The music business provides lots of ups and downs, just like any career. Sometimes I like to ruminate on the negative aspects, but today I'm enjoying lots of great memories from the past 15 years of playing music. Here is a random list of my proudest achievements, gigs and experiences.
1. Playing with Arlo Guthrie at Tonder Festival in Denmark. 2006
2. My live Cecil Sharp Project interview with Jackie Oates and Andy Cutting in the London BBC studios. 2011
3. Watching the yachts from the stage AND playing at the Newport Folk Festival. (the first year Bob Dylan returned to the festival after his performance in 1963). 2002
4. Playing in the Netherlands. I think i've toured in this country ten times. These are the kindest people for whom I've ever had the pleasure to play. Festivals, theaters, house concerts, rock clubs - you name it, I've played it. My fondest memory is of the lovely woman in Eindhoven who is a sound engineer, a grandmother, has her classes listen to Joni MItchell songs, and gives singer/songwriters with a very scratchy throat a shot of Jaegermeister. 2001-2013
5. Receiving a five-star review for Camilla and earning a Best Albums of the Year award for Camilla from Songlines World Music Magazine. 2012.
6. Playing the first Austin City Limits music festival in 2002 and getting all of my friends backstage passes!
7. Harmonizing on Walls of Time with Peter Rowan at Thacker Mountain Radio in 1998. He was the first player of his stature who encouraged me to pursue a solo career. Peter was guest #6. 1998
8. Playing two years of Thursday happy hour shows at Stubbs BBQ in Austin, TX with amazing players such as Billy Bright, Bryn Davies and Eamon McLaughlin. Free chips and queso! 2000-2002
9. Hearing my NPR All Things Considered interview, which I thought would be a disaster, actually turn out quite well! I recorded it on my 40th birthday. 2010
10. Every single moment of rehearsing and performing with Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion at Atlanta's Fox Theatre. I had dinner with him afterwards and then he came back to our house and joined the afterparty. We served him coconut cake AND caramel cake. 2010
11. Having Devon cream tea on the terrace with fellow Cecil Sharpians at the Shropshire farmhouse, UK. Such a marvelous musical experience. I'll always be grateful to Alan Surtees and Neil Pearson for inviting me. 2011
11. Having my album Twilight and my song Mistress BOTH be named to the 50 Classic Texas Albums and the Top 50 Songs about Texas in Texas Music Magazine, respectively. 2012
12. Working with engineer and producer Erick Jaskowiak and players Steven Sheehan, Fats Kaplin, Bryan Owings, and Bryn Davies for my album Camilla. All of them came over to Atlanta for my two sold-out CD release shows (except Fats - he was playing with Jack White in Paris). Best recording experience of my life. 2012
12 and 1/2: Playing my first CD release show (Twilight) at The Cactus Cafe in Austin, TX - about 18 months after I worked there! 2001
13. Singing harmony with my daughter on the Decatur Book Festival children's book stage. She was seven and she nailed it. 2011
14. Meeting Marian King's son (from song Camilla) in Denver at a show. He brought me flowers. He was five and with his mother the day of her beating and miscarriage in Camilla, Georgia. 2012
15. Reading an article about my album Golden Apples of the Sun AND a short story based on my songs in the Oxford American. 2009
16. Playing with Kristian Bush (Sugarland) and Ellis Paul at the annual Eddie's Attic Thanksgiving show. Those two fine artists invited me to join after the show had already sold out, and then paid me the same pay they received. Amazing. Eddie's Attic kept me going for ten years in Atlanta/Decatur, mostly through the generosity and encouragement of Eddie Owen, Shalom Aberle and Bob Ephlin. 2007.
17. Playing the cabin stage at Merlefest. What a rush. 2005
18. Playing Tales of the Islander (about Walter Anderson) to such an appreciative crowd in Ocean Springs, MS, in an auditorium full of his artwork. Thacker Mountain Radio. 2010.
19. Playing with Dar Williams (Europe, mid-2000's) and Mary Chapin Carpenter (Eudora Welty project, late 2000's)
20. Playing to a room full of librarians (my core audience, truly) and winning the Coleen Salley Storytelling Award at the USM Children's Book Festival. 2012
21. Buying a new dress at the thrift store for receiving my award Best New Artist at the Austin Music Awards, TX. 2001
22. Playing the Mountain Literary Heritage Festival in Harrogate TN (borders w Kentucky). I liked the show, but I so loved meeting Kentuckians such as Silas House, Jason Howard and Marianne Worthington, who love their region and their region's music. They invited me into their post-concert music circle and all of them sang along to Lay My Burden Down. 2010
23. Thacker Mountain Radio Christmas show. Writer Larry Brown wrote the short story "Beam me up, Scotty" for our show and read it live. 1998
24. Playing for President George Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin at the Crawford ranch, TX. I was picked because I was a band with a female lead and I could lead singalongs. Endless stories about this experience. 2002
25. Joining my first band, Ed Dye and the Sincere Ramblers. Ed took us to Robbie McCoury's rehearsal dinner after-party and I promptly told Del McCoury that I was a rhythm guitarist just like he was. Ed Dye almost had a heart attack that night. Sorry, Ed, and rest in peace. 1997
26. Playing a Robert Earl Keen Texas Uprising Festival with Rich Brotherton. 2001
27. Learning Barbara Allen and Knoxville Girl for William Ferris' Southern Folklore class at the University of Mississippi. With this experience, and my overall experience in Southern Studies, my quests both to write songs about the South and to be a career songwriter and musician began. 1997
28. Receiving my second Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for Camilla the same night my husband, Joe Crespino, received his second award for his book Strom Thurmond's America. Mississippi is for lovers. 2013
I could go on and on. I have been blessed and I am grateful.