Still Married Band Blog

Banjo's Awesome Modesto Adventure 

Word came last week that my song, 2:20, made it to the finals of the Northern California Women's Music Festival Songwriting Contest  I was invited to perform the tune at the festival on Saturday evening. I hemmed and hawed about making the trip -- it's four hours away and we had no one to care for The Banjo Dog.

Then 18-year old Joe, said: "Mom, you HAVE to go. What are you doing music for if NOT for things like this?!"

He had a point.

So I logged on to BringFido.com and located a dog-friendly hotel. Got a great deal on a room where our goofy dog was welcome.   Banjo's been part of the family for six months but this would be his first road trip. Turns out he's a trooper. Loves riding in the truck and he's the perfect hotel guest: quiet, neat and unlikely to steal towels.

Banjo likes hotels!
We headed out early on Saturday morning and made it to Modesto in the early afternoon. This was the first Northern California Women's Music Festival. What a lovely event. The Prospect Theater is intimate and beautifully appointed, a comfortable space that was obviously created by someone who loves the theater. The stage and the lighting were lovely and sound was perfect.  Best of all were the people -- great folks created this festival and made it happen in a big way -- a joyful vibe permeated the room.


The song, 2:20, was inspired by a late-night trip that we made to the Redding train station last year. It was eerie and odd to be out in Redding at two am, waiting in the dark for the arrival of the Coast Starlight. There was NO sleep for us that night -- we were texting and keeping track of Joe (our smart kid) who was headed to the Bay Area to visit my dear sister and her husband.

All sorts of thoughts floated through my mind that sleepless night - and I imagined a woman leaving town under rather dire circumstances and wrote a song around that story.

I played the song to an attentive audience and was delighted that my sleepless night paid off and I won the songwriting contest.




Banjo's patience was wearing thin at this point, so we said our goodbyes and set out in search of a dog-friendly restaurant.

Dews in Modesto had a lovely patio.

"Can we sit here with our dog?" "Of course!"  "Champagne?"  "Why, yes."

What a place -- calamari fritta was fabulous, followed by a bleu cheese encrusted New York Steak and Blackened Sea Bass. The bread pudding ala mode - bliss! All the while, Banjo laid quietly at my feet.   It was a perfect evening.



"The bill, please?"

"It's been paid for.  An anonymous donor wanted to help you celebrate."

Oh. My. Goodness. -- An amazing day from start to finish. Back to earth tomorrow. But in the small songwriting world I live in, this counts a truly awesome adventure.


-- Erin










Yes, Redding, there IS an end to Summer 

How do I know? Because we are playing the Autumn Art Reception at Redding City Hall on Thursday, September 18th from 5-7 PM.  

 


This is a lovely,  annual community event - a gift from the City of Redding. The new art displays are unveiled, complimentary refreshments provided, the artists are on hand to talk about their work and North State Songwriters will provide a sound track of original tunes.

Still Married plays at 5, followed by singer- songwriter Will Miller, who will perform indie folk and country music. Presenting dirt road country and folk with a vintage spirit will be Hal Johnson, and singer-songwriter Anne Dezort will carry on the rich tradition of folk music in a deeply personal way.
 
We are delighted to share the stage with these musicians and are especially excited to be bringing some family members along as a cheering section.  
 
Ron and BobbyLee Negri
Craig's mother and stepfather are immortalized on our recording of Shut Up in the Key go G -- they play the part of the loudmouth drunks -- and we will be asking them to reprise their roles when we get to this song on the playlist.
 
Celebrate the Arts in Redding this Thursday - we'd love to see you there. You're welcome to tell us to "SHUT UP!" too:
 
 

Nashville Comes to Redding 

Nashville singer-songwriter Kacey Jones has been called "irrepressible," "zany," "brilliant," and more for her clever songwriting skills.  She's bringing her tunes and her sassy style to The Post Office in Downtown Redding TONIGHT at 7.

Listen to "Donald Trump's Hair" and her splendid version of Mickey Newbury's "San Francisco Mabel Joy" and come on out to the Post Office tonight for music and laughter.


Shasta County Tunes Head to Worldfest 

We're packing up our gear and heading to Grass Valley to perform at California Worldfest.

From their website:


www.worldfest.net

                                                           A WORLD OF MUSIC

Under the cool, tall pines of the Sierra Foothills
Featuring 8 stages of music from around the world,
camping with family and friends, workshops, international food,
fine crafts, and the renowned children's program.

We call it "a tremendous opportunity." There's a stellar line-up of musicians and activities for the weekend and it looks like the temperatures at the fairgrounds in Grass Valley are a fair bit cooler than here in Shasta County.

We are thrilled to be taking the stage at 10 AM and noon on Friday, July 11th, along with the two other KZFR Songwriting finalists: Hannah Jane Kyle (winner!) and Dan Casamajor.  

We'll be sharing our love of our Shasta County home with the audience -- singing songs about Redding trains, Mount Shasta and our magnificent Sundial Bridge.  And chickens, of course.

Here's the finale from the KZFR Celebration of the Song Event held at the  Sierra Nevada Big Room last month -- Will the Circle Be Unbroken -- featuring the talents of Joe Craven, Dan Casamajor, Hannah Jane Kyle and a couple of grinning rubes from Cottonwood.


Freedom and The Mustangs of Las Colinas 

I always considered it the mark of a lazy songwriter:  The LONG introduction.

            "Ahem....This song is about a time when my roommate and her ex-husband had this fight and ....blah...blah...blah...."

Sorry, but if I can't tell what the song is about from listening to it, then you haven't done your job. Re-write, please.

Ummm...What's the emoticon for Eating Crow?

Because here I am, being THAT songwriter, explaining an obscure reference in my latest song, because unless you know this sculpture in Irving, Texas, the song may not make much sense.

The Mustangs of Las Colinas
photo from the Irving Archives -  used with permission 


I saw photos of "The Mustangs of Las Colinas" by wildlife sculptor Robert Glen online and thought it was magnificent piece of art. Magical. Inspiring.  There's such forward motion and energy behind it, such high spirit and yet...

I knew I had to fit it into a song.

photo from the Irving Archives, used with permission


At about the same time, I became aware of the serious problem of sex trafficking in the US. Seems it is NOT just a Third-World-Other-People's-Problem, but a real menace right here in California. And it involves children and teens exploited and enslaved by the adults in the their lives, innocent victims who deserve better.

Those ideas came together in this song.

The folks at The Mustangs of Las Colinas in Texas kindly provided photos of their prized sculpture - and the story behind it is well worth reading at their website: The Mustangs of Las Colinas.

For more information on sex trafficking and what is being done to help victims:

Courage Wordwide: a Rocklin, California-based organization devoted to building homes for rescued children.

Northern California Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

And after that very long-winded (sorry) introduction, here's the song (lyrics are below):




THE MUSTANGS OF LAS COLINAS

Words and music by Erin Friedman

Saw a picture in a magazine
Ponies running through a stream
Water splashing at their feet
Cast in bronze, set in stone

Nurse called my name, set my wrist
Another clumsy accident
Wait in the parking lot for him
We’ll head on down the road

And we run like The Mustangs of Las Colinas
Full of fury, fire and frozen in place
But unlike The Mustangs of Las Colinas
I’ll reach the far shore
I’m breakin’ away

Fifteen and livin’ in a homeless hell
Friend or foe? – It’s hard to tell
But he rescued me and taught me well
To do what a girl can do

Kept his promises with lock and key
Cigarette burns on the sheets
The girl who planned to chase her dreams
Can’t find the strength to move

So we run like The Mustangs of Las Colinas
Full of fury, fire and frozen in place
But unlike The Mustangs of Las Colinas
I’ll reach the far shore
I’m breakin’ away

Don’t bite the hand that brings your meals
Don’t talk too much, don’t think, don’t feel
But those ponies kickin’ up their heels
Keep runnin’ through my mind

Stalled stampede at the starting gate
Slow-motion scene that culminates
With a single shot from a .38
Race is on, and the water’s fine

And I run like The Mustangs of Las Colinas
Full of fury, fire and frozen no more
But unlike The Mustangs of Las Colinas
I’ll find my freedom
I'll climb that far shore

© 2014 Erin Friedman






Chickens on the Playlist 

Many years ago there was a middle-of-the-night commotion in our chicken yard. I hopped out of bed and found 14-year-old Max in the hall, "Something's messing with the chickens," he shouted, "let's go!"

Max was clad in underpants and brandishing a huge Claymore sword that he bought at the Renaissance Faire. I was armed with a flashlight. We set out to see what was so upsetting to our laying hens.

What we found was a possum. And a song.

Possum in the Hen House is on our playlist for out July 1st  gig at the Sundial Music Festival. Still Married plays at 7, followed by The Torpedoes at 8, so wear your dancing' shoes.



The Cardboard Sign 

Splendid view from the Riverfront Amphitheater last week
A couple years ago I read “The Last American Man” – Elizabeth Gilbert’s biography of Eustace Conway, a man who escaped to the wilderness, lived off the land and encouraged others to do the same. If you’ve read “Eat, Pray, Love,” then you know Elizabeth Gilbert and she plays a part in Eustace’s story.

Hitching rides is also part of Eustace’s adventure, and at one point, a hitchhiker explains his secret for getting drivers to stop to pick him up. There’s a single word you can write on your sign that virtually guarantees a ride. 

I loved the story and filed it away – sure that one day I could turn it into a song. 

It's on our playlist for the Sundial Music Festival on July 1st at 7 PM. We're ordering up a cool river-breeze for you, and there will be food trucks and beer. Torpedoes play at 8. Should be great fun.


When a teenage boy produces his parents' music video.... 

Max was 16 years old and the only one in the family who owned a video camera back in 2008, so we were at his mercy when we asked him to produce a video for our song "Shut Up in the Key of G."

The kid did a good job for us -- though he may have had a little too much fun.



This is the song we close out our shows with - we'll be playing it at the Sundial Music Festival at 7 PM on Tuesday evening, July 1st.  Join us for this celebration of the Sundial Bridge's 10th anniversary -- But please refrain from throwing things, unless it's large bills.


"It's my highway, I can cry if I want to..." 

Well....OK, it's not exactly "My Highway," but last year,  after I lost my Dad, I found myself using my daily Drive Time for crying.  It worked out well, because I could sob privately, in peace, and by the time I got where I was going, I was ready to face the world.

I came to call that stretch of road between home and work my "Cryin' Highway." I wanted to write a song about it, but I didn't want to write a sad, heart-wrenching ballad, because I truly believe that tears are healing and getting past grief requires attending to the emotional details - even when they wreck your mascara and make you look all puffy.

And besides, Dad liked rollicking, fun tunes, so I owed him something up-beat.

The song I came up with is "Cryin' Highway." We debuted it a few weeks ago and it's on the playlist for our set at the Sundial Music Festival on July 1st.

Check out the details here: Sundial Music Festival


 
 

Celebrating 10 Years of Inspiration 

The Sundial Bridge is one of those places that continues to inspire and delight me. My daughter was a volunteer with Turtle Bay in 2004 when the bridge opened and was one of the first to get to cross it. Since then,  I get out there every chance I get.
 


I've found a lot songs on that span and on the adjacent River Trail, including Under the Sundial Bridge and River Whispers.  So we were delighted to be asked to perform some of our tunes during the Sundial Music Festival,  part of the Celebrate 10 festivities.

The Riverfront Amphitheater is a cool, grassy slope above a stage that sits just off the river bank,  it's north of the Convention Center, between the Sundial Bridge and the Boat Ramp.   It's a perfect spot to share our locally-inspired tunes.

In addition to music, you'll also find a beer garden and food trucks with all sorts of goodies available.
photo by Cierra Goldstein

Sundial Music Festival runs from 6 -9 PM,  June 22 - June 25 and June 29 - July 2.  It features  different musical acts every night.

Still Married will perform on Tuesday, July 1st, at 7 PM at the
Riverfront Amphitheater.

More details are here: http://www.shastaartscouncil.org

This tune is on our playlist for the Sundial Music Festival - hope to see lots of friends there for this a momentous occasion. Ten years of beauty, grace and inspiration is well worth a grand celebration.



 
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