room and then moseyed around town, aimlessly
ambling and fully understanding the true meaning of the word "mosey." Town was pretty much two streets. We walked them
twice, impressed by the authentic Old West buildings, but left breathless by the surrounding mountains and canyons.
Red, yellow, pink, orange, green and gray. Hard to believe that bare rock can have so many different colors. But I've
always loved the desert, ever since I was six and my family moved to Phoenix for three of the happiest years of my
young life. I love the sun, the dry air, the hardy and strange-looking cacti. The barbeque smell of creosote mixed
with sage. Smells clean. Smells like sunshine.
We handed out cards with info about that night's show. And people actually took them and said thank you! Some of them
even showed up that night. Amazing. Guess that shameless self-promo actually works sometimes ... or maybe there's just
not that much else to do in Jerome on a Tuesday :-)
We splurged and went out to lunch, choosing the restaurant with the best smells and the best views.
Little more walking, then back to the hotel for a whirlpool bubble bath (one of the perks of touring with your husband!).
A note of warning here: I'd recommend EITHER bubble bath OR whirlpool jets. The combination left us fighting off an
ever-growing mountain of monster bubbles ... but that was kind of fun too.
The icing on our Jerome cake was really our show at the Spirit Room. Like I mentioned, a few folks showed up with our
cards in hand. A few more had read the posters. Some regulars knew that the room had an acoustic night. In other words,
people came for a show. Same bartender (sweet guy named Chuck) was there, and I almost fainted with pleasure when he
covered up the pool table for our performance. Here's a place that knows how to host listening-based music!
Though it was a Tuesday night, most folks stayed for the full 3-hour concert. They listened, they laughed, a few cried,
and they all sang along! For a performer, this is the kind of audience that keeps you going another whole year. ("I'm
NOT wasting my life, I AM reaching people!")
They all signed the mailing list, and most bought multiple CDs. But even the extra income (though nice!) wasn't as
important as their attention and appreciation. This is why we do this. We have so much to give, and these Jerome folks
took it all in. Genuine connections. Real bonding. Through music. That's the whole point of my existence, and Jerome and
the Spirit Room reaffirmed this for me.
So they get our "Best of Tour" award (which is basically this blog), and they may even be named one of the Top 5 All
Time Best Gigs (still working on that list).
Thank you Spirit Room. Thank you Jerome residents and visitors. Thank you everyone who made these 2009 tours possible
and, yes, even profitable. Nomad and I are home now, safe and sound, tired but happy, and full of enough love and light
to sustain us through the winter and prepare and motivate us to get back out there and do it all again next year.
In the words of Roy Rogers, "Happy trails to you, till we meet again."
We Love Martin
Just got the word that Mare and Nomad have been officially recognized by C. F. Martin and Co. as
Preferred Martin Artists
. We are so honored and also super duper excited about this since
it means that, among other things, we'll soon be getting a new baby Martin guitar. Hooray!!
August tour of the Western half of the US is underway. Shows in MO, MN, IA, NE, OR, CA, AZ and TX.
Also, my kids' music duo, Eve & Mare, is still celebrating the release of new CD, Green Means Go
this month. See EveAndMare.com
Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope to see you
out on the road!!
There's No Place Like Home
Just got back from our June European tour in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Tour
was the most successful yet, even despite a whopping crack on my beloved Martin -- thank
you US Airlines! (Not to worry, the good folks over at Joe Glaser's shop here in Nashville
say they can patch that baby right up, thankfully.)
August tour of the Western half of the US is coming up. Shows in MO, IA, NE, OR, CA, AZ and TX
with a few more dates pending. Keep checking our shows page for the most up-to-date info.
Also, my kids' music duo, Eve & Mare, is celebrating the release of new CD, Green Means Go
this month. See EveAndMare.com
Thanks so much for stopping by, and enjoy the rest of your steamy July. See you
Great American Songwriting Contest award and COOKIES!
Just got the news that we were an Honor Award Winner in the 10th annual Great American
Songwriting Contest, in the Contemporary Acoustic/Folk category for our song "About the War."
You can read a list of all the honorable Honor Award winners here:
We are sooo soooo happy to get this news. Yes we are. And now we will rush home and bake
cookies to celebrate. Really, we've been looking for an excuse to bake cookies for WEEKS
now!! After all, adults can't just bake cookies because they feel like it, can they?
I mean, it's the middle of April, not a cookie-type holiday in sight. No children coming
to visit. Plus we're supposed to be getting ready for swimsuit season... But we have no
choice. Awards call for celebrations. And celebrations call for cookies (at least in my
book--which just happens to be a cookie recipe cookbook).
Wishing you all many awards, honors, celebrations and cookies! :-)))))
Be As You Are
It took hours. Pages and pages of multiple choice questions about my preferences, strengths, personality,
etc. Upon completion, a computer I'd never even met before was going to analyze my answers and tell me
what to be. This monstrous thing was called a "Career Aptitude Test." I took one when I was a freshman
in college, and almost 20 years later, that beast is still haunting me.
Not surprisingly, a career "in the arts" came out on top. The computer couldn't tell the difference between
music, painting, writing or acting so these all were tied for top placement. But the computer also listed
a caveat for this kind of artsy, self-starter career: I scored low in "drive."
Fast forward through two college degrees and six years of being a semi-successful local and regional
singer/songwriter. I had decided to go back to school to get a music degree and a troubled individual,
who shall remain nameless, made some off-hand comment about how I must be lazy because here I was at the
dottering old age of 29, and only now deciding to get a third degree.
Lazy. Low in drive. Obviously I didn't let a crazy person and a computer run my life or affect my decisions.
But each of these comments stuck with me, and resonated with a secret fear buried deep inside. (Perhaps
planted by some childhood comments my mother made--but let's just avoid that can of worms altogether, shall
I wanted to get to the bottom of why these comments still bothered me so many years later. And I couldn't
deny the fact that they disturbed me so much because I was afraid they might be right. Essentially, I have
a fear of being lazy. Or rather, I have a fear that I am
This fear is fed by perceived failures (I haven't won a Grammy yet, have I?) and held at bay by stressful,
frenzied orgies of work-sitting in front of the computer for hours and hours, booking tours or chasing
publicity, telling myself again and again, "there, see, I'm NOT lazy."
But why is it only when I'm doing the work I absolutely HATE that I can push this fear away? I don't give
myself that same validation when I'm exercising or cooking or cleaning the house or writing or playing
guitar or doing any other tasks that are productive and fun. Only when I'm doing the stuff that makes me
most miserable do I get the sense that I'm "really working" and therefore "not lazy."
Now, I know there have been armloads of books written on how creativity needs space, needs play. One of
my favorites, Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, advises hours of play and a weekly "artistÕs date" with yourself.
it's often difficult in our nine-to-five world to give oneself permission to play, I feel that, for me, there
is another piece to this self-acceptance puzzle.
Maybe I'm not lazy or lacking in drive. Maybe it's just that I want variety in my life. I love yoga, but I
don't know if I could drop everything and just do yoga 12 hours a day (though sometimes I think I could).
I enjoy cooking but I don't want to open my own restaurant. I even enjoy housecleaning to a certain extent,
but I don't want to become a full-time maid. I enjoy a certain amount of yardwork, a fair bit of
travel, and yes, writing songs and playing music. But what makes me happiest is a balance of all these
things. I can have deficiencies or excesses and get off-kilter, but when there is balance in my work, in
my activities, then I feel balanced in my heart and at peace in the world. There can certainly be too much
computer work (and usually there is). There can be too much housework, too much cooking, too much exercise.
And FOR ME, I guess there can even be too much music. I know people that live in their cars, touring and
playing 300+ nights a year. I used to think this was the life I wanted, but I've never been able to take
that leap. And perhaps that's not the leap I'm meant to take. I've certainly experienced periods of intense
inspiration when I'm playing or writing songs for days on end. But when I emerge from these states (and I
always do emerge) I like to do a little gardening, a little yoga, maybe bake something. Maybe even check
So what if it's not a lack of drive that I have, but rather a desire for variety and a well-rounded life?
The trick would be not only recognizing that, but giving myself permission to be this way. To be content
with the way I am. Allow myself to be as I am. Sounds so simple. But it's taken me 35 years to even realize
this is what I need to do. Hopefully it won't take another 35 to learn how to do it.
|November 7th, 2008|
Mare Wakefield CD Release Concert for new record, Ironwood.
Friday, November 7th
Douglas Corner Cafe
2106 8th Ave South
Nashville TN 37204
6pm -- no cover
venue phone 615-298-1688
CD release sponsored by Music City Unsigned http://www.musiccityunsigned.com
The aptly named Ironwood radiates strength with every song. There's the woman who calls out
all liars in "Enough Bad Love." The gun-toting girlfriend in "Slimeball," and the tongue-in-cheek
barfly in "Whiskey Does it Better."
There's a lovely elegance to the record as well. Sparkling guitars highlight "Arizona,"
while stark piano and cello complement the title track. And producer Nomad Ovunc rose to
new levels on the hushed soundscape of "Dreams Come True." "It's mostly bass and voice,
and it's my favorite," Mare confides. "Nomad does this amazing thing where he frets the
bass high on the neck, making it sound like a harp. That tune is always a show-stopper
Mare celebrates the release of Ironwood with a Nashville show Friday, November 7th
at Douglas Corner Cafe.
"One of the best we've heard. Four stars!" -- Maverick Magazine, UK
"Cozy brilliance ... could she be the merger of Maria McKee, Natalie Merchant, Shawn Colvin and Dolly Parton?" -- Louisville Eccentric Observer
"Ironwood is a roots-driven Muscle Shoals-influenced Americana joyride--only the passengers are sipping Starbucks lattes instead of whiskey. Wakefield's voice is sweet and sexy, and the funky twangin' guitars recall the best episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard." -- ListenNashville.com
For more info please contact email@example.com