One Year

Dear Reader,

August 20, 2012: one year ago I left behind paychecks, security, and whatever semblance of normalcy my life clung to. And what a year it’s been. I had set my mind to playing music full-time for two years prior to leaving my job, and my feelings toward the decision have progressed beyond uncertainty into “hands down the best choice of my life.” Sure, I’ve spent cumulative hours and probably days sobbing at my kitchen table, I’ve bent my ethics in order to pay my bills, and I entered the wild world of credit cards. But at the end of just one year I’ve also accomplished the things that I’m most proud of in all of my 26.

Writing and performing music has always been my first love. But like so many people, many of them more talented and gifted than I, from the beginning I assumed I had to have a day job. This concept seems like such lunacy now that I laugh about it with a wild glint in my eye, while eating a breakfast of carrots and BBQ sauce that I scavenged from the fridge of the beautiful lake house that my best friend is house sitting. I find myself in the strangest places these days. I remember my last week at the salon, when a client of mine who was self-employed in some area of hypnosis told me, “the people who don’t jump off the edge like you’re about to, they’re the suckers.” I saw a wild glint in his eye and thought to myself “well, you’re kind of crazy.” It turns out that you have to do so many crazy things just to stay afloat that it becomes run-of-the-mill. The beauty of it is that you can ask of yourself that which no one else in this country can legally ask of you. And instead of fulfilling someone else’s dreams, it will be in the name of whatever ideal you choose. It is only now that I’m beginning to see and greatly resent the monopoly that our culture has on our time. Forty hours a week spent doing something you don’t care about? Now that seems crazy.

So, why am I so excited about the future as I eat scraps out of someone else’s fridge in the midst of a life that in no way seems financially sustainable? Because if there’s one thing this past year has given me, it’s hope. When you cast yourself out on the line to humanity, it’s as if all of their goodwill is available to you. And this is coming from a gal who was raised in a bootstrap republican household, and therefore been working and paying every bill she incurred since age 14 (thanks for the work ethic, mom and dad!). Being perpetually broke for the first time in my life has taught me many things, but most importantly, that kindness is learned in accepting it. I’m the type who swings hard to the side of independence and isolation, and both of those things have had to take a pretty tough beating in the last year. Thankfully they were beat down by support and camaraderie. I’m really not sure how I get by every month, but I did just make up this probably accurate statistic that 20% of it is my scrambling desperation and 80% of it is human kindness.

I feel as though I can’t type this all out without mentioning the songs of John Davey. JD has been playing music occupationally since I’ve known him, with what I perceive to be little regard for the trappings of success. He’s somehow both a people’s musician and a musician’s musician, with an approach to songwriting that can only come from years spent on the road. One line from his song “Spent” that keeps rising to the top of my thoughts is “the return on my exchange is much, much, more than you could even ever believe in.” Touring as an independent musician becomes less and less about crowds and money with every show, even as a goal. Human connection is the byproduct that I’ve begun to prize above all, along with the introspection and friendships that are cultivated by a life on the road. Money is only important because it means that such beautiful things can be sustained. And after dragging amazingly talented musicians like Zachary and Noah all around the country with me over the last year, sleeping in cars and eating border sauce for dinner, I want more than anything to be able to cut paychecks to the people who believe in me enough to spend months performing my songs.

As to the future, I couldn’t be more excited about the next moves that are already taking form in camp LKB. I have dozens of new songs I want to use to make records. I’ve already begun planning and collaborating for tours in 2013 that nearly make my head explode in anticipation. My hope is that I can get help from professionals with the things that make me sob at my kitchen table, like booking and press and promotion, and focus more on writing and performing music. But regardless I will carry on, or more appropriately, we will carry each other on.

With love, Laura

Summer Tour roundup!

Dear Reader,

Well it looks like I’m not the best Tour Diary keeper (just like my real diaries!), and while I’d love to revisit our stay on a 90 acre farm on a mountainside in Virginia and the burning of the Candyland flag, I’ll save the remainder of our tour stories for a chat over a cup of tea. It was an amazing six weeks, and such an abundance of goodwill and human kindness goes in to every successful tour that I only wish I could give proper thanks here to everyone who helped us on our way. Today I’m going to focus on just a few of the talented musicians with whom we had the pleasure of sharing stages with across the country.

She’s A Keeper (Kansas City, MO)
I’d heard whispers of She’s A Keeper throughout Missouri and especially surrounding our shows at Candyland, the now retired DIY venue in Columbia. Everyone said they were “really good.” In fact, after our March show several members of SAK were present and played an impromptu set of covers that turned in to a rap battle. With each band member being vivacious and charming in their own right, we quickly all became buds. We were honored to be asked to play at Candyland’s final stand, which was a weekend long festival that SAK was also playing. I was outside while they were soundchecking but Zachary quickly found me and attested that they were “really good.” Could it be that a group of awesome people could also be a group of talented and creative musicians? For this is a rare occurrence. I crossed my fingers and walked down to the basement where they would be performing. Commence being blown away. They played a set of mostly new material that was handled with a comfortable familiarity, and for the first time that I can consciously remember I thought to myself, “I wish that song would have lasted longer.” Every member played 2 or 3 instruments with such ease that it was hard to tell who was the real drummer, bassist, and keyboard player. Even with a jerryrigged PA and the difficulty of running one’s own sound, their tight harmonies were still decipherable. Not to mention the fact that Fritz, the primary drummer for the band, had a cymbal that had once belonged to a drummer who performed with Neil Young. I kissed it. She’s A Keeper is a hard working band that has the chops to prove it, and it’s my hope that Indiana will see them sooner than later.

AC Deathstrike (Jacksonville, FL)

It might be cheating because we played with AC Deathstrike in January and this tour we played only with the band’s front man, Alex, but this is my blog and I make the rules. Alex prefaced his set by saying he hadn’t practiced it because he’d been too busy learning Blink 182 covers, to which Zachary, Noah and I cheered with fervor. We convinced him to play three Blink covers, which were scattered throughout a set of solid originals. Afterward Alex treated us to his Super Nintendo Entertainment System and impressive collection of games. I am truly a fan of AC Deathstrike as a band and as people. Their live shows are brimful of energy and their recordings are spacey, cluttered just to the brink of indie pop perfection, and will stick in your head for days. Alex said “we’d probably be a better band if we didn’t get along so well. Most times we get together and just end up playing Super Nintendo.” Lucky for them they don’t need to be a better band, at least in my opinion.


Jared Bartman (Peoria, IL)

Our evening with JB in Peoria, IL was gold from start to finish. He performed an acoustic set that included four part harmonies and the adorableness of his wife Stephanie singing while holding their 7 month old son Henry, who didn’t seem to mind the spotlight one bit. JB has a real knack for arrangements, and with just a guitar and four voices was able to build and accentuate his already dynamic songwriting. It’s always nice to find other touring musicians while on the road, because well, they know how it is. The Bartmans fed us the best meal of tour, during which we all enjoyed discussions of recording, John Vanderslice, plastic surgery, and life in general.


Little Lamplight (Tallahassee, FL)

We met this trio of ladies on a porch in Tallahassee, which was our first house show of tour and a real treat. They were Zachary’s favorite new band we encountered on the road and everyone was charmed by their epic love song for Mister Spock. The band is currently working on a recording that will most likely be the cutest thing to come out of Florida, ever.

Barling (Oklahoma City, OK)

We played with this band, primarily composed of music majors, in Norman, Oklahoma. Barling writes engaging and well executed music in the vein of traditional country, and even has a murder ballad to prove it. Pitch perfect harmonies, pedal steel, and upright bass iced the cake. After the show we stayed up in to the wee hours of the night talking all things music. As a self-taught musician I’m always anxious to pick the brains of those who seek formal education, and our night with those Barlings was certainly a tour highlight.

Trotting Bear (St. Louis, MO)

Our show with Trotting Bear came after a particularly long and exhausting day of tourism. We awoke at 8 am and proceeded to go antiquing, sightseeing around the Mounds of Cahokia (the largest archaeological site north of Mexico!), checked out the arch, and also went coffee shopping around town. The fun was equivalent to the exhaustion at the end of it, with some education about the ancient Mississippians to boot. Fourteen hours later, at The Heavy Anchor, Trotting Bear opened our show with a set that was articulate, tranquil, and simply lovely. Listening to the duo perform was like taking a nap on a Summer afternoon in soft grass. It was just what the doctor ordered, and after their set I was recharged and ready to play the hell out of some music.


Over the course of our tour we also had the pleasure of performing with some Midwestern musicians we’re already head over heels for, namely The Dead Records (I just backed their kickstarter today, and you should too), Grey Gordon (who released an amazing new record this week), Ryan Kerr, John Davey, and Scott Hensley.

Zachary is currently working feverishly on a video documentary for the tour, so keep your eyes out for that! It’s going to be embarrassing, I mean… Hilarious. Now back to booking MORE TOURS!

Love, LKB