The birthday "harpy" hour was wonderful!

Truly, it was. After a flurry of texting my Mom and my fashion guru Ann Rosenquist Fee photos of options, I finally decided what to wear a mere 3 minutes before I had to leave the house with the harp.

Black skirt, sheer split-shoulder top...

...and these shoes. Spectator stilettos given to me by my
wonderful friend-neighbor Nicole Helget.

As I quickly found out, the shoes are meant for sitting and not for walking. There's a term for shoes like this. I learned it from a woman who owns a shoe boutique in Dingle, Ireland: "car-to-bar" shoes. As in, your date drives the car right up to the entrance to the bar, you hobble in and perch on the nearest barstool with your legs crossed so your fabulous shoes are on view, you drink and eat, you make merry, and then you hobble out to the car that your date has pulled up the curb when the night's over. "Car-to-bar." Beautiful.

The very tall heels of these beauties did make it easier for my little feet to reach the harp's pedals, though...

 It was a great evening. The bar was packed. 
Lots of friends showed up, and some cousins, too. 
And bunches of people I don't know.
All of whom sang "Happy Birthday" to me in quite spectacular fashion.

 I was mobbed by fans.
(OK, not really. This groups was just leaving all at once...)

Santa even stopped by to hear me play. With his fianceƩ, Carol.
(Don't tell Mrs. Claus.)

 I played all my favorite carols and songs.
Loudly. My fingers were very sore. I kept playing...

...with periodic breaks to sip prosecco.
Mmmm, prosecco.

Note to harpists: This is NOT the proper way to sit
when you're playing the harp.
(But after two glasses of prosecco, you won't care...)

 And then there was cake. 
Red velvet chocolate cake made by my Mom.
She makes it for me every single birthday.
I looooooove the red velvet chocolate cake.
(Especially with the champagne...)

And this was the scene on my porch the next morning:
Cake carnage and stilettos dropped at the entrance
and totally forgotten for the night.



Birthday "Harpy" Hour

Wednesday is my birthday. And I couldn't imagine sitting home drinking little bottles of (very cheap, very crappy but they do the trick) champagne in a fog of holiday performing exhaustion. In my sweats. And reading glasses. Knitting. Covered in cats.

Yeah. So I concocted a gig. A swanky, classy gig. One at which only the sexiest high heels will be worn. And I needed a new photo for the poster.

Enter my friend, neighbor, famous author and awesome photographer Nicole Helget. She came over with her camera on a Friday afternoon and made me smile, laugh, snuggle the harp, look sultry and act alternately professional, sexy and totally inappropriate.

Here's the final result.
Join me if you're in town. Come to town if you're out of town.
Shoes will be checked at the door to see if they meet sassy standards.

And yes, there were outtakes. Some are unfit for public viewing. But others - OK, I'll share them. I always get the giggles during photo shoots.

Especially when little bottles of (very cheap, very crappy but they do the trick) champagne 
are cracked open at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Is it hot in here, or is it just my shoes?

Yep, it's my shoes.

If anybody else put their foot on my harp like this, I'd break their leg.

I'm dreaming of a non-icy Christmas so it's easier to load the harp in cute shoes...
la la la laaaa...

I'm so funny. I crack myself up.

Jingle Belle loves cute shoes. (I should have used a lint roller on those pants, I realize now...)

I love my harp. I love champagne.

I'm serious, people. Come to Number 4 Wednesday night to celebrate with me.

Star sponsor

Hi, all.

I'm the "sponsor" of style guru Ann Rosenquist Fee's Fashion Tarot post today.

Visit her here: http://annrosenquistfee.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/anns-fashion-tarot-the-star/http://annrosenquistfee.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/anns-fashion-tarot-the-star/

And then leave me a comment and your email address and I'll send you a free gift - an unreleased mp3 of one of my original songs.

Yours in fashion divination,


And then, an acceptance letter...

How quickly the tides turned!

I'm so thrilled that the Briar Cliff Review has accepted my essay for publication. I'd submitted it to a nonfiction contest, which it didn't win, but it was a finalist. Most importantly, they want to publish it. I'm going to be published!

When I got the news, Mom and I were Christmas shopping in the cities. I stood in a flower shop we love, reading my email on my phone. "The Briar Cliff Review wants to publish my essay," I told Mom. "That's good news, but I need you to look at this ribbon right now - will it go in my bedroom?"

Yep. Mom keeping me humble.

The essay is about my brother and me and our vastly different relationships to the same element: wood. I finished it on his 40th birthday. I let Jeff read the essay before I submitted it. He disappeared for a good hour and then shouted up from the basement, "Good work, Amy." It's hard and a little scary to share these kinds of insights and emotions with someone. I'm glad he liked it. When I called to tell him the essay was accepted, he told the guys at work on the construction site to quit hammering and shut off the saws so he could hear all the details. THAT's brotherly excitement.

The issue with my essay will publish in May 2013. My next big task (after the holiday playing rush is over) will be to head back to this laptop and finish some other essay-poetry-memoir ideas I started back in late October. One of them will be a flash nonfiction piece. I've never written flash anything, but I think it will be a good challenge.

My immediate task will be to toast the Muse of Acceptance Letters with a little bottle of (very cheap, very crappy, but it does the trick) champagne.


If you have to get a rejection letter...

...I hope it's as nice as this one.

I've been sending out some of my writing to contests and publications recently. I've had fingers crossed and been checking the mailbox and my email during breaks from performing, waiting for news.

I'm new at this submission thing. I haven't submitted anything for publication seriously since college. Then I got a harp and then, well, you know...

So putting my personal writing out into the world has been a little scary. It's exciting, though. It's a new road for me to travel, a different focus than my solid harp career, something I'm "emerging" with rather than continuing with as always. I like the feeling. I like the uncertainty. It's good to emerge with new art periodically in our lives, I think. It keeps us fresh (and humble).

And I love the feedback - "we very much enjoyed reading your essay" and "your piece flowed smoothly and inspired lively debates among our staff."

Onward. More mailbox and email checking in the next few months. Fingers crossed when I'm not playing holiday music. Wish me well!


10th Anniversary Concert - it was beautiful

Driving the Cold Winter Away, for the 10th year in a row.
(photo: Mark Braun)

It was beautiful. Perfect, really. I couldn't have wished for or planned for or dreamed of a better anniversary concert.

Despite the fact that the temperature had dropped 40+ degrees in less than 24 hours. Despite the fact that the Tuesday before the concert I was diagnosed with "bronchitis that would have been pneumonia if you'd waited a day". Despite the fact that, as a result of the diagnosis and the loss of 4 pre-concert productive days, I had to cut two songs from the set list and forgot to arrange for an official photographer and nearly forgot to arrange for a videographer (videos coming soon) and forgot to arrange for ticket takers and CD sellers. Despite the fact that the dress I wanted to wear hadn't arrived by the Wednesday before the concert and I had not even a clue about shoes yet...

Yes, inspite of allll this, I'm so happy with how everything turned out.  The weather was frightfully blustery outside, but inside, the church was warm and cozy. The antibiotics worked in record time (so did all the over-the-counter remedies recommended by my wonderful pharmacist and the hot whiskey prescribed by my mother). No one noticed the two missing songs - in fact, the concert probably would have been too long with them. My friend Tim saved the day with the video, my Mom and Dad and friends stepped in to sell tickets and CDs (Dad would like you to know he sold FOUR CDs, all by himself), some audience members snapped iPhone photos and shared them with me.

The Second Half Dress. I hear it looked like a disco ball when I moved.
(photo: Freddy Madrigal

And my dress - it arrived and Mom altered it in record time. It was the first time a dress I wore at a concert got applause of its own. In the first half of the concert, I wore the legendary red ruffled dress that's featured on the cover of my All Hayle to the Days album to represent where I've been, all that I'd dreamed of, who I was when I started. And then after intermission, I changed into a short, silver-sequined, ultra-shiny number (with matching silver shoes, yes indeed) to say: "This is who I am now, and I'm loving being me!" People gasped when I walked out - applauded like they normally do, but then sparked up the applause just for the dress.

I haven't even talked about the music yet because, miraculously, every single song went off perfectly, without a hitch, without a vocal waver or a missed note or a missed cue or a slipped pedal (silver shoes = yay!). I have no idea how I did it, how my voice rang out so strong and clear, how my band followed me in my half-sick state, but we did it. And it was magical to be there performing and experiencing it all myself, to follow that path from the very beginnings, to perform the songs that meant "holiday concert" to me, many of which ended up on my All Hayle to the Days album. To move into my new compositions, to tell of my travels to Ireland, and Paris, then Ireland, Paris and Ireland and how they inspired the new me, the new music and art I make.

My good friends Ann and Sara, out of hiatus as Prima Vox.
On my "Fire & Ice" - oh, Paris memories.
Oh, those girls and our voices...
I'm a very happy harpist, a very grateful girl, grateful to everyone who performed with me, helped me, hauled harps and CDs and candelabra and music stands and harp benches and music bags and candles for me, made things happen behind the scenes, set up sound for me (Ann Rosenquist Fee, that would be you)...thank you.

Happy, happy, warm start to the winter season!