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Linda Stout: Blog/News

Little old koa Taylor - March 23, 2006

I finally got my little old koa Taylor K-22 back after 7 damn months in the shop. The neck had pulled away from the body, then broke into three pieces when it was being repaired. Borrowed newer Taylors, including a brand new Taylor 414 (eeeww) sounded so harsh and brittle in comparison. I have been encouraged to try Gibsons and Granadas. I like warmth in people and guitars.

The Local - March 23, 2006

Tim Champeaux of The Local, NYC band, found me at myspace. I really like them, great vocal harmonies, this luxurious folk rock that sounds all about having fun, but absolutely pro. Should be, Lee Alexander, Norah Jone's bandmate and beau, is in The Local. The band's CDs arrived in the mail tonight, and I was pinching myself. Then I figured out I can review it in this little blog, and for a regional publication called BUZZ, but I'm working on about 3 different song ideas tonight.

Swati - March 5, 2006

I had been been e-mailing a friend back and forth this week about how great a guitar player and songwriter Swati is. Unbelieveable virtuosity. She is so good. And I got lucky enough to meet her in Ithaca last night at her gig. She is a rock genius. I might even be lucky enough to share some gigs with her. Anything, just to see her play live again would be enough. The first time I heard her, recorded, even, it took my breath away. My friend, a musician and critic, said she was the first new artist in about 10 years to make his blood boil. She has one great song, "Small Gods,' up so far at www.SwatiLive.com, or find two songs posted at www.myspace.com/swatilive.

Is 'Dock of the Bay' appropriate fare for a 9-month old? - March 3, 2006

My dear friend had a baby, and we got together, and this happy little 9-month old loved it when we sang "Dock of the Bay" to him today, a cappella. I'd forgotten my guitar. The baby didn't care. He loves me and his beautiful momma.

MySpace is happening for me - March 2, 2006

There were some articles in the paper this week and a talk at a school about the perils of MySpace.com for kids. Perhaps, and I'm not sure kids must need profiles, but professional musicians can benefit from them. It is a great adjunct to this website. I have met people and collaborated with them, listened to new music. Check out some of my talented cyber friends, getting added every day. Some were already friends or acquaintances in real life.

For instance, listen there to Matt Robbins, who plays with me. He is so talented; he could really gain attention. I respect how he likes to play for the music itself, to grow as a musician. He's not hell-bent on touring, though he has all the talent and niceness and looks to get somewhere as a hip young jazz/pop force. He has other talents, like engineering; he's developing sound programs for the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell. Good musicians are good at spacial relationships, math, putting things together, I think. Other relationships, well, that depends...

Re. MySpace, it's free to create a musician profile, and you can post up to 4 songs and all your gig dates. It's sometimes too slow even with high speed, so sometimes when I'm listening, I link to the musician's website, if they have one, and listen that way. It is sort of exponential, the networking that can happen at myspace. Although the best networking for me is live and in person, playing, meeting real people. I like that.

Today a MySpace profile titled Rickie Lee Jones, one of my favorite artists, asked me to be her friend. How cool and weird is that? Smalltime Ithaca musician, serious musician, yeah, but hardly famous here, gets asked to add Rickie Lee Jones? She is so amazing. I love the Pirates album. I sort of can't believe some of it, the songwriting, the production. It's so good. Usually I can tell; there's some disclaimer that it's a fan site. This linked to her website. Stranger things have happened. I might know someday if it is the real Rickie Lee Jones -- her people or or some other fan of hers.

This other band, The Local, from NYC with members who play with famous people and tons of other bands and I have asked to be each other's "friends." They do really good folk-rocky almost jazz and great rollicking harmonies, and I swear it sounds just like Norah Jones on piano, in similar style is Jon Cowherd, very talented. Sometimes it's real networking, other times just the chance to listen to each other.

Visit me, Rickie, The Local, Erin Bode and others (I have so many talented friends there) at www.myspace.com/lindastout. It grows daily.

Virgil Cain -- talented and personable - February 26, 2006

After e-mails for a while with another sort of local musician, Virgil Cain (he lives in Owego, NY) and finally met in person in Binghamton because we had gigs next door to each other last night. I have heard a bit of his music online. We traded cds, and I look forward to listening more. He has this hip song called "My Check." First read, his lyrics stand on their own, which doesn't always happen in pop music. This is also what I've heard about Virgil from others -- so nice, so personable you almost might not believe it, but it's real, also that he's great at the business of promoting himself. All true. He is also way talented with his looper and multiple instruments. Check out www.VirgilCain.com

More on the pro musician's skills - February 8, 2006

I am writing music all the time, playing with tunings, started up lessons again, looking forward to more jazz, electric guitar and bass from my kindly teacher, Doug Robinson, (Martin Simpson, Patti Witten and about every musician in Ithaca). Doug sang the littlest bit on my CD, at the end of "Missing You Again." In the world of small worlds, Doug's brother was Matt Robbin's (Matt plays piano on my CD, plays with me live; see his young cuteness in the photos area of this site) physics teacher at Exeter. It was good to be back at Doug's this week, even though he had to remove the very orange cat from the room. He called it "dysfunctional." The cat scratched on the door, till we found it later on the middle of the kitchen table. I'm very amused by cats, but so allergic I asked Doug to get me a different chair than the one the cat had been on.

Anyway, re. diverse skills, for me it was not just songwriting and guitar playing today. I was fighting with fonts. I was working on editing my press kit. I decided it was better to stretch a font to get what I wanted because what I wanted somehow hadn't come my in the InDesign file or the extra fonts sent from the designer. Now I'm learning they could have been embedded in an EPS. I thought only PDFs would do that. As for diverse skills, I sort of design, use Quark at work, am learning InDesign, used but forgot Pagemaker long ago. However, I cannot do code for web stuff, nor really need to, thanks to HostBaby, my host company.

For stuff entirely unrelated to music, which is a joy but has become a business, I think I should start painting as a hobby. I'm so obsessive, I'll be thinking about how to turn that into a business. I don't want that pressure, though, with painting, which maybe I'm talking about and won't do. Well, eventually I will. I was wild about art as a kid, so it will be a good little hobby. Music is definitely not a hobby for me. In ways, it never, ever was. It was maybe more like an unpaid or lowly paid calling. It's a business now, still a calling and a mission. "It's a mad mission...," Patty Griffin wrote in one of her songs. I don't know whether she was talking about music or love. Or both.

Songwriting - February 2, 2006

It is interesting to see what comes out as I write, lately more rock. ...Not to the exclusion of jazz. I want to be thinking about the next projects and recording demos. I am pretty busy with gigs. I'm lucky to do this, the writing, the re-writing. My guitar beckons me.

Community - January 25, 2006

One of my goals around music in my life, a few years ago when I moved to Ithaca, was just this -- community. That happened really fast for me. Ithaca is a town full of musicians, and I've met many wonderful collaborators along the way. Community has also happened beyond my daydreams as old friends from years ago have found me again, and I keep making new friends along the way. I am so grateful about that. It is about the music, but it's about more than that.

New photos up - January 24, 2006

Find new photos up at this site. They include gig shots and some of my very talented bandmates.

Check out Ward Stout - January 24, 2006

Another first CD, a really excellent CD by a real pro, my cousin Ward Stout, is up at CDBaby. Ward played mandolin and fiddle on "Blue Blue Water" for my CD; go listen here at my website. My Uncle Gary even called a square dance on Ward's CD. Ward plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar. His music includes bluegrass and swing. It's cool, and I'm happy it's out. He's usually so busy touring with Aaron Tippin and Christina Elam, among many others, so I'm glad he also did his own project. Go to CDBaby.com and search for Ward and listen to his songs.

Pamela Goddard's first CD - January 24, 2006

When I was planning my CD, singer Pamela Goddard came to my house and let me record her singing five traditional songs because I was considering doing one a cappella song on my CD. My project ended up going in a more band-oriented jazz and folk-rock direction, so I didn't learn or use any of the lovely songs she sang for me.

But I was taken by her voice, had heard her singing live and hoped she would come out with a CD. Well she did, and we just did a trade, though she had one of mine, had written a very literate review when my CD came out.

I am listening to "As Time Draws Near, Traditional Songs from the North and South" for the first time. Lovely, great old songs. The first track, Pam's own version of "Cambric Shirt," starts the CD out strongly, with Celtic-tinged rhythms on guitar by Gail Blake of Kitchen Chair recorded well by Will Russell of Electric Wilburland, a studio in an old church near Ithaca. Yay.

There is something so important, I think, when a musician or band -- often finally -- releases their first project. Some should wait and improve their musicianship first, but Pamela is not one of those. It was time. She waited a while I suspect and shares traditional songs I would not have heard otherwise; wonder how she'd feel if I took one and jazzed it up. I've done that, jazzed up traditional songs like "The Water is Wide," but perhaps that's an overdone one. My version is my own, though.

Pamela is a contra dance caller, freelance writer, potter and a number of other artistic things, and loves cats.

She has a long thick braid of red hair. She has a full rich alto voice. She makes me think there was a time when more people sang more often rather than leaving it to pop stars, when songs were part of hanging out with others at dinners and parties, not just designated for concerts. Maybe she's even part of a group of people who still do that, get together and sing just for the fun of it.

More at www.PamelaGoddard.com

Part 3: A Pro Musician's Need for Diverse Skills - January 22, 2006

I just started up with an agent, Gary Dallaire of AMASS Entertainment. I'm embarrassed to say my press kit had been a bio, biz cards and a bunch of (good) press clippings or copies. It had good press, but wasn't pretty.

I knew Quark, but it wasn't working on my computer. I knew I could make a poster in Adobe InDesign (we got a Mac G5 for $500 from my sister's husband after an ad agency went out of business, loaded with software). But on really short notice, I didn't see learning a brand new program, though I think I'll like InDesign, so hired a designer, wrote and rewrote copy with edits from my agent. We were doing posters, and I got my sweetie, a professional photographer, to make photo montages of me performing, set to two songs. He's tired. And rehearsals and gigs, can't forget them. I hardly had time to eat, sleep or breathe. I had to go to work, too, as an editor, but that was easy compared to running a music business.

Part 2: A pro musician's need for multiple skills - January 3, 2006

I think I just taught myself to use InDesign to make a gig poster, with a little live-in tech support. I knew another design program, Quark, and long ago, PageMaker, which I probably forgot by now. How many singer-songwriters have high-end pretty new Macs (gotten on a deal and a bit imperfect, but still good) and high-end design and photo programs? They probably have to pay for posters. I'm lucky that way. I'm lucky in lots of ways.

Now I need to see if it worked to make and e-mail a pdf, then make another poster for another gig.

Likewise, in multiple skills, I was playing the keyboard last night, which is so fun. Matt (Robbins) had been here practicing, so it was out and will stay out. I am still pretty faithful to my baritone ukulele. But it's time to pull out my electric guitars, the Parker Fly and a borrowed Danelectro baritone that I hope my friend will let me buy. I need to play them in some upcoming gigs.

More about my baritone ukulele - December 30, 2005

I have said lately that I've been having a nearly monogamous relationship with my baritone ukulele, an old Harmony, mahogany, probably 45 years old -- an older man? Well, gender and age is not so demarcated here or with real beings, either.

I tune it in 5ths, "mournful," as the man who sold it to me observed. Or lonesome. Or like a dulcimer, too. I've been playing Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" on it. She plays it on a dulcimer, speaking of, just discovered the groovy Orlando, Fla., roots band Mohave, fronted by a cute guy with dreads named Bing who can really sing and play dulcimer, produces, too. I impulsively bought the Mohave CD from CDBaby, which loves me for more than that purchase, but for my own music there and my HostBaby affiliation. Or maybe they don't.

Anyway, I am about to record a new baritone ukulele song. What I get with it is this roots/pop sound, sometimes jazz, too.

I confess I wasn't completely monogamous with the Harmony baritone uke, was playing my friend's borrowed Taylor guitar, a pricey new one, nice but way bright. I tend to like warmer, darker jazz tones, so like the new old Yamaha classical with a smaller body I just bought quickly, but it was a good price at Rumble Seat Music in Ithaca. Check them out, mostly online sales of vintage instruments. My little koa Taylor is still, still in the darn shop. It misses me. I miss it. I guess I am not that monogamous, but a polyamorous instrumentalist.

Peter Mulvey, Hayward Williams - December 28, 2005

At the recommendation of Peter Mulvey (www.PeterMulvey.com) in his newsletter, took a listen to Hayward Williams, http://www.haywardwilliams.com. Lovely sexy country music with space. I like space.

Feathers of frost - December 26, 2005

I went on a mini retreat two weeks ago, for two wonderful days of making friends with winter for the first time in years, making better friends with myself and having what has continued to be an intimate, nearly monogamous relationship with my baritone ukulele. I don't always like to talk about what I'm writing or analyze my innards too publicly, but I definitely felt invited into the woods at Light on the Hill (you can see www.LightontheHill.org). I stayed in the little retreat hut on the lip of a frozen pond. It was warm inside in record cold. Lawrence brought the most amazing steaming dinners in warm crocks, and I got the concept of saying grace.

I heard coyotes, at least three one night. I saw a pair of blue jays. I read poetry by Hafiz (1300s Persian and just so darn playful and sensual), and later bought the book for my grandmother, too.

The morning before I left I not only saw all the frost on the seat and all around in the outhouse, I also saw tiny feathers of frost an inch over the edge of a dark little stream.

I did write -- words, even -- which come so much harder than melodies, harmonies and structure for me. I almost always write, but it was good to devote days only to that and hiking and sleeping.

The professional musician's need for diverse, contradictory skills - December 11, 2005

Last night at our gig, Nate Marshall mentioned how diverse -- and contradictory -- a professional musician's skills must be. To survive or thrive, I'm finding the job demands a smorgasbord of requirements. And it's not always yummy. So...
1. Disciplined Musician. I think a basic requirement, whatever style you do, means having the discipline to learn music and pull it off. Different people have different voices or approaches to their instrument, but it takes some basic work. If someone has the quirkiest of voices, they still have to have their act down. Getting there takes time. I think of the hours in practice rooms at music school, or the late nights playing, or even when I'm juggling multiple other things (that's coming), I play pretty much every single day. Sometimes it's not for long, but 5 minutes is better than nothing. It's usually longer. I think I missed about 3 in the last year. I could start on myself about including the metronome or drum track every time, but that's another blog.
2. You have to communicate well. That is probably music's purpose, but in the more mundane world as well of setting up gigs, it means talking and writing.
3. Being organized is important. It's a business getting music out into the world.
4. But, letting loose. The ability of an artist to go deep, let loose on stage or in the creative process is pretty different from being organized. It means being willing to feel and go with it. I like that the best. Maybe it can help my business skills in some way. I've done PR and newswriting and counseling as day jobs. Maybe my passion for music can infuse the business end. I'm not bad at the business, which is really just talking with people. I'm great at e-mailing, type fast as I think, and have even done a little graphic design work, though I'll want to hire people for the big stuff.
To be continued...I am going to play music. Fun.

Meg and Charlie, Nate and Kate - December 11, 2005

Meg, who I met at a Colorado gig, and her guy Charlie drove a couple hours to come hear me Friday because they'd missed me in Rochester last weekend. My gig at Soul Full Cup have usually been full, but not so much Friday. On a hunch that turned out a good one, I asked Charlie, who I'd not met till Friday, to sit in on guitar, and he gracefully took it all, the folk-rock, the jazz-rock and even sang along a few times. That was a treat, and having some lead acoustic guitar sounded good. I never play in public without rehearsals, but glad I trusted my gut in this impulse.

Saturday Nate Marshall and his cellist Katie packed La Tazza in Binghamton, and I got to open, which was fun. Binghamton does not appear very nice, but La Tazza is a nice place, and the crowd was a gang of sweet BU students. Nate is not only engaging on stage, with a sound something like Jesse Harris, only with a better voice -- and he juggles. He and Kate just got back from Paris, are on this new European sleep schedule, and he said he has been getting up at 5 a.m., reading and watching juggling videos. No joke.

More plans. I'll open for Nate and Kate Feb. 25 again at La Tazza, have my own gig there March 18, and I'm working on some shared gigs elsewhere. They are moving to Ithaca. Yay.

Sign the guestbook - December 10, 2005

Hey sweeties,
If you like my website or want to comment on a blog entry or the music, leave a message at my guestbook on this website. I actually do read it, though not as promptly as e-mail.
Love,
Linda

Retreat - December 10, 2005

Yippee. I am going on retreat Monday at Light on the Hill near Van Etten, NY, about 40 min. south of Ithaca. I am going to sleep, eat, walk around and write and play guitar and baritone uke. No electricity, but heat. So no computer (I am too addicted to it, anyway). I am not imposing anything on this. For instance, some people won't read while on retreat, so they can get out of their heads. No shower, except in another part of the center. I can get as fragrant as I want. The retreat hut I'll be in is on the "lip of a pond." I don't think I'll go swimming this time of year. Too bad. I love pond swimming.

I was inspired by two women songwriters, well 3, I know or met at myspace.com, who said they were doing the hermit thing and writing. I have long thought about going off alone to the woods...

I used to go to my parents' cabin, but decided not to this time; someone else owns it now, and I'm invited but not sure if I want to only focus on cooking and having a relationship with the wood stove and plumbing. That could be nice another time.

Corning and Binghamton - December 6, 2005

I'm back to Soul Full Cup, 81 W. Market St. in Corning, where I've played a lot It's fun and comfortable there. People come out. It's a coffeehouse, but once a very drunk man stumbled in and put his hat on me as I played. I didn't stop, trying to be professional. My cousin's husband and the pink-haired barrista escorted the drunk guy out after a while. I think I've told this story before. I didn't think there was a need for a chicken wire cage for the band in a place like Soul Full Cup. Well, usually it's pretty sedate.

Rochester - December 6, 2005

Rochester was fun, and a nice number of folks came out. Thanks to Gordon Munding for hosting and letting me play sets at Murph's Irondequoit Pub, and thanks to the audience for going silent at times (did I do that?!) and being general good fun. What a nice neighborhood place. Thanks to Lisa and all your friends, Alison, the Lanes, Kirk and Kristie and others for coming out. Thanks for buying CDs. I could have stayed, but drove home in fine shape.

Independent thinking, Johnny Depp - November 30, 2005

I'm catching up on blogging, saw 3 bands and songwriter Richard Bruckner tonight. I think I want to listen to Richard when people are not yelling at the other end of the club, so I'll get his CD. He has a good voice and was looping, to overdub one guitar part over another, and had a bunch of guitars. But I am not one to talk about having a bunch of guitars -- and a baritone uke and a Danelectro bass and a keyboard.

My point in writing is partly a postcrypt to the fun rural gig blog this follows. Reading the NY Times, a day late, I see that the new editor of Harper's is from a ranch. The publisher noted that because the new editor, Roger D. Hodge, was from a ranching family, "...He was bred to be independent and self-governed, to think for himself, and I think that's a great credential to edit a magazine."

I've done some newspaper editing, but also I would add, that at least a reasonably healthy farm upbringing -- speaking for myself and my own early life on a farm -- did indeed nurture some of my quirkiness and independent and creative thinking. If I consider independence just in terms of music, on that same farm, years before I was there, my grandparents, who met at Alfred University, put 8 kids through music lessons (my grandmother's father had been a church organist, and there are pro musicians on the other side, too).

Also regarding independent thinking as related to musical taste, on that same farm when I was growing up, my father, Galen Stout, had done classical music as a cellist and bassist, then did "dance bands," swing, and when I was little led rock and jazz bands, and he still plays jazz, mostly swing, regularly, in western NY and Fla. My cousin, Ward Stout, across the road, had a little classical training in school, then learned bluegrass.

I became a show tunes nerdette.

Also for a future songwriter, it was not just independent thinking, but storytelling, not in a formal sense, but something that was incorporated into daily life, still is. My uncles and aunts, though they moved away from the farm, still had this country thing of enjoying telling stories about people. I wonder if people, despite all the farm work, which one can pace to some degree and again, self-direct, took more time to really talk and tell each other stories. Schedules can seem like emergencies for lots of people I know, just getting through the day.

Also along these lines, I think I didn't last and escaped one particular job just after vesting in a pension because I was too much of a "rockstar" -- and farmer. The boss was micromanaging and punitive instead of trusting me to do the kind of work I had done for years. It was unfortunate because they lost a good worker (farmers know how to work) and creative thinker. But I was something of a rocker already, and the job was a transition thing, a "day job" even though I cared about my clients. There are other ex-counselors who escaped into music. careers.

I wonder if family members read this obscure blog.

Also, in the same section of the Times, there's a big article about Johnny Depp and his newest movie. I love Johnny Depp. I am not usually impressed by celebrities, though I will read People magazine at the dentist's. Johnny Depp is such a great actor who takes interesting roles. He's intriguing and hot. I think he might have once played guitar, 21 Jump Street. I could google that. The new movie, about John Wilmot, a 1600s poet I am not familiar with, but apparently his favorite subject was sex, one mine, sometimes I wonder, maybe the only one of mine, too (well mine as related to love and spirit), so I'll have to find it and read it. Although apparently he was explicit even by today's standards about body fluids. Maybe I won't like the poetry of this man who is now being called a rockstar ahead of his time. I will like Johnny Depp.

And I can't wait to see "Walk the Line" about Johnny Cash.

Tiny Pa. town was a blast - November 30, 2005

The recent gig in Genessee, Pa., for the Potter County Arts Council benefit was really fun. I met really nice people, musicians including some songwriters with impressive credentials, old-time country players and an amazing knitter and glass artist from the Ukraine transplanted there, into Coudersport, land of the former Adelphia mess. (The Adelphia guy was my uncle's schoolmate, but that's another story).

The benefit concert was the only game in town perhaps In a county with a sign declaring it's "God's country," and the old ski resort/nature center was packed. I was happy to have a set and brave enough to spontaneously invite any of the other musicians who wanted to join me on my last song, a Tracy Chapman cover, and so a bunch came up, and we had this little one-song jam. It was also nice how people really went quiet for my originals. What a great audience. CD sales were pleasing, too.

I played in the village in NYC before and very few came out during a snowstorm. But this in this tiny place and some others like Canaseraga, NY, about an hour from there, people go out in numbers and like to listen.

Genessee was convenient for me, too. My parents live nearby that tiny place, and my father's band used to play at the same place (then called Penn Valley) when it was a ski resort. It was fun hanging out with my honey and my sister. My lovely sister, who really has a personality, is coming to my gig Saturday, so that'll be fun, better than venturing off alone to gigs, though that's often fun, too, because I usually know people or meet new people.
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