Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To be an artist, you have to fill your own shoes

Report on the occasion of leaving Los Angeles, California: When your cup runneth over with joy, sometimes you need to go stare at big old rocks. As our friend, Joseph, says, it's time for us to "be light and be salt." So, that's where we are headed today and for Thanksgiving -- to the land of big old rocks, Joshua Tree National Park. 

In some ways, we'll be coming full circle by driving back into that particular desert, because we were coming out of it two Mays ago when Dillon O'Brian called and invited us to the Malibu Inn to hear Moonalice. The terrible waitress at the Malibu Inn meant that Dave Way and Billy had to go find our drinks (even our austere water) and then they hatched the plan to have a recording session on my birthday. Billy doesn't generally remember about presents and holidays, but when he does, I get something like a whole recording session! Maybe I should send that waitress a thank you card.

I have always been a Jill of all trades. I have been a poet, beekeeper, painter, singer, sewist, booking agent, tour manager, journalist, graphic designer, travel agent, and accountant. When I was a kid, I was on math team, but also a ballerina. I went to a brainiac summer school for astronomy and sold my own book of poetry in the mall when I was 13. When I grew up, I was unwilling to give up any of these things. And with the encouragement of my parents, I found the one job that allowed me to combine all of the things I love. And shortly after I decided to be a performing songwriter, Billy appeared in my life. 

In the last year, and especially in the course of this Way Out West tour, I have, for the first time in my life, felt like a true working artist. Because there isn't really such a thing as singer-songwriter and storytelling school, I have always felt a bit unsure if I was qualified for my job. If I had wanted to be a nurse, gone to nursing school, and was now an RN, I wouldn't hesitate to think of myself as a Nurse. My schools were not only colleges and universities, but also children's theaters, football fields, symphonic halls, ballet bars, church choirs, and hard pews. But no one ever handed me a piece of paper that said I was officially a performing artist. So, I have been trying to grow into my own vision of what that calling would look like.

After hundreds of shows and 250,000 miles, five records and five quilt backdrops, something began to shift in me. I began to own my vocation right down to my red dancing shoes. 

And all of you have helped because you believe I am an artist and talk to me just as if I am. So thank you! Your friendship is one of the great joys of my life and so very nourishing.

Billy and I will be in the desert a few hours from now until Saturday, so we wish you a beautiful Thanksgiving and we send our friends in Canada and Britain love and warmth as well. 

Thank you to each and every one of our friends for being our light and salt. We love you. 

Photo by the wonderful, Amber Cross.

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