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Hello, Ohio! #girlytour

Met up with the band at Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta, Ohio, two hours before tonight’s show.

At the two-hour mark, Girlyman’s minds are on dinner and soundchecking. Not necessarily in that order of importance.

Though dinner came first: in the green room, Ty, Doris, and JJ passed what became several communal plates around the table.

“Try this.” “What did you get?” “Can I have half?” “Here, finish this.”

Doris tried what Ty ordered. JJ polished off a quarter of Doris’s burger. And Nate finished before everybody, and sat back in a chair with a laptop, printing out the set list.

Dinner Before the ShowDownstairs, friends and opening band Coyote Grace was soundchecking their set. Nate listened in the in-ear monitor. And when he heard they were ready for Girlyman to join soundcheck (the bands are playing some songs together), dinner was over. Forks hit the plates. And Girlyman bounded downstairs to the stage.

The band heads downstairs for soundcheck

The members of Girlyman and Coyote Grace

Soundcheck with Coyote Grace

Outside the venue after soundcheck, a guy named Bill, who’s hearing Girlyman play for the first time tonight, smoked a pipe, and said he hoped the venue would allow dancing.

Dancing Bill

Would like to dance to Girlyman

This sounded like good dancing music to him.

Showtime at 8pm.

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Packed and Ready to Go

How do you pack for a Girlyman tour?

Jack Kerouac had a dream of a certain kind of road trip, and all he needed to bring it to life was three weeks and a roll of teletype paper. And those kids in the Grapes of Wrath lit out for California with not much more than their dust.

Shirts, shoes, camera, 65 pensIn the spirit of those who hit the road and kept it light, here’s what I packed: 4 shirts, a camera, a notebook, and 65 pens. And sneakers, for keeping up with the band.

Thursday afternoon, I’ll meet up in Ohio with Ty, Nate, Doris, and JJ — some of the most experienced travelers I know. If there’s anything I’ve forgotten, they’ll have it. I hear Ty, for example, travels with her own decaf coffee bar. Nice!

Ty and decaf coffee kitIn fact, I’ll bet that van is packed with makeshift creature comforts. I’ll investigate, and report back.

Keep the questions coming. We’ve got four days ahead of us, and I’m taking requests. Check here and on Facebook and Twitter. My posts will be the ones marked hashtag #girlytour.

See you in Ohio!

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Come On Tour With Us

Hey everyone!  We’re doing something fun for our midsummer Ohio & Kentucky mini-tour.

We have Paula Mauro – writer, producer, documentarian, and long-time friend – traveling with us.  She’s going to be live-documenting our tour and sending out tour diary updates through Facebook, Twitter, and our website.

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to go on the road with us? Now you can get the inside scoop. Find out what it’s like hanging out in the van. Any questions you’ve been dying to ask us? Post here and let us know. Paula will try to get you some answers.

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Uh-Oh, It’s Time to Make the New CD

I’m out on Fire Island right now, getting a little R & R before our next round of shows and thinking about the fact that when I get home in a couple weeks, it’ll be time to start recording our new CD. The dates are already highlighted on our internal band calendar, lighting every August day up in red. “Recording!” each day screams, as though there’s an emergency. My inner state might echo this tone just a little.

There’s something about starting a new CD that always drives me ever so slightly into isolation and avoidance, like I might be able to hide from my future mistakes. The fact is, I really love every CD we’ve made. Each was a unique journey, and each sounds really different to my ears. They feel representative of their time, the songs pretty faithfully telling the stories of our lives at that particular juncture.

But somehow, starting any brand new artistic project is daunting, even if it’s equal parts thrilling. It’s the proverbial blank sheet of paper staring up at the archetypal writer from the uncaring typewriter. Strangely, this time in particular, I’ve found myself avoiding the task of choosing the songs I want to record, as well as the last minute editing that I’ll need to do before we start arranging. Strange only because this past year has been my most prolific ever, so I have quite a lot to choose from.

I wrote between 25 and 30 songs this past year, thanks largely to an online songwriting challenge that asks you to write a song a day for a week. (I realize that for some people, 30 songs in a year is not that much; for me it is.) The songwriting weeks run once a month, and I join whenever I’m at home and can get into my studio every day. This has been an interesting experience for me because I’m used to taking weeks or even months to finish songs. The idea of conceiving, realizing, recording, and uploading a new song in a single morning was completely new (and terrifying) to me. Plenty of the songs I wrote this past year I’ll never play again, but a number of them (including some we’ve played at shows already: “Michelangelo,” “Soul of You”) will probably be on the new album.

By forcing myself to write so much so quickly, I learned a ton about writing in general. As a lifelong compulsive editor, always chiseling my way slowly through a song, and then obsessively re-chiseling each contour, I’ve learned how to just play with the chaotic energy of that little unruly fire of an idea, right there in the moment. The result? I can now jot down lyrics that make me want to throw up, and leave them there. Yes, the image is inexact, the metaphor feels dead, the language annoys me, the chord progression should be banned! So what? As it turns out, there’s actually something beautiful about just getting down exactly what’s happening, whatever it is.

I’ve also learned that it’s possible to fully realize any idea, no matter how bizarre or trite I judge it to be, and no matter how badly I want to abandon it. I’ve been utterly stunned to go back and listen to new songs after a few hours and to actually, well, feel something. Which is the point, right? Yes, there have been cringers, songs that will accompany me to my grave. But interestingly, some that I’ve detested during the writing process I now really love, and vice versa. My takeaway is that it’s useless to judge a song while writing it. Because that’s just dragging your ego into a world it knows nothing about.

Because, you know, when I’m really in the flow of writing – when I’ve vanquished the gnomes of resistance for now and have dragged my sorry ass into my studio morning after morning, whether I want to or not, for some length of time – I feel like I do enter a realm that I don’t really understand. In some ways it feels dreamlike. I’ll emerge after a few hours with a song, go do something else for the day, listen to the song later – and it’ll feel new to me, like someone else wrote it. Oh, right – that’s because the little chattering brat in my head, the ruler of my day-to-day life, doesn’t actually have a say in the writing process at all – for those early morning hours it shuts up and lets another voice through. Without exception, it’s my better self. How amazing for those of us who have some drive to know the barely felt stirrings of our souls that some mystery steps in at these moments. It guides us, like a parent whose patience we’ve tried and finally exhausted, but who is still bemused by our quaint efforts to really know something. It pats us on the head and says, “There, there.” And then takes the wheel, once again.

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Linoleum Print of a Spleen

I have been paying attention to my Guides lately, as New Age-y as that may sound. I think in some situations, where you can no longer reach for the things that sustained you or protected you, you just have to reach deeper to something that feels bigger than you. Something that feels more spirit than anything physical, and gives me solid answers when I surrender control. It is hard to admit that there are things beyond my control, but when I do, (and I do this a lot more now,) I experience calm. My Guides don’t have a distinguishable shape or form, they’re more of a voice coming directly from my brain. They’re different from the Ego Voice, whose presence fills me with doubt, when my Guides speak it’s matter of fact, confident.

The other night before our Eddies Attic show, I felt like I have before almost every show I’ve played this year: scared, alone, reclusive, and raw. The past 6 months have been even harder than the cancer diagnosis itself; I’ve had such deep sadness and doubt mixed in with feelings of unworthiness and intense self-loathing. Top that off with the frustration of wanting to feel a different way, and you pretty much have a lethal mix of fear and resistance. But, this is my job, my livelihood, so like the diligent worker I am, I’ve at least showed up. As I was putting on my makeup at Eddie’s, my Guides whispered, “Just love. Just accept it from everyone,” and I thought, “Ok.” So to humor myself, I just let myself be open to whatever showed up. What unfolded was possibly one of the best shows we have *ever* played. It was more than just the music and it was more than just being really tight from having done a tour the week before; it was true connection with ourselves and with our audience. The audience felt as if they had been with me every step of the way in this ordeal, and were there to support and cheer me/us on. Shannon, my wonderful nurse from Emory, showed up (I had invited her) as well as my fun-loving physician’s assistant, Marian. It was gratifying for me to be able to talk to them as equals and not just as a patient and caretaker, and even more gratifying to be able to give back through my music what they have given to me: love and care. I saw this really cool interview with Eckhardt Tolle and Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, on Youtube recently. They talked about how dogs are so incredible in general, but specifically how when you pet a dog, you are not only giving love, you are receiving love at the same time. So this wonderful swirling of giving and receiving is happening all at once, and it’s hard not to feel good. That’s exactly what the show felt like for me that night, and I was high from the energy we and the audience members had generated together. The illusion that we are separate bodies melted away, and we were all experiencing our Oneness that night. You can’t beat that. That’s what it’s all about!

I finally got my results back from my 6 month checkup. Unfortunately, it’s not in a percentage like the first results were, making it a little bit harder for me to comprehend, but the good news is that that’s because my leukemia numbers are so low they can only be expressed through scientific notation! (This is called a log reduction.) So my ratio from my PCR test (which stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction, the most sensitive test they can do) is 8.56 x 10 -4. So that’s a -1.97 log change from baseline, which was 1.07%. From the little research I’ve done online, a -3 log reduction is considered a major molecular response, the closest thing to being in remission with this leukemia. So I’m well on my way, if the downward trend continues!

On May 23nd, exactly six months after I was diagnosed, I finally decided to print the linoleum print of a spleen I’ve been working on. I have issues with completing tasks, and even though I had finished carving it in February, I had no desire to follow through with the printing of it. But maybe I was waiting for the right day, the right occasion to finish it, and the 6 month-e-versary seemed appropriate. If you look closely, you’ll see a bittermelon in there, too.

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We Do, In Fact, Like Piña Coladas

Here in Atlanta, we’re already relaxing during our time off. Last weekend, we celebrated Ty’s and JJ’s birthdays, and Ty had one request of me: make the piña coladas.

Since we don’t have much breaking news here at Girlyman Central, I’m posting a step-by-step documentation of how to make the best piña coladas I have ever made (or tasted). It takes a little time (and equipment) but will impress your friends, disarm your enemies, and make the world love you forever.



– Fresh pineapples (one for each person)
– Canned coconut cream (1 can will make about 4 drinks)
Don’t use store bought “cream of coconut” for this – it will make the drink too sweet. You can substitute coconut milk if you can’t find coconut cream (see note below).
– Sugar (1/2 cup for every 14 oz can of coconut cream)
– Aged rum (you could use white rum, but avoid dark rum)
– Ice (about 2 cups per drink)
– Milkshake straws (thicker than normal ones)
– Orange slices, shaved coconut, maraschino cherries, or other fun garnishes.


– Pineapple Corer (only needed if you’re serving the drinks out of frozen pineapple shells, which you are)
– Juice Extractor
– Blender
– saucepan, stove, etc.

Step 1: Pineapple Shells

Cut the top off of the pineapples. Use the corer to remove the inside flesh (you can probably get a little from the top, too). Cut out the center core from inside the pineapple. Place the shells in the freezer (ideally overnight). Save the flesh and center core for juicing.

Step 2: Homemade Cream of Coconut.

Put the coconut cream and sugar into a saucepan (or bigger pot if making a big batch) and heat until the sugar has melted. Allow to cool.

Note: If you can’t find coconut cream, you can substitute coconut milk, but you’ll want to use a little more and let it simmer for 30 minutes or so until it reduces.

Step 3: Fresh Pineapple Juice

Use a juice extractor to juice the flesh and cores of the pineapples, saving some of the flesh for later (a few chunks per drink).

Step 4: Perfect Piña Coladas

For each drink, add about 3 oz (6 tablespoons) each of rum, pineapple juice, and homemade cream of coconut to a sturdy blender, along with a few chunks of pineapple flesh and 2 cups of ice. Blend until all ice is crushed (30-60 seconds). Pour into a frozen pineapple shell and add garnishes to your taste.

There should be enough for about 2 drinks per pineapple shell, but be careful – the shells start to get wobbly as they thaw.

Note: for a non-alcoholic version, omit the rum and use a little less ice.

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It’s 6 am. Do you know where your Girlyman is?


Why are we up this early? Didn’t we just check into our hotel? It’s a long drive from Oklahoma to Atlanta, and someone (me) foolishly told Doris, Ty & JJ that there’s a Whole Foods in Little Rock. This means fresh salads for lunch and an inevitable extra hour on the road. Thus the 6 am van call.

A huge thanks to everyone in Norman, OK who came out and made last night’s show one of the best endings to a Girlyman tour ever. And as we wind down our spring 2011 touring, I want to say thank you to everyone who came out to any of our shows this year on the West Coast, the Southwest, the Midwest, the Northeast, and this last little southern run through Texas. 6 months ago, I wasn’t sure we’d ever tour again, so I appreciate every one of you who came out and spent an hour or two with us. It’s not nearly as fun without you.

Once we get home, I’m planning on sleeping, having some deep conversations with my cat, and eventually starting to record the next Girlyman CD. We’ll be sure to keep you posted about all of it (except maybe the cat).

Much love.

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Dad took a picture on August the 9…

I finally found this picture from August 9, 1974! See “Easy Bake Ovens” for the reference. I showed it to my dad, who said, “You found it! I wanted to take a picture of you with a reference, so you’d know exactly when it was taken.” Good old Dad and his archivist tendencies. Some people write these things on the back of pictures with ball point pens, Dad.

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Doris sings “Supernova” from the webcast

The webcast is only available on-demand for a few more days. Now’s your chance to watch it for the first time (or the twelfth time). After May 10, it’s gone.

Click here for more info.

Here’s a clip from the webcast of Doris singing “Supernova.”

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What Happens When We’re Left Alone in an Office

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