Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Herman



      This last Wednesday we packed up the trailer with the instruments and camping supplies and headed for Beanblossom, Indiana. So many different styles of music and bands growing from bluegrass and folk roots coming together for 4 days in honor of John Hartford, a great influence on today's new grass sound.  The John Hartford Memorial Festival was so welcoming, full of love and peace. People there were so nice and the jams were some of the best I have heard.  Beginners or pro, everyone got to jam and everyone got to take a solo.  I love to see people build each other up and I saw musicians building other musicians up this week.  I am so grateful that we got to play and be a part of this festival and meet all of the talented musicians and kind people that we did, and I hope we get to do it again.


      Though we had an amazing time at the John Hartford Festival, we came home and discovered some heartbreaking news.  Georgia opened her fiddle case to find her fiddle with some issues so she and Mom took it to our luthier, Martin Brunkalla (www.brunkalla.com), right away.  Though Herman Anderson(Georgia’s fiddle) can be repaired, it is very costly and would change his sound entirely.  So now Georgia needs to retire him and find a new fiddle to play, an instrument like Herman is going to be tough to replace.


      If you ask me what I would grab if my house was burning down I would tell you that I would grab my little sisters fiddle.  Some people think that is odd.  Why? Just a fiddle, and it isn’t even mine!  But Herman Anderson is more than my little sisters fiddle, the backstory behind that fiddle has a lot to do with the Georgia Rae Family Band and why we are today.  
      Herman was given to us by my uncle who got him from a man who was dressed as a Richmond police officer.  The nameless fiddle was in rough shape but we took him to Martin, who made him playable again, and to our surprise his voice was amazing. Herman had a sound that was like no other, and every fiddler who played him would tell you that. I remember how excited and pleased Georgia was when she got to play him and heard how he sounded.  While Martin was doing the repairs Mom and Georgia tried to find out the history of the fiddle.  In the fiddle case they found some old receipts, a few string mutes and a fiddle blanket.  The receipts read only one legible signature and it said “Herman Anderson”, so that is what Georgia named him.  Herman turned out to be a nicer fiddle than we would have ever been able to afford, and his soul is priceless.  Georgia and mom wanted to thank the officer who gave the fiddle to our uncle, but when they went to the station (small police station, we live in Richmond) they said there was no officer who fit the description.  You can think what you want, but I think God had an angle place that fiddle in Georgia’s hands.
After Herman, Georgia seemed to step up a rung on the latter, she really started to play more and more. Fiddle had always been her thing but at an age where she could have branched off and done other “normal” middle-schooler things, she didn’t, she was driven and motivated to play.    The more she played, the more mom played, the more we all played together and started picking up more instruments.  The band formed on financially hard times, but our sound and our music as a family grew together after that fiddle.
      I have seen Georgia take huge strides in her playing since she has acquired Herman.    In the past six years I have seen her go from tunes like Lovers Waltz by Jay Ungar, to tunes like Jeanne by Calvin Volrath.  She has won 4 state fiddle championships, and holds 2 State Twin Fiddle Champion titles. She practiced Herman everyday, taught with him every week and jammed with him every night of every music festival.  When you play an instrument the way she does you grow a bond and connection to the way it plays.  Not a day went by that he hung on the wall.  Herman went out doing what he loved, no doubt.
      For now Martin was so kind to lend Georgia a fiddle to try, so she has something nice to use in Weiser this year, with the option to buy it.  I have to say that I really like the way it sounds and it is really beautiful fiddle, whether we find a way to somehow afford the Brunkalla fiddle, or if Georgia ends up with something else, Herman’s shoes are big ones to fill.


      I watched Georgia play today.  I saw her raise the bow just above the strings, and with a deep breath, her face said “we’ll see about this one” and she touched the bow to the strings. With every note she silently judged the young fiddle.  Scrunching her brow just a bit, as she feels her way around the fingerboard, the spacing was familiar but  there were no worn grooves to set her finger tips in.  I could tell she was listening for that deep mellow sound when she hit the low notes.  Closed eyes, but she was searching for age and the character.  She misses the way that Herman rested, just right, between her shoulder and chin.  The voice of this fiddle is colorful, and has great tone, a blank slate for someone to wear the finish at the neck and the chin rest and give it a story.



Georgia Plays Herman at Solo and Ensemble in 2011, not long after having him repaired-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4BKB3sC-8k

Georgia plays Herman the year she won the Illinois State Contest- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Chddb3W2bU

First Place songs at Colorado- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sznKroBUQX4


John Hartford Memorial Festival!!

here are some videos of jams at our campsite and Georgia playing with a band called Steamboat Bandits
video video
video
late night jams


main stage at the beggining of the week, I wish I had a picture of mid week, it was packed!





more jamming :)




Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On The Road Again.....

       On my way to work last week I was listening to the morning show on 105.5 and I heard Tina Brie talking about how she just got back from vacation and hadn’t yet unpacked.  She was still “living out of” her suit case to savor every last bit of her vacation.  As she was talking about this I looked from my rear view mirror into the backseat.  My green canvas duffle bag was messily half zipped in the middle seat, overflowing with clothes from the last band trip, staring at me.  “oh if only she knew…” my thoughts trailed off on what it is actually like to constantly live out of a suitcase.
      
       Out of any other summer with the band this is the summer we have traveled the most and the summer I have made the most memories.  I remember realizing how busy we were going to be as I watched my mom on the phone, looking at the computer calendar, booking another gig.  The calendar was a mess, dates here, dates there, and she was currently squeezing 2 dates between another packed week.  Being on the road so much lately has been a blast;  we have made so many new friends, met up with old friends and hopefully inspired some.  
       We started off going to Weiser Idaho (with a stop in Colorado), we got home for 3 days, then it was on to Wisconsin for a working fourth of July, 2 more gigs in Wisconsin, then home again to a local gig.  After that we went on to Manitoish Waters, where we met fantastic friends (shout out to the Stinson family and Noah, you guys are the best!) and got to play the most amazing show we have ever played inside the Cozy Cove.  I will never forget how after the last chord of the first song rang out the crowed erupted, everyone on their feet, dancing with each other and singing.  It was almost an overwhelming feeling but I could play that show every night.   
       We didn’t wind down after Manitoish Waters.  After another few days of camping in Green Lake Wisconsin we played 2 more gigs.  We had a small break, home for almost 3 weeks before we headed to Minnesota for the state fiddle contest, where Georgia took 1st in the Open Division, and first in Twin Fiddle Division with Shawn.  Finally just as things looked to be slowing down, we got an email that we had been picked to compete in the John Hartford Boogie Band Contest!  What a blessing it was to be able to go to Kentucky where we reunited with some friends, camped and had a blast playing in the contest where we took 2nd place.  We aren’t quite done yet, the traveling is slowing down but we still get to go to Illinois State Fiddle contest in October and play local gigs all year, not to mention we plan to record a CD this winter (finally! lol).  
       This summer has been plenty of work.  I think sometimes people forget that being a working musician is work.  We practice countless hours and squeezing band practice in between my work schedule, and Georgia and Quin’s school schedule, and Georgia’s radio and teaching schedule is not always easy.  Not to mention time we spend writing music, time practicing on our own, time booking gigs, time we spend on CD art, time in the studio, time on promo posters and pictures.  I love every second and every ounce of work that it takes to be a musician because of what makes it worth it; the people I meet, the places I get to go, and the unique experiences I get to have along the way.

       Being in a band is not always peaches and cream no matter how sweet it looks.  For me lately life has been crazy, not only with the band, but my life in general.  Hey, I am 19 years old, life was bound to get complicated at some point.  I have been so back and fourth between gigs and home and I try my best to balance friends, a boyfriend, work and family.  To be honest I am somewhat awful at balancing people in my life (apologies to the people I love who may feel neglected during our busy months, but I do think of you, pray for you and send you good vibes.  Also I really try to remember to text you back but sometimes it doesn’t happen).  It seems to me that when I am home I am squeezing friend and boyfriend time in between work and band practices, trying not to forget anyone.  Sometimes it can be difficult to be away from friends, who are as close as family, for so long but I definitely have the best of friends.  No matter how long it has been we pick up where we left off.  It seems I hardly ever sleep in my own bed, because if I did my math right…I have slept in my own bed 3 times this month.  That might bother some people but for me I don’t mind, home is where my people are, not where my bed is.

PS: Shout out to Anthony and Hailey, you guys are the best, most honest and understanding friends ever and I wouldn't trade you for anything! I love you so much! thanks for putting up with all my crazy!
PPS:  Before I forget I would also like to thank my new salon girls at Cost Cutters and my awesome boss for putting up with, and working around, my schedule!  You girls have been so kind to me.  It is a huge breath of fresh air to walk into the salon and get a positive vibe or a genuine compliment rather than the dread of going to work. I love my job :)

PPPS: Thanks to Kenny, Ronda and Owen for hanging out with us in Kentucky and being such amazing band friends, you are like family to us and we love you <3

-KJ

The GRFB crew that went to Weiser.... plus some random people who jumped in the pic just because

Me and Mom :) love my momma <3
just beautiful



Out to eat in Idaho
a shot from our trip to Weiser
Otis missed mom
me and G tried to fit some fitness into our lives while we were home
Georgia's Smokey Bear look in Manitoish Waters

from the Cozy Cove show

The Cozy Cove Crowd
Georgia thinks she can skateboard
Georgia.... spear fishing?

hula hooping at the Just Live festival

the first day of school!


got my first car this summer all by myself
Georgia's first place in Mn
Me, Georgia and a little praying mantis
Quin plays an electric mando



Sisters that kazoo together stay together

right before the contest in Kentucky!




when I finally reunited with my bestie we went shopping and found this amazing donut shirt


sisters :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Anything but Average I Suppose



       So here we are, just a month away from our adventures to Idaho, time to catch you up to speed on what is going on here.  Before we get to go the band has a pretty busy month.  We are preparing for the battle of the bands in Burlington this weekend at Chocolate Fest and doing a few more fundraisers (check out the website for specifics!). (www.Georgiaraefamilyband.com).
I see Quin itching to finish up her first year of high school, I think she can't wait to be out and free to spend her time this summer playing, writing music and baking.  She has been really into making cupcakes and cookies recently and she is getting super good at it, her decorations are always adorable.  I must also add that I am extremely proud of my little sister for getting confirmed at church this past Sunday :)
       I am finding myself struggling to make time for my bar tending classes(they will probably just have to wait until I get back from Idaho) . I am working part time and making the occasional house call for haircuts.  Lately I am trying to save my money so I am not broke when I am frequently off of work during the next few months.  Balancing all I love in life is not always easy, family, friends, work, the band, everything is important to me.  I will make it though, somehow God always finds a way to put everything in the right place and time for me. After all I have always told myself, the thing I want most in life is to live and extraordinary life, then I can settle down. What can I say? I want to be the old lady with cool stories to tell.
       Georgia continues to practice night and day for Weiser(practicing Twin Fiddle in the kitchen with Shawn as I am typing this up) She has been taking a lot more lessons lately, and teaching some more students as well.  Songs that I thought were for sure finished are being added to!  But that is the thing, a song is never done being worked on.  Fiddle tunes are constantly evolving with a good fiddler.
           Sometimes I wonder if these contests are overwhelming for Georgia, all the practice, the pressure she may feel from our supporters, the strain going to part time school might have on her holding a normal social life (this last one goes for Quin too).  She is constantly working towards this goal she has, it makes me wonder from time to time if she questions herself.  Some people have told her it isn't wise to enter the open division in Weiser, but I think what they really mean is that it is not the average way of doing things.  Georgia has never been average, no girl in this family band has ever, in any way, shape or form been average.  Georgia is breaking the mold, you might see it as a family tradition.  Georgia is out to improve herself and gain uncommon life experience.  Striving to better herself, she has always wanted to be the most positive person in the room.  The type of person who brightens and inspires  spirits.  So to those who disagree with her enrollment in the Open:  Georgia isn't joining the Open division to win or have the pride of being the Weiser National Fiddle Champ.  The competition is the best of the best, and Texas Style is difficult, she knows.  Georgia is joining the Open to put herself in the most challenging competition.  This is the way she can learn and hopefully do better than last year.  It isn't about money, prizes or trophies, it is about learning and growing as a fiddler, and hopefully somewhere along the way inspiring someone to pick up something and challenge themselves too.
         Shawn and G sound out of this world right now doing their twin songs :)  I love that I can hear them play all night long, I hear improvement every day from them as a team.  I hear a connection in the way they play together, and that is the way it should be with Twin Fiddle, in my opinion at least haha.

Pictures of whats happening since the last blog post :D
Thank you Harvard Community Radio!

my attempt at a fancy cookies and milk cocktail... only it was just milk so it's not a cocktail... am I a bartender yet?

rocking out on the way to a show

I love doing hair, and I am going to miss it this summer when the band is busy and I can't be in the salon, so let me know if you need a cut!

The baking girl! Those cookies were so good!

After a great show hosted by Off Square Music, big supporters of ours, we love you guys <3

A froyo sister date

Another radio show?!

After Quin got confirmed :) so proud of her :D

Anyways, keep updated when we head to Weiser by following us on facebook and all that good stuff, check out the website if you are looking to come to a show, we would love to see you all :)

Thanks!
-KJ

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Idaho Bound!

       Less than 3 months left until we leave for Idaho again this summer!  I can hardly believe it was nearly a year ago, so much has happened in my life and the bands life.  I feel like this year has just flew by me, it couldn't have been a year right!?  But it will be a year, and that seems crazy to me.  I remember thinking last year about how I had grown up so fast, high school was over and my life was about to begin.  I was thinking on how far the band has come since our first little "geriatric tour" and how I have seen Georgia grow into her contest fiddling shoes.   But I look back and 18 wasn't grown up(neither is 19 really haha), and the band still has so much growing to do, and I don't know how but my sister has yet again shown improvement in her fiddling.  On another note I have seen Quin take some great musical leaps this year, lots more guitar playing and song writing and just growing into herself. It's great to see, sometimes you even hear her talk at shows now haha.  Actually in this year we have all been growing just a little more into who we are, and with new life experiences comes song writing! So expect to hear some more originals from us because spiritual growth is great inspiration!

       Anyhow, we are again raising money to get to Idaho, we have a Fundraiser on Saturday (April 18th) at the Unity Spiritual Center in Woodstock, doors open at 7:30 and the show starts at 8 (go to our website for more info on this concert and others in the future!).  You can also help us by checking out our Go Fund Me page, the link is here on my blog (should be on the upper right side by the "Links you should check out") or on our website.  
        My sisters and I really can't wait to get back to Idaho, not only to compete (this year Georgia will be doing the Open division, and the Twin contest with Shawn)  but to see our friends and jam around the pile of flashlights... because you aren't allowed to have campfires (too dry outside).  We are going to wander around until it gets dark, and go to the swing dance, and workshops, and walk from tent to tent and jam until 3am.  One of my favorite parts about the festival is meeting new and interesting people with funny stories and interesting music backgrounds.  The very best part of going to Weiser Idaho though, is that everyone there can connect on some level, weather it be just the love of music or playing the same instrument.  You can always find someone who knows that Avett Brothers song, or that Crooked Still tune (you might even meet a member of the band... just saying, I might have freaked out a little on the inside when I met Tristan Clarridge).  Weiser is a giant, 1 week long, non stop jam festival and contest for people who love anything form Old- Timey Contest tunes to swing music. 

Here are some pictures from last years adventure!

right before we left, so exited!


me and mom, goofy after a long drive haha

saw this on our way through Colorado

I got to see so many beautiful things
me and mom
getting my dirt from the mountain... not sure if that was allowed or not... oh well, shhhh :D
when you see things like this in person, there is no doubt in your mind that there is God.  This picture doesn't do the real life experience of being there any justice at all.




on the road again
Quin in Colorado
Georgia in Colorado
Jamming in Idaho :D



        Remember when we go we will be posting short daily videos via facebook (just quick little recaps of the day or contest updates) then one bigger video of the week when we get home.  I will also do my best to blog on here to keep you undated!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has already donated and to anyone has attended any of our shows, we appreciate all the support and love, you rock!

-KJ

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Jamming

       Music is playing throughout our house most of the time during a regular day at our house.  Weather it be my pandora playlist when I am getting ready for work, Georgia practicing contest, or Quin coming up with a melody of her own up in her room (I think she thinks no one can hear her haha, thought wrong Quinnie!).  But my favorite time when music plays in my house is late at night on Saturday (the occasional Friday) and the early hours of the morning on Sunday.  
      The music begins usually after Shawn arrives around 10 or 10:30 at night.  Bringing with him taco ingredients and various odd instruments that he ordered on amazon, we all greet(some would say maul) him with hugs.  We all love Shawn, and he is like a brother to me. :)  Shawn has a way of getting all of the three of us sisters involved together and challenges us to combine our different styles and quirks.  We all three start in on the melodica, goofing off with nursery tunes on the kalimba(is that how you spell it? in simpler terms: its a finger piano) .  Somewhere in time Shawn gets Georgia and Quin to start making up a tune (sometimes I end up playing along, or trying to)  Quin  will dance stubbornly around the same note and pattern throughout the jam, Georgia will dance up and over  and under her, I don't know how but I end up contributing somehow (usually with percussion, sometimes the bass) and Shawn harmonize or change the direction the jam seems to be going in completely.

       Eventually me and Quin have to actually sleep. I will usually head to bed around 12 or 1, because I work on Sundays, and as I head down to bed, the music takes a turn.  Shifting into the most perfect melody to drift off to sleep in.  The twin fiddling.  When Georgia and Shawn play a twin tune together, there is a connection I can feel when I listen.  Starting out with a waltz, or like 12 waltz's (they have a Calvin Vollrath book and there are a lot of waltz's in there!).   Any anxiety I might have had melts away.  As I drift to sleep, they will drift off of their contest pieces and into their own jam.  They just start with a note and carry themselves far, far, far away into something totally new. 

       If I wake in the middle of the night (I often do on a Saturday night/Sunday morning), I wake to a music that is more energetic, or chaotic (there coffee probably kicked in haha).  Look at the clock and it might be 2 or 3 in the morning.  When I drift off to sleep, its usually always after the chaotic part of their jam...  Wake up two hours later and the house will smell like bacon and eggs; and it will sound like half a tune here or there,  frequent tuning and laughter (possibly from sleep depravation? Really I have no idea how they play fiddle for so long).  When I finally get up for work on Sunday at 7am, the house is quiet and it might have been quiet for about an hour, so I turn on the shower and start the music over again with my pandora playlist.



Some Pictures and Videos from Our Jams
 The first video is what the beginning of the night looks like #melodicasolo?
 The second video is a little fiddle vs mando battle between Shawn and Q

video



video

Jams :)
we get goofy :)

say what Shawn?

ohhh haha funny


Shawn doing his Shawn thing :)

I just love my life :)
  PS:  Shawn, if it weren't for you none of us would be the musicians we are today so thanks for being my musical brother and putting up with our occasional(maybe more than occasional) bickering :)  We all love you very much!