Sunday, November 29, 2009

Good news

Two good things happened this weekend. One, I went to the peace vigil that takes place at a major shopping intersection every Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. Sometimes Pete Seeger is there, sometimes he isn't. I go when I can, whether he's going to be there or not (I almost never know anyway). Well, this time he was there, and there was an entourage of about 10 folks with him (one wag refers to them as "Pete-ophiles -- they only show up if he's going to be there). One of my friends had recorded "Peace Pilgrim" and "Stories" just for Pete to listen to. She played "Peace Pilgrim," and by the second chorus, Pete was singing along!

At 2 p.m. our custom is to gather around a tree and sing a few peace songs before parting ways for the week. This same friend asked me to sing "Peace Pilgrim." Pete played along on the banjo, and once again sang on the chorus, and praised the song as "beautiful." I gave him the CD; he was amused that there was a quote from him on the back. At someone's request, he played "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," which, alas, is still relevant.

Oh, and three people bought my CD, on the strength of the one song I played!

Then I got an email today. A friend had been at the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Bennington, VT and had heard Cindy Mangsen cover "Stories"! This is quite an honor to me because I think very highly of Cindy Mangsen and her husband, Steve Gillette (

So it's been a great weekend. I know there are ups and downs in this business; I'm just glad for every up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

CD Release Party, and NERFA

My CD Release Party was on the afternoon of Sunday, November 1, 2009. I was extremely fortunate that many of the people who'd performed on the album were able to attend and back me up. Only the violinist and harmonica player were unable to make it. About 30 people came, some from a distance -- and gave me a standing ovation! My first one ever!

I had each of my backup performers do a song of their own. That took some of the pressure off of me and I think made it a more varied, and therefore enjoyable, concert. The other performers seemed to feel I was doing them a favor, but really it was a favor to me as well. I'm really glad I did it.

I sold about 17 CDs that day. I'm not keeping track as well as I should, I suppose. I have 1,000 of the things. I doubt I'm going to be running out. But I should keep some sort of track so I'll get an idea of when I break even. I figured out that I'd have to sell about 366 of them at $15 each to break even. But I did give someone a discount -- she wanted ten, for Pete's sake! How cool is that? Another person bought 6, and another 3. That's when I really feel like my music must be making a difference. I expected my friends to buy it for themselves, but I didn't expect them to be buying copies to give away to people who don't know me. A good feeling.

Speaking of Pete, I gave Pete Seeger one at a rally we were at together but he left it behind when he left the rally. I hope that was a mistake. I'm going to try again, though he may really not want it. I know he gets a lot of unsolicited music, but we stand together at the peace rallies many Saturdays so I thought maybe I was different. But maybe not.

I went to NERFA this year for the first time. It was daunting. I'm not ready for the level of shameless self-promotion in evidence there. I just feel blessed to have a day job that can support this habit. There's no way I could make a living off of this if I had to hustle like that. I give folks a lot of credit who do music for a living, and I do what I can to support them. There sure are a lot of great singer-songwriters out there.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you all have as much to be thankful for as I have.