Time continues to be short but I wanted to get the rest of my tour details posted. I flew back to San Jose on Oct. 13th. The day before, I got a call that I couldn’t use the room my friend offered in LA. I panicked briefly but put myself in God’s hands – Yeah! Rich Hardesty put me in touch with Darren Weiler who works with musician Jeremy Buck. I’d never even met these guys but they talked to Carla at the beautiful Hermosa Hotel on my behalf and got them on board as a sponsor for 4 days. My blessings were many! I arrived late Friday afternoon. Darren was there for me. We were already friends after some phone conversations.
Hermosa Beach is a lovely beach town near Redondo Beach. I wasn’t far from LA but I was far from its madness in a pretty, quiet community, and near the beach which I love. We went to see Jeremy, who has a regular gig at the Lighthouse on Fridays from 4 – 8pm. He’s a clever marketing person and I’m going to feature him in my newsletter in the spring. His band has a lot of energy. Jeremy plays drums and sings and his personality hooks people in. He and his guys welcomed me like family. It was a wonderful feeling. The band lives together in a house and I spent a lot of time there.
Darren was my LA hero. He drove me everywhere and pampered me. We drove up to Hollywood for a book signing at Borders that evening. It was very special because indie artists, Danielle Egnew and Lisa O’Kane, both featured in my book, came down and performed after I spoke. It was such a pleasure to meet them and get to hear their fantastic talent live! There were lots of hugs. ☺
The next morning I was up early to attend the California Lawyers for the Arts annual music business conference at USC. Several of my LA industry friends were there so it was nice on that level too. I gave the keynote address right after lunch and really appreciated having that opportunity! Sunday and Monday were days off and I needed it. Even when I was home, it was work non-stop. I got to do some writing and spent a lot of time with Darren, Jeremy, et al. I was grateful to have time to rest up before a very hectic schedule over the next week.
Tuesday I spoke at Whittier College in the afternoon. I checked out of my lovely hotel early and drove around with my packed car. That night I spoke for LA WoMen in Music at the Ten20 Club in the Bel Age Hotel during their monthly showcase with SongsAlive. I met so many great people and heard some terrific music. There were performances before and after I spoke. The audience response was heartwarming. At around 11PM I took off toward Phoenix. It seemed logical to put a little time into getting closer to Arizona than driving the other way back to Hermosa Beach.
I checked into a motel close to 1AM and drove the rest of the way on Wednesday, in time to talk to a great crowd at Borders that evening. Thursday took me to Mesa, AZ, where I got to check out a fantastic music program at Mesa Community College, the largest community college in the country. I got a tour of all the recording facilities that their lucky students get to take advantage of. They go out of their way to provide opportunities. Tina Makris, Program Coordinator of the Music Business program, is dedicated to providing her students with the best she can. I spoke to a large group of students and then spent some time with members of the Music Industry club. The kids definitely get great guidance toward a career in music! Tina and some of the club members took me out to lunch after. Their passion for what they do was obvious.
The next day I set out for Texas. Over 1,000 were between Phoenix and Austin, my next stop. The speed limits were pretty fast so I pushed to get to El Paso that night – over 600 miles - to allow time for a quick run into Mexico on Saturday. Juarez is right there. I drove to the border in the morning, parked in a lot, and walked across. After shopping, I continued my drive and arrived in Austin early Sunday. The wonderful Holiday Inn Town Lake gave me sponsorship. They’d also supported me when I went to Austin to research a book. Catherine Weir, my contact there, is a big supporter of musicians and one of my blessings. The hotel is right by a gorgeous lake with a great trail around it. I took advantage of it every day for cardio. What a treat – much better than jogging around hotel parking lots!
On Monday night I spoke on a panel about Licensing Music for the Austin Music Foundation, a non-profit that offers wonderful support to Austin’s music community. Nikki Rowling, Executive Director, moderated it. Tuesday I did a book talk/signing at Book People, one of the coolest stores in the country. Wednesday began an insane speaking marathon. Lunch with an industry pro in Austin was followed by a high-speed drive to get to Houston in time for an evening event.
The lovely Madalyn Sklar, founder of gogirlsmusic.com, very kindly invited me to stay in her home in Sugar Land, TX and accompanied me to all my events. Madalyn is a passionate supporter of music. She runs her organization to give female musicians a support system and works non-stop at setting up showcases, giving free seminars, putting out her newsletter, maintaining the website and many other things she freely gives her time for. I didn’t know Madalyn before my trip and now she’s my friend! Texas manifested many blessings for me! ☺ And Madalyn is a true blessing to musicians!
That night I met one of my most special tour blessings – Aubrey Tucker, Dept. Chair of Fine Arts, Speech & Commercial Music. What a treat he is! ☺ He took Madalyn and I out to dinner before I spoke. Aubrey’s dedication to providing his students with the best education possible was obvious. We also connected on a strong spiritual level, which is always a joy! I gave a presentation to a large group after dinner and was surprised how many attended on the night of the Houston Astro’s final World Series game. The students showed lots of appreciation for my talk. The next day, I addressed individual classes. The atmosphere in that music program was so positive that this was a big highlight of my trip. Aubrey was a big contributing factor. He’s going to try to bring me back and I hope it works out. I still hear from students in his program.
There was no rest when I was done at the school. I had a Borders event that evening. Melanie Carranza, who ran the event, has worked in the industry and was especially supportive. It was a great crowd. And still no rest. When I left at 9:30, I drove 3 of the 4 hours to Dallas, since I was nervous about being late if I left Houston in the morning. I stayed in a motel because I needed to speak at Dallas Baptist University in the early afternoon. In the morning I leisurely had some food and drove to the school. Indie Lesson –do what you can to not be late for a gig! ☺
Speaking at Dallas Baptist on Friday was awesome! People thought I was crazy to drive 4 hours each way to speak for an hour. But it was worth it! Terry Fansler, who booked me, said he’d work something out if I came on Monday, on the way to Austin. But, on Friday there would be a large very group gathered that I could talk to. His enthusiasm for me to come Friday made me do it. It was a great group. As I spoke to people after, Terry said he’d gotten a lot of complaints – the students complained that they didn’t want me to leave. I felt great on the 4-hour drive back to Madalyn’s house in Houston.
Still no rest! On Saturday morning I gave a Nice Girls on Top workshop at Leisure Learning University. I’ve spoken there before and found the attendees to be wonderful. They were! In the afternoon I gave a 4-hour workshop on how to earn a musical income – with or without a record deal. By Saturday night I was fried and relaxed a little before packing. Sunday morning began another long drive. I was supposed to speak in New Orleans and Mississippi but Hurricane Katrina caused them to be canceled. Atlanta was the next stop.
I had to pay my respects to New Orleans – a long drive. I’d never been there and had little time. I drove around for over an hour, occasionally stopping to say prayers. Many streets showed lots of life. There were signs on churches welcoming people back. But many neighborhoods were boarded up. The contrast was striking and sad. I left after dark. As I approached the highway, I saw darkness on the other side and drove over. As far as I could see, houses were boarded up and deserted. It was eerie, creepy. I couldn’t wait to leave yet I stayed. And looked. And prayed. Heartbreaking! People’s lives and dreams washed away. I met quite a few people along the way at colleges who were from New Orleans and had been taken in.
From New Orleans I had to drive another few hours north before there were hotel rooms available. Most of the closer hotels had hurricane refugees. On Monday I made another long drive to catch a flight home from Atlanta, where I had events the following week. I found a hotel that let me leave the car so it seemed best to be home with the Katrina cancellations. I barely made my 9:30 PM flight. But it was nice to be home for almost a week.