She Who Thinks & Sings

Monday, August 22, 2011


Someday I'm going to do a study to test a theory of mine:  It's impossible to be in a bad mood while you're shaking your butt.  I will examine the precise mechanism of this phenomena of brain, spine, sacrum, and endorphins, and my study will lead millions to toss their Zoloft and pump up the jams instead.

But I don't have time for any of that right now. 

Instead, real quick, I need to tell all the Austin mamas who read my blog about a gathering called Mamadance!  It takes place every other Wednesday evening, from 8-9 pm, at Empower Yoga, 1611 W. 5th St., 78703.  There is a $12 charge.  Leave your kids at home.  Or somewhere.  Don't bring your kids.

You need to come and dance with us.  Why?

1.  Because it's fun.

2.  Because it's just for you.

3.  Because something about moving, and not talking, and not fetching glasses of milk or juice for people, puts you in touch with yourself.  You will find yourself moving through your "stuff" and emerging as a nicer and lighter human being.

4.  Because at Mamadance, no one will tell you what to do.  Do you want to waltz?  Or polka?  Fine.  Want to do Sun Salutations for an hour?  Okeydokey!  Do you want to experiment with mixing Zumba with making rock 'n roll faces like Steve Tyler of Aerosmith?  Great.  Do you want to just lay on the floor without any small people climbing on you, and have the rare experience of finishing a thought?  Good for you!  Are you an arrhythmic, uncoordinated, or "bad" dancer?  Have two (or more) left feet?  Bring it on.  No one will care, judge, or mess with you.

5.  Because you don't get to experience this kind of freedom in your day-to-day life as a mother.  Or even just as a person.  I promise.

6. Once you get hooked, you can take a turn making the play list.  It starts slow and builds.  You might include "Sing! Sing! Sing!," followed by the theme from "Brian's Song."  Or whatever. You never know.

Mamadance happens this Wednesday, 8/24.  In September, it will be on the 7th and the 21st.  Every other Wednesday.  Please come.  Bring a friend.  Shake your thang.  Thank me later.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Humanly Possible

I am pleased to be able to share with you a recent life achievement.  Through great conscious practice, over several years, I have let go of Perfectionism.  Completely tossed her to the curb.  I feel freer and happier than ever before.

OK, not  I still have moments when Perfectionism beckons me, inviting herself back into my life and psyche.  Generally, that happens when I haven't been getting enough rest.  But truly, most of the time, I can report that I no longer give a hoot about Perfection, whoever she is, was, or will be.

When I was a younger mom, in particular, when I had one child, I had somewhat of a handle on things.  I did a decent job, a good amount of the time.  It wasn't until I had two that havoc ensued, when I got to really experience the agony and frustration of not being enough, not being able to do enough, not having enough arms, knowledge, patience, or energy.  That was a tough awakening.  I grieved so many instances of inadequacy, of well-laid plans going down the drain, of bizarre eruptions of chaos, disappointment, meltdowns, messes, sudden competitions over random objects and food products, and freakish, completely unforeseeable accidents (even though I scurried around trying to create safety).  At first it was seriously disconcerting.  After awhile, it became comical.  And awhile after that, I decided to just let go and do the best I could--and really be okay with it.

I used to want to be so perfect for my kids.  But now I see that we give our kids the most amazing gift when we choose to just be human.  To accept our limits.  To mess up.  To say "Not today," or even just "No."  To just make the dinner and let everyone groan and grouse.  To just forge ahead anyway, knowing we'll get to listen to all the reasons why we didn't do it the right way.  To just sigh and get to our destinations a few minutes late.  Where I used to be aghast when things went wrong, now I just say, "Not ideal!" and move on.  Now, I am thrilled and a bit surprised whenever things go smoothly.

Even if you can be perfect--in all the the myriad ways that modern parents and Attachment parents and Helicopter parents attempt to be--you can't be as real and as present.  And you can't really prepare your kids for life.  Everyone's kids are human, and there's a whole body of knowledge we deprive them of if we try to make ourselves and life be something else.  Things like these:
  • What do you do when your expectations don't match reality?
  • How do you balance the expectations of others with your own experience?
  • When do you get to give yourself some slack?
  • Whose standards matter?
  • How can we periodically check in with ourselves, to ensure that our own values are guiding our standards for performance?

The one thing I do know about myself as a parent is that I don't want my kids to spend/waste time beating up on themselves.  I want them to be resilient, to take a crack at things, to treasure their successes, to not be undone by their failures.  Most of all, I want them to know what's important to them.

The funny thing?  Since Perfection and I got our divorce, I believe I've begun to do my best work ever.  I trust myself to give any given situation my best shot, and most of the time, that's good enough.  I'm definitely enjoying myself more.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Love Austin Music? Support Austin Music People!

Momo's Club proprietor Paul Oveisi is a high quality guy.  Not only has he successfully run a music club on Austin's 6th Steet for 10 years--no small feat-- he also teaches, serves on Austin's Live Music Task Force, and is a guy who cares about and supports music and musicians.

So when I heard that Paul was involved in launching a new non-profit called Austin Music People, I wanted to know more.

The AMP website has a lot of good info about the organization's vision and mission.  Basically, AMP wants to be the organization that represents the interests of the music industry with City leaders.  Even though City officials drafted a 1991 resolution to proclaim Austin the "Live Music Capital of the World," there is neither a business plan nor a central organization to develop this vibrant sector of Austin's economy.

Issues come up all the time--from whether to charge for parking downtown to ordinances governing decibel levels of live shows--where having a central voice for stakeholders would make for better and more efficient decisions.

Paul Oveisi views our live music scene as Austin's professional sports franchise.  The number of dollars and visitors that come to town to experience our music each year--for events such as South by Southwest, the ACL Festival, and many, many more--is mind-boggling.  Austin Music People wants to be the organization that "protects and grows Austin's music culture and our reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World."

If you love music and/or musicians, if you care about music, please support AMP.  They are having their launch party tonight, starting at 6 pm at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, featuring bands like

Ghostland Observatory
Blue October
Court Yard Hounds
Alejandro Escovedo
Bavu Blakes
The Coveters
Bright Light Social Hour

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Nashville Trip Log # 1: Tom Jackson's Bootcamp

For the last two days of my trip to Nashville,  I attended Tom Jackson's Live Performance Bootcamp for Singers and Bands.  It was a very valuable experience and I highly recommend it for all performing musicians. 

Tom Jackson is a guy who lives for great performance moments, and he wants to help musicians identify and accentuate them in their shows.  He calls himself a Live Music Producer, and he and his crew (including three other Jackson-trained associates) claim to be the only people doing what they do:  working with bands and artists to hone their performance into a truly memorable experience for an audience.

Even if they're not the only ones doing it, it's easy for me to believe that they are the best at it.  Although I had seen many of his DVDs, I had a blast seeing Tom Jackson work in person for two days.  He observes and listens with a keen eye and an open heart, and then leaps into action.  He interrupts, extracts, rearranges.  He suggests and watches.  He brings dynamics into a song, where before there was a wall of sound--"goulash," as Jackson would call it.  The process calls the audience's attention to the performers' personalities.  We hear deliberate sparseness, then fullness.  Suddenly, the hotshot guitar lead guitar player is in the spotlight.  Then we get a glimpse at just how funky that bass player can be.  Finally, the whole band rips it up together. 

A lot of Jackson's feedback is nonverbal, a hilarious and fascinating combination of air guitaring and imitating the sounds of various instruments.  The communication is beyond words--yet musicians get it, because it reminds them about what's exciting about music, about why they play in the first place, about the things that can get lost in the effort to get the notes and pitches right.  After a few repetitions of this process with an artist or band, everyone in the room of about 70 musicians would erupt in applause in response to the exciting effectiveness of his changes.

Tom Jackson's work is ultimately about courtesy for the audience.  It's about stepping back--really stepping back, to the tune of weeks' worth of additional rehearsal--to a) become conscious about what we're trying to say with a song and b) make that absolutely obvious to the person watching and listening.  It's also about writing a giant permission slip and handing it to developing performers--inviting them to take charge, take a chance, cop an attitude, and shine like a star when they step onstage.

If you were in a play or a movie, you'd have a director to help you focus your performance this way.  If you're a writer, an editor could help.  But for musicians, particularly in this Wild West era of Indie and the Internet--where an artist has to cobble together a support and development team on his/her own--artists and audiences alike can benefit from this kind of coaching.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Colin Boyd

I met Dallas singer/songwriter Colin Boyd in 1994 at the Kerrville Folk Festival, and we became fast friends.  In the years since, we have written and performed together a bunch, and he has always been a great supporter of my music and writing.  

Against great odds--at a time when I was living in Houston and getting my MBA at Rice University, a million emotional miles from my musical self--he was able to talk me into beginning the recordings that became my debut CD, Purple Room.  He was an awesome producer, engineer, player, teacher and collaborator throughout the project.  

This coming Tuesday, September 14, Colin's coming to Austin to play a show with me at Momo's.  It will be an extended, Happy Hour-palooza, from 5:15 until around 7:30 p.m.  The show will be some of me, some of him, and some of us.

There are so many reasons why the whole city of Austin needs to catch the Colin Boyd magic!  He writes the most yummy and catchy pop songs.  Like "Flutter," the song Jack Ingram recorded and took to #51 on the Billboard Country chart.  Or "Rainbows Follow the Rain," the song he wrote for a Barney movie.  He is a seasoned, rock solid performer who has logged about a bajillion live shows in the time I've known him.  His vocal and musical choices are always tasteful.  But perhaps my favorite thing about Colin Boyd is something you'll just have to come to Momo's next week and see live, and that's his amazing rhythm hand on the guitar.  Not that he doesn't rock it on the lead, too--but his rhythm hand is jangly and thwacky and for me, always a bit breathtaking

One of my favorite memories of my wedding day is Colin's version of Springsteen's "If I Fall Behind."  He is my very favorite guitar player, which is one reason why I wanted him to play in my band when I performed at SXSW.  Colin always sounds great, and I always know that when we share the stage, he's gonna make me sound great, too.  I can't wait for you to check us out!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Coach

You may have asked yourself, "How does that Tricia do it?  How, exactly, did she grasp her creative life back from the swamp of motherhood?  How does she juggle all of those plates in the air, while standing on her head?"  If you have ever wondered, the answer is simple:  I have a lot of help.

For example, I have a creativity coach. Her name is Katherine Torrini, and we have been working together for almost a year and a half.  Mostly we talk on the phone, and sometimes we meet in person.  Since we began our relationship, I have accomplished many goals.  I have  successfully established routines around practicing and writing and also begun performing again.  However, these outward actions are merely the blossoms, the outcome of extensive inner discovery.  Katherine has supported me in questioning the way I feel and talk to myself about creating, helping me to remove real and perceived obstacles to getting to work. 

My favorite things about Katherine are her enthusiasm and her empathy.  She has the ability to meet me wherever I am on a given day.  The best thing about coaching is that it is my investment in my creative life.  I do it to strengthen me in remembering and making time for the most important and life-giving parts of myself. 

In October, I will be joining a new coaching group, led by Katherine.  If you live in Austin and are interested in investing in your creative life--which is to say, connecting with your truest self--maybe you'd like to join us?  Group coaching is more affordable than individual coaching, plus you will get the benefit of having a team.  The 3-month group will meet, in person, twice a month on Thursdays beginning October 7th, from 9:30-11:30 a.m.  Please contact Katherine, via her website, for more information!

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I've had a lot of great breakthroughs this year. For one thing, I shocked myself by getting a regular, twice-monthly gig at Momo's.  And it really does get better and better, more and more fun, each time.  A couple of weeks ago, I met with a music publicist, Cash Edwards, who gave me a ton of great advice and suggestions about working with the local press to get more folks on my bandwagon.

I also have some great stuff coming up. In early October, for example, I'll be attending Tom Jackson's Live Music Performance Bootcamp in Nashville.  It's my first trip to Nashville, and since I'm a songwriter, I feel a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, heading off to the Emerald City.  Only it's me who's green!

I'm writing away, fantasizing about having a purseload of new songs, with which to knock off everyone's cowboy boots.  But I find I'm just not finishing songs right now.  I don't really like that.

The other night, I had my Songwriter Date Night, and I took some time to look back over my big songwriting notebook.  As I flipped through it, I saw that I have a ton of snippets--ideas, unfinished bits, etc.  I also saw a few instances where I worked on songs for awhile, several times, before I managed to "finish" the song.  These are songs I play live now, and I got to go back and see how I started them four or five different times before I came to the version that turned into the "finished" one.  Each time, I added more depth and exploration and came to a clearer sense of what I was trying to do with the song.

I'm choosing to embrace the snippets.  To see myself as a snippet writer, not a songwriter, and trust that the snippets will lead me on.  If I get all freaked out, I put pressure on myself to finish things.  But I don't want to miss out on the depth.