I was supposed to run for President in 2012.

Tomorrow is election day. A Presidential election, at that. Is it bad that I feel fortunate not to live in an ‘important’ state such as Ohio? I have friends there who had received 12 political phone calls THIS MORNING!!! There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of the political game! In fact, it all started before I was enough old enough to vote. When I was in high school, my best friend and I hatched a plan that in the year 2012, we would run on a ticket since we would be 35 in the year 2012. Ha…how things have changed and somehow time has stood still because there is no way I am really 35!!

One thing that hasn’t changed is how serious I take my right and obligation to vote. I have voted in every election that I was eligible for since I turned 18. Sometimes that included voting by absentee ballot, sometimes that included driving to multiple voting locations after moving into a new precinct, sometimes that meant bring all 4 kids with me. Although the last one was often a pain….contrary to popular belief, becoming a mother does not include gaining a set of eyes in the back of your head. Therefore, trying to concentrate on the ballot in front of you can become quite the challenge when you bring four young children with you to vote.

But, pain or not, bringing the kids with me is something I will always do. In fact, on primary days, I wait until they are off school to ensure they can still go. I clearly remember going with my parents to vote when I was young and I think it had a large impact on my feelings surrounding voting today. I want to help instill that same since of duty in my children that my parents did for me.

One of our favorite family stories surrounding voting happened during the last Presidential election. I made the big effort to get all 4 children out the door…they were ages 6, 4, 2 and newborn at the time and getting out the door was always a challenge!! Anyway, we got to our voting place and the oldest two boys were given Kids’ Vote ballots to fill out. Not wanting to miss out on something, their 2 yr old sister said she wanted one also. Of course, I had to help them fill it out (I won’t tell who they voted for, but I approved.)  And when it got to be my daughter’s turn, I asked her who she wanted me to check off. She looked at me and shook her head. She didn’t want either one of the options. I was started to get antsy to be done and pushed her to pick one. Again, she shook her head and said “I want Fancy Nancy!” And that is who I wrote it!! To fully appreciate the story, you need to know that Fancy Nancy is a character in a children’s book series who has red, curly hair and likes everything fancy. You also need to know that that description pretty much fits my daughter as well!!

Tomorrow is the big day and I don’t care who you vote for (well, I do, but….), JUST VOTE!!! Let your voice be heard. Here is another plea from a friend and amazing musician to vote. Please watch this video…words can’t describe how moving it is. Ben Sollee made his way to the Lincoln Memorial recently and sang his song, A Few Honest Words, even after being relocated by security. As you can see, the lyrics make this song very fitting this time of the year.

A Few Honest Words

If you’re going to lead my country,
If you’re gonna say it’s free
I’m gonna need
a little honesty

Just a few honest words
It shouldn’t be that hard
Just a few honest words
Is all I need

I don’t need no handshake
No firm look in the eye
Don’t tell me what you think I,
I ought to hear

I don’t need no high life
No fancy premiers
Just tell me what you really think
Without fear

Just a few honest words
It shouldn’t be that hard
Just a few honest words
Is all I need

Love is a bitter food
You’ve learned to eat
You still don’t know, oh,
Where it grows

And our love of freedom
Holds a veil over our eyes
Rights that are given
Can be taken away

Just a few honest words
It shouldn’t be that hard
Just a few honest words
Is all I need

We don’t choose our leaders
The choose themselves
Tell me again
About democracy

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My music rut has been broken!

I am more than willing to admit that I can easily get into a music rut. I have the tendency to listen to a song or album over and over and over again if I really like it. I am pretty sure I spent years of my youth with American Pie on repeat….except the repeat technology wasn’t so good then. It took much more effort to rewind the tape at the end of the song. I even got fancy and recorded multiple tracks on a tape, so I could listen 2-3 times before having to rewind. Ah, kids these days don’t know what they are missing (and just to clarify….I was not even born when the song first came out…it was just a gem I discovered one summer in grade school).

At least my music neurosis nearly always revolve around good music (I am proud to say I was never into the New Kids On The Block!). Well, for the past few months not only have there been just a small handful of bands that have come out of my speakers (minus my morning dedication to WFPK), but I have been spoiled by those same bands because I have had the pleasure of seeing them live…some of them more than once and some more even more than twice!! I’m talking to you Walk The Moon, Ha Ha Tonka, The Features, Langhorne Slim, Ben Sollee, and The Head And The Heart!! In fact, this blog has been quiet because I can feel you all rolling your eyes when I bring up any of the aforementioned bands….I know I have made it known how much I love them.

And some pretty amazing things have happened with those bands since the beginning of the year – Walk The Moon has just exploded, especially with the ‘young people’…makes me still feel young. haha Langehorne Slim launched a PledgeMusic crowd-sourcing campaign that was fully funded within days and he just released a new album that has broken the Billboard top 200!

But let’s move to the fun amazing things that are connected to me. 😀 In January, I started working with Ben Sollee as his social media and Team Sollee coordinator. It has been a fabulous ride that allows me to use my brain for something other than mommy stuff!! I actually get to use my good ole’ Bellarmine University Communications degree for something other than trying to interpret baby babble. Woohoo! Plus, it gives me a chance to help an independent musician whom I fully support and respect. Then Ha Ha Tonka was playing at Uncle Slaytons around my birthday (I had gotten to know them when I interviewed them), so my hubby helped organize a group of friends to come to the show and to my shock and dismay, Ha Ha Tonka called me up on stage, mentioned the blog and lead everyone in singing happy birthday to me. These guys are great and always so kind and friendly whenever I see them (I promise I am not a groupie, but I have seen them 3 times in 5 months and even went 8 hours away to see them….don’t worry, it coincided with an already planned trip!!). Lastly, The Head And The Heart. I started following them very early in their career…just as they were self-releasing their album (before they got picked up by subpop). And I still have trouble believing how all of the pieces just magically fell into place and it is hard to write about them because it just really doesn’t seem real. All I know is that I was able to have dinner with the band before their Louisville show at Headliners, gave Charity a ride to the show from dinner and shared bourbon on the tour bus with Josiah after the show. An entertaining twitter convo was also thrown in there. All of the above groups are just so real and genuine. I am afraid the bar has been set pretty high for any and all future groups that I fall in love with!!

So, you can see why I was pretty content with my musical rut (and see how I am totally trying to justify my craziness!!). Except, I was starting to feel like a fraud for not posting about the newest and greatest music out there! And something new just jumped out at me. The Lumineers. I had heard of them and even heard some of their stuff on WFPK, but for whatever reason I hadn’t paid that much attention to them. Until I was watching tv with my 6 year old daughter and a commercial came on and she said “i know that song”. It was familiar to me, too, but I had to shazam it. And what do you know, it was Ho Hey by The Lumineers. I checked them out on spotify and immediately order their cd. And now, because of my neurosis that we have already established, my kids and I know just about all the words to the whole cd. We’ve had it for 3 days. I love them, I love them, I love them. My only problem is that they aren’t scheduled to come to town. I guess that gives me some time to figure out how I can make friends with them, too. Enjoy this earworm….

A Christmas Gem….

I stumbled upon a Christmas gem….a collaboration between Billy Bragg and Ben Sollee. It is Billy’s first Christmas song (and I believe Ben’s as well) and it was published a year ago on Dec.20, 2010 (Dec.20 just also happens to be Billy’s birthday!).  The title is “We’re Following The Wrong Star” and its a different kind of Christmas song, but I dig it. Makes you think about what the holiday season should be about.

it’s really gone.

It’s gone. And I am totally devastated. Is it weird to have that kind of reaction to a store closing? Maybe. But, ear X-tacy was so much more than a store in Louisville for the past 26 years. It was a community of music loving people and now I feel like our home has vanished without warning. No time to prepare our hearts or say one last goodbye. My head understand that it is a reflection on the changing times in the music industry, but my heart is aching.

I could go on for days about what ear X-tacy meant in my life.  But what hurts now more than anything is that my kids won’t get to grow up with the embracing, supportive, local music store. Our family has experienced some amazing moments there. One that stands out strongly in my mind was when Josh Ritter played an in-store  on May 17, 2010.  I had to sign my eldest, who was in 1st grade at the time, out of school early to make it to the show on-time. It was one of those ‘good Mom vs. music Mom’ moments and I am so glad to say that music Mom won out! My youngest and strongest rocker was just over 2 years old at the time and strapped in the front pack, so that he wouldn’t rush the stage and take Josh down with hugs! We played Josh Ritter’s music on a regular basis at the house (still do!), so the kids all knew it and my little guy just kept saying, “lala”. He was a very late talker and when he said “lala”, it meant he wanted to listen to Josh. So, to see him perform in the intimate setting of ear X-tacy was mind-blowing for my little 2 year old! But, there is more. We stayed after and got to meet Josh. He was gracious, patient and unbelievable. He got down on his knees to meet each of the kiddos and talked directly to them. He gave them guitar pics. And high fives. My little rocker still talks about the high five! He signed our CD: “to a rock n roll family”. It was an experience my family will never forget.

When you walked into ear X-tacy, there was always such a welcoming feel. I am sure I often looked like a spectacle bring my foursome in, but some days I just needed some music to make it through and ear X-tacy was the answer. I was always greeted with a friendly smile and hello. In fact, if I miraculously entered by myself, I was usually asked where my crew was. They provided such a special place that never made me second guess bringing my kids to in-stores. It is because of them that my kids have been exposed to so many very talented bands in a live setting. Usually, kids aren’t welcome in the concert setting, but ear X-tacy opened a whole new world. And I will never be able to repay my gratitude. It was at the Abigail Washburn in-store that my little guy became enthralled with her super-sized banjo! He had never seen anything like it before!  Another one of our favorite in-stores was when Daniel Martin Moore and Dan Dorff performed at the Loop and we got a very up-close view of some outstanding music when the Dans stepped off stage and right in front of where we were sitting…kids were hooked!! (the redheads briefly shown are mine!)

ear X-tacy was so supportive to the local music scene. Sure, they got some great national artists in. I loved seeing Matisyahu and Dawes perform there earlier this year! But ear X-tacy was always there to help the local artists. It was a great family event when we got to see our cousins’ band, Adventure, play there. And even more fun when we walked into the Loop store shortly after it opened and found our cousin, Alex Clark‘s CD on display, with Adventure in the background.

I had recently asked Ben Sollee what ear X-tacy meant to him…this was before the closing, but his elegant words sum up how many people thought of ear X-tacy and are too good not to share:

“As an independent musician I spend a tremendous amount of time working with social media, blogs, online magazines, and every other kind of virtual community you can imagine. But there’s a lonely quality to those adventures. There’s still nothing like walking in to my favorite record store and seeing what’s on the shelves… seeing handmade displays constructed lovingly for an employee’s favorite artist, getting advise on new music, finding old recordings that no one else cared to listen to… it’s all tangible. It’s personal. It’s a place we’re a physical community gathers to share ideas and passions. It may not always be profitable to sell recorded music, but there will always be a place for a record store that can curate and share essential art in the communtiy.” – Ben Sollee

It is a little hard to watch this movie trailer for Brick and Mortar and Love, knowing that ear X-tacy is no longer…it is exactly what they were trying to prevent.

I, too, wish it weren’t time for ear X-tacy to die. RIP. You will be missed more than anyone realizes. You have been an influential factor in the lives of so many and I wish Louisville didn’t have to let go. I am sure I will get to the point where I can look back and be happy about my time and experiences at ear X-tacy, but right now, I am just too sad to think of anything other than the hole ear X-tacy’s departure is leaving in the community and future. I was counting on my little rocker growing up with ear X-tacy and fulfilling his often talked about dream of performing on their stage. It was one of the first things he asked about when I told him it was closed…”what about the stage? I want to play there. Will bands still play?” No, my sweet boy, they will not.  I hope somehow that the Louisville music scene can come together and move that stage so that it doesn’t get lost forever.

I’ll let Jim James, of My Morning Jacket, have the last word since I agree with it all. Jim and the other members of MMJ have always been very vocal with their love and support of ear X-tacy and he says it so well.  This was posted on MMJ’s website earlier today:

“there is a tear in my eye right now as i hear about the closing of one of my favorite places on earth- ear-xtacy. i send thanks and healing vibes to john and everyone who has worked so hard at the store over the years…the presence of that sacred place will be sorely missed. people-let this be a big wake up call to us…we need these place to gather as a community and share ideas about music and art and love and life and…for the love of god…it cant all take place online…or i fear that one day we will all wake up bleary-eyed and hung over from our technology binge and find the real world long gone…let us be inspired by places like “please and thank you,” “carmichaels,” “pops retails and consignment,” “heine brothers” and all the great independent ma and pa stores around the globe- leading us into a new era of what a creative business can be…we need to support these places and help create more…the mp3 has killed the idea of what a traditional record store used to be, but that should only be cause for us to re-invent and support things the computer can never kill…we need these real place…where you can still buy a record from a local band or a hard to find label or root thru stacks of used vinyl…or get a cup of coffee…or buy an old stereo system or synthesizer or a pair of jeans…or learn a new skill…or teach a new skill…and love your fellow human in person and face to face to face and all in the same place. lets brainstorm. lets build more of these places. lets stick together. lets support each other. lets figure it out.” -jim james



Go.See.Ben.Sollee.Live. (and try to win tickets here!!)

Wow.  I’ve never written anything that has required so many re-dos and so much effort.  I can’t get the words right. The issue isn’t the subject.  Well, maybe it is, but not because he isn’t good.  It’s because he is so talented, unique and an outstanding man that I feel overwhelmed with painting a flawless picture of him for you.  My experience with Ben Sollee may have been more than the average fan (read about that here), but everyone who meets him pretty much says the same thing: He is an incredible musician and such a genuine guy!

When you talk with Ben, you quickly find out that he is soft-spoken and embraces doing things in his own, unique way.  Everything-from the way he tours (he ‘ditches the van‘ for part of his tour each year and travels by bicycle) to the way he plays his cello.  Yes, I said cello.  No–I haven’t switched musical focuses to classical.

Don’t ask me to classify Ben’s music. Not sure it can be put into a box–he’s not an ‘in the box’ kinda guy.  It isn’t classical, that for sure, even though that was his foundation. “Pop cello” is the easy way out-but is is SO much more. It has so much depth and so many layers that aren’t usually associated with pop.  Ben is the MacGyver of the cello world. Paving (maybe peddling is more accurate!) his way with brand new sounds and techniques that make you forget how the cello is ‘supposed’ to sound.  He uses his hands and plays it like a guitar.  He uses his bow and has perfected the chopping sound. But most impressive is the voice and words that accompany the one of a kind cello sounds.

Ben’s voice has a deep and impassioned sound that comes from an old soul. He will blow your mind when the sound comes out and then he will keep you flying when you listen to the lyrics. One his 2010 release, Dear Companion, with Daniel Martin Moore, they focus on the issues surrounding mountain top removal and the message comes through. But even on his other releases, his voice is strong. His latest album, Inclusions, feels much more personal, but still fabulous! I could go on and on with my favorite lyrics, but here are a few:

“If I’ve wounded you, I’m sorry.
I had good intentions.
If I’ve wounded you, I’m sorry.
It happens all the time.”  -Something, Somewhere, Sometime

“When my bare hands touch the base of you spine
I feel you shudder and you close your eyes
Move like a swallow and I’m Hypnotized”  -Electrified

Ben is going places and others are starting to recognize this talented performer from Kentucky! He has been featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series, as well as Mountain Stage and even in the Wall Street Journal! At this year’s Bonnaroo, Rolling Stone also took notice.

Part of my trouble with writing this is that I want to entice each and everyone of you to see Ben Sollee live. I promise it will be an evening you won’t soon forget. But, just in case my writing isn’t enough, I will give away 2 tickets to Ben’s show on Friday, Oct.14th at Headliners. All you have to do is tag Last Bit of Sanity on your facebook status or post on the wall and you will be entered to win!

We were lucky enough to be in attendance when both of these clips were filmed! 🙂

Clear the Calendar!!!

It’s always like a kick in the pants when you discover this great new group, only to find out that they were just in your city playing live. And you missed it.  Arg! It’s time to dig into these groups, get your sitters and get ready to enjoy a little adult time out of the house!! All of these shows are at Headliners. And if you plan on going, let me know.  There is nothing better than sharing good music with great friends!!!

  • Sept. 22 – Ten out of Tenn:  This is a group of 10 musicians from Tennessee (go figure!), including Katie Herzig and Gabe Dixon.  According to their website, there are a collective of incredibly talented friends who, as individual artists, have released over thirty albums, had song placements in countless television programs & films and shared the stage with musicians such as REM, Sarah McLachlan and John Mayer. It was also just announced that they will be doing an in-store at ear X-tacy at 5:30pm the same night. 
  • Sept 30 – Pokey Lafarge with Maiden Raido and Whiskey Bent Valley Boys: This isn’t Pokey’s first time in Louisville this year and I know people are glad to have him back! I missed him last time, but hope to make up for it this time around.  Watching and listening to him is like stepping back in time.  He just has this classic bluesy-western feeling with killer harmonica! And he dresses the part!! Plus, opening for him that night is none other than the local girls of Maiden Radio.  Julia Purcell, Cheyenne Marie Mize and Joan Shelley make up the trio who has a new release called Lullabies with songs originally recorded for Julia’s daughter.  It is produced by Daniel Martin Moore on Ol Kentuck Records.
  • Oct. 6 – G. Love & Special Sauce with The Apache Relay: I am very excited to see both of these groups!! G.Love’s newest solo release, Fixin’ to Die, came out in February 2011 and was produced and backed by The Avett Brothers. Their sound is unique…a mix of hip-hop, blues and their own sound! See for yourself:      I think this will be a high energy show, since I’ve heard that The Apache Relay goes all out in their shows! I love the lyrics on this is song… “home is not places, it is love”. 

That’s all for now, but you will also want to get sitters for Oct.14 (Ben Sollee), Oct. 16 (Trombone Shorty), Oct. 20 (Dawes), Oct.27 (road trip to Lexington for The Avett Brothers). Don’t worry, I will be previewing all of those shows, too.  Just didn’t want to overwhelm you (okay, okay…it was me getting overwhelmed and consumed with finding the perfect videos to post 😉 ).

It’s gonna be alright….

Here’s a little therapeutic music on this day of remembrance…Ben Sollee has a way of making me believe that ‘it’s gonna be alright’.

You’re looking for answers
Where there’s none to be had

I can see the patterns
I can feel the repetition
…you’re hurting

It’s gonna be alright, it’s gonna be alright