Friday, February 27, 2015

Ten years!


Billy didn’t see my nutty outfit this morning until he came downstairs wearing a shirt that matched my striped socks perfectly. This seems appropriate since Saturday marks the ten year anniversary of the day we met.

I came to his studio to make an old-timey Appalachian record and he played me a Black Sabbath CD, claiming it was his most recent project. I’d never heard Black Sabbath, so I thought about running. It was a quirky start to our artistic collaboration. I’m not sure why I hired him except that the other guy my producer took me to see was very serious. I don’t do so well with very serious anything. I think I also liked Billy’s blue tennis shoes and the fact that he was wearing a bright red t-shirt that said “Smile” on it. This seemed a good sign, despite the awkward Ozzy Osborne moment.

I had no idea that my whole life was going to change in the next six months. 

Ten years, ten flat tires, four houses, one Airstream, two turbochargers, one transmission, six tours in Britain, seven trips across the USA, three tours up in Canada, 300 times hearing me tell the story to Tazewell Beauty Queen, five pairs of tennis shoes, five pairs of red shoes, and 100 or so new songs. Here’s to true love and ten more and ten more and ten more years. And ten more . . .

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mawmaw Margie loved doilies and frosties






We rearranged some things in the house today as part of getting the recording studio up and running smoothly and I found a new place for this bookshelf. I got this folk doll in Pennsylvania about 15 years ago and she's one of my favorite little things :)

My Mawmaw Margie was partial to the crocheted pot holders. We buried her 23 years ago on this day. I miss her and all of knick knacks. I think I've written on here about the plastic banana she pretended was a phone to make us kids laugh. She called him Charlie :)

A ranger in Florida gave me this owl feather which I treasure. 

Life is short and full of surprises. Change comes upon you in a minute and you are in the middle of a new place in your mind. Mawmaw Margie wouldn't have any truck with all that philosophizing. She'd say, "Let's go down to the Wendy's and get us a frosty, girl!" 



Jeni & Billy February 2015 Newsletter Hot off the Cyber-press


Howdy Friends! We have a new newsletter hot off the cyber-presses. Wooohoooo! The highlights are our two new videos (y'all on social media are way ahead on that), our newly designed website (ooooh, ahhh), and the scoop on our upcoming tours. You can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/JnbNewsFeb2015

We would LOVE to have you on our email list because that's how we can let you know about stuff and it's not controlled by a Facebook/Twitter/Cyberlord algorithm. Meaning, you will actually get it when we send it which is the whole idea!

If you didn't get the newsletter, that means I couldn't read your handwriting when you signed up for it (what would your Kindergarten teacher say!), you never signed up for it (gasp!), your email changed and you forgot all about changing it at J&B Headquarters (we understand, cyberspace is a lot of work! yes, it actually is getting crazy), or you sent me a note saying your email changed which I noticed, but forgot about because I do an insane amount of email every day and sometimes on little objects like an iPhone (eek, I am sorry).

This can all be remedied by visiting www.jeniandbilly.com and putting your email address in the little white box on the righthand side and that would be much better than sending me your address via email, because I am liable to forget to add it to our list even though I mean to. Lots of smiles to you out there!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lady Smokey: Cooking up a family recipe while listening to Jeni & Billy



Traveling around, we are always surprised by how many people we meet who have ties to Southwest Virginia, West Virginia, and the Appalachians. How lovely to discover that a friend and neighbor has those ties, too, and that our music takes her back in time and place to her own childhood. Thanks to Kathryn for featuring Picnic in the Sky in her most recent blog post on a family visit and a favorite family recipe -- pepperoni rolls!
These look so scrumptious and we are going to jump into winging a vegan version with tofurky pepperoni. But Kathryn also says they make yummy dinner rolls. Oooo!
Kathryn is always cooking up something more-ish on her lady smokey blog, so you could follow her and cook with her! We do!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Big Pharma versus Kentucky

"Oxycodone has wrecked our home, and I ain’t seen Daddy for years.
Our last goodbye, I was high, and Daddy was fighting back tears.
Down in the cave, ain’t nobody saved from fear it’ll be their last time.
Daddy once said, 'Son keep your head, cause life it can turn on a dime.
Son just look at mine.'” – "Oxycodone" by Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp
Back in 2008, right before we were getting ready to finish our Jewell Ride Coal record, my Dad sent me an article about the opening of a methadone clinic for oxycontin addicts in Tazewell County, Virginia. After reading the article, we stopped production on the record, wrote the song “Oxycodone,” recorded it, and then put the song on Jewell Ridge Coal. The song helped us tell the whole story of life in the Appalachian mountains, today. Over the years, I’ve received more thank you messages about that song than any other, and, in particular, more messages from people in Southwest Virginia. 
Today Pacific Standard magazine published an article on the State of Kentucky versus Purdue Pharma, the purveyor of Oxycontin. It seems that Purdue is getting ready to pay the piper, but we all know that no money and no admission of devil-dealing, will bring back the communities and families destroyed by this drug. 
It’s an excellent long-form article about the voracious greed of big pharma and just how insidious they were in their false marketing of the drug to physicians: http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/how-the-american-opiate-epidemic-was-started-by-one-pharmaceutical-company
For the excellent article, “A Dark Addiction” by Nick Miroff, which inspired our song “Oxycodone” you can go here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/…/…/01/12/AR2008011201181.html
And to hear Oxycodone and any song from any Jeni & Billy record, you can visit our newly designed website: http://www.jeniandbilly.com/listen/s/oxycodone

Monday, February 23, 2015

No Room for Cyrus





Thank you for all of your encouragement during our Florida Tour with Mr Tomato! Here's a time lapse video we made while doing our packing puzzle, before the last concerts of the tour! ENJOY and SHARE, if so inclined! Thanks so much to my Mullins family relatives for such a terrific visit.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Genius in the living room


Report from a very roky Nashville, Tennessee: It's rather handy to have a guitar virtuoso in your living room 24/7. Ah, ain't true love grand? Yes, indeedy. Hugs and hot cocoa to all of our friends.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tweetsie in the rain


TBT to Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock, North Carolina: It almost always rained when we went to Tweetsie Railroad with Mawmaw Ann​, but this was nothing that cotton candy couldn’t fix.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Anchored down in Tennessee



Report from under a layer cake of quilts in Nashville, TN: When we are on tour people really can't believe that it gets cold in Nashville because it's in "The South." Even though I went to high school here and have lived here for nine years as an adult, they will truly act like I am delusional when I say it gets very cold here. I've had a couple of people tell me I'm just plain wrong and shout me down -- people who've never been here! I wish they could see this. Ha! Thanks to our friend, Annie, for pointing out that we might as well be in Alaska. :) The good news is that I wrote a new song and as soon as we can get the studio computer to quit acting up, we'll record a demo of it. Maybe the computer needs a quilt too.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Ice on the pagoda


We got home safely and woke up to snow on the ground and ice on the squirrel pagoda. Our incredible neighbors had groceries for us along with our mail, so it seems like we have a free pass to stay inside, go through our mail and unpack. I've just put biscuits in the oven. Thanks to MaryRita for the book in the mail and to Jen Lange and Susan for the cards. It's always great to get personal mail along with the bills and offers for gutter cleaning. I think hot cocoa, laundry, playing some songs, and a movie are on the agenda for later. Wishing warmth to our friends.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Storybooks around the bend


A storybook view awaits you just around the bend. Visit your city, county, state, and national parks and dream. This page of the storybook shows Denson's Creek in the Uwharrie Forest, Montgomery County, North Carolina. Heading home to Nashville today to get ahead of the storm and turn on our taps before the -8 degree night is upon us. Time for hot chocolate and homemade biscuits with honey. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

LOVE is the answer


Happy Valentine's Day to all of our beautiful friends!!!! We feel your LOVE and Kindness every day. And we send our love to YOU. Happy Anniversary to my wonderful parents -- a couple of crazy kids who went for it and who still keep us cracking up at the dinner table. And Happy Valentine's Day to my true love, Billy Kemp. Here's a photo of us 10 years ago at our first concert together – a Woody Guthrie tribute show in Baltimore at the Creative Alliance. LOVE is the answer.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Reckoning Day – LIVE at Caltech! Our FIRST official concert video!



We are over the moon to announce our all new YouTube Channel and launch our FIRST official concert video "Reckoning Day -- Live" performed with the Big Picnic Band at the Pasadena Folk Society on November 15, 2014. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE and we hope you will subscribe to our YouTube Channel, so you'll be the first to see our new videos. We have several in the hopper right now! 

Tremendous thanks to Pattie Van Over and Mark Indictor for creating the video with such love and care. You two are stellar! And many many thanks to Dave Way for mixing the live performance so lushly and beautifully (P.S. Ahhhhhh!!!!! Wheeee!!! On the new Grammy, Dave!).

This night was made possible through the enormous talents of the Big Picnic Band -- Craig Eastman, Dillon O'Brian, Denny Weston Jr., and Dave Way. Special thanks to Ali Moynihan Eastman for being our angel that night and looking after ever detail as only a best friend can.

And thanks to Greg Hankins for helping me get our YouTube channel in order. 

Remember to subscribe to our Channel for new videos.

And PLEASE consider SHARING "Reckoning Day -- Live" to get the word out about our music! 

You'll also find several newly added videos for Henry Lee and Single Girl (originally a special feature on our Longing for Heaven CD). And we've highlighted some of our favorite fan videos on our favorites page. 

All so exciting! Thank you for celebrating with us! Yes!

Thursday, February 12, 2015


TBT to Ninth Grade at Lewis & Clark Junior High. Mom is cleaning out the attic and she found my trusty pencil case which held my Student ID card, a piece of paper with my parents' contact info, my school photo in my favorite red jacket, and assorted pens & pencils including "Champions for Jesus" from Vacation Bible School and "BAA BAA BAA" from who knows where. I do miss those cute miniature Lindy pens. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mac switch


Forgive any silence over email or social media for the next few days as I switch computers. Fingers crossed, technology blessings much appreciated. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

See you in 2016, Florida!



What started with a trip to the attic to find our tents and camp stove ends with a visit to my parents to get my new used computer up and running and design a cd package or three. In between, we've done eleven concerts in Florida, laughed with friends -- new and old -- visited family, and made a start on a couple of new songs! 

Mr Tomato has performed admirably and may have earned his own Jeni & Billy bumper sticker by the end of this! 

We went out with a bang thanks to a community concert organized by our beautiful friends, Gerry & Fred. Every time a friend organizes a concert for us, I stand in awe of their gumption. We saw our friend Peggy Osborne who grew up down the road a piece from Jewell Ridge in Lebanon, Virginia. Peggy's mother was at the concert, too, and invited me to their family reunion which was one of the best after-concert compliments I've ever received. 

We are heading up to North Carolina in a light drizzle with our hearts full of friendship and thanks for all, near and far, who made this trip with us. Love to you.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Making house concert magic



Thanks to the very magical group of people who decided they'd like to hear some Jeni & Billy music last night and came to Chuck and Sandy Levy's. You filled the house quite literally with your laughter and kind spirits! Heading to New Port Richey for the last concert of the Florida tour, full of smiles and new song ideas! Love to you all.

Photos by Diana Smith and Bettianne Siegel Ford.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pajama-walking


Report from Ft Pierce, FL: Business first. Our two final Florida tours for 2015 are this weekend!!! Gainesville on Saturday. New Port Richey on Sunday. Both promise to be loads of fun! Truly. Tomorrow night is filling up! Details on both at  http://www.jeniandbilly.com/tour/
You can also contact Chuck Levy regarding Saturday night or Gerry McNamara Cload for the Sunday afternoon show. 

Wearing pajamas to go hiking accomplishes two things. First, the Eco-center guide completely underestimates my hiking prowess, so the pressure is off. Secondly, when I return and she learns that I've done the whole trail twice in my pajamas, she starts thinking about hiking in pajamas, wondering what kind of edge she could get out of that kind of gear.

You don't need special gear to walk. Go out and get those 10,000 steps a day! I'll be your friend across the miles! I've made a commitment to do my steps every day this year and it's been a blast watching those step numbers creep up each day and walking around living rooms and driveways at night just to get those last 1,000 steps. Start a pajama-walking revolution! It's fun to surprise people. I think I'll go for polar bear or penguin PJs next time. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Luggage and travel between grandmothers


TBT from Smith Ridge, Virginia: I can't imagine what caused our sour puss expressions except that Sarah​ and I may have been interrupted during a Days of our Lives, Another World, Santa Barbara marathon with a topping of Bewitched and The Andy Griffith show. Or maybe we are on the verge of leaving to go to Mawmaw Margie's in town – Richlands – where we would have to take a bath and then would be vulnerable to the sensitive noses of the Witches, if Roald Dahl was to be believed. We may be worried about being eaten by those Seymour-esque plants. But I am glad we have a record of our suitcases, which we carried on a daily basis from one grandmother's house to the other's. This began our lifelong dedication to taking as much luggage as possible for the shortest trip. I would later parlay this skill into getting a sewing machine home from England. So, as usual, our Mawmaw Ann​, slyly taught us life skills that would easily compete with and possibly vanquish anything we learned in trigonometry.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy in Welsh

Thrilled to pieces that we are now confirmed for our first ever gig in Cardiff, Wales, on May 16. I have always wanted to go there and have been very patient and then because of the lovely review written by Richard Smith, it's now all happening. Many thanks to Richard for planting the seed of what promises to be a happy occasion. On my way to update the website with this and some more new gigs for our tour of Britain! Yes!

Flower power



Manic Monday! Last week, Billy insisted on taking a photo of my flower power ensemble. Certainly inspired by Molly Ringwald's portrayal of Andy in Pretty in Pink smile emoticon sleepy head courtesy of tent camping.