— this update went out to my email list on 3/20/2020. You can sign up for that list at this link or find other ways to get in touch at emaymusic.com/contact
First, while this is a particularly long email, you may find it will benefit you to actually read it. It would also make me feel great to hear back from you. So, fast forward as you must, but I sincerely appreciate any attention you can give.
Second and way most important, my heart is with you all. I’ve heard from many of you that you have friends and family that are being directly and indirectly affected by this. I also know and have experienced how overwhelming it can be to stay in closed quarters, having your life and plans interrupted by social distancing, compounded by the incredible speed and quantity of information in this confusing and heartbreaking time. I am sending you a virtual bear-hug while you read this (and I’ll probably cling on to you for a while after too, if you don’t mind 🙂
***** WHAT’S UP WITH ME? *****
I was at an interesting moment with my creative life and my world when my first gig called to cancel. When not performing or rehearsing, I am very often at home, working for myself, which, as an artist, includes things like running scales (you must do this during the day when no one is there to hit their head against the wall after 20 minutes of the same three-note progression), writing and reflecting (more on this below) and doing the admin-work of being an artist. So I figured I’d be just fine, almost eerily normal. This was almost true.
But I could not tour last year’s Let Out Your Ghosts album, given that all the band members were full-time touring musicians working on big projects themselves. Initially a sad realization, the almost immediate arrival of my band, The Moon My Twin (formally EMay & The Soundmen) was a welcome uplift. This band has been honing in our live sets and are currently in the final mixing stage of our debut EP (more on that in another email).
So I had been looking forward to being on the road, performing more, and getting the album done. Additionally, there are other projects I’ve been itching to record, including a yoga music record (developed in collaboration with Elena Papina and Cory Chase), a new acoustic album (there are 20+ songs just waiting for me to move on this!) and some long-distance music writing that has been brewing with several different collaborators. And, we just bought a house in Dryfork (see below) that will also be my new teaching and recording studio!
So, I was already planning to be home a lot, booking upcoming tours, set up the studio for recording, write more and record what I’ve already written, mix the soundmen album, etc etc. Oh yes, and practice on my brand new yoga swing. Damn, those things look a lot easier to use then they are! Ahem…
When you work from home, as many of you are perhaps learning, it can be easy to be distracted. For DIY musicians and entrepreneurs, you are almost required to be online, promoting your brand, marketing, etc. This is in addition to all the normal “at-home” distractions, like laundry and cooking and non-work-related projects. A bad day looks like me bouncing between laundry cycles, looking at Facebook for ideas, vacuuming, analyzing marketing emails, cooking a 3-course lunch, reading the new york times, rearranging my bookshelf, and generally starting 10 new projects, leaving that mess on the floor, and finishing nothing, ending up sad and lonely and news-saturated and feeling like my eyes might fall off my face.
However, because I am an artist, I know that bad days are not required, and the best thing for me is actually just to get up the next day and keep working again, this time on things that do fill my heart. I write songs, poems, run those scales. I call friends to find out how they are, and those conversations lead to more songs. I exercise and relax and then feel even better and get more done. Maybe the piles of laundry get folded and put away — bonus points! As I sit down to meditate at the end of that day, I realize, oh man, that day *wins!*. It makes me remember that I am privileged to have such a great job, being able to use my art to reflect emotions and cultural input and the wilds of my/our nature. All of the feels Awesome… So I say, HEY, maybe I should post THAT on Facebook! And, so the next day, rather than continuing those songs or recordings where I left off, I start setting up posts and editing photos and…. oh shit, yep, here’s the cycle.
I was just starting to really understand the depths and depravity of this cycle (thanks in part to a book by Jenny Odell, which should be required reading if you own a phone and/or have lived in a digital capitalist society for your entire life). I was just about to find the perfect create-produce-share-live balance. I was. It was happening.
Well, you guys know this part. Some crazy shit started happening. I called my last two shows “Apocalypse Parties” and encouraged folks to all make out with each other because it was the last time that was going to be okay for a long time (okay so that didn’t actually happen but, in hindsight, I really wish I had said that) (also, it should totally be okay for people to just make out with each other. Why is this okay only at drunken bars and spin-the-bottle parties? Seriously. There should be more platonic-ish making out in the world. But I’ll save that for an email, like, next summer…)
I’m trying desperately not to get sucked into the news, but I must say I really love all the thoughtful and generous outpourings that you are all sending. I really am grateful for the internet, in all its amazingness. And, reflecting on that… it hit me:
Part of what I love most about my life is being able to perform and connect with people through my favorite vehicle: Music. The same reason I got so sad for a couple days was the same reason my last two shows were so great. In the first show, the band was on fire, the audience could feel it, and it just… yeah. It was great, one of those shows that’s hard to put words to when you’re as close to it as I am… The second, a solo show that was full of audience requests that I was able to fulfill (Sheryl Crow? Alanis Morisette? Tom Petty? Don McLean? Yes, please!) was just. plain. FUN. Everyone in the crowd seemed even more grateful than usual for the direct connection that I like to make, with folks who had a full lineup of Dead tickets purchased-and-cancelled being especially Grateful (har) for my covers of Loser and Scarlet-Fire.
I live for music. I love performing. Even if we’re not together in the same room, I love that, more than ever, doing a stream online means being there for YOU, while you’re practicing good, honest global citizenship. I love playing music, you love listening to music. We all win.
So, DUH, I’m joining the internet party!! (But please don’t expect me to be online a whole lot in between posts and streams — that whole resisting the attention economy and trying to do some damn hard work thing!)…
***** UPCOMING FREE INTERNET CONCERTS*****
And since I don’t tend to just wade in the water — I’m a jump in to the deep end head first kind of person — here is a LIST of the tour I just booked myself… LIVE from the farm!
Now, my internet connection is typically pretty terrible, so I can’t guarantee that these will all work or work well, but I want to give it a try! All times are in Eastern Standard Time, somewhere between Facebook, Instagram and Youtube (though we’re aiming for all three!! Any updates to times or locations will be posted there.
- WINGING IT WEDNESDAY (TONIGHT AT 8:30EST ). This is a test. This is only a test. Who knows what will happen! Just show up if you want to see some wicked weird and wacky stuff (Maybe there will be songs?? But who knows. I could juggle.)
- FRIDAY FIRSTS (FRIDAY 3/20 AT 8 PM) — I wrote THREE new songs this week already — you’ll hear them here first! I’ll fill the rest of the set with new(ish) original songs you’ll likely be hearing for the first time.
- SONGWRITER SATURDAY (3/21 at 11AM) — the first cover song set. I’ll lay heavy into my favorite songwriters and take requests for covers of your favorite songwriters. We can talk about the songs, about the artist, or anything else, because on Instagram you can JOIN me on the screen (just click “request to join video” if you want to chat with me live!)
- SUNDAY FUNDAY (3/22 at 8pm). An All-Request Hour (or so)! Send me songs in advance or list them in the chat. You can request my originals or songs you’ve heard me play or some random cover song you want to hear me sing. I’m (usually) pretty good at the all-request thing, so let’s give it a try!
- LUNCHTIME LISTENING (Next Tuesday and Thursday from Noon-1pm) — I’ll play a curated mix of songs good for eating lunch or working-from-home to.
- BABY’S IN BED (Next Wednesday from 8-10pm). Put ’em down for the night and come jam with me! A good mix of originals and requests.
This isn’t up on my website yet, but it will be soon. We’ll see how this all goes and, if there are any that are particularly fun for you or for me, I may repeat some of these for next week! I’m also in cahoots with some artist friends about how we can collaborate virtually, some of which may be live-streamed as well. Stay tuned!
PLEASE NOTE: If you want to give a donation in support of any of these shows, you can jump over to PAYPAL or VENMO and drop a donation of your choice. Every donation is so very appreciated and is even more helpful now than it would normally be, so THANKS A MILLION!
***** OTHER THINGS I HAVE TO GIVE AND WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT ME *****
DONATE — If you plan on enjoying a livestream or any of the free offerings listed below, or just want to but dollars behind your support during this time, please log on to Paypal or Venmo anytime and contribute in any amount. (Snail mail checks are cool too if you need a reason to go out to your mailbox!)
BUY CDS, ALBUMS, MERCH — Thanks in part to a donation from Stephanie (see below), I’m offering a BUY AND GIFT (BAG) sale, which means that, for every purchase you make, I am offering to send a same-or-similar gift to the recipient of your choice! Like a BOGO that passes it forward. Just make a purchase and put the other person’s address in the “notes” box (you send to me later if you don’t know it yet). And, cause it’s called a BAG sale, I’ll throw in a free emay bag. Hey!
Also, I just switched of my old recordings to a FREE download on Bandcamp, so just go download (if you donate, the BAG sale also applies and I will send a download code to your lucky friend).
JOIN MY FAN CLUB — I set up a Bandcamp Fanclub and a Patreon a while ago but have not promoted at all and actually forgot about. I just went to look and they are both already DONE and ready to GO!! So — here’s the official launch!! LOL! TTW you do something and then forget about it until just the right time? Yes, I’m patting myself on the back. Good emay. Now, all they need are people like YOU!! If you join either of these fan clubs, you’ll be among the first on either platform and can literally help me shape what I offer and how. ((Want to see another donation level or perk? Just ask!!))
BUY MY VISUAL ART — My first-ever watercolor painting show came down last summer, but there are still prints and a few originals left from that show! Buy yourself a portrait of the farm at this link (and come visit when the quarantine lifts!). Want something that I paint just for you?? Send me a suggestion and I’ll see about a commission just for you!
LISTEN TO MY MUSIC — I’m all over the internet, but particularly helpful will be following my artist page on Spotify, downloading my new album on Apple Music, listening/watching and playlisting any of the songs/videos you love, and sharing it all with your friends! I’m also planning on uploading more videos and songs to Youtube, Spacebook, Instagram TV and Bandcamp, so make sure to follow me there so you’ll see when they go live.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE! While these are all things that will require a little discussion with me, I am totally game to try one or more of the following
- COMMISSION A SONG a song for you or your loved one(s)! I will co-write and record a tune for you! We’ll hop on phone/video chat while we get ideas rolling and I’ll send you a finished recording of it that you can share or keep secret forever, your choice!
- VIDEO MUSIC LESSONS! I teach guitar, vocals, piano, songwriting and performance skills, all of which I can offer online too. Do this yourself, or pay for someone else who is holed up and could use a boost to their creative outlet.
- YOU TELL ME! I’m not the only creative one around here — what’s your idea??? Want to collaborate? Try me!
Also, my honey Ben ships his mead! If you don’t know about Healthberry Farm’s award-winning Honey River Mead, you are missing out. Try some now or stock up on your favorites, or even gift some to friends! Call or email us to order.
And lastly, we are working to remodel a house in Dryfork (the one that my studio is attached to). If you’re looking for a modest 4-bedroom home with a beautiful yard convenient to Canaan and Seneca and Davis/Thomas (and you love the idea of being next to my studio!), then let me know!! We’re offering this at a very affordable price, rather than listing it on airbnb, because we know it’s hard to find housing in our area right now.
***** OTHER ARTISTS DOING THINGS!!! *****
Seriously, this is an AWESOME time to be a patron and fan. You have direct access to your favorite artists, who can create independent from major organizations and labels and communicate with you directly. You have people giving away free concerts, discounted merch, lessons and other things that they don’t always do, and it helps SO much more now than it ever did (and your patronage has ALWAYS helped a LOT, I promise!). Here are a few ways you can have fun while you’re shut in!
BUY ART because online retail therapy is almost as good as in person! We know you’re nesting, gifting and in need of some beauty, so go getcha some! Here are the galleries and makers in my home community that you Must Must Must know about (I mean, seriously, you’ll be a lifelong fan even after the quarantine).
- GRADIENT PROJECT SPACE is essentially a non-commercial gallery, often focusing on installation art, video work, and some of the most interesting artists I have had the pleasure of encountering. Their current exhibit, Oddy Gumption, is for sale up on their website, as well as several previous artists, and the artist-owners work too.
- QUATTRO MUSIC COMPANY sells unique and vintage music gear. This shop is owned by the guitarist for The Moon My Twin and is where I get most of my instruments and accessories these days.
- Nellie Rose Textiles, shibori artist and painter/printer of amazing silk and organic cotton clothing — yes, art you can WEAR! See me in an off-the-rack dress and a custom piece that I wore the night I got engaged.
- CREATURE is The Art Of Seth. If you don’t know him, do yourself a favor and go get acquainted. Even poking around his website is a joy and a dream.
- Bloom Gallery was about to open an amazing show with the work of Rosalie Haizlett. She is an incredible observer and documentaress of the art that nature creates, which makes her work particularly healing right now. Buy Rosalie prints and a gazillion other fabulous artists and illustrators and help them keep their employees employed while their doors are shut!
- Tip Top: One of the best little coffee shops in the world. Buy gift cards now so that it feels like you’re drinking free coffee when the apocalypse ends!! Your future self will thank you (and so will they!)
- I just can’t even. There are other amazing galleries, like White Room and Talking Leaves and Tiny Llama and Santangelo and Thomasyard, so when this all passes, please consider making your next vacation Thomas WV to support these fabulous artists!
LISTEN TO MUSIC & watch online concerts & give generously! Here are just a few of my artist friends who are offering some form of Livestream.
– Michael Franti — and his whole adorable family are doing a “stay at home” tour on Instagram.
– Cruz Contreras (of Black Lillies fame, who was about to embark on his solo tour) is on Patreon
– David Wax Museum (watching right meeeow)
– Taylor from Dawes just put together this fabulous playlist.
– Consider the Source is offering online lessons through their facebook! Gabriel is one of the most talented guitarists I have ever met, and his guys are just fab too.
– SO MANY. Seriously, there is so much. If you’re wishing you could go out into the real world, just search it online — chances are someone there is putting things online for YOU!!
Just make sure to keep donating. While a lot of this is to make sure the music never stops, a lot of these artists and DOERS make their income off doing things. We literally cannot afford to STOP doing things. So help us continue!!
Are you an artist or creative gig-worker who is making an offer online? Do you have a favorite artist or creator you don’t see listed here who you would like me to check out? PLEASE send me the information and I’ll share it with my networks.
***** END NOTES *****
Something special just happened, as I was writing this email, that I feel inclined to share with you. My friend Stephanie who runs Art From Chaos (ArtFromChaos.org — under construction now), just called me to say she’s picked a few of her favorite musician friends to support financially, in hopes that they will pass forward the favor and offer some music for free.
This woman is a powerhouse human and Queen and I am so grateful for her gift. But long before the internet made it possible for more people to be patrons, she has always always ALWAYS been one of the most community-oriented arts supporter and creativity activists that I have ever met. She has done tons of events to support artists at no charge/fee for them, she has built a bookmobile, a welding studio amongst a community of artists, and a gazillion other micro- and mid-level projects that benefit the artists in her immediate community. She was critical in helping to launch Your Inner Vagabond way back in the day, as well as the Jalsah events and many other community-oriented partnerships.
While I’ve been excited to share my music with you, Stephanie has asked particularly that I share two albums that helped her through a rough time — Longest Dream and Miniatures. Please go download both of these now for free or for a donation of your choice. And if you would prefer a CD, just reply with your snail mail and I’ll ship you a copy of Longest Dream AND my most recent album, Let Out Your Ghosts for free, thanks to Stephanie.
We live in an incredible time. Reaching out is easy but still critical, people can communicate and organize almost instantly and from all across the country, where art is built into the fabric of our culture and we are able to create and express freely, without repression from our government. I feel blessed in so many ways.
***** Final End Note *****
Stephanie is not the only person who is taking giving to the next level, and I would love to be a part of helping you stay afloat, both emotionally with the music and art and words of encouragement, or financially if that is your need.
Are you or do you know any artists or gig workers in immediate need? Are you offering micro-donations that you would like to get out to the world discreetly? Feel free to email me and I can help connect the dots.
Are you not an artist, but you need something? Do just want to tell me what is going on in your world? I am here. I will listen, I will respond. I will thank you for being vulnerable and open, for admitting to any needs you have. It is an honor to be of service to people in times of need. Let me — and let all of your communities, near and far, digital and in person — be there for you now.
With sincere love and eternal gratitude, AND CONGRATS! YOU DID IT!! YOU READ THE WHOLE EMAIL!! WHAT A TROOPER!!
Seriously, I am all yours,
New Album: “Let Out Your Ghosts” feat. Marc Ford, Rami Jaffee, Michael Jerome & Taras Prodaniuk. Produced by Jimmy Hoyson. Available Now at Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes & more!
PS — I took this off of my normal Mailchimp service because I wanted to get it to you directly, but you may get another copy via mailchimp. Either way, if you do not want to receive my emails, just let me know, no hard feelings.