Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is safe, happy, well fed and loved this holiday season. 2009 was a wonderful year, and 2010 promises more of the same!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Revels

It was an honor and absolute pleasure to play for Revels Houston. Revels is difficult to describe if you've never seen a production, but the bottom line is that this is a celebration. There is audience participation, choral numbers, a story line with some amazing characters. This year the theme or story was "The King and the Fool". With a heavy Medieval theme, I got to participate in the band and as a vocal soloist. We performed the show 7 times over two weekends.
We played many numbers on the stage as part of the action.
The band - Slobodan, Nikola, myself & Brady. 3 very funny guys each trying to have the best tights and hats.
We also played from our balcony.
Me with lauta and Brady with gamba.
Sure was fun, Revels Houston.... hint hint :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I have not written one single thing about the Renaissance Festival here in Texas. This past weekend, Paul, the photographer, caught a few funny shots of me. I went through and found a couple of group shots as well.
This must be Sunday of weekend one... my dress is soggy on the bottom and Heather is wearing her cool leather Mexican hat.
This is me singing to Bacchus, god of wine and stuff like that.
Must be Al's solo. We seem to be waiting for him to finish already!!
Here at TX Ren Fest, I do double duty. I play with Istanpitta and I also play solo in the lanes with my wee amp in my wonderful wooden cart - the amp is in the cart, not me. This photo is quite possibly when I had a back up "singer"... He was an otherwise completely ordinary looking patron who was with a small quiet group of people. We joked around and I told him I was auditioning back up singers for my act. A couple songs later, we continued to joke and I reminded him of the audition. The next song he did little backup lines just like the Bob Wills songs... I was probably waiting for his line... and trying to keep a straight face.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


So... 2009. 2009 was supposed to be my year on the road, the year that I just try to get a few fairs and see what it's like to be a traveling homeless musician. It's the beginning of November, and I'm feeling pretty triumphant about 2009. I sent out gabillions of publicity packages and CDs. I filled 29 weekends with festivals. I met so many new friends. I learned so much about performing, purchased an amplification system, and built myself a cart for the fairs. I can't imagine how many miles I've added to my car. I have performed literally from coast to coast. And, I know this one is going to be a shocker, I made a living decent enough to eat! All of these things are so much more than I expected. When I started 2009, I knew had a couple of gigs with Istanpitta and an 8 week fair in Arizona. The rest was a wait and see kind of thing. I've taken a lot of risks. I've had more than a few anxiety attacks. I've worried, but mostly, I've been very very happy. I've been so happy to be able to go out and drive around the country singing and playing and learning. I've been so happy to be able to make all of these choices. I've been very happy to feel supported. Friends have offered beds or couches, food, margaritas. Life has been so good. Between hard work and a little luck, this year has exceeded all expectations. I am so grateful to all who played a part in this... that means YOU! :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Houston House Concert

This was a fantastic experience. I had a feeling that this format would be just the thing for me. Sharing my favorite music, feeling casual and surrounded by friends (brand new and long standing)... it was just the thing, and even though the weather turned nasty, we had a pretty full house!
Michelle Levy joined in with her fabulous fiddling and improvisation skills. It is such a pleasure to provide a supporting rhythm for her tunes and I love the way she fills in my songs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Things Celtic

I've always loved Things Celtic - lovely Celtic gifts and treasures. The store also hosts Irish classes, St. Patrick's day celebrations and small concerts. I've played there several times. This time I brought Michelle Levy. We had a lovely informal sharing of songs and tunes with friends and folks who stopped for a little Monday happy hour. My friend JoAnn Grant took lots of photos.

Live on the radio!

Michelle Levy and I performed on KOOP 91.7 in Austin on the show What's a Girl To Do hosted by Lisa Schneider. Part of the broadcast can be found here on the show's MySpace page.
It was exciting and fun and a total honor... and it was scary!!! She took these photos of us. Thank you, Lisa, for everything!!

Monday, October 12, 2009


My friend and singing buddy, Ceridwyn, and I sang on a CD project for John Ross a few years ago. He loves us so much he invited us back to harmonize a couple tracks on his upcoming CD. He is an eclectic song writer musician who puts his heart into music for all the right reasons. He is awesome to work with and an inspiration... for sure!
Abby & Ceridwyn.... Awwwwww.
Serious Abby.
Glorious Ceridwyn!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I am very lucky and grateful to live in a time and place that allows me to travel and live independently and freely as a woman of 35. Since childhood, I have wanted to live without the need and concern for money. I'm not really sure where I got that, but the theme runs deep. The childhood dream would change from being a career volunteer to the dream in my teens of being a traveler. Neither of those things are money making career options. I would struggle and argue mentally with how I could possibly do this. As an adult, I began volunteering at the Humane Society. Soon, I was offered a job. Career volunteer was now an actual option. I liked that job... loved it most of the time. Even being "paid" to volunteer there, the pay was not a real wage, and I eventually found that being a self-employed petsitter offered much of the same positive benefits for people and pets, but I actually got to make a living wage! This set the stage for my desire for independence. Making the rules and choosing what clients were appropriate for me was amazing. When I moved to Houston, I interviewed for a job at the Humane Society there. I was beginning to get back into music and I knew I wanted to leave doors open for musical opportunities. They offered me a job, but all weekends were absolutely mandatory. I wanted that job so bad. I wanted music and independence, too. I cried on the drive home and called them when I got home to turn down the offer.  In the end, I chose music, travel and freedom.  It sure is wonderful to live in a country in a time when that choice is possible.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I've been making stuff again - boxes. They are made to be instrument cases, but I suppose you could use them for other things. These are the very first wooden boxes I made. I have another one almost done. I am hoping to be able to sell them in coordination with an instrument maker friend of mine. The boxes are 24 X 6 X 9.
Green leather, copper rivets. Experimental style. Cool, but it was pretty hard to get this look. This may be a one of a kind.
Black leather, copper rivets. Future cases will likely use a heavy green leather, silver rivets/snaps, and fasteners like this box. Price tag: $150.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Irish weekend at MD Ren Fest

My second weekend at Maryland was Irish weekend and it could not have been more perfect in every way. The high for both days was about 72. People were friendly and in the Irish mood. This photo comes from Hilton. I liked it because most of my mic stand blends into the trees in the background! Using the amplifier was wonderful, by the way. It gave just enough that I could relax and offer the music rather than push the music. I think people noticed the difference.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maryland weekend one

Maryland is beautiful! The fair is adorable and packed with music and entertainment for all ages. This is the first major event for the amplifier and cart. I think they did pretty well. I still need to learn how to sing into a microphone more consistently, but lots more people could hear me. I entertained a herd of little girls who danced and danced. My friend, Russell, took this photo and dragged my cart for me a few times. I am eternally grateful for Russell's help!
Next weekend is IRISH weekend! I just checked the weather and it looks like it will be positively perfect!!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

New cart

I have needed some sort of CD cart for a while. I've had a couple of different bags and bags or baskets seem to work for a lot of solo musician types. I have felt like I need to get things up off of the ground and have a way to move things around a fair without tons of set up involved. I also need to be able to eventually pack it down small for car travel. During Silver Leaf, I decided to experiment. I bought this little plastic fold up cart at the local big mart store. It turned out to be a whole lot sturdier than I expected. I did cover it with fabric, and there were things that worked, but a LOT of things that did not. The fabric would shift and fall off when rolling around. Setting up the tray on top for CDs and then getting into the cart for the capo I forgot was all a big hassle. Also during Silver Leaf, I made the decision to purchase an amplifier. If / when I made this purchase, I knew I would definitely need something to make moving the amp and my CDs around a fair easier, and I would prefer to make the amp as invisible as possible. Still, I would like to pack everything down small for travel.
The wooden cart was born. I used the plastic version as my model. The sides fold in and make the whole thing flat. The shelves push the sides out to keep everything expanded and strong. The bottom portion with the curtain is big enough for the amp. If I am at a fair where the CD sales need to be in one place and the amp in another nearer to me, I can take the amp out of the cart... hence the curtain. I considered making it more of a carved wooden face but that would mean the amp would have to stay in the cart and with fairs, you never know what the set up will be. Flexibility is crucial to survival. I am very happy with the results. It's sturdy, the wheels roll very well, and there is lots of space for CDs and supplies... and there is room on the front for a sign. I get to try it out for two weekends in Maryland starting Sept. 12!

Monday, July 20, 2009

On the Radio!!

Ceridwyn called me this afternoon to tell me I was on the radio! KOOP 91.7 in Austin has a show on Mondays 11-12 called "What's a Girl to Do?" Lisa, the host, focuses on female musicians. Today's show featured a cappella artists and so she played my Bheir Mi O track. I wish there was a podcast to share with you, but alas. You'll have to start tuning in just in case she plays me again! By the way, you don't have to be in Austin to listen. You can listen to the radio on the internet... fancy, huh? For future reference this was show number 38.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Silver Leaf Renaissance Festival

Two weeks done here in Michigan with three more to go. The setting is beautiful, the weather has been amazing. Everybody has been wonderful. I have an insanely fantastic camping area. There are a few mosquitoes to keep you on your toes and the berry tree above my car is going to make the car polka dotted before I leave here, but I suppose it's time for a new look.
My stage is by the beer. I am sharing my stage with the Limeybirds. I've shared a stage with them before when Istanpitta played at Greater St. Louis Renaissance Festival. They are a hoot and make the day go by with a few extra laughs.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


My resting place for the week is beautiful Asheville. After a few weeks in Austin and 9 days in California, one week of relaxing in Asheville doesn't quite seem to be enough. I have unloaded from the past trip and sorted it all.... now I'm packing for Silver Leaf Renaissance Festival in Michigan. I need to open the pop-up and take out some things I won't need for this trip, but overall, the packing doesn't look like it will be that tough.

My other project of the week has been to learn a couple of tunes on the "bombard" or "sopranino shawm". It's really a bombard (traditonal Breton double reed instrument - really loud), but it basically qualifies as a shawm. The only difference is that the bombard has a key for the low F. A high shawm would not. And the shawm would probably be made of a lighter brown wood. Whatever... I'm practicing on this because I need to gain and maintain the power to blow that hard, and I need to learn fingerings for an F shawm because I have a real F Alto shawm on order from Joel Robinson. I am very excited. My fingers become less retarded each day.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New video

Please visit my youtube page and check out the new video Michelle and I made... a comment and a nice rating would be nice too!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Berkeley, CA

I'm staying with Michelle at her place in Berkeley while we rehearse and do two performances of "The Love Show". This is the view of the bay and the mountains from her back porch.
This is the same view today. And it's COLD!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


This is "Flash" of Berkeley, CA.
Dog snugglin' in. Main objective: to look as cute as possible. Objective achieved.
Reason for objective: the REAL objective... lure human into thinking dog is harmless.... then maul human.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Today I'm flying from Austin to San Francisco!! I am performing with Michelle Levy, Shira Kammen, and Tish Berlin for her vielle recital extravaganza. "The Love Show" will be Thursday evening and then we get to do a shortened version on Sunday night for the San Francisco Early Music Society's Med-Ren workshop. Michelle and I started the idea of "The Love Show" in 2007 when we were left to our own decisions one weekend at Texas Renaissance Festival. Our audience showered us with roses as we played songs of love and proclaimed our love for the world. There will be pictures, audio and video if everything works as planned!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June so far

I've been in Austin for a few weeks now. My fabulous host has been, well, fabulous. Ceridwyn and Joe have let me stay in their home, set up my mobile office, use their kitchen and Joe has made the most awesome meals... THANK you!!!!

This is my mobile office. The blue, clear and white bins are from the current organizing job. The last few weeks I scanned all the copies of music in these bins and created a database that tells which disc the pdf of the piece is located. Organizing Abby comes with all you see here: scanner, printer, computer, toolbox o' stuff and even a chair! Just add junk :-)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Middlefaire Fantasy Festival

This was a first year fair that will be fun to watch grow into a real live event. I and two other musical acts were scheduled for the pub stage. This is a good thing if for nothing else, the pub is a building and therefore not out in the sun! This is Texas in June after all. We all played and had a good time. Many fair fans and friends came out to partake in year one. As I began writing this, I realized I did not have one single picture, and I'm not remembering any being taken either.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Guest Room fit for a Guest

I was asked to make curtains and a bed cover for this cozy guest room. The front with the long celtic knot work design and the top which you can see in the second photo are hand quilted. It took me a while, but I think it was worth it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shawm workshop

If you have any interest in Medieval/Renaissance wind instruments, look into this workshop. I am a total beginner. Bob Weimken and Joan Kimball of Piffaro lead the lessons and playing. They were amazing and inspiring. Each morning we had technique lessons that I'm pretty sure we each got something out of even though we were players of all levels. The group was small enough that we all got very individualized attention. I brought to the workshop a Cronin alto shawm in G. I was also able to play a Joel Robinson alto shawm in F. Everyone was willing to share and encourage.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quiet month

It's been sort of a quiet month.  I left Arizona and drove as fast as my car and trailer would allow to get to Austin to pick up Michelle from the airport on Monday...  Yes, that's right.  Phoenix, AZ at 7PM Sunday night, Austin, TX 7PM Monday.  I was beyond exhausted, but Michelle, EJ, Ceridwyn and I went for Mexican food and margaritas.  Tuesday Michelle, EJ and I played a wine tasting evening in Round Top, TX.  That was fun and good to be with my bestest friends and favorite musicians. 

For the next two weeks, I organized for people in Austin.  It was great.  I scanned, I shredded, I even crawled into an oven-like attic and pulled down stuff that clearly did not need to be saved.  Then I stopped for a weekend of organizing in Houston and then made my way to the beautiful springtime Asheville, NC.

Asheville is such a glorious place to rest between works.  The mountains and river and greenness really help me recharge my energy.  Plus I get to play tunes every evening and experiment on new accompaniment patterns...  I love it!

Next is a trip to Indiana for a SHAWM workshop.  I'm really excited!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Arizona wrap up

Arizona Renaissance Festival is over. It was exactly the experience I wanted. The fair itself and the people involved exceeded my expectations in just about every way I could have imagined. I found a few photos of my performing.

Jason Parker of the Yellow Pages took this cute stage photo.

Raven took these two performance photos.

Thank you to everyone who made me feel so at home and made me laugh and fed me and everything else.  I hope to see you all again next year!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Look what I found

I almost stepped on this little guy. He held still long enough for a picture and away he went.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Life is a journey for learning. That's one of the reasons I love music so much. The journey will never be over. There's always something to learn, either within music itself or with the act of performing and/or seemingly unrelated things like fixing a flat tire on the way to a gig.
The last five weeks here at Arizona Ren Fest, I have had a safety set of songs ready to be performed especially for those times when I have a full audience. Even with my safe set of songs (songs that I know so well that even a screaming child covered in bells hanging from the rafters of my stage couldn't mess me up) I still experiment. Performance is more than just singing a song. It would be a pretty boring show if I stood on the stage, sang eight songs carefully and then went away. Many of my songs are not in English. I translate them with some liberty and lots of energy. It's actually the songs in English that I have a harder time finding something funny or at least interesting to say. Over these five weeks I have been slowly collecting the lines and jokes that work. I have also introduced a few new songs to my stage performing. This has been such a great time.
I realized this morning that I could summarize all if this as my goal for how I want to perform. I want to present real music with an entertaining sense of humor. I don't want to do the same ol' stuff. I don't want to talk down to peoples' intelligence. I just want to be able to be entertaining enough to give people something real and let them enjoy it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Top of the World

Some friends and I climbed the Peralta Trail. It is a pretty well established path, but it's not a piece of cake. The path is very rocky, some spots are very steep and it's about two miles to the destination.
The great part about this trail is that at every rest spot (which seem to make themselves known without signs or benches) we would turn around toward where we had been and a new layer to the view had been added. It was really spectacular.

The destination: Weaver's Needle.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A story

I wish that I had a photograph to go with this story, but all I have is an amazing moment that I hope I can describe to you.

Saturday at the fair went well in spite of my runny nose and watery eyes. I ate fantastic barbeque at a friend's place and made it back to my bed just after 10. One dog WAILED in a shrill barky howly way until about 11:30. After that, my sinuses and weird dreams kept me from sleeping much. I decided that I would give myself a break and promised to take it easy on Sunday. I prepared myself for a crummy day.

I sang a couple of songs at my first set when a dad carrying his three year old red haired daughter came in to take a seat. I always take a second to say hi to the young kids. Dad said she saw me and wanted to come listen. I told her we must be sisters because of our matching hair. I sang another song and at the end I heard the dad chuckle and tell the little girl "I don't know, you'll have to ask her." I looked at her and asked what her question was. Dad answered that she wondered if I would sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I told her that I would if she would come sing it with me. She ran up and stepped onto the stage as if I was someone she had always known. I knelt down to her level and she latched onto my right arm. I asked her how the song starts. She shyly mumbled that she didn't know so I suggested that I would start it. She remained glued to my arm while I sang to her. When I finished I told her that that was great. I love that song. She was delighted and went back to her dad and they listened some more.

Those are the moments that make a clogged head and howling dog worth it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trying again

When a blog entry is lost to technology failures, Abby gets just a tiny bit fussy. Seven hours later, I'm willing to give it another try.

I got to go hiking for birds the last couple of days. The weather was amazing and the birds have been singing.

This is a view from Lost Dutchman State Park. The desert is green. Can you believe it?

Three weeks are done. Nine performing days are over. We have five more weekends left. I'm sure it will get hotter and hotter, but hopefully that will bring out many happy people.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


This is my stage....  the best smelling stage at the fair with the coffee and cinnamon rolls scenting the air all day long.  Much better than the stage near the elephants.
Looking down an otherwise boring street I could see the sun set with the distant mountains.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I have a fabulous bed. I have a roof over my head. I have a shower and food and a place to cook it. And my small space is pretty and comfortable.

What's even better is that everyone out here on this first big adventure has been so nice. I went to book club on Tuesday. We were having so much fun that we all went to see Coraline in 3D and out to eat and out for laundry. It was a great day. I miss people and I miss having a fridge, but I look around at what I have and I feel so happy and lucky to be able to be doing this.

Monday, February 09, 2009

AZ Ren Fest

Weekend one was perfect and disgusting packed into 48 hours.  Saturday was a perfect first day on the job.  The weather was sunny and 65.  The gate count wasn't huge, but good enough to give me a friendly audience on every set.  I'm assigned to the tiny stage near the front gate.  The stage catches people as they come in - sort of.  People are looking at the schedule deciding where to go next, but often people would stop to get their coffee and pastry which is right next to me, and then stay to listen.  I felt good about my playing and singing and people were very happy and receptive to my silly translations and songs.  
Sunday was wet...  Multiple downpours with some hail thrown in for fun.  It was cold enough that after 8 hours, I was pretty much frozen.  I managed to have fun despite the fact that I made exactly $4 in tips - bless those sweet people :-)  One of my "set" times, I chose to visit the court who is set up in the lane in front of my stage.  They have a large covered space.  They were super friendly and one woman was learning a few of the songs I sing from the McLaughlin book.  She enjoyed singing along and I enjoyed the company.  By my last set at 4:30 the fair was clearing out but it finally stopped raining so I played at the lane for the folks that were left or were leaving.
At the end of the day, there is a group sing-along to my favorite song in the history of the world.  In case you are new to sarcasm, you might not notice the sarcastic tone of that last sentence.  And for anyone in the group here at AZ Ren Fest, please don't take offense, I will be happy to tell you the story...  and in the meantime, torture me each and every end of fair day with this adorable song that I will forever love to HATE!  :-)  And, NO, I won't tell anyone what song it is...  I can just imagine receiving every known recording out there...  urf and ouch.
Patrons were great as I said, but I was even luckier to find that there are some seriously talented people out here who are supportive and friendly.  It is really the experience I hoped it would be.
Photos to be posted later...  one friend got many really good shots. I'll post some of my own pics, but they are without the action of the fair because I can't take pictures during fair hours.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

done for now - inside

Before... note the moldy canvas and nasty curtains.
After...  note the shower, clothes rod, new mattress and curtains.
Before... note more moldy canvas and one original built in thingy that was barely standing
After.... aaaaaahhhhhhh.....  

done for now - outside