Begin Again

The songs I have down. It’s the tea towels that were making me nervous. I’d offered a free hand-screened towel as an incentive to do some pre-sales for my album release and then remembered I haven’t silkscreened anything in decades.

With the help of our friend Clif, I was able to turn a drawing into a screen and our living room into a screenprinting atelier, with Eric displaying dazzling ironing skills and Karen Schoemer making a cameo as wet towel runner. I only wish I’d ordered more towels for the initial run so I’d have a load to sell, but I honestly wasn’t sure how well things would go.

Tea towel artwork

The towels turned out beautifully and I’ll have more to sell soon.

I decided I had to start my Mod Housewife shows at Spotty Dog, the bookstore/bar I’ve worked at for almost five years. I think playing in a place where everyone knows you is scarier than playing in a much larger place, but given the amount of time I’ve spent serving people, sweeping the floors, washing pint glasses and arranging books and restocking toilet paper, it’s almost like performing in my living room so I felt comfortable when we set up to play – “let me just move this book display over here.” Doug Wygal, the original drummer on the album, Eric on bass and Alexander Turnquist who is one of my co-workers and a stunning solo twelve string-guitarist, helped me create a joyous racket. That’s what it feels like to me, playing this old stuff and some new songs too. I was able to walk into work two days later with my head held high. I know the locals and regulars & my co-workers think of me as the bartender too polite to yell “LAST CALL” so it’s nice to show them that’s all a cover, at least part of the time.


Rocking the stacks – photo by Karen Keats

Cambridge was Sunday, an afternoon show at Atwood’s. I like this place a lot. Nice atmosphere, good food and people come out. We did this one as a trio but still had too much equipment to fit in the Subaru, so Eric drove his Buick and Doug and I caught up on stuff on our drive, he worked at Sony for years and I spent a lot of time temping there so we were reconstructing a little piece of midtown history on the drive. Played a rocking show and sold records and chatted with people. Home by ten P.M.

I worked a shift, communing with the books until the bar got busy. I feel lucky to have a fun part-time job to balance out the art and commerce, it’s comforting to put books on shelves in their places, fill up people’s pint glasses to just the right level, dim the lights, put on good music and hear snatches of the different conversations going on. Maybe I’m just getting to a different phase of life where I don’t worry as much about what it’s all coming to, or maybe I’m just on a high from playing a few shows and the angst and doubt will come creeping back in?

Spent yesterday packing up and mailing the pre-orders and their corresponding tea towels while a team of house painters worked on the front of our house. Aside from the roof, it’s the first time we had somebody else do work around here and Eric was so sweet, bringing them coffees on a tray – he was going to scrape and paint the weathered parts himself but being up on a ladder alone just doesn’t work and winter is coming. It’s going to look so beautiful when it’s done, we won’t recognize the place.

He changed the strings on my 12-string and acoustic guitar instead.

It feels strange setting off on my own this morning. I’ve played some scattered solo shows the past year but this is the first time I’ve gone off on a solo run in over a decade. The last time (when…when was it?) the world was pre-Facebook, pre-smart phone, pre-Obama! I’m excited and looking forward to playing. I can’t help but pick up on the World Series excitement: Cleveland vs Chicago, I’ll follow that thread of rust belt rivalry and swoop around back to Pittsburgh to remember where I came from. Teach at a songwriting workshop in upper, upper Michigan and come back home to vote.

Cueing up Warren Zanes’ Petty biography for my first audio book of the trip. Running down a dream – again. It always feels new.




14 thoughts on “Begin Again

  1. Mick Smith

    Just a quick note Amy – NOT a criticism!
    The two photos of you – then and now. Aren’t they in the wrong order..?

  2. sally heflin

    Amy, your gig at The Spotted Dog was great, Katherine and I sat in the back because we couldn’t make it to the front or even the middle for the throng of fans. I shot a video of Sad Tale which features your beautiful voice and Eric’s head tiny and orange seen far away between the bodies and books.

    Is the house concert in Willow Springs open? I have friends and family nearby and I’d like to tell them about your tour – or should I just tell them about the Reckless Records venue?

    You sound great, the towel artwork is beautiful, keep on writing so we can follow your dream!


  3. a Boller

    It’d be a pleasure to hear you perform, I’m a bit to far away to catch a show.
    I can’t be there but I know you will excel.
    – the art of playing to informed/ connected group of people is the real deal- it isn’t about the trappings, it’s about the music. Give your fans all you’ve got. They will love you even more for it. Enjoy (ps: it’s healthy fun to eavesdrop .. )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s