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Folk Alliance

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Star Belle goes to Iowa City and then comes home again

Star Belle usually meets for practice at one of our houses once a week or once every two weeks. We work on our songs, manage the kids, have a beer and then dash off to our next thing. Our busy season is usually in the summer during town festivals and fairs, and then we might do a few shows around the holidays. We sing folk and country songs with guitars and ukuleles. A couple of times we went to Denver for a ukulele music festival. It was super cool.

Star Belle has to juggle kids and families and jobs. We sing songs about love and fun and life in Nebraska. We've made local news, local newspapers and the Nebraska Life Magazine. We play almost exclusively in Nebraska and we have lots of fun doing it.

This past weekend the band went on a field trip to Iowa City for Folk Alliance Region Midwest's annual conference. We wanted to dip our toes into that pond, play some private showcases and see if people connected with our work across state lines. We think people connected to the music.

It was awesome. We had so much fun. We played our songs and people liked them. We heard tons of inspiring music and we got excited for the future and where it'll take us. It was exhausting like it always is and uplifting as it always is and we're home now and excited to get to work making plans and making those plans a reality. We always say how much we love band practice. Band field trips are even better!

I went to FARM as a solo performer also (two hats, one conference). A couple of days before the conference I was on a run down a long dirt road and this thought hit me, "I need a champion." I just need one person who believes in my work and has a voice and platform bigger than mine. If I had a champion, then that could help me get somewhere. 

Two days later I'm standing in my driveway with my bags and guitar and conference crap scattered around me and what do you think I get? An unexpected email from someone telling me exactly how they'd like to help me make my music because they believe in the work I'm doing. 

SAY. WHAT??!!That pretty much blew my mind. It still is kinda hard to believe such generosity showed up at my door of its own accord.

At the conference I had two different artists and friends of mine tell me they've been watching my work and following my story. It was a gift to hear their words and receive their encouragement. Over here where I live there are lots of dirt roads, everything's on a grid and, presently, I find myself at a crossroads trying to make the moves I need to make to get a little further down the way. Just when I'm feeling lost and questioning whether or not to turn around, a kind note, a voice from a friend, a surprise pat on the back appears out of nowhere and I find the strength to keep going. Thanks, everybody.

I'm home now. I've got kids and church and band practice and work and bugs by the garage door. I'm meditating on the love of others freely given and praying for wisdom to know how to honor it well. And also find where the bugs are coming from. 

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FARMing, The Walking Dead, Dav Pilkey and life

Tomorrow I get in the car with my two other Star Belles and go to Iowa City for the Folk Alliance Region Midwest conference. This is the first time the band is venturing east and playing at a conference. More than anything I'm looking forward to seeing friends again and hearing the music. I'm looking forward to big cups of coffee and late night jams, fall colors and more gigs. For some reason these days feel a little trickier than most. Playing music always helps.

The Walking Dead. It's the only show I tune in for faithfully. It's the only show that I love talking about all year long. I love it. Which is weird because I don't like scary things or gross things, but I love the Walking Dead. I love the character, the whole empty world, the leaves on the road, the herds of walkers who flop between witless cows and surprisingly quick carnivores. All of it. Jon and I watched the season premier on Monday night and, let's just say, I was looking forward to the end of the episode. I just wanted to get it over with. The trailers leading up the premier made it clear that it was going to be a, pardon the term, "shitstorm," and they made good on that teaser. At least Morgan and Carol are somewhere out there and they can save the group from the depravity of man. Let's hope so. Yikes.

In other news, last night we took the boys to Concordia University where Dav Pilkey spoke as part of his book tour for "Dog Man." If you don't know Dav Pilkey, he's the author of a series called, "Captain Underpants" which our boys think are some of the funniest books on the planet. I remember when Sammy and I went to Germany when he was in kindergarten. I read to him one of the books on the train and I remember trying to stifle our laughter so as not to bother the quiet commuters around us. Sam is thirteen now and was dragging his feet saying he was too old to enjoy a presentation by the author, but the author delivered like a pro. I wish all my songwriting and artist buddies were there to hear him talk of his journey to do what he was called to do no matter what. He got 23 rejections from publishers for his first book. The 24th letter was the good one and the rest is history. He gave a super funny and engaging presentation that had us all laughing and inspired. Don't give up. Follow your passion. Keep working at it. 

I finished a song yesterday. I rediscovered a couple of songs I had completely forgotten about. I sent a vulnerable email in an effort to put myself out there more. I'm trying to hone in on a song that I've been kicking around for a couple of months. I don't want to tread water. I want to get somewhere or turn the boat around. I don't want to sit here doing nothing hoping someone finds me. I'm not gonna give up. I'm going to follow my passion. I'm going to keep working at it. It's been a long, beautiful fall here in Nebraska. The mornings start cool and the days get warm. Pretty soon the farmers will be done with the harvest and the earth will get sleepy and go quiet. I've started working on music for Advent and Christmas. The boys do their homework at the kitchen table and play football out in the yard with kids in the neighborhood. I'm going to pick up the guitar and write it down.